Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year! Frohes Neues Jahr! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Tengo la sospecha de que tendremos un mejor tiempo en 2013.

Ich habe den Verdacht, dass wir eine bessere Zeit 2013 erleben werden.

I have the suspicion we will have a better time in 2013.

¡A disfrutar!
Viel Spaß!

Dedico esta canción a todos los boliburgueses

Billo's Caracas Boys

An absolute classic for New Year's Eve

The French the French are not talking about

I found this funny: Frédéric Bouquet is a French Venezuelan security forces detained in 2009 together with a couple of Dominicans. The Venezuelan authorities accused Bouquet of being a member of a foreign security service, of illegally carrying weapons galore and planning some violent action, possibly trying to murder Hugo Chávez. Yesterday he was freed together with some other people like the investors from Econoinvest and Jesse Chacón's brother, Arné Chacón. The Russians, the Canadians, the Dutch, the US Americans reported on that. Iris Varela herself twitted the announcement. In France, only a provincial (although popular) newspaper, Ouest France, reported it. And then French conspiracy theorists from the left started to write about why the mainstream media was so quiet this time. And I have to say: they might be right. Why?

CNN said El Aissami had mentioned back in 2009 Monsieur Bouquet had spent some time in training in Israel. Here you can read more information from the Venezuelan side, and also here.

Est-ce qu'on en va laisser tomber cela?

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Dem Chávez geht es sehr schlecht

In wenigen Minuten wird Maduro, der von Chávez Auserwählte, aus Havanna an das venezolanische Volk und an uns, "unwürdige Landesverräter", wenden, um eine Nachricht zu geben. Er war vor kurzem wieder nach Kuba geflogen, um mit dem kranken Caudillo zu sprechen.


Der Führer hat mir den Auftrag gegeben...

Rory Carroll and the Comandante

Rory Carroll, a journalist from The Guardian, came to Venezuela in 2006. He had been working in Iraq for some time until he got kidnapped by Shiah militiamen. Before Iraq he was correspondent in several European countries, in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and for many years in Africa. He probably thought Venezuela would be easier to report about. He was in for some surprises. He had just come to the region where the myth of El Dorado was born.

Shortly after his arrival, Rory went to an Aló Presidente, one of those shows where Chávez would be talking for hours and hours. Unexpectedly, Rory became the centre of attention on national TV for an hour or so: Chávez wanted a question from him. Rory asked what he thought was a simple question and he got a hell of a Chávez answer.
A different view on Venezuela

Quite a lot of people, whether left or right, have no interest whatsoever in learning about how things are in a given place but how things fit in their scheme of ideas. The Guardian is a left newspaper or rather tends to be on the left and thus there were quite some readers shocked by what Rory was reporting. But criticism also came from the right - a lot. Rory had to deal with the great challenge of explaining Venezuela in the times of Chávez. On one side there are the right-winged fundamentalists or just embittered Chávez haters. On the other side there is the legio-n of people who wanted by all means to see Chávez as the saviour that would finally come from the oppressed nations. 

One of the most difficult parts about explaining Venezuela is that you do have to explain a lot of economic stuff and most people do not give a damn about that. Most people, in fact, have a very short attention span, specially in politics. I believe he did an excellent job. He went to places all around Venezuela. He listened to both sides. To all sides. He analysed lots of material, including stuff most journalists don't want to deal with. This year Rory moved to the States to report mostly but not exclusively about our gringo neighbours. 

Fortunately, he has just written a book about Venezuela under Chávez. The book will come out of press next March. If you want to have a better understanding of what Venezuela has been about, go for it.

Chávez government freed Arne Chacón, the billionaire

Well...what can I say? This guy, Arne Chacón, a military coup monger who is the brother of one of Chávez's friends, Jesse Chacón, became a billionaire in just a couple of years...thanks to certain very murky transactions and connections. He was so obviously corrupt that Chávez had to put him under jail...after opposition people had been denouncing the man for years.

And now Arne Chacón has been freed within the same lot of freed prisoners that had the Econoinvest people.

Isn't the opposition going to say something about this? Or was the trick from the government "we free one of ours and several of yours and you shut up"?

