Archive for August 6th, 2006

Four more years?

August 6, 2006

I started
this blog exactly four years ago today. Not that I keep track, but
Userland has this way of terrorizing me a few days before the anniversary,
reminding me that I need to pay US$ 39.95 in x days if I want to keep blogging.
And every time I start wondering whether this will be the last year or not, or
even how many more years it will be. The truth is I have no clue. Writing this
blog has been fun, frustrating, satisfying, difficult, easy, hard,
illuminating, threatening, enlightening and certainly a learning experience. I
have met great people thanks to the blog and they outweigh the fanatics, the
pains in the buts, the liars and the obsessive ones.

I have learned that there are some people out there that support Chavez out of
this fanatical belief in anything left wing and that no matter what he does, he
is their heroe. I have also learned that there are also people exactly at the
opposite end of the political spectrum that are at times quite similar to the
extreme pro-Chavez people. But in the middle there are a bunch of people that I
consider the target of this blog, who just care about this poor country and its future and
can’t stand what is happening, even if politically we don’t agree on
everything. At least we are willing to discuss it with honesty.


I have also learned that democracy is not as ingrained in Venezuelans as I
thought it was. Neither are the values that lead you to have respect for human
rights. Of all sorts. This is perhaps the saddest lesson of the last seven
years. We apparently lived forty years of an illusion of democracy. Little was
apparently learned by most people in those four decades. I have also learned
that too many people have a price and it is remarkably low, even if this is irrelevenat. A price is a price. As Chavistas have
left their ideals aside and become part of the new oligarchy, the old oligarchy
has begun to work with them. And they are making huge amounts of money
together, illegally and immorally. And the robolution does not seem to care

Today, President
Chavez
“reiterated his will to fight corruption”, as the evidence of
corruption everywhere mounts each day that goes by, whether it is in the way
the finances of the country are run, or the agricultural sector and its many
corrupt funds, or PDVSA, as the flashy lifestyle of the revolutionaries,
reivindicates the politicians of the IVth. At least you could seldom tell they
were stealing based on their lifestyle. But note how few people have been punished because of their corrupt ways in the robolution. Remeber the 42 cases denounced by the Head of the DISIP in 1999? They are still there, gathering dust. Much like Bolivar 2000, Caez, FIEM, the bonds, the bonds again, the Argentinian bonds now, the PDVSA buy out, the CD’s, FONDAFA, and on and on.

Unfortunately,
I can no longer be optimistic. Not because Chavez will or not remain in power,
but because we have once again wasted the oil windfall of the last few years,
much like we did in the previous ones. What is worse this time around is the
level of dishonesty and unethical behavior floating around. The idea that
things can be easy, either because the Government gives them to you or because
you steal them. That politics is above all, that results just don’t matter.

I also
think that before the robolution is over, there has to be a huge shake up of
our economy. We will all lose, but the poor will lose the most. Very little
foundation for a solid economy has been laid in the last few years. On the
contrary, half of the manufacturing sector has been destroyed, many parts fo the real econo, were simply wiped out. Just because this was supposed to be a revolution….

PDVSA has been
reduced from a world class company to a mediocre, political, inefficient and ineffective company. There
is very little investment. The oil windfall hides the distortions, but they
become larger as the days go by. Inflation will hit 12-14%, but savings rates
are 4-6%, while lending rates are 8-14%. You can buy an Electricidad de Caracas
bond in Bolivars that yields 7.38%, but you can also buy an Electricidad de
Caracas bond in US$ that yield 9% in
dollars
! The banking system makes money because they charge commission and
their Government paper goes up when interest rates go down. Governemnt debt in Bs. and dollars is way up. So is the lack of transparency and accountability. There are simply no checks and balances.

One day,
the laws of economics will prevail, like they always do, and it will be the worst financial crisis in
our history. I wonder who will be blamed? We will likely spend ten years
blaming someone, rather than trying to avoid the same mistakes again. Another populist
will win, with the same promises and the same policies. And we will see the
movie again.

Meanwhile,
the Governments spends billions to protect us from a military threat that only exists in
their imagination, as 44 Venezuelans are killed daily by crime and poverty has
not budged in the last seven plus years.

But as
long as Userland supports the software I will likely be here chronicling the
events for the next four years and some of you may not be bored enough to come
back and read my tales. Sometimes I will post more, sometimes less. But I will
be here, what else can I do? I do want a better Venezuela. That was the whole point, wasn’ it?

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