Archive for July, 2008

Eduardo sends a nice set of mostly species

July 22, 2008

My flowering has really slowed down, but Eduardo sent some really nice pictures of species:

On the left, Paillonante Pendiculata. On the right a very white Cattleya Walkeriana Alba.

On the left, a nice Stanhopea Grandiflora. This species can be found in the East of Venezuela and to me ius one of the most beautiful orchids there is, I used to have one when I lived in Los Teques, but it died when I moved to Caracas. It blooms for three days and has a spectacular scent, its adaption to the short flowering time, you have to attract that insect fast!. On the right a Stranticornia Saccata.

On the left, a Catasetum Pileatum from Venezuela, our “Flor de Nacar”. On the right Catasetum Penang


The Discourse of Hate by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

July 21, 2008

The Discourse of Hate
by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

I the Supreme maintains his provocative, excluding and
polarizing speech. The November elections are driving him crazy; he is feeling
the earth move under him, because besides the Governorships and City Halls that
his political adversaries may win, in eleven other regions, splinters from his
own branch threaten to put a damper on his party. That is why he insists in
trying to get dividends out of polarization. In his reality show “Alo
Presidente” yesterday, taking advantage of a dialogue with a young high school
student, he once again referred to the students that have stuck their goats in
his corral as “kids of mommy and daddy”, “machined by the empire”. You can tell
his brain is drying out. It is an already oxidized discourse, the repetition of
the same stupidities which by now smell of naphthalene, taken out of the trunk
of ideological antiques, that pretend to continue dividing Venezuelans into
good ones and bad ones, the goods ones the ones that support him, the bad ones
the ones that oppose him.

What worked in the first few years of his mandate, today
sounds like an old tango. There are no ideas but only clichés. It is just
Chavez with his usual pestering. The typical speech of someone that wants to be
seen as the reincarnation of justice, of truth and even of history, that wants
to seat in the chair of the accused everyone that dissents from Him, but
qualified not as a political adversary-with all of the rights to be in
disagreement with the Government- but nothing more than as enemies of Justice,
the truth, Simon Bolivar, of Ezequiel Zamora, of Sucre, of Marx, of Mao, of
Fidel Castro, all of those that have reincarnated in Him, the Supreme bullshit
talker of the country. It is the same Manichaeism of Bush and of all
fundamentalists, they look as alike as two drops of water. If you are not with
me, you are against me. If you don’t back me, leave the country; go away, as
was sung in a “revolutionary” hip-hop by a young lady that participated in the
same show. Those that are not in agreement with the Government, are not
Venezuelans, have no right to live in this land; it is better for them to
leave. That young lady was repeating the same perverse speech of I The Supreme.
That is the “revolutionary training” which that miserable speech gives the
naturally malleable minds of the adolescents and infants placed under the
influence of the unique thinking.

It is a rotten and
anti-Venezuelan discourse, the negation of any value of solidarity and humanism
that I the Supreme extols out of his mouth out. That is his true self.
The other one, the one that allows different ways of thinking, has no
identity, it does not exist. To top it all off, Chavez complained that the
young high school students were not delivering a “forceful answer” to the
puppets of the Empire. What is a “forceful answer”? That of the marble that
killed the student in Merida?
Does this irresponsible man realize that the kids that are listening may
understand that as a call to combat, a call to the physical attack against
other kids? The truth is that Chavez can make even Job lose his patience.

Random notes on a lazy Sunday in the Venezuelan revolution

July 20, 2008

Castro announces
that he will give up Government owned land to private
farmers. Funny, I learned long time ago from my friend Carlos Machado Allison
that the Venezuelan Government owns more than 50% of the country’s land, but
ahs never done anything about distributing it. Thus, if rather than take over
productive land, Chavez had given away the unproductive land in the hands of
the State, he may have gotten a positive return. Instead, he destroyed
productive land and got little in return.