What a shame for a country!

A sweet mutation from Venezuela

No, I am not talking about a Venezuelan politician. I am talking about the Cara Cara oranges.
I love oranges. I drink several litres of oranges every week. My granddad was growing oranges (and cotton) for a living many decades ago. I'm sure my ancestors were eating sweet oranges since they first arrived in Spain in the XVI century. Spaniards brought them to Venezuela from the first contacts on. And oranges grew well. They grew very well in Venezuela. The region around the Valencia Lake is said to be the one with the best oranges in the country. That land is extremely fertile. Unfortunately, most of said land is now urbanized, full of slums, shopping centres, roads. Venezuelans never thought in a sustainable way. But I digress.

Oranges. When I think of my childhood I think a lot of oranges under the sun and the scent coming from their skins. And I think of the discussions that farmers had in the Northern part of Valencia Lake's Basin about what the sweetest oranges were.

The Cara Cara oranges firstly appeared in Venezuela in the seventies. They are navel oranges, with a secondary protrusion Their flesh is reddish and they are particularly sweet, even if according to my tongue there are other sweeter types.

Is Chávez that ill?

Yesterday a French citizen accused of one of trying to carry out a "magnicidios", assassination against the president, was expelled from Venezuela. According to the regime, Frédéric Laurence Bouquet was a secret agent of the French Republic. Do they want us to believe Sarkozy was trying to kill Chávez or do they think he was a mercenary AND an agent?  In any case, the French know very little about this. Is this action part of the usual liberation of prisoners at the end of the year and not as Miguel says, part of a softening, or a change?

One of the self-styled revolution's strongmen, Diosdado Cabello, declared in another kitsch seizure that "everyday we have to be like Chávez and then we will have revolution for a long time".

And Florida-based doctor-gossip star Marquina claims Chávez has had lung thrombosis.

The question is: when will elections take place?

Saturday, 29 December 2012

How to promote underdevelopment and autocracies in the XXI Century

If you have a country where the average citizen has very low education levels, whee most think the country is rich just because of its natural resources and you are the ruling party and you have no ethics: what would you do to remain in power? Would you use tanks and police forces to compel people to follow you? No. You just pawn the country's future by selling very cheaply those natural resources to a new colonizing country.
A socialist microwave

That is how the ministry of "the Popular Power for Trade", Edmée Betancourt, is telling us now that the "social" program for household appliances is going to be expanded. 

Venezuela's current government has so far spent over 20 billion dollars in what is called the Chinese Fund. The Fund gives China millions of barrels of oil for many years and in exchange for that Venezuela's ruling party, government and state, which are basically one and the same, get, among other goodies, Chinese refrigerators, Chinese washing machines, Chinese flat screens and Chinese be sold at "socialist prices" among would-be voters...sorry, I mean citizens.
A socialist corporation

The Bolivar is overvalued and the currency exchange is fixed so that a Bolivarian mafia has taken hold of the system. That makes imported devices very expensive. The government says prices at the private market are so high because of capitalism...even if the same or better devices are cheaper in Europe or the States or even other Latin American countries. So now Bolivarian employees sell the Chinese devices at very low prices, at "socialist prices", as the Chávez employees claim.

Most people don't know those Haier washing machines and Haier flat screens are actually being paid by the petrodollars that won't be invested in their children's schools and their children's hospitals in the decade to come.

But then: Chávez revolutionaries really want to win next year's elections.

Ethics doesn't matter.

Socialist washing machine, socialist refrigerator, socialist microwave and socialist exhaust fan

A typical Venezuelan region and crime under the "revolution"

Carabobo has about 2,4 million inhabitants. How many of them will have been murdered since 1 December until Monday of next week? If you want to see the trend and patterns, you can check out this.

This is macabre but we need to talk about this. Venezuela's murder rate was about 19 per 100000 inhabitants in 1998, when Chávez was elected. The rate is now over 65. 

New York City, with 3 times as many inhabitants as Carabobo, had slightly over 400 murders in the whole of 2012, a new record low. Military strongman Chávez has repeatedly said crime is engendered by capitalism.

