Archive for July, 2010

Saving the Troutland in Chavezlandia

July 21, 2010

We interrupt this program to report on a gigantic step towards the feeding and agricultural independence of the land of Simon Bolivar. The glorious Venezuelan Armed Forces and the equally celestial Minister of Agriculture executed this week the expropriation decree of the trout farm Valle Rey in Merida.

This patriotic step was taken in order to insure the agro-feeding-self-sufficiency-control sovereignty of the Nation. Instead of breeding trouts at will, this farm will be reactivated and transformed into a unit of socialist production of a trout farm which will have a social use that will promote the endogenous development of the area and will consist in the adaptation of a Trout Farm.

The rainbow trout bred in Merida is not indigenous to Merida or the country, it comes from North America and Europe, but was introduced in the country in 1937, via a very suspicious present by the US Embassy in Caracas. Since the CIA did not exist at the time, the CIPCC has been charged with finding the “handler” of the trouts, even if he must be in his nineties, and determine whether the “people” should continue eating this variety of fish, or whether the farm should breed pigs for cochino frito or given the terrain, breed goats for Goat hallacas.

July 19th. will forever be known as the day when the country got rid of  its Troutdependence.


Chavismo in Wonderland

July 20, 2010

Chavismo lives in a wonderful world where everything works and everything is beautiful. At least that must be what his assistants tell the President based on his speeches. During the last week, we have heard him say that by now there are only 600 homeless kids left in the country, which is not only very far from the truth, but is still above his promise that he would resign if in five years there were any homeless kids left in the country. Deadline is past and there are far more than in 1998, but Chavez no longer goes to the streets and see the people. He is afraid, but he lives in wonderland. (According to chiguire, he will wait until they grow older)

We were also told that soon malnutrition will be eliminated in Venezuela, while all indicators say precisely the opposite. According to the most serious studies on Chavez’ first year in power, the only improvement was a temporary increase in purchasing power of the power, since decimated by inflation, but quality of life, including malnutrition has deteriorated. But Chavez does not read studies, he gets his own pad of paper out, scribbles numbers and draws some bars and that is the answer to the problem. He also asks his Ministers who tell him all is wonderful in Venezuela.

Like the Minister of Health, who when confronted with the possibility of dramatic increases in several illnesses, like dengue fever, malaria and encephalitis, denied emphatically this was the case. When told that this came from the data of the Government’s own epidemiological bulletin, she did what any Chavista would do to eliminate the problem: She postponed the publication of the bulletin and quickly the rosy country gained its luster as all of these endemic diseases were done away with and the country returned to the wonderful state of Chavismo. The Bulletin will supposedly be published soon after a three year hiatus that gave peace to all Venezuelans, but we suspect we may never see it.

And Daniel has told us about Chavez remarkable statement than in a few years food will be shipped out of the La Guaira port to the world. Daniel notes the physical impossibility of this even if the food was produced due to the infrastructure, but Chavez does not yet seem to understand that the Pudreval affair is due to his Government importing all sorts of foodstuffs from everywhere in the world in such large amounts that ports could not handle it, mostly Puerto Cabello and Maracaibo, but certainly never Maracaibo. If such simple facts can not be grasped by the Dictator, what hope is there for him to understand monetary liquidity or God forbid, how the economy creates employment. That is the advantage of living in Chavez fantasyland.

And since Chavez found a well trained and educated revolutionary on seismic matters, hey, why not appoint him as Minister of Transportation and insure Funvisis will deteriorate and the transport Ministry will not function, no? But I was certainly surprised when the newly appointed Minister complained about the destabilizing plan executed via the subway system. There were two such destabilizing events. In the first one, power went off early on a Monday, stopping the trains. After half an hour, there were no announcements, no help. Imagine packed trains with little air, in the dark, claustrophobic. After almost an hour, the passengers decided to save themselves, windows were broken, doors were forced open. To Complete the sabotage, National Guardsmen were ready waiting for the passengers, repression and threats followed.

