Archive for December, 2005

Happy 2006 to all

December 31, 2005

Getting late, even if I am not partying tonight, I want to wish
everyone a great 2006 and wish that the New Year will make people think
about all of the changes this country needs that are not being made.
That 2006 will become the year of a single country for all Venezuelans.

Distortions and contradictions in the Venezuelan economy.

December 31, 2005

Venezuelan economy has always had contradictions and distortions that
eventually need to be resolved and cause a lot of pain, grief and damage n the
popeulation. Irresponsible Governments use oil money to create artificialities
that eventually blow up in their faces as the strain on the economy becomes simply
too much. Here are some of the more significant ones in 2005, most of which
will likely get worse in 2006:

Venezuelan economy grew by 9.4% in 2005, but the oil economy grew by only 1.2%.

Venezuelan economy grew by 9.4% in 2005, but the Caracas Stock Market was the
worst performing market in the world of the 79 covered by Bloomberg, down 32.4%
for the year in US$.

in 2005 was 14.4% but the yield on a 91 day Treasury Bolivar note closed the
year at 7.83%.

country received US$ 48.34 billion for its oil exports and only US$ 7.25
billion for non-oil exports, an increase of only 6% for the latter.

country had imports of US$ 25. 17 billion, an increase of 45% over the previous
year and a historical high.

-Venezuela issued over US$ 4.1 billion in new foreign
debt, but purchased over a billion US$ 1 billion in Argentina’s debt.

Government says unemployment is at 8.4%, but 45% of the workforce is part of
the informal economy and not measured.

prices were up 10.2% in 2005, those not undrer control were up 18.1% in 2005.

Two pictures of misery around Caracas from Awacate

December 31, 2005

Good friend (and photographer!) Awacate,
sends these two pictures taken near La Bandera. These makeshift homes
under bridges (above left) are now all over the city and pictures like
the one on the right can be taken at any time.

Complete translation and official source for Hugo Chavez’ offensive anti-Semitic remarks

December 30, 2005

A reader (Gene) points me to this
which contains this
to an official Government site with the complete transcript of the
visit to a center for the homeless in which Chavez made his anti-Semitic
comments. This is a translation of that part of his “speech” or
conversation (page 18) that day and leaves no doubt as to what Hugo Chávez said and from an official transcript at that!:

“…that is why I say that today more than ever and in 2005 years we need Jesus
the Christ, because the world, the world, the daily world is ending, each day, the
wealth of the world, because God, nature is wise, the world has sufficient
water for all of us to have water, the world has sufficient wealth, sufficient
land to produce food for all of the world population, the world has enough
rocks and minerals for all of the constructions, so that nobody would be
without a home. The world is for all of us, then, but it so happens that
a minority, the descendents of the same ones that crucified Christ, the descendents
of the same ones that kicked Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in
their own way over there in Santa Marta, in Colombia. A minority has taken possesion
all of the wealth of the world, a minority has taken ownership of all of the gold of the
planet, of the silver, of the minerals, the waters, the good lands, oil, of the
wealth then and have concentrated the wealth in a few hands
: less than
10% of the population of the world owns more than half of the wealth of the
world and …more than the population of the planet is poor and each day there
are more poor people in the whole world. We are decided, decided to change
history and each day we are accompanied and will be accompanied by more Chiefs
of state…”

Thus, as my esteemed ghost blogger Jorge Arena has noted, why the collusion by the
press? Why is it that this incredibly offensive and insensitive
remarks by the Venezuelan President have had no repercussion in the
Venezuelan press? Why hasn’t theworld press communicated these remarks
by the heroe of the people? You tell me…

A holiday mistery: the case of Chavez’s phantom anti-semite Christmas remarks and a curious ghost blogger.

December 28, 2005

Scanning Venezuelan news and blogs, your favorite ghost blogger* *was
alerted by this article about Chavista anti-semitism, written by Alex

I learned that the President was reported saying the following:

“Christmas is Christ rebellious, revolutionary, socialist” and “the
descendants of those that crucified Christ have taken ownership of the
wealth of the world, and they have concentrated it in a small number of

The remarks appeared on December 25 in Noticiero Digital , quoted from
the “minute to minute” section of El Nacional. Now, if the reader goes
to the link where it appeared, the news have been replaced by today’s “minuto a
minuto” news. I even checked Dec 26^th El Nacional editorial (page A6)
that mentioned the Christmas message, but found nothing about anti-semitism.

