Archive for April 10th, 2005

Cattleya Gaskelliana Blue Dragon x self

April 10, 2005

The following are two pictures of Cattleya Gaskelliana Blue
Dragon x self. Cattleya Gaskelliana is a Venezuelan species and this
was the first of its “coerulea” forms to obtain a Certificate of Merit
from the American Orchid Society in 1962. “Coerulea” refers to the
“blue” color of Cattleyas, which is actually not a true blue but more
like a blueish violet color. The lip has an extensive solid area, which
is very well defined and quite striking. It is definitely a beautiful
flower and they are big and well shaped.

The implausible tale told by the Attorney General about the role of Lucas Rincon on April 11th.

April 10, 2005


One of the
biggest mysteries of what happened on April 11th. 2002, was the role
played by General Lucas Rincon. Rincon was not only the Chief of Staff, but was
also the highest ranking General in the Venezuelan Armed Forces, the only one
to receive three stars in decades. Rincon was also the man the set in motion
the so called “coup” against Hugo Chavez by appearing on a nationwide telecast
that evening, surrounded by the Chiefs of Staff and said: “ We asked the
President for his resignation, which he accepted”.

The rest
is of course history. Chavez claims he never resigned, Carmona came along, Chavez
came back in what was probably a sequence of coups rather than a single one as
Chavez likes to make believe. To compound the mystery even further, Rincon
showed up again only months later in Chavez’ Cabinet where he occupied
important positions for a couple of years.

The final
mystery is how come, despite the incredibly significant role he played, the
Prosecutor’s office has never called Rincon to testify or even charged him with
anything. After all, it was Rincon who set in motion everything that happened
that night. Had he not shown up on TV that night history would have been much
different. Despite this, Rincon has never been called and his role remains a
mystery

Today (El
Nacional, page A-2), the Prosecutor himself, Isaias Rodriguez attempts to shed
light on it and his explanation is so laughable, implausible and improbable
that nobody will ever believe it. Moreover, it is not the Prosecutor’s role to
decide whether Rincon was or not involved or not, his role is to have him
testify and let others decide.

According
to Rodriguez, Chavez sent Rincon that day to negotiate with the Generals that
wanted Chavez out. When Rincon gets there, he is surprised that absolutely all
of them are against the President and they “forced” him.

Now, I
find it hard to believe that they would force him take their side! Even more, I
just can’t believe that if all of the Generals were on the opposite side, that
he would be forced to speak to the nation and announce Chavez resignation.

Even more
laughable is that Rodriguez then says: “I have information that a Colonel had the
intention of assassinating Lucas (Rincon) of shooting him up close”. When asked
who he was, the Attorney General says: “I can’t remember, but he must have been
identified because I am talking about something that happened. Lucas found himself
in a very complex situation, difficult, because he finds a de facto situation. At
that moment he called the President and tells him there is no possibility of negotiations.
Te President tells him: You know what we have talked handle the situation in the
terms that we have talked about…Rincon decides on his own in terms of what the
President said…he tried to gain time”

I see,
very logical, in order to gain time Lucas Rincon decided to announce to the
country that Chavez had resigned!

Rodriguez
then proceeds to talk about Rincon as having to deal with a situation he was
not accustomed to. He then toots his won horn, saying that he was, because he
has been a politician all his life. I see, a mediocre politician who only rose
in power because he rode Chavez’ coattails has more abilities than a guy who
became the only three star General in decades and Chief of Staff! This guy
really thinks the world is truly stupid.

But in the
end the Prosecutor/Attorney General fails to explain why Lucas Rincon’s role has
never been investigated, why he has never been called to testify. As the
Attorney General, it is unacceptable for him to first say that someone almost
killed Rincon, but he has failed in these last three years to even look into
that. This is the same man that is in charge of upholding the law in Venezuela! He
has had his people look at videos to charge the people seeing in them for just
going to the Presidential Palace on April 12th., but has not bothered
to look into who forced Rincon to say he was against Chávez?

Everything
Rodriguez says is so implausible and inconsistent that anywhere else, he would
be forced to resign because his statements simply show he has not performed his
duties and has instead devoted his time to persecute the opposition.


This guy
must really take us for fools, but in the end, maybe we are anyway.

Poverty swallows Chavez despite the waste of petrodollars

April 10, 2005

Excellent
article on Venezuela in Spain’s La Vanguardia by Joaquim Ibarz
, he
definitely did his homework.

Poverty swallows Chavez despite the waste of petrodollars

President Hugo Chavez has one
hundred ideas a day. Some 97 are discarded as impractical, but the three
remaining ones can cost Venezuela
a lot of money, since they are aimed only at mediatic and political
repercussion, instead of economic return.

Hugo Chavez finances poverty
so that everyone depends on him
a Venezuelan entrepreneur of asturian origin, explains in a few words
the orientation of the revolutionary regime that is being implemented in
gradual fashion in Venezuela.

