Archive for July 17th, 2005

Papillon, who died 32 years ago, is elligible to vote in August in Venezuela

July 17, 2005

As pointed out in the comments a man who died 32 years ago is
registered to vote. Yes, Henri Charriere, the famous “Papillon” appears
registered and from the looks of it, he may even vote. Kudos to Andy
Webb of the Financial Times that wrote this story that gives sooo much
credibility to the CNE’s claims!. The story is spreading around, Instapundit picked it up!

Here is the data fresh from the CNE’s site:

Cédula: V- 1728629
Nombre: CHARRIERO SHIERRY HENRY
Centro: INST UNIV NUEVAS PROFESIONES
Dirección: AV PRINCIPAL EL BOSQUE
Estado: EDO. MIRANDA
Municipio: MP. CHACAO
Parroquia: PQ. CHACAO

Since FT can only be read for a couple of days, here is Andy’s full story:

Dead writer casts doubt on Venezuela poll

By Andy Webb-Vidal in Caracas
Published: July 17 2005 19:58 | Last updated: July 17 2005 19:58

venezuela/ ballot boxHenri
Charričre, the convict who vividly recalled his multiple escape bids
from the disease-ridden penal colony of French Guiana in the novel
Papillon, has been found “alive” in Venezuela, 32 years after his
reported death. Or so Venezuela’s electoral register would have you
believe.

Politicians in Venezuela have complained
that the official voter list contains thousands of deceased voters, an
irregularity that, if abused by unscrupulous election officials, could
distort the result of polls.

“Why is there such a big fear of
undertaking an audit of the electoral register?” asks Alejandro Plaz,
spokesman for Sumate, which lobbies for transparency and participation
in elections.

Now, the discovery that Mr Charričre,
who died in 1973, is eligible to cast a ballot in local elections in
August looks certain to amplify such concerns about the inadequacy of
Venezuela’s electoral system.

In the final pages of Papillon, Mr
Charričre describes his elation at receiving a Venezuelan residency
document, or cédula, in 1945, after his escape from Devil’s Island and,
finally, his release from El Dorado, a Venezuelan prison.

The number of the cédula, he wrote, was
1,728,629 a unique figure in the numerical issuance series of
Venezuelan identity documents.

Today, that number, when introduced into
the online checking facility of the National Electoral Council, reveals
that Henry Charriero, his adopted name, can vote next month in Chacao,
a municipality of Caracas.

In recent days, civil groups have warned
that the August 7 municipal elections will be tainted by a host of
reasons, including an unreliable database of voters.

Last year, opponents of President Hugo
Chávez protested against irregularities in the electronic vote-counting
system during a presidential recall referendum.

A lack of confidence in the electoral
council will be the main factor that could prompt as many as 70 per
cent of voters to abstain from next month’s ballot, pollsters say.

But given that some of the deceased on
the voting roll have been there a long time, it is clear it is not just
the government that has failed to audit the electoral roll.

In the case of Papillon, several governments since 1973 have failed to clean up his entry on the voting list.

Accounts and Tales of the Oil Belt by Saul Guerrero

July 17, 2005


Saul
Guerrero worked at PDVSA for many years and was involved in the development of
Orimulsion which the current administration has decided to do away with on the
grounds that it is not sufficiently profitable. The basic argument being that
it is better to improve the crudes from the Orinoco Oil Belt than to use it for
Orimulsion I have written about this topic before here is the view of a true
expert as expressed in El Nacional on Friday.

Accounts and Tales of the Oil Belt by Saul Guerrero

The fool who hearkens not, regards
what is profitable as useless.


Maxims of Ptah-Hotep, Egypt,
ca 2300 before Christ.

The
Orinoco Oil Belt is a mirror which implacably reveals all of the deficiencies
and improvisations of our vision and management to take opportune advantage of
its energetic resources. How can we develop that vast potential on time,
without depressing prices in the diverse markets and without remaining in the
sterile complacency that we are the owners of the greatest hydrocarbons reserve
in the planet? The Venezuela
of the decade of the 90’s created two paths to take advantage of those
resources, the strategic associations and to feed the transportation sector and
Bitor to launch Orimulsion outside the OPEC quota as a fuel to generate
electricity. Beginning in 2003 the present administration of the Ministry of
Energy and Mines and PDVSA has wanted to destroy Orimulsion, artificially
confronting these two options, ignoring the reality that they complement each
other and do not exclude each other. The public disqualification of Orimulsion
on the part of the Ministry of Energy/PDVSA and its decision to base the
development of the Oil Belt exclusively with more projects of improving the
extra heavy crudes is a great fallacy that crumbles itself with only reading with
care the numbers and papers of the new PDVSA.

