Archive for January 28th, 2007

Only Bush can save Chavez by Rafael Poleo

January 28, 2007

While I read the magazine “Zeta” every week, I tend not to like the Editorials by its Editor/owner Rafael Poleo, but I enjoyed quite a bit this week’s editorial, even if I don’t agree with everything it says and thought you might enjoy it too, so here it goes.

Only Bush can save Chavez by Rafael Poleo in Zeta.

Hugo Chavez is not the first president to whom I allow myself to give observations on his budget which in the course of the year will coincide with the facts. With my friend Jaime Lusinchi, who seeing in perspective was the best president of his generation – it is enough to remember that he lowered the national debt considerably with an oil income six times smaller than the present one-I would have a collision every year because, as I used to tell him, with my Casio pocket calculator of the size of a credit card and powered by solar energy and which was supposed to be used only to go to the supermarket, I would calculate national income and expenditures better than his Minister of Finance.

Chavez’ numbers for the year are equally false. Being a politician who is as much of a liar as a “Romana de Palo”* , it is quite possible that Chavez is a contributor to the deceit. But one also must consider that that gypsy never added up anything in his life, even his personal expenses. So that if Jaime, who as Head of the Parliamentary Caucus of the party in Government had, for several years, to review the National Budget and to handle its discussion by a Legislative Power which was both power and was legislative, was lied to by his Minister of Finance, who at least passed for a decent person, Chavez, who has no clue as to how you eat that stuff and whose Economic Cabinet is composed of a bunch of crooks from the Fourth Republic, it is much easier for them to wrap themselves around him, so that the Chiefs of the official finances can continue doing their deals, behind the President’s back. More so, if our nut ejects from his surroundings the serious and capable revolutionaries, like doctor Maza Zavala, who by the way was one of the most solid critics of public finances in the days of Lusinchi.

Hugo’s budget for 2007 dreams of an income of 52 billion dollars. Let us bypass the fact that no Latin American President has ever had so much money. Let’s reduce ourselves to the fact that the price of oil has been cut by 30% in the last six months despite the winter in the North. It does not seem likely that in this 2007 it will reach the 65 dollars per barrel that would be needed so that the income reaches the predicted level of expenses. In fact, for this year it is expected to be a little more than 50 dollars on average. That would mean about 35,000 million dollars for Venezuela – it is not easy to pinpoint it, because, that is the other problem, the Government also lies about the volume of extracted oil, exaggerating it to disguise the inefficiency into which PDVSA has fallen. In sum, he lacks about 15 billion dollars. The taxes that they steal from us are not sufficient, which is why Tax Superintendent Vielma Mora walks around like a dog with worms, looking for ways to squeeze some more out of those Venezuelans who still make an effort to produce, including modest workers. But even with that it is not enough. That is why they will increase the price of gasoline, a good that is monopolistically produced and sold by the Government.

In this matter of gasoline there is a particularity which is indicative of the ignorance which about such vital matter may be housed in the big body of the barines, a baby bull fed by the bonanza that we lived in the Fourth Republic. Chaez has ordered the “revolutionary”, that one with the little voice that manages oil, that the increase of the price of gasoline must be done without inflation. Economic experts worldwide, socialist and neoliberal, must be keeping an eye for the formula that the “revolutionary” will invent to realize such a miracle. Because the price of fuel inevitably affects that of transportation, and as everything must be transported, all costs go up and therefore prices. If Chavez’ oil manager does the miracle, we must withdraw the request for the canonization of Jose Gregorio Hernandez, which is not moving forward because his miracles have failed to materialize, and request the one of this civil servant.

Things get even worse because of the fact that the mythical budget forgets a very fat budget item. It may be that they can’t figure out what to call it. I propose to name it “Pimps of the President”. Of these, the ones with the biggest appetites are two: the skinny Kirchner and the serial assassin from Havana, the one that shits from the belly. The one from Havana does not have budgetary problems. He spends and the Venezuelans provide what is missing. It is an open faucet that runs in a single direction. The cross-eyed guy from Buenos Aires does not have it equally easy, but he defends himself blackmailing the young bull from Barinas: whenever there is a meeting of Mercosur, he raises the price of his friendship. Any day now, we need to send him 2 billion dollars, payable with the increase of the price of gasoline. And a bigger one is coming soon, because the Supreme Court decided that those Argentineans whose dollars were taken away from, when the “Corralito” took place, will have their money returned. In my opinion, I don’t know if if in yours, that decision was agreed on between the Justices and Kirchner. The court ruled in favor of the Argentine account holders, knowing full well that in Caracas there is a pitcher that will deliver. Argentine citizens will receive 5 billion dollars that will reactivate the economy of that country, while here the rough times go on an on and we will borrow abroad because, as we have seen, oil is no longer esufficient. What balls!

