Archive for December, 2012

Chávez In Delicate State Says Vice-President (?) Maduro

December 30, 2012

From Cuba, Vice-President (maybe) Nicolas Maduro tells the country that President Hugo Chávez is in delicate condition and has had “new” complications from a respiratory infection.

If part of the truth is being told, things must not be looking up. Meanwhile, the Vice-President is not in Venezuela and has left a spurious and illegal Vice-President in charge.

Que Dios nos agarre confesados de esta marabunta. Jan. 5th. becomes now the day to watch.

Econoinvest Directors Freed, Signs Of Change for Venezuela?

December 29, 2012

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Tonight, in a very surprising development, the four Directors of brokerage firm Econoinvest were freed, to be tried in freedom, after more than two years and seven months in prison. This jailing was not only illegal in terms of the length of time they were in prison without a trial and not freed on their own recognizance, but in the end they were political prisoners of the Chavez Government. They were accused of making illegal trades in the foreign exchange markets, trades that were legal under the law and if they were not, the Government should have jailed many other people, including those on each side of the trade. This would have involved hundreds of thousands of people. While in jail, their companies were ripped off by those appointed by the Government to intervene them, but all investors were paid off, showing how one sided and partial the law is in Venezuela.

But in the end, the Government was simply trying to blame others for their own stupidity and incompetence, as the swap rate devalued from around Bs. 5.4 in January 2010 to Bs 8-plus in April of the same year. The government decided to find a scapegoat and somehow, Econoinvest became the primary target, for reasons I have yet to understand, even if many others were also persecuted.

For me, this is a very happy occasion for many reasons, which go from the very simple, to the very complex, a story that remains to be told in this blog. I know quite well one of the people involved, who worked with me for many years, and know another one of those happily released today. Additionally, I was involved in the same business and have watched with consternation every single step of their ordeal.

Given that Chávez is in no condition to make decisions, I will like to interpret the decision as “change is in the air” one. Maybe I am being too optimistic. To me, the prisoners were singled out by Minister of Planning and Finance Jorge Giordani. Two years and seven months after this witch hunt, the “parallel” rate, unmentionable and illegal now, is up over 100% over what it was then, showing that it was the failure of the Government’s economic policies that led to that sharp devaluation in 2010 and the unfair and unjust jailing and persecution of so many people. Seven other people were also freed, all related to the intervened banks and brokers, before the foreign exchange crisis of 2010.

Hopefully, this is a sign of change and that now that Chávez is not around to decide things, there is a miniscule sign of humanity, regret and compassion somewhere within Chavismo.

But we need much more…

Venezuela: Seven more Years!

December 27, 2012

20121204_TALC1_24_1_F1Not much happening in Venezuela. I am not sure if the Government is legal or not, I have no clue as to whether Maduro could publish another decree written before Chavez went to Cuba tomorrow and saying that he designates him as the temporary President. Or anything else for that matter. Why not? All we hear is that Chávez is slightly better and then two hours later we are told he is exercising. Way to go Hugo! And while this happens, Maduro blasts the MUD because it it has to be “accountable” to the Nation.This from the “Chávez is fine” crowd who will be telling us soon that somehow things have taken a turn for the worse, but Chavez was fine almost all the time he has been sick. Eighteen months of a two year illness.

But there are more important things to ponder. No, I am not talking about the Constitution, to me it is clear that it is badly written and there are gaps that no amount of BS can clarify, because it is not clarifiable. Whatever was meant to be included about the temporal absence of the President elect in the Constitution, was removed because it was not clear what it meant for the President elect to be temporarily unable to assume power. Rather than rewrite the article, it was removed. Sounds like Chavismo, always taking short cuts.  The best Constitution in the world, which rigidly fixes the date of the inauguration to be Jan. 10th. Simply stupid.