Nacional tells people what we all knew
(except the opposition?) : That poverty
in Venezuela went up in 2007. Don’t try to look for an explanation, it is very
simple, Chavez won the Presidential election in December 2006, thus he did not
need to worry about his “people”. Thanks to high world oil prizes he went
looking for worldwide fame and spent money trying to get it, while his
“misiones” suffered from lack of attention, incompetence and inefficiencies.
Inflation went up, shortages intensified. Then he lost, he said “uups” and has
tried to change things as oil prices went even higher. But things are hard,
distortions in the economy hard to overcome, so things are not working out…

—And former Minister of Everything Jesse Chacon, now
candidate for Mayor of the Sucre Municipality in the East of Caracas, sympathizes with the
criminals of that municipality
. He claims they have been excluded and
forgotten. But he fails to understand that their criminal acts have tripled
since Chavez took over, so is he arguing that Chavez has excluded them even
more? That is part of the tragedy of the revolution, after ten years, they have
no plan about how to deal with the most basic needs of the population: Housing,
hunger, health, unemployment and crime. They want a “revolution” but they have
spent ten years defining it and have yet to find it. Meanwhile, hard working
people I know were collectively mugged in a bus in Petare on Friday and had all
the belongings (including their paycheck stolen. I also offered to drop
somebody that works for us closer to his home, but he preferred to g back to
our office and take the Metro (implying two more hours to get home), rather
than standing on the street and be mugged. These are very hard working people
that are definitely excluded and forgotten by the revolution.

—And Hugo
Chavez announces
that the sugar processing plant CAEEZ that he gave US$ 250
million in 2003, will receive an additional US$ 36 million, moving it from the most
expensive (and corrupt) sugar plant in the world, to…

The most expensive sugar processing plant in the world.

It is also four years late, thanks to revolutionary (and
corrupt) management. But Chavez needs to throw bad money after it, as the plant
is located in his home state of Barinas, where his whole family seems to be
running for office against the dogs of the empire, oligarchy, corrupt, traitors
that have been with Chavez forever and now have had enough. Of course, these
acts of corruption have never been denounced or investigate so these people
that were Chavista up to a few months ago can run for office.Wouldn´t it be fun if the Chavez family loses Barinas? It’s possible, they ahd a hard time filling the stadium for Chavez’ speech, despite the buses. People that went did not even stay for the main act.

—And in good news for the opposition, William Ojeda finally gave
his candidacy for Mayor of the Sucre District in Caracas, allowing
Carlos Ocariz to run and likely win for the opposition against Jesse Chacon.
Ojeda was quite stubborn and refused to accept what the polls were saying.

Should I remind everyone that I want primaries for
everything? If we had had them the opposition would not be having be having the
problems it has been having.

—Pleasant thought of the day: And Hugo Chavez better be
careful in how he treats Ruffian the Comptroller. Just think, if Ruffian gets mad at the President, he could disqualify him from running for office for up to
15 years.

Opposition agrees to biased conditions against them at polling stations in the November regional elections

July 19, 2008

I have been trying (very hard!!!) of not hitting on the
opposition too much, but the subject of accepting the same conditions as those
used in the Constitutional referendum in the selection of the people that will
man the polling booths borders on simple stupidity for lack of a more insulting word.

On Monday, these names will
be picked from the electoral registry
using the same criteria as in
December. As
Daniel noted today
, the people from,
have performed an analysis of the data of those that manned the polls in
Decembers´referendum and the results are truly scary if you want to have a voting process
that is fair and unbiased.

The story begins with the fact that the CNE “helped” Chavez’
party PSUV to carry out its peculiar primary. In the process, the CNE posted all of those
that registered in Chavez’ PSUV so that people could check if they were
properly registered and they could vote.

The guys at esdata mined the data and correlated it with the
people that were selected with the now infamous “revolutionary random
generator” and the criteria agreed upon and what they found was truly outstanding:

First of all, members of PSUV are 27.33% of the registered
voters in Venezuela, less than admitted by PSUV authorities

However, the way the selection process was set up for
the Constitutional referendum it turns out that 35.75% of the members of the
polling yables were members of PSUV. Even worse, 47.34% of the Presidents of
the polling tables were registered members of PSUV.

