Archive for June, 2008

US Treasury Department ties Venezuelan diplomat to Hezbollah

June 18, 2008

Today the US Treasury
Department identified
two Venezuelan citizens as Hezbollah supporters,
identifying their names, businesses and activities, accusing them of providing
support for the terrorist organization and making fundraising efforts in behalf
of that organization in Venezuela.

The charge are not new, exiled reported Patricia Poleo made
similar
charges with even more details last week in her column in Nuevo
Pais. Poleo gave names of people who come to Venezuela to train Venezuelans as
well as Venezuelans who travel to Lebanon to train in guerrilla warfare. Poleo
also linked one of the men designated by the Department of the Treasury as
being linked to badass Chacin’s Vice-Minister Tarek el Ayssami.

The Treasury Department froze the assets of the two
Venezuelans. One of which is actually a new era diplomat for our country, who
was in charge of the Venezuelan office in Syria and is now at the country’s
Embassy in Lebanon. As I noted a few days ago, it was the new Minister of
Finance Ali Rodriguez who took charge of destroying the country’s diplomatic
service, replacing professionals with only supporters of the revolution with no
qualifications.

I am sure that tomorrow we will have Minister of Foreign Relations
Maduro call this another attack on Venezuela and the usual empty garbage the
thugs spew out when they are caught red handed, but I wonder whether Maduro
will address such issues as:

—The Venezuelan diplomat Ghasi Nasr al Din is also known
by eleven different names in the best tradition of badass Rodriguez Chacin. Maybe
we can learn who was in charge when this guy was nationalized Venezuelan or how
many ID cards, names and the like he has.

—The other character in this plot, Fawzi Kan’an is known
by about seven other names, with a variety of birthdates and birthplaces. Maybe
his ID number is fake, as the number is simply too low for someone who claims
to have acquired the Venezuelan nationality in 1997. Maybe Maduro can also
enlighten us on this. Kan’an or whatever his name is also accused of funneling
money to Hezbollah, as well as setting up its office and community center in
Venezuela.

Of course, in a Government with no accountability or checks
and balances, all we will get are denials by the same thugs and hoodlums that
we have by now all gotten accustomed to.

In any serious country there would be at least an investigation,
but in “revolutionary” Venezuela, impunity rules if you are a friend of the
process.

Remember suitcases full of cash? Remember sugar concerns in
Barinas? Remember structured notes?

Thugs and hoodlums run and rule in Venezuela!

Venezuela is being run by irresponsible, miserable hoodlums

June 18, 2008

While there has never been any doubt that Minister of
Interior and Justice Rodriguez Chacin is the closest thing to a hoodlum and a
public gangster that there is in Venezuela, his irresponsible behavior either
shows that the man is close to an intellectual retard or he thinks we are.

During his various tenures as Minister, Rodriguez Chacin has
assumed multiple identities, used them for personal enrichment, allowed FARC
leaders to come to Venezuela legally, nationalizing them and even allowing them
to vote, as he has flirted with the worst elements of the FARC, who impressed
with his personal destructive qualities and inhuman nature, labeled him a badass.

But he is much more than a badass, he is simply an
irresponsible bastard, who has no respect for human rights and who does not
assume the responsibility he has to share in the failure of the Hugo Chavez
Government to stop the growth of crime and homicides during the last ten years.

Because it has been ten years since Hugo Chavez got to power
and for nine of them Hugo Chavez did not even acknowledge the crime was even
close to a problem. He can ignore that the homicide rate had tripled in those
nine years, he can ignore that he had promised to fight crime when he was a
candidate in 1998, he can ignore that more Venezuelans have died in the last
ten years than Iraqis in the war in Iraq, he can ignore ten years of absolute
disregard for the human rights of Venezuelans, but neither Hugo Chavez neither
his Minister of Interior and Justice can ignore their responsibility for the
pain, the sorrow and the sadness that with their negligence they bring to so
many Venezuelan homes everyday.

