Thinking aloud about Venezuela’s uncertain future

July 4, 2011

In my mind, Venezuela’s future has turned quite uncertain. If it was so before, imagine now when so many demons must be waking up in the face of the possibility of  a future with no Hugo Chavez or a weakened Hugo Chavez.

While we do not know the details about Chavez’ illness, it is clear that he has undergone major surgery. If one believes what is being said, then he had tumors removed and he will require chemotherapy. Survival rates can be good, depending on the stage of the cancer, if he truly has a Duke D or stage 4 cancer, the prognosis could be quite grim.

But since we don’t know, we cannot assume one scenario or the other, we have to look at all of them and in my mind the lead to a very uncertain future, not matter which fork in the road we take. Even worse, the most likely scenarios in my mind, can be those that lead to the most instability and turbulence in the short and medium term.

To understand the options that I envision, one has to consider who has the most to lose from the demise of the Bolivarian Revolution and thus who will the utmost to avoid such a scenario even in the absence of the all mighty leader. Without giving detailed names, these are the three groups affected the most and in this particular order:

1- The Cuban hierarchy: Not only do they lose the Venezuelan money and oil pipeline, but they also lose their only option were they to lose power after Fidel’s passing

2- The Venezuelan Military:No group has benefited the most from the robolution than this one. The high ranking military officers are up to their ears in corruption and drugs. The revolution’s demise will uncover many details about this and they will have to run, but their options are limited.

3-The leaders of PSUV and Chavez’ close associates.

This hierarchy is simply scary, because at the same time if one were to rank the power, I would say the order is likely to be 2-, 1- and 3-, as Chavez has made sure none of those in 3- acquire much power, the military has the weapons and the Cubans have the trained personnel to outsmart and outgun Venezuelans with their local intelligence.

This all makes for an explosive and volatile future.

There are three paths in my mind:

1) Chavez does not survive until December 2012

2) Chavez survives until December 2012, but decides not to be a candidate for the good and survival of the revolution

3) Chavez is the candidate and manages to survive until 2012 (There is also the possibility that he is the candidate, but does not survive. In my mind this will have an outcome like 1) above)

To me 1) is the worst possible outcome today. If Chavez did not survive until the elections are held, I feel that the combination of the top two groups above and even the third one, will lead to a break in the Constitutional order. My bet is the military are the ones to do it. Simply grab power in order to insure that the details of everything they have done been doing the last few years does not surface, but also, that they can continue doing what they have been doing.

Many outside Venezuela think this scenario is unlikely. They believe that these groups would not dare because of the outcry of the international community, Venezuela would become an outlaw state, etc.

Sorry…

These people have lost all semblance of having any scruples, ethics and/or morality. They will not even stop to think about the international reaction, they will just grab for power. Who? Those on top, the top leaders of the military hierarchy whenever and if this scenario develops.

This is, of course, the worst possible outcome for Venezuela, but in some perverse sense, it is also the best one long term. Because even though this may be the most unstable, chaotic outcome, it will be unstable within itself and the internal turmoil is likely to lead to the collapse of the new regime, discrediting those that side with it and allowing for the cleansing and restructuring of the military and also facilitating the turning back of many of the structures put in place by Chavez and his Bolivarian revolution.

The second scenario of Chavez  surviving until December 2012 is also full of peril, because it depends specifically on the details of how we get there.

Suppose Chavez decides he can’t run. He would have to choose a candidate among his close collaborators. Unfortunately for him, he has always removed those that gain popularity around him. In my mind there are also three groups he could choose from:

1) Someone close to him, loyal, with little general support like the Vice-President Elias Jaua or his brother Adan. None of them would receive the wholehearted support of the military or the party, they both make terrible candidates, particularly Adan, who has cared little for others, he was simply “the President’s brother”, so why would he have to play politics? They would have Cuban support, but no military support. If Chavez named them candidates and he did not make it to the elections, the final outcome would not be much different than the one in which Chavez has no time to decide on a candidate, expect then a break in the Constitutional order.

2) Someone not as close to him, maybe Diosdado or Jose Vicente Rangel, who would be able to balance out the military, the party and get the support of the Cubans. The problem is that neither of the two mention or others is very charismatic and/or has ever been able to carry out a good campaign. Diosdado, in particular, was trounced by Henrique Capriles in the Miranda race, a clear indication of his inadequacy as a candidate. Jose Vicente was always a loser in his younger days.

3) Someone more “of the party” like Nicolas Maduro, who has worked the politics in the past and has wider appeal within the various Chavista factions. Someone like him might be able to keep all groups at bay better, but much like most opposition candidates, it is unclear whether they can win  a national campaign.

Finally, suppose Chavez decides to be the candidate even if he knows he is not in great shape to do it. This, in the end, is the best scenario. Chavez runs a softer campaign, gets to the election and there is an electoral transition or he wins. In either of these two outcomes there will be order, it is more likely to be respected. Of course, a sick Chavez is no longer the formidable candidate he used to be. This opens a huge hole for the opposition, which now has a true chance of unseating Chavismo from power.

Of course, the opposition has to stay united, ignore Chavez’ illness as much as possible, continue to attack the lack of accomplishments by the revolution and insure that those votes are properly counted.

My feeling, the most probable outcome at this time, is that what Chavez has is quite serious, that he may not last until the election and we face uncertain times ahead, but Chavez’ cancer may prove me wrong, like all cancers do. His return today suggests that he felt his presence in Caracas was needed to deal with the different groups and perhaps to start making changes like in the Vice-Presidency.

The information I have continues to be that what Chavez has is quite serious, very serious, but you never know, so my “feeling” may be wrong to begin with. The rest, we will have to wait to see how it plays out.

148 Responses to “Thinking aloud about Venezuela’s uncertain future”

  1. bruni Says:

    I wrote yesterday a post with the same conclusions, before knowing of Chávez’s come back.

    http://cuentosintrascendentes.blogspot.com/2011/07/el-peligro-de-la-enfermedad-de-chavez.html

  2. island canuck Says:

    “…the opposition has to stay united, ignore Chavez’ illness as much as possible,…”

    That’s the key. Just keep going as if there were no illness. Assume that he will be well. Attack him on his record. Just keep pushing. It’s the only logical way. This prevents any PSUV trickery from having any effect.

    • LD Says:

      I think this is mandatory, with cancer you don’t have any certainty except in the worst case (and that appears not to be the case here). You only have probabilities. It’s like tossing a coin.

      • Zumbao Says:

        Or even better, attack the underlings and hold them responsible for the fracas. That way pointing out the shortcomings of any possible successor.

  3. firepigette Says:

    Miguel, I think your analysis is excellent.

    However i know that uncertainty is the best thing was can have because it is only through uncertainty that new possibilities can arise.

    I also have the feeling that Chavez has something very grave, just based on my intuition.How this plays out, I am unsure.

    How will the military react in certain circumstances? That is a good question.I think all bets are on here.

  4. maria gonzalez Says:

    I think Chaves came back because has MO said he felt that his presence in the country was need it …this is to demonstrate to his followers that he is OK? To stop the pissing contest among the boliburgeses?

    But also I think with this visit to Vnzla he will gain time and avoid to follow the Constitution. I am sure that he will be back to Cuba very soon if he needs a very controlled treatment. However, now he can re-start the clock about leaving the country and do not name anybody as his substitute…. this is an indication that things are not well among the rojos, rojitos.

    • Carolina Says:

      It sounds kind of funny when you say “this VISIT to Vnzla”.

      He should stay and follow his treatment here, like many venezuelan cancer patients that don’t have any other options, and to demonstrate how much he has improved our health care system.

      Oh wait, that just hasn’t happened!

      Shouldn’t the MUD be pointing that out?

      • maria gonzalez Says:

        Well maybe he will stay but I will not be surprise that he will be gone again…just remember what Cilia said “the best doctors in the world are in Cuba”

        • Carolina Says:

          I am with you on that one, I think he will go back and forth from Cuba.

          It is very sad though, it tells so much about his trust in the system he mouthfuls about creating and giving to his pueblo.

          Sadder, nobody really seems to point that obvious thing out. Am I missing something?