But the whole discussion is simply spurious. Chavismo knows what it wants to do. They want an election as soon as possible. That is why Chávez was operated on on Dec. 11th. and not a day earlier, so that Chavismo can stay in power for seven more years. Seven long years, if Chavistas can survive each other. The problem is that Diosdado wants to be “it” for a year and Maduro wants to see how he can stay for seven. Scary to imagine Diosdado as President for a full year, I don’t see him leaving for some weird reason. Scary, because here is a guy who can always find excuses to ignore the Constitution, arguing the “popular will” or whatever he deems necessary. To say nothing of his military DEA-blacklisted buddies.

And it will be interesting to see who wants to be the true spiritual son (or daughter) of the holiest Chavista of them all. He said Maduro, but anybody, from Diosdado to Adan, to Gabriela may now claim the crown. And we may likely spend the next fifty years trying to get rid of this new religion, which will not only have gods, but false prophets, new temples and spurious deities. And every year, a new record like this one is likely to be established, but it will not matter. The show will have to  go on, with or without Hugo. Like so many things in Venezuela, the Metro, Conare, CVG, democracy, Billo’s, Hermaonos Alvarez, IVIC, INTEVEP, USB, Museo Sofia Imber, things work, as long as the original creator and administrator is still around. After that, they deteriorate. Sometimes fast, sometime slow. Yes, things can get worse, much worse, and fast. Don’t want to take bets in that.

But speaking of violating the Constitution. As of today, we have seven serving Justices of the Venezuelan Supreme Court who aren’t. Yeap! Just like that. Another one in a long string of practicalities implemented by Chavismo. Please, don’t take the Constitution literally! These guys were alternates, who did not follow any of what the law and the Constitution say. But you see, if they went to the Assembly, they would have to ask the opposition, and that would be intolerable in the Chavista “democracy”. And since Chávez was elected by popular vote, he should be able to select the alternates, even if we don’t know if he is really around. No? Constitution my butt!! As potential First Lady Cilia would say: “It is just a formality to ask the Assembly to name them”

I agree, everything about the law is about the formalities that need to be followed for countries to function. That is precisely why Venezuela has become dysfunctional. The laws became irrelevant long ago.

And so it goes.

Really, not much happening.

Until Jan. 5th., on that day, we will find out who will be the President for the first of the seven long years. Get used to it! Or more precisely the fraction of eleven of those twelve months until Jan. 14th. 2014, when the newly elected President takes formally takes over.

Only formally…

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays To All The Readers

December 24, 2012

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I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and very Happy Holidays. I Hope you relax tonight and tomorrow and enjoy Christmas with your loved ones and that you get all of the rewarding gifts you desire, both material and spiritual ones.

Miguel

While Chavismo Should Hold Elections ASAP, Diosdado Only Talks About Delaying Them

December 23, 2012

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Let me try to understand the current scenario: The opposition just suffered one of its worst defeats ever since Chavismo came to power. Chavismo can give the opposition the final knockout punch by holding elections as soon as possible, elect Chávez’ chosen successor ( And Castro´s!) but Diosdado wants to wait and give Chávez time to get better by loosely interpreting the Constitution (and saying it is the opposition that wants to rush the process). Of course, we hear Maduro say nothing about the issue. Not one iota from Maduro about Jan. 10th. just Chávez is better, while time simply gives the opposition the chance to: select a candidate, organize, raise funds and try to regroup after the Dec. 16th, defeat.

Does any of it make sense to you? Does it make sense for heir apparent Maduro to wait? Does this make it sound like Chavismo is unified?

Because in the end, what we do know is that it does not look like Chávez will live for four years after Jan. 10th., the time that would have to elapse for Chavismo to hold on to power for the next six years. But it does seem, like if you rush an election now, before the ¨people¨can realize what a terrible candidate Maduro is, Chavismo can cling to power for six more years.

Instead, we get Godgiven Cabello telling us daily, at every turn, all over the country, how Chávez does not have to show up for however long he wants. Of course, Godgiven will be President all of this “extra” time, call it Cabello´s overtime.

