Venezuela Trip Notes

January 26, 2013


After spending a week in Caracas, it would appear as the word division is the common ground for both the opposition and Chavismo. While Chavismo shows unity so far, this unity is likely to dissolve once Chavez is finally enshrined and many try to claim to be the true spiritual son of Hugo. Diosdado and Nicolas claim to adore each other, but to me their behavior seems to show exactly the opposite, as Diosdado seeks the limelight daily and tends to be much more aggressive than Maduro. He also seems to always make statements whenever Maduro says something, indicating there is little coordination between the two.

Meanwhile I found that almost every opposition person I talked to had a different plan and/or opinion on what to do now. The range goes from those that swear they will not vote in the upcoming Presidential election, to those that believe that Capriles strategy is the only possible strategy. More surprisingly, it seems that the only thing that unites all these people is the belief that absent Chávez, Maduro is beatable, which I disagree with, if the election were to take place before April.

The Government is clearly trying to build up Chavez’ mythical image and Maduro’s campaign is clearly going to be based on exactly that, which may be the only explanation for delaying the election: They intend to take advantage of the adoration of Chávez to insure PSUV’s permanence in power. And it will work, as long as the election is not delayed beyond March.

Beyond March, because the country continues on hold, even if Maduro arrived last night claiming to have a set of economic measures approved by Chávez. Meanwhile my conversations with local manufacturers shows that CADIVI has not been paying bills for months, creating shortages of all sorts of products and indicating that the devaluation has to be larger than expected in order to insure that demand contracts. The fiscal numbers simply do not add up and monetary liquidity has gone up 142% since the last devaluation, that is there are 142% more Bolivars in the system than two years ago, but reserves are the same, giving an implicit exchange rate of Bs. 25 for each dollar in reserves.

But I really do not expect much from these “measures”. It is likely to be more smoke and mirrors to support the system until an election takes place, rather than real economic measures to attempt to resolve the many distortions in the Venezuelan economy.

You can bank on that and it is likely to be the subject of my next post.

44 Responses to “Venezuela Trip Notes”

  1. Bill S. Says:

    Hold an election soon, and the Chavez followers will obey the wishes of their messiah and elect Maduro, hoping to keep the goodies coming. I would bet a little cash on it.

  2. bothebuilder Says:

    A really good summary post. Thanks!

  3. Jeffry house Says:

    Too bad we can’t see anything which would identify which country he is in. Or who the people are who are walking with him. or when the photo was taken.

  4. HalfEmpty Says:

    Looks like it could be the real deal.
    I need to look closer into this Santaria shit.

  5. LD Says:

    Does anybody have seen this picture before? (months, not days):
    (Is that authentic? who would have leaked that and why…?)
    It could be recent, at least I don’t remember HCh without hair and convalescent (and now he probably is). If true, then he is at least able to make decisions and I would bet he realizes now that is better to campaign (somehow, well a signature would do that…) for Maduro.

    • island canuck Says:

      That photo was all over the internet last week.

      From what I remember it was proven to be from 2011.

      • LD Says:

        I was skeptical first, but I don’t remember seeing it before (2011-2012) and shows a very thin -legs- HCh after chemo, don’t correspond in the treatment time line before (as known). Yet you realize why the “uniform” is used…

  6. firepigette Says:

    I agree with you Miguel that Maduro is not easily beatable as people voted for disliked candidates in the Interior just because Chavez endorsed them.

  7. Rafael Vicente Says:

    Miguel, on CADIVI the situation is at a critical moment, with import licenses approved by the various Ministries, and the goods delivered nationalized in Venezuela for more than 200 days, $ currencies not listed in the supplier’s accounts, a situation that undermines trust and close the credit to businesses, and we can say SITME the list to award $, this system must be equal to the dealer to purchase a new vehicle.

  8. Arco Says:

    This is how the president of Uruguay lives.

    remarkable BBC doc. I did not know this.

    • M Rubio Says:

      Wow Arco, contrast that to how every other president lives. Amazing. I’m no leftist, but if I was, that’d be how’d I’d want my president to live….by example.

    • CharlesC Says:

      I am so glad youmentioned this. It is old news really but I love it!
      He refuses to wear a suit and tie, etc as well and lives inhis home
      Just beautiful!!!