          • OA2 Says:

            My guess is that when he gets uncomfortably close to joining Señor Bolivar in revolutionary heaven, Chavez will head to Spain or even Miami for a last ditch effort to save his corporeal packaging. Any takers on that bet? I hope to God he makes it to elections and is voted out. Venezuela desperately needs some institutional order.


  5. [...] on replacing the vice president, but rest assured that the internal power struggle in Chavismo is going on, as Chavez is expected to name an heir [...]

  6. Pygmalion Says:

    The last paragraph of the post and analysis proves that you are already backpeddaling after publishing despicable and disrespectful posts for the last two weeks.

    It does not matter what political color you are, you went too far against another human being. That’s a fact. You have no courage of your convictions. What a tragedy for a person who is around 60 years old.

    • CarlosElio Says:

      What’s the problem with Pygmalion? MO posts a pretty good article about the uncertainty in the cauldron of Venezuela’s politics, one that offers to the reader ample room for insightful contributions and this sad character charges against the author! If anyone needs a graphic depiction of human misery, save MO’s original posts and Pygmalion’s answer to it. Show it to your students when discussing the low lands of the human landscape.

    • jau Says:

      “…you went too far against another human being. That’s a fact…”

      Whoa Pyg what have you been smoking? MO is writting about a public persons health, he is not torturing or killing him. I know that he is talking about your male crush master and commander but your comment is just ridiculous. Be a serious troll buddy!

      • maria gonzalez Says:

        …and you wait for two weeks to let us know your opinion? If the government had provided consistent and real information about the health of the most public figure in Venezuela in the last 13 years maybe we will be here discussing the future of a whole country pending on the health of only one individual.

        • NicaCat56 Says:

          Really? Pyg? Is this the best that you can come up with? So, tell us: what does MO’s age have ANYTHING at all to do with what he posted? Also, what was “despicable and disrespectful” about WHAT he posted? Oh, oh, oh: I have the answer: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!! Just because you’re an idiot doesn’t make him guilty of ANY of your stupid and ridiculous accusations. Idiot….

          • Pyg Says:

            Thanks for the insults. But if you cannot see how repugnant the speculation is then you need to revise your values – if you have any to revise. It’s not a question of political affiliation – it is respect for other human being WHICH YOU ALL LACK but are too blind to see. May God have mercy on you.

    • HalfEmpty Says:

      Be assured the tumbrels are still on the move. Listen to the sqeek Pygmalion, listen to it….. closer now.

    • loroferoz Says:

      The actions are God’s, so to speak. Hugo’s misfortune is only his, and partly of his own making.

      Why should we respect Chavez? He does not respect Venezuelans, in any of their rights. He insults anyone that will not kneel to him and wishes them worse. Franklin Brito, Cardinal Velasco, and many others who suffered and died while chavismo laughed / made tasteless jokes.

      Why should our hearts bleed over a tyrant with totalitarian intentions? His misfortune is only his (and his cronies’), and it’s a stroke of fortune that he will not be able to continue doing that.

      No such things in here.

      We have confidence in our convictions. They are for real, and don’t hang on the fate of one man.

    • Roy Says:

      Really? More despicable and disrespectful than the president of a nation keeping the citizens completely in the dark about his personal health crisis for a month? Respect is a two-way street. How much respect should one have for someone who refers to his democratic political opponents as “los esqualidos” and worse?

      I could go on… but what’s the point? Pyg won’t “get it” anyway.

    • deananash Says:

      You, my dear pygmy, are a joke – albeit well-named. Miguel’s posts have been above board, frank and honest. That’s three for three. The government isn’t even one for three.

  7. island canuck Says:

    Ignore the troll.
    I have a suspicion that Pyg is Arturo (see the Caracas Chronicles blog).

  8. moctavio Says:

    I dont know what you read there, but I can show the same compassion (or contempt) for Chavez than he has showed for Venezuelans for the last twelve years. Afiuni, Somonovitch and Pena Esclusa have cancer too, they are not even allowed to even receive treatment. Humas Rights have been violated over and over.

    So, BITE ME!

    • Pygmalion Says:

      I have no wish to argue with you Miguel. The fact that you consider that Chávez is a monster and that human rights are being violated (which is very debatable) does not mean that you have to act in the same way towards Chavez and them justify it. Think about your stance. It’s incomprehensible and just a disguise for your own evil wishes and intentions which can be read between the lines of your posts. You are little better than Rafael Poleo. Shame on you!

      • moctavio Says:

        Debate? You are joking, you never debate, you only pontificate.

        Do you think I really care about your stupid opinion?

        Again, bite me, you are false, lying, gutless and hateful. If you cant see beyond your nose and use your brain, I can care less. And again, I am using the same compassion, you never answer, what compassion did Chavez have for cancer patients, specifics and general? As for human rights, you would not recognize one if you saw one.

        He is a hateful destroyer, fanatic and a liar, just like you.

      • ElsaLario Says:

        Well, you are truly a fascist fanatic if you think human rights violations are debatable under Chavez.

      • loroferoz Says:

        We don’t consider him a monster. Just a hateful, painfully deluded nincompoop.

        If Venezuela had not abandoned sanity, such a moron would never had been elected dogcatcher.

        Unfortunately, he and a bunch of smarter crooks (including Fidel Castro) have set themselves up to despoil Venezuela, and have become so power-mad, that we have to consider scenarios based on his now ill health’s evolution, trying to see the least bloody way out for Venezuela.

        Blame it on the Hugo the dumb bastard that his ailing health and the fate of Venezuela are matters of related speculation.

        We don’t consider you a monster either, Pygmalion…

    • Carolina Says:

      Without going too far, how about the cancer patients in Venezuela that can’t find the medicament for their treatments and can’t afford to go to Cuba or anywhere else for that matter?

  9. m_astera Says:

    Pygmalion-

    Despicable and disrespectful. What perfect adjectives to describe a loudmouth liar and cheater, who has never shown any respect for the law or the good of Venezuela. Surely you don’t think a person like that can expect to be treated better than they treat others?

    I also note that your hero has not yet bothered to tell the Venezuelan people the truth about his condition; is that respectful, or is that despicable?

    Thugs and liars deserve no better than the very worst way they have treated others. What would that be?

    • OA2 Says:

      Although I’m sure you are unreachable by pointing out your hypocrisy Michael, i will: your homophobic comments degrading a minimum of 10% of the human population are pretty despicable and disrespectful. What should we wish on you? That you be treated better? Or should thuggish homophobes be treated no better than the worst way they (you) have treated others? Just sayin’…

  10. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Disrespectful? Hugo Chavez is the very definition of vulgar.

    Second, I think an important aspect was overlooked in the above analysis. When people are constantly told that their road to happiness hangs on the words and actions of one man (one party), and that one man becomes weak or disabled, self survival among the governed suddenly takes hold. If you thought that the Venezualan economy performed poorly in the past, with little incentive and rampant corruption, watch and see what happens with a weakened leader and/or party. The economy will go from bad to worse,….much worse. Nobody will care. The country’s infrastructure will break down. Rolling blackouts? Watch what happens now. Accidents at the important oil refineries? Watch the accident rates now. Corruption? Oh my God. Everything will be magnified. Sorry, but this is scary.

  11. A_Antonio Says:

    Excellent post, excellent analysis.

    But as in many past comments by my side, the conclusion is the damage by robolution is already done. This century is off for Venezuela in economics, social or human development. With any luck, Venezuela can begin some recovery this century. “21st Socialism” century is a very descriptive epitaph of this legacy.

    Most Venezuelan does not know that they can put in trash bags: their hopes, their dreams and any ideal of prosperity.

    Prosperity will be with closest followers of Chavez, only richness products of wasted and robbery.

  12. Speed Gibson Says:

    great post……personally I think Hugo is gonna take Venz down in flames with him….but your analyses underscores the NEVER ENDING Latin American soap opera…. ..so much time and precious resources wasted on exercizes in sheer stupidity such as russian weapon purchases, all the while the illiterate peasant population keeps climbing..

    honestly…you guys should let the Germans from Colonia Tovar take over….

    • Zumbao Says:

      Shit,I had a plan in the seventies to lease the counry to the swiss, and have them send us checks wherever we happened to be, with a 3 week visit per year maximum!

      • syd Says:

        allowing the more endogenous germans from Colonia Tovar to take over would be a less abrupt transition than leasing the country to the Swiss.