But rather than accept that responsibility, like so many
other failures of the empty Chavez revolution, instead Rodriguez Chacin shows
what a miserable human being and “leader” he is when he begins classifying
crime as relative, telling us last week that weekly deaths in Caracas were down
to zero, but backtracking this week and acknowledging that there are 40 deaths
per week in this city, absurd for a city of five million. But then he shows he
is a man to be despised when
he states
that deaths between gangs are not part of citizen safety¨ and that
“crimes of passion” are
also second-class homicides
, not worth his time or his tears.

What´s next? Dismissing crimes against old people? Or opposition members?

Give him one more week and this misery of a man maybe will tell
us that stray bullets should also be ignored when compiling crime statistics
and well, I guess suicides are also not his responsibility and cab and bus
drivers are also asking for it by driving late at night trying to make a
living. This is a socialist society after all…

Because it has been ten years of total irresponsibility
where all problems, whether inflation, shortages, crime, garbage, unemployment,
kids in the streets, poverty and the like, are always the responsibility of
some long forgotten Governments or people, who nobody remembers or cares for
any more. People who had many faults, but at least there was respect for human
rights and the law and while there was corruption, it was kept in check by the
rightful institutions, which have been destroyed by Chavismo to protect their
stupid project.

Remarkably, Chavez, who claims to care so much for the
people, not only brought back this man that should be in jail for stealing and
killing fellow citizens, but keeps him in his all powerful position even if he
legislates at will on his shadow the most absurd bill to control the population, while
creating his own “badass” hierarchy of crimes.

But “badass” Chacin is in the end just a poor soul who
through his friendship with Hugo Chavez has managed to impose his non-existent
system of values and his disregard for human life and rights on all
Venezuelans. Who has managed to reach dozens of levels above his Peter
principle, where death is irrelevant, human rights just a vague concept and
playing at being soldier and guerrillas and being a tough guy, are more important
than assuming the responsibility of running and managing his Ministry or upholding the laws of the country.

The fact that this irresponsible Minister remains in charge
today, is simply another sign of the tragedy that the Chavez Government has
become for our beleaguered country.

And Chavez and him are responsible for the deaths of close to one hundred thousand Venezuelans in ten years.

A record for the type of miserable, irresponsible hoodlums they represent…

As Chavez rolls over them with his new pragmatism, people feeling optimistic

June 16, 2008

One of the benefits of the controversy and the abrogation of
the intelligence Bill is that Chavez seems to have gone on the defensive,
concerned about any possible reaction by the opposition and/or students that
his Government’s actions may have.

Which actually puts him in a difficult position, as the end
of the Enabling Bill is coming soon and Chavez was supposed to take advantage
of his special powers to legislate by decree and put a framework to his “XXIst.
Century Socialism”. Except that
project seems to have been diverted by Minister of Planning El Troudi, combined
by Chavez’ dwindling popularity.

El Troudi’s theory seems to be that the Government needs the
private sector (duhh!) as investment has reached ridiculously low levels for
the private sector, while Chavez spends too much money on imports and current
expenses and no real investment takes place. Thus, despite high oil prices, the
economy is actually cooling off under the effect of inflation, high interest
rates and the surprisingly low Government spending in the first five months of
the year.

But even if cooling off is what Chavez needs, the question is
whether he can afford to pass up the opportunity to legislate on important
economic matters before the July Enabling Bill deadline. Reportedly, there was a new Commercial Code ready
to replace the one that has been around for over a century and a half, and
people expected it to redefine property and to have elements in it that would
force the private sector to “integrate” more with the public one, whatever that
may mean.

This is no longer expected because it may raise an outcry,
but I find it very hard to believe that this is the case. As witnessed by the
nomination yesterday of Ali Rodriguez to be Minister of Finance, Chavez has not
changed one bit, he just has had these lapses of trying to convince people he
is a good guy, while he plots how he will manage to implant his vague
revolution on our country.

