Venezuelan Government Tightens Noose Around Its Citizens

June 12, 2014

photo(33)Somewhere where I have been recently. Any guesses?

I know I have been absent for a while. First, I went to Caracas and did not leave in a very positive note after all of the events of the last few weeks, but more importantly, I am on my yearly biking junket somewhere in the world, but before it starts I have been stuffing myself with the required protein for the task ahead.

As for Venezuela, things are getting worse. Not only worse in the sense of current events, but also in the sense that the Maduro Government has decided to do away with all semblance of democracy and in one swipe, it has extended the tenure of the members of the Electoral Board indefinitely. Recall that their terms expired a year ago, but now the Supreme Cort, using the same lack of judicial basis that allowed Maduro to become President, while Chávez was still alive, has decided they can stay there forever. Thus, Maduro and Chavismo have wiped their you know what with the 2000 Constitution, as we now have a Comptroller with an expired term by some three years, Supreme Cort Justices by one to two years and the all important Electoral Board by a year and counting. They could be there forever, as far as Chavismo is concerned.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor (another one whose term will be extended forever?) not only continues to jail Leopoldo Lopez, goes after Maria Corina Machado and now, with her trumped up evidence, pretends that Interpol capture fellow blogger Pedro Mario Burelli, Diego Arria and Koesling. At the same time, the Prosecutor is asking student leader Gabriela Arellano to testify, together with human right lawyer Tamara Suju, all of which are suspected of conspiring against this dictatorial regime. Yeah, sure!

The case against Burelli, Arria and Koesling is laughable, as it is based on faked emails, Burelli has asked the Prosecutor to produce the headers for these emails, but of course, she can’t. Neither can she ask Interpol to capture people who have been cited only once, don’t know what they are charged with, have not been given the right to defend themselves and are obviously being persecuted politically. But more importantly, in the case of Burelli, he has not been in Venezuela in a while and last I knew, the Constitution only applies within the physical boundaries of the country.

But the strategy is clear, the Government is trying to intimidate everyone. And it does intimidate to think there is no law that can save you even if you are innocent and that you can be persecuted and prosecuted just because you fall on the wrong side of the authorities just because you have visibility or they feel like it.

And it plays well for the gallery, whether those in PSUV or those inside the Government that want to see Maduro being tough with the opposition.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan media is being sold wholesale to the buddies of the regime with El Universal and Televen reportedly the latest casualties. And what this means is that most people will not hear about Burelli, Arria or Arellano or have an idea what it is all about as they swim in the sea of Chavista misinformation. Somehow, even if one can envision the end of this Government, it is harder to envision the dismantling of the media power built by the pro Government forces. The noose is working today, getting tighter and will be hard to loosen if this nightmare is ever over.

And in the corner of the world in which I work, I find it fascinating, if not perverse, that people actually find it positive that Minister of Planning Giordani was removed from the PDVSA and Central Bank boards. This is seen as a sign that the “pragmatists” are gaining power, as Minister of Finance Torre replaces him in the Central Bank.

Well, I find little encouraging in that for the first time ever, a member of the Board of the Venezuelan Central Bank is a former military with no economics and/or financial background. It is another step towards the military control of the country. But more importantly, Giordani remains, so far, as Minsiter of Planning, where his voice will continue to be heard. Until he leaves this position, I find it hard to be positive about the other moves. Giordani has always had an amazing ability to survive and resurface.

And in the end, this “pragmatism” that so encourages everyone consists of the creation of an exchange market, Sicad 2, which even President Maduro called a failure, or a  lack of success, this week. Given that Giordani opposed Sicad 2 and that it was the “pragmatists” that created it, I don’t see why next week Maduro may not decide to get rid of them too. In the end, Giordani was not in favor of the massive creation of money and his parallel funds are still around and the fight against inflation is no fight at all. In the end what is needed is new faces to come in. New people with some knowledge of economics and/or finance, as the “pragmatists” have never read more than a pamphlet on the matter in their lifetimes.

In the meantime I ponder on the high level of organization achieved by the societies that I am visiting, The infrastructure is awesome, most things function smoothly and there is respect for everyone, even if they think they have real problems.

They should read this post…

32 Responses to “Venezuelan Government Tightens Noose Around Its Citizens”

  1. Dago Says:

    Hi, Miguel!

    I believe that photo was taken at Monserrat range, northwest of Barcelona, Spain. Enjoy your trip!.

    If I’m right, I indeed concur with you: Spaniards in general and catalans I’m particular should follow closely the Venezuela situation, so they could see what having real problems looks like.


    • Indeed it is Monserrat, although I am now at the other side of the border.

      • César Says:

        I live in Barcelona and I tell people that despite all the problems here, things could always be worse, much worse. I hope you enjoyed this part of Spain, it’s beautiful. I wish we could have met for a cañita (cerveza) in a terraza while you were here.

  2. N Smith Says:

    Miguel,

    I found this on Twitter:

    “Caracas Chronicles ‏@CaracasChron 18h
    Venezuela has stopped publishing inflation figures altogether. Outrageous.”

