Archive for November, 2006

Video of Casa Militar soldiers hitting Globovision cameraman and reporter

November 24, 2006

Megaresistencia has the video of the aggression by the Casa Militar soldiers to the Globovision reporter and cameraman yesterday. The amazing part to me was how the soldiers did not even say a word and started punching and hitting them. Imagine what they do when nobody is watching! Where is the People’s Ombudsman when he is needed?


Justice an injustice in Venezuela a week before the election

November 23, 2006

—For weeks the family of former Yaracuy Governor Eduardo Lapi has been requesting that he be allowed to be treated at a hospital for a bleeding ulcer he has. Lapi, who has been accused of corruption and jailed in his home state, should be allowed to be tried in freedom according to Venezuelan law. But in this very liberal interpretation of Venezuelan law by Chavista judges, you don’t apply justice to your political enemies, yo simply screw them. Thus, the former Governor is in jail while being tried and now, thanks to an order today by the Venezuelan Supreme Court, he will be moved to a hospital to be evaluated and examined by doctors.

—Reporters from the Globovision TV station were violently removed by the “Casa Militar”, which protects the President, as they were covering a protest by people asking for homes. Without crossing words with the reporter, she and her camera man were physically removed by three soldiers. This incident took place in front of the La Casona presidential residence where Chavez does not live.

—In a somewhat puzzling decision for what is considered to be a democracy, the Minister of Interior and Justice issued a resolution prohibiting “meetings, public demonstrations, concentrations of people and any “similar” act that may affect the normal development of the vote”. This means that if, for example, the audits were not conducted as established by the CNE, anyone trying to protest it, could be jailed. Similarly, since the resolution expires at midnight on Dec. 3d., if a winner were announced, his supporters would not be able to celebrate. One has to wonder what is the purpose of this resolution which is in clear violation of the Venezuela Constitution. Primero Justicia has already protested the decision and said it would not be obeyed. A Caracas newspaper also reported that the CNE would ban exit polls.

Just because Milton Friedman died, it does not mean that you can print money at will

November 22, 2006

Today former Chavez Minister of Finance Tobias Nobrega was trying to justify that monetary liquidity is not too high, by saying that it was only 25% of GDP. Well, that may be true in a country with positive returns on savings, but when banks pay 6% and inflation is running at 15%, money is looking to get out, which is why the current large liquidity is pushing the swap or parallel market up. The size of GDP is irrelevant, in fact, the devaluation will simply shrink GDP and bring it down to the right size.

Below, I have a different version of the chart I showed earlier, that tells the same story: Just because Milton Friedman died, it does not mean that you can print money and nothing will happen.

The chart shows the “implicit” exchange rate, what you get if you divide all of the liquidity by international reserves (blue line) and compares it to the red triangles which is the parallel swap rate given by that market. As you can see, after the implicit rate being below the parallel rate all of 2006, in June they began crossing and the swap rate jumped sharply up and right now they are still very close to each other. Exchange rates are also a function of confidence and lower oil prices and excessive spending do not help confidence either.Given all the money spent in November (not all of it included in the chart), then by now the implicit exchange rate is even higher, which simply means the parallel “swap rate” should also move in that direction: UP!

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The pig as a form of payment by Elides Rojas

November 22, 2006

Elides Rojas looks at the future consequences on the justice system of the proposed new barter economy with his customary ironic humor

The pig as a form of payment by
Elides Rojas en El Universal

Barter, the last bright idea of the revolutionary process, introduces
some serious changes to legal jurisprudence.

The Courts of the Bolivarian and Socialist Republic of Venezuela simply can’t
cope. The defeat of savage capitalism and the implementation of barter as the main
system for commerce have erased the thousand-year wisdom of the regulations of
Mercantile Law, to give way to a new legal discipline: the give and take.

Resolving a conflict in front of the correct judicial instances under
ironclad principles of equity and justice, but using terms which are not
contaminated by anything that would imply income, earnings or profit, old bourgeois
concepts that have been dismissed, is not as easy as the theorist of the
castrovenezuelan revolution believed.