Friday, 28 December 2012

News from Venezuela: rotten economy

Street vendors are selling maize flour - fundamental for most Venezuelans' diet - for up to 15 Bolívares, which is equivalent to 2.64 euros at the official exchange rate. That is more expensive than in Europe. Of course, the Chávez supporters will claim this is some capitalistic plot against socialism. Mind: Polar, the Venezuelan company that industrialized maize flour production, has had to shift most of its production to Colombia as Chávez has kept attacking them.

The official - regulated - price is 6 to 8 Bolívares. Venezuela has rigid price controls for several products and  the currency is highly overvalued as the government prefers to import everything with petrodollars and let the national industry - only viable if in private hands - rot or go to hell.
Made in Colombia for Europe by a Venezuelan company that has to run away from the "socialist" military caste

Chavistas are still trying to see when they can call for new elections if Chávez dies soon or it becomes clear he cannot pop up any time soon. The election time will affect the time when they will be forced to devalue the currency.

The ministers of Finance and Economy declared yesterday that Venezuela had a GDP growth this year of over 5%. Most Chavistas went bananas, believing this is really meaningful. Look how Europe is doing and we have more than 5%! What those ministers didn't say was that that growth was completely based on spending Chinese loans to Venezuela...that during the longest and strongest oil boom Venezuela has had. One day poor Venezuelans will have to pay for the Chinese refrigerators and TV screens they got now at "socialist prices"...but that will be after elections are over and "socialism" well in place...or so the military caste and the old whiskey communists think.

The minister of Information was the one who at the same time twitted that the prohibition to lay off workers will be extended one more year. It has been in place since 2003. How come a government needs to keep this law in place if the economy is doing so well? Of course, as it was the minister of Information who told the story via twitter, the ministers presenting the wonders of Venezuela's GDP growth didn't get that question at the press conference.

On another topic, Spanish oil company REPSOL announced it started production in Orinoco's Belt. It wants to take exploitation there up to 400 000 barrels a day. PDVSA has the majority stakes and REPSOL just 11%, but it seems it is doing its fair share of stuff just to get hold of some of the largest oil reserves on Earth. There are some other minor players from India as well.
Now, my questions are: how does it fit with Venezuela's total production? Isn't Venezuela just fulfilling its OPEC quota? It doesn't plan to do it? Is it just now going to be able to produce the quota it has assigned but was not producing?

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Presidential Cacophony and the Woes of a Nation

There are two weeks to the presidential inauguration. Do you think the military caudillo will pop up in Caracas for 10 January?

23 24
Maduro says he
talked to Chávez

1) Villegas says 
Chávez presents
slight improvement
2) Maduro says Chávez
is walking and
doing excercices

1) Maduro repeats
his message and
says Chávez
follows normal
2) Cabello says constitution
doesn't say
where and when
Chávez could
take oath in front
of Supreme Court
if he can't make it
to National
27 28 29





New president of
needs to be

15 16 17 18 19

22 23 24 25 26

29 30 31 1 2

5 6 7 8 9

12 13 14 15 16

1920 21 22 23
24 25

26 27 28

Lack of ethics goes beyond "ideologies". El País has an interesting article about how Spain's government has profited from selling weapons to the Venezuelan regime, specially anti-riot equipment. Minister Morenés is not only minister of Defence of the current conservative Partido Popular of Spain, he has also been a big fish within the Spanish weapons industry.

The only general hospital of my birth city, Valencia, is collapsing, but we are the best customer for the Spanish ailing weapons sector. Most of the money does not come from the national budget but from FONDEN, the Fund for Sustainable Development, which the Chávez government uses as personal account.

Take that, Ms Wagenknecht. I suppose you must be very proud of supporting a man like Chávez.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas, Natale Hilare et Fröhliche Weihnachten!

This is the Green Jay. In Venezuela we call it with the very onomatopoeic querrequerre.

