Archive for March 14th, 2008

Semana Santa is here, posting will be light to scant

March 14, 2008

Tomorrow is the beginning of Easter week or Semana Santa here in Venezuela, a week in which everything dies all over the country. Scools are out and this time around Wednesday is a Catholic holiday too, making it even shorter in some sectors. Government also shuts down, so it is likely that little will happen for the next ten days. I will take off also, going to the Pacific side of Mexico for a few days of rest. I will have Internet access but updates are likely to be sporadic and only if events deserve my attention.

Have a good one!

Sad acts of anarchy surface in daily life in confrontational Venezuela

March 14, 2008

One has to get concerned when besides all of the problems the country is facing, there seems to be developing a level of anarchy in Venezuelan society, where both sides of the polarization in which the country is immersed act out destructively and with hate. It is truly bothersome when groups alternate in acting outside of the law violating teh rights of others and then the opposing groups comes back seeking revenge. This happened this week in Barquisimeto at a public University, the Polytechnic University Antonio Jose de Sucre.

It is a long story of political demands that began last Fall, when a group of students began demanding that the “Professor’s House” be made available to all of the members of the University’s community, not just a privileged few. A group of students too over the House in protest.

A few days later, a different group of students, those that have not been admitted to any university too over the same House in protest. They did this On November 6th. and managed to stay there until mid-February when the police removed them from the Professor’s House. In the process, six students were detained and jailed. This outraged some pro-Government students who then went in and under the passive watch of the National Guard, went in and and took over the House again, this time protesting the jailing of their friends.

Then a couple of days ago, 1,500 students (Yes, mostly anti-Government students!) met at a student Assembly and found a somewhat perverse way of ending the conflict: They decided, despite the opposition of the leaders of the student union, to go and simply destroy the “Casa del Profesor” by taking it apart brick by brick, roof tile by roof tile, which you can see happening on the picture above. A tragic, barbaric and absurd act by any measure.

Thus, one more example of the many types of anarchy that are suddenly surfacing in Venezuela lately and which bodes badly for our future as a tolerant and democratic society.

Truly sad.

The revolution never ceases to amaze with its deeds and words

March 14, 2008

It was one of those days when one gets simply incredulous at what is said and done by the revolution. Among the highlights:

—Minister of the Interior and Justice Rodriguez Chacin found a novel and original explanation for the shortages in Venezuela, which he gave to the Government’s TV station VTV: “The US is in a war with us and they are blocking the purchase of food and military parts”. I imagine we will hear this one more often as the Government can’t solve the problem with shortages.

—And El Universal uses the annual report of the Ministry of Education to conclude that there were 2.5 million fewer students in 2007 than in 2006. The reason? According to the same report, the number of students enrolled in the educational “Misiones” went down by 2.4 million students. I guess the cheerleaders of the revolution are likely to tell us that they are all well educated by now. Yeah, sure!

—And the more the Government creates shortages, the more it believes the solution resides in even more intervention and participation by the Government in the production of foodstuffs. Today the Government announced another purchase of a diary company, it was Lacteos Los Andes’ turn to be bought off by an inefficient and incompetent Government. I don’t know who I should feel worse for, the workers that are likely to lose jobs slowly over time or the Venezuelan people that will see more and more shortages as these companies are destroyed by bad management and corruption. Remember Invepal? Remember the sugar processing plants? Just watch…

—And you have to love it when the Minister of Finance says that his objective is to bring the parallel market rate down to Bs. 3.5 per US$. I thought it was illegal to talk about “that” market. I certainly hope his parallel market objective is a little better than his inflation objective of 11% for the year. I also wish him good luck with all of the new bond he plans to issue his year, maybe he is ot aware of the liquidity problems in international credit markets. I do hope Bear Stearns is not the investment bank leading the sale in April.

—And remember the guy who was supposed to be a guerrilla member and none other than the Minsiter of the Interior and Justice (again) told us he was not? Well, based on the fingerprints that the same Minister gave Colombian authorities, it turns out they are not only members of the FARC but part of the High Command of the 38th. Front of the FARC. Do these guys even check things out before they speak?