Posts Tagged ‘hugo chavez’

Chavez Signs New Labor Bill, But Details Unkown

April 30, 2012

In a well staged ceremony, up to the point where President Hugo Chavez broke down at the very end (see video above), the Venezuelan President signed into Law one of the most important Bills for the Venezuelan economy: The Labor Bill. A few hours after it was signed, we still know little about it, except for some of the tweets by the President and leaks of drafts of the document, which we still don’t know whether they contain what was approved in the end.and signed into Law by the President.

Despite this, Chavista unions celebrated without knowing the details, and Government officials claimed that no Bill had ever been consulted so much, despite nobody knowing its contents.

This is in contrast with the three way committee of Workers, Government and the Private Sector, which hammered out a new Bill in 1998, led by Teodoro Petkoff.  A Bill that eliminated the retroactivity of severance pay, which studies had shown was the main limitation in creating jobs at the time. But much like the President’s health treatment (and I am not referring to this), Chavismo does not believe in calculations and techniques, they do everything by the seat of their pants, always hoping and asking for miracles, of which they have had a few. But maybe Chavez’ emotions reveal that a huge miracle is needed now.

Curiously, it was only the Government which did not comply with the 1998 Labor Bill, from its mandate to create pension funds with workers contributions, to that of paying off severance for each worker every year into a trust. But, despite this, the Chavez administration passed this new Bill, looking for votes, which reportedly reduces the work week from 44 hours to 40 (reportedly by saying that if you work Saturdays, you no longer do, other workers remain on the same 40 hour work week) and gives two years paid maternity leave, even if you adopt. But the Government is, once again, unlikely to be able to comply with the1 Bill, given its higher demands on the national budget.

But studies show that retroactivity, whereby you get paid severance for all the years you worked at the last salary you made, is simply bad for the Government and companies in an inflationary environment like we have, as shown below:

Basically, the bars show the impact of the law on a worker with 1, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years under the current law or with the new Bill with o% (gray), 10% (blue), 15% (gray) and 25% (black) inflation. The number on top of each bar is the number of paid days that each worker would have to take home if he quits (twice if he is fired). As you can see, it simply gets worse the higher the inflation, which with something like today’s inflation is triple what it would be under “normal” inflation.  But the Chavez Government still believes that inflation is to the lack of supply of goods, not to the excess of money their generous printing has generated.

But the biggest head fake in the law, is that none of this will need to be implemented for one year. A full year to get rid of workers and implement measures, never mind that the elections are in October.

Of course, the whole thing is illegal anyway, as it is being approved under a law to deal with the emergency with the flooding and the housing problem, which is quite a stretch, but laws and rules is not what Chavismo is all about.

Oh yeah! Chavez said the Bill ends what he calls “Tercerizacion”, the local word for outsourcing. I am not sure how it manages to do that, but I have to ask: What will he do with the Cuban workers? After all, that is all he does with the Cubans: hire a Cuban company or the Government directly, and give the workers as little as possible. Once their “tour of duty” is done, they are shipped back home, but their company keeps providing the same service, without the workers getting the direct benefits.

But if it is “socialist” and Cuban outsourcing, it must be all right. The Bill will surely provide for that.

More Than The Future Of Venezuela Is At Stake In The October Presidential Election

April 16, 2012

While Venezuelans assume it is the future of their country which is at stake in the October Presidential elections, much more is at stake than that. The presence of Hugo Chavez in the region not only supports dictatorial and quasi-dictatorial Governments like Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, but allows other countries like Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador to pass as “moderates”, because in comparison they seem more democratic and respectful of human rights.

But the truth is that the region is hitting a new low in terms of human rights and democratic ideals. And the demise of the Bolivarian revolution will go a long way into helping the return of true human right and democratic values to the region.