I have always said “In Venezuela there are no good nor bad governments, but good or bad prices of oil”. Chavez shattered this axiom. His case proves that there can be a bad Government with good prices of oil. But some people are born with luck. His enemies always save Chavez. Carmona saved him once, another time somebody in the Coordinadora who for now I am not going to name did it, and more recently the triad Petkoff-Rosales-Borges. This year the man that can save him is Bush, invading Iran. We can’t foresee any other way for oil prices to increase to the level of what is needed for the big spender that we have here. So that you see that in matters of politics things are not what they seem. Hugo Rafael and his court of pimps must be praying so that the cowboy from Washington moves forward to sweep out the Iranian that they publicly endorse. Because in this life each of us takes care only of its own.

* The llaneros of my generation, who did not go around in “cuadratrak” but on mules, got to know the Romanas (balances invented in ancient Rome) constructed from wood (palo) which we used to weigh the cattle. Of course, those devices, which were homemade, were not very exact. They lied. From which that archaic expression comes, “A bigger liar than a Romana e’palo”, used by this old reporter to describe the behavior of politicians like Hugo Rafael.

Robolutionary Farce: Governement expropriates with one hand to give buddies concessions with the other

January 28, 2007

This weekend I was going to write about the expropriation of the “Aeropuerto Caracas” by the Governor of Miranda State, in order to promote “popular tourism”, according to the decision by the Legislative Assembly of that State. This decision is a surprise. Other than to exert control over people, there can’t be any justification for it, more so, when Miranda State has two other airports that belong to the State and that have been supposedly part of plans to expand them and increase their importance in the last two years. In fact, the Governor of Miranda State even appeared in Chavez’ program Alo Presidente early in 2006 to talk about this grandiose plan.

Aeropuerto Caracas is a concession to an association and both commercial and private flights use it daily. It no longer has international flights because they were prohibited by this Government two years ago, when the Caracas airport was closed to airplane traffic (a decision which is violated daily, when at least a dozen Government planes take off and land in the La Carlota airport of Caracas).Aeropuerto Caracas also includes hangars in private land around it and it is as yet unclear if this is part or not of the nationalization. It is run well, maintained well and run efficiently and Government airplanes pay no fees for its use.

If I was surprised by this decision, today I am amazed by it, as I learn that in a contigous State, exactly the opposite is being done. Indeed, Governor Acosta Carles has given the concession of the Puerto Cabello International Airport for 50 years, under terms that can only be called extremely sweet, as the company getting the concession will not have to pay anything to the Government for the first 11 years.

As if this were not enough, the person signing the contract in representation of the company happens to be General Victor Cruz Weffer, a Chavez buddy and supposedly a revolutionary, whose tenure as Head of the Bolivar 2,000 program was marked by irregularities, scandal and corruption, but nothing ever came of it.

Thus, it is clear that this revolution is a farce: While the Government expropriates, nationalizes and takes over majority of companies, land, airports, joint ventures and the like from their rightful or contractual owners, it does exactly the opposite to its friends and supporters, giving new meaning to the terms bolibourgeois and robolution.

A bit of everything

January 28, 2007

This pretty little thing above left is a recent acquisition Lc. Tokyo Magix x Slc. Tangerine. I acquired this two months ago and it’s supposed to be two years from flowering, but it surprised me with three flowers. The flowers are tiny and so is the plant, on the right I took a picture (a terrible one!) of the plant and next to it I placed a brand new #2 pencil so that people can get an inea of the size of the plant and flowers.

Above left is a Cattleya Jenmanii Coerulea, which is flowring for the second time. I was not impressed the first tome, but this time I know I have a great one, the flower in the middle is not as good but the other two are fantastic. On teh right a Cattleya Gaskellaina.

On the left is a Brassia Datacosta, the flowers are almost half a meter in size from top to bottom. On the right, a huge Gaskelliana is in flower in the orchid room, but I was afraid to move it by myself so I took the picture “in situ”