People are so complacent these days in Venezuela that I
actually heard people call Ali Rodriguez a pragmatist a couple of times today.
That is how much Chavez and his cronies can abuse Venezuelans without them
realizing what a masochistic bunch they have become. This “pragmatist” was
responsible for the firing of 20,000 PDVSA workers, whose severance and
pensions, whether voluntary or not, were simply confiscated, as he destroyed
Venezuela’s oil science and technology center, sending hundreds of the most
competent engineers and scientists to work for the competition everywhere else
in the world. And once Ali Rodriguez was done with this “pragmatic” solution,
he went to the Ministry of Foreign Relations where he repeated his act,
except that he just recalled any diplomat not with the process and has kept
them in a room doing nothing for the last three years. Of course, this requires
naming former military and loyal supporters to diplomatic positions, also
destroying the Venezuelan Foreign Service in the process. Costly? You bet, but for Rodriguez, the ends justifies the means.

Let’s see what his pragmatism does in Finance this time around!

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Supreme Court “approves” the decree
that will allow the Government to take over the cement industry. Nobody knows
what this means, whether the Government will bypass the capital markets laws that
says there has to be a tender for these companies. Who cares? I bet nobody
complains if they do, much like the Government gets away with mosth of what it
does and says.

Somehow, it just seems as if people are immune to the fact
that the Government is taking advantage of them, bypassing the laws and the Constitution
so that Hugo Chavez can push his undefined program and revolution.

Opposition candidates are not only banned from running, but
the Chavez appointed and controlled Comptroller seems to come out daily to
defend this gigantic abuse of power, which is being ratified by the same
Electoral Board that has failed to finish counting the votes from the December
referendum. But of course, we are supposed to trust these same guys to count
the more easily manipulated results from the November regional elections.

Sure, just look at
this graph in esdata
and tell me you really trust them.

But those are the guys that will count the votes in November
and that is the Court that will decide controversies if there are any.

But somehow, people are optimistic and I am not sure about
what…

An old, new and radical face is named to the Ministry of Finance

June 15, 2008

Well, despite the new, new Chavez attempt, today the President named
his new Minister of Finance, proving that little has changed. Chavez
named Ali Rodriguez Araque, whose only qualification for the position
is his total and absolute loyalty to Chavez and his revolutionary
credentials. At a time that Venezuela needs more than ever someone with
knowledge of macroeconomics, Chavez names a lawyer, a former guerrilla
fighter who was still in the mountains when there was no armed fight in
Venezuela in 1963.

Rodriguez Araque, who is a lawyer, became a Deputy of the old Congress
in the 90’s, where he specialized in oil Law. He has served as Minister
of Energy, President of PDVSA (where he presided over the firing of
20,000 people and beagn the destruction of the country’s oil industry)
and was Foreign Minister. When he got sick, he was named Ambassador of
Venezuela to Cuba.

About the only good thing I can say for him is that he will not
participate in the corruption of the sale of bonds and notes to those
friendly to the Government as he has no interest in getting rich. Thus,
I expect the sale of bonds and structured notes to the banks to stop,
which will make the swap rate go up for a while until he can figure out
a different way of selling dollars into the parallel market. The
nomination is unfortunate, as inflation continues to roar ahead and
distortions are being sustained only by the high oil prices. Rodriguez
Araque does not have the knowledge to manage the country’s economy at a
time that it requires strong measures.

So much for “change”. Rodriguez Araque is as radical, conniving and left-wing as they get.He will be there plotting from day one and his ignorance on economi matters is bad news for Venezuela.

Mostly species, taken in full sun light

June 15, 2008

Today I decided to try to take the pictures of my orchids in full sun. Results are cool, hope you like them.

On the left, a nice Laelia Tenebrosa from Brazil, I love the contrast betweem the Lip and the sepals and petals. On the right my faithful Cattleya Aclandiae.

On the left another nice Laelia Purpurata from Brazil. On the right, Schomburgkia Thomsoniana from from the Cayman Islands.

On the left a nice blue Cattleya Walkeriana from Brazil, on the right, an Equitant Oncidium hybrid.

