What To Wish For In 2015

January 1, 2015

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black background

Every single one of the twelve years of this blog, I have wished my readers a Happy New Year. It was always a personal wish, hoping that every reader would have the best year they can hope for, for themselves and their families. Since we are all personally involved with Venezuela, this wish is very interconnected to the country and its future. Whether they are there or not, whatever happens in Venezuela in 2015 will have an undue influence on how good a year it is for each and all of us. Thus, when last night I sat down to wish you the best for the New Year, I just could not find a simple message. This is my more complete post about what I wish for all of you and for myself and my family. And why I think the word “happy” will be hard to apply to all of us in 2015.

Unfortunately, I fear that 2015 will not be a good year for anyone connected to Venezuela. In fact, I expect 2015 to be THE annus horriblis for Venezuela. My only concern at this time, is that the slow pace of change in policies by the Maduro Government may extend the pain well into 2016 or even 2107, turning it into many anni horriblis, inflicting immeasurable pain on the Venezuelan people.

Because the delay in new decisions will only exacerbate the effects of bad policies which will now be magnified by the sharp drop in oil prices, that will only intensify the effects of the upcoming crisis. And we all know and think about the first order effects of the upcoming crisis, like inflation, shortages, increased poverty and the like, but the second order effects are even scarier. Years of neglect have deteriorated the country’s infrastructure and the problems with electric power and water supply will take years to be solved. Quality of life will deteriorate, as people will suffer blackouts and brownouts for years and water rationing will become the norm. Crime will only increase and protests and unrest will become the norm.

Unfortunately, in thinking about whether there was a possibility of having a “good” 2015 in Venezuela, the answer is that the panorama is quite fuzzy. As decisions are delayed, things will get worse, but they will not necessarily make a resolution to the problems be closer to reality. On the contrary, I believe the path that Chavismo will follow is to replace Maduro with someone else once his popularity reaches single digits, which will certainly occur in 2015. The fights within Chavismo will only intensify and Nicolas will be the loser, as most groups will realize a new face is the only possible way out for the Bolivarian revolution to survive. This, of course, is not a solution in the end, but a necessary step before real change can take place.

A new face in the Presidency will give Chavismo some fresh air, but the ideological trap will snare whichever group takes over: If they change the course, they will be repudiated, it they stay the course, the crisis will simply get worse and an already fragile Government will keep stumbling along, without any real possibility of improvement (unless oil prices hit US$ 200 per barrel, the only possible way out of the current crisis)

But real change will not take place until Chavismo’s groups are atomized and its popularity, not that of its leaders, falls to levels similar to those of the opposition.

And that, unfortunately, could take quite a while to take place.

My best guess is that it will take at east two or three years for the country to reach that stage. There are no easy solutions in my mind. For change to take place there has to be a process, not an event. And with Chavismo’s resources and controls today, the process will be long and drawn out.

And that is why it is hard to wish you a Happy New Year. My crystal ball suggests it will be anything but happy for Venezuelans, or those that care about the country, in 2015 and 2016.

Thus, the best I can wish you is that I am wrong. However, I may be wrong about the details, Venezuela may have a Black Swan, but the path will certainly look similar to what I am depicting. And it will not be pretty, let alone happy.

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64 Responses to “What To Wish For In 2015”

  1. moctavio Says:

    As we say in China 两手空空

  2. Dr. Faustus Says:

    That’s it! We have the definitive winner for the year 2015. I know it’s early, but this one is a dooozie! All other contestants are hereby requested to make their written applications to our panel of experts in early January of 2016. OK? The ‘winner’ of the annual ‘dumbest nincompoop of the year’ for the year 2015 is, ….Marco Torres! Congratulations! Way to go! You’ve won, ….hands down!

    Here it is….

    “EL UNIVERSAL
    Tuesday January 06, 2015 03:25 PM
    “China trusts the country completely and wants to invest soon,” asserted Rodolfo Marco Torres, Venezuelan Minister of Economy, Finance, and Public Banking on Tuesday; ….”

  3. Noel Says:

    Just saw this photographic essay on Venezuela. I don’t know who the photographer is. Pretty grim

    https://www.lensculture.com/projects/51076-24-horas-en-dictadura

    • halfempty Says:

      Ernesto Perez. Recommend the link, very good photography but very grim.

    • Island Canuck Says:

      Very haunting photos however was disappointed they were all B&W.
      They go from being notable to “artsy”.