On May 21st.
of the current year, PDVSA published an ad that textually said; “During the
period January-April 2005…the production of the associations of the Orinoco Oil
Belt of 617 thousand barrels a day generated dollars that did not come into the
country…2 billion 171 million dollars… Since the four projects are costing a
total of at least $12 billion dollars, this tells us grosso modo that for each dollar invested in improving extra heavy
crudes, one manages, in the year of the highest prices of crude oil , $0.50 in
gross annual sales and $0.09 in royalties.

What the
Ministry of Energy and Oil does not explain is that in including the improved
crudes within the OPECD quota one is: a.- displacing 617 thousand barrels of products of the
Venezuelan oil basket there price of which is much higher ($45 per barrel) than
the average according to PDVSA of the improved crude ($29 per barrel), which
brings a reduction in sales of 3 billion dollars a year and b.- the associations
only pay 34% in taxes and not the 50% that PDVSA pays, that is, that according
to what was published by Vice-Minister Mommer in his paper “The Subversive
Oil”, the tax office failed to collect at least $10 per barrel, which would add
some US$ 2.3 billion in annual taxes that are not collected by the tax system.
In total a sacrifice of more than US$ 5.3 billion a year at this moment, which
substantially reduces any earnings at the end of the day for the Nation from
this production of improved crudes.

In
contrast, the current Orimulsion contracts (those that they want to eliminate
or transfer to Sinovensa in December 2005) average about US$ 20 per barrel of
sold bitumen, which implies annual sales of some US$ 400 million for each US$
400 million module that each new Orimulsion module costs. At these new prices
for the sale of Orimulsion in Asia, for each
dollar invested one obtains a dollar in annual gross sales and $0.20 in
royalties for the nation, double what you have managed to do with a multimillion
dollar investment in the strategic associations in its best year of sales.
Moreover, when Orimulsion was sold at a price tied to coal and invoiced gross
sales of US 200 million (see PDVSA’s report to the SEC), for each dollar
invested in Orimulsion, one obtained $0.50 in sales, the same level that the
four strategic associations have only managed to obtain under the price
euphoria of 2005. Contrary to what was argued by the Ministry of Energy and
Oil/PDVSA, Orimulsion has always been an excellent option for the profitable
and large scale development of the Orinoco oil
belt, without incurring in the costly penalty that implies the displacement of
the traditional production within the OPEC quota by the improved crudes.

The simple
calculation above can not escape the current authorities of the Ministry of
Energy and Oil/PDVSA. The only and great mystery that still persists is what is
the true reason for which they continue to be set on destroying the business of
Orimulsion, the endogenous development of greatest technical and commercial
success in the history of Venezuela.

Chavez shows his true class in his Sunday’s program

July 17, 2005

Are these the words of a sane man? The words of a statesman? The words of a man with class?:

“The Cardinal (Castillo Lara) is a pantomine, it makes me sad
and fills me with disgust, he is a coupster, the Pope has to know this,
the Vatican’s Ambassador has to know this, the Apostolic nuncio has to
know this, the devil does not respect a priest’s robes, he is a bandit,
immoral, a coupster…may God forgive him and the devil receive him
when the time comes..”

All of this because the Cardinal called Chavez’ Government “ominous”,
the CNE a “pantomine” and Chavez’ Government a “dictatorship” in an
interview in today’s El Universal .

Asked what he thought about Chavez’ name calling, the Cardinal said he
did not care, because they did not come from an “honorable” person.

Not many flowers upon my return from vacation.

July 17, 2005

Top:Left: Cattleya Gaskelliana semi alba. First flowering, the shape
of the flower is not great, but the colors are fantastic. Top right:
Cattletonia Why Not bunch, a repeat visitor to this pages.

The two pictures above are for the same flower Miltonidium Super
Spots “Everglades” . I could not decide which background looks better,
so I though I would show both. I love this flower!

Accounts and Tales of the Oil Belt by Saul Guerrero

July 17, 2005


Saul
Guerrero worked at PDVSA for many years and was involved in the development of
Orimulsion which the current administration has decided to do away with on the
grounds that it is not sufficiently profitable. The basic argument being that
it is better to improve the crudes from the Orinoco Oil Belt than to use it for
Orimulsion I have written about this topic before here is the view of a true
expert as expressed in El Nacional on Friday.