I was so glad that a well educated man was in charge of the subway so he could clearly identify the effort by the opposition to destabilize the Chavez Government via the subway system. It shows that the Chavista wonderland is only above the surface, not below. Which must be the reason why hoodlums have taken to go to the subway and rob wagons full of passengers of all their belongings in the middle of the ride. It’s only fair, democratize crime, take it everywhere it belongs or there are belongings that can be carried easily. Below and above the surface to make this a single Bolivarian wonderland.

And how about the Minister of Education boasting that 80% of school kids go to public schools. Isn’t that wonderful? Except that some person that wants to get a higher degree in this intellectual wasteland just happened to be studying the problem and she comes up with a whole different number. And it ain’t 80%…

It is 78% in “initial” education, 83% in primary school, the only period in which the Minister’s word are correct and 72% in Secondary School from 1st.  to 3th. grade and 70% in Secondary School from 4th. to 6th. grade. Not pretty, even if the Minister does not understand the numbers of the system she presides over.

And it is a wonderfully free country, one in which a corrupt, militaristic, guerrilla supporter like Rodriguez Chacin can come out and say that the number one problem in the country is the exhumation of Simon Bolivar’s body. Farc in Venezuela? Nah!!! 30% inflation? Nah!!! 18,000 homicides a year? Nah!!! 120,000 Tons of food wasted? Nah!!! US$ 3.5 billion stolen in the banking system? Nah!!!

This is Chavismo in Wonderland, the number one problem here is the exhumation of Simon Bolivar’s body. We just forgot why it was why we wanted to do it. But things are so peachy, that it is indeed the only real problem in our beleaguered land…

How strategic planning is done in the Chavez revolution

July 19, 2010

The conclusion seemed to be he wants to increase pensions by about a factor of five for everyone, never asked if there is money for it. Not really clear, he may be comparing his salary or something like that. What he did not say is that the pensions are minimum salary and the social security “fund” does not exist.

Hugo Chavez plays two century CSI with Simon Bolivar’s remains

July 17, 2010

After expelling the Bodies exhibit from Venezuela a couple of years ago, Hugo Chavez held his own grotesque and unnecessary version, opening the casket of Simon Bolivar so that his Government could play two century CSI and determine if Bolivar was murdered with arsenic or just died of tuberculosis. Of course, arsenic was given for TB at the time, so that the whole thing may prove nothing in the end and Bolivar’s remains will stay trapped in the same  labyrinth they have been since his death.

The whole scene looked like a combination of of Close Encounters and Rosemary’s baby, with all sorts of people that should not be there present, from the Minister of the Interior to Chavez himself, who said he had been there (we did not see it) and cried when he saw this “live” body (His words, not mine)

A foreign scientist was imported, not Cuban, but Spanish, who knows for what reason since accprding to the official version, Venezuelan science is booming, but we still dont trust our own I guess. Ask Pudreval, where Cubans made (make?) all decisions.

After opening the casket a very well built Venezuelan flag was removed, it looked brand new to me in the video.

Reportedly some bones were broken, after the skeleton managed to stay in the same place for such a long time, no internal displacements, despite being moved to Venezuela, etc.

Chavez told us all sorts of pseudo scientific facts, like the body will be put in a plexiglas case with gold screws, which would “preserve” the body in the vacuum. He never said how the vacuum would be created, how the plexiglas would hold it or what gold screws had anything to do with it.

Thus, another Chavez whim has used resources, time and effort, when the living in Venezuela get little attention. Ministers up and around at early hours of the evening helping Hugo stage his show, instead of working to straighten out the dozens of very severe problems in the country. It is all show, smoke and mirrors for Chavez, who brought the remains of Bolivar’s lover Manuelita Saenz next to him in Caracas two weeks ago and who narrated the opening of the casket last night as he watched the video, as if it were a ball game.

We now await to see if we will break relations with Colombia over the results, or if the Venezuelan Prosecutor will symbolically charge any historic figure with murder over this matter. If not, another excuse will be invented to create another crisis with our neighbors.

Venezuela: When having the largest oil reserves in the world is basically useless

July 15, 2010

(For the first time the production of diarrhea is larger than that of oil)

A recent study by scientists at the US Geological Survey suggests that Venezuela may have double Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves, holding about 500 billion barrels of “technically recoverable” oil. To give you an idea how large that is, if Venezuela produced 10 million barrels a day, that amount of devil excrement would last about 137 years of production and at the current rate of 2.4 million barrels a day, we would be talking about some 570 years.

