Things I wished I had more time to write about

June 25, 2006

So many
things going on, it’s hard to write about everything I would like, here
are the things I would write about tomorrow, if I had the time:

–The Head
of the Comptrolling Committee of the National Assembly went to the Supreme
Court to clarify the role of the Assembly in comptrolling how funds are used by
the Government and whether they are spent according to what the Assembly
approved. The Deputy said that the books handed in by Ministries and other
institutions that depend on the Government were “huge useless tomes”,
impossible to audit and lacking the necessary information for any sort of

–In October
2004, Carlos Barboza won the race for Mayor of the Miranda municipality of Zulia
state by more than 3,000 votes (with a total of 12,443). Last week, the
Electoral Hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled that the backing of the
losing candidate from COPEI after the election took place,
giving him more than four thousand votes and thus defeating Barboza. Thus, the
Court ruled, the new Mayor is the MVR candidate Tiberio Bermudez. The most interesting
facts about the decision is that COPEI itself says that it never backed
Bermudez before or after the election. Additionally, it is unheard of that a
party can change who it backs after the decision, COPEI’s candidate was Henoc
Guerere and he campaigned until the last day. Moreover, Barboza is closely
aligned with Zulia Governor Manuel Rosales.

–Hugo Chavez
announced yesterday that General Raul Baduell will be the new Minister of
Defense. Baduell was the man that brought Chavez back in April 2002. He is a strange
character who believes in reincarnation and has personal ambitions. He has told
his close friends in private that if Chavez can be President, he is much better
qualified to occupy the position. Reportedly Chavez did not trust Baduell
sufficiently to name him Minister, but he decided to go for him to strike a
balance within the so called Chavismo sin Chavez movement and the military.

–The much
ballyhooed contract between Petroecuador and Venezuela was suspended due to

–Chavez promised
to build a gas pipeline to Panama,
despite the fact that experts claim Venezuela does not even have enough
natural gas to send through the Transamazonic pipeline.

said that he will initiate “monetary reform” and change the currency to make it
smaller. The only questions are whether it will still be called the Bolivar or
the Bolivariano and whether he will remove three zeroes or divide by 500.
Dividing by 500 would make the Bolivar 4.30 to the US dollar, exactly the same
it was in the “glory” days of Venezuelans traveling abroad to shop, because
everything ta’barato (it’s cheap)

Government was ready to issue US$ 3.5 billion in debt under PDVSA, thinking
that it would be cheaper for that company to issue debt than for the Government
to do it. However, they apparently did not take into account that the company
has yet to file its 2004 financials (despite announcements that it “was” done
last week and has no plans to make any future filings. In fact, this week,
credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded the four oil partnerships that produce
heavy oil to a notch below Venezuela’s
sovereign bonds. The reason? Increased royalties, increase taxes and, get this,
the risk
that PDVSA may want to control and take over a majority stake of the projects. In
the end, it will likely be a PDVSA issue with a sovereign-like coupon, not what
the Government had planned.

Four people drove straight through the fallen viaduct in a car and died. Here is one tragedy you can’t blame on the Government, these guys must have been really loaded!

–Last week Bill Gates announced he would quit Microsoft to devote himself full time to his foundation, today Warren Buffet, the world’s richest man, announced that he will give 85% of his money to charity with the largest share going to Gates’ foundation, which will go from the best endowed foundation in the world to the best endowed foundation in the world. I must say, it is a great way to spend their money and the world has never seen anything ever in the scale of what these guys are doing. Hats off to both of them!

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