Annoyed by the lack of a formal referral link and puzzled by the
editorial, I started digging the official sources:

VTV, ABN ,MINCI ,RNV and Aporrea :

They all reported a Chavista-Christian message of love and peace, and
even (see RNV, Aporrea) wrote verbatim the sentence about Christ being
rebellious, revolutionary and socialist, but nothing about any
descendants of those that crucified Christ.

I then checked El Universal:and,
strangely, the news was cited directly from Agencia Bolivariana de
Noticias (ABN).

I even went to the Alo Presidente site, and there was nothing about the latest
Chavez’s comments.

Finally thanks to Google, I was able to dig this link from a Chilean site:

Also thanks to Google, I got the magnificent « cache » from El Nacional
that I am pasting at the end.

So, what happened? Was Chavez misquoted? Or is there a collusion of
official information sites trying to clean the damaging remarks? What
about the other Venezuelan private media? Why are they not reporting or
just reporting the ABN version? Why El Nacional did not emphasize in
their editorial the anti-semite message that was previously reported? Is
this the effect of the muzzle law? Or is everybody on vacation?

Reporting from cyberspace,

Jorge Arena

Favorite ghost blogger.

*Presidente Chávez asegura **que**
“aún tenemos mucha pobreza”*

El presidente Hugo Chávez reconoció la tarde de este 24 de diciembre
*que* aunque su gobierno ha “logrado cosas, todavía tenemos mucha
pobreza” y pidió a sus funcionarios “centrar su atención allí”.

Dijo *que* para combatir la miseria será lanzada formalmente el próximo
14 de enero la “Misión Negra Hipólita” y adelantó *que*, como parte del
programa, en cada barrio se formarán comités de protección social.

“Tiene ocho líneas de acción: primero *los* niños en situación de calle,
luego *los* adultos en situación de exclusión extrema, las adolescentes
y adultas embarazadas en situación de pobreza, la prevención y atención
al consumo de drogas, la atención al desarrollo de comunidades
indígenas, la atención a la familia en situación de riesgo, la atención
a personas con discapacidad y la promoción de la participación popular”,

Las afirmaciones las realizó al finalizar un recorrido *que* hizo en el
Centro de Desarrollo Endógeno Integral Humano “Manantial de *los*
Sueños”, ubicado en el estado Miranda, donde se recuperan 160 personas
de la indigencia.

En el lugar, y con motivo de la Navidad, señaló *que* “*Cristo* debe
vivir en nosotros”. “Hoy está más vivo *que* nunca (…) La Navidad es
*Cristo* rebelde, revolucionario, socialista”, refirió. Para Chávez
“*los* *descendientes* de *los* *que* *crucificaron* a *Cristo* se
adueñaron de las riquezas del mundo y las han concentrado en pocas manos”.

Se declaró “decidido” a cambiar la historia y aseveró *que* cada día lo
acompañan “más cantidad de jefes de estado y líderes en esa lucha”.
Estima *que* “la cosa más grande” *que* ha hecho su gobierno es
“libertar a nuestra patria del dominio norteamericano y de la oligarquía


From stolen radioactivity to the incredibly slow CNE: two low-key news from the chavista kingdom of Venezuela.

December 24, 2005

I grew up in Venezuela, so I am quite used to amazing news and a
Macondonian way of life. However, since the arrival of President, soon
to be King, Chavez, the amazing happenings are considered non-news,
maybe because there are so many of them. This week, doing my job while
Miguel is away, I came across these two pieces of news that left me

First, let us talk about radioactivity.

The Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias reports that the State of Lara
police is desperately searching for stolen radioactive material. It
seems that a truck that belongs to a radio inspection company was stolen
in the State of Yaracuy by two individuals. There was radioactive
material left inside. Now, this naïf ghost blogger asks the following
questions: did the thieves know about the radioactive material or was it
just bad luck for them? If they knew about it, why were they interested
in it? Is it possible that radioactive material be transported without
any signs of it? Why is just the regional police of the Lara State the
one that is interested in this event? Why is there just one small
article in the ABN about this? Why is the minister of the interior not
talking about this?