It has become common to suggest that freedom of speech and freedom of choice are just some of the basic rights that people have and there is no preference for one over the other. Which is true. The problem is that the right to life or to health care or the right to an education are not only costly, but require a coordinated effort to provide them. And lots of hard work and long term planning, something lacking in many regional Governments. Meanwhile, the right to speak out, the right to choose politically have little cost, they just require the will of the Government in charge to be tolerant and understanding of what democratic principles and human rights  are all about.

Unfortunately, the region has gone backwards in the last ten years. When the leaders of the Americas restricted the participation in Summit’s to democratically elected countries in 2000, none of those leaders could have envisioned that we would have had the discussions of last week. Here are the Castro brothers, one a self-appointed Dictator, the other one endorsed by his brother, ruling a country for fifty years and we are supposed to ignore the atrocities and the human right violations, just because the Castro brothers are somehow supposed to be simpatico or spouse some idealistic goals, that they have miserably failed to deliver for more than five decades. When their participation i the Summit becomes a point of contention, you know something is trully rotten in the region.

But somehow, the rise of China and India has generated a commodity boom for Latin America that has given the people of the region some sense of prosperity such that their leaders can ignore not only what is going on in neighboring countries, but also what happens in their own.

And that is why it is so important for the Bolivarian revolution to end this Fall. What is at stake, is not simply the plight of 28 million Venezuelans, but the indirect impact of an amoral regime directly on Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and more indirectly on Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and others.

The Hugo Chavez autocracy has helped the Castro brothers extend their grip on power in Cuba, propped up Evo in Bolivia and Ortega in Nicaragua and provided billions to Argentina, Brazil an even Colombia in funds that should have stayed in Venezuela, financing our prosperity, not theirs, instead of going elsewhere to buy trinkets that give Venezuelans the illusion that things are well under the revolution.

Which is why Capriles and the unified opposition should understand that what is at stake is not only whether Venezuela will or not be turned around, but whether millions of Latin Americans will be able to enjoy in the future an open society and whether they will have choices and rights with no discrimination.

What is at stake in October is more transcendental than what the Venezuelan people seem to understand. Let us hope that Capriles, his supporters and Venezuela are up to the historic task at hand.

PDVSA and its Hong Kong Exchange Plans: Ignorance or Deception?

March 12, 2012

Once the Venezuelan press began writing about the intention of Chavez’ Government to place shares of part of PDVSA in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange via the sale of stakes in joint ventures to China’s Citic, as reported here and in Setty’s blog and Caracas Chronicles, the Government went into denial mode, having been caught rojo-rojito-handed with the fingers in the privatization till.

First, there was a curious Bloomberg story, in which a company official anonymously confirmed the story, but denied that this was strictly a privatization, “as shares will be offered in a holding company created to manage PDVSA’s stakes in the joint ventures and not in the state oil company itself”.

Jeez, these people really must think we are stupid,as the share of a company that just manages PDVSA’s stakes, can’t be worth as much as the stakes themselves. But, Mr. anonymous, pardon me, selling any company owned by PDVSA is a privatization, no matter how much you like or dislike euphemisms.

But that explanation was not noted much by the local press, so that none other than the President of PDVSA and Minister of Energy and Oil Rafael Ramirez, declared not once, but twice, that PDVSA was not planning to sell shares of any part of the company, because PDVSA has “never done much in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the idea is to negotiate, via Citic, any sort of transaction, but mainly bonds”

And you have to wonder, whether this statement reveals the absolute ignorance of the Minister or just another incredible attempt to lie and deceive about the true plans of PDVSA with its Citic sale.You see, if you take Minister Ramirez words at face value, PDVSA has never had anything to do with any Stock Exchange in the world, as far as I know, except the Caracas Stock Exchange. This is the only exchange where its bonds have ever traded.

The reason is simple: Bonds rarely trade in exchanges, they are usually traded by professionals “over the counter” and PDVSA’s bonds are no exception, so the explanation is extremely suspect. The reasons for this are many, you can read most of them here, but basically, bond issues are small, many bonds are fairly illiquid, they are affected by slow moving news like changes in credit quality and interest rates, so they move slower than stocks. But in the end, brokers have no vested interest in making their markets more transparent. It is a good business.

