Archive for February 10th, 2004

Vasquez Velazco, Lucas Rincon and Carmona…

February 10, 2004

 


Efrain Vasquez Velazco, a key General in the events of April 11, 2002 is interviewed in today’s Tal Cual. Given that he played such a key role in what are still obscure aspects of that day, it is interesting to hear what he has to say:


 


On Lucas Rincon announcing that Chavez had resigned:


 


“..he is a serious and introverted officer. In the time I knew him, he did not characterize himself for being a person that kidded around. On the contrary…He said the truth. When Lucas announced that the Chiefs of Staff had asked Chavez for his resignation and that he had accepted it, he revealed a great truth. What I don’t understand is how he remains in Government”


 


-How do you explain that?


 


Chavez is a manipulator and knows each person’s price. He knows that he has to have very close to him the person that asked for his resignation so that he does not reconsider and confesses the truth. Similarly, General Rincon, despite the fact that deep in me I ma convinced that he is a person of good faith and principles, he as allowed himself to be manipulated by the President.


 


-What was your great error during the events of Aril 2002?


 


When I analyze the events of April 11th. I conclude that the Army did not make any mistakes. …I acted like a military officer and not like a politician. Many people wanted a coup to materialize, nevertheless, if we did something right was not to have a coup and stick to the Constitution. April 11th. was a historical deed for the Army, a President orders the Army to attack the people and we said no preserving democracy and human rights.


 


Carmona tried to step over the Constitution that the military had tried to preserve and we stopped him. People ask why there was no state of siege; the answer is that it was not a coup. We can not use our weapons against the people.


 


-Would history be different if Carmona had named you Minister of Defense?


 


No, because history is different because of the decree.  That nomination did not have an influence in me, because the General Commander of the Army is the most important position there is. The Minister of Defense is just an administrative position.


 


My comments: I am surprised he speaks well of Lucas Rincon despite his behavior since.  I am not sure what he means by “we stopped him” when he refers to Carmona. He is quite emphatic about Chavez ordering the Army to attack the people…

Rich Government, poor country

February 10, 2004

 


This is a translation of Today’s Editorial in Tal Cual by Teodoro Petkoff entitled “Rich Government, poor country”.  Since not everyone has access to that newspaper I thought I would translate it.


 


Rich Government, poor country by Teodoro Petkoff


 


The patron saint’s party that celebrated the twelve years of the attempted coup of February 4th. 1992 (4F) included, between roosters and midnight, an act that they attempted to do a slight of hand with: the new devaluation of the Bolivar. Up to February 4th. of this year, the US dollar cost Bs. 1600, hours later, it began costing Bs. 1920. A devaluation of 20%. The first victims of the adjustment are, naturally, the common citizens, especially the poorest, whose income, measured in terms of US dollars, has experienced a sharp drop.



The minimum salary of workers is today 247,104 bolivars. Up to 4F, that salary was equivalent at the rate of Bs. 1600, to 154 US dollars. After 4F, the minimum salary, which remains the same, is equivalent now to 129 US dollars. Together with the minimum salary, all other salaries, measured in US dollars, experimented a similar sharp drop. Divide your salary by 1,600 and then by 1,920 and you will discover how much less you make today than before 4F. But if you make that division by 3,000, which is in round numbers what one of those greenbacks from the north costs in the black market, then you will surely begin to cry.


 


For now, the minimum “black” salary comes to about 82 US dollars.


 


This number is closer to reality than the “official” rate, because under the conditions of an exchange control, it is the black market which sets the economic benchmarks. This revolution is getting pretty!


 


Of course, I am sure that there will be some that will point out that we make money in Bolivars and not in US dollars, but it so happens that in a country which imports 60% of all its goods, especially food, you will pay in more expensive US dollars. Thus, the prices of the supposedly controlled items (because in practice there is no control that has stopped the increases) have received an impulse in their flight all the way to Mars. The devaluation, of course, is gas for the flame of inflation. Last year’s was 27%. That of January 2004 reached 2.5%. If you extrapolate until December, without taking into account the devaluation, you would close the year at 36%.

