Sunday, 16 January 2011

News from The Land of Grace

The Guardian's journalist Rory Carroll wrote an excellent and well-referenced article about prisoner-for-Chávez María Lourdes Afiuni. Spain's minister of Foreign Affairs, Trinidad Jiménez, had said there are no political prisoners in Venezuela because "international organisations have not classified any prisoner in Venezuela as political prisoner". I hope she reads that article and takes a couple of seconds to click on the reports from HRW (which Chávez denounces as CIA-branch) and Amnesty Internation (which he still hasn't accused of being part of Her Majesty's Secret Service).


Yesterday, Chávez gave his yearly report to the National Assembly. Unlike in other countries, in Venezuela the president does not have to answer to any questions there. He just has to talk. This time, the 1992-coupster talked about "reconciliation and dialogue", which is the kind of thing the alternative forces have been demanding for years and Chávez has rejected time after time. He calls everyone who thinks differently from him "bourgeoisie" and those who think like him "the people". What he said at the National Assembly yesterday is the kind of talk he gives when he feels weak. He was probably afraid of any public reaction from the 67 deputies who are not under his thumb, as the speech was live. Chávez is usually kept very far from people who reject his government -including the 52% of the population who voted against his party in 2010- and this scene was an unsual scene for him. In reality you can count on it Chávez just wanted to avoid any "situation". He won't change a tiny bit: once a lethal coupster, always a lethal coupster.


I expect the government to finally do more construction work this year. Most of it will be carried out by the Chinese and other foreigners as corruption among Chávez's employees makes any public work more inefficient than ever.

The government will be able to do that as oil prices have gone up even further last year, to 26% of what they were in 2009. That will enable the construction of some Potemkin villages. The government announced it will build over 150,000 flats or houses for 2011, but we are to take this with a pinch of salt as it has made that kind of promises for many years now and it has built much less than in the years of the "IV Republic".

The government will try to canalize people's frustrations by allowing more takeovers of private property by some and by more expropriations in order to give a quick solution for a few and hope for more.

One thing I find worrying is the government's obsession with building more and more houses in the Caracas valley and along the Northern part of the Ávila (aka Waraira Repano) National Park. This is not sustainable.


The average OPEC basket price for 2011 is already $91. It was $12.98 when Chávez was elected. Chances are oil prices will keep going up. It is a matter of time until a big fuel source shift takes place. That won't happen in the coming 5 years but it will probably happen before 2025. The Venezuelan red-red government could not care less about the "far future". That's way beyond the 2012 elections. Still, what Venezuelans do in the coming years will be fundamental to avoid any major social catastrophe before that turning point in energy use arrives.

And just as I posed this I see Miguel on The Devil's Excrement has posted this on oil production in Venezuela.

Renault Fluence Z.E.
China denies spying on Renault

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