    Is it true?

  3. Gustavo Says:

    Carbo-loading and lots of fluids for the ride !!!

  4. Ronaldo Says:

    Of course, they have to keep the same electoral board members. Tibisay Lucena is on the Chavista payroll for life. She faked results in the past and knows how to do it in the future.

    In fact, Tibisay Lucena participation is they key to letting the World know that Venezuela elections are a sham.

    I honestly believe Venezuela will have no more elections. Maduro is not popular. The CNE is technically out of a job.

    Are they printing copies of the Venezuelan constitution on softer paper? It seems to be mistaken for toilet paper.

    • 5150 Says:

      I disagree, elections will continue like clockwork maybe delayed. They have the finest electoral system in the world (according to Jimmy Carter – see new Smartmatic home page). North Korea and Iraq (under Hussein) had their elections. So does Cuba, Syria, Belarus and Russia. I think that behind Tibisay is Jorge Rodriguez…Smartmatic is his baby.


  5. Reblogged this on danmillerinpanama and commented:
    At least Chavez managed to convert a reasonably good situation into something far worse in a leisurely fashion. Maduro started out with a bad situation and, genius that he must be, made it far worse very quickly. How much worse must it get before he is replaced by a different but equally incompetent Chavista?

    See also Daniel’s grand unified theory of Venezuelan politics. It is “applicable for no more than 48 hours until a new universe of crap and lies suddenly opens with new laws of political physics.” Sounds about right.

  6. xp Says:

    Coffin production in Venezuela has dropped between 20 and 30 percent this year for lack of materials, forcing funeral and burial delays and boosting coffin prices, industry officials say.

    In especially short supply is the metal leaf used in coffin-building, said Pedro Navarro, former president of Venezuela’s funeral parlor association, who blamed lagging production at the state-run foundry Sidor.

    I figure that within two or three months, if things continue on this path, it’s going to get so bad that there won’t be coffins to bury people

    Juan Carlos Fernandez, Executive, Ataudes Venezuela

    “Some factories are paralysed. Others are buying thicker leaf,” he said.

    The country of 30 million has about 50 coffin factories.

    The president of one of Caracas’ biggest coffin companies, Ataudes Venezuela, said glue, varnish, paint and even fabric for the interiors are scarce.

    “I figure that within two or three months, if things continue on this path, it’s going to get so bad that there won’t be coffins to bury people,” the Associated Press news agency quoted the executive, Juan Carlos Fernandez, as saying.

    He said he expected to be forced to effectively halve production next month.

    Demand for coffins has grown in recent years as Venezuela has one of the world’s highest murder rates. [reuters]

  7. Kepler Says:

    Miguel,

    You puzzle me. Perhaps I am wrong but it seems your mood changes too much.
    Early this year you were saying things would be unraveling very very soon.
    Now you write Chavismo will keep on winning elections etc…like indefinitely or at least as long as oil prices keep these levels?

    I disagree. But then I tendto see this on a middle term.


  8. Things ARE unravelling, but people dont seem to care and Chavismo is becoming more dictatorial than I thought, thats the only change

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      “…but people don’t seem to care…”

      One of the most powerful, thought-provoking statements ever made on ANY Venezuelan blog in a very long time. The question now is, ….why?

      • Roy Says:

        I think people care very deeply. However, they have had their hopes raised and had them crushed so many times, they are wary. Yet, if a credible opposition leader were to take command and give the orders, Venezuelans are ready to do what is needed.

      • Kepler Says:

        Faustus,

        I second what Roy says. Nothing to add.

        • firepigette Says:

          A credible opposition leader cannot take root in a population that is not ready to receive he or she.

          The ability to evaluate is not a strong opposition follower trait.

          So far there is over-criticism and not enough ability to appreciate among the people, what is done for them

          Gratitude is missing which skews the ability to pervasive reality.

    • Victor Says:

      Its not that people don’t care. In my opinion, at least 60% of the people (if not more) are still leaving this dream that Chavez gave them. Its the government OF the people FOR the people (people=pueblo). When they wake up every morning and see themselves in the mirror, they see Chavez, Maduro, Cilia, Tibisay, etc in reflected in it. They truly believe, this people are in the government to protect them from the “oligarchs” and the “burgoise” that stole all the country’s’ wealth, and more importantly, their sense of belonging, their sense of being part of something and their sense of existence. So this battle is a long one. People will first need to realize that the “oligarchs” are not as bad as they thought they were and the “oligarchs” will need start taking people in more consideration than what previous democratic governments did. Caldera started something with his “chiripero” movement, but it did not last very long. Chavez’s force “lo aplano de seco”. So don’t just think things are going to change easily..

  9. Kepler Says:

    All the guys who have some power now in Venezuela’s regime have blood in their hands, know about very bad crimes (Anderson someone?), have stolen a huge amount of money or all this.