      • maria gonzalez Says:

        Zumbao if our country was more organized as Germany, I bet Germans will move there…because the weather here sucks compare to Venezuela.

  13. Monk Says:

    This is the type of analysis I have been looking for in the news and can’t find it. Great post and analysis. My prayers are with Venezuela through this interesting but scary time.

  14. CarlosElio Says:

    My concern is with the internal politics of chavismo. I see the PSUV as a Mexican cartel, where loyalty to the leader is the visible bond that unites cartel members and money under the table is the fuel that keeps the machinery going. Granted, there a few true ideology-driven members, but you find them in marginal bastions of chavismo like Aporrea. Those are the ones that complained loudly when Chavez ordered the capture and subsequent extradition of FARC leader Joaquin Perez Becerra. You will never find there the likes of Tareck, Maduro, Cilia, any high ranking military officer, or any one in the core leadership of the cartel. Now think for a moment you are one of them: you make your career singing praises to the leader while you make your fortune collecting bribes through your own network of underlings. Suddenly, the boss is gone, so you lose the first anchor. Hard to imagine a Diosdado singing praises to Jaua.
    When Arturo Beltran Leyva, the Boss of Bosses, was gunned down, his lieutenants created their own mini cartels. When Osiel Cardenas Guillen was extradited, the Zetas set up their own operation and engaged in a ferocious battle with their previous associates from the Gulf Cartel. It has always being that way.
    With no experience of behaving under the constraints of the law–on the contrary, violation of the law seems to be one of the show-and-tell trinkets of the government as was done when General Rangel Silva in violation of the constitution proclaimed the loyalty of the armed forces to a political project–each liutenant of chavismo would seek in power and intimidation the avenue to legitimize their leadership. And that will drag the country to a very nasty confrontation.

  15. megaescualidus Says:

    Whether HC will or will not survive beyond the 2012 elections, and in what capacity, is yet to be seen. However, in the past (long before this new HC ilness reality of today) I thought that, then hypothetically, should HC, for some unknown reason, disappear, “el parapeto” which is his robolution would implode sooner than later. As in many other totalitarian regimes, the only thing keeping some semblance of order, and certainly of authority, is HC himself. Should he disappear, those high in the robolutionary power chain and with thirst of more power (and I’m sure, not a small number of contenders) will not be able to work together and strike a deal among themselves to continue with the same or similar corrupt system that has given so many fruits to them (i.e. $$$$$$). In short, the Venezuelan robolution is HC, and without him it would collapse in a very ugly show of political instability.

    Should a coup take place, my theory is that it wouln’t come from the top of the military. This layer is rotten and would be busier getting themselves and their $$$ out of the country to start over somewhere else. A coup would come, most for sure, from the middle layers (those who have not yet have the opportunity, or the full opportunity, to “participate” in the “free for all” corruption within the military).

  16. Cristina Says:

    Nowadays, using adjuvant chemotherapy, stage 4 cancer can be put in remission for years…even if it’s multifocal/multicentric in origin.
    Just a reminder.

    • Cristina Says:

      In fact, what being diagnosed with stage 4 multicentric cancer really means is: you can be managed to remission only once. A relapse cannot be treated other than with experimental agents.

      It’s true that some people can’t take the high dose chemos but it’s rarely the case.

  17. syd Says:

    Thank you MO. Very clear analysis and opinion, which I hope is picked up by others. I, too, think that what Ch. has is very serious, and that he hasn’t yet started chemo. Will he start it in Vzla? Or will he do so, when he goes back to Cuba, to hide away from prying/knowing eyes? That remains to be seen.

    I also think that the baggy “mono deportivo” also tells a story for someone so conscious of his every “ajuste y talla”. Methinks the mono hides a colostomy bag.

  18. Carolina Says:

    Not related to the post but to the pyg’s post: I keep remembering a scene in “Defiance” where they got a nazi captive and the people, little by little and in crescendo, release their anger towards him until they finally end up beating him to death. It is a sad scene, true, but I didn’t feel pity for the guy.


  19. suffering from whatever disease and thinking you can just go on your way without proper care is downfall. You can´t peter out of a hospital when undergoing serious care. Am thinking he prematurely left the hospital and will have serious ¨secuelas¨. Been thru it. So if anyone is thinking he´s ok not an option.

  20. A_Antonio Says:

    What I find very despicable and disrespectful is that today and tomorrow; all celebration of the Bicentenary Independence is around Chavez, all celebration politically manipulated by the government, like a big political campaign act.

    No remember acts to the fathers of the nation, two centuries ago, and neither any historical analytical significance of what its represent. No all is around a president that not trusts in Venezuelan doctors, only in Cubans and “Spanish” doctors, that represent his true independence.

    This is really “despygcable”.

  21. Andres F Says:

    I like outcome 1) the best. You said “it is also the best one long term”, I don’t see how the short term is more important than the long term?
    To me, assuring the absence of Chavez is of much greater benefit to Venezuela, than a short term breach of constitutional order.

  22. Jeffry House Says:

    Thank you for a clearly thought post amid much uncertainty!

    Being outside of Venezuela, I don’t know if the military really will ignore international outrage in the face of a coup. But that outrage will be real, and any coup regime will be facing huge pressure.

    I’d give them 18 months from coup date, before the jail door opens.


  23. ok good but he´s ill. you can´t expect him to continue as usual!!


  24. what i mentioned was that a person going thru this needs care. i also say that his focas have no idea ¨no saben ni en que palo ahorcarse¨ el gobierna pero no hay nadie que lo substite cierto! todos dicen misa y que!! les parece la cuestion! diganme que puedo yo governar perdon gobernar!!


  25. it´s just crazy don´t u think. we are all just wondering, thinking, and at the end of the road am thinking, u thinking, all of us thiniking right??? he´s back & what now!!

  26. bobthebuilder Says:

    If there’s anything Chavez stands for it is his desire to stay on in power for life. But for Chavez to retain control of the situation he needs to give everyone the most optimistic outlook possible despite his track record of failing to deliver.

    If he is really ill, it wouldn’t surprise me if these factors translate in to a failure to meaningfully nominate any successor.

  27. Eric Says:

    CarlosElio’s metaphor for PSUV-as-Mexican-drug-cartel is instructive, and makes a good counterpoint to Miguel’s excellent post, but the metaphor loses its relevancy once you take into account the fact that the drug cartels are operating within the framework of a country whose institutions are trying to eliminate them, whereas the PSUV is in control of the state, and its only threat, once domestic dissent is silenced, is external, i.e. foreign state actors and their judicial systems.

    I have a question for Miguel and CarlosElio and others. Given the fact that all of these miscreants share a common enemy, whether it’s the ICC or the US Justice Dept, and recognizing that a coup d’état, while providing them with short-term protection, would eventually backfire (Venezuela ain’t Burma), isn’t it reasonable to assume that these competing factions would attempt at all costs to keep the peace and arrive at some sort of power-sharing agreement, however unlikely it would seem at this point? They have nowhere to go if the tree falls and the monkeys scatter (hmmm, where have I read that lately); Cuba’s not a reliable safe haven anymore with some sort of glasnost around the corner (especially if the VenCuba $$$ pipeline collapses if/when the monkeys scatter, a likely outcome), and who wants to go to Minsk, Pyongyang or Harare.

    It seems to me that Fidel and JVR will be able to convince all these factions that their very survival, quite literally in some cases, is dependent on keeping the peace and presenting a candidate, any candidate, at the 2012 election. If they’re able to manipulate the opposition into selecting someone like Pablo Pérez, who’s the first of the so-called opposition candidates to openly tip his hand and show a ready willingness to play ball with Chávez and make a token run at the presidency (UNT is getting good at this, aren’t they), then they can easily paper over what will end up being the mother of all vote frauds next year. And if the candidate is Henrique Capriles, well then they’ll just have to work a little harder to bullet-proof the vote-rigging process.

    If we assume that there will be elections next year, because the PSUV organized crime ring needs elections to maintain a semblance of democratic rule in order to hide behind the curtain of national sovereignty — and I think this is a valid assumption — then you can bet your bottom dollar that the fraud machine that’s been well-oiled and continuously perfected since at least 2004 will be thrown into overdrive, and that this time niceties such as regular polling station hours, impartial selection of miembros de mesa dn witnesses, etc etc, will be brutally disregarded. Because now winning the election is no longer going to be whether they have a constitution a la medida, or whether Fearless Leader gets to be re-elected for life. Now it’s going to make the difference between staying free and going to jail. Or worse.

