Some Steps Forward And Some Back In Venezuela

January 17, 2016


It has been six weeks since the opposition won the Parliamentary election and many things have happened. But I do not really want to give you a blow by blow analysis of what happens or is happening in the country, but rather try to see and understand the overall picture. Thus, I did not report on the details of Maduro’s speech to the Assembly or many other topics which some may think require some commentary.

But I think is more important to report on the overall picture of the country six weeks after the elections. And what I can say is that there has certainly been some progress, some steps forward, but the whole picture is still lacking, as the country seems to be drifting into a crisis, with probably more steps forwards than backwards, but too much uncertainty still present in the country.

To begin with, I don’t think either side has understood well the message the voters sent in Dec. 6th. On the one hand, the Maduro administration has not understood that the vote against it represents a vote against the consequence of its badly mismanaged economic policies. Despite this, it continues on a path to radicalize the country, blame the economic war, all of which will bring little economic benefit, precisely the only thing the voters wanted him to pay attention to.

The opposition, on the other hand, seems to be understanding its victory as a mandate to get rid of Maduro, which is probably why most opposition voters cast their vote for. But as I have discussed previously, The in between, both the Ni-Ni’s (who don’t belong to either side) and the pro-Chavista voters, were casting a vote to punish Chavismo, but not necessarily because the opposition electrifies them and wants them to run the country. So far, the opposition has said little in how it intends to deal with Economic problems. True, it is little that the Assembly can do on economic matters, but this does not mean that it can not make proposals or counter-proposals, of which it has done little on these matters. Perhaps the only exception is the Bill to give ownership to the Mision Vivienda homes, which was repudiated by Chavismo.

Perhaps the most positive thing to has happened is that there has been acceptance of the victory by the opposition. Even if this has been a reluctant acceptance or not, it is there, whether thanks to the military or not. The opposition found the need for security the first day the Deputies were sworn in at the Assembly, but the routine of at least bi-weekly sessions is such, that the last time the Assembly met in a regular session, there were no significant security forces outside the Assembly building. (The same inside, where reporters and public can now go in without much hassle)

This represents some semblance of the return of normal democratic life to the country, a huge advancement.

And this return to normalcy is also present in an increased access to the media by the opposition. Even if VTV did not want to show Ramus Allup (A negative nomination on which I have opined sufficiently), it had no other recourse but to show his speech right after Maduro’s speech. By now, some of the old/new media, such as Globovision, has begun to hedge it bets, increasing its coverage of the opposition.

More democracy can only be good.

I think it was a negative for the opposition to go back on the swearing in of the three questioned Amazonas Deputies. It should not have done so, if it was not willing to go Constitutional-conflict on the terrible decision by the Electoral Hall of the Court. Given the 45 thousand-plus decisions in a row  by the Court in the last 15 years, it should not have expected anything else.

While it was a puzzle why Amazonas was picked, given how close elections were there, the truth may have been revealed this week, when it was noted that some Chavista Deputies have requested the Supreme Court interpret whether the indigenous representatives to the Assembly should be elected by the population of those States at large or only the indigenous population. Curiously, the opposition had raised this issue in the past , only to be denied, even when Chavismo dominated that vote. Chavismo probably thinks that it can win one of the three Assembly members with this trick and deny the 2/# majority to the opposition, but I doubt it.

Unfortunately Maduro did not understand the message about the economy and seems to still be clueless at this time. Since Dec. 6th. oil has dropped by about US$ 8 per barrel (somewhat less for Venezuela’s oil basket) but the Venezuelan President did not mention any concrete measures in his State of the Union address and his “Economic Emergency” Bill” only include the possibility of more expropriations, despite the dismal failure by Chavismo with them over the last 16 years. He did say gasoline prices should be increased, a decision which is solely in his hands. He should talk less and do something.

