Notes from Caracas…

May 29, 2014


So much fun to go back to Caracas. You are excited when you arrive, but somewhat relieved when you leave. Some glimpses:

-Water. How easily one forgets about water shortages. It is so much fun to sleep in late on a Sunday, as you have nothing to do until later in the day. Stay in bed, read a book. Then, about 8 AM the pipes start making a gurgling noise, you realize that they are shutting off the water. Jump out, get under the cold shower. Shoot! You end up drying even the soap, not enough time. At least you feel clean…

Later in the week you go to the dentist. No water there either. Hard for a dentist to work with no water. His solution is simple, get a storage tank for his office. But it’s Catch-22, there is also a water tank shortage. Almost impossible to find one…

-Lunch and safety: Having lunch with fellow blogger Daniel from Venezuela News and Views. Small place within a nice Mall, where at least until now I have felt safe. Table next to the glass window. More tables outside the glass window. The lady sitting right outside the glass gets her handbag stolen. She screams  “Thief!”. Thief flees towards the parking lot. Shot heard from the parking lot. Daniel and I decided not to look into it. Better be safe.

-Rumor Merentes is on his way out of Central Bank. If the name I heard is the replacement, it is bad news. We shall see.

-Everyone talks about the airlines and the new prices and how expensive etc, etc. etc. Few talk about the lack of medicine supplies, basic pharmaceuticals and least of all, sophisticated ones. A paper reports that there are more amputations due to the lack of stents. Depressing.

-Maduro removes two opposition Mayors, elections are held to replace them and the respective wives of the removed Mayors win handily. VTV, the Government’s TV station does not even report the results. Bias? No way, would say anyone in Government. VTV did report the next day that PSUV accepted the results. What results,  would say a PSUV member that was distracted.

-And I refuse to write about the supposed conspiracy to remove Maduro, or the coup against Maduro or the “magnicidio” against Maduro. It is so silly and so faked, that in one of the purported emails sent by the conspirators, one of them was sent simultaneously from an iPad and from a blackberry device using T-Mobile. I did not know such devices combining both operating systems existed:

mailNot only do these guys fail to use Copy Paste properly, but you would think someone would check the work to be presented for errors and inconsistencies, such as this one.

Pretty cool though that the Mayor of Libertador talked about killing “President Machado”. Now we know what he is afraid of. Freud would be proud.

-And I am told that people no longer trust dolartoday as they used to do. Why? Friends suggest the real price is consistently Bs. 4-Bs. 8 higher than what that webpage is reporting. So, be careful out there.

-And Sicad 2 is becoming a daily sport for many. Go to the bank every morning to see if you get some that day. Get some, sell them at the parallel rate, go back to square one. Just don’t say you are buying in Sicad2 to sell higher. We have seen this movie before.

-Shortages: Many things are in short supply. Milk seems to be the most relevant one these days. Everyone in the office drinks black coffee now. Bakeries periodically have signs that say: No flour, no bread. But it usually lasts only a day or two. I did find Coca Cola this time around.


It’s not as bad as it sounds, the arepas are still delicious, so are the cachapas and this time around, it was Spondias Purpurea season, better known as ciruela e’huesito . Who can complain?

46 Responses to “Notes from Caracas…”

  1. Desiree Says:

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  3. Morpheous Says:

    And of top of all, now oil price is climbing due to Iraq about falling to the hands of terrorists, which gives some relief for Maduro’s finances.

  4. shrillary clinton Says:

    lol …how ironic….love it….at least some people have their shit together in Venz…. i love the US flag themed pants….El Mucho Macho must be turning in his grave

    • Roy Says:

      Oddly enough, such US flag themed clothing was popular in Cuba when I was there nearly 20 years ago. It was a sort of soft protest that the government was at a loss to punish.

  5. xp Says:

    The arrival of a Liberian-flagged freighter with Ukrainian, Arab and Filipino sailors spells one thing for Elena — dollars.

    Within hours of hearing of the ship’s imminent arrival, she has packed her bags and is heading to the crumbling city of Puerto Cabello. It is a 450-kilometer (280-mile) journey from her home in the Western state of Zulia that Elena finds herself doing more often now as Venezuela’s economy contracts, the bolivar slumps and prices soar.

    Prostitutes more than double their earnings by moonlighting as currency traders in Puerto Cabello. They are the foreign exchange counter for sailors in a country where buying and selling dollars in the streets is a crime — and prostitution isn’t. Greenbacks in the black market are worth 11 times more than the official rate as dollars become more scarce in an economy that imports 70 percent of the goods it consumes.

