Saturday, 12 September 2009

One tank instead of 100000 books, 100 rockets instead of...

Hugo has not only left Spanish officials in love with Venezuela's gas. He has now also put a fat arms order with the Russian Federation. He will get rockets with a 300-kilometre range and a lot of T-72 and T-90 tanks (BBC on this here). Hugo declared his toys are for "defence only" and added "they never fail".

In reality: what will those weapons be used for?

There is a continuous tension with Colombia particularly because of Hugo's support for the Farc and Colombia's new deal with the USA military, but: could these new weapons be really "useful" in this issue if diplomacy failed and stupidity prevailed? Venezuela's borders are mostly mountains and jungle. Most people think Hugo's purchase of over 100000 Kalashnikovs from Russians some years ago and the Kalashnikov factory set up in Venezuela could indeed be used for an asymmetrical warfare in a hypothetical war with the US or with our cousins next-door. Those tanks and those rockets, on the other hand, seem to make little sense. The rockets would be destroyed in a jiffy if the US or Uribe were to attack Venezuela (which I doubt) and the tanks would be also destroyed or could not get anywhere.

In reality these new weapons could be used for one main purpose: making some Boliburgueses a wee bit richer. Are Torres Ciliberto and Arne Chacon now going to buy even more banks? Or will some other revolutionary buy a new factory or just have a fatter bank account?

It is a pity. Our state primary and secondary schools are badly equipped. The normal set of books for a schoolgirl costs the equivalent of the minimum wage. Lots of people work in the informal sector earning less than that and most have more than 2 children. We could better use that money in order to provide books for primary schools. In Belgium and Germany, Finland and many other countries in Europe children in primary school get their books from their state schools as a loan. Those pupils get the top results in the international PISA programme of academic evaluation. Venezuelan pupils, unlike other pupils in South America, do not even take part in any international evaluation programme since this government is in power. The regime refuses to accept accountability. Still, based on the last tests Venezuelan pupils took part in in 1998 and on many reports from real teachers, not government officials, we know our pupils are bottom of the bottom.


  1. I regret to have to think that these purchases will be used more to keep Hugo, and his friends, in power than to defend Venezuela from external enemies. As the Venezuelan economy goes down hill, and the Venezuelan people see their purchasing power evaporate, the "pan y circo" that is the current government will become less and less popular.

  2. Of course they may be thinking to use those weapons in the case of an uprising, which is something only they can fear at this point.

    It may have gone like this: some of his boliburgueses, "enticed" by the Russian war industry, convinced him of the real need for getting those weapons in case some military in Venezuela decides to do what he did in 1992.
    I think Hugo cannot be sincerely thinking he could use those tanks in a war with our neighbours...or in an US invasion. He himself has already talked about his "asymmetric war".

  3. Kepler:

    I doubt the USA would openly invade Venezuela, particularly with Obama as President. To bring "Chavismo" down all we have to do is "wait". The worst enemy that Venezuela has at present is Hugo Chavez y Cia. His stupidity becomes more apparent every day, and Russia is very happy to continue to sell him arms, as long as the Petrodolares are available. Sort of like the sellers of whiskey selling to drunks. As long as they have the funds, who cares?

  4. I don't think the US would try to do that and by all means I hope it does not interfere. Venezuelan issues should be resolved by Venezuelans.

    Now, regarding the end of chavismo: there are different scenarios. It is actually sad Hugo is his own enemy. The opposition should be doing a better job and not wait and see. The damage will take many decades to repair. It will probably be like Gomez' time.
    Our opposition needs to go to the secondary cities, it needs to stop using Globovision as a way to send its message, it has to organize people to get to the slums, to the villages, to the small cities we still don't have.
    It needs to talk about what it plans to do after Hugo is gone.

    Hugo can potentially stay much longer in power than many think. How? He is capable of selling more and more of Venezuela's resources at a cheaper rate in order to gain more time, no matter what that entails for future generations.
    We have seen the conditions in which he got those 8 billion from the chinese.
    I will post sometime in September different projections I have about how things can turn out for different oil price scenarios.

  5. Interesting. You answer some of the questions I had. Do you think Chavez could form some type of personal army to defend him from any coup?

    Of course he would likely come to fear this personal army as a threat to his power.

    You are definitely correct about the need to have a line of communications open for the dissidents into every town and city. The sad news is that Chavez might be around a long time, sort of like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

    It seems like all of the tyrants use the same tactics doesn't it?

    1. Blame all problems on a domestic "enemy"
    2. Promise the Moon if you are elected, "chicken in every pot"
    3. Upon taking power, take over the media and schools. Have your opponents labeled and demeaned.
    4. Propagandize the children to your case. Put courts and lower-level governments under your thumb.
    5. Outright steal entire industries, loot those who can still pay taxes. Use this "largesse" to buy support from the "masses" for as long as you need them.
    6. Bread & Circuses, May Day Parades and never ending "war" with foreign enemies to ramp up patriotism among the ones you have impoverished.
    7. Outright ban on opposition as being inspired and controlled by external or internal enemies (corporations or foreign enemy governments).
    8. Stamp down the heel on all demonstrations against your rule, have your minions hold demonstrations for you. (bus in the workers, school kids etc whether they like it or not)

    We have seen and read about it all before.

  6. Hi, UCC. Yes, I am sure Hugo has such an army.

    The situation in Venezuela has some particularities: the incredible dependence on oil, together with our particular history as forgotten corner of the Spanish colonies and many other factors specially favour our cargo cult mentality.


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