And with oil under $30 per barrel (less than US$ 23 for the Venezuelan basket) this means that foreign currency revenues for the country will be under 50% of what they were during 2015. And as Venezuelans line up for food, medicines and even to have their deodorant refilled, one has to ponder how awful things will get in the upcoming months…

20 Responses to “Some Steps Forward And Some Back In Venezuela”

  1. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    “Unfortunately Maduro did not understand the message about the economy and seems to still be clueless at this time.”

    Chavismo understands much more than people think. They are far less incompetent than people think. They are actually extremely competent at 1 thing: Stealing massive amounts of money. That’s their real purpose, what they want. To stay in power, and get very rich. Therefore, they are very competent.

    Of course they know that to fix the economy the only way would be to eliminate the bogus “controles de cambio”. Even a high school drop out, a bus driver like Maduro knows that. Of course they would have to free the divisas, raise gas prices, start taxing people, cutting the spending on their 5 million enchufados on 37 ministries, get a huge loan from the FMI, lower inflation, reactivate local production, Privatize disastrous public industries. Get rid of “precio justos” crap.
    Give private business dollars and new incentives via Fedecamaras to start producing and hiring people. Privatize PDVSA and fire half of the crooks on top. Get the Guardia, even the Army on the Mining industry and clean that up too. Etc.

    Any 12 year old student knows that much. Economics 101. No rocket science.

    But such economic measures are tough. People would not like them on the short term. And, most importantly, the real Bosses in Vzla, the Mega-Rich crooks in PDVSA, Corpoelec, Cabello and his thugs, the top 1000 Thieves in power, they don’t want that. They would not be able to Steal. They risk JAIL time.

    Therefore, they will not make the tough, necessary adjustments and drastic changes required to begin fixing a catastrophic Economy. They have the competence and can hire 15 Economists tomorrow, best on the planet. Heck, Ricardo Hausmann would suffice. (clowns like Jose Guerra know very little about a healthy, Free Capitalistic economy.)

    The MUD will not be able to do much at all either. Until the corrupt Executive, Judicial and other powers are decapitated. Until the entire system, the putrid “socialistic” model is destroyed. The Chinese will not lend more money. Oil prices will not go up. The private industry will not miraculously resuscitate, nt in decades. Agriculture, Fishing, local Manufacturing, they are Dead, with very few exceptions. Inflation is projected to hit 500% this year. No more reserves, no more gold. 1.5 Million of the best, educated professionals, you the readers of these blogs, are GONE. And we will not return in Years. Not one of us. Ok maybe 100. Crime will continue to get even worse too. That does not help the economy either.. Drugs trafficking? , soon worse than Honduras or Colombia.

    So what “Economic plan” can they possibly have? None. Without drastic, painful changes, the country will continue to get even worse. Taxing people, raise gas prices, cut the stinking government in half. Get to Work, no more freebies. None of that will happen. So get ready for an even more disastrous Decade to come.

    • Andrea Says:

      The bus driver’s “economic plan” is quite simple: “Dios proveerá”…
      Getting very rich in a totally wrecked country is not a very attractive perspective. Nor they can think of enjoying their riches in Miami (they’d go straight to jail) or in Cuba (there’s nothing money can buy there). The bus driver knows that only a miracle can save them now.

      • Lee – you are absolutely right! The country has no chance of recovering for a long, long time. Their only chance of getting out of this is their cash cow (PDVSA). But it is broken beyond repair. Very tough times are coming and coming soon.

  2. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    There’s not much positive overall in Vzla. Except that there’s a somewhat independent Legislative Power and the media was allowed. But even that has limitations, the media is still repressed, the supermajority was lost, and many opposition deputies will be Bribed. This is Cleptozuela, as always. Miguel is correct, Ramos Allup is crooked. So are most other politicians. And the “State of the Nation” speech was in my view a Victory for freaking Maduro. He spoke over 3 hours, and Allup only rebutted very few points in 30 minutes.

    Allup did not profit from the occasion to drill Chavismo, and the worst year in Vzlan History. He could have Slammed Chavismo on national Cadena, on about 2 Dozen specific items. He did not. Instead, he ended up praising Aristobulo, joking with Cabello. His speech was WAY overrated. And Vzla is headed to an even worse year in 2016.