But don’t get too excited or break the champagne (Or the Scotch!)

Because this is a practically useless factoid for a Venezuela run by the Bolivarian revolution, even if you believe the numbers.

Because, as Gustavo Coronel points out in the same article, a 40-45% recovery rate is beyond what anyone believes is possible. Furthermore, there is also the problem of the recovery being economically feasible at current prices.

But in the end, the biggest problem is where could/would Venezuela get the money required to exploit these oil reserves at current prices. With both the country and PDVSA having cash flow problems, having all of this is practically useless at this time.

You see, by changing how the Orinoco Oil Belt is being exploited, Venezuela will not be able to have the money to extract any of this. The Chavez Government by now realizes this problem, but it is not easy to backtrack on revolutionary promises and slogans. But, while you were not looking, PDVSA and the Government made some very substantial changes to the conditions for the exploitation of the Orinoco Oil Belt, from what they claimed a few months ago.

Rememebr all the BS about Sovereignty? That is all it was.

To begin with, while the contracts for the bidding did not allow international arbitration, the contracts for the joint projects do allow for the much maligned international arbitration clause, something which has been previously demonized by the Chavez administration.

Funny, no?

Additionally, even if PDVSA holds 60% of the shares in the joint project, a minimum of 96% of the decisions of the Board of the companies have to be made with the agreement of the foreign partner.

And while the Venezuelan Government has criticized that ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips used jurisdictions for their partnerships which were different from those of the original company, which allowed them to take advantage of treaties to protect their investment, Chevron is registering as a Danish company and a Japanese company is using a British registration for the same reason. But please, don’t tell the rank and file of PSUV, they may realize we are giving away a big chunk of our sovereignty.

In fact, they are truly giving it away. In the much criticized joint partnerships and service contracts of the IVth. Republic, partners could not use or count as reserves what they had in the projects. Under the new revolutionary contracts, they will be able to count them in their balance sheets, but they can not be pledged.

But where the whole thing becomes useless, is in the PDVSA-centric model.

You see, PDVSA has 60% of all the projects. This means PDVSA has to contribute 60% of the funding. For the Orinoco oil projects alone, our friend JB Lenoir estimates in a Veneconomy article in the June issue that PDVSA will need 75.6 billion US$ for the Orinoco projects in the next ten years as well as US$ 72 billion for the existing oil production and processing facilities. This totals US$ 147.6 billion in ten years, or US$ 15 billion dollars per year.

Given the lack of transparency of PDVSA’s financials, its lack of technical capabilities and the lack of trust in the current Government by international investors, this is essentially impossible.

In fact, this reaffirms the validity of the model used by the IVth. Republic for the same projects. In the old Cerro Negro, Petrozuata, Hamaca and Sincor projects, the foreign partner held just over 50% of each project and the development and upgrading plants were built by having the projects issue debt or borrow directly from banks under the name of the project.

It was a very clean structure. Project A would issue bonds to be paid by the proceeds of the sale of the oil through PDVSA. The balance sheet backing the project would be that of  project A, not that of PDVSA or the partners. The debt was registered abroad and the financial and operating results of each project backed its bonds.

This allowed for an almost unlimited number of projects possible, each with its own debt structure.

Under the current centralized and revolutionary structure, it would have to be PDVSA that issues debt for its share of each project, but PDVSA is almost a black box. In fact, it has yet to present its audited financial statements for 2009, which under Venezuelan law should be presented by March 31st. of the next year. It would be next to impossible for PDVSA to issue half of what it needs under its current operation conditions.

So, it is great to have so much devil excrement around, but it is essentially useless for us Venezuelans, as long as the conditions set by the revolutionary Government remain as they are and the price of oil is where it is.

So, we are very wealthy, except we did nothing to deserve it or earn it and on top of that we insure that we will remain poor by appealing to pseudo-nationalist and ideological issues.

It is indeed the Devil’s Excrement!

What a waste!