    • xp Says:

      Venezuela, which imports just about everything, and its state oil producer have paid $2.8 billion in interest to overseas creditors this year, according to Barclays Plc. Including debt principal, bondholder outlays will balloon to almost $10 billion by year-end, the London-based firm estimates.
      By putting off the local companies responsible for supplying everything from diapers to cancer medications, Maduro can preserve access to debt markets and protect oil shipments that would be vulnerable to bondholder seizure, said Alejandro Arreaza, an analyst at Barclays. Even if that means fanning the world’s fastest inflation and inflaming protests over shortages that have left at least 42 people dead since February.
      “The government’s priority is to pay the sovereign debt,” Alejandro Arreaza, an analyst at Barclays Plc, said in a telephone interview from New York.

    • xp Says:

      One 26-year-old Venezuelan university student in San Antonio said he made pocket money during the week by hopping on a public bus with a crate of items like bath sponges and windshield wipers that he sells for a quick buck in Colombia. “Half the people on the bus are carrying a case of something: milk, cooking oil, anything,” he said.

      Venezuela threatens to punish smugglers with up to 14 years in prison. But the student said he and other traffickers on the bus pass through Venezuelan National Guard checkpoints with small bribes.

  6. Edgar Says:

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this report from Bloomberg but it is sad…
    Venezuela Sacrifices Drinking Water to Pay Bonds

    • HalfEmpty Says:

      No reason to worry: From Edgar’s Bloomberg:

      “Venezuela doesn’t have debt with anyone,” Ramirez said. “What we have are pending foreign-exchange liquidations, which we are reviewing.”

      All is well.

  7. xp Says:

    Venezuela is world’s ‘most miserable country’
    According to new research published by the Cato Institute,
    Venezuela is the most miserable country in the world.

  8. Kepler Says:

    OT but not so OT:

    If someone has some suggestions for this article (in Spanish), let me know:

    Does someone know what the name of the development Fund was from which dictator Pérez Jiménez robbed? I mean more than the millions he took away in cash.

    • moctavio Says:

      I think it was straight out of the Central Bank.

      • Kepler Says:

        Thanks. I thought I read from someone like Navarro or else that there was some special fund, like a tiny FONDEN back then.
        Chavismo has been the most corrupt force by far since probably Gómez (including him?) but for the record I want to cover the whole key events.
        Unfortunately, although there were clear cases of corruption, they don’t seem to be published in stuff accessible on the Internet…probably they are in some newspapers from the late fifties or some old books in some forgotten library in Caracas.

  9. moses Says:

    Another comment on bottled water, most PET bottles are made of “preforms” some locally produced, some imported. There is also local produced PET bottles, but they are having supply problems form local ((Venezuelan Goverment owned) producer – Pequiven, despite abundance of raw materila (gas and oil…). Here is a promise from local Governmet to increase production:

    What about recycled PET ? There are several local recyclers, but they are are not producing in significant levels (yet). Here is one of the companies:

  10. firepigette Says:

    When they do these happiness polls there is so much that is never taken into account on psychological levels, they are totally meaningless!

  11. Dean A Nash Says:

    For the poor, things aren’t that much worse; on the contrary, from their warped perspective, things are better. Now, they’re not the only ones suffering. Now there is some measure of equality. Not really, of course, but through their eyes. (They’re blind to the bandits.)

    It was never about them getting rich, it was always about bringing the rich down to their level. Cuba (communism) was/is the perfect vehicle to achieve this.

    Poor L.L., apparently he was counting on the Venezuelan people to stand up and fight for what is right. Where he got that idea, I’ll never know. Guess he’s just an optimist.

  12. tuziodos Says:
    says Venezuela is the tenth happiest country in the world, above Canada, Australia, New Zealand… sigh.

    • metodex Says:

      Despite it being a lousy job,i don’t doubt the Venezuelan people are happy with this misery,crime and ethical cesspool.

      Actually,we’re the happiest people in the world.
      Los mas huevones actually.

    • Ira Says:

      Having worked for an economic development magazine for a number of years, I can assure you that these kinds of polls and analyses are usually meaningless.

  13. The best of things, shines out over the decrepit state of affairs.

  14. firepigette Says:

    “It’s not as bad as it sounds, the arepas are still delicious, so are the cachapas and this time around, it was Spondias Purpurea season, better known as ciruela e’huesito . Who can complain?”

    Which is why most people just coast along and are not that angry I suppose.

    • Kevn Rica Says:

      There’s a country song that explains that theory!

