Archive for November 25th, 2003

Unveiling Southern Exposure

November 25, 2003

For the last few weeks a number of bloggers from various parts of the world have been developing the pilot for a blog on Latin American issues, mostly economic, which I think is now ready for primetime. So here is the link for Southern Exposure, a collaboration by Marcelo Rinesi (Argentina), Stephen George from bandiera (Brazil), Francisco Muniz, Edward Hugh  from Bonobo Land (Spain), Randy Paul from Beautiful Horizons (Brazil/USA), Miguel Centellas from Ciao! (Bolivia), Newly Purnell from (Ecuador), Henry Schroy from Hank’s blog (Brazil) and myself (Venezuela). Hope to meet the challenge!

Inconsistent numbers on Chavista petition drive

November 25, 2003

If there is something Chavez and his supporters have been good at is giving out the same message to the media. This time around, it appears as if the ban by the CNE stopped them from coordinating the announcements and a lot of contradictory information ahs been give, Yesterday, Deputy Dario Vivas said in Tal Cual (by subscription) that they would get the signatures to have the recall vote against 23 of the 38 Deputies. The Vice-President said last night (El Nacional, by subscription) that they had used up all of the 7.2 million forms and that meant that many people had voted, which in a different paper he uses to extrapolate that Chavez has 60% popularity!!!. In fact, if the Vice President’s logic is used with the numbers given by the Chavista Headquarters, which I do not believe anyway, the number is only 22.5%!!!Today an initial report said that they had obtained 2.3 million signatures and now they are saying they got 4.23 million signatures, but when you read the fine print they only had 2.7 million people signing, the 4.213 million arise from when you multiply by those that could sign against more than one opposition Deputy. To me, this sounds high given what we saw during the four days and the reports from the opposition about how many signatures they had been able to collect in different districts. In any case, the CNE will tell us the truth in one month and if they got sufficient signatures they have to still go vote in the real referendum and the opposition will be there. Given the tone of the Government in the last few days, I find these numbers inflated. They know they suffered a defeat, you can see it in the way they act.

Note added: In the best style of Joseph Goebbels, last night Chavez instaed of using the official number from MVR’s campaign headquarters, he used the 60% spurious number from his Vice-President. Will they try now to turn this lie into the truth?

The friendly Chavez Government praising the jineteras of the media

November 25, 2003

Can’t help but noting the new attitude by Chavez and his cohorts. After the huge disaster this weekend they have become sheep in wolf clothing. Vice-President Rangel called the way the media behaved “exemplary”, adding that the recall is the beginning of reconciliation. How easy to ask for reconciliation when you see power slipping away! Chavez called the role of the former “jinetera”* media, wonderful. He even promised not to speak on Sunday and if he did, he would not use the time for political campaigning. Even more amazingly, Chavez suggested this was a time for building bridges. Give me a break!. What is going on here? Looking for immunity? No way Jose…We will not forget the insults, the murders and the human rights violations that easily. Wait till Friday…the lines wil speak for themselves.

*Jinetera: Cuban term for prostitute, freely applied by Chavez to Venezuela’s media after learning it in one of his frequent visits to Cuba and forgetting its true and derogatory origin and reflection of the social and economic reality of that “other” revolution.

Triumphs of the new PDVSA

November 25, 2003

In the “old” and much-maligned PDVSA, the Topomoro oil field west of Maracaibo was considered to be the most promising oil field in its portfolio. So promising in fact, that the old PDVSA had decided it to keep it for itself and maximize profits for the company. Under the “new” and “revolutionary” PDVSA, it was decided to auction the field for exploitation by foreign companies. (No Venezuelan companies needed apply, as they are considered anti-Chavez, even thougn last week a Venezuelan company of ex-PDVSA workers won a contract to exploit an oil field in Colombia). Well, today we learn PDVSA found no partners for Topomoro for a variety of reasons. First of all, very few companies want to partner with PDVSA under the terms of the new Hydrocarbons law. Second, many comapnies want to wait out until the political crisis is resolved before stepping in. Third, the high minimum bidding price requested by PDVSA was considerec out of line by all comapnies interested in the project. Thus PDVSA will try to develop it itself.

Meanwhile, the “new”, “improved” and “ethical” PDVSA found itself without a Head of Security when Chavez’ friend, comrade and colleague Perez Issa was “removed” from his all powerful position in the company. The reason? Simple, so much corruption that even Chavez could not look the other way. Is Perez Issa going to jail? Of course not, much like the Colonel in the Social Security administration who “took” US$12 million, Perez Issa, who has quite a few human rights violations in his CV, was given a downgrade as Head of Security at Citgo’s Headquarters in Tulsa. Interesting how in the many years of the PDVSA meritocracy, only one large corruption scandal exploded (the Petroespias scandal), forcing all involved to flee the country to this day, while now daily charges of corruptions are made, but nobody is even close to being charged. Has anyone noticed ho PDVSA makes less money on each barrel of oil? Ever wonder why? Who is making the difference? Could it be Perez Issa? Nooooooo…