Accounts and Tales of the Oil Belt by Saul Guerrero

The fool who hearkens not, regards
what is profitable as useless.


Maxims of Ptah-Hotep, Egypt,
ca 2300 before Christ.

The
Orinoco Oil Belt is a mirror which implacably reveals all of the deficiencies
and improvisations of our vision and management to take opportune advantage of
its energetic resources. How can we develop that vast potential on time,
without depressing prices in the diverse markets and without remaining in the
sterile complacency that we are the owners of the greatest hydrocarbons reserve
in the planet? The Venezuela
of the decade of the 90’s created two paths to take advantage of those
resources, the strategic associations and to feed the transportation sector and
Bitor to launch Orimulsion outside the OPEC quota as a fuel to generate
electricity. Beginning in 2003 the present administration of the Ministry of
Energy and Mines and PDVSA has wanted to destroy Orimulsion, artificially
confronting these two options, ignoring the reality that they complement each
other and do not exclude each other. The public disqualification of Orimulsion
on the part of the Ministry of Energy/PDVSA and its decision to base the
development of the Oil Belt exclusively with more projects of improving the
extra heavy crudes is a great fallacy that crumbles itself with only reading with
care the numbers and papers of the new PDVSA.

On May 21st.
of the current year, PDVSA published an ad that textually said; “During the
period January-April 2005…the production of the associations of the Orinoco Oil
Belt of 617 thousand barrels a day generated dollars that did not come into the
country…2 billion 171 million dollars� Since the four projects are costing a
total of at least $12 billion dollars, this tells us grosso modo that for each dollar invested in improving extra heavy
crudes, one manages, in the year of the highest prices of crude oil , $0.50 in
gross annual sales and $0.09 in royalties.

What the
Ministry of Energy and Oil does not explain is that in including the improved
crudes within the OPECD quota one is: a.- displacing 617 thousand barrels of products of the
Venezuelan oil basket there price of which is much higher ($45 per barrel) than
the average according to PDVSA of the improved crude ($29 per barrel), which
brings a reduction in sales of 3 billion dollars a year and b.- the associations
only pay 34% in taxes and not the 50% that PDVSA pays, that is, that according
to what was published by Vice-Minister Mommer in his paper “The Subversive
Oil�, the tax office failed to collect at least $10 per barrel, which would add
some US$ 2.3 billion in annual taxes that are not collected by the tax system.
In total a sacrifice of more than US$ 5.3 billion a year at this moment, which
substantially reduces any earnings at the end of the day for the Nation from
this production of improved crudes.

In
contrast, the current Orimulsion contracts (those that they want to eliminate
or transfer to Sinovensa in December 2005) average about US$ 20 per barrel of
sold bitumen, which implies annual sales of some US$ 400 million for each US$
400 million module that each new Orimulsion module costs. At these new prices
for the sale of Orimulsion in Asia, for each
dollar invested one obtains a dollar in annual gross sales and $0.20 in
royalties for the nation, double what you have managed to do with a multimillion
dollar investment in the strategic associations in its best year of sales.
Moreover, when Orimulsion was sold at a price tied to coal and invoiced gross
sales of US 200 million (see PDVSA’s report to the SEC), for each dollar
invested in Orimulsion, one obtained $0.50 in sales, the same level that the
four strategic associations have only managed to obtain under the price
euphoria of 2005. Contrary to what was argued by the Ministry of Energy and
Oil/PDVSA, Orimulsion has always been an excellent option for the profitable
and large scale development of the Orinoco oil
belt, without incurring in the costly penalty that implies the displacement of
the traditional production within the OPEC quota by the improved crudes.

The simple
calculation above can not escape the current authorities of the Ministry of
Energy and Oil/PDVSA. The only and great mystery that still persists is what is
the true reason for which they continue to be set on destroying the business of
Orimulsion, the endogenous development of greatest technical and commercial
success in the history of Venezuela.

A dramatic rise in homicides and deaths by police since Chavez took over

July 17, 2005

Every
time there is some incident involving the police or the military, where
innocent people are killed, Government officials from the Chavez
administration argue that these type of things happened with previous
Governments also, as if this excuse in some sense exexmpts their
responsibility for these incidents. When such statements are made,
reporters sort of nod with their heads, as if agreeing with what the
Government official is saying.