So, I would have to agree with Dieterich, that Cabello is trying to bypass Chávez’ wish of designating Maduro as his successor. but while Godgiven addresses the issue at every step, Maduro just plods along, talking about unity and that Chávez is getting better. But Maduro has yet to say beep about what happens if on Jan. 10th. Hugo is a no show.

Is this for real? Or is this a well planned out game of making the opposition believe that the elections are not forthcoming? Because otherwise, it just seems as if Diosdado wants to extend to the power he should only hold for thirty days after Jan. 10th. for as long as he can.

To me, this is the best possible scenario for the opposition.(Just better, not much more) Let the elections be delayed as soon as possible. Let economic decisions be delayed. Let Maduro go around the country “campaigning” so that people can see he is just a Chávez wannabe and let the oppo build up a credible challenge.

Does it get better than that? I doubt it. But it still seems like a distracting ploy to me.

Next important date: Jan. 5th. Will Diosdado be ratified as President of the Assembly or will a woman named Blanca be named? And will she become the first female President of Venezuela, albeit for thirty days?

Is There Any Silver Lining For The Venezuelan Opposition From Sunday’s Elections?

December 20, 2012

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People have been trying to find a silver lining in Sunday’s results for the opposition and I think they are stretching it too much, the results were very bad for the opposition. The only reason why they were not disastrous, was because Falcon won by 8% in Lara and Capriles by 4% in Miranda. But either of those two losing would have simply been a total disaster. From the raw results, Capriles barely avoided the cliff, but he only won by 4%, three percentage points lower than his margin of victory against Diosdado Cabello in 2008, who was at the time Governor and well known. Jaua on the other hand was less well known, a worse candidate and amazingly enough, a worse speaker than Cabello. Thus, I believe this margin weakens Capriles.

But I can imagine a room with Capriles and Falcón discussing who should be the Presidential candidate, should the need arise:

Falcón: Henrique, you should be the candidate. HCR: No, no, I only won by 4.01%, so please you be the candidate. Falcón: Oh, please, you be the candidate, you are our national leader. HCR: Oh please, you will probably be better at getting Chavista light votes and you won by 8.01% of the vote…and so on and so forth.

Because clearly, it will be very tough to beat Nicolás Maduro for either of them. In fact, I don’t see today how this could be done, except if Chavismo fell sleep at the wheel and decided not to rush the Presidential election. But if the do the logical thing and hold it fast, unless Chavismo splits and something dramatic happens to turn off voters, I just don’t see it possible that Capriles’ small edge in his State can be turned into a national victory. And I think Falcón is not know nationally very well and he will not have time to campaign adequately.

And the abstention numbers were bad for the opposition on Sunday, because they show how demoralized and unmotivated voters felt after the October defeat. Yes, Chavismo also suffered from the same problem, but in both the 2007 Constitutional Referendum and the 2010 Assembly elections, opposition voters had been more militant than Chavista voters when the Presidency was not involved. Since the 2006 Presidential elections, the opposition had obtained an increasing percentage of the votes every single election, except in this one. Our voters had always been much more disciplined than Chavistas, who will only turn out in large number s when Chavez was involved. Opposition voters were increasingly there, but this time around they seemed tired and did not show up. Can they be woken up again fast? It would seem hard at this time, unless something happened to wake them up.

That we know Chavismo used all sorts of abuses to win on Sunday? Of course, see picture above, but they will be even more abusive in a Presidential race, because what is at stake is the future of the revolution. They would pull off all of the stops, as they know that Chavez’ absence is a weakness, even if there will be some sympathy vote.

The opposition should have also held primaries in every single State, rather than leaving certain candidates out of “respect” for their regional leaderships. Most of those guys lost, like the Salas’ in Carabobo or Perez Vivas in Tachira. In contrast, Chavismo removed some of the tired leaderships in certain states and even if they were replaced by Chavez’ hand picked cronies, they won.