    And anybody who doesn’t believe that fraud is systematically built into the elections process, and can be counted on to deliver the government candidate up to 30% of the votes in the voter rolls, hasn’t talked to people on the ground here who know cómo se bate el cobre. But that’s another subject, for another post.

    • deananash Says:

      Eric, you could be making the very same rational arguments about the problems facing our world today. Wouldn’t sane citizens – regardless of their nationality – demand that we work together to confront the problems we face?

      And the answer would be the same: NO. Human nature (aka greed) just doesn’t work like that.

      There is an argument that this inherent “weakness” of intelligent creatures is the reason that we’ll never discover other life in the universe. In fact, were other intelligent life to exist, then they should have already discovered us.

      Google Fermi Paradox. It’s fascinating reading and I believe that it offers the best response to your post.

      • Eric Says:

        Yes, deananash, I’m familiar with the Fermi Paradox, but I believe it’s been superceded by recent evidence that points to the existence of UFOs and indicates that our governments have been engaged in a concerted effort since the late 1940s to cover it all up. There’s been a great deal of disclosure in ther last few years on the subject; numerous nations have declassified their UFO files, and it looks like the whole subject is inching towards a wider scale disclosure process. I also believe that the extraterrestrial presence has been with us for a long, long time. The reason we don’t recognize this as being so is that many of “them” are quite indistinguishable from “us.”

        As to how the Paradox applies to the political situation here, let’s see what happens. With Eduardo Fernández pleading with Chávez to put national unity above all other considerations and create a coalition government, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo wringing his hands over the prospect of a division in the PSUV, and Luis Vicente León urging the opposition to be cautious and respectful (I think those are the words he used) when confronting Chavez, it’s hard to tell the players without a scorecard these days, and in some cases harder to figure out how the MUD differs from the PSUV, which begs some pretty nasty questions, don’t it?

  28. firepigette Says:

    “And anybody who doesn’t believe that fraud is systematically built into the elections process, and can be counted on to deliver the government candidate up to 30% of the votes in the voter rolls, hasn’t talked to people on the ground here who know cómo se bate el cobre. But that’s another subject, for another post.”

    I ask myself time and time again why the bloggers are so slow on the uptake about this.I have hundreds of family members and thousands of friends all over Venezuela and to me this is super obvious as it is for so many in Venezuela as well….so what’s up??????

  29. Humberto Says:

    Agree with you Miguel. Nice job with the thought process.

  30. Ira Says:

    I’m a little curiuos about the a-hole here who told me cancer was curable. And in addition to denouncing me as “ignorant,” I think I have the right to respond–but it seems like my posts were deleted.

    The Original Poster’s name had some thing like CL in the front of it–didn’t pay much attention to it since it was so ignorant to begin with, but if this EInstein wishes to continue the conversation, he or she can do it here.

    I am simply FASCINATED by people who actually believe there’s a cure for cancer–any cancer at all.

    Talk about idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • OA2 Says:

      Another idiot here I guess. my brother was given 3 weeks to live due to an enormous cancer tumor (non-Hodgkins lymphoma)…FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. As he prepared to undergo chemotherapy, surgery or anything else to fight it, he did his research and ingested massive amounts of herbs, vitamins, and (I think most effectively) shark cartilage. Before traditional treatment could be started, his tumor shrank from being a visible large buldge coming out his chest AND back, to the size of a walnut, then disappeared altogether. Cured? Sure seems like it. Pretty sure there are other similar cases. Chavez may he lucky too, not that I think his longevity would be especially lucky for Venezuela. You seem so exercised about the possibility of some cancers being cured. Perhaps you lost someone dear to it. If so, my condolences. But a cure isn’t as impossible as you might think.

    • OA2 Says:

      Oh, and prayer. Massive amounts of prayer as well as his homeopathic approach. (Deep breaths m_astera: HOMEOPATHIC, not homosexual).

    • m_astera Says:

      OA2-

      I have been fortunate in my life to acquire sufficient independence to allow me to say what I think without worrying about being politically correct. Recall what I said about those who are so shallow that their sexual orientation is their main theme and identity? I think you just proved my point once again.

      More on topic, in the mid-1990s I was working with a well-known alternative MD and asked him about his experience with the various non-standard cancer cures, which ones worked, which were the best. He replied that they all work, but it’s up to the patient. Then he said “If they come to me with a cancer diagnosis and say ‘Doctor, fix me’ they are probably not going to live long. If they come to me with the attitude that they are going to beat this cancer, and take responsibility for that themselves, then it’s likely they will overcome the cancer, regardless of what modality is used.”

      I doubt you have much to teach me about homeopathy, natural healing and herbs, or alternative medicine in general. I doubt it very seriously.

      • OA2 Says:

        well well, now it’s “sexual orientation” and not “sexual proclivities.” you’ve made progress, congratulations! and kudos on your work with alternative medicine. i do not claim to be an expert or have anything to teach you about it (only taking the opportunity to make fun of your homophobia).

        look, i don’t give a rat’s ass for political correctness, which is why it’s so easy for me to call you out on your homophobic bullshit in a way that simply reflects your venom instead of trying to reason with it. and i sure don’t give a shit what you actually believe; you have a right to be an ignorant bigot if you choose (or were you born that way? nature vs nurture you know!). what i aim to diminish is your sense of entitlement to voice it without being confronted for it.

        on your very profound pronouncement about my shallowness: while you’ve been cobbling handicrafts for tourists, sorting soil samples, and hurling homophobic crap along with your reasonably educated opinions about venezuela, i’ve been (warning: about to toot my own horn to make a point about your lame assumptions) working to fight against not only homophobic violence and disenfranchisement from deep thinkers like you, but working to end child marriage in africa, fight malaria, hiv, and tuberculosis all over the world, i’ve delivered mosquito nets in displacement camps on the ethiopia/eritrea border, investigated political abuses in rural ethiopian prisons, assisted marginalized populations like trans sex workers who are also HIV activists in indonesian slums, worked with recovering IV drug users in prisons to spread HIV education instead of the disease, assisted in HIV peer support groups for children orphaned by the rwandan genocide, tiptoed through mine fields in central africa during a month in the sahara, assisted re-entry into society by latino ex-cons in east los angeles, spent months embedded with indigenous people around the world for a variety of health and education issues, helped libraries thrive in the atacama desert, spent time with isolated indigenous populations on the afghan-tajikistan border, bringing the very first supplies to some of the worst areas in haiti during the first days after the earthquake, and other shallow pursuits equally lacking in sufficient dimension to raise me equal to the elevated status of someone like you.

      • m_astera Says:

        I’m not homophobic, would never be such a truly stupid made up piece of crap term like that. Nor do I care what you do with your sex organs.

        I find people who identify themselves by their sexuality shallow, regardless of their proclivities or orientation. Clear now?

        And if you aren’t hung up on being PC, why haven’t you figured out that AIDS has nothing to do with the so-called HIV virus?

        • OA2 Says:

          Um…homophobic is a “made up” term? AIDS has nothing to do with the “so-called” HIV virus? Yes, I am clear now: you are a simpleton. Nothing more.

        • m_astera Says:

          Yes, homophobic is a recent coinage; first known use 1969; translated it means “afraid of men”, which is hardly an accurate descriptive if the purpose is to indicate an aversion to homosexuality. My personal aversion is to those whose primary identity is what they do with their organs of sex and elimination, with a special aversion to those who insist on shoving their fixations in my face and telling me that I have to approve of them.

          The only people I know of who are still pushing the HIV causes AIDS hypothesis are those who have a vested interest in doing so, the ignorant, and those who haven’t bothered to do their homework. There is a vast amount of research disproving the connection, not a single solid study proving the connection in accordance with Koch’s postulates. I’ve known that since 1996, and many millions of others know it too.

          But I see you have reverted to name calling again. First it was homophobic. then ignorant bigot and prejudiced, now simpleton. According to normal rules of debate, as I haven’t called you any names, resorting to ad hominem means you lose.