Please don’t assume this is all the result of the random
generator. It turns out that this is first of all a consequence of the rules
agreed on by the opposition to select the members.

Each polling table has 17 members, of which only three are truly important at the end of the day. Of these, 11 are selected
at random from the registry, 3 are selected from the country’s public school
teachers including the President of each table and 3 from the country’s

And therein lies the first bias, as it so happens that 48%
of the country’s teachers are members of Chavez’ PSUV. Lest you think this is
because the educational system supports him, let me set you straight: No, the
educational authorities have weeded out as much as possible those that do not
support the regime and only hired those that clearly were behind the revolution
in the last few years.

Thus, 47.34% of the Presidents of tables happened to be PSUV members
simply because 48% of the teachers belong to Chavez’ party. A strong bias to
begin with, agreed on and allowed by our illustrious opposition. Strike one, to use a baseball analogy.

The second bias comes form the students, since close to
100,000 students will be the secretary´s of the tables, then about one out of every table
will have an additional hardcore Chavista present. Strike Two.

But there is also something strange with the random
generator because the numbers simply don’t make any sense. If one knows that
38% of the students are members of PSUV, 48% of the teachers and 27.33% of the
population at large, then 32.86% of the members should be members of PSUV. But
the actual number was much higher, in fact, it was 35.78%. That means that
there were roughly 18,000 more pro-Chavez members of the polling tables than
expected, a result that can only be explained by the way the program selects its members, this is not within statistical error.

Is this important?

It turns out it may be quite important if the “extras” are placed
strategically where you need them. At the end of the day, each polling table
only has three members that matter: the President and the two principal
members, the remainder are alternates, in case other don’t show up and the
secretary and its alternates and the secretary.

Right off the bat, half the tables have a pro-Chavez
President. Since one third of the members are also pro-Chavez then one third of
the tables are controlled by PSUV right of the bat, i.e. they have two out of the
three positions in one third of the tables. How much better is that? Well, under
normal conditions they would have very few tables with two members of PSUV, in
fact they should have a majority in only about 7% of the polling tables.

So, I am not saying this is being done, but one third of the
polling tables is about 11,200, add 18,000 carefully selected members of the
polling tables and voila, PSUV members control almost all of the polling
tables. In fact, the people from esdata point out that the software that
selects the table members cannot even be audited, as it is not open or available. Strike three and you are out.

These numbers I have given are only national numbers, but
imagine this now at the micro level. In fact, Daniel
replotted the data
from the presentation we received and shows
it state by state in order of smaller discrepancies to larger, for what percentage are PSUV members who are President of tables:

Where the blue bar is the percentage in each state of PSUV
members in each state, the yellow bar is the percentage of table members
“selected” and the red is the percentage of Presidents who are members of
Chavez’ PSUV in polling tables for each state.

Clearly one could brake down the data state by state and
even look at electoral centers to see where the biggest statistical
discrepancies are. But at this time, all we know is that the opposition has
agreed to play with loaded dice in the upcoming regional elections. In fact,
they did it in the Constitutional referendum, where one of the difficulties in
providing the “final” results is that a large number of electoral centers in
pro-Chavez regions are not auditable because the polling tables did not perform
the required audits.

The conclusion is that the opposition (again?) is acting stupidly and assuming goodwill and good intentions, which this time around may be related to the overconfidence they seem to have in their victory in November.

July 17, 2008

After ten years with little new infrastructure built by Chavez, bad funding for state
universities, no environmental projects and poverty and malnutrition still
rampant in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez continues to give away Venezuela’s wealth
in order to promote his image abroad. The most recent of his largesse:

—Citgo gave
away half a million energy efficient light bulbs to the American poor. As
if that giveaway was not sufficient, Citgo published full-page ads in
nationwide newspapers in the US to publicize the effort. Meanwhile in
Venezuela there is not ONE project by the Chavez Government to save energy,
as cars and gas are heavily subsidized and traffic everywhere has become simply unbereable. Yes, there was a similar light bulb
project, but that was made so that the Government could buy the light bulbs
from Cuba and that country made money on the deal. That program by the way
is no longer in place.

