Monday, 27 July 2015

Polish newspaper Wyborcza and its bad choice for Venezuela (updated)

Last month I was in Poland and I asked a couple of friends there to recommend a newspaper on the "liberal side". They both mentioned Gazeta Wiborcza, which is a newspaper that usually partners with the Guardian. My Polish is still basic, but I want to improve it and one of the ways of doing that is by reading as much as possible. 

One day I got this Wiborcza and started to browse it. There was a very interesting article about Pasternak, a victim of communism. Then I found a couple of other articles about economic matters. Interesting. Then I came across an article about the populist politician Pawel Kukiz written by Ewa Sapiezynska. That's when I almost chocked on my until then delicious borsch. I re-read it thinking I hadn't got it right. I checked with GoogleTranslate. It still said what I thought was nonsense. I checked with my Polish friends: it was nonsense.

Ms Sapiezynska studied sociology and spent some time in Chile and a few months in Venezuela. She currently works as researcher at a lesser known private university in Warsaw and she is, apparently, one of those in Poland who still defend the Chavista regime.

I knew little about Kukiz. Basically, what I knew was what my friends had told me and what I had read in such publications as Spiegel, the Guardian and The Economist. All in all the guy doesn't leave any positive impression on me. This post is not about him, though. It is about Chávez and the way Sapiezynska tries to say Chávez was the good populist. Basically Sapiezynska says Chávez might be a populist, but a good one, while Kukiz is a bad one.

I leave it to others to discuss about who this Kukiz character is. I still hardly know about Poland, even if it seems my very superficial knowledge about that country is better than the idea Ms Sapiezynska has about mine.

Here you read my comments on what she wrote in Wyborcza and what she wrote in Al Jazeera.

Sapizynska said Chávez came from a poor family. In reality his family was lower middle class, like mine. Chávez used to say his family was so poor he had to go barefooted. That was simply bullshit. At that time two teachers could afford to buy shoes for their children and much more. I know: my parents were teachers as well. In fact: the purchasing power of a teacher back then was higher than now.

Education didn't become free with Chavismo. In fact: a lot of Chavista honchos not only went to university for free during the so-called "IV Republic". They even got scholarships to study abroad, like the husband of the Infanta María Gabriela Chávez.

This Polish sociologist claims Chávez was born "with the wrong skin colour" and in spite of the racial component, he managed to become an official. That is also rubbish. There was and there is racism in Venezuela and yet the situation is much better than in countries such as Poland. There were governors and presidents of the Central Bank that were as or darker than Chávez. The reason is simple: the vast majority of Venezuelans are incredibly mixed.

She doesn't goes into details about what really happened in Venezuela in 1989 and 1992. In reality the "neo-liberal reforms" Carlos Andrés Pérez announced in 1989 were hardly implemented as the government became largely paralyzed firstly by the violence than ensued, the Caracazo, and then by the legal actions against Pérez. Some claim up to 3000 people were murdered during those days. Still, until now there is no list of missing people, even if the violence took place in the most urban centres of Venezuela. Until now only about 270 deaths have been accounted for. Why has Chavismo not been interested in an independent investigation about those events? Because military honchos close to Chávez were as much involved in the crimes against innocent people as what they later called "the right". Because even some of the military honchos who got power when Chávez arrived had relatives who were actually killed by the extreme left fighting the military in their usual cat-and-mouse games in the eighties.

Ms Sapiezynska is probably under 30 but she should have known about the shortage economist at the end of the socialist regime in Poland (probably she would call it "state capitalism"). Venezuela's shortage economy precedes Maduro: it started to appear when Chávez instituted massive price controls, introduced a currency control that helped increase corruption and let the Central Bank print money to win every possible election.

Sapiezynska quotes two very well-known Chavista apologists other people from the extreme left quote as "independent analysts": Mark Weisbrot and George Cicariello-Maher. They are as independent as the current ambassador of Venezuela to Cuba.

She writes in Al Jazeera that Venezuela had a stable economy when Venezuelans had been queuing up for many years to buy milk and chicken, flour and sugar. She doesn't not mention Venezuela has the highest inflation in the Western hemisphere and she does not mention the government of Chávez let M2 grow as you would not see in any single normal country. 