      They lose much of their impact.
      They were obviously shot in colour

      It’s 2015 not 1950.

    • Ira Says:

      Going “on.”

      CURSE YOU OLD AGE!!!

    • Roy Says:

      Ira,

      This is a small red herring tossed out by the regime. The U.S. will not even respond to it, unless the proposal is made through official channels, in which case Maduro will be politely told to shove it. The only one who wants to put LL on a plane out of Venezuela is Chavismo.

  4. Miguel Daxner Says:

    Change of subject… Sorry !
    I urgently need the name of someone dealing with Venezuelan bonds and was told to contact here..
    It is a legitimate enquiry for information leading to a possible large transaction on behalf of a client .
    Please reply as soon as possible to my email noeme@gmx.at Gracias
    Miguel..Replies in Spanish or English

  5. halfempty Says:

    Can anyone say which aircraft the president is on? Has the presidential airBUS been returned from maintenance? A Cubanna aircraft? Something different?

  6. Kepler Says:

    Miguel,

    I am going to be the devil’s advocate.

    What if China proposes something like it is doing with Russia?

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-22/china-offers-russia-help-with-suggestion-of-wider-currency-swap.html

    I saw Russia was already knocking at China’s door back in early 2014 but I haven’t followed up what Russia got until December. This piece of news is from 22 December.

    Is there anything China could still get from Venezuela, including massive amounts of land “for rent”? I mean: it might be illegal but Chavistas are thugs.

    • Roy Says:

      The only thing they have to sell is territory. Maybe they will try to sell Margarita Island…

      • Miguel Octavio Says:

        Venezuelas fiscal problem is a US$ 20 billion problem. I dont see anything worth that amount. All of the CVG companies if you tried to sell them would not get you 5 billion, oil is underground and the Government has 22% popularity. Recall he is not only going to Vhina, also to visit a few Opec countries. This is a Hail Mary pass. It will fail.

        • Miguel Octavio Says:

          First bad indicator: his first stop is Russia. What can he get there? If China were to solve the problem, begin there.

          • Mick Says:

            Russia wants to sell not buy. If China buys it will be at a huge discount. The oil bubble has burst, most of opec is powerless to do anything about it.

            Winter is here and now is when you should be living off your fat in hibernation.

            Now the question is, how long will it take to replace Venezuela’s lost industry. 5-10 years?

  7. Roy Says:

    And, Maburro is off to China and the other OPEC nations to beg for money after Rafael Ramirez just failed at the same mission. Is there anyone who doesn’t think that he will come back empty-handed?

    http://news.yahoo.com/venezuelas-maduro-heads-china-seek-financial-aid-224753936.html

    So much for the announcement that there would be an announcement…

    • Miguel Octavio Says:

      This guy is so primitive he thinks i. One month somehhing could change. I repeat my prediction of Dic. 1st. Empty Hands.

      • Roy Says:

        Reminds me of a supervisor I once had on a construction job. His response to any crisis on the site was to get in his car and drive somewhere else. I fired him. Venezuela should do the same.

    • Caracas Canadian Says:

      Given Chavista government practices, doesn’t announcing that you are going to China on a begging mission pass for an accurate announcement of economic policy?

  8. Jeffry House Says:

    What if the Castros both die (statistically probable!) and the new Cuban leadership 1) Pulls out all the advisors, and 2) Starts to release the files? When did Chavez really die, etc?

    Stuff happens. Don’t think the present circumstances necessarily have to last, even two years.

  9. mick Says:

    So, oil is down to twice what it used to be, and the economy is so bad that McDonald’s is cutting back on french fries. French fries are the main reason that McDonald’s exists.

    You have hit the iceberg, the life boats are all full, half the ship is under water and it is beginning to list. Why are there not serious riots in the streets?

    • Island Canuck Says:

      Be patient – tha’s coming!

    • Roy Says:

      Jesus! Be careful what you wish for… you might get it.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      Please forgive me for sounding a bit Machiavellian here, but perhaps there really should be some rioting here. Angry mobs. Like, seriously threatening the stability of this insane government. I mean, c’mon. This government is willfully and purposely destroying the very foundation of Venezuela, economically and politically. Not only that, they have the chief opposition figure sitting behind bars for almost an entire year, on clearly trumped-up charges! People should show some anger here. Yes, …yes, …I know, violence is a terrible thing, but so is being docile when facing barbarity. Evil can only be stopped by the courage of individuals acting in concert. This has to be stopped! Sorry, I got carried away here….

