Friday, 12 February 2010

Towards unchartered waters

Smashing conditions?

On 26 January Ramón Carrizález, minister of Defense and Vice-President and his wife Yuviri Ortega, minister of environment decided to present their resignation "on personal grounds". They said it was not true that their resignation had anything to do about disagreements in the government.

Stepped down for "personal reasons"

Stepped down for "personal reasons"

At the very same moment, Vásquez Orellana, a close friend of Carrizález, also stepped down from his position as president of the state Banco de Venezuela. He claimed to do it "for health reasons".

Stepped down for "personal reasons"

On 10 February, minister of Health Rotondaro also presented his resignation for "strictly personal reasons". He is best-known not for any work on medical research or health service for the poor, but rather for being the military who broke the sound barrier while flying on an F-16 over the capital during Chávez's bloody coup in February 1992. I remember the sound.

Stepped down for "personal (health) reasons"

Of course we know all this chair shifting does not have to do with "just personal reasons", unless we do see everything as personal in Venezuela, which may be the case as reader Gweh says.

But "HE" is stepping in

These people are jumping from the ship without even telling the truth as others did before. Why are they doing so? They have a lot to lose still if they say something. The longer you stay, the less scrupulous you are likely to be and the more you have to lose, so the latest people getting out tend to do so silently. Baduel did not do so and now he is in jail.

Quico wrote about The Economist's article on Venezuela's rising "cubanization". Although I have always resisted to say Venezuela was becoming like Cuba while the oil boom was going on and I saw just a raise of authoritarian wild capitalism, it is true we are heading in a certain way towards that direction. It will never be the same, but that does not mean it could be better. The arrival of Valdés, the minister of Interior of Cuba, is just the latest. The cubanization is not about the many thousands of "doctors" (in reality most are some sort of "health technician"). It is above all the many thousands of security/intelligence personel coming from the Prison Island. You notice them in the accent, they are everywhere.

Here I present a mind map I had in my Spanish blog.

The data is in Spanish, but even if you don't speak my language, you will understand. It is about the ministers of Interior and Justice Venezuela has had since 1999. We have one every 1 1/2 years. Some, specially at the start, distanced themselves completely from the government. Others got some nice post at an embassy or similar. Some others have become ministers of other things. Jessie is trying to keep low profile after the government had to sacrifice his revolutionary and billionaire brother (like Juan Barreto and Bernal for lesser but still very meaningful affairs).

As I earlier wrote (sorry, in German, but the links are in Spanish), a recent poll showed just how messed up Venezuelans' perspectives are: only 22% of Venezuelans support communism and yet about twice as many (or more depending on VTV's or El Nacional interpretation of the same poll) support Hugo Chávez. Now, the president is a declared communist and he has been quite vocal about where he wants to take Venezuela.

We have to understand this in the light of this: Hugo Chávez is a communist (sometimes using the term Marxist, sometimes specializing as Maoist or Gramscist or anything else) but also an admirer of former right-winged dictator Pérez Jiménez and current Iran honcho Akhmadinejad.

How can that be? He once said mankind was 20 to 25 centuries old and another time that all Indians were socialists and there was not such a thing as kings among them. Many Venezuelans, whether supporting or rejecting the regime, whether poor, middle-class or upper class, have a similar or different but equally distorted perspective about history and society. So, the president celebrates the fall of the Pérez Jiménez dictatorship at one moment and praises that same regime on the next.

The ship is not likely to sink fast. Venezuela is not a rich country as its people are generally unskilled and not used to the sacrifices other nations such as South Korea or even Chile, have performed. Still, it is chock-a-block with oil, gas and many other natural products and the president has been building up his military and paramilitary troops for many years now. Those 100000 Kalashnikovs are not for parades.

Recently, the government started to get again, as last year, billions of dollars in what they claim to be 'good investments', but are rather sold-outs for oil fields to those foreign powers they claimed to be liberating us from.

Oil field Carabobo I goes to Spanish Repsol (so, don't expect "socialist" Montesinos et alia to be very vocal about human rights in Venezuela), Malaysian Petronas and Indian ONGC (we are talking about other countries that are overtaking Venezuela)

Oil field Carabobo 3 goes to US Chevron, with 34% of shares, to Japanese Impex and Mitsubishi, with 5% and the Venezuelan Suelopetrol, with 1% (we have to found out who owns that one).

The government gets quite some handy dosh for the election next September. As El Nacional informs us, the bidding brought 34% less money than expected.

The Venezuelan regime is betting on more opponents to leave the country, in the same way as Lukashenko and Fidel have done in their countries. The Venezuelan regime will also use more expropiations and money from the resource sold-outs to keep part of the population content and eager to support it.

Whether the game can be played for two or more years is something we, Venezuelans, need to decide about.

It would be interesting to know how the mood is playing in the barrios right now when it comes to Cuban influence. Most Cubans people in the slums deal with are the few "health technicians" still ther. The security and intelligence people from Cuba are not so easily detected. They tend to blend in very soon in Venezuela as their accent is very similar and their appearance perfectly fits in. They are also usually not in the slums. They are more noticeable when they arrive (at the airports) or when they are just commandeering in higher echelons.

If you happen to have some experience with "new Cubans" in Venezuela, let us know.

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