A quick search on Google provides some alerts on the Internet,
particularly on environmental sites. Reuters even reports a state of
emergency called by the chief of the Defensa Civil in Venezuela. (see ) and another
search in EUD gives just this small news item
Even after these results, I am still amazed at the little importance
this very serious piece of news is been given both by the government and
the media.

The second news that I want to comment on is the incredibly slow CNE. On
December 22nd , El Nacional reported (page A4) that in a press
conference Jorge Rodríguez said that there will not be a definite
bulletin about the December 4 elections UNTIL after January 16!!! They
have not verified the “actas” of some centers in 22 states!

So this humble ghost blogger asks the following: what is the use of tens
(or is it hundreds?) of millions of dollars worth of electronic machines
if the final results are available a month and a half after the
election? Beats me!

Unless the CNE needs extra time for some creative vote counting….

Jorge Arena

A forced leave on sad news

December 23, 2005

I was planning to resume blogging on Monday, unfortunately my mother in
law passed away suddenly two days ago, which will keep me out of the
country at least until Thursday of next week. I have asked my
distinguished ghost blogger Jorge Arena to fill in, if possible, during
the next few days.

Happy Holidays to all

December 20, 2005

I will be travelling for Christmas today, I will be able to post, but I
am sure with all of the festivities, blogging will be light. I have to
work on Monday, so I will be back sooner than I would like. I just wish
all of my readers and friends the best for the holidays and hope 2006
can bring us the peace and tranqulity we all want. Thank you all for
your support and friendship.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Symbolism, meaningful dialogue and the 2006 Presidential election

December 18, 2005

The Government
continues to call for a meaningful dialogue with the opposition, but the
symbolism is all wrong. By this, I mean that if any form of dialogue is to take
place, the Government has to give a sign that it really means it this time
around. To do this, the right person has to propose the dialogue and the
Government has to cool its customary confrontational style as well as using the right kind of symbols in the way it

But what
is happening is exactly the opposite. To begin with, the main character calling
for a dialogue is the Vice-President, Jose Vicente Rangel, the same one that
hosted the failed dialogue after April 11 2002, the same one that sent the opposition
to hell (pa’l carajo) when it decided to withdraw from the parliamentary
elections ad the same one that makes in your face statements against half of
the Venezuelans any day he feels like it. Thus, for a dialogue to take place,
it has to be someone different that proposes it and promotes it. It will not be
Chavez because he will not stake his image on something that may fail or
backfire, but it simply can not be Rangel.

And the symbolism
is also very important. But all of the symbols since the Pyrrhic victory by Chavismo
on Dec. 4th. have been quite negative. Two days after the elections, the prosecution
of Sumate leaders in that charade of a trial continued. The audience was
delayed simply because the Government noticed that this was being done while the
international observers were still around and some of the foreign embassies had
even bothered to send someone to follow the proceedings. But what is clearly a
political case, was not only continued, but threats were made against some of
the Sumate leaders, as their right to due process continues to be violated any time
an audience takes place.

The same
can be said of the trial of union leader Carlos Ortega. Carlos Ortega was not simply
a union leader, he was the elected (in 2002) leader of the federation of unions
that called for a general three day strike that has been ruled legal by
international labor organizations. (Just think what would have happened if Lech
Walesa had been jailed in Poland
when he led the strike that ended with the change of the Government in that country)
But to make matters even worse, Chavez himself said publicly that he created the
conditions to have that strike extended so that he could purge PDVSA. But, days
after the recent parliamentary election, Ortega was sentenced to over 15 years
in prison for civil rebellion, a vague term that does not exist in Venezuelan legislation
in what was clearly another symbol that the Government will continue
persecuting and harassing its enemies. So much for dialogue.

But the
most negative symbol we have seen in the last few days was the invited speaker
to commemorate the anniversary of the new Constitution last Thursday. The
Assembly invited none other than CNE President Jorge Rodriguez to give that
speech, in a clear demonstration that a dialogue is the furthest thought of the
now 100% Chavista National Assembly, sending a clear insult to the Venezuelans
whose rights have been blatantly violated by this arrogant man, who has shown
his partiality for the Government and total disregard for the law.