To me the main factors that explain Sunday’s results were abstention and abuse of power. Abstention, because for the first time in a while, our militant voters stayed away. And I don’t need to remind everyone of the myriad of abuse of power incidents that were seen in the last month, including the press conference on Sunday and Chavez’ son in laws two appearances over the weekend telling us what is father in law wanted from the electorate. Curious that once the elections were over, there have no more calls to pray for Chávez, nor more masses held in his behalf. End of the charade once the votes were in!

About the only silver lining I have found is the abstention for Chavismo. It was higher than in any electoral event, save for the Constitutional referendum in 2007, which the opposition managed to win. This despite the heavy vote buying and all of the electoral tricks. Which only goes to prove that it is the opposition voters that need to be mobilized and motivated and not blamed for the defeat. In a scenario with no Chávez, Chavismo will no longer be able to feel comfortable going into any elections.

And in the end, as I have been saying, it may just be for the better. Let Chavismo deal with the economic adjustment necessary because of years of economic mismanagement. It will make the contrast between Chavismo with Chávez and without Chávez even stronger.

A small silver lining is the results in Bolivar State. Andres Velasquez is a fighter and will go as far as he can to demand his rights. He will probably lose his appeal in the end, but he should go ahead and publish all of the actas on the Internet for the world to see. And leaders from other states should go and support him.

And so we wait for Jan. 10th. (or Jan 5th.?) While regional leaders tell us Chavez is very sick, our own leaders tell us everything is under control and respiratory infections are controlled in hours in another miracle of the Cuban medicine that did Chavez in. Maduro says Chavez is improving day by day, while Diosdado suggests that Jan. 10th. can be postponed. Sure, so can the whole Constitution. Maybe it would be easier to just get rid of it and do whatever they want all the time. At least there would be no uncertainties.

Will Falcon Ask To Be The Candidate?

December 17, 2012

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And now the most important question left is: Will Falcón ask to be the candidate fr the opposition in a future Presidential race?

If I were him, I would think long term and pass, I don’t believe he can build a successful national campaign in the short time that is likely to be available. But ambition and the fact he has that mysterious piece of DNA that drives politicians to desire power, may short circuit such a rational decision. But I hear that he is already talking about it.

The difficulty is that he can not come out today and say he wants to be the candidate. He has to wait until the sequence of events develops on its own, before he can do anything about it publicly. Otherwise, it would not only be in terrible taste, but it may alienate the same electorate that he wants to attract from the Chavismo-light end of things.

The second question is what will Capriles do if Falcón wants it. I think he should hand over the baton and not even fight it. He blew it and he can’t blow it again. If he loses against Maduro, he is done as a Presidential possible (He may be done already anyway) The time to think long term and high risk was back in October and he failed to see it.

So now, the opposition faces the reality of really having two “Chavista” candidates running for President. Oh wait! That happened once already. In fact, the guy who was the opposition candidate then, happened to win last night for PSUV in Zulia State.

Oh well!

Some Thoughts On The Results Of Venezuela’s Regional Elections

December 16, 2012

We still don’t know the official abstention number (40%+) and the total number of votes for each side. The latter remains a very important number going forward.

Capriles’ number is ok, but not great, should make him the candidate against Maduro. If abstention is as high as has been said (clearly 40%-plus), Chavismo would like the Capriles-Maduro face off to be sooner, rather than later, as I have been predicting. Time works against Chavismo. Seems like Maduro would win an election that takes place soon.

Merida and Tachira are hard to understand. Chavez lost in both and now the PSUV candidates manage to score a win. Does this mean Vielma Mora is the most viable Chavista candidate for the ¨Chavismo sin Chavez¨ era? Jaua has never won an election, Arias lost one, Maduro has never run for anything but Head of the subway union and Diosdado lost to Capriles once. Vielam Mora, on the other hand, ran almsot on his own and won. Man to watch out!

Pablo Perez was terrible. He did not deliver on October 7th. , he did not deliver today. Maybe maracuchos should stop saying that the country does not accept maracuchos. Zulia seems to have problems with them! The Salas in Carabobo should learn that you can’t expect to stay so long in power. People do get tired.