And the Honk Kong Stock Exchange is no exception, while some bonds are issued and registered in it, they trade rarely. For example, you can see here , that of the bonds registered in that exchange only, one, uno, traded in all of January 2012 , a Government of Hong Kong bond maturing in 2014 . And December 2011 was not much better. So, Mr. Ramirez, there is no true opportunity in doing what you said. You hear!

The question then boils down to whether this was simple ignorance or just another attempt to hide the true intentions of PDVSA and the Chavez Government to do whatever they want or feel with our country and its resources.

Once again, the idea of selling these pieces of the joint ventures is not a bad one, PDVSA needs money, but somehow it would seem as if Venezuelans should have a priority, no? Imagine, for example, getting US$ dividends on your Petropiar shares under the current exchange controls.

That’s how you distribute wealth…away from the Government.

But clearly, this plan to sell Petropiar shares was never meant to be made public. Only the revolution was privy to it.

What else is new?

Why I Think PDVSA Plans To Sell Stock In One Heavy Crude Oil Project Via The Chinese Governement

March 1, 2012

It’s hard to stop thinking about the bizarre plan or project by PDVSA to sell stock in one of its units via the Chinese Government’s CITIC Group (China Investment Trust Investment Corporation). With more details known at this time of the agreement between PDVSA and CITIC signed by Chavez right before his departure from Cuba, I believe I have some idea about what this is all about. For background, you can read the few press notes on this here and here, (Note none are in Venezuela’s press) or the contributions by bloggers here, here and here.

Recapping, PDVSA signed an agreement to sell 10% of it’s Petropiar unit to China’s CITIC. Nothing strange there, PDVSA can, according to the Hydrocarbons Law, sell up to 40% of these joint projects to anyone. In the case of Petropiar, formerly known as Hamaca or Petrolera Ameriven, PDVSA holds (or held) 70% and Chevron holds 30%. (In the original project, ConocoPhllips held 40%, but refused to sell its stake to the Government and it was expropriated). Petropiar uses very heavy crude (8 to 9 API) which through mixing with other oil and processing through an upgrader generates much higher quality 26 degree API oil, about 180,000 barrels a day of them.

So, to begin with, press reports suggesting that CITIC Securities, the stock market arm of CITIC will advise PDVSA on how to float Petropiar shares in the Hong Kong Stock Market are, or seem to be, incorrect.According to law, only CITIC or Chevron could do that.

Thus, the first transaction is very clear: PDVSA is selling to CITIC 10% of Petropiar at an unknown price and the Chinese are giving PDVSA cash, which it needs to fund new projects or whatever:

So far, everything is OK, the Chavista Government or PDVSA gets more money from the Chinese. The problem is that the Chinese have no “exit” strategy, to use venture capital parlance. They give money and give money, but they have no way of either realizing the gain, or they may not want to commit ever increasing amounts of money to Venezuela for the heavy oil crude fields. But they do want more oil.

On the other side is PDVSA, that needs ever increasing amounts of money to develop the Heavy Crude Oil fields, but has found resistance from the Chinese in funding the projects. Essentially, the Chinese are willing to fund their 40% share, but expect PDVSA to finance its 60% majority stake in any new project.

Enter the very capitalistic Chinese people at CITIC Securities, who suggest buying a stake in a mature project like Petropiar, which is fully operational, at what I am sure is a good price, and have PDVSA allow CITIC to place part or all of the shares of CITIC in Petropiar in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Thus, sometime in the future, CITIC would sell its shares and get money in return. This is what would happen:

What has been accomplished? A number of things. First, CITIC recouped its investment and more than likely made a profit, knowing the Chinese, it will be a nice profit. Thousands of investors will now own the shares.

But more importantly, the market, the much hated by Chavismo capitalistic-Stock Market, will establish a price for a 10% stake of a heavy oil crude project in Venezuela’s Faja Petrolifera.