  9. Dan Arce Says:

    You know what I’d really like to mention…? The very interesting remarks about President Chavez’ health made by Ministro Ernesto Villegas from Chile. He said (and I quote): “La evolución general del paciente es favorable. Para este momento, la infección respiratoria grave ha sido SUPERADA.” and with the same breath he said (and I quote again): “Aunque persiste CIERTO GRADO DE INSUFICIENCIA RESPIRATORIA que esta siendo debidamente tratada”. Why do they have to treat (TRATAR) something that has been SUPERADO??? C’mon, how much junk do we have to hear before someone stands up and shows all the crap they’re full of??? Cant stand it!

  10. Morpheous Says:

    And on top of all this China, Rusia, e India put in stand by lending and investments to Venezuela. Check it out in the following web site:

  11. LD Says:

    Chemotherapy and lung damage and then it makes sense, why Jaua “communicated” (no “hablamos”, “conversamos” but “comunicamos”) with him, maybe in isolation regime and/or assisted respiration.

    • Span Ows Says:

      Exacty. Look at every comment by Jaua, Maduro and others and all use slippery slidy words that could mean something completely different and none have ever explictly said that Chavez has spoken any sense, all their descriptions could be done by nodding his head: do you send best wishes to the people? nods…etc

    • danarce Says:

      No firkin kidding man. They’re choosing their words carefully.
      It reminds me of the TV series called SCANDAL! LOL

  12. LD Says:

    “El presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, ha comenzado a recibir tratamiento médico sistémico para enfermedad de base” read: chemotherapy.
    Add damage to the lung and it looks like that was the last trip to Cuba.

  13. M Rubio Says:

    My lady and I were channel surfing the other night and came across what had to be a government-sponsored channel. We sat in stunned silence listening to the lyrics of song after song…..each one about the beauty of “the revolution”, but very little about Chavez himself.

    I looked at her after we finally switched channels and said, “you know what that was all about, don’t you?”. She said, “yes, the government is preparing the masses for the transition from idolizing Chavez to idolizing the revolution”.

    She was, of course, exactly right.

    Will it work? Don’t know.

    As for the comments about the value of the bolivar versus the dollar, in a previous DE segment I mentioned that my son-in-law called a week ago or so and told us that to buy supplies in Colombia, he had to pay 24 Bs/$. Sounds spot-on.

    • CharlesC Says:

      “yes, the government is preparing the masses for the transition from idolizing Chavez to idolizing the revolution”.
      The masses of chavistas are following Chavez straight over the cliff to nowhere,
      nothingness- What freakin revolution? Largest robbery ever, that is all.

  14. NorskeDiv Says:

    I noticed they stated Hugo Chavez gave orders about the gold reserves which will be “explained later by Petroleum and Mining Minister Rafael Ramírez,” I assume this means they will be liquidating even more… by the time the opposition comes to power in Venezuela I doubt there will be any gold remaining.

  15. TV Says:

    Miguel, about this:
    “giving an implicit exchange rate of Bs. 25 for each dollar in reserves.”

    Does this mean the market price of Bs, could be in that range? The unofficial exchange rate dipped below 18 this week, iirc.

    • moctavio Says:

      No, it means that any rate below 15 is unsustainable, because there are too many Bs. chasing for those $, companies and people need Bs. to function, but if you liberate the exchange rate a large fraction would try to buy $.

    • m_astera Says:

      The actual exchange rate is 17.

  16. megaescualidus Says:

    Nothing much should be expected if/when economic measures are taken because any real measure will like likely hurt Chavez’s base (the poor) more than anyone else. Don’t expect, for example, the price of gas to be increased any time soon…

  17. LD Says:

    An update about the medical condition will be given today but in Chile (Celac), why? maybe something about new elections? They are already trying to postpone mayoral elections.

  18. Very good reading Miguel. I honestly don’t think chavismo will support itself much longer without his Steve jobs. And taking the analogy further I have to say that apple makes great products while Venezuela chavista is far from great. Hopefully the oppo will put their different apparts and focus all on capriles win this marketing game.

  19. spanows Says:

    How long can they get away with holding up a piece of paper with a signature on it? As you say, if elections are held in the short erm Maduro will probably win: el pueblo needs to get a bit disillusioned first: Maduro, Cabello, Jaua et al are not Chavez and haven’t got a hope when the tide turns…

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