          Also, your attempt to denigrate my work, likely based on a quick and sloppy google search, reflects poorly on your abilities. I have no connection with cobbling together handicrafts for tourists. I do original research, teaching, and consulting on the connection between the mineral balance of agricultural soils and human and animal health. I don’t run a laboratory, so handling soil samples is not a normal part of that.

          Now please take your strident whining elsewhere.

          • OA2 Says:

            Keep you freakish, hostile unjustifiable response to your obsessive and hate filled fear of people who have nothing whatever to do with you to yourself and you’ll never hear another peep out of me. And you are an idiot if you think HIV has nothing to do with AIDS. Who do you teach with, Robert Mugabe? What a brain trust that must be.Those with a vested interest ate the people struggling with HIV and THEY have done their homework. I’ll take the word of scientists, Bill Gates, The Global Fund, and any number of serious people and organizations over the insane jibbering of nut jobs like you any day. Keep bringing it punk. I’ll he here.

    • gomez-calcano Says:

      Well, Ira, I had actually thought of apologizing for calling you “ignorant”, but after your kind insults, I think it’s no longer necessary. All I meant, and repeat, is that a simple search in the web would have helped you to learn that there are many types of cancer, and that some of them are more curable than others, especially if they are treated early. As simple as that. The number of cancer survivors who die of other causes grows every day. Since you seem to be too busy to do your own search, here, read this:

      http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000Jr

      • OA2 Says:

        My plane was landing so I had to disconnect from Internet and couldn’t finish or edit. You seem to possibly be not completely stupid. And I’m not a bad (or shallow) person only concerned with or identified by my sexuality. I married last year the man I’ve been with for 13 years. Your pious dismissal of that deserves a furious response. So let’s call a truce and ill promise not to hurl invectives at your homophobic commentary (or defense of it) if you’ll take a hard, honest look in the mirror and seriously think about whether your prejudice really does justice to your sense of morality, or whether it mocks it. We don’t only identify by our orientation, but we have been forced to defend ourselves from the almost casual hate heaped on us from people like you. There is no place for it in public discourse. Whether or not you’re ever convinced of it is irrelevant. But if you continue, I will continue to fight you against it. Every. Single. Time.

  31. moctavio Says:

    Eric: These guys don’t think it will not last, they truly think they can grab power, hold it and do a better job than Hugo on the way (the last one is possible). Really, these guys have completely lost sight of reality, each and everyone of them has presidential aspirations and monetary ambitions. The military knows the civilians with no Chavez are powerless. They will go for it!

  32. Eric Says:

    Interesting scenario. So, if some, uh, foreign interest were interested in cutting the VenCuba petro-$$$ pipeline they’d support a Cabello-Rangel Silva coup, right?

    Ok, but aside from Spy vs Spy vs Spy scenarios, these guys while without “scruples, ethics and/or morality,” as you put it, are not stupid. You yourself say that the outcome of a coup will be unstable and the internal turmoil (plus international pressure) will cause it to collapse sooner or later. Don’t you think these guys know this too?

    Venezuelan politics before Chavez was always a matter of brokering deals where nobody was necessarily happy but everybody got a piece (las decisiones salomónicas) and taking the path of least resistance. Until Chávez came along it was always about blackmail and carrot-and-stick, the sociedad de cómplices modus operandi.

    After Chávez — and I’m going on the assumption that he won’t be around in 18 months — there’s no one to fill his shoes and continue his my-way-or-the-highway style of governance. So they revert to type, imo. Back to deals. No one wants bloodshed. No one wants to be the object of international opprobrium. Just install a least-objectionable-to-all puppet president and sit back, guns at the ready, and keep counting the money.

  33. liz Says:

    Something very strange is going on… the fat man that appeared today in the Balcón del Pueblo http://bit.ly/jL4iGc is not the same one that spoke to us some days ago, looking frail, thin, pale as a ghost and reading! http://bit.ly/mzP6Cx

    • bruni Says:

      I have the same feeling Liz…maybe the whole thing was a set up? I have not seen such a miraculous recovery before!

    • amieres Says:

      He’s had 3 weeks to recover (or 2 weeks if he was operated the 20th). I think it’s perfectly natural for him to look better and much more energized specially doing what he loves best: BSing the people. He only spoke for 40 minutes.

      In fact it’s a good thing that he looks better, that way no one in the opposition will lower their guard thinking he doesn’t have much to live anyway.

    • syd Says:

      My take, liz, is that the inflatable doll you saw speaking from the balcón del pueblo, was in fact Hugo on a manic high, feeding off the adoration spread before him, and not yet receiving chemo. The Hugo you saw a few days ago, reading the script was in the depressed phase of his mania. Add to the latter scenario, the recent 2nd operation, plus the news that (a) he has cancer, and (b) he can’t yet receive chemo, due to the infection caused by the first operation. The combination does not spell Happy Days..

      Aparte…did you notice the Cuban flags flying below the Venezuelan ones?

      • liz Says:

        Syd, lo que yo creo es que son dos personas diferentes! Well, I don’t even know what to think… the whole thing is very confusing.

    • deananash Says:

      I’m the first to admit I’m clueless about such things, but they look like the same guy to me – no skinnier, fatter, whatever. I didn’t think Chavez looked so bad the other day, certainly not as bad as what I read.

      Anyway, that’s just my opinion, from far away. I’m wondering, though, does anyone else share my thoughts?

      • liz Says:

        deananash, in the balcony he looked fat, double chinned!! his old self… OTOH the man we saw Jun/30 was like 10 kgs skinnier. My own son told me after the cadena that his voice and pronunciation were very different; plainly put he said “mom this guy is a clon!”

        • maria gonzalez Says:

          Remember that he had make up when he talked in Cuba and the lights in a close place may change the appearance in TV. Also I always believe that changes is bipolar, so this may also contribute to the changes

  34. m_astera Says:

    I’ve been joking about the clone learning to speak, but I think it’s safe to assume that with the money they’ve had to play with, finding a body double who could pass for Hugito with a little plastic surgery is not a huge problem.

  35. Roger Says:

    At this time its hard to predict what will happen. Venezuela is a country impossibilities. If next week the AN voted to allow Chavez to stay in office and run for re-election even if dead the TSJ would approve it and everyone would say Si!! He could rule for years channeling to the Santa Marias who would put his commands and comments on twitter. Also, looking at Castro, it seems that the Cubans have developed an advanced Zombie technology. It could be that Chavez has already started the transformation.
    I think the economy will be the key to what will happen now that he no longer rules with off hand comments and promises on his TV show. Also, in true Marxist fashion, he may be blamed for the whole mess.

  36. Bill near Slidell Says:

    Excellent analysis, Miguel. Chavez will never give up power. If he is alive, he will run.

    • loroferoz Says:

      It’s (literally!) his funeral, should he decide to do that.

      No objections… but he could perform a greater service to Venezuela by quitting while there is time for him. If his power-mania will let him… live.

  37. firepigette Says:

    Liz,

    I am here in Durham with the kids and crazy to check out what is going on, but have little time, besides the computer is so far away from my face that I can hardly see.I want to get a look at his face.

    Probably Syd has some truth in relating it to the bipolar stuff, and also i might mention pain medication…it’s all so bizarre. Definingly strange days…

  38. firepigette Says:

    Liz,

    well, I got a minute..and watched the clip…2 things I notice:

    . his chest is looking more barrel chested and weaker,and the mikes are hiding the strange changes around his mouth that I have been noticing for awhile now

    his anger is lessened and he is appealing more to the esoteric

  39. Bloody Mary Says:

    I’m not a conspiracy theory guy, but as Liz I have some concerns about if this is all real (the severity of Chavez health) or we are facing a psychopathic strategy to provide a fresh start for a rotten president that has failed in any aspect of his program (except for performing good shows for the poor on TV). I mean, we are talking about a machiavellian psychopath which has promised many millions of new houses to be delivered before the election, at the start of the campaign…. But if he would come “back from the death” people only will remember he is the guy “who cares about his people”, and not about what he did or failed to do. On the other hand, apart from the rumors, only Cubans have absolute control of Chavez’ health information….. Does someone believe Cubans are reliable at any level?

  40. moctavio Says:

    And now the Pyg invokes God, just like his idol, in vain.

    Corrected, I have no problem recognizing errors due to an overload of BS from you. I know more english that you would ever know in your lifetime.