A couple of notes here. First, note that the upside of the sale goes to the Chinese, not to, for example, to Venezuelan investors. Perverse, no?. Two, for Venezuela this is a no-brainer, PDVSA gives up dividends (investors will have to be paid somehow), but the Venezuelan Government will continue to charge royalties, taxes and windfall taxes on each barrel produced, which is where the big money really is.Three, the Chinese have realized a profit in their investment and can now plow the money back into Venezuela. Simply recirculate it, they can buy 40% of Petroanzoategui (formerly Petrozuata, fully owned by PDVSA) or they could buy 23.3% of Petromonagas (formerly Cerro Negro, where BP has a small stake). Then, they can turn around and sell these in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

And they can take their money and their profits or whatever they sell their shares for and plow it back into Venezuelan oil fields.

But more importantly, PDVSA has found a way to raise money for the new projects, which are not producing yet and the Chinese to establish how much they will be worth when producing, a nice way to know your return in investment ahead of the project. After all, a barrel of improved oil from any of these projects is worth roughly the same in all of them. The Chinese get some money back, likely have clauses that the oil from new projects will be shipped exclusively to China and more importantly, they can sell their stakes in the new projects once they are fully functioning too.

And in a virtuous circle, an almost pyramid, as long as people need oil, they can invest the money in ever new projects in Venezuela’s heavy oil fields. The much-hated markets will provide the endless funding, like this, as long as it is profitable:

Over and over again. You can do this as many times as there is a new oil field to develop and there is investor appetite for it. Of course, oil prices and appetite for oil has to stay high too.

Of course, you don’t need the Chinese for all of this. PDVSA could have eliminated the Chinese middle-man and do a typical capitalistic placement directly in the World Stock Exchanges. This is what PDVSA was planning to do, but before Chavez. Thus, it was scrapped. It was against sovereignty, selling the country and all that revolutionary bla, bla, bla.

Except that PDVSA needs the money here and now and the revolution would look bad doing such an obvious about face about from what it claims to believe in. This is exactly what they have criticized and it is better for PDVSA to get the money now and later, after the elections, have the first transaction take place, pseudo-hidden behind the Chinese capitalists.

Which brings me to the last point: None of this is meant to take place until after the election for a number of reasons, the surprise is that they announced it now:

-First, you don’t want this to become a campaign issue, although it does remove the “the opposition wants to privatize PDVSA” accusation from the political debate.

-Second, you don’t want to place the shares in the market before the ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips arbitration cases in the World Bank’s ICSID arbitration Court are decided. After all, if investor appetite were high for Petropiar, it would place a high price on its shares and could drive the compensation to the two oil companies mentioned much higher.

-Third, if Chavez does win the October election, he would have a few years to implement the above strategy, financing the development of the Faja, which would pump ever increasing amounts of money into the Government’s coffers.

And the virtuous circle of populism would just continue…They just hope…

Note Added: A friend notes that while PDVSA exercized an obligatory 60% majority on the projects when it forced control in 2007, the law says PDVSA only needs to have 50% of each Joint Venture. This implies PDVSA could sell an additional 10% of each of all the projects, a nice piece of change to add to the pot!!!

Chavismo Media Manipulation Not The Same Since Hugo Has Been Sick

February 29, 2012

(One of the many allegoric images circulated by Chavismo in the last two weeks)

The day Hugo Chavez shouted “Viva Chavez!” during his farewell procession down to the airport to leave for Cuba, you knew he had reached a new level of megalomania and irrationality. And this happens to be important, because it appears as if the genius behind Chavismo manipulation and use of the media was none other than the autocrat himself.

Because ever since Chavez got sick, the quality and the impact of media manipulation by the regime seems to have deteriorated and in the last few weeks has been totally off the mark, at a time that it is most needed.

