Archive for July 8th, 2007

Not much new, but for some submarines and more conflicts. But I am back!

July 8, 2007

I am now back, but the Internet Gods have not been very nice
to me lately, as I get home and find no DSL connection as I have fallen
into the new CANTV billing system, which was unable to collect its
automatic payment from the bank for the last two months. This has nothing
to do with the new management, as the billing system has been a headache
since February, but this is the first time it catches me.

I have
looked at one month of newspapers (Can’t claim I read them!) and really,
not much has happened since I left, it is just more of the same, the same
crazy or illogical statements by Government officials, the same internal
bickering within the Chavez administration that to me is fairly irrelevant,
least of all when it now involves an old General who has been a victim of
the Chavez praying mantis effect before, but came back for more injuries to
his dignity and ego. This time, he tells us that he is somewhat of a
megalomaniac, as he wanted to be a bullfighter, a priest and later a
soldier, and he lets us know that he thinks the Chavez Government is
showing signs of anarchy as if we have had any order in the last eight

The highlight of the month was of course the purchase of five
submarines by Chavez in Russia, which simply ratifies Venezuela continues
to be an underdeveloped country, where five useless submarines can be
purchased to add to the other three already in place since the 60’s, so
that our Navy officers can play games and feel important. It would cheaper
to buy the Playstations or Wii’s with the appropriate programs. The money
could in fact be used elsewhere, as the cost of five submarines would be
sufficient to build a tunnel through the Avila mountain and generate
economic growth in Vargas State or enough to build thousands of housing
units, which the Government could ask the private (and oligarchic!) private
sector to build, much like the viaduct was built without Government
intervention. But you know this is a revolution, where ideology, silly
ideas and vaporous projects are the rule of the day and spending US$ 40
billion in imports seems more important that economic development of the

And speaking of silly ideas, in mid-June the President of
the Venezuelan Central bank was still defending the 12% target for 2007
inflation, but really set in with June’s numbers which suggest a 20% level
despite the one shot help of the cut in the VAT. Thus, the illustrious
Minister of Finance admits the goal will not be met just after a Deputy in
her wisdom or ignorance states that anyone that does not align itself with
the 12% goal is a traitor. And as he shows his earlier prediction is
impossible, the same Minister dares make another predicting there will be
no devaluation in Venezuela in the next five years. Watch out!

despite high oil prices, Venezuela’s and Pdvsa’s debt have taken a beating
in the last few weeks, as the numbers are simply not adding up. The US$ 60
billion budget of January is already up to US$ 66 billion, but income is
trailing last year’s and the VAT cut will have an impact, which has yet to
be taken into account. But who cares? Let’s sell some structured notes to
some friendly banks, helping them make money in a non-transparent way as a
way of containing the parallel market. And since we are visiting the issue,
let’s make it illegal for the “media” to quote any exchange rate that is
different from the official one, as if we ignoring its existence may make
it go away. I wonder if salon, blogspot and other blog hosts will have to
worry about this regulation.

And who cares about the law and the
Constitution, let’s also forbid demonstrations during a sports event, after
all, the country’s image is more important that basic rights like freedom
of speech or expression. In fact, it is Chavez’ image which is above all
the most important goal of the “process”, forget results, reality and the
like, the leader is above all, including the old Constitution. And by old I
mean the “old” Chavez one, the one that now makes home so uncomfortable
that he wants to change most of it. Yeap, the same one he used to call the
“best” Constitution in the world is no longer cool, it des not let him
confiscate for example and even worse, he might not even be able to make
the changes he wants without a Constituent Assembly, so he is looking for
ways to bypass it.

What else is new?

Really not much. Recall
referenda that nobody cares about, most careers at the Bolivarian
University are illegal as they have no certification or even approval from
the Ministry, heavy crude partners leave the country, Chavez threatens to
withdraw his application to Mercosur as he promises to export gasoline to
Iran, when the country is no longer even self-sufficient.

closing, I thank distinguished blogger Jorge Arena for his contributions,
as well as both Bruni, Spinoza and Daniel for their contributions to keep the blog
breathing in my absence. This time I will not raise their salary, but just
promise to pay them with the new undevaluable Bolivar Fuerte.