Review of the Hugo Chavez system, Version 6.0 beta

June 13, 2008

This week we saw the completion
of the introduction of Hugo Chavez 6.0 a more user friendly, gentler beta
version of the well-known Hugo Chavez system. The new version is, like all
previous even numbered versions, an attempt to remove some of the
confrontational issues of the odd numbered versions. However, as all other
previous even versions, this one is likely to be short-lived and replaced by a
more robust and intransigent version.

The biggest change in the new
version is that it is not FARC friendly. All previous support of belligerence
and armed revolt has been eliminated and support is only available for total
surrender in exchange for very little. The new version is not only not FARC
friendly, but it is attempting to remove all FARC hostages at the same time, an
incredible twist given the previous versions required swapping of hostages on a
one to one basis with a hierarchy of demands.

We found the private sector
friendly part of the system quite buggy and it seems as if it was rushed to
market. In fact, the system seems to be discriminating between local and
foreign private sectors. On trials on Tuesday and Wednesday the system gave
responses that were far from robust and consistent. On Tuesday, the foreign
private sector was not accepted on input, while on Wednesday there were
repeated requests for foreign investment input.

While the system attempts to
remove some of the rough edges of previous versions, we found it to be
difficult to interact with. First of all, there appeared to be little to
interact with beyond the more friendly user interface, but little at the core of the system. After using the
interface for hours, there seemed to be little behind it except from very
simple operations like the elimination of the financial transaction tax and
some minor reductions in transfer times for the foreign exchange conversion
system, which in the end is a simple eight-byte system with no sophistication.

The interface of the system with
the opposition has turned out to be quite unstable and buggy. The system appears
to separate private sector from opposition, ignoring the large overlap between
the two. Moreover, it seems to be quite incompatible with PSUV sectors, which
find the new version to be too conservative and unstable for their taste. PSUV
users have found too many conflicts with the new version and have decided not
to switch to the new version and even change brands, This would create two sectors of users which HG
Inc. is not willing to support as the systems will not be made backwards
compatible as in previous versions.

New users who appeared to be
switching to Hugo Chavez 6.0 on Wednesday night, found the system jokes
offensive and cynical and expressed doubts that they will really switch at the
end even if they were offered half of the US$ 1 billion joint venture fund in
order to change systems.

Those that have performed
extensive testing of the system, found that the use of the same old quirky
eight-byte CPU Chavez unit limits the possibilities of success of the system,
which they found to be limited, unstable and containing both numeric and
alphanumeric inconsistencies.

The new Chavez 6.0 system also
suffers from limited networking compatibility, and seems to be able to connect
only to the same peripherals that have been part of the Chavez system for the last
ten years.

In our testing, we found the Hugo
Chavez 6.0 system to be too unstable to last and expect a new more traditional
version to surface in the next few months more in line with the previous long
lasting, odd numbered versions in which all of the user friendly, gentle features
are once again removed.

We do not recommend the Hugo
Chavez 6.0 system for either corporate, personal, sovereign or revolutionary use. We suggest users await
for the new version and once again get used to it however quirky, difficult to deal with and disgusting
it may be. Prospective profits and gifts may be the same under all systems, thus switching represents no real advantage for those just seeking profits. There seems to be no alternatives out there at this time with a
chance of replacing any of the current active versions of the Hugo Chavez
system in any case.

A little late, but the Devil much easier to find now!

June 11, 2008

When I started this blog almost six years ago, I was not sure where this was going to go, sort of assumed most of the readers would get here via salon.com and never gave much thought to getting the domain names. In fact, I remember even thinking that nobody would ever want to type something like http://www.devilexcrement.com to get to my blog anyway.

Over the years, people have asked and I really never thought much about it. Then last week, while traveling I thought of checking if the names were available or someone had kidnapped them to hold them for ransom. But lo and behold there they were, available for purchase. So, a little late, but almost at blazing Internet speed, starting today you no longer have to google “excrement” to find me (I am at #4 after Wikipedia and dictionaries), but can simply click it in there at devilexcrement and devilsexcrement just in case you try it with or without an “s”.

Thanks to the bro for his help.