Good News, Venezuelan Style, under the “New Normal” of Chavismo

July 13, 2010

(Worse than saying that everything is going badly, is to lie on National TV saying that everything is going fine)

In the absence of good news from our beleaguered country, one has to dig below the surface to find out how the good in good news can be redefined by the revolution and/or its detractors:

–How about Rodrigo “single-digit” Cabezas, who earned his name with his predictions on Venezuela’s inflation while he was Minister of Finance, calling twice for inflation below 10%, both times coming out in the high 20%+ range. Cabezas meets with the press to deride those that are predicting 50% inflation, assuring us that it will be between 26%-30%.

What an accomplishment Rodrigo! But first, it has to get there. It is true that demand has collapsed due to the Government spending much less than expected, but it is also true that prices have yet to catch up with the devaluation and many are still repressed.

Not content with these great news, the highest inflation in the Hemisphere, Cabezas then gloats that “the people will not feel this inflation” and he praised the Venezuelan economy compared to that of Europe or that “fragile” recovery in the US economy.

Sure Rodrigo, Venezuela’s contraction is very solid as it has now lasted over six quarters of negative growth in a row, the worst record…who knows? Probably in the world, since the financial crisis began.

But to Mr. Cabezas and the revolution, this is all good news. Sure…

–And in the all important matter of the September elections, which we are told there is nothing to worry about by oppo leaders, there is the good news that even Smartmatic is threatening to pull out.

According to El Nacional, Smartmatic complained about not being paid and is saying it will not participate if it does not get paid before the elections. The company also complained against Chavez’ party PSUV, which “wants control over the electronic voting”.

I guess it must be good news if the voting machine company is worried. No?

And Lara’s formerly Chavista Governor Henri Falcón, now a member of PPT is also complaining about some 92,000 voters magically “moved” in key areas for his party.

To me worrying about the elections is good news, everyone is so sure that there will not be any slight of hand and that o know who will end up with MUD in their face, but somehow I am not sure which way the MUD will fly.

–And on the really good news part, Minister of Electric Power or whatever the name of that Ministry is or may be, Ali Rodriguez announced that the Electrical crisis is over!

Wonderful news! Except that…

Planta Centro, which was going to be ready in February is still barely running at 10% of full capacity, Sidor is still running 40-50%, there was a black out yesterday and surges today, the Aluminum companies are shut down and have no power to run their smelters, rationing at shopping centers continues.

It’s call the “New Normal“, under Chavez’ revolution, good is what used to be bad, normal is what used to be emergency, you get the picture, it is the New Revolutionary Normal. Always look for innovation under the revolution.

There you have it! Good news at last!

Public Service for Tal Cual readers

July 13, 2010

For those that read Jaime Requena’s article “Once millones de dolores” in last Monday’s Tal Cual, the article he is referring to is HERE and the eleven million dollar claim is in the comments of that post.

Not so Random Chavismo Target of the week: Twitter

July 10, 2010

What are we to make of the war on Twitter, which was started this week by the Chavez Government?

I mean, up until a couple of days ago, we were told that the co-founder of Twitter was praising Chavez for “revolutionizing” the social network and not two days later, two people are arrested for spreading rumors about the Venezuelan banking system and fifteen more are being threatened with arrest.

Their crime? Suggesting that a local bank, which shall remained unnamed, was in trouble.

But just a few months ago, Chavez in his variety show Alo Presidente and Chavez former Minister of Defense/Foreign Relations/Interior and VP Jose Vicente Rangel both spread rumors against banks in general and also against very specific ones, but nobody dared suggest that they should be jailed. So, what gives?

To me this is another case of a Not So Random Target of the Week by Chavismo. Chavismo persecution is like that, you never know who is the target each week, but beware if you happen to be “it”. I am sure the Ciudad Bolivar Twitteros never imagined the Government would go after them, the same way the butchers never thought they would be jailed or the brokers intervened.

But it does mean that a message is being sent. After all, how can the CIPCC (investigative police) have so much time to look for Twitteros the same week that a girl’s finger is cut with a Machete by her kidnappers to send it to  her parents as proof of life? Are they doing something about this case, or is that irrelevant to them? Has the investigative police become that insensitive to people’s suffering?