It all began with the opposition primaries.(Which thanks God took place before Chavez’ relapse that prompted his trip to Cuba.) First Chavismo decided to lower expectations for the vote to ridiculously low levels. When I heard opposition people talking about maybe a million votes in the primary, I knew someone had drunk the Chavista Kool Aid. To me, defeat was a million and a half, even though I did not think three million was doable. But Chavistas really played it down, from saying there would not be a million voters, to suggesting the primary would not even take place. Thus, when three million votes were reached, Chavismo was truly caught leaning the other way, wondering what had happened.

And rather than play it down, Chavismo took the cue from the Generals and began questioning the veracity of the vote, which had been run by the Chavista Electoral Board, which did not like the questioning and went to extremes to defend their integrity. Come on! They can bend the rules, but not for the opposition. But maybe the winds of change are blowing and behind covering is going to become a national sport soon, no?

And just when this was leading the headlines, Chavez decided to reveal he was sick again. Despite his assurances to the faithful that he was cancer-free, not a single cancer cell in his body and ready to live for twenty years, Hugo had known since January that things were not fine.

And Hugo decided to call his tumor a “lesion” (An injury, for those that do not speak Spanish), using that funny doublespeak with respect to his ailment. And according to VP Jaua, the “lesion” was removed, but, how can you remove surgically a “lesion” without creating another one?

Just wondering…

To say nothing of Cabello and Izarra laughing at Bocaranda for telling us Chavez was not only in Cuba, but was going to need an operation soon. As Cabello and Izarra helped prop up Bocaranda’s reputation with their tweets, Chavez went on nationwide TV to tells us they were out of the loop, but Bocaranda, somehow wasn’t. Diosdado must not have been happy.

Then, at some point, it seemed Chavismo was ready to regroup, Chavez appointed a single spokesman for his illness (Spokeswoman actually) Minister of Health Sader. She was due to give us a report on Monday, but Monday came and went and nothing…We have yet to hear from her.

Once again, Chavez is too busy taking care of himself and Minister Sader has been overruled by those that want to show they have power.

Then VP Jaua read some prepared text in the middle of his speech at the National Assembly. He never said who wrote it, but he read it all, down to the “La Habana, Cuba” written at the bottom of the piece of paper he had been given (or ordered) to read.

And while we are still waiting for the person Chavez anointed to be the spokeswoman for the illness, the Minister for Communes (Of all people) tells us that the Government is being clear and transparent and that VP Jaua is the only spokesperson for the illness and, of course, blames the media for the confusion.

Who authorized her to say anything?

Meanwhile, all we know is that Chavez is in “good physical shape”, but we guess that Jaua or anyone, would have said that before the “procedure” that Chavez underwent in Havana. As to the”procedure”, it must have been rather simple, it took after all, only an hour and half, barely time to open and take a look, let alone to take a tumor or a “lesion” or even a hemorrhoid out.

So, we still don’t know, but the secrecy speaks louder than words. Things have barely changed since last summer. The predictions of Navarrete are behind schedule by maybe one only month. The country’s bonds have soared day after day, as if someone knows something about the upcoming and inevitable political change.

And Chavismo can do little to change the feeling that somethings is not right. Their leader is not around and he clearly played a definitive role in setting the stage and the discussion.

No more.

As for yours truly, I have not changed my predictions. To those that read the comments, I said long ago my late April birthday was a key time reference. I will continue to stick my neck out with that. Now more than ever. Worst case, I will be wrong by a few weeks.

I have done worse.

Constitutional Hall Of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, Puts “Ego” above “Constitution”

February 23, 2012

Today the Constitutional Hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court fined the Head of the Electoral Commission of the MUD, which organized the opposition primaries, for failing to obey the order from the Hall, not to burn the electoral notebooks from February 12th.

Which simply goes to show that the Hall puts “ego” above “Constitution”, because it has done nothing about the fact that Hugo Chavez violated and  regularly violates Art. 235 of the Venezuelan Constitution, when he leaves the country without permission for more than five days, which Chavez did regularly last year and now violates Art. 234 when he leaves for an indefinite absence without being replaced by the Vice-President.

Of course, the buffoons at the Hall would be too scared to fine Chavez or ask that he follow the Constitution, he makes all decisions for them, but please, nobody dare play with their egos disobeying a silly order from them.

