Archive for January 10th, 2007

A picture is worth 10,000 words #18: Housing units built in the revolution and before…

January 10, 2007

So much money, so little accomplished, not one year better than any between 1990 and 1998.


Few surprises as Chavez’ inauguration is just more of the same.

January 10, 2007

Lt. Cl. Hugo Chavez was sworn in today as the President of Venezuela for the next six years and maybe for life, as he invoked Jesus Christ “The greatest socialist in history” and a Castroait “Homeland, socialism or death”.

But in some sense, Chavez stole his own thunder with his own improvised announcements of the previous days, which shook up markets as far away as Russia and China, but in the end only affect Venezuela.

Chavez took again some pot shots at OAS Secretary Insulza, clearly delimiting the ability of any foreigner to criticize the revolution. Add to that Venezuelan conspirators that criticize his Government, all of which should be investigated according to a resolution by the National Assembly as well as Chavistas who even dare say they will not join the unique party and the autocrat defined his limited sets of friends o the revolution.

The church was also attacked, with Chavez asking how come that institution does not respect him, as he  (??) respects him, as he took a shot at Cardinal Urosa, his own preference for Cardinal a year ago and then he managed to send the Bishop of Coro to Hell, but, in his modesty, he admitted that the Bishop will await for him there.

But the rest was mostly ant-climatic. Not once did Chavez ask for dialogue or reconciliation with the opposition in Venezuela. Not once, did he announce anything that was very specific using instead silly phrases like “socialism provides stability” and “the end to all differences”, calling to an end to outrageous salaries in Government, criticizing those that make ten million Bs. a month (about US$ 5,000) per month, a development that has taken place during his tenure as President. Apparently nobody has told Chavez that Ministers make 20 million a month ($10,000), CNE Directors 25 million  (12,000) and National Assembly Deputies make Bs. 15 million ($7,500) a month. All of them also receive bonuses and perks, which easily increase their yearly pay by at least 40%. Chavez thus called for a pay scale, something that he did away with when he got to power. But he made it sound like this was a perversion of the IVth. Republic, rather than the lack of checks and balances and corruption under his own incompetent management or lack thereof.

And he went over the threat of nationalization of Monday again, simply saying that he would revert all privatizations, but without being specific. He did add that he would nationalize asphalt activities and natural gas projects, which is sort of funny, in the ironic sense of the word, for a Government that as recently as a year ago was holding auctions for these ventures.

In the end it was much like his Sunday program Alo Presidente, except it was a weekday and there was no singing or poetry. He spoke for over three hours, saying little concrete, except that he will propose his indefinite reelection, also not a new concept. He questioned the size of municipalities, suggesting community councils (??) may be more effective. He called the commercial code “capitalist” without being specific and promised that the enabling Bill will be proposed this weekend.

Thus, even those that voted for Chavez a month ago still have no clue about what they voted for, except that the autocrat himself will decide it all. The National Assembly will be silenced for a year, with salary and perks, and much like in the 2000 Enabling Bill, a week before its deadline and at an ungodly hour and without any consultation with anyone, the Government will present the Bills that will define the so called XXIst. Century Socialism, which more and more sounds like Venezuela in the 60’s, without the rule of law or checks and balances and led by a militaristic and dictatorial autocrat.

A cynical start for the new Vice-President

January 10, 2007

The new Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez started his tenure in his new position with the same cynical attitude as when he was the President of the Electoral Board. After the 19% plunge in the Caraca Stock Market, he told the press:

“There was no “desplome” (sharp fall or plunge) of anything, the Stock Market is more solid than ever, the economy is more solid than ever…”

Well, if the trading of the stock of Electricidad de Caracas had no been halted yesterday after the first 20% drop, I am sure the index would have fallen even more than 19%. Moreover, the nationalization of CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas represents a severe blow to the exchange, since two of the most important stocks in the country will no longer trade, shrinking the size of the stock market capitalization to a puny US$ 5.5 billion  from an already small US$ 8.2 billion.

I guess that much like the reality of what is happening in the country, the strategy is that if Government officials say something a sufficient number of times, it magically becomes the truth (1992 coup, conspirancies, plots to kill Chavez and the like). In that spirit, the the devil ratifies that the stock market did not drop yesterday and the parallel exchange rate did not reach Bs. 4,000 to the dollar for the first time in history.

Oh! I forgot, there is no inflation in double digits either.