Financing poverty, without
creating wealth, is very costly to a State that in six years has not only spent
US$ 200 billion that have been received thanks to high oil prices, but has also
increased external debt (from US$ 22 billion went to US$ 27 billion) and
multiplied internal debt (In six years, from US$ 1.069 billion it became US$
13.5 billion). One has to add US$ 1 billion in a euro bond and a new issue of
some US$ 1.5 billion.

To prevent that the incumbent
President dilapidate oil income, the Macroeconomic Stabilization Find was
created destined to generate savings when the price of oil was over that one
fixed in the national budget. The differential would be reserved for when the
price went down; it was like insurance for junctures with fiscal deficits.
Chavez no only eliminated the Fund, but as if it were petty cash, he grabbed
the US$ 7 billion that had been saved up to 2002.

The increase in debt has
taken place in the middle of an oil boom. According to analyst Gustavo Garcia
Osio, what is happening with Chavez is the same that happened with the
management by Carlos Andres Perez and in the Government of Luis Herrera, when
public debt was multiplied in the middle of a spectacular rise in hydrocarbons,
whose bad consequences Venezuelans know well. When the price of oil moderated,
the debt became impossible to pay, which brought successive devaluations of the
Bolivar and a deterioration of public expenditures.

Chavez is repeating the same
errors of Perez and Luis Herrera, Chavez is a good exponent of the past he
denigrates so much
, says to La Vanguardia, economist Hugo Faria. According to this
Professor, Chavez shows great fiscal irresponsibility to finance the uncontainable
public expenditures, not only with petrodollars and an increase in debt, but
also with successive devaluations. The curious thing is that Chavez devalues
while his mentor Fidel Castro, thanks to the billion dollars that he receives
from Venezuela
in cheap oil, revaluates the peso. In all of America, local currencies
are revaluing with respect to the dollar, except in Venezuela,


No
country has managed to reduce poverty without sustained economic growth points out Farias.

A large part of today income is wasted on current expenditures looking for
electoral yields. Chavez said it very clearly: the money has to be spent with
political criteria, not an economic one. The purchase of Argentine bonds for
US$ 500 million is not advisable from an economic point of view, but it is from
a political point of view. Although the income from the petrodollars is huge,
the expenses are even bigger. Populism is expensive and there are many
interests, both internal and external, that have to be covered. Only part of
the expenditures goes through the official controls, the rest goes via parallel
paths, without much supervision.


The budget of the Ministry of Defense, which is higher than the Education one,
was increased with the boundless purchase of war material. Military
expenditures are shooting through the roof with the creation of a body of
reserves which is the equivalent to a parallel army, which must be composed of
hundreds of thousands of people. In the same manner, in the last few months he
has created five new Ministries, with the corresponding increase in payrolls.
The National Institute for Statistics (INE) has registered that between
February 2004 and February 2005 the public sector hired in the same period
227.201 workers, while the private sector only added 24.069 workers to its
staff.

Even though Chavez
devotes a good part of the oil income to assistance plans destined to those
that have the least, during his term, poverty has increased by 10.2 percentage
points. According to the President of INE, Elia Eljuri, when Chavez assumed the
Presidency the poverty index was 42.8%, while at the end of 2004 it has
increased to 53% (Non Government organizations raise it to 80% with 50% of the
population in extreme poverty)



Poverty is swallowing Chavez; he thought poverty could be reduced with subsidies and giving away money,
but only creating wealth can you combat poverty in a sustainable way. Chavez is
not concerned with generating growth. Because he thinks wealth is badly
distributed, he looks to eliminate inequality making everyone poor
as
manager Gustavo Nahmens tells us.

Creating wealth is not Chavez€™ priority. On the contrary, he seems intent in
destroying it. Instead of backing private initiatives, he harasses the private
sector, who he considers his enemy for having signed in favor of the recall
referendum. The populist policies of the Government, together with the lack of
confidence in the future of the country and to a tax policy that forces
companies to pay the VAT ahead of time-on the basis of measures set by the
State-provoked the fall of investment and the bankruptcy of many firms.
According to data from Fedecamaras, in the last six years half the private
companies have disappeared, which was followed by and increase in unemployment.

The high
price of oil, debt, the improvement in tax collection and the CD’s issued by
the Central Bank (by as much as US$ 5 billion) are insufficient to take care of
the expenditure race that Chavez is propelling. Despite the increase in income,
the fiscal deficit increases (US$ 9 billion)

The lack of administrative control and competence facilities corruption. A new
revolutionary elite has surged that moves from the poor barrio to live in the
mansions of exclusive areas. Despite the bad economic situation, there is a
waiting list in Venezuela
to buy high end cars, that only enriched Chavistas are ready to acquire.