What fools!

A Brief Glimpse Into The Mind Of The Venezuelan Autocrat

February 18, 2012

Sometimes Hugo Chavez’ mind betrays him. This has been happening a lot this week as he has spent the while week trying to deal with the three million voters in lat Sunday’s primary and Capriles not reacting to his insults.

But if you want to really glimpse into Chavez’s mind, just look at one episode two days ago. Chavez said literally that the CNE accepting the conditions for the opposition primary with the Mesa de Unidad “Violates some law”, referring in particular to the fact that no fingerprint machines would be used and the notebooks would be destroyed.

This is Chavez defining his autocratic mind. In just such a simple sentence, he is first of all interfering with the Electoral Board, which is an independent institution. He is also meddling onto matters of the opposition that should not be of his concern. But finally, is that thought: It has to violate some law, which reflects the spirit of so much he has done in the last thirteen years, if the law is not the way he wants it, lets’ change it. Give me an enabling law, a decree, a ill in The Assembly or a decision by the Supreme Court that says what I want.

And to make sure he is interfering, the next day he confirms it, he talked the the President of the Electoral Board, calling her to point out the weaknesses in the “our political system”


How come this was not a weakness when PSUV held its own primary and the same agreement was reahed with the Electoral and Board and Cilia Flores personally told the world that the Voting notebooks would be destroyed. And they were…

And somewhere else, I can’t find the link, Chavez actually said this happened because he was sick with cancer and was not around to notice the detail. Thus, in one single swoop, he is indispensable, he would have interfered with an independent power and he would have forced the CNE to follow his rules.

That is truly how the mind of the sorry autocrat that rules Venezuela works. Hopefully, this will no longer be the case soon.

Henrique Capriles Becomes Venezuela’s Opposition Presidential Candidate By A Landslide

February 12, 2012

(Yes! He can smile!)

Henrique Capriles, the candidate of Primero Justicia, Voluntad Popular and Podemos, today became the candidate of Venezuela’s united opposition by a landslide. In the end, it became a two man race, with only Capriles and Pablo Perez, who came a distant second, obtaining a significant amount of votes, with Capriles garnering with 95% of the vote counted, 1.81 million of the 2.904,000 votes cast, for a 62.3% of the votes, a true landslide, which did not surprise the Devil. (“He will win and will win big”)

But the story, besides the landslide, is the turnout, way above the most optimistic ones, at 2.904 million votes, more than 17% of the electorate. This suggests that a truly unified opposition will give Hugo Chavez a run for the Presidency and that political change may finally be in the air. The road is tough, but the toughest part may have been getting here. if all candidates work with Capriles and run a focused campaign, an opposition victory is certainly within reach .

A very exciting day and an even more exciting prospects for Venezuela.

Results with 95% of the votes counted:

February 4th. 1992: A Day Of Shame For Venezuelans

February 4, 2012

As Chavez and his cohorts celebrate the 20th. anniversary of this shameful day, there is simply nothing to celebrate of that coup against democracy, on the contrary, this is the anniversary of a day of shame for Venezuelans. The histrionics are there for all to.  see, what “Bolivarians” and “Chavistas” are celebrating is the cult of Hugo Chavez. He has said it many times over the last few days: The Armed Forces are “Chavistas”, not “Bolivarian”, not “Revolutionary”, but his own, the serve only him, not Venezuela. It is all about the cult of Chavez. And today, drunk in his own power, Hugo Chavez talked about “Fidelismo” and “Chavismo” on the same footing, another sign that all that matters is the cult, the rest, is just simply irrelevant.