The answer is that anything political has a priority over reality or suffering and Twitter may have been a battle that Chavez thought he could win or was winning, but it obviously has hurt him recently, thus some Cuban “Intelligence” official decided to make sure he slows down the spreading of putrid or corrupt news via the social network. What better way to make people think twice about saying something bad about the Dictator than this not so veiled threat?

And people forget that there is an additional implicit message in this. Not only did they arrest two people, but they had the means of locating them, after all, who  puts his/her address or phone number in Twitter? The Government or the CIPCC had the technology to locate, find and detain these people (or you!). And now it says there will be fifteen more jailed soon (Are you one of them?). Thus, beware, you could be (or are!) next, that is precisely the message that is explicitly being sent.

And tomorrow Chavez will say in his variety show that there is actually freedom of twitting in Venezuela, after all, only “two” people have been detained for “violating the law” with Twitter, but those that criticize him are not being persecuted, only those that violate the law.

As I always say, I just hope bloggers are not the next not so random target of Chavismo. I have had enough as it is.

If regulations for observers are an indication, we can look forward to a very unfair election in September

July 7, 2010

(Who can understand them? This ” is not a democracy:, that “this violates my democratic rights”. Democracy ended in 1998, do I speak Chinese or what?)

According to Sumate, here are two of the articles of the regulations issued for observers of the upcoming electoral process to elect Deputies to the National Assembly:

Art. 15. Observing organizations are banned from publicly denouncing violations of fairness in the election…

similarly, that same article says:

Accredited persons will not be able to: Issue statements, nor opinions in general or in particular about internal matters of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela until the electoral process is over…similarly, they will abstain from…making public pronouncements…

Art. 16. paragraph 3. Observing organizations will have to maintain under strict confidentiality or reserve the content of the exchanges of opinion and suggestions presented to the electoral authority (CNE)

Jeez, if these are the ground rules before the process has even begun, anyone expecting anything fair in September is simply dreaming…

The rambling, illogical mind of the Chavista revolution

July 6, 2010

(The commune will give you all the power that I feel like giving to you)

PSUV: Communists? No, we are not communists, ask the Venezuelan Communist party (PCV)

PCV: Communism? No, why would we want communism in Venezuela? This is a media campaign against the Government of Hugo Chavez which clearly states that it is Socialist, not communist. This is just the opposition, trying to accuse us of being communist. We have been communists for a long time, but really, a communist country in Venezuela? We really don’t want that.What we want is communes. That is soooo different. The root is the same, the word is way different.

Aristobulo: Remember me? I am no longer around, but boy I would love to be somebody in Chavez’ Government, so I come on TV every two weeks and defend Chavez. Today’s version: “The opposition flip flops between terrorism and elections” Sounds good, no? Hope Chavez sees it and he forgets that I talked about him smoking an egg roll.I don’t want to live in a commune, I have too much money for that.

Minister of Communication: We don’t understand why the opposition keeps talking about rotten food and forgets the sacred burial of Simon Bolivar’s mistress Manuelita Sanz. They are not patriots. What could be more important than her burial. They want to deny our history. The food may be rotten, but we brought Manuelita’s remains into the country. Both rotten, but we are very happy, after all, we would all like to be you know who’s mistress.

Chavez: The Cardinal is a troglodyte, this is really an endearing term. It has nothing to do with communism. It has to do with the Catholic church in Venezuela, they are bourgeois, they love to have their …hand kissed. But listen to Escarra, we may like communism after all. The church does not want communes.

Chorus: The words commune and communism are similar, but they are not even related. It is all coincidental. Chavez wants communes, but not communism. It is very simple. The Communist Party is pro-communes, not pro-communism. It’s like saying Fidel is a communist, No, times have changed. Cuba has matured, so has Venezuela. We only want communes, no opposition, no communism. Can you opposition people please leave the country? It would make our life and that of the communes so much easier. In fact,  if you guys leave, we could get a higher percentage of the vote. Like Fidel.

So, just remember, communes not equal communism, opposition should leave, church should leave. Aristobulo can stay.

Get it?