Chavez truly bizarre as he perfomers triple summersault on Intelligence Bill and goes into one of his “loving the people” moods

June 10, 2008

Today, President Hugo Chavez performed a triple summersault, reversing:
–All of the intelligence Bill, rather than certain parts as he said he would do last Sunday, abrogating the whole thing.
–Giving up his ability to reissue it under the Enabling Bill, which expires soon
–Sending
the Bill to a National Assembly that after almost a year and a half may
not remember how to legislate under the new Constitution.
A
truly remarkable turnaround, another one in what is now a long string
of flip-flops in a very short time, which makes everyone wonder what is
going on in the autocrats mind.
The whole
thing was actually quite bizarre, maybe confirming that Chavez is
letting others run the country and he has become hands off on the
details. Among other things Chavez said:
“They
(??) introduced some articles. This was like when I introduced the
Constitutional reform. They (??) introduced I don’t know how many more
articles and each of them (??) came with one idea, introduce that
there. And if one (?) is not careful, letter by letter, article by
article, then maybe things get complicated. They can get complicated”
“Here
they (??) introduced something, this, these articles, like 20 for
example, about the legality of proof.It is inconvenient. Not only is it
inconvenient, it is truly contrary to the spirit that moves us. It goes
against the Constitution, I have no doubt in saying it”
He
continued by criticizing article 16, “This article 16 is the most
disastrous, this is a disaster. Now I guarantee this, as long as I am
here this article will not be fulfilled. It can’t be. That is why the
decision I take today is to abrogate the whole thing…”
What
Chavez never clarified was where the Cabinet’s Attorney (Procurador)
was in all this, who “introduced” these disasters in the Bill and
whether he read it article by article or at all before it was signed
into a Bill. And by the way, didn’t anyone send the proposed Bill to
any member of the Supreme Court for revision before it was signed? 
After ten years, Chavez has yet to learn even the most basic principles of how to run a Government…
In closing on the subject, Chavez said that his Government “does not persecute nor will it persecute anyone”.
Which is very funny, given that today this order by the Bank Superintendent was leaked:
in
which a Military Court asks the banking system to provide any
information on any account that former Chavez buddy and confidant General Raul
Baduel may have at their institutions. Funny how Baduel, now that he
has become a member of the “opposition” is being persecuted by a
Government that does not want to persecute.
Or maybe,
just maybe, someone “introduced” that investigation into the Court, or
the Court was “fooled” into investigating Baduel, who up to a year ago,
was basically untouchable. Because either Chavez is lying or nobody is really in charge of his Government. 
Or perhaps, Chavez
does not know (yet?) that his Comptroller has blacklisted 400 politicians from
running in the regional elections in violation of the Constitution.
Eighty percent of them happen to be opposition, a remarkable number given that
85% of the regional positions are occupied by pro-Chavez politicians.
But
if you think this is all bizarre, Chavez then called on the Venezuelan
private sector, formerly known as the hateful “oligarchs”, to invest and create
strategic alliances with the Government that has persecuted,
nationalized and harassed them. In this new, new, new version of Hugo
Chavez, it is now the “foreign oligarchs” who are the enemy, who come here
only for profit and to take away the money of Venezuelans.
He
could almost fool me, but who can forget Chavez’ infamous “love”
campaign in the 2006 Presidential campaign, which lasted about a week
and a half before his customary aggressive verbosity returned. 
I’s
just more of the same, we have seen this Chavez movie before, he is
trying to change because he is in trouble, but he is doing it too
early, he will return to true autocratic form soon enough for all to see and some foreign fool will come to the comments section to tell us what a democrat this guys really is.

Sure…

Tales from the Fascist Revolutionary Crypt

June 9, 2008

Remember the Venezuelan National Guardsman captured in Colombia with 40,000 bullets for the FARC’s AK-47 rifles?

