Archive for July, 2005

The shortage that wasn’t. Or is it?

July 20, 2005

Sometimes you have to wonder about these guys in the Chavez Government. look at today’s headline: “Minister denies meat shortage”
Given that my wife could not find meat last week at the store and the
market where I shop had no meat Saturday and Sunday, I delve deeper
into the article: Says the Minister “This perception has been created
because some supermarkets have refused to acquire meat for fear of
being closed, because they do not abide by the regulated price of the
product”. The Minister also explained that there is plenty of meat at
Government supermarkets.

So, there is no shortage, but because the price is controlled, the meat
is not available at some supermarkets, because it is illegal to sell it
above the regulated price. Isn’t that what a shortage is, the
unavailability of products for whatever reason?

Moreover, the Minister boasts that there is plenty of meat in
Government supermarkets. Of course there is. It is imported with
officials dollars, it pays no customs duty, it is sold at non-profit
markets, where all the transportation and labor is provided, free of
charge, by the military. No wonder there is meat at those markets at
regulated prices!

Oh! I forgot, there is no charge for the value added tax at Government
supermarkets either. This is against the law, but hey! This is a
revolution, they do whatever they want, wherever they want and whenever
they want. There is no shoratge of that!

Threats and intimidation are the rule of the day in this regime.

July 20, 2005

While some fools still claim and say Venezuela is a democracy, the truth
is certainly much different. If not, ask reporter Roberto Giusti, one of the
harshest critics of the Government, who not only manages to get at the
Government directly, but through his interviews always gets a reaction out of
the Government, like last Sunday’s interview with Cardinal Castillo Lara.

Giusti also has a TV program in TV station Globovision called Primera Pagina, very early in the
morning and during his program, the National Anthem has to be played, as required by
law. Well, apparently Giusti is not too happy or maybe not yet accustomed to
the new name of Venezuela as
defined by the 2000 Constitution, so he says every morning “The National
anthem of the Republic of Venezuela”, instead of saying explicitly the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela.


Well, this omission appears to irk the Government so much that the General
Secretary of National Defense Council, General Melvin Lopez Hidalgo, sent a letter to the President of
Globovision in which the illustrious General says that Giusti’s
“attitude” can be “appreciated to be an act of provocation against
public authorities”. General Hidalgo adds: “it is a fault or
infraction to insult or disrespect patriotic symbols, specifically the National
Anthem”…”the denomination of Republic of Venezuela used by reporter
Giusti could constitute a violation of constitutional dispositions, since the
current Constitution identifies the Venezuelan state as the Bolivarian Republic
of Venezuela”

Jeez, I certainly wish that General Hidalgo would apply the same
strict precepts to
all of the violations of the Constitution made daily by the Chavez
Government.
With regards to human rights, for example. In fact, recently when
somebody said that a new law being considered by the
National Assembly violated the Constitution, a Deputy from Chavez’ MVR
answered
that they were going to approve it anyway because “they felt like it”.
In fact,
only yesterday, the Chavez backed majority in the National Assembly
approved
the change in the Central Bank’s law that takes away the responsibility
of
managing the international reserves from the Central Bank to the
Government.
This, despite the fact that article 310 of the Constitution says
explicitly
that the Venezuelan Central Bank “will administer international
reserves”
or will not (Art. 320) “validate or finance public policies which lead
to
a deficit”. But this does not bother General Melvin (Am I insulting him
because I left out his last name?), because his boss wants it that way.

But of course, General Hidalgo could care less about violations of the
Constitution, what he really wants to do is to threaten and intimidate
Mr.
Giusti, accusing him of insult or disrespect by omission, which would
certainly create a precedent in Venezuela. After all, Giusti did not
call Venezuela anything but what the country
has been called for the last forty years or so. How can that be an insult? He
did not add anything which could be considered an insult, after all, the term
Bolivarian so far seems to be more of a negative, given the lack of results of
the revolution. Umm, I wonder if I can’t call our President Hugo eirther. Is that disrespectful too?

But this
is what autocratic Government’s are all about. Threaten, intimidate and
discriminate are the rule of the day in order to corner and dimisnih the opposition. While the Government is spending millions
in setting up and buying equipment for creating broadcaster Telesur, it denies
foreign currency to private broadcasters that need to buy new equipment or
newspapers that need to import newsprint. To naive foreigners who have never
lived under an autocratic dictatorship, this may seem like part of daily life,
but to those that are old enough to remember the last dicator, or those that have seen
the autocratic Governments in other countries in Latin America, this are simply
the daily steps towards tighter and tighter control via threats and intimidation
and are certainly not the hallmarks of a democratic society.

