Archive for November 12th, 2006

The new Bolivarian oligarchy

November 12, 2006

While Hugo
Chavez has used the terms oligarchs and oligarchy to refer to his enemies and the
opposition in a derogatory manner, after eight years the term has certainly worn off, more so when one
realizes that the “old” oligarchy has been quickly replaced by the
“boli-bourgeois” the name given to the new class of rich Bolivarians
who defend the revolution and are part of the revolution only because they are getting
rich beyond the wildest dreams of the “old” oligarchy, some of which
actually even had to work for it.


In fact, the term oligarchy should have been strictly speaking given up by
Chavez long ago, since never had Venezuela been governed by such a small number
of people and power concentrated on one mad, the autocrat himself, the biggest
oligarch this country has seen since Dictator Juan Vicente Gomez who ruled the country
singled handedly for some twenty seven years. But such is the loss of touch
with reality of current President Hugo Chavez that he does not even realize how
a few members of his inner circle have quickly become the powerful, the rich,
and the decision makers in a country of 26 million people. Add to it the wealth
and what you have is a new oligarchy that no matter what happens on Dec. 3d.
has amassed so much money and power that they will influence the country’s life
for decades to come, much like those that surrounded Gomez and his relatives
did after his death.

The new oligarchy flaunts their wealth in ways never seen in Venezuela. Case
in point is the fact that in 2005 the Government banned all private airplanes
from landing in the La Carlota military airport of Caracas,
saying that for the benefit and safety of the people only helicopters could
land there. And for a while it worked. In fact, a while back I made a post
of actually seeing and talking a picture of a jet plane land in La Carlota,
because it not only violated the law, but showed that some people are more equal
than others under the law.

This is no longer a rarity. Where I live is actually in the landing path of La
Carlota and at least a dozen planes take off and land daily, with increasing
traffic on Friday and Sunday afternoons, as the new boli-oligarchs take off for
the weekend to the fancy resorts of the Caribbean where they can enjoy their anonymity
their new found wealth, without annoying fellow Venezuelans recognizing them or
God forbid, staging a protest against them. To hell with equality under the law
or even the law itself which simply bans the any airplane from landing there,
but the law can be skirted as the revolution is in a rush to have its leaders
enjoy themselves or make efficient use of their new flying toys, which range
from Cessnas to long range jets. Yes, Venezuela
has become the largest growing market for private jets in South
America and the planes are being bought by those affiliated with
the revolution.

As I arrived last week at Maiquetia airport I could not help but see the number
of people meeting the plane with signs with a name of it. We are not talking
about visitors being met as they come out of customs, but people being met
right at the exit of the jet way, before immigration and customs by civilians,
military and pretty ladies in uniform, all there to make sure these visitors
sail through immigration and customs to make their visit to the
“revolution” better. Thus, as I sat there waiting in line to have my
passport stamped, dozens of people just went by immigration without any checks,
led by the usual Government official, who would just drop the passports in a
“special” line for the new oligarchs and their visitors.

Mind you, this not a new practice, it has always existed and I have always
found it distasteful and inconsiderate and I distinctly remember the current
head of the airport announcing the practice would be banned during his tenure.
Well, it hasn’t and in fact seems to have been magnified. There is also room
for the little people to make a buck too, as a guy came up to me and
“offered” to help me get through customs if I gave him a tip. I got
through all right with my stash of wine and cheese without his help, which is
what happens 98% of the time as bored customs agents simply wave most people through
anyway.

Then there
is Scotch consumption, up from US$ 40 million to US$ 100 million from 2005 to
2006. It is, of course, presumptuous of
me to assume that it is the new oligarchy that drinks 18 year old Scotch. But
who else could it be? The old one was perfectly happy with your run of the mill
Johnny Walker Black Label, why would they change all of a sudden? But go into
any Caracas Restaurant and you always find the “special offer” of the
previously rare blue label. But its’ OK, it is not that expensive as it is paid
and subsidized by official CADIVI dollars given out by the foreign exchange control
office, which certainly understands the need for revolutionaries to spend their
newly found wealth.

And that
in the end is one of the biggest dilemma’s of the faux revolution. As the Peruvian Foreign Minister said
today
of the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, it all has the
arrogant and overbearing stink of the nouveau rich. And it does and it is
everywhere, the rich revolutionaries do not want to give up neither their
wealth nor their priviliges. They wear red shirts at rallies, but Cartier watches
and Lanvin suits and ties in private, they do not fly commercial, have
purchased the finest properties in the East of Caracas and their kids go to the
best schools. How do you carry out a revolution like that.

The answer
is you don’t. These guys are the revolution’s worst enemies. They no longer want
change, they want to preserve their new status quo, they have become the new
and rich oligarchy.

That is
why we need to get rid of them on Dec. 3d. Unfortunately many of them agree
with us too, as they see a triumph by the opposition as the only guarantee that
they will continue to enjoy their ill gotten wealth. They fear there may be a
revolution after all if Chavez wins and they will have to make some sacrifices for it.

They are
the new Bolivarian oligarchs!

Floweirng picking up at the wrong time

November 12, 2006

It has certainly been a strange flowering season, just when things are supposed to slow down, flowering picks up and the plants that I had thought were going to skip flowering are doing it. I could blame the weather or my massive repotting in late July August, but I will never know. In any case, here are six plants, five species and yes, I do own some hybrids, not too many but here is one.

Top left: Blc. Mroning Glory. I usually don’t pick up hybrids but the lip of this flower was stunning. On the right one of my better Cattleya Walkeriana From Brazil.


Top left, this is Cat. Lueddemaniana Clint Mc Dade x Raga, the plant had two flowers but they were both tangled so the sepals were twisted like this flower is on the left. I love the yellow tint in this plant. On the right a ver y nice Cattleya Percivaliana from Venezuela, this is the “Gabriela” vairiety.


On the top left a Laelia Anceps from Mexico and Central America, this is a nice flower, note the flaring, a little small because this plant had almost all of its roots in the air. I repotted it today. On the right Encyclia Cochleata, a very weird looking flower found in many parts of South America.

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