The same one that General Fredys Alonso, Commander of the Venezuelan National Guard said “When
we received the information, we immediately began to inquire and I can
say with all propriety that there does not exist neither in the
payroll, nor in the ranks of the National Guard an active or retired
member with the name Manuel Agudo Escalona”
Remember
that? It was all another charade by the hateful and lying Colombian
authorities to make Venezuela and its Government look bad, much like
the Reyes fake computer information.
Well, we
had another flip-flop today on Sergeant  Agudo Escalona. You see,
General Alonso’s exhaustive search within his own ranks, active and
retired, failed to turn up not a soldier, but a sergeant, who was
indeed caught in Colombia, but here is where the two stories diverge,
as told by Badass Rodriguez Chacin in a press conference. 
It
turns out that the honorable Sergeant Agudo Escalona was simply set up
by the Colombian authorities. He was offered to accompany someone
across the border, in order to smuggle some 500 million Bolivars (US$
200,000) across the border, for which he was offered payment.
The
Sergeant was asked to please wear his uniform to make the whole thing
more effective I guess. He the boarded a boat with the money (He did
not mention how many suitcases it takes to pack Bs. 500 million) and
three people who were unknown to him introduced three boxes in the boat
with the ammunition. At that point a commission from the Colombian Army
showed up and detained him in what was clearly a trap to catch this
Sergeant in an illegal activity different than the one he thought he
was carrying out. 
Of course, there is no
explanation as to why he pleaded guilty on Saturday if he was so
trapped. And we are to believe a man who the FARC called a “true
badass” when he tels us this story about poor Sergeant Agudo, who by
the way was being paid some US$ 40,000 to accompany the money across
the border.
Nice work if you can get it, nice tale if you believe it. 
But
after so many tales, contradictions and flip-flops, does Badass really
expect us to believe this new tale from the fascist revolutionary crypt?

Chavez flip-flops again as he asks the FARC to release all hostages and give up their armed fight

June 9, 2008

In yet another flip-flop and about face in policy, Hugo Chavez called
today for the FARC guerrillas to give up their fight after forty years
of death and destruction in Colombia. Chavez’ statement represent a
remarkable shift in policy by  the Venezuelan President who enraged
many in the region, including Colombia’s Government, by asking last
Fall that the FARC be recognized as a “legitimate insurgent force”.
Moreover, the Venezuelan President called on the FARC to give up all of
the hostages in their hands in exchange for…

Nothing.

After months of trying to negotiate that the Colombian Government clear
an area of that country for the rebels in exchange for a handful of
hostages.

This represents a remarkable about face which closes Chavez’ attempt to
get recognition by negotiating with the FARC the release of the
hostages, which in the end turned out to be not only a gigantic
failure, but seems to have been used by the Colombian Government to
track down and destroy the main leaders of the guerilla movement, as
barely three of the hostages have been released and Ingrid Betancourt
remains in captivity.

For Chavez it is a risky call, likely driven by the content of Reyes’
computer. Risky, because the FARC seems to be in disarray and it is
likely that it will be difficult to achieve a consensus on Chavez’
request. But he could come out of all this smelling better if
Betancourt is finally liberated.

Chavez involved himself in the FARC/hostage negotiations thinking that
it may lead to the Nobel Peace Prize, but he underestimated Uribe’s
understanding of the FARC and his determination to destroy the group.
Meanwhile, the FARC has always had a convergent but parallel agenda to
Chavez and never trusted him completely instead using him for their own
purposes. This led to many failures and few rewards for Chavez as Uribe
stood back and used the extra noise surrounding Chavez’ negotiations to
track down the FARC leaders.

The flip flop represents the fourth one in one week, as Chavez seems to
be using polls and Reyes’ computers to redefine himself in surprising
fashion. As Pedro Mario Burelli said, Chavez seems to be running away
at full speed from Hugo Chavez in a sign that he is worried about his
standing, both nationally and internationally.

Internationally, it is hard to believe that the information in Reyes
computer will not come out to tell us the true story of Chavez’ tight
realtionship with the FARC. Nationally, it may hold back Chavez in
terms of what Bills he may enact under the umbrella of the Enabling
Bill that expires in mid July. Most likely, Chavez will look for the
National Assembly to extend that Law, so that he can use it to push his personal political project after the November elections.

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