—And while Venezuelan universities are
short of funding, Hugo Chavez donated US$ 3 million to Universidad Arcis in
Chile, a private University. Why? It’s a leftwing university…

—But the most amazing giveaway by the man who thinks he
owns Venezuela is the changes made on Sunday to the Petrocaribe agreements.
Using this agreement Venezuelan exports oil to many countries in the
Caribbean, some of which have a better standard of living than Venezuela.
Basically, Venezuela exports about 60,000 barrels a day to these countries
(This does not include Cuba, which I am sure gets even better terms, like free).

Up to now, the agreement had very
generous terms for these countries. But on Sunday they probably figured
they could squeeze a few more bucks out of Hugo, using the high price of oil and his sinking popularity
as an excuse. And Hugo rapidly

Under the new terms, if oil exceeds US$ 100 per barrel (the
oil sold to these countries), then they will pay 50% in 90 days, with the
remainder financed by Venezuela over 27 years with a two-year grace period
and at 1% interest for the other 25 years.

If oil exceeds $140 per
barrel, then the terms will be the same except they will pay 40% in ninety
days and the remainder with the same generous scheme. Finally, if oil
exceeds US$ 150, then they will pay 30% and the remainder stays the

To put some perspective in those numbers, let’s assume the
“cheapest” scenario of more than US$ 100 and less than US$ 140. Let’s say
US$ 130 per barrel. That comes out to US$ 7.8 million per day. But, if
inflation runs at an average of 3% for the next 27 years, this means that
Venezuela is discounting the oil 40%. If inflation runs as 4%, then it is a
discount of 55% and if inflation runs at 5% it is a discount of
65%.By discounting I mean that by the time Venezuela gets paid, the money it will receive would have llost that much purchasing power because of inflation.

Thus, Hugo Chavez is giving away to promote himself US$ 1.56
million in the 3% inflation scenario every single day, US$ 2.145 million in
the 4% CPI scenario and US$ 2.535 million in the 5% inflation

Of course, this is not his money but our money,
particularly that of those that go hungry every day, have no running water
or spend hours in traffic in poorly run public transportation.

Such are the ways of this strange so
called revolution.

July 16, 2008

News today was dominated by the leak from the Venezuelan Supreme Court that
a proposed sentence on the Constitutionality of the disqualification or
bans to run for office by the Comptroller had been presented by one of the
Justices in the Constitutional Hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court. While
the focus has been on the perhaps surprising fact that the Court may rule
the Comptroller can’t ban anyone from running, to me the most remarkable
aspect is the irreverence that such a leak may take place at the highest
Court of the land and that the Court itself does not appear to be
embarrassed by the leak.

I would not be that surprised by the
Supreme Court disallowing the Comptroller and the Electoral Board on their
flimsy legal position on the bans. I would not be surprised, because the
issue has the possibility to become politically incendiary and its effects
are actually quite narrow, as a ruling against the validity of the
Comptroller’s ban list, in the end, has an effect on only three or four
major candidates, two or three of which can be defeated if Chavez’s PSUV
party play things right (with some help from the opposition). Thus, it
would seem advisable for Chavez and his cohorts to avoid the possible
confrontation, since there is not much to gain from it.

On top of
that, allowing the Comptroller to have such powers could one-day boomerang
even against the members of the Court who have any political aspirations.
Just think, this man can single-handedly stop the political aspirations of
any Venezuelan if he holds any grudge or dislike for the potential

But I am amazed how such a supreme leak appears to seem
quite normal on what is left of the country’s democracy. Rather than open
an investigation, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court holds a press
conference blasting the press for publishing the leak, explaining what
exactly a proposed sentence means and warning that it may not be approved
by the full Constitutional Court or it may not even be considered before
the deadline for candidates to be registered for the regional elections,
which has to be done by August 5th.