      Makin’ The Best Of A Bad Situation
      by Dick Feller

      Now, I know a man
      He’s a hard workin’ man
      He gets up real early, and he goes down town
      And about fifteen minutes after he’s been gone
      There’s a big milk truck pulls up on the lawn
      And that milkman rushes up to the door
      Where that man’s wife is waitin’ in a kimona
      And she plants a big ol’ kiss on his cheek and they go inside
      And that truck never moves for an hour or two
      Well it’s none of my business
      One day I called him aside and told him what was goin’ on
      While he was gone
      And he said, “Well I guess that’s so, but do you know
      We’re never outta’ milk or cottage cheese or yogurt, ice cream, or none of them other cowy things”

      I guess he’s makin’ the best of a bad situation
      Don’t wanta make waves, can’t you see
      He’s just makin’ the best of a bad situation
      Reckon I’d do the same if it was me

      Now I know a man, he’s an educated man, he’s an alligator wrestler
      He jumps right in there and grabs them long green boogers by whatever you
      grab them long green boogers by…
      Well, one day he’s got a full Nelson on this big alligator
      When this other alligator sneaks up and bites his right ear plumb off…
      Didn’t bat an eye just crawled off in the shade and went to sleep
      The alligator not the man
      Well, it’s none of my business
      One day I said, “Well, it’s sure too bad about that little accident that you had
      ‘Cause now your hat’s gonna fall down over your eyes
      And you can’t ever be gypsy ’cause you don’t have no place to wear a gold earring”
      He just looked me right straight in the eye and said, “Huh?”

      I guess he’s makin’ the best of a bad situation
      Don’t wanna make waves, can’t you see
      He’s just makin’ the best of a bad situation
      Reckon I’d do the same if it was me

      Now I know a lady, she’s a mighty fine lady
      Got a heart of gold, she wouldn’t harm a fly
      She’s just tryin’ to get by and keep her house in order
      But you know that her husband, he worked so hard that he come unglued
      He come unwrapped, he just snapped, thinks he’s a chicken…
      That’s right, one of them cackling Colonel Sanders’ types
      He roosts in the bush by the side of the house
      Well it’s none of my business but one day I said
      “Have you ever thought about findin’ him a doctor who could make him well”

      And she said “Well, I have now and then, but then again
      He don’t eat much just chickenfeed and all that peckin’ in the ground don’t hurt nothin’….
      Heaven knows, we can use the eggs”

      I guess she’s makin’ the best of a bad situation
      Don’t wanna make waves, can’t you see
      She’s just makin’ the best of a bad situation
      Reckon I’d do the same if it was me

      We’re all just makin’ the best of a bad situation
      We’re all in this together you and me.

  15. The only thing I keep saying to the few friends I have left in Venezuela who deal with escasez and shortages everyday like Daniel here is.. GOOD!!

    Buckle up and put up with it some more. The more escasez, and the worse the economy gets, the better! That’s the only way out. So that people get really, really pissed off and overthrow the regime.

    Venezuelans have dealt with razionamiento de agua, apagones, escasez, inflacion and all that for a long time. They have thick skins. So, unfortunately, it has to get even worse before it gets better.

  16. Kepler Says:


    I translate from my Spanish blog:

    3.5.2013: Maduro accuses Uribe and the “Venezuelan extreme right” of trying to kill him
    11.6.2013: Government said it managed to stop a murder attempt by paramilitary against Maduro. The paramilitary were coming from Colombia.
    24.7.2013: Cabello said there is a new murder attempt against Maduro and himself and that he shall present a formal accusation “in due time”

    (I reckon that means in God Given Hair’s time)

    27.8.2013: Government says there is yet a new plan against Maduro being hetched in Colombia. 2 Colombians arrived on 13 August to Venezuela to kill the Eternal Commandant’s son.
    15.3.2014: Maduro declares Obama has a plan to kill him.
    28.5.2014: Governments reveals yet another plan to kill Maduro and other revolutionary leaders and topple the government.

    I have the links and all. I might have lost one or the other complot, but then it’s hard to look for them as there is a lot of discussion on the web after each one.

    • Island Canuck Says:

      You forgot the 13 war planes that were bought by the opposistion & parked in Colombia.

      • Kepler Says:

        Thanks. I thought that was part of 3.5.2013 but I will re-check. It is sometimes hard to keep them apart, to see when there is a “new plan” or a continuation of an old one.

        Of course, some hard-core chavistas might say there is and has been only one plan and that plan started with Columbus or someone like that.

        This one should be for a Jorge Luis Borges…a story about endless assassination attempts. Chavistas are very much more mundane and prefer to find clues in crosswords instead of books but there is potential here for a Borges’ story.

    • bobthebuilder Says:

      Good point. The rate of magnicidio claims under the Maduro administration appears to increased several fold over his predecessor – no mean feat!

  17. danielduquenal Says:

    It is true, I was having lunch with Miguel and it is true that we remained seated letting other worry with it.