This is how the Chávez regime printed money

Sapiezynska doesn't mention that although Venezuela has been highly dependent on oil for over 70 years, the  dependency now is much higher, even if we didn't take into account the oil price development in the past 15 years. In 1998 oil made up 70% of Venezuela's exports. Now the percentage is more than 96%. Back in 1998 Venezuela exported - in total - more non-oil related goods than now.

This sociologist does not explain how the "empresarios" (it seems she wants the word to take the same sense as "politicos" in English) managed to take money out of the country and create chaos. Actually, she probably doesn't have a clue about how Chavismo has created the most corrupt system Venezuela has had by maintaining the different currency systems that enable shameless arbitrage.

Sapiezynska doesn't mention at all the murder rate in Venezuela more than tripled since the military caudillo got elected in 1998. If she did, she would probably say, like notorious Ramonet, from Le Monde Diplomatique, that it is a plan by the CIA (Ramonet wrote years ago two full pages in that rag to explain why the increase in crime during Chávez's tenure was caused by the CIA and what he called the extreme right, which is anyone opposing Chavismo...he didn't provide a single proof in those huge two pages).

Sapiezynska does not tell people that the so-called achievements of the regime lag far behind those of a lot of Latin American states.

She claims Chavismo reduced poverty by 50% since 1998 but she doesn't say that data is already old, that that reduction was only possible because international oil prices rose not by 50%, not by 100% but by more than 500% and that poverty has been increasing for many years now. Even if the Central Bank and the INE are hiding most of the recent data, poverty figures are probably back to what they were in 1998. How do you know that? You just have do do the maths and compare the purchasing power back then and now. On top of that, Sapiezynska doesn't tell the readers poverty reduction has been more effective in many of the Latin American countries with governments that belong to bad "team" (in her Manicheic world).

She claims Chavismo has done something for education when we know that claim is bogus: Venezuela didn't eradicate illiteracy as I wrote already here. There was never an independent United Nations' study about illiteracy in Venezuela. In fact, Chavismo took Venezuela away from international academic tests on education quality. As I reported earlier (in German here, with some links in English), Chavismo even tried to sabotage the efforts carried out by the regional government of Capriles to let the few schools it had under its administration to take part in the PISA programme. If some journalist has any doubt about this, she can get in touch with me.
Life expectancy: Mexico got to Venezuelan levels, Colombia and Peru overtook it since Chavismo is in power

Sapiezynska won't tell you about how the current head of the Supreme Court was a friend of Chávez and a former candidate for the position of governor of Nueva Esparta for the Chávez party. She won't tell you the previous head of the Supreme Court - during Chávez's time - publicly declared that the division of powers was bad for the State (and thus not welcome).

She doesn't say anything about the incredible nepotism under Chávez or Maduro. Nepotism nowadays is even worse than during the Monaga times of the XIX century. The head of the Republic's Treasury is Maduro's nephew. Several dozen relatives of Maduro and his wife are employed by them at the National Assembly.

She won't tell you about how the former military coupster Diosdado Cabello, the second in command and a coup monger like Chávez, uses illegally wiretapped recordings of the opposition to threaten them on public TV. She won't tell you Cabello's wife is minister of tourism and his brother is the minister of Industry.

Above all, she won't tell you about how oil prices evolved during the eighties and the nineties.

I suppose Wyborcza has a wide range of contributors with very different opinions. I suppose this person is one of those who claims to be "the real left". I know Poland doesn't have as many contacts with Latin America as Germany, France, Spain and Ms Sapiezynska might have been one of the few available. Still, Wyborcza should try to find Venezuelan specialists who have a more solid knowledge about Venezuela's economy and history...who actually have some understanding about economics in general, independently of their ideological or political stance...and who are honest enough as to present the arguments you would find among the Venezuelan population as a whole, not only those of the utterly corrupt military regime in power in Venezuela today.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Die Angriffe des venezolanischen Regimes gegen die Demokratie - Stand Juli 2015

Die  Leiterin des Rechnungswesens Venezuelas, eine Marionette des Regimes, hat erklärt, die oppositionelle Politikerin María Corina Machado, die in Caracas aktiv ist, dürfe kein öffentliches Amt ausüben. Dasselbe hat sie mit Enzo Scarano, ein Oppositioneller in Valencia und mit Pablo Pérez, einem anderen Oppositionellen in Maracaibo getan. Caracas, Valencia und Maracaibo sind die wichtigsten Städte des Landes. Es ist todsicher, dass die Regierung weitere Politiker der Opposition vor den Wahlen neutralisieren wird.