I
have argued in the past that while the Government likes to talk about
the “previous” Government, in terms of contemporary Venezuelan history,
the Chavez administration has already become the previous Government.
No President in the 40 year history of our modern democracy ruled more
than five years, thus with the change of the Constitution, Chavez is
already the longest running President of Venezuela since 1958 when our
last Dictator departed.

But
the truth is that these Government officials are absolutely wrong.
While it is indeed true that such incidents as the recent assassination
of the three students in Barrio Kennedy by the police are not new, it
is also true that the frequency of such incidents has dramatically
increased since Chavze became President. In fact, both homicides and
deaths in confrontations with the police have ballooned since Chavez
took over.

In
contrast with economic numbers that are less and less transparent with
each passing year, the Government has yet failed to completely hide
crime numbers, but it is beginning to try as described in the Provea
report linked below. In fact, the coroners’ office, the Minister of the
Interior and Justice, the investigative police CIPC and municipalities
all report the data on crime, homicides and separate whether the death
occurred in a confrontation with the police. Additionally, Human Rights
organization Provea has been
gathering, collecting and analyzing such data, even before Chavez
became President and issuing regular reports on Human Rights looking at
the status of social, economic, political and civilian rights. The
latest such report can be found here for the years 2003-2004.

A look at the sections on the right to life or the right to personal security
paint a much different picture from what the Government claims, which
shows that in these areas the Venezuelan Government is also doing much worse than its predecessors.
 

Let us first look at homicides per 100,000 inhabitants at the national level and in the metropolitan area of Caracas, as in the graph below:

Chart I Total number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants since 1986 in Venezuela (black line) and Caracas (blue line)

One
can see that the number of homicides at the national level went from 20
per 100,000 inhabitants per year to 49 from 1998 to 2003, while Chavez
has been President. Similarly, in the Metropolitan area of
Caracas,
this number went from 63 to 134 in the same period. (It has continued
to increase in the last year and a half). Note that the numbers had
actually been dropping since 1994, which has been explained as being
the result of municipal police forces being created in the early 90’s.
These forces are better trained and prepared than either the
Metropolitan police or the National Guard and helped reduce crime.

These are HUGE numbers, as an example, most European countries have rates in the low single digits and the US is typically in the mid single digit range. Now, these numbers do not include deaths which are incurred in police incidents, which are shown below at the national level. (Note 2004 is only partial):

Chart II: Number of deaths in police confrontations since 1198 in Venezuela. The 2004 numbers are not for the full year.

These
numbers have also had a dramatic increase, with a four fold increase
nationwide in deaths by police forces. In fact, these numbers alone
would make the country’s homicide rate as high as that of any developed
country. There is no way that these numbers can be defended. They show
that the situation is certainly not the same as it was before Chavez
came to power and while it can not be proven that it represents a
policy, it does represent an attitude and the disregard by the
Government for human rights in general. Venezuelan security forces and
military have always been very repressive, if nobody tries to contain
them, they will act like they have been doing for the last few years an
worse.

If
these deaths by police also are included in the total number of
homicides, the rate of homicides for the country goes up to 59 deaths
per 100,000 inhabitants and that for
Caracas
to 154 deaths per 100,000 per year. The absolute numbers are 11.342
homicides in 2003 and 2.305 deaths in confrontations with the police in
the same year. This comes out to over thirty deaths per day!

Two things have to be pointed out. First, these deaths affect mostly the poor. The deaths in Caracas every weekend are in the barrios where the cops sometimes do not even dare go in. Thus,
it affects primarily those that Chavez professes to care and love so
much. Second, when Chavez was elected in 1998, many people voted with
him because he was former military. They thought that he would make
crime a priority within his administration. The fact is that the word
crime is never mentioned by the President in his lengthy speeches. It
is unclear whether this is because he wants to separate himself from
the failed actions by his Government in this field or whether this is
not an important issue for him.

In
any case, the sharp jump in homicides and deaths by police represents
another one of the many failed promises of Hugo Chavez. In my mind,
this is the result on the one hand of a lack of interest in the issue
by the maximum leader, while the violent deaths in police
confrontations are simply a consequence of the repressive minds of the
leaders of police forces, all of which are former military.
Unfortunately, those that should raise their voice about these issues
like the Attorney General and the People’s Ombudsman, are so aligned
with the Government, so as to be essentially invisible on these issues.
And Human Right organizations like Provea and COFAVIC, praised by
Chavez when he was a candidate, have become the object of attack and
criticism by this irresponsible Government.

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