To me, abstention is a puzzle. It is fine to argue that Chavez is the only one that get the vote out. But to have 30% of the electorate decide not to vote less than three months after Chavez’ victory in October is a complex mystery to me. Whatever happened to the sympathy vote? What turned the voters off in 75 days? We are talking about the fact that in this election, only about the same number of people that voted for Chavez in October went out to vote. Is this reasonable? I don’t think so, because Chavismo did not do much better than in October, so you can’t say the oppo vote was weak. A lot of Chavistas stayed home. Why?

Maybe Capriles should say Falcon will be his Vice-President. But again, let Chavistas deal with the economic adjustment. They created the distortions, let them deal with it. A maduro win, may not be so bad for the future after all.

Any ¨people¨ that elect Rodriguez Chacin as their Governor, deserve worse.And with Rangel Silva winning, we now have two people blacklisted by the US Government for their involvement in drug trafficking.

It was bad for the opposition to only win three Governorships. But Chavismo can’t feel good about the abstention level. From the numbers available, abstention was more than 40%. Much more than in 2008. The fact this happens so soon after the most successful election in terms of abstention for Chavismo and in the midst of Chavez’ recurrence, raises a lot of questions.

Bolivar is still up for grabs. Did not expect that, given the abstention levels in such a Chavista State. Andres Velasquez will put up a fight. He deserves  a chance. The Bolivar union workers never had a better friend and activist than Velasquez, but they have never given him the power. Had Velasquez won in 1994, Venezuela’s history would have been much different and for the better.

Finally, the Head of the Electoral Board did a terrible job reading the results. She read the numbers wrong, did not give candidate totals and when she gave Bolivar’s results she said twice the were not irreversible, but then gave the wrong numbers. She tries to grab the attention and then screws up!

Now the guessing game begins. Another election in two months? three months? Four months?

My guess is think soon, rather than later. How does February 3nd. sound to you? The 10th. is Carnival…Just wondering…

Official Results at 9:00 PM In Venezuela Regional Elections

December 16, 2012

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First Official Results:

Zulia, opposition loses

Miranda a win for Capriles (+6%)

Lara a win for Falcon

Amazonas for the opposition

Barinas for PSUV

Monagas PSUV wins

Anzoategui Aristobulo 53% to 41%, opposition loses

Apure PSUV wins

Aragua PSUV 52% to 42.7%

Barnas PSUV 54 to 41% Adan Chavez

Carabobo Ameliach 53.49% to 42.7%

Cojedes PSUV 59% to 35% opposition

Delta Amacuro PSUV 71% PJ 20.99%

Falcon PSUV 48.28%, PJ 35.28%

Guarico PSUV 70.1% AD 25.5%

Lara Falcon 54% PSUV 41.98%

Merida PSUV 47.56% PJ 37.96%

Miranda Capriles 50.5% , PSUV 46.5%

Monagas PSUV wins

Portuguesa PSUV 50.2%

Sucre PSUV 55.77%, 35% opposition

Tachira PSUV wins

Trujillo 79.4% PSUV

Vargas PSUV 69%

Yaracuy PSUV 57.8%

Zulia Arias Cardenas 50.99%

Nueva Esparta PSUV wins.

Amazonas, Opposition wins 56%

Bolivar PSUV 45.41%, opposition 44.64%

Seems opoosition wins three states and incredibly loses Merida and Tachira where Chavez lost in October.

Venezuelan Regional Election Update at 8:30 PM

December 16, 2012

The best electoral system in the world, according to Jimmy (Who?) Carter, can’t call any of the 23 Gubernatorial elections at 8:30 PM tonight.

But the Devil hears:

Miranda (+6%), Lara and Amazonas in the bag for the opposition.

Zulia looks hard to win

Monagas, Merida look good

Bolivar tied at this time

Carabobo, Tachira and Nueva Esparta we are slightly ahead

Barinas looks like it can go our way (Hard to believe!) (I am told WE WON!)

So far, this is very positive for the opposition!!!

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