A number of cases have already reached the Supreme Court and, given the depth
of the controversy and the complexity of the material extremes that need to be elucidated, the sentencing has generated novel jurisprudence and new general
principles of law.

As an example, there is the case of Turumo Martinez, who lives in
Bobare, and who pretended to recuperate a pig he had given in payment to
Ezequiel Conuco for 60 green plantains, the case is identified under file
V-3342, and has turned itself as emblematic for study in the most qualified
academic symposia.

The Court, in order to decide had to take into consideration some
aspects that constitute the essence itself of the agreement reached. First,
according to the judge in the case, the operation perfected itself with the exchange
of the piglet for the plantains. The fact that the plantains did not fulfill
the requirements of color, shape and stains, is not a sufficient reason to
pretend voiding the operation, as long as, the original inspection was approved
by the interested party.

On the other hand, and with the goal of establishing a supposed return
of the goods subject to barter, the pig, by now, has now been converted to pork
grind and distributed in parts in the highway to Higuerote. This situation,
according to the strictest doctrine, implies the total denaturalization of one
of the elements of the deal.

That is, the pig is no longer a pig. The Full Hall has resolved that in
order to void a barter operation, without agreeing on monetary indemnifications
that would remind anyone of capitalism, it is necessary that the goods, be it
piglets, or bananas, armadillo or pouches, must be kept in their original state
and not be subject to transformations, whether industrial or by craftsmen, that
may destroy their essence. Only in such manner could the pig identified in the
file be then returned to its original owner.

A similar situation, although solved in a different manner, occurred in Yumare,
where a citizen pretended to recover a bull that he had exchanged for 2,000
pewter cups that ended up being made of cardboard. He received, after
subscribing a compensatory agreement, sixty shredded meat arepas and a Mision
Negra Hipolita scholarship. This option is only valid when the parts reach an

A cynical Hugo Chavez talks about loving everyone

November 21, 2006

“Some people say that I hate the middle class and the high classes, that is a lie, I have no hate for anyone, I love all of Venezuela and its inhabitants and all of its territory with its history and its traditions”

Hugo Chavez, November 21st. 2006

(Does this include the squalids, the oiligarchs, those that he will meet with his weapons, those that should leave the country, those that he plans to jail or has jailed, those he has ordered shot, stopped with force, those he regularly calls traitors, those he accuses of only following orders from the empire, those, like former Cardinal Velazco, who he said was going to hell, the media, reporters, the 20,000 people that were illegally fired from PDVSA and their pensions confiscated, the kids at the Jewish school which was raided by the intelligence police, the more than 40 Venezuela everyday because by his complacency about crime, those shot without any reason searching for the killers of Danilo Anderson, the people whose lives were destroyed in the floods in Vargas state, the kids in the streets, those that are afraid of the fingerprint machines, those that have had to ask for political asylum, those that die because hospitals have no supplies, Jose Vilas, those killed in La Paragua, Fuerte Mara; the four dozen PDVSA workers who have committed suicide, his former friends in the military and Government, is if for love of your people you allow, promote and participate in that TV program full of hate called “La Hojilla”?….you get the picture of how he spreads this fake love around. Please complete with your list in the comments section)

PDVSA roja, rojita: Painting it won’t make it so…

November 21, 2006

Practicing for Baghdad-like scenes on Dec. 4th.

November 21, 2006

Electoral Musings from Caracas

November 20, 2006

We seem to
have entered a phase of the campaign where the only thing either candidate can
or is offering is: to win, as if they were trying to turn the whole thing into a
self-fulfilling prophecy. I have heard
little concrete that is new in the last two weeks other than the novel and
absurd barter proposal by Chavez, his only new offer after that one of killing
us with his love, which he seems to have left behind by now, because it either
did not work out well or it just does not fit his style. Hate comes out so much
easier in his life!

meanwhile has said little new at a time that I would have expected him to be
bringing up campaign issues like corruption, that have not been at the
cornerstone of his campaign. My guess is that Rosales’ advisors believe the
message should be simple and to the point and corruption can not be conveyed in
three simple words, other than the fact that the robolutionaries are truly
ripping off the country under the watchful eyes of the autocrat, who wears
fancy suits, watches, ties and allows his family to get very rich indeed.

