After a week in Caracas, where traffic has become absolutely unbearable, here are some things I heard:
-I met with my original “Chavez is sick source” who in May said that Chavez was sick, leading to my completely forgotten post, which was the first one on the matter. Well, turns out my source knew about it since February 2011. One day the whole story will be told and we will find that Chavez’ failing will be the same one that did him in in so many areas: A total disregard for expertise and know-how.
-In Chavez’ absence, the financial part of the Government is sitting there doing nothing. Giordani does not listen to Jaua, Merentes is ignored. The Central Bank needs a bond issue of either PDVSA or Venezuela bonds to supply its SITME foreign exchange system, but absent the All Mighty, nobody dares make the decision and he has paid little attention to the matter.
-Reporters in Caracas are seeing more contacts from high Government officials, curiously all of those with Presidential aspirations, than they have seen in thirteen years. Jaua sends half a dozen press releases every day, Ramirez has been calling reporters that he blacklisted in the past, Jorge Rodriguez thinks he could be anointed successor, while Diosdado has become the traveling President of the National assembly. Even Aristobulo has shown some interest. Only Maduro has been quiet on that front, which may mean absolutely nothing no matter what Bocaranda may say.
-After talking to many people, I came away with a feeling that Chavez may name a new Vice-President, Jaua is simply not liked, but he will not name a successor any time soon. This is better for the opposition and a very dangerous game for the revolution. If Chavez is not seen in public designating someone as the the heir to his revolutionary ideals, there will be a fight to death among various Chavista factions.
-While much has been made over the speech by Portuguesa’s Governor at PSUV’s campaign command meeting, I think the whole thing was overblown. Castro Sotelo is in charge of planning and he presented scenarios, one with a weakened Chavez, one without Chavez and one with no elections. But in his scenario (and in his speech), it is the opposition that does not want the election, not Chavez’ party. Go figure.
-Most local companies refuse to discuss publicly the impact of the new cost and price control Bill on their finances. They are simply paranoid about the Government even getting a hint that they are complaining. But Procter and Gamble guided down its profit forecast for the year, as Venezuela’s controls have chopped prices up by as much as 25%, cutting worldwide profits by 3%.
And yes, tomorrow is my predicted date, it may not happen, but I will not be that far off.