Archive for June, 2003

Where was Hugo Chavez this weekend?

June 30, 2003

People were truly surprised that President Chavez did not give his customary (and marathonic) Sunday address to the Nation. The Presidential palace reported Chavez was not back yet from the summit in Colombia. Apparently somebody forgot to tell Cuban TV that Chavez visit to Fidel was a secret and it reported that he was there meeting with his spiritual leader. Why the secret? Why the lies? What are they plotting? His resignation? Would make sense.

Impunity

June 30, 2003

From Today’s front page of El Universal


Impunity


Who is responsible for the bombings of the Spanish and Colombian embassies?


It has been 125 days without results


“I do not know the photos that the President referred to, but the investigatiosns are well advanced”. Isaias Rodriguez, Attorney General of Venbezuela, February 2003

How to be a cynic with perversity, or how to lie with statistics

June 30, 2003

The old book by Darrel Huff came to life again in a perverse way yesterday, when the Minister of Finance gloated in the interview in El Universal: ” There is an alteration in the matter of numbers, by which the measure of the total debt has to be made over the total GDP and currently it stands at 40%, when in 1996 it was 46%, thus it is manageable and when the economy recovers that percentage will get even smaller”.


True, the percentage has gone down, but the reason is absolutely perverse. It has gone down because due to the purposeful policy of Giordani at the beginning of the Chávez administration and the inability of this Government to issue debt abroad, internal debt has ballooned from less than 2 trillion Bs. to over 16 trillion Bs. during the Chavez administration. With the sharp devaluation of the last year and a half, this debt, converted from US dollars to bolivars, has been reduced in dollar terms significantly. Of course, the net reduction of the debt has come at the expense of the population whose purchasing power has been simply decimated over that same period. Moreover, the issuing of this internal debt in huge numbers to sophisticated investors has to end at some point in a financial crisis, which will once again destroy the lives of those that Chávez and his cohorts claim to suffer for daily. In fact, if that is how the Minister “measures” his perverse inefficiency, he could devalue all the way to Bs. 5,000 per US$ and simply get that ratio he loves to 30%.

How not to run a company (or a country)

June 29, 2003

Imagine this:


-On Friday I see the financials of PDVSA as estimated by a local economist. He projects a loss of close to US$ 1 billion.


-Accounts Receivable at PDVSA as of May 15th. are reported to be US$ 566 million


-The Venezuelan Central Bank registers oil revenues ay US$ 4.3 billion for the first quarter. The real number was US$2.14 billion.


-The Minister of Finance says on June 21st. that to remove exchange controls, “the flow of foreign currency from PDVSA has to stabilize“.


-The President of PDVSA says today that PDVSA’s financial will be handed in to the US Securities and Exchange Commission by July 15th.. They are due tomorrow. (PDVSA has debt registered in the US).


So what does the Government do? PDVSA paid the Government a dividend of Bs. 915 billion for the first quarter of the year. I definitely hope that is well explained in the financials to the SEC. But how will these people explain to their children what they have done?

History repeated in Carabobo

June 29, 2003

Events should be remembered. That is one of the reasons for this blog, to provide the documentation to the events and abuses of the Chavez era. Pedro Llorens in today’s El Nacional (page A-9) reminds us of one such interesting case. When Hugo Chavez denied access to the Governor of Carabobo this week to the parade celebrating the 182rd. Anniversary of the last battle for Venezuela‘s independence in the battlefield of the same name, it was not the first time a President had given orders not to allow someone in that parade. In fact, it was the second time. The first one? In 1994, during the celebration of 173rd. anniversary, then President Rafael Caldera denied access to the parade to none other than recently pardoned coup plotter Hugo Chavez himself. Chavez had no rank or position at the time, but Caldera gave orders not to allow him in, because he suspected Chavez was trying to overthrow his Government. An irate Chavez said then: “For the first time in these so-called democratic Governments, which are so only in appearance, a President of the Republic, dares give orders like this one…I think the main destabilizers in the country were in there with the President, which are the political sectors that have committed treason against the hopes of the people”. As the Spanish saying goes :”The fish die through their own mouth”.

A look at the attack on Marta Colomina

June 29, 2003

When an attack like the one perpetrated on reporter and TV personality occurs, I try to be careful about what I say. In a rational world, it would be stupid for the pro-Chavez forces to commit such an act. But revolutionaries are not rational, so one has to step out of the rational world. It was not rational in Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua, why should it be here? Obviously, an attack like that makes the Government look bad, so one could easily say that the opposition did it, just to get back at the Chávez administration.


The problem is that the pattern is always the same. An attack occurs. The Government may or not condemn it. The Government blames the opposition or says it is irresponsible to blame the pro-Chavez forces. The Government says the investigation is very advanced and it will make some people in the opposition look bad. Weeks, months and even years go by and no investigation is presented, nobody is charged. We move to the next case.