And there
is indeed a confusing message being sent by both campaigns. If Chavez is ahead,
why the need to hire phantom and obscure pollsters that will reiterate every
two days that Chavez is ahead by twenty points? Why does Podemos tell us
that Chavez will win even in Zulia, which nobody would ever believe, and that
the war of polls is led by the opposition given that two out of three polls
favor Chavez? Meanwhile the dual Minister of Information and spokesman for
Chavez’ political party MVR, a conflict of interest that demonstrates William
Lara can’t even spell the word ethics, tells us
that Chavez will win by the same 70% “floor” Diosdado told us about yesterday
but Chavez has never stepped on in his political career. But much like the 80%
level of poverty that only existed in Chavez’ mind, they now attempt to
brainwash us into believing the autocrat one day got that many votes.

And the edginess
of the Chavistas is countered by the calm of Rosales and his people. I thought
maracuchos were supposed to be fiery, temperamental and ebullient, but so far
those like my stereotype do not appear to be at the forefront of Rosales’
campaign. Lately the opposition candidate is playing up “Mi Negra” a lot, which
would imply that polls show this offer truly attracts people and maybe their votes. But other
than this, the headlines just say that Rosales guarantees his victory and that
nobody will cheat him on Dec. 3d. But these guys are very calm, probably under
the belief that they simply have to watch the trend. And the trend is indeed
not only your friend, but is indeed up for Rosales.

But jeez,
this is what I am told all the time: Watch the trend! Watch the trend! But I
would feel so much better if all polls would show Rosales gaining and winning
at the same time. Life would be so much simpler and nicer!

every time I talk to a Chavista I propose a barter trade, but they reject it,
saying that I am trying to take advantage of them. Well, I tell them, so is
Chavez! I wonder how many PSF’s will barter their homes in their own countries
for a ranchito in a nice barrio in Caracas,
under the promise that Chavez will bring them out of poverty. But revolutions
are best seen and evaluated from afar. They are good for learning the theory,
but forget about going to the lab. They tend to be long and boring!

And every
time I get down, I think not of barter but of the crowds. Those crowds that show up daily at Rosales’ rallies.
Of course the opposition mobilizes their people, but the crowds are always
larger, more spontaneous and heterogeneous for Rosales’ rallies than the well
paid Chavez crowds, all dressed in their brand new red t-shirt, thirty thousand
Bs. in the pocket and a boxed lunch or dinner waiting in the bus. I guess they
are more oligarchic, uniform, composed mostly of public workers, rather than
the poor, who have become more difficult to mobilize. After all, there are few
threats against them, they have no jobs to be fired from, misiones are not
always paid on time, all they can lose is just a lousy thirty thousand every
couple of months and, if Chavez wins, that may be the end of that anyway.

Then there
is the mandate explanation: The problem is not whether Chavez wins or not, but
the possibility that the race may be too close, blocking the possibility of a revolutionary
mandate for the all powerful, allmighty leader of the third, fourth and fifth
world. As if that would stop Chavez from promoting himself! But I just wonder whatever
happened to the “Ten million votes por el buche”, when it actually looks like
maybe no more than ten million voters may show up to cast their ballot for
both candidates. So much for the revolution being a success!

the fool that
plans the Venezuelan economy says
Venezuela is at a stellar point
economically, when all he has done, thanks to a factor of five increase in oil
income is bring it back to where it was when Chavez took over in 1998, which
was not exactly its nadir anyway. But it’s funny how when these leftists have
been in power for a while, they begin sounding like neo liberal economists from
the IMF, quoting GDP growth and balance of payments, while forgetting that
imports will reach the unsustainable level of US$ 30 billion, this year, that
inflation is shooting up, half the population is employed informally,
production is a disaster and PDVSA is a mess.

Of course,
as Giordani recounts the economy of the last few years, he seems to forget how
the currency blew up in his face in February 2002, well before the events he
wants to blame all the problems on. (Chavez actually removed him for this blow
up, but brought him back in another great example of his recurrent bad judgment)
And curiously, history is repeating itself as it seems ready to blow up in his
face again.

