Archive for January 21st, 2007

Some good and provocative reading in Sundays papers

January 21, 2007

Good and provocative reading in today’s papers, I thought of translating some of it, but there is so much, that I can just point out to those that speak Spanish where the good or interesting stuff is:

—Historian Manuel Caballero talks about how behind the call for “popular power” Chavez is simply concentrating more power and how Chavez misunderstands the Russian revolution, where the workers were not asking to own the factories, they already owned them, but they wanted peace. Some quotes:

“In my book “Why I am not Bolivarian” I write and analise Umberto Eco’s thesis about fascism, because there has never been a whole group of people with a single way of thinking “I interpret it because I am the people”. And Eco says that in that case “the people” become a theatrical fiction that is only good for applauding. The people that go to Chavez’ rallies are not there to listen to him, only to watch him. Is the same as Sabado Sensacional” (A marathonic TV program all Saturday’s that has been on for decades)…the people that voted for Chavez in 98 and a large fraction of those that have continued voting for him do not do it to go against corruption, out of anger or frustration or because they wanted a good Government, but because they wanted a dictatorship. “

—Psychoanalyst Adrain Lieberman talks about Venezuelans, their envy, their values and violence in Venezuela. An excerpt:

“More than democrats in Venezuela, what we have is a libertarian spirit, we do not trust regulating institutions, we want to do whatever we want. We have a democratic vocation only in its formal aspects”

—Telecom analyst Victor Suarez asks what controls will the anti-monopoly regulator impose on the Government once it owns CANTV and questions the Government’s argument for nationalizing CANTV:

“In front of the verbal and administrative firing squad should be the Government officials that promised that the people would have more access to communications. Those that offered and did not fulfill their promises that the citizens would have more access to communications. Those that offered and did not fulfill their promises in eight years of Government”

—Pro-Chavez historian Margrita Lopez Maya expresses her concerns about what has been happening in the last two weeks, in particular, how Chavez seems uninterested in anybody’s opinion but his:

“Based on some of the things proposed, a process has begun of slowly weakening liberal democracy. I think we are going towards an institutional weakening of the National Assembly as a space for deliberation and the depositor of popular sovereignty. Equality and autonomy of powers rule the 99 Constitution, but I think there is the intention of inducing a modification to go towards the subordination of all powers to the Presidency”

—Alberto Barrera writes on Chavez’ vision of society (can’t find it online):

“Hugo Chavez never had that very Venezuelan need to go out in the streets and get a quick job. The State, bourgeois and liberal, always gave him everything…I suspect that XXIst. Century Socialism has a great problem: Its main manager is the “new man” from the IVth. Republic”

And yes, there have been some good announcements, but the spinning is incredible

January 21, 2007

In the last week there have been some good announcements on the part of the Government. What is remarkable is how the Government has spun these announcements as if it had not been the result of its own policies to begin with:

—After eight year’s of providing those that are better off with a gigantic subsidy, Hugo Chavez announced today that gasoline prices are going up (A gallon costs 16 US dollar cents today). This is great news as it did not make sense to give the middle class a subsidy five times that of the poor. However, Chavez held firm to not increasing the price of gas for eight long years of a senseless subsidy. Not only that, but it was his Government that ended the natural gas program for automobiles in 2000, which was recently revived. The size of the increase has not been announced, but I surely hope measures are taken to limit the impact on the poor. I have always argued (I posted on this in 2004) that the Government could pay for all public transportation to convert to natural gas with one year’s subsidy and thus prices would not have to go up for public transportation.

—The President also announced last week that he will cap Government salaries at $1,400 a month. A cap had always existed and under the second Caldera Government the “Ley de Emolumentos” was issued and has been largely ignored under the disorganization of this Government. People have been retiring with obscene salaries, in particular those at the Electoral Board, the Supreme Court and the Venezuelan Central Bank. Reportedly the Supreme Court Justices who make US$ 13,000 a month and get paid a bonus of six months at the end of the year have discussed the issue and decided this does not apply to them because they are an “independent” body. It’s almost funny for them to argue that now. Remember the case of the Vice Minister of Finance caught entering the US with US$ 45,000 in cash and telling the US Court that he made close to US$ 150,000 in 2002 alone? You have to love these revolutionaries.

—And despite the announcement that Chavez would nationalize everything that was privatized, he also said he would not revert the privatization of steel company Sidor, which is good news. Could it be because it is owned by an Argentinean consortium and his buddy Kirchner asked him not to do it?

I worry that they may be getting ideas from my blog…

Mostly Species

January 21, 2007

It’s amazing how every time I think flowering is stopping, something comes up with buds in no time. Evenings have been cool for Caracas (15-17C at the low point every evening which will be good for flowering in a month or two, plants like that very much.

On the top left is a Sobralia Leucoxantha from the Venezuelan Andes. It may look like a Cattleya, but it is anything but one. First of all it is a dirt orchid, the flower comes out and lasts barely one day and other flowers come out later of the top of the same branch,  from the same bud, seuqnetially behind the previous one. On the right is a Cattleya Nobilior from Brazil.

I love this Cirrhopetalum Coralifferum from Asia. It is one inch in diameter and look on the right picture the close up of the detail it has.

On the left Comparettia Macroplectrum from the Andes from Venezuela to peru. Top right, a Phalenopsis which I have had so long I don’t even have a tag for it or remember it’s name.

Two pictures from my very generous Cattleya Gaskelliana Mimi x Aida. These are from two separate plants. This is a large plant with roots outside the pot and some 20 flowers and/or buds total

This hybrid has the name of a flower, but I can’t remember it right now, it’s Lc. and then some common flower name.

A picture is worth 10,000 words #22: The price of Venezuela’s oil basket

January 21, 2007

Below is the evolution of the average price of a barrel of the Venezuelan oil basket for the last 52 weeks. A good rule of thumb is that one dollar up or down represents US$ 1 billion more or less in revenues for the country.

Source: Bloomberg

You can now find all of the graphs I have posted since the election in the Pictures section