  41. Juanjo Says:

    Funny, when it comes to their God Chavez they have all sorts of sensibilities, while 18,000 are murdered every year and jails are Hell, how can these people be so blind?

    To say nothing of the lack of respect for Human Rights.

  42. deananash Says:

    Miguel is right about the three groups of stakeholders – they are the most motivated. However, I agree with megaescualidus, the boys at the top of the military have to be pretty savvy, despite their greed. They’re probably well on their way to executing their golden parachutes.

    I think it’s the Cuba faction that will do its best to prevent meaningful change. They have NO other options. (I don’t believe the 2nd rank of military is smart enough – they’re akin to Chavez in his first golpe attempt – clueless and incompetent.)

    And I disagree about the world caring…as long as the oil flows, I don’t believe anyone really cares about VZ.

  43. moctavio Says:

    You have to remember that in the Cuban video Chavze was just up from an operation. In the “Balcon del Pueblo” he had a bulletproof vest, that makes a huge difference. Additionally, he could have been given steriods or cortisone. I understand he has yet to receive chemo.

    • liz Says:

      Diablillo, observa la papada y el ancho de la cara. The armored suit makes the difference from the neck down, I know…

      • moctavio Says:

        Liz, look at the pictures today, he looked as thin as in the video. Chavez had an infection, a bad one, a colonoscopy, he was in intensive care, he will look better until they start the chemo and then we will not see him for a while. The amazing thing is how bad he looked in the first address to the Nation and how much weight he lost.

  44. Gringo Says:

    deananash
    And I disagree about the world caring…as long as the oil flows, I don’t believe anyone really cares about VZ.

    And when the rest of the world cares, it is labeled as “interventionist.”

    Two hundred years of independence have certain consequences.
    May the next two hundred years not end as shamefully as did the first two hundred.

  45. OA2 Says:

    By the way ignoramus, I think you meant self-righteous. Righteous is actually more of a compliment. There are free online dictionaries available if you choose to enlighten yourself. Oh, and …..again

    Edited by blog owner.

    OA2: You can argue and discuss, but I prefer if you held off on the language.

    • Zx Says:

      Lost track of the thread did u, and had to find a dictionnary lol thanks for making my point, u bring nothing other than being a blowhard that gets offended.
      Yada yada yada, you may want to check wikipedia for that last reference.


  46. [...] In my mind, Venezuela's future has turned quite uncertain. If it was so before, imagine now when so many demons must be waking up in the face of the possibility of  a future with no Hugo Chavez or a weakened Hugo Chavez. While we do not know the details about Chavez' illness, it is clear that he has undergone major surgery. If one believes what is being said, then he had tumors removed and he will require chemotherapy. Survival rates can be good, … Read More [...]

  47. OA2 Says:

    Sorry. I’ll try. Perhaps I could encourage to apply the same rules to words like faggot?

    • Roy Says:

      OA2 and m_astera,

      You guys should take this feud off-line. It is unseemly and distracts us from what (in spite of some of the satirical rhetoric) is a deadly serious subject.

      The bottom line is that the dictator’s is ailing and the succession of power is in doubt. In comparison to that, your dispute seems petty.

      • OA2 Says:

        Say what you will Roy. Fighting virulent homophobia wherever it is found is not petty; it’s what’s moving people like me towards enjoying the rights you take for granted (assuming you’re heterosexual). If you don’t like the exchange, you have every opportunity not to read it.

  48. moctavio Says:

    Astera and OA2: I hate censoring, please try not to use any offensive words, I can edit and edit, but that is not my function, it is much easier to delete, which I would hate to do.

    • Carolina Says:

      Shouldn’t you guys try to vent your personal issues and differences that have nothing to do with the blog nor this particular post out of here? Geez Astera and OA2, exchange emails and go for it.

    • m_astera Says:

      Por Favor, leave ME out of it. I didn’t start it, have used no abusive language, and I have attacked no one. Read what I wrote.

      I have not even the slightest interest in discussing this person’s agenda,
      .

  49. moctavio Says:

    Better expressed: should not be my function

  50. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Anyone see those T-72 tanks rumbling through the streets of Caracas today? Tanks? Really? And that proves exactly what? It’s the same nonsense that took place year after year on top of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow. Tanks. By the hundreds. Goose-stepping troops marching past the Politburo members, bravely standing in the cold air on top of the tomb, freezing their kerschnuckies off on those cold November days. Hitler use to do the same thing, you know. On a balcony on the Wilhelmstrasse he watched them parade past. Thousands of them. All dressed in their finest Wehrmacht outfits. …with a Blaskapelle to add to the festivities. Tanks, Hugo Chavez likes tanks too. Why? Why can’t he just enjoy the day without the trappings of might and power. Have a cook-out, invite the neighbors and serve some cold Polar beer. It’s Venezuela’s independence day! A glorious history. A glorious people. Just get rid of the silly tanks.

    • Roberto N Says:

      Let’s be fair, Dr. F, Tanks, airplanes and troops have been a part of Independence day Parades in Venezuela since I can remember (and I’m just shy of 50).

      IT would be nice if we could get rid of this custom, however, and make a parade to celebrate all things Venezuelan. Parade state by state showing the typical things of each state, including the state flags (which hardly anyone knows).

      • Kepler Says:

        I have written a bit about Russian weapons. 7 billion dollars have we already spent in Russian weapons alone.
        Imagine a school book costs $10 (with massive purchase,etc). We could have provided for books for all Venezuelan children, We could have built several dozen general hospitals that are not empty shells as the one in Sarare but real ones. We could have spent a billion or so on simply promoting research and development. Imagine that.
        Instead, we have a bunch of morons playing soldier.

      • HalfEmpty Says:

        The Russ have always done it better:

  51. Gordo Says:

    Why do we need to predict anything? Here are some indisputable facts:

    1. Everything disclosed so far by the Chavismo filtering apparatus has been painted rosier than what we learn subsequently. Any assumption that the filtering apparatus is suddenly going to give straight facts is a stretch.

    2. Chavez is very sick and needs peace and quiet to recover… not so if he’s going to run. On top of that, the economy is running on debt and borrowed time. The job of dealing with all the debt, shortages, political issues i.e. jails, unions, ailing infrastructure, etc. is a job for a focused and healthy leader.

    3. A tanking economy run by a corrupt regime is bound to collapse. By now, the fat cats are probably fat enough and will jump ship.

    4. A unified democratic movement needs to start planning now for a recovery of the economy. It will be a huge challenge! The economy has been overly centralized, and no political etiology, effective leadership, military power, etc. can do anything in the short term.

    5. Only through local leadership supported by the central government can deal with the painful dislocations that are likely to occur.

    6. The political polarization under Chavez is likely to interfere with any proposed solutions if not handled immediately somehow.

  52. megaescualidus Says:

    Gordo,

    Your # 3 comment got me to think. I bet none (or almost none) of the very fat cats will jump ship, for nothing else than “I will stick with it longer, so I can make a few more $M’s”.

  53. A_Antonio Says:

    Gordo, In point 3, I think you mean “fat rats”.

    • Gordo Says:

      Right now, the economy is being kept alive by debt which is getting harder and harder to find. As the economy gets further into crisis, why would the fat “rats” want to go down with their ship? The Chavez supporters who depend most on government hand-outs are likely to become impatient… and what are the fat “rats” going to do then? It won’t be fun!

  54. deananash Says:

    Happy Independence Day, VZ. Here is my gift to you. (Too bad the people who will actually read it already know it and the ones who need to read it could never understand it.)

    “A free people cannot disagree, or agree to disagree, on the relative merits of freedom and despotism,” the great Lincoln scholar Harry Jaffa writes. “If the majority favors despotism, it is no longer a free people, whether the form of government has already changed or not.”

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/lincoln_the_declaration_rMJZWHKoRxrVf2JQXSC36I#ixzz1RGwoo2tl

    • Gordo Says:

      True. However, when too many citizens are left out of the mainstream for whatever reason, and they might see democracy as an obstruction rather than a protection. Furthermore, a democracy is only a system of government that is arguably unstable unless there is a large, educated and informed middle-class. I’m sure Chavez supporters believe the Chavez government is democratic.