Das Europäische Parlament hatte schon Anfang 2015 die Angriffe des venezolanischen Regimes gegen Machado und andere Demokraten kritisiert. Nur die Linksextreme Europas hatte Maduro und die Militärs Venezuelas diesmal verteidigt. Sowohl die Linksextremisten wie auch die Rechtsextremisten -Le Pen und De Winter- haben davor Partei für den Chavismus genommen. Die Extremen berühren sich bekanntlich.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Maduro, Chavismo and the Sebrenica massacre

The Venezuelan regime was one of the few governments that abstained at a United Nations' meeting from supporting a resolution to declare the Sebrenica massacre a genocide. It reacted like China, Nigeria and Angola. You can read about that in Russian here. Putin's Russia was even against this resolution. I reckon Putin is happy with Maduro.

43 euros for a kilo of black beans

If we believe in what a local newspaper in Venezuela says, you have to pay 300 Bs for one kilo of black beans in the city of Puerto Cabello. I am right now not in Venezuela but I believe it because I have relatives living all over the place and that is what they say black beans' price is nowadays.

If a foreigner went to Venezuela and sold his euros in the black market, that kilo would be worth less than an euro to him. The vast majority of Venezuelans, though, do not have euros or dollars nor is there a free market in which the economic system they live in can regulate the local currency's weight against foreign money. That's how black markets appear. 

A Venezuelan school teacher with over 6 years of working experience would be able to buy 30 kilos of black beans with all of her monthly salary.

Venezuela is not Siberia. The ideal place for growing black beans is there.

I wonder if the useful idiots who say abroad that Venezuela is under an economic war still believe that.

Saturday, 4 July 2015


How powerful is the military honcho Diosdado Cabello really?

He obviously has a lot of support from the military. The military caste is the one that tells Maduro to give Diosdado his share of power.  Diosdado heads the National Assembly, his brother is the minister of Industries and his wife is the minister of tourism and he is said to be behind the Soles Cartel. He obviously has a lot of clout. Still, we know the vast majority of Venezuelans dislike him a lot.

For how long is his current position going to last?

I will be analysing this character in upcoming posts.

Monday, 22 June 2015

La Guerre au Vénézuéla aux temps du Chavismo

If you speak French, you should listen to this. If you don't but you know French speakers  who want to know about Venezuela, send them the link, please.

Thanks to Alexandra for tweeting that and to Julien, in the first place, for that excellent report.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Venezuela auf Deutsch, Gabriela Montero und die Kollaborateure

Ein Leser (R.) hat mich auf einen Artikel im Spiegel der letzten Woche aufmerksam gemacht. Da spricht Gabriela Montero, eine sehr begabte venezolanische Pianistin, über die Lage in unserer südamerikanischen Heimat. Sie vergleicht El Sistema mit dem Fußball der FIFA: man hat lange blinde Kuh gespielt und das Verdorbene dahinter nicht diskutiert. Im Fall Venezuelas haben die meisten Menschen die Musik dieser seit je vom Staat (nicht seit Chávez) unterstützten Institution gelobt, ohne zu diskutieren, warum die leitenden Figuren - zum Beispiel José Antonio Abreu und Gustavo Dudamel - keine Stellungnahme zur Korruption und zur Verschlechterung der Demokratie in Venezuela gezeigt haben. Montero betrachtet Musiker wie Dudamel als Kollaborateure. Ich gebe ihr recht. Dudamel hat mich oft an Mephisto, von Klaus Mann, denken lassen. Der Text vom Spiegel ist nicht frei zugänglich. Sie können aber den Anfang hier lesen. 

Monteros Worte sind schon mehrmals auf Deutsch veröffentlicht worden. Zum Beispiel hier oder hier.

Meinen Dank an R.
Gustavo Dudamel: ein Kollaborateur, der Leibwächter in Venezuela nötig hat