    What Miguel forgets to mention about water is that there is no more bottled water in Venezuela. Apparently the few that can be found are reserved for restaurants. So at home I had to start boiling faucet water again, to sterilize it, and to remove some of the chlorine effect, a chlorine that in spite its abundance does not seem to be making the water microbiologically safe. And yet it seems that people are suffering more of the runs than ever. See, the water I have at home AFTER the filter is still not quite limpid. It leaves deposits when it dries out. So even boiling it does not make it quite, just quite potable. Who knows what dirt and chemical we are ingesting and what sensitivities you get from the,

    So today I got three large packs of bottled water from someone who does not do retail and sells bottled water way above “fixed” price to particulars directly. And I do not care a bit, I want my tea taste like tea, I do not want to have the runs on a regular basis, I do not want to develop kidney stones…

    And why is there no bottled water you may ask? Did the wells run dry? No, but bottling companies have run out of packing material and even if they had enough of it, if the regime allowed for their importation, they cannot recoup their costs anymore. It is just that simple. So we are left with an outdated, antique water network system that has seen no significant improvement or maintenance in 15 years, which requires to push more water than its capacity, a water that is not properly processed. And all this I know first hand because of the guy that sold me the water, a childhood neighbor.

    Epidemics ahead.

    PS: Oh goodie! I just wrote my weekly post in Miguel’s blog!

    • Stig Hess Says:

      Get a pressure canner or distill your water. Oh.. as long as you have electricity or gas, that is.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      Daniel: So, Miguel, why are you here?
      Moctavio: I came here for the waters.
      Daniel: Waters? We’re in freaking Venezuela!
      Moctavio: I was misinformed.

  18. Juan Largo Says:

    He wrote: “Few talk about the lack of medicine supplies, basic pharmaceuticals and least of all, sophisticated ones. A paper reports that there are more amputations due to the lack of stents. Depressing.”

    Getting pretty serious. And as of 5-16, the minister of health declared that it was “forbidden” for anyone – from doctors on down – to mention anything about shortages or actual inventory in any public hospital or clinic. What we are hearing about is the shortage mostly in private clinics – which are usually much better stocked then the free public facilities. How bad does this have to get before the powers that be seek outside help? Wait till some General dies because there’s no plasma or heart medicine or (fill in the blank).

  19. moses Says:

    Sometimes a tune will let you forget the problems for a few minutes, from Bobby Mc Ferrin, Dont worry, be Happy !

    • moses Says:

      In case you are curious about tis song, all instruemnt effects were done by Bobby McFerrin, see here:,_Be_Happy

      ” Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is a song by musician Bobby McFerrin. Released in September 1988, it became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a position it held for two weeks. The song’s title is taken from a famous quote by Meher Baba. The original music video stars Robin Williams and Bill Irwin.[4] The “instruments” in the a cappella song are entirely overdubbed voice parts and other sounds made by McFerrin, using no instruments at all.”

  20. “And I refuse to write about the supposed conspiracy to remove Maduro, or the coup against Maduro or the “magnicidio” against Maduro. It is so silly and so faked..”

    Lots of people saying that. But remember, that was the same propaganda crap Castro used to stay in power, taught properly to Chavez, now adopted by Masburro. It works for the uneducated, poor people who don’t have access to social media, or can’t read, and just watch the cadenas.

    It’s intended for them, spoken to them in their colloquial language with popular expressions as “Yanqui” or “Burguesia”, or “Capitalismo”, terms which a vast majority of uneducated, poor Venezuelans do not comprehend.

    That’s their intended audience for such “magnicidio” and other laughable crap. They are highly incompetent and stupid, but not to that extent..They fully realize the minority of semi-educated people with a grip on reality don’t buy a word of such accusations, or what they accused Leopoldo of without proof, or now MCM and Arria.

    In our comfortable exiles and/or with our college degrees, we tend to forget about that.

    (on a lighter note.. ciruela e’ pepa?!! I’d kill for a few dozen of those bien maduritas aqui en Miami..)

    • Ira Says:

      Well, nothing for nothing, but..

      The U.S., for years, DID try to kill Fidel.

      • Tony Says:

        The US, Kennedy in charge, didn’t try hard enough. The Bay of Pigs invasion was the nearest it got, and they (the US) screwed up.

      • If the US really wanted Maduro dead, he would have joined Chavez as a Pajarito a loooong time ago. He’s no Bin Laden hiding in Pakistani mountains, you know..

        • metodex Says:

          Why kill him,or Chavez when none of these two’s actions ever defied the USA?

          Antiimperialism for these guys is limited to nice speeches and new words like “pitiyanquis” and “Mr.Donkey”.
          It’s a joke, on us not them.

          • Ira Says:

            I’m not saying they are trying or have any reason to kill Maduro.

            But the fact is that for a bunch of years, the CIA did indeed try to kill Fidel.

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