Archive for June 16th, 2008

As Chavez rolls over them with his new pragmatism, people feeling optimistic

June 16, 2008

One of the benefits of the controversy and the abrogation of
the intelligence Bill is that Chavez seems to have gone on the defensive,
concerned about any possible reaction by the opposition and/or students that
his Government’s actions may have.

Which actually puts him in a difficult position, as the end
of the Enabling Bill is coming soon and Chavez was supposed to take advantage
of his special powers to legislate by decree and put a framework to his “XXIst.
Century Socialism”. Except that
project seems to have been diverted by Minister of Planning El Troudi, combined
by Chavez’ dwindling popularity.

El Troudi’s theory seems to be that the Government needs the
private sector (duhh!) as investment has reached ridiculously low levels for
the private sector, while Chavez spends too much money on imports and current
expenses and no real investment takes place. Thus, despite high oil prices, the
economy is actually cooling off under the effect of inflation, high interest
rates and the surprisingly low Government spending in the first five months of
the year.

But even if cooling off is what Chavez needs, the question is
whether he can afford to pass up the opportunity to legislate on important
economic matters before the July Enabling Bill deadline. Reportedly, there was a new Commercial Code ready
to replace the one that has been around for over a century and a half, and
people expected it to redefine property and to have elements in it that would
force the private sector to “integrate” more with the public one, whatever that
may mean.

This is no longer expected because it may raise an outcry,
but I find it very hard to believe that this is the case. As witnessed by the
nomination yesterday of Ali Rodriguez to be Minister of Finance, Chavez has not
changed one bit, he just has had these lapses of trying to convince people he
is a good guy, while he plots how he will manage to implant his vague
revolution on our country.

People are so complacent these days in Venezuela that I
actually heard people call Ali Rodriguez a pragmatist a couple of times today.
That is how much Chavez and his cronies can abuse Venezuelans without them
realizing what a masochistic bunch they have become. This “pragmatist” was
responsible for the firing of 20,000 PDVSA workers, whose severance and
pensions, whether voluntary or not, were simply confiscated, as he destroyed
Venezuela’s oil science and technology center, sending hundreds of the most
competent engineers and scientists to work for the competition everywhere else
in the world. And once Ali Rodriguez was done with this “pragmatic” solution,
he went to the Ministry of Foreign Relations where he repeated his act,
except that he just recalled any diplomat not with the process and has kept
them in a room doing nothing for the last three years. Of course, this requires
naming former military and loyal supporters to diplomatic positions, also
destroying the Venezuelan Foreign Service in the process. Costly? You bet, but for Rodriguez, the ends justifies the means.

Let’s see what his pragmatism does in Finance this time around!

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Supreme Court “approves” the decree
that will allow the Government to take over the cement industry. Nobody knows
what this means, whether the Government will bypass the capital markets laws that
says there has to be a tender for these companies. Who cares? I bet nobody
complains if they do, much like the Government gets away with mosth of what it
does and says.

Somehow, it just seems as if people are immune to the fact
that the Government is taking advantage of them, bypassing the laws and the Constitution
so that Hugo Chavez can push his undefined program and revolution.

Opposition candidates are not only banned from running, but
the Chavez appointed and controlled Comptroller seems to come out daily to
defend this gigantic abuse of power, which is being ratified by the same
Electoral Board that has failed to finish counting the votes from the December
referendum. But of course, we are supposed to trust these same guys to count
the more easily manipulated results from the November regional elections.

Sure, just look at
this graph in esdata
and tell me you really trust them.

But those are the guys that will count the votes in November
and that is the Court that will decide controversies if there are any.

But somehow, people are optimistic and I am not sure about