      • Carlos Says:

        The twitter of Naky Soto says
        “Siempre es así: 15 días de enero anestesiados por la Navidad, ya sin bollos, la gente entiende el peo en el que estamos” Vecino
        Revolt is coming but the fast pace changes it brings about needs some years to brew

      • Roy Says:

        Dr. Faustus,

        The anger and frustration is there and I agree that, at times, violence and force have their place. However, leaderless and pointless rioting will not lead to a constructive change.

        So far, Chavismo is doing a good job of taking the Opposition’s leaders out of play. But, you never know who might step up. The situation is very volatile.

        • Dr. Faustus Says:

          Yes, I agree. I hate violence as well. But the frustration here is enormous. How much longer can this go on? The Chavista’s are clearly not the majority anymore, yet they spit in everyone’s faces. I’m just angry….

          • Miguel Octavio Says:

            I think thee will be violence and repression. I also think once Maduro is out, there will be a series of Presidents (at least more than one) the Constitution will be trampled on (like ignored!) before order and democracy are restored. Just an optimist here…

            • Mick Says:

              A new leader must emerge. It might be one of the old ones, recycled(Caprilles probably did win the popular vote). Or it might be a totally different person. But, without a single voice, all you have is chaos.

  10. moctavio Says:

    Well, I am sure the Venezuelan Supreme Court can come up with a simple way to explain that there is no time to call for elections and the VP would take over. They have done with the Constitution whatever they wanted,Maduro should not have been president while being a candidate. Diosdado should have replaced Chavez , not Maduro, Electoral Board election, Fiscal, Defensor, Supreme Court. I am sure they can find a word that does not read like you do. The most likely way is for Maduro to ask for a temporary absence just like Chavez and then this temporary absence will be extended until the four years are up. They already used that trick

    You say too flagrant? The law says the Electora board , the Fiscal etc. etc. can not be from a ny party. Is Tarek flagrant? He was Governor for PSUC, for example. Many like that. Scruples does not exist in Chavismo’s vocabulary. Too flagrant for whom? What will happen if they do it? Nothing…

    Wait until inflation reaches 500%, at that time, Chavismo will be reduced to noting. And yes, Chavismo may never go down to 5% but it can become three groups with 15% support.

    • Getashrink Says:

      Maybe “flagrant” is not the right word here. Perhaps I should have said “too visible to the outside world (internationally communtity)”. The appointment of Tarek didn’t make it to CNN or BBC, but an unconstitutional change in the presidency will. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time chavistas wipe their behinds with whatever the international community might think of whatever they do, but still, they would have to defend themselves against the backlash, without it being very clear (at least not to me) what they actually get in return (it’s not like any problem is gonna get solved just because Maduro is removed).

      However, I have to admit that I had not considered the temporary absence trick. That way the can pull it off, since by the time it becomes unconstitutional (if I remember well, a temporary abscense cannot be longer than six months), everyone in the international community will have forgotten about the change, and will probably be too busy with some other problem around the world to worry about what exactly our constitution says.

      So, in the end, yeah, unfortunately, you are right.

      • Ira Says:

        I wouldn’t hold my breath that any international criticisms regarding VZ constitutional abuse would even make a few lines on page 10.

        That shit Venezuelans will have to deal with on their own.

        Who the hell are non-Venezuelans to explain to Venezuelans what their Constitution means?

    • tuziodos Says:

      What about the introduction of convertible Bolivars for the military and the nomenklatura only? Wouldn’t that prevent atomization?

      • moctavio Says:

        There is money and there is power. Power divides them, money joins them. But they are deeply divided already. Once one transition takes place, everyone will want to be President. Thus the atomization.

  11. Getashrink Says:

    “… replace Maduro with someone else once his popularity reaches single digits,…The fights within Chavismo will only intensify and Nicolas will be the loser,…A new face in the Presidency will give Chavismo some fresh air…”

    How do you expect Maduro to be replaced? I mean, the only way would be for him to step down, but then they would have to call for an election, which is not something I would think chavistas want to do. Would they want to risk losing the presidency to the opposition? No way…

    So, the only way for this to work out for chavismo would be for Maduro to step down and then unconstitutionally appoint a new chavista president (Diosdado?) for the rest of the presidential period. I know chavismo doesn’t really have a problem violating the constitution, but I think this one would be too flagrant, and would create more problems for them than it would solve.

