Friday, 30 May 2008

How the Venezuelan government supports the economies of all countries but its own

Chávez's government made an initial payment of 90 million dollars already to a Belorussian company for it to build 5000 houses in Venezuela. Why would a country decide to pay another country for building normal houses if the first country has enough engineers, workers and companies? The answer is simple: in Venezuela the vast majority of construction companies that are associated with the government are highly inefficient. Chávez's regime does not want to pay companies that are in the hands of the opposition, in the same way it prefers not to pay Venezuelan private companies for producing more milk but prefers to pay subsidies to EU and New Zealand and Belorussian farmers (who are subsidized by their own governments).

As we know, since Tascón published the list of all Venezuelans who signed for the referendum against Chávez, we have a political and economic apartheid in our country. Someone from the board of directors of a company signed against Chávez? No work from the government (which is the main provider of work in Venezuela by far).

In the Belorussian newsportal, here, there is some further information about the deal. The Venezuelan government is going to spend in total 300 million dollars for those houses.

We might wonder: are Belorussian construction companies so special that they are exporting everywhere and Venezuela just decided to go for an obvious offer? The same article gives us a hint: in the first quarter of this year, the whole Belorussian field of construction had exported products for 23.5 million dollars. The same article says Belarus had established three state engineering companies. One of them is for logistics and transport, one for construction in the Leningrad region and one, Belzarubezhstroy («Белзарубежстрой»), basically for building stuff in Venezuela (Bel is for Belarus, zarube for zarubezhom, abroad, stroy for construction, but they could have called it "Belvestroy" or Belchavezstroy for all I care).

As usual since Chávez took over: no open biddings, no transparency, no thought about supporting the local private industry.

Better to send the money elsewhere...that is the Chávez way for sustainable development several months before the local elections.

At least Lukashenko's government is doing something that benefits the Belorussian economy.



What will those houses look like? Will they be adequate for the Venezuelan climate? What would the Venezuelan government say if we had an opposition that could raise some questions about how the decision was made?

I have been looking for further information on that company and its directors. There is little out there, it is all related to Venezuela. In fact, it was created because of the Venezuelan deal, as we can read here. In a forum I read the director, Maksim Erokhov (nothing else about him on the Net in Russian), said those 4-story buildings will be inexpensive because they would not have lifts or air conditioning or (well, surprise, surprise) heating system. I wonder what else they won't have. There is some basic stuff in English also here about the sites in Tejerías and Barinas.

3) By the way, among the things Belorussians claim is that Venezuela will produce, together with Belorussian technology up to 7 million barrels of oil per day for 2012. Give me a break!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Some news to read

I have little time, I just wanted to point at some articles:

Rory Carroll, The Guardian's journalist in Caracas on Chavez sliding down the slope

According to Spiegel (in German) Chavez was trying to invite himself to Germany, although Merkel is not interested in seeing him very soon. I will write more on this at the end of the week.

Extreme left Euro-deputy, Sarah Wagenknecht, talks (in German) about Chavez linking Merkel's party to Hitler as "historically correct".

I wonder if Wagenknecht would concede her party is even more closely connected to Stalin than the CDU to the NSDAP, the Nazi party. Well, I wonder what Wagenknecht says about Stalin at all...and were not Stalin and Hitler cooperating until Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Chavez, National Socialism or "why don't you shut up again"?

That is what Angela Merkel must be thinking right now and what the Spanish king said to Chávez: Chavez, why don't you shut up?

Yeah, here we go again. Chávez declared on his Sunday show German Chancellor Angela Merkel was like Adolf Hitler. You can see more of that in German here and in English here.

I always thought it was very clumsy when someone would declare politician X or Y was like Adolf Hitler or Hitler was worse than Stalin, Castro worse or better than Pinochet and so on. Such general comparisons show a lack of sensitivity, as if we could really measure exactly massive crimes against humanities by one or another group. Crimes against humanity are crimes against humanity and any comparison is making them less shocking or one more excusable (less bad) than the other. Still, we can certainly see if one group or politician uses some methods that are closer to fascism than others.

See: I am definitely not close to Angela Merkel's CDU (I did applaud her support of the Dalai Lama and her critics of how Russia is dealing with Chechnya), but Chavez' latest statement is really ridiculous (again). Let's see: who says "Fatherland, Socialism or Death", in a similar fashion as the National Socialists were saying? Who is allowing such a wild capitalism develop where a rich party-close elite enjoys the biggest luxuries and millions of people live with the crumbles of what is left of an oil boom? Who is saying his party is going to last a hundred or more years and only his party has the solution and all the others are traitors of the Fatherland?

If you speak Spanish, I recommend you Manuel Caballero's book "Por qué no soy un bolivariano". It puts Chávez and his movement in the right historical perspective.

Ps. Angela Merkel's spokesman Thomas Steg just declared Merkel does not have anything more to say on the issue, she had already made clear her position last week. Chavez won't be feeling happy for that. He wanted to have a new show. Oh, Mann, Chavez!

Ps 2. Well, this goes on. Not only the CDU/CSU people as well as many EU functionaries (starting with Barroso) criticizing Chavez. The Social Democrats are talking very negatively about Chavez. I think the Linke is going to have more and more difficulties in defending Chavez. Even very lefty people in Germany know what a stupid comparison Hugo Chavez made.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Education and accountability

The countries in white are those countries in South America that still do not take part in the PISA programme. Why are they not there? Simply because they are not interested in accountability.

Do you detect patterns with regards to development, transparency and corruption levels?

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Music I like

For a change, here I put some information about some of the music I like.
I will be updating this from time to time.


Baobab: A very old orchestra.
Clip 1

Boubakar Traoré is a Mali genius. I have been to a concert and it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Simply amazing! I find his life also very inspiring.
Clip 1

Souad Massi is an Algerian French singer.
Clip 1
Clip 2

Toumani Diabaté is another Malian bloke. Excellent. I love the sound of the kora.
Clip 1 (check after minute 6 for music)

Youssou N'dour is one of the best known Senegalese musicians.
Clip 1


Noa from Israel
Clip 1


Clip 1
The Chaconne played here by Menuhin. Menuhin said once when he was a child he thought that if he could go to the Sistine Chapel and managed to play well enough this piece of music, God would decide to take away all evil from the world. I can imagine the child trying to play that piece better and better.

Belorussian group, cool.
Clip 1

A Fleming who could describe very well Belgium, many French think he is French!
Clip 1

Karen has an angelic voice. Music from the Hebrides.
Clip 1

Clip 1
Good for focusing.

Peter Fox (Germany): Cool musician from Berlin
Haus am See

2RaumWohnung (Germany): Another pop group in Berlin
Elain und ich

Schubert (Germany)
The Erlkönig (not the best interpretation, but what I found in Youtube), a piece Schubert composed based on one of Goethe's poems.


Clip 1
Well, the Russian bard is a real myth and there are good reasons for that.

Greek Byzantine chant
Clip 1: This is heaven, Easter music

North America

I have to go one day to New Orleans... Clip 1: Funny clip

Felix Leclerc
From one of the countries I like the most, Felix Leclerc: Clip 1

South America

Chico Buarque
Clip 1
Clip 2 It is easy to imagine the morena de Angola described in this song.

Alirio Díaz from Venezuela
Clip 1

Melódicos from Venezuela
Clip 1
Clip 2

Yordano from Venezuela
Clip 1 Madera Fina

To be continued...