    Unlike some Arab or African dictators, they hardly will have places to fall back to, specially now. They pretended to defend a “revolution”. If their regime falls, Cuba’s Castro dictatorship falls.

    Of course, this makes them so much more aggressive.

    What is to be done? Not easy but I believe there are always ways.

  10. firepigette Says:

    Dr Faustus,

    A very good friend of mine wrote the following which I think well explains the case of many, though not all:

    Cansancio de País

    “A veces no se distinguir si es el cansancio interno acumulado por la incertidumbe y la crisis continua alrededor ó si acaso es que de verdad el país ya no puede más consigo mismo y la gente tampoco. Cansancio mutuo. Del país y de sus habitantes. Uno del otro. Todos con todos. Ya sin rabia sino cansancio puro, agotamiento en automatico. Sin garantías de recuperar el entusiasmo a plazo visible y si se logra, por cuanto tiempo.
    Pareciera que la solución fuera irse, lejos, muy lejos, para respirar, visitar farmacias y supermercados provistos de todo y con abundancia. Necesidades y carencias básicas de la crónica de una guerra triste y prolongada, fría, húmeda y empalagosa.
    Retomar fuerzas y esperanzas es una proeza. Las sonrisas son una cortesía cuando salen de los labios, pero sin los ojos ni el semblante que permanecen sombríos como fondo. Pareciera una naturaleza muerta ó agonizante, decolorada.
    Es el Trastorno Afectivo Migratorio severo sin haber emigrado geograficamente.
    Como encontrar la receta para el alivio sin los ingredientes como la esperanza, la resiliencia, la aceptación y una buena taza de dignidad para aderezar el conjunto? Hibernamos hasta la esclavitud mas sumisa y nos dejamos morir o matar de a poquito cada día? Hasta dejar de respirar de una vez por todas y ya? No más? Así de simple o de complicado, según cada temperamento?
    Nos medicamos con alcoholes y rumores, medicinas prescritas o proscritas, pasatiempos que no hacen sino matar el espacio-tiempo porque crear calidad de vida parece estar destinado a los que se van aunque sea por algun tiempo, fuera del país donde se decretó la felicidad suprema, en otro horario, con otro discurso y color.
    Pero queda para todos algo, democráticamente, como la escasez, el miedo, los lutos y la inseguridad, la nostalgia por un país que una vez existió y también emigró hasta de nombre.
    Cansancio de País. De día y de noche. De derrota. Necesidad de dejarlo como está y punto.
    Voy a rezar. Quizás allí me encuentre con cierta serenidad y al final, una sonrisa de agradecimiento.”

    Dr.Harry Czechowicz
    Médico-Psiquiatra

  11. Edgar Says:

    …and how about this “perla” in yesterday’s FT.com
    “Venezuela signals relaxation of foreign exchange regime”

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/463b6740-f4a2-11e3-a143-00144feabdc0.html#axzz34oIU4dlk

    Sicad-3-o-cualquier-otra-cosa-que-distraiga-a-los-venezolanos….


  12. […] Venezuelan Government Tightens Noose Around Its Citizens […]

  13. Ira Says:

    Okay, boys and girls:

    I’m curious to know your spins and predications about what’s going to happen in Venexuela vis-a-vis (did I spell that right?) what’s happening in Argentina.

    We all know about Chavismo’s rabid solidarity with Latin Americancountries regarding anything “anti-western,” “anti-imperialism,” etc.

    But how far can Maduro go, how far does he WANT to go, and what are the ramifications for VZ and his options if Kirchner doesn’t pay? And it looks like she won’t.

    Miguel–is this issue worth a dedicated blog from you?

  14. Kepler Says:

    Miguel,

    Similar to what Ira asks: you still think Venezuela cannot go through that because of it has so much oil? Probably, but probably that would mean giving rights to resources as we hadn’t done since Gómez’ times, or not?


  15. Yo sigo a Venezuela y Politica desde que aparecio el Diablo Chavez que iba a ser algo como lo bueno de Perez Jimenez…!

    Asi que Chavez se va preso! Y de repente Caldera lo suelta y se despierta en mi la pesadilla de nuevo! MIENTRAS QUE EN MUCHOS SE DESPIERTA EL SUEN~O NECIO hasta el dia de hoy…!

    Y TODO LO QUE DIJERON DE CHAVEZ LOS ADECOS ES POCO MAS BIEN!

    Estamos en elk 2014, y MADURO tiene que completar el JUEGO COMPLETO con riesgos Internacionales, o pasar debajo de la mesa con algun suceso negativo para el o el chavismo !

    Queeeeeeeee….???

    Puede ser, tal vez, quizas…!!!


  16. Cierto o no…! Empece a movilizar por cuenta propia o sujerencia propia, planes de irme al diablo de Venezuela! No fue facil! Y me lo hicieron dificil por un an~o! En el 2000 llegue a mi destino!


  17. Creo que esos “cerros” son de algun lugar en USA !? Son rocas igneas o sedimentarias??? Tendran fosiles ?


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