There is probably
no other Government figure that better represents the abuse of power and total
control of the Government by Chavez, than Jorge Rodriguez. The Comptroller may
be invisible, the People’s Ombudsman may act as the Government’s Ombudsman and
the Supreme Court may rule in the direction Chavez wants. But Jorge Rodriguez
has been a one man show of arrogance, violation of the rights of all
Venezuelans, violation of the laws, wasteful spending without supervision and blatant
partiality towards the Government. To choose him as the speaker to celebrate
the anniversary of the Constitution he has trampled over and disregarded
constantly, is simply another very clear symbol that the Government does not
care about a large segment of the Venezuelan population, even if they are a

And the
Venezuelans who do not trust the electoral system and the people who run it are
indeed a majority. Polls said it, the voters said it by not showing up and the
OAS and EU observers said it. But rather than taking this as a criticism, this
has enraged the Chavez administration and reportedly the man himself. Because
the EU observers report, with all of its damning comments about the elections
and the electoral system, made a very strong statement when it called for the
naming of a new Electoral Board composed of people with “professional prestige,
independence, diverse and with the trust of all sectors of society”. Can it be
clearer than that? Jorge Rodriguez does not represent any of those values.

And that is
the first symbol that the Government has to give in order to think that there
may be a dialogue: Announce that it will name a brand new CNE which will be
diverse and be composed of people that everyone will respect. And then go and do
it. Without conditions.

this step, no call for dialogue, peace or trust among Venezuelans can result. There
can be no Presidential election in 2006 under the supervision of Jorge
Rodriguez and the current Electoral Board. The alternative is for Chavez to
have a true plebiscite for his mandate, the outcome of which does not bode well
for him at this time and may prove to the world that he is just another
militaristic autocrat, with no love of democracy.

Santa and the CIA by Laureano Marquez

December 17, 2005

Xmas, humor and  the revolution all in one:

Santa and
the CIA
by Laureano Marquez in Tal Cual

And you thought:
“no, those little Indians swallowed the tale that Santa Claus, the sleigh and
Rudolph with his lighted nose, the elves and the North Pole”. But with our
country you are screwed. Since seven years ago, we are always watching out for things
that come from you, terrorists! I know you don’t like to be told this
Brownfield (the US
Ambassador). But you have to take it, you terrorist, fascist, narcissist and
coup monger.

We know
clearly that Santa Claus is one of the most terrifying inventions of the North American
Central Intelligence Agency, which created the character by appropriating two
of the fundamental symbols of Marxism: the beard and the red color, to put it
at the service of the bourgeois and globalized capitalistic society.

It doesn’t
go unnoticed to us, now that Venezuela
belongs to all of us, that little ideological message that if one behaves well,
we will receive a present from the North.  A North which Santa maintains reducing to
exploitation the elves in the toy factories, no unions, no food tickets, not
much. They try to buy our minds and make us believe that ALCA is the only path,
instilling the mentality of salvage liberalism in the weak minds of little
kids. There is no doubt that the man named Santa is a blue eyed, red faced WASP
and that because of the cold weather, the truth is that the never revealed truth
is that the famous personality has given himself to drinking to be able to
overcome the contradictions derived by an existence marked by exploitation.

We also
know that the custom of going down the chimneys is a way of promoting an
invasion by the marines of our homes: If we allow one to come in, why not the other
ones. I don’t know if you follow me:” The marines are coming
to town”, it will be something normal. And what about Rudolph and his nose:
Perhaps preparation for the total satellite control of our telecommunications.

Citizens: Do not become overconfident. What
guarantee do we have that the Canadian pine trees that we observe in all corners
of the city do not have inside a missile whose final objective is the
Miraflores Presidential palace? Ah?

But it so
happens that they found the a fit for their own of shoes, because now Venezuela
is different and we have a Government that does not allow a drop of aggression by
Mr. Danger to go simplyby.

Venezuelans: The sole of the insolent Santa
Claus has trampled the sacred soil of the homeland.

Let us march
to the American Embassy on December 25th. and burn all of the Christmas red
hats that we find. Enough of the imperialist aggression! Enough
of Santa Claus! Long live President Chavez, the true Saint Nicholas of America and for
all, Happy Chavidad!