Clearly this was not a simple
leak, but a massive dissemination of Justice’s Rondon proposed sentence,
which had to come from the Supreme Court in general and from the offices of
the Justices of the Constitutional Hall, including its Chief Justice
specifically. But at no point was the President of the Court critical of
this irresponsibility by the Highest Court, while criticizing the press for
reporting exactly what they had in their hands: a leak of a possible
sentence, as at no time did the press report that this was a final decision
by the Court.

But more significantly, the Chief Justice made some
arguments that can only be considered as circular, naming the various
related cases in front of the Court and attempting to establish a hierarchy
of some sort among them. No case is more or less important in terms of the
bans. All of the cases, whether injunction, interpretation or a request to
declare the Comptrollers law unconstitutional have the same goal: Allow
those disqualified by the Comptroller to register to be candidates before
August 5th. and be elected if the people so desire in November.

there is no excuse for the Court not to have ruled in any of these cases,
as the Chief Justice clearly mentioned the fact that justice Rondon’s case
was introduced in 2004 and given the massive violation of the rights of
both candidates and electors that these cases may involve, some priority
should have been given to them. Otherwise disqualifying these candidates
simply represents a gross miscarriage of justice

But the Chief
Justice should also be reminded of issues that go beyond the Constitution.
The foundation of this fake revolution lies on a decision to interpret that
sovereignty resides on the people, which allowed the referendum for a
Constituent Assembly to take place. These are the same people that today
are not being allowed to register their candidate of choice or vote for
them, because the comptroller managed to find some administrative
irregularity only in those cases where his political bias pushed him to
look for one while the most rampant corruption in the country’s history
goes unpunished day after day.

Hugo Chavez and the FARC: A video exhibit

July 15, 2008

During the last week, the PSFhere has managed to send quite a number of messages blasting me for daring to suggest that Hugo Chavez has had a relationship or supports the FARC. What is most remarkable about it is how indirect it has been, either by emails or comments somewhere else, not one comment here.

What amazes me is the topics, of the myriad of sometimes gray and subtle subjects where you can bicker here or there, to pick on this particular topic is to me simply amazing.

Thus, without further ado, here is my message to the PSFriends who are naïve enough to still believe that Chavez’ support of the FARC is simply a campaign by the oligarchic, capitalistic media that despises them:

–“The FARC and the ELN are not terrorist, they are armies, true armies. They occupy a a space and they have to be recognized”:

–“I said yesterday, friends of Latin America and the world, enough of war in Colombia…the imperialists want war in Colombia…it is time for the Government to recognize the guerrilla as a political actor…the line that the empire against guerrillas is extermination…Colombian Government: recognize the political status of FARC, because as long as you say they are terrorists, you can’t find peace.

“They classify them as drug traffickers and guerrillas…I ask that we recognize them as insurgent forces and not like terrorist forces. And I ask the Governments of the world to do so”;

Minute of silence for FARC terrorist Raul Reyes requested for the comrade, second of the FARC the day after he died. Chavez dedicated program to the attack on Reyes’ camp, Chavez said that he had met Reyes in clandestine fashion, calling Reyes paying tribute to a” true revolutionary”. That same day Chavez ordered troops to move against Colombia because Colombia had attacked the FARC camp in Ecuador. And broke relations with Colombia over that attack on another country

Chavez’ reaction to anti-Farc demonstrations in Colombia: “Venezuela does not have a border with Colombia but with the FARC. The FARC has its own laws and they apply them and fulfill them. Colombia is governed by the most bloody oligarchy”:

Colombia is a terrorits state, let’s move ten batallions owards its borders.

Reyes’s computer saying they have met with Chavez’ generals to discuss, finances, weapons and politics. Venezuelan General Alcala offers a place to have more discussions. Venezuela will send 20 bazookas.