Chaos in the financial
execution of public funds accentuated with the creation of a parallel financial
sector. Without much infrastructure and without experts who had his confidence,
Chavez created eight new banks-Bank of Women, Bank of the People, Bank of
Popular Housing, Bank of the Armed Forces etc.-which give out loans without
guarantees and without worrying about collecting. Delinquency in Venezuela
ranges between 8 and 10%, but that if these banks reaches 53%, despite their
recent creation, some have been refloated by the State up to four times.

Social programs under Chavez are
doubly costly, since they duplicate activities and function of already existing
institutions. In the poor barrios he created health clinics and centers with
Cuban doctors, but he is allowing the slow agony of the Social Security system
(Hospital and emergencies), cutting their budgets. All of it has a political
end. For Chavez, what was there before he got to power, does not work. The only
things that work are those he creates.
One of the measures that increased the popularity of the
Venezuelan President the most before the recall referendum was a network of
popular supermarkets known as Mercal-that offer foodstuffs at subsidized
prices. In some products, Mercal supplies 40% of what Venezuelans eat. Sugar,
flour, rice, beans, milk, oil, canned goods, pasta and other products enjoy a
direct subsidy (the difference between the purchase and the sale price) and an
indirect one when the price is not affected by operating and administrative
costs. The program is beginning to come apart at the seams: an increasing number
of foodstuffs are detoured to parallel markets at free market prices. The same
beneficiaries stockpile them, and sell them. Mercal confronts increasing
difficulties due to its management, commercial and financial contradictions.

Chavez is
imposing a barter economy. He gives oil in exchange for political support or
diverse products. To Castro’s regime he facilitates under advantageous conditions
some 80,000 barrels of oil a day, that Havana
pays for by sending 16,000 doctors sports trainers m advisors and agents of all
kinds. Given the good friendship n that Chavez maintains with Kirchner, he will
buy 500 million dollars of Argentine debt and sends crude in exchange for pregnant
calves. He exchanges with China
fuel oil for bicycles and tractors.

Thoughts on armies by Alberto Barreda

April 10, 2005

Alberto Barreda in today’s El Nacional (page A-12) expresses something
I have always believed in about the Venezuelan military, which becomes
even more important in the context of the new reserves and the
assymetric war:

“It it not an epistemological whim. The truth is that I can not stop
thinking that armies, in general, are symbols of backwardness in our
civilization, an expression of human misery, of the inability to face
and resolve differences in a different way. The history of humanity can
be a detailed registry of the adminsitration of violence, of its
controls, of its domination. Armies are the last powerful reresentation
of a kingdom that should by now be, more than anything, an antiquity.”

Chavez’ folly: The

April 10, 2005


President
Chavez continued raising the specter of an external enemy Friday. This strategy
of inducing fear and nationalistic feelings in the population is typical of
autocratic regimes that want to hide the failure of their accomplishments. In
this case, the Chavez administration has raised the fear of a US invasion
which is seldom mentioned explicitly but is referred to as the “asymmetrical
war”. The subject is brought up almost daily and is accompanied by the daily
mention of the military reserve, which has quickly grown from an already exaggerated
half a million men to two million in less than two weeks. The whole thing is
not only typical of autocrats, but it shows the military framework of Chavez’
mind.

This is a
folly that will cost money and effort and bring nothing to the Venezuelan
population but grief and wasted resources. Chavez’ folly is embarking Venezuela in a
terrible path attempting to create fears that exist only in Chavez’ mind. But
as usual, it will be the people, those same “people” that Chavez regularly
claims to love and care for that will pay and suffer for all of it.

On Friday Chavez
announced
that in the next few months there would be joint military exercises
between the armed forces and the civil population. About the only good thing he
said was that Otaiza was wrong in calling for the hate of the US, but Otauza
is still holding his post. Here, in his own words, Chavez defines the asymmetric
war and the folly he is embarking this poor country on:

“ Never in
100 years, that we recall, the thesis that is being considered that leads us to
think in military maneuvers that are not only military, but are
civilian-military has occured. The participation of the people in the defense of the
country, and in the promotion of the country, is essential in the asymmetric war
we are starting to focus on here”

“The
asymmetric war, in short, can be described as a war strategy that a contender under
inferior conditions uses to confront an enemy whose military forces openly surpass
their own, not only quantitatively but technologically. The asymmetry supposes
the application of non conventional tactics, like guerrilla war and terrorism,
with the purpose of wearing down the adversary: it is considered that the US
Army is involved in an asymmetrical conflict with the Iraqi resistance.”

“In an
eventual conflict, there will be various steps of defense; the first one will
be the structured armed forces, the second one, the organized reserve, and the
last, all of the people, in a sequence of retreats to the plains, the barrios, and
the mountains. With this the potential enemies that would think of invading Venezuela to appropriate
its oil richness “would leave with their tail between their legs.”

There you have it, direct from the madman’s mouth.

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