  3. captainccs Says:

    >>>And as Venezuelans line up … to have their deodorant refilled,

    El tufito Chavista es inaguantable!

    • Andrea Says:

      Lenin dijo que los capitalistas venderían incluso la soga con la que serían ahorcados. Pero McDonald nunca vende las patatas fritas a los Chavistas. ¿Son los capitalistas que han hecho inteligente, o los revolucionarios que han vuelto muy estúpidos?

  4. TV Says:

    You made a slight typo in the 3rd paragraph from the bottom, it’s 2/3, not 2/# 🙂

    One thing must be made clear, there is no way to “fix” Venezuelan economy. The country has two choices – muddle along and hope for the oil to pick up before disaster (essentially impossible), or make swift changes that will make life of ordinary Venezuelans far more miserable in the short term, and benefits will take a decade to show. This second option will happen in any case, but the difference could be in who takes the blame.

    It’s understandable that the NA doesn’t want to rush the second option. Chavista-fascista media would have a field day blaming the opposition for everything, possibly even cementing their hold on power.

    • Luis Pena Says:

      I don´t think is a typo. There are three different types of majority: Simple, 2/5 and 2/3. I believe the “rojitos” want to destroy any kind of qualified majority, hence the 2/#

  5. captainccs Says:

    >>>I think it was a negative for the opposition to go back on the swearing in of the three questioned Amazonas Deputies.

    I disagree. If the opposition criticizes Chavismo for not following protocol then they cannot break protocol themselves. The Amazonas deputies should not have been sworn in. Avoiding a conflict with the judiciary was a prudent move.

    After listening to Ramos Allup’s longish speech I have changed my mind about him. I particularly liked his demolishing the four cornerstones of Chavismo by saying they are not in the constitution: revolution, socialism, hegemony and military civic union.

  6. Dr. Faustus Says:

    At some point in the very near future the Chavista’s will race to Beijing for yet another loan request. Surely the Chinese must we wary of these guys. When is the tipping point coming? When will they finally be forced to make a real decision on the economy? Everything is coming apart at the seams, yet weeks and months go by with, …nothing. Cliff up ahead! Nothing. Watching all of this from a distance is so very surreal. How long can this last?

    • Ira Says:

      It’s unbelievable.

      And when you consider that PDVSA just announced it wants all its partners to pay for their own NAPTHA…in contradiction of the contracts…

      It goes from unbelievable to absurd.

  7. Ira Says:

    I can’t believe you’re still sour on Allup.

    While at the same time, criticizing him for taking a step back on the “disputed three.”

    You can’t have it both ways, and thank GOD for Allup’s big mouth. Also…

    Your criticism on his “checkered past” is irrelevant. VZ’s younger voters have no more idea on who the hell he is/was than they do of Winston Churchill.

    The majority of Opposition voters want a firecracker in there, and whether you agree with that or not, they’re still the majority.

    And I firmly believe they’re right.

    • moctavio Says:

      Sorry Ira, I want better politicians, period., he is crooked.

      Of course I take him to task, its the same problem, you have to be smart, if you decide to do something, you better weigh the consequences and what would you do if some outcome takes place. This was the most probable outcome, duhhh!!! He did not think of it? What can I hope for in the future.

      I don’t care what young people think, I lived the men like Ramos Allup deciding everything about Venezuela. he does not believe in democracy, primaries and he defends his corrupt family. Is that want we want for Venezuela?

      Not me.

      • Imnus Says:

        It’s ridiculous how they can make a point just spouting bullshit, you’re like a chavista, pura paja.

      • Ira Says:

        There’s an old expression:

        “He might be a son of a bitch, but he’s OUR son of a bitch.”

        And if he’s the one who can get Leopoldo out, then you’ll have your real leader in short order.

        • Kepler Says:

          If he can help bring democracy faster, it would be another matter, but he won’t. At the end of the day, he will make the process slower.
          I know, I have seen enough of him already.

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