And while “Chavismo” has left a trail of death and victims, from the Tascon list, to 120,000 murders with total indeffirence, to those fired from PDVSA, to those murdered in opposition marches, the real forgotten victims are those of 20 years ago. More than one hundred people murdered for a project that led nowhere. They were mostly civilians, caught in the cross fire of soldiers who were defending the democratically elected Government, including the President, his wife and his daughters, and soldiers who were led to the coup under false pretenses. Very few of the latter knew even why they were there. The page of a newspaper above tells the forgotten and very shameful story that Chavez claims to celebrate today, as if it was an epic battle. He did not even fight. He failed at his military objective of killing the President, he was pardoned and this allowed him to embark in his very personal project of “Chavismo”

And don’t believe for a minute that he is improvising, as documents captured that fateful day twenty years ago show, among the tactics was “to stimulate hate between classes”, “establish links to the FARC” and as this other document shows, the goal was to establish a Marxist Leninist domination, a socialist society, without “any rush”.

But the cult has left a country in shambles, full of corruption and dysfunctional institutions, a decimated infrastructure and the penetration of the country’s armed forces by Cubans and the oil industry by foreign Governments, whose only objective is to take over much needed hydrocarbon resources, when PDVSA can no longer expand production because Chavez destroyed it.

It is a day of shame, as well as the anniversary of a day of shame, with the Autocrat/Dictator inviting others like him to this so called celebration. The democrats of the region stayed away, while Hugo Chavez tries to instill fear in his own citizens.

There is still hope that things may change this year, either by vote or by fate, Chavismo may simply wither away in Venezuela some time soon. Hopefully, its trail of shame and blood will not be forgotten.

Chavez Applies His Destructive Expertise to Agriculture, With Banks As a Side Benefit

January 30, 2012

Daniel wrote an excellent post on why Hugo was simply speaking for the gallery yesterday when he threatened to nationalize banks if they do not comply with the required credit quota for agricultural loans. The punchline is the most important part, Chavez is simply lying, private banks are indeed complying with the quotas, it is the public banks that actually fail to do so, but, of course Chavez does not even suggest he may sell his banks to the private sector.

But it is even worse, Chavez plans to make it obligatory for banks to transfer their agricultural credit portfolio to a fund managed by the Government. Read: credits given out with depositors money will be moved so that they are “controlled” and “managed” by the revolutionary Government, who has shown little ability to control and manage anything. But think about it, if the Government does not ever return the money, the amount “owed” is comparable to all of the banks capital, about US$ 9 billion. You get the picture, no?

What Chavez is actually doing with his lying, is just passing the buck, trying to blame the private sector for the failure of his thirteen years of trying to change Venezuela’s agriculture through idiotic policies. And as if to prove it, Hugo Chavez in the same episode of his variety program Alo Presidente, happened to remove his Minister for Agriculture, reportedly for medical reasons. Even if we give Chavez the benefit of the doubt, we suspect he was mad at Minister Loyo for one reason or another. Chavez’ solution to the problem is even worse: He named his Vice-President Elias Jaua as temporary Minister of Agriculture, as if he did not have anything to do.

This is incredibly stupid, when Chavez already announced a week ago that Jaua will leave the Cabinet in June, to run for Governor of Miranda. When agricultural policy is in such disarray, you want someone that knows his stuff and will be able to be around for quite a while and shape it up. But Jaua will not be. That is simply bad management.

Which raises another question: Why can’t Chavez let the Vice-Minister take the position? Why can’t Chavez even come up with a single name to replace Loyo? Is the revolution so short of “qualified” people?

And we suspect the answer is : Yes it is. The revolution lacks experts who are not fully loyal, rojo rojito inside out, that Chavez can trust. That is why the Cabinet has become such a revolving door of the same incompetent personalities, asked to solve all of the problems. Jaua is after all, a sociologist, who became Ambassador, who became Minister of Agriculture and then Vice-President. And he has not held that many positions so far.

But Chavez moves on using his best Terminator style, trampling over everything and lying to “the people” he claims to love, but cheats at every step. Ready to nationalize the banking system to satisfy his predatory insecurities, no matter what the cost and inefficiencies and using the people’s money.

Hugo is simply clueless, but so far, he is the President, the terminator President, who destroys everything in his path, just because…

Agriculture is just one of his areas of destructive expertise.