Giordani has never been a very original man, except for his famous statement
that the North Korean economy was “healthy”. After all, if you told him
liquidity was too high and the currency would devalue, he would likely ask for
you to show him a textbook that says that. He just can’t connect dots, more so
if they are economic ones, since he has no formal training in the subject.
(Disclaimer: I don’t either, but I am not the Minister!)

And then
all of his acolytes speak to the papers
to produce the great headline: “Increase in parallel rate does not
concern the Government,” which is enough to make anyone panic. Either these guys
are truly stupid or they are the best poker players in the world! They blame it
all on demand, as if the money the people had in their hands came out of
nowhere, it is the old chicken and egg problem, but I get the feeling these
guys have no clue where the egg even comes out of. My gut feeling is they
already know by how much they will devalue if Chavez wins the election. If not,
let Rosales do the unnecessary dirty work.

despite Poesque claims of “Nevermore”, the peanut farmer center for voyeur electoral
observations is back in
, making sure that they take care of precisely the part they know the
least about: Voting Machines. Thanks God their stay in Venezuela will
be short, according to their spokesman. It must be a new strategy to minimize
screwing up, just don’t stay long and say  as little as possible!

Thus, with
two weeks left, we have a very nervous Government, with changing campaign
strategies almost daily and a war of words and polls between the two sides, as
well as changes in those running Chavez’ campaign. On the other side we have
some cool maracuchos, either overconfident because of the size of the crowds they see
daily or simply happy that they will not have to take over this really screwed
up economy right before it blows up on their faces. Is that why they are
smiling or they are just a happy bunch with beer bellies, which is the only part of the stereotype they fit!

Barter by Alberto Barrera Tyszka

November 19, 2006

I wrote
yesterday about Alberto Barreda, who won the Herralde prize for his novel “La
Enfermedad” it is only fitting that I translate his short piece in his Sunday
column entitled “Barter”, based on Chavez’
latest harebrained idea
about barter and currencies.

Barter by Alberto Barrera Tyszka in
El Nacional


The reason
for the present email is to reaffirm the radical, revolutionary and Bolivarian character
of the last project that lucidly has been offered to us by our unbeatable commander
in chief. We believe that barter is the most novel instrument to build XXIst. Century
Socialism, That is why we are calling on you to add your backing to this
popular initiative to propose to the President the creation of Mision Trueque
(Mision Barter).

Our idea, it
is to be said, is that barter become a participatory, popular, ideological and
endogenous practice. For example, I want to exchange my piece of junk from ’75 for
the BMW of fatso Ameliach (Chavez’ former campaign manager). Without complications
of dirty money mediating it. Presto! Just like that. Comrade Efren also wants
to barter. He has a little house up there beyond San Blas. He wants to barter
it evenly with the Foreign Minister… He does not mind the size or the
location. Any piece of shit with a kitchen and a bathroom that Maduro owns will
be a gain for him. My mate Lisbeth will barter her clothes for any of the rags
that comrade Cilia Flores bought in New
York…We have brothers in the movement so enthusiastic
that they are thinking that certain wider criteria can be included in the
operations. What do you think about bartering husbands and wives, which have
been using each other for a while?

This is our opportunity. The true revolution begins here. Giving and giving it
back. If you want to back us and manage the consolidation of our mission, add
your signature below and, in exchange, we will give you a new national ID

Barter or Death. We shall win

A bit of everything

November 19, 2006

Last week I posted a picture of the Cattleya Walkeriana semi alba above left, it turns pout the flowers were starting to open and both look fantastic together. To right: Laelia Santa Barbara “Peaches” a hybrid of Laelia Anceps.

Very nice Cattleya Percivaliana (very stinky too!), I love the yellow, shown in close up on the right.

Huge Dendrochilum, I wished it would flower more often than once a year. Top right, Oncidium, I am not sure which one, will check and post name if I find it.

These two flowers are not mine, they are two Phalenopsis from Orquideario Cerro Verde, where I went yesterday.