It was only in February that Government officials and Chavez himself claimed the investigation on the bombings of the Spanish and Colombian embassies was very advanced and it will show the true face of the opposition. Nothing ever came out of those. Hundreds of attacks on reporters have gone unpunished. (Yes, hundreds, the OAS has certified them)


The problem is that these are not simple attacks by thugs, even though they seem incompetent. The attacks on the Embassies were made with C-5 explosive which is highly controlled and contains identifying chemicals to be able to trace it. In the Colomina attack, the weapons were Styer assault guns which are sold to Governments only and are not readily available. Thus, what the Government is showing is simply its incompetence, but what else is new?


 


Clearly, the attack was not meant to kill, but intimidate. That has been the pattern in all of the attacks against reporters. The Government has not only done nothing to investigate, but has also failed to follow the precautionary measures issued by the OAS Human Rights commission. Thus, there is incompetence and negligence. The Government is not simply not assuming its role, it actually is being irresponsible when it is slow to condemn and when it does it, it blames the opposition. That is not what governing in a democracy is all about. We may know it, but they simply have no clue.

A look at the attack on Marta Colomina

June 29, 2003

When an attack like the one perpetrated on reporter and TV personality occurs, I try to be careful about what I say. In a rational world, it would be stupid for the pro-Chavez forces to commit such an act. But revolutionaries are not rational, so one has to step out of the rational world. It was not rational in Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua, why should it be here? Obviously, an attack like that makes the Government look bad, so one could easily say that the opposition did it, just to get back at the Chávez administration.


The problem is that the pattern is always the same. An attack occurs. The Government may or not condemn it. The Government blames the opposition or says it is irresponsible to blame the pro-Chavez forces. The Government says the investigation is very advanced and it will make some people in the opposition look bad. Weeks, months and even years go by and no investigation is presented, nobody is charged. We move to the next case.


It was only in February that Government officials and Chavez himself claimed the investigation on the bombings of the Spanish and Colombian embassies was very advanced and it will show the true face of the opposition. Nothing ever came out of those. Hundreds of attacks on reporters have gone unpunished. (Yes, hundreds, the OAS has certified them)


The problem is that these are not simple attacks by thugs, even though they seem incompetent. The attacks on the Embassies were made with C-5 explosive which is highly controlled and contains identifying chemicals to be able to trace it. In the Colomina attack, the weapons were Styer assault guns which are sold to Governments only and are not readily available. Thus, what the Government is showing is simply its incompetence, but what else is new?


 


Clearly, the attack was not meant to kill, but intimidate. That has been the pattern in all of the attacks against reporters. The Government has not only done nothing to investigate, but has also failed to follow the precautionary measures issued by the OAS Human Rights commission. Thus, there is incompetence and negligence. The Government is not simply not assuming its role, it actually is being irresponsible when it is slow to condemn and when it does it, it blames the opposition. That is not what governing in a democracy is all about. We may know it, but they simply have no clue.

What Venezuelans think

June 28, 2003

In a nationwide poll by Datos published today in El Nacional (A-5) 75% of those polled consider themselves to be in the opposition, while only 25% support him. What I found most interesting though is that 48% of those polled believe Chavez’ revolution is a dictatorship, 70% think it is violent, 66% think there is more corruption with Chavez and 68% consider that poverty has increased and the quality of life has decreased during Chavez’ Government. Finally, when asked whether things are going well or very well, not so well (“regular” in Spanish) or badly, only 6% said well or very well, 28% not so well and 66% badly. Not a pretty picture.

A peek at a Bolivarian Circle

June 28, 2003

Oscar sends in these pictures from the Headquarters of a Bolivarian Circle in a little town:



The proud member of the circle stands in front. The building says things like “With Chavez the people rule” “he does not leave” “They will not come back” “VTV (The Government TV station) The station of the sovereign people” But what I found more offensive was the Chavez version of the Creed shown blown up on the right. It starts:


I believe in the all powerful revolution, which created the fishing and land law. I believe in Hugo Chavez (misspelled), his only son, that was conceived by deed and grace of the people….


and it ends:


Say this prayer all mornings, pronouncing (misspelled) the following phrase three times;


They will never come back

Lawless and Disorder

June 28, 2003

One of the resaons people voted for Hugo Chavez was that he fooled them into believing that because he was a former military official, law and order would be a priority. In particular, people thought Chavez would fight crime earnestly. Well, it seems to be exactly the opposite, not only is crime at its worst, but there is rampant impunity as witnessed by what happened tonight. Last night, a military officer was drunk and was jailed by the Metropolitan police. Well, tonight the military police  (English version) from the Army decided to free their mate and went in shooting at the metropolitan police to do it. The police shot back at them. Fortunately nobody was hurt, even if the truck from the military police now has a few bullet holes. So even those that are supposed to enforce law and order, simply bypass it.

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