  55. m_astera Says:

    I agree with the tone and ideas in Gordo’s post above. Here are some specific suggestions to turn the country around:

    a. The Tascon list will be deleted from all records. Those who lost their positions or property due to signing the petition to remove Chavez will be compensated or reinstated.

    b. All private properties that have been seized by the government, for which the owners have not been paid, will be returned to the owners. If the owners have been paid, they may have the option of reclaiming the expropriated property by paying back the sum they were given as compensation.

    c. There will be no more new armaments purchases by the Federal Government unless another country declares war on Venezuela. The present arms will be maintained and kept in good order.

    d. The government will borrow no more money against the credit or resources of the people of Venezuela.

    e. All PDVSA workers who were fired or lost their jobs will be offered their jobs back, or will be compensated. If they return to work, they will be needed to restore PDVSA to full production, to complete abandoned projects, and to initiate new exploration and production.

    f. All price controls will either be rescinded, or those producing the price-controlled commodities will be fairly compensated by the government at parity price at the point and time of delivery of the commodities.

    g. Those presently imprisoned for political “offenses” will be freed and their records expunged. All prisoners who are imprisoned for victimless crimes against the state likewise. All prisoners imprisoned for non-violent crimes will be paroled pursuant to good behavior. All prisoners who have been imprisoned for more than six months without a trial will also be released.

    h. 50% of the net profit of PDVSA will be paid in equal shares, directly to each citizen of Venezuela who has reached the age of majority, on an annual basis.

    i. The power and rights of the individual states will be returned to the states. In addition, each local community/urbanization will have the power to make its own decisions and codes.

    j. The over-arching goal will be for the country and people of Venezuela to be self-sufficient in food and manufactured goods. All subsidies for imports and for exports will be eliminated, and all encouragement given to those wishing to produce goods for local consumption.

    k. Housing: Pursuant to h. above, all citizens will have the option of trading their yearly share, or a portion thereof, of PDVSA payments for a house/casa, for a specified amount of years, depending on the cost of construction of the house/casa.

    5 Julio 2011
    Porlamar

    • Gordo Says:

      I like what you wrote, but I would give preference for the poor. Especially, subsistence should be guaranteed.

      Also, there should be a provision for free quality public education that is free of sectarian indoctrination.

      Housing and infrastructure repair should provide lots of jobs… hence will soften the dislocations while stimulating the economy.

      I would not throw away everything that Chavez began: The various missions, though ineffective might have some legacy value; the cooperatives for new agricultural enterprises, a national banking system that can help subsidize manufacturing start-ups and modernization; and so forth, to reduce imports and develop non-oil exports.

      Subsidies to the Universities to recruit and develop world class research and development.

      • syd Says:

        A new political party is born: Gordastera.
        I like what I read from both of you. Thank you for the roadmap of hope and reality.

    • Carolina Says:

      It all sounds good BUT…

      In point E., those jobs are already taken by other people. Before you offer them back, there has to be an evaluation system, “clean up system” I would call it, assuming that there is at least a little portion of PDVSA’s workers that are still productive. That means massive firing, and for that, I believe the law also has to be changed.

      In point G. (did I really say that..?) How about just expediting trials for those imprisoned for more than six months? The fact that they have been there without a trial doesn’t mean they are innocent.

      In H. This sounds great when you have a system that accounts all the citizens. We haven’t had a census since…when? How many people don’t have a RIF or pay taxes, or have an actual address (living under a bridge) so how are you going to reach to them?

      In K. I would revise the Tenancy Law (Arrendamiento) in order to give equal rights to the owners. There is no offer simply because it’s a huge risk to rent a property.

      And last but not least: What happens with gas prices? Shall they remain subsidized?

      Great ideas. The implementation is the problem.

      • Carolina Says:

        To add one more, I was watching a show the other day about Lula & Brazil. He started a program where he gave a monthly payment per kid, to low income parents if their kids were going to the school. They were saying that the school attendance went up to numbers never seen.

        I think it’s a great idea. What do you guys think?

        • syd Says:

          fantastic tie-in, as long as there is in place a ban on teachers spouting any political jargon, in schools. The parents, on getting wind of political indoctrination, would be able to report this occurrence to the ministerio de educación, which would then take appropriate and swift action (investigation followed by removal of the teacher, if warranted)….

          • Caracola Says:

            Agreed. Public education has to be free from both political and religious indoctrination.
            Now, I know this (the religious topic) may start another discussion. Before going there, remember we are talking about public education and as such, it should be for every single Venezuelan, regardless of their religious beliefs.

        • Gordo Says:

          Another program that worked very well was giving expectant mothers a free peinado when they show up to their prenatal visits to the doctor. A hair salon was placed in the clinic and then the rate of mothers that showed up increased from below 25% to almost 100%.

    • m_astera Says:

      Gordo-

      I would not suggest throwing away the programs that Chavez began, the ones that did good for people. They were popular and had support because they are needed and sensible. The problem was/is, that they were created insincerely (in order to gain votes and political support) and implemented incompetently.

      The question is, how can they be funded and implemented so that they are workable and sustainable long term?

      Here are the programs/ideas that I think are worth preserving/doing right:

      The health clinics

      The literacy classes (expanded to teach skills such as gardening, food processing, sewing, first aid and traditional herbal medicine, etc)

      The agriculture programs that gave small farmers a piece of land to work

      The community councils, with these councils given power to make real decisions that cannot be overridden by “higher” powers.

      And as you said, education at all levels, including encouraging research.

      I don’t think it will or can work as a top-heavy top-down centralized program run by the Federal Gov’t. What that always, always turns into is a carrot and stick, with the funding being held out as a carrot to get the potential recipients to do what the Gov’t wants, the stick being if they don’t do what the gov’t wants, no money, or the money will be given to someone else. That is where the community councils come in. Somehow they must be funded either at their own level, or the funding must be such that it cannot be taken away from the community by “higher powers” for political reasons.

      • Gordo Says:

        Agree, but aren’t community councils made up purely of Chavistas?

      • Gordo Says:

        Need to do something about the partisan nature of the missions. What would you propose?

      • firepigette Says:

        I have to laugh just thinking about it.Chavistas created a lot based on the 4th Republic model of the Modulo, plus some other 4th programs.I know because I worked in them in the 70’s even though I was not an Adeco.They made sense.

        However many Venezuelans are so hateful and irrational that they prefer the programs to be a copy of CHAVISMO instead.

        Think about this one guys!

    • m_astera Says:

      Carolina-

      I see PDVSA as the key to making the ideas work. It’s already nationalized and used as a “cash cow” by the Federal Gov’t, which does whatever they like with the money, with no accountability. The people have no stake in it.

      The idea of an equal share of the profits being given to each citizen yearly gives the people a share in the resource, gives them a reason to care, and gives the PDVSA workers a reason to care as well, because the better they do, the larger will be their share as well. They have the potential to become national heroes, because their work raises everyone’s income and standard of living.

      For the same reason, there may be no reason to fire any present PDVSA workers; all will be needed along with any who were fired who choose to return. Lots of maintenance, new plants to build and finish, new exploration, all with the full support of every Venezuelan behind them because every Venezuelan benefits directly, each is a stakeholder.

      Eliminating all further weapons purchases frees up money, that will help. I would also support a moratorium on all government jobs. No more new positions in government. When a gov’t worker quits, retires, or is fired, they are not replaced unless their position is absolutely essential to function.

      The petrol question I think goes under “f. All price controls will either be rescinded, or those producing the price-controlled commodities will be fairly compensated by the government”

      It’s the people’s money that will be used to subsidize fuel. If the people choose to do so, PDVSA (which belongs to all the people) would be paid for the fuel at parity prices.

      The idea of rewarding families for having children in school is also excellent. How would that be funded?

      As to the prisoners, freeing everyone who has been incarcerated for more than six months without a trial sends a strong message to law enforcement and the judiciary to get their act together. It also works somewhat as a general amnesty, and I think would gather a lot of support from the poor, who make up the majority of the prison population. Rich people don’t go to jail, as a rule. Probably the majority of criminals are still on the street anyway, the only ones in jail are those who have been caught. I’m saying give them a new chance, by freeing them into society with new opportunities at the same time.

      I don’t see a big problem with getting an accurate census as long as being counted on that census means that the citizen would qualify for their share of PDVSA profit.