16th. Anniversary of the coup he staged: “we love Colombia, part of the original country, children of the same father and mother. Colombia is at war, there is an official armed forces and a revolutionary armed forces who have spent 60 years controlling a large part of the Colombian territory. Ecuador limits in the North with the FARC . Venezuela limits with the insurgent forces of Colombia. A good number of the people in the hands of the FARC are prisoners of war, not hostages.”:

Venezuelan Ambassador to Colombia speaking against the Colombian one in that territory:

Revista Semana and Venezuela’s General Hugo Carvajal who is quite close to the FARC:

Video on FARC’s Marulanda death, professionally made and edited, Venezuelan uniforms, seems to be taped twice. Reporter claims it was made in Venezuela by Chavez’ Telesur.

Terrorist rayl Reyes visited Venezuela’s Presidential palace

Venezuelan Minister of Interior and Justice Rodriguez Chacin calls guerrillas comrades and tells them to keep up their fight

Marulanda’s letter to all FARC members telling them to take refuge in Venezuela, as Chavez will protect them

Former FARC guerrilla saying Venezuela buying AK-47’s for the FARC

Farc terrorist Ivan Marquez visits Hugo Chavez at Presidential Palace

Documents by General Gonzalez Gonzalez when he was an active member of the military reporting on the many location and activities of the FARC in Venzuela.In this document he suggested solution
s which were never implemented.

The more things change, the more they stay the same in Venezuela

July 14, 2008

–No sooner had President Chavez met with Colombian
President Uribe, that his diplomatic abilities gave him away when he
called Colombia’s Minister of Defense Santos “a sharpshooter”, telling the
Petrocaribe conference that he had asked Uribe to “place Santos in his place”.
Then Chavez really went into hyperbolic mode, when he said “if he were my Minister
I would have removed him by now”. This from a man that has never removed a
Minister for anything they have done wrong, including corruption, stupidity and
incompetence. He always removes them without criticism so as to count with
their future allegiance.And most of them do return…

–And the Government took a step to fixing the problem of
the large number of kidnappings in the last few months…the man in charge of kidnappings
at the investigative police, was
fired for actually telling the world the real number
of kidnappings that
had taken place in the country last month. This same strategy has been very successful
in the health area where statistics have improved significantly since they
stopped disseminating them.

–And President Hugo Chavez called for the judicial
system to be revised
and asked that decisions be speeded up…but wait, wasn’t
it Hugo Chavez that “overhauled” the judicial system in 2000? Hasn’t he been
President for ten years? What do we need to revise?The things he did? What he
implemented that only made things worse? Could it be that he and his comrades
don’t know ho to run a country?…Just a thought.

–And Venezuela’s are rejoicing today, as we
finally managed to score
a victory in the Miss Universe contest, after a 12
year hiatus, as Dayana Mendoza won the crown beating Colombia’s representative
(Take that Alvaro!) Which only goes to show that Venezuela has fantastic
plastic surgeons. And they are back!

Grammatophyllum Scriptum

July 14, 2008

A year ago I thought this plant of Grammatophyllum Scriptum was going to die as it started losing leaves and turning brown. I moved it more into the sun, much brighter light and then I started using a fertilizer with Magnesium and Calcium that seemd to do the trick.

It has 8 shoots, each with 50-54 flowers, you can see all eight on the top two pictures. In the bottom two pictures a close up of the individual flowers.

Pictures from disqualification march

July 13, 2008

Acting kids have the devil Ruffian killed as the amoral people look on. On the right Jesus Torrealba from Radar de Los Barrios interviews what’s his name

Family pic with the heavily armed cops behind. It was a bit excessive, cops, national guardsmen and army guys blocking the way not only into the National library but also the street. On the right a pensive lady cop is probably hoping it will be peaceful.

On the left, cop taking pictures of marchers. On the right while the mom takes our picture, daugther waves flag.

On the left, people at the end of Avenida Panteon cheering us. On the right, it is hard to get used to a MAS poster backing Leopoldo Lopez.

Kid having fun.