    Another thing: I’m pretty certain that at least 30% of the population will never stop being chavistas no matter what. So, while many of those radical chavistas might get angry at Maduro, I don’t think this anger will ever be even comparable with the anger they feel against the opposition that it will lead them to jeopardize the whole “chavista project” by demanding Maduro to step down.

  12. CarlosElio Says:

    “But real change will not take place until Chavismo’s groups are atomized and its popularity, not that of its leaders, falls to levels similar to those of the opposition.

    And that, unfortunately, could take quite a while to take place.”

    But if we understood the processes by which groups become atomized and found ways of accelerating those that are amenable to intervention, then the wait could be shortened. There are clues in Aporrea and in Marea Socialista.

  13. Leopoldo Aguerrevere Says:

    Miguel

    Excelente art’iculo Saludos a Kathy.

    Leopoldo (polo) Aguerrevere

    Sent from my iPad

    >


  14. On a more positive note many Caracas high rise dwellers will develop very strong legs and shoulders hauling water up 15 floors. When I was young in Cuba we had the ‘privilege” of living in a nicer area (Raul Castro lived two blocks away). Unfortunately this also meant we were located a bit higher than most people.

    So, one of my daily chores was to haul a small cart with a half drum on top, which I had to fill with water at water tap they had at the bottom of the hill. I would scramble uphill with ropes tied around my shoulders, so by the time I got away when I was 14 I was skinny but had very strong legs and could carry enormous loads. Later this helped me become a golf course caddy, get good tips, and save money for college.

    I guess the lesson is that venezuelans are about to become a much tougher people. By the time the cubans are finished with you, venezuelans will either be broken down or will be mental and physical Conans. It will help you as you leave the country, so look at it as a training phase. .

    • Ira Says:

      Great story!

    • Roy Says:

      Ira,

      It isn’t a “story”. I was there. The pumps in most of the buildings have long since broken down. Most Cubans in Havana spend several hours a day carrying water. Most of the buildings have a rope and pulley system to haul the water up in buckets.

      • Ira Says:

        You know, for some weird reason, after I hit the “post comment” button, I had a feeling that someone was going to misinterpret my use of “story.”

        And I was right!

        I didn’t mean to imply it was a FAKE story at all!

        Strange, but since that’s what you thought…and I kind of suspected some might think the same way…what OTHER word should I have used?

        • CarlosElio Says:

          You could have used “narrative” but it is also likely that some other one might have found fault with that word. We live in the universe of Heisenberg in which all of its features are surrounded by a band of uncertainty whose resolution is a matter of personal preference. In such a universe it is unavoidable that no matter what you do or how you do it, some people will find fault.

        • Roy Says:

          Sorry Ira. I didn’t mean to imply that you were doubting it. I was simply verifying it’s truth from personal observation.

  15. Morpheous Says:

    “… replace Maduro with someone else once his popularity reaches single digits,…The fights within Chavismo will only intensify and Nicolas will be the loser,…A new face in the Presidency will give Chavismo some fresh air, but the ideological trap will snare whichever group takes over: If they change the course, they will be repudiated, it they stay the course, the crisis will simply get worse and an already fragile Government will keep stumbling along, without any real possibility of improvement (unless oil prices hit US$ 200 per barrel, the only possible way out of the current crisis)… Chavismo’s groups are atomized and its popularity, not that of its leaders, falls to levels similar to those of the opposition…. could take quite a while to take place.”

    All of these do not sound too bad to me (even if it takes a while) provided that liberty, democracy, and justice are restored; and Chavismo takes the place it deserves in history (a cancer for a country).

    • Roy Says:

      He means that Maduro will be replaced by someone else within Chavismo.

      • Morpheous Says:

        Thank you for your feedback. Yes, I know what he means. That’s why I said, “provided that liberty, democracy, and justice are restored;…” which would imply that at some point Chavismo would be removed from power (it would take many years). Miguel certainly did not say so; I added it trying to be a little bit optimistic. Of course the worst cannot be rule out (ending up like North Corea).

  16. Robert Taylor Says:

    I thought Castro was preparing Chavez’s daughter to take over to from Maduro to recover…..something ………

  17. OldSarg Says:

    Your country is in our prayers.

  18. Ira Says:

    You had someone proofread this for you, huh?

    I only found ONE questionable sentence in the whole thing!

  19. Virginia Laffitte Says:

    OH MY GOD! YOU POOR, POOR PEOPLE!! THERE IS NO GLIMMER OF LIGHT AT THE END OF THAT BLEAK AND ENDLESS TUNNEL.


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