      How to implement all of this remains to be seen, but it opens equal opportunities for everyone of all classes. You don’t need to prove poverty to qualify for a new home, everyone qualifies if they agree to pay part of their yearly PDVSA share in exchange for a home. If they want a bigger home they will have to pay the difference themselves. And if anyone could have a home, there would be no reason for the laws that discriminate against owners who rent property to others.

      For now, I think it would be good and sufficient to run the ideas past ordinary people and see what the reaction is.

      • Caracola Says:

        All that sounds very good to me if the mechanisms to control corruption are implemented. I hate to be realistic but how to avoid that an individual or a family get their share twice by forging documents?

        I guess that is right here where community sense and education comes into play.

        Now, how about taxes? Are they necessary? Will they be discounted from the profit sharing system or that would be exempted?

        And last but not least: property taxes. In most of the cities around the world the property taxes are an important income for the municipality, that will go back to maintenance, roads, school infrastructure, etc. One shall pay that yearly or by the month, and they are calculated yearly by a percentage of the assessment of your house.

        It is well known that nobody pays the property taxes in Venezuela until they must, usually a big chunk when they sell the property.

        In any case, all Gordastera’s ideas (i like that) seem to be good and feasible. The key is to make people productive by giving them the incentive to be productive.

        On a less serious note, all this reminds me of an old Brazilian soap opera (sorry guys, I’m a girl) called “Agua Viva”, when the super millionaire Stella Fraga-Simpson said “she was a socialist”, leaving her sifrinos friends stunned, so she replied that she truly “believed in equality, but everybody rich.”

        I always thought that Venezuela has the conditions to be like that though…

  56. LD Says:

    I’m with Caracola/Carolina in this, first and most important is to reduce corruption (try to eliminate, but…). This alone would free a lot of money to do things. Make institucions and budgets transparent, put all the information possible in Internet on a regular basis, let everyone proof this.
    For the same reason I think it is better to put the PDVSA money on the budget, not PDVSA administrating PVALs, buying fighter planes replacement parts etc.. (and they do that!).
    Maintain all what has worked from Chávez, I want to see the faces of chavistas if Barrio Adentro and maybe other things (PDVAL?) get better under the new government! While I see that as a ethical consideration too, think in term of voters if you don’t think so.
    OK, that’s from a non VZ, but hoping for a better VZ too.

  57. firepigette Says:

    M Astera,
    Do you want things to work or are you just talking?

    “Ordinary” people , are often 4th Republic or connected to.

    If you want things to work you have to include the Venezuelan people: los Maria Alejandro Lopez’s,the conservatives, los 4th Republic, los sifrinos de todos tipos: in other words,los Chavistas too, and ALL Venezuelans.

    But the problem with Venezuela is that the hatreds are bigger than the ability to forgive, understand and work together.

    That is where it starts.It makes 0 sense to talk of fixes when the primary mechanism for working on the fixes is damaged.First things first.

    • Gordo Says:

      Yes, I agree. Unity includes everyone. How can the factions find a way to work together and add ideas to the mix. The intent should be to help each other make everything work for everybody. Plato: “Good is that from which no harm can come.”

  58. Susana Says:

    hi! it’s been ages since I’ve made a comment in here (years, actually), however, I must right now… I have a very simplistic view on this matter, the future is quite certain actually: there’s no Chavismo without Chavez, and the inner hatred of his people against some of his people, and the slight different current of thoughts (and lack of consensus) will prove the failure of a presidential candidate of the PSUV, even if hand-picked by him (shall I write him with capital H?). I have been a pessimist for the past 12 years regarding Venezuela, a bit less than half of my life has been lived under the cloud of tragedy of the mockery Chavez has made out of justice and the country in general, now, seeing his acolytes lie about the disease, the incredible state of misinformation, the way things came to a half because none of them know what to do and what to say when their master is away, proves that once he is gone (from this level of existence or simply from the political arena), dibs are on the oposition, and yes, cleaning the mess will take a very long time, but we shall be cleansed.

  59. m_astera Says:

    Gordo, Caroliina, Firepigette, Susana, All

    First to Firepigettes question re do I want things to work or am I just talking?

    I am not a Venezuelan citizen, not yet anyway, but I like this place. It has been good to me and I get along well. Not being a citizen I can’t take part in any politics, all I can do is share ideas and do my best to figure out how to make them work.

    I am being inclusive of all levels and sectors of society in my thoughts and proposed plans. I’m also well aware of the divisions and antagonisms; rather than pretending they don’t exist, I’m trying to see how to use them to advantage, rather like jiu jitsu.

    On to other points: Venezuelan society has a long tradition of corruption and nepotism. I don’t necessarily want to do away with that, but rather work with it where possible and limit it where it prevents progress. If the only way to make progress is to pay a bribe, that’s how it is. In any case, for something to work in Venezuela one has to show each party just how they would benefit. Chavez’ style, which is stealing from those who have and promising to share what he steals with the have-nots, does not benefit anyone in the long run, so how do we go about accomplishing what Carolina suggests, make everybody rich?

    We start by allowing everyone to keep what they have right now. No exceptions other than returning stolen inmuebles and negocios to those they were stolen from or giving them the option to buy them back if they were paid. No threats of taking the ill-gotten money away from the Chavista elite. Declare a general amnesty. From there we figure out ways to encourage investment in Venezuela and entrepreneurage. Put that stolen money to work rather than having it invested in bonds or sitting in an offshore bank account. Allow repatriation of all assets without penalty, and even with a tax break if directly invested in Venezuelan industry, agriculture, construction, research and development etc. Make anyone who invests and builds in Venezuela a hero. Tax both imports and raw material exports heavily; the goal has to be to build Venezuela, manufacture goods for Venezuela, grow food for Venezuela. Anything else should be discouraged.

    I have a pretty good handle on the (potential) mineral and agricultural resources of this country, and they are substantial. If they were primarily used to build the internal wealth of the country instead of being exported as raw materials we would all be that much closer to being rich. So exports of raw materials should be strongly discouraged (the exception for now being oil, but even that leaves a lot of room for upgrading before export).

    I’m going to get a little radical here, but see what you think of this idea: The majority of taxes would be collected locally; nothing would go to the federal government directly and then be doled back. The local community would collect taxes (or other revenues) and decide what to do with them, with every person being a stakeholder. That needs to be set up not so it’s free of corruption, which is impossible in Venezuela, but so that there is incentive to invest in the prosperity and abundance and quality of the community.

    What about the hate-filled ideologues among the Chavistas? They are few, in my experience, a few small-minded people that are not at all representative of Venezuelan society. Ignore them and appeal to the great majority who really only wish to live a good and abundant life.

    What to tax is a bit of a problem. Property taxes in my experience only serve to grow larger governments and more parasites in government. A person’s home and the business they do to support themselves and their families should not be taxed, and labor should never be taxed. The primary question should be “what services and infrastructure are essential to the public welfare that can only be provided by a government entity?” Only enough taxes need be collected to provide for those few essentials. Those revenues could be raised by fees for the use of the services provided, as in electricity and water bills; in addition, activities that pose a potential of harm to the community should be taxed, imports for example, perhaps gambling, drugs, alcohol, and the private practice of law.

    Making a career in government (or the military) should be strongly discouraged, and government jobs should not be high paying ones unless the position requires a high level of education and skill. In no case should the salary for a government job, including benefits, exceed what the private sector pays.

    We could start with this question: What can you do that benefits yourself, your family, and the country as a whole? And then do everything possible to encourage those things.

  60. firepigette Says:

    M Astera,

    I won’t go into too many details now( total lack of time right now), however I would like to say that since some time ago when I read some of your comments over at Daniel’s I saw that you understood and embraced the essence of Venezuela, maybe even more than many Venezuelan’s do .This is wonderful because that is what every country needs- people who love it, understand it, and vibrate with its essence.

    I too feel that way about Venezuela only that as a mother first and foremost my instinct is to protect my children, and live somewhere safer.

    Whatever you can do for Venezuela should be welcome because I can see that it comes from a deep and important part of you.Some people are just there because their money stretches farther or because they like the beach, or other more superficial reasons, but eventually they will have to leave.I sense that you love that authentic, yet magical kind of chaos that is Venezuela;it goes beyond words, but is so lovingly felt.

    Good luck, but remember it is damaged, and the repair has to include building her self esteem , and working on uniting , not dividing the people.


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