It scares you to think how much the weight of the devaluation will add to this. This celebration of 4F is turning out really cool.


But for the Government it is not all bad news. It will now receive more Bolivars for each dollar and its fiscal problems will be alleviated and there will be more cash for electoral plans and the buying of votes, following the classic Creole model of populism. The devaluation makes the citizens poorer, it enriches the Government.


 


There has been a tax increment not established in any law. The Government now takes more money out of our pockets via the so-called “inflation tax”. Chávez is Robin Hood backwards, Hood Robin: he takes from the poor to give to the rich, especially, the most powerful of all, the Government itself.


 


Well, we have already celebrated half of what Chavez baptized as the “silver decade”, which was supposed to precede that of “gold”


 


But, the truth be said, “For now” (por ahora), what we have is five brown-colored years, of thick consistency and with disagreeable smell. Yes, made exactly of what you are thinking.

Rich Government, poor country

February 10, 2004

 


This is a translation of Today’s Editorial in Tal Cual by Teodoro Petkoff entitled “Rich Government, poor country”.  Since not everyone has access to that newspaper I thought I would translate it.


 


Rich Government, poor country by Teodoro Petkoff


 


The patron saint’s party that celebrated the twelve years of the attempted coup of February 4th. 1992 (4F) included, between roosters and midnight, an act that they attempted to do a slight of hand with: the new devaluation of the Bolivar. Up to February 4th. of this year, the US dollar cost Bs. 1600, hours later, it began costing Bs. 1920. A devaluation of 20%. The first victims of the adjustment are, naturally, the common citizens, especially the poorest, whose income, measured in terms of US dollars, has experienced a sharp drop.



The minimum salary of workers is today 247,104 bolivars. Up to 4F, that salary was equivalent at the rate of Bs. 1600, to 154 US dollars. After 4F, the minimum salary, which remains the same, is equivalent now to 129 US dollars. Together with the minimum salary, all other salaries, measured in US dollars, experimented a similar sharp drop. Divide your salary by 1,600 and then by 1,920 and you will discover how much less you make today than before 4F. But if you make that division by 3,000, which is in round numbers what one of those greenbacks from the north costs in the black market, then you will surely begin to cry.


 


For now, the minimum “black” salary comes to about 82 US dollars.


 


This number is closer to reality than the “official” rate, because under the conditions of an exchange control, it is the black market which sets the economic benchmarks. This revolution is getting pretty!


 


Of course, I am sure that there will be some that will point out that we make money in Bolivars and not in US dollars, but it so happens that in a country which imports 60% of all its goods, especially food, you will pay in more expensive US dollars. Thus, the prices of the supposedly controlled items (because in practice there is no control that has stopped the increases) have received an impulse in their flight all the way to Mars. The devaluation, of course, is gas for the flame of inflation. Last year’s was 27%. That of January 2004 reached 2.5%. If you extrapolate until December, without taking into account the devaluation, you would close the year at 36%.

It scares you to think how much the weight of the devaluation will add to this. This celebration of 4F is turning out really cool.


But for the Government it is not all bad news. It will now receive more Bolivars for each dollar and its fiscal problems will be alleviated and there will be more cash for electoral plans and the buying of votes, following the classic Creole model of populism. The devaluation makes the citizens poorer, it enriches the Government.


 


There has been a tax increment not established in any law. The Government now takes more money out of our pockets via the so-called “inflation tax”. Chávez is Robin Hood backwards, Hood Robin: he takes from the poor to give to the rich, especially, the most powerful of all, the Government itself.


 


Well, we have already celebrated half of what Chavez baptized as the “silver decade”, which was supposed to precede that of “gold”


 


But, the truth be said, “For now” (por ahora), what we have is five brown-colored years, of thick consistency and with disagreeable smell. Yes, made exactly of what you are thinking.

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