His name is still Hugo by Teodoro Petkoff

July 19, 2005


The night
of his election almost seven years ago, in the euphoria of his victory, Hugo Chavez said that he would change
his name if in three months there were street kids hanging around the streets of
Venezuela.
Last Sunday, six and a half years later, our esteemed President remembered his
promise and said he would do something about it. Teodoro Petkoff takes him to task
in today’s Tal Cual Editorial, for failing to fulfill it and for not accepting the
blame for his failure to do so:

His name is still Hugo by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

At last
Chavez remembered the first and least taken care of, of his promises: that of
the street kids. He made it the same night of his electoral triumph, on
December 6th. 1998.

Last
Sunday the light bulb lit up in his brain, he admitted that he has this
outstanding debt and launched another social program: Mission “Negra Hipolita”
(1), with which, according to this outrageous seller of illusions, this time
around he will do what he did not do for more than six years, to attend the
dramatic situation of the thousands of abandoned children, homeless, without a
school and with a future which can only be worse than their present. Of course,
true to himself, not even one signal of self-criticism, not one reflection
about the reasons for the tremendous failure that the offer to rescue those he
called the “kids of the homeland”, not one word of explanation. However, despite everything,
one can not but wish that this time around he succeed.

Nevertheless,
from a person that promised to change his own name if “in three months” he had
not solved the problem, you would have expected that this task was going to be
his first priority and that he would not take six years and a half in order to
remember it. In that sense, you could have expected that he would have
carefully and closely verified the works of the National Council for the rights
of kids and adolescents. It has not been that way. A report from the National
Comptroller, that Tal Cual commented yesterday, reveals that more than 70% of the
budget in the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 was assigned to personnel and expenses
to run it.

And run it
they did! Expenses in entertainment and events without approval of the
highest
authority, unjustified use of cellular phones, absence of manual for
administrative
procedures, or for purchasing and documentation, of roles and
accounting. Seventy
million bolivars in foreign travel “without any evidence of invitation
by
either public or private organizations, nor an act through which the
highest
authority of the Council approved such expenses, nor the documentation
that would
justify it” (Clodosbaldo dixit (2)) Two hundred and ninety million in
per diem
to trips to the interior of Venezuela that do not have “sufficient
documentation that would justify it” (Says Clodo). More than 400
million paid
to supposed “advisors” of the institution, which the Comptroller’s
Office can
not justify because such advisors have to be ad honorem. The payments
were made “outside of legal precepts that regulate the workings of the
Council” (adds the
Comptroller’s Office, that, nobody knows how resuscitated, perhaps
because the
institution subject of the investigation is a ‘minor” one)

How could the solution of the drama of street kids not be a fiasco! Neither
Chavez concerned himself with the problem, nor the Council for kids and
adolescents did. Hopefully, for the good of the kids, that the “Negra Hipolita”
will not face a similar future.


Hopefully she can be the nanny of so many kids victimized by misery-if it is true that
Chavez, for once, will fulfill one of his promises.

      (1)
Simon
Bolivar’s nanny
(2)
Name
of the Comptroller

Chavez expresses “devotion” to Peruvian Dictator

July 19, 2005

Our ignorant President today showed once again his true colors while
visiting Peru. Clearly showing he has no clue what a democracy is,
President Chavez was defending
that Venezuela was a democracy and his Government was not autocratic
and then proceeded to express his “devotion” for “my general” Juan
Velasco, who was President of Peru from 1968 to 1975. Velasco
not only reached power via a coup, but his Government was simply a
Dictatorship, with censorhip, repression and persecution the rule of
the day. In fact, the media was nationalized by this man that Chavez
says he is so devoted to. Reminded by reporters of the bad memory left
in Peruvians by Velasco’s Government, Chavez even dared say that this
was just a matter of opinion.

It takes one to know one.

Illegal, immoral and unethical, just like the revolution

July 18, 2005

These metropolitan police cars with Chavez’ image are illegal, immoral and unethical. Hey! Did I just describe the revolution?

Nicolae Ceausescu would have been proud of them!

Accounts and Tales of the Oil Belt by Saul Guerrero.

July 18, 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.

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!

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