Chávez's big guns: between Scylla and Charybdis

Both vice-president and anointed Chávez successor Nicolás Maduro and the Machiavelian head of the National Assembly and former coup monger Diosdado Cabello are facing a conundrum: when to spill the beans and cast the die, when to say the caudillo won't make it.
Rough seas between Caracas and Havana

Our latest constitution is badly written but still most people will say it clearly states the elected president has to take oath 10 January by going to the National Assembly or by going to the Supreme Court if he couldn't go to the National Assembly. As Miguel wrote, Nicolás could very well ride on the wave of Chávez's persistent popularity, specially as Chávez declared this Sai Baba's follower to be his Petrus. But waves don't last forever, the sooner he does it, the better. Cabello, on the other hand, reckons he or someone closer to him could have a bigger chance of getting the throne if the elections were a little bit later.

Maduro was initially confident - or at least he wanted to show confidence - that Chávez would somehow appear in Venezuela 10 January. Diosdado kept repeating that date didn't matter and Chávez could be sworn any time later on. It seems Maduro has realised Chávez might not be able to go to Venezuela for that date. Now he is suggesting what I thought initially: that Chávez may just as well take his oath in the presence of the Supreme Court whenever the doctors say so. Of course: this might mean, according to Chavista fuzzy logic, that Luisa Estela, Venezuela's Judicial Star, the woman who said separation of powers is a rubbish concept, will have to take a  plane to the Caribbean's biggest island. So, following the US interpretation of the Muhammad dictum: if Chávez won't come to the National Assembly or the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court must go to Chávez. There is another date these people have to pay attention to: the municipal elections, which Tibisay Lucena, the head of the National Electoral Council, said would be 26 May.

Now, bear in mind 26 May may be seen as a suggestion. Although Tibisay Lucena publicly declared that was the date, anything can be moved if it is good for the Chavista strategy.

And yet: they are all tense. They know petrodollars get spent much faster these days, specially in the land of Grace, specially in the hands of fervent revolutionaries. They aren't sure where and when to take the next step between Havana and Caracas.

We have already had a virtual Chávez on several occasions: Venezuelan law says the president cannot pass laws anywhere else but Venezuela. And the Chávez government has created a digital signature that by some outré interpretation of the law makes him physical present in Venezuela even if he is actually abroad in some kind of Bolivarian trnsubstantiation.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Venezuela in Christmas?

Well, it could be's Christmas!

At least 5 Venezuelans will be murdered in the next two hours

This is what the statistics tell us now. The news are so repetitive and people become numbed and nothing seems to happen. 18950 people had been murdered in Venezuela since 1 January and the most of the millions of Venezuelans who voted for Chávez didn't seem to make the connection between murder rate and the caudillo. This is no surprise: most of them would have difficulty trying to explain what "murder rate" actually means. They are still alive, even if their brothers or sons may not.

The Chávez government had activated last year its 21 programme for fighting crime but since it came to power the murder rate has more than tripled, from 19 in 1998 up to 65 murders per 100 000 inhabitants now. The murder rate was about 19 over a century ago, it dropped up to around 8-10 in the seventies and started to rise up to 19 in the nineties and became stable there until Chávez came to power.

These numbers actually include also people - mostly criminals - resisting police intervention. A Chávez official - current Guárico governor and military man Rodríguez Chacín - said those killed by the police do not count. The problem is we should have something like "human rights" and the amount of criminals getting killed in fightings with the police is huge.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Venezuela: bescheuerter geht es nicht

Maduro verehrte Sai Baba

Nicolás Maduro, früherer Leibwächter und jetziger Nachfolger des Militärcaudillos Chávez, erklärt nun, Chávez habe "eine Ruhepause und erholt sich".

Der bolivarische Sozialismus, erläuterte Maduro, sei vom Christentum geprägt. Darüber hinaus sei der unoffizieller Heilige José Gregorio Hernández auf der Seite des Comandante. Schliesslich rief Maduro die "adlige Seele der Königin María Lionza" auf, mit ihrer Macht das gemeinsame Gebet zu tragen (sic), so dass man lieber früher als später den "Stahlkommandanten auf venezolanischen Erde sehen kann".

Das Leben ist nicht fair: so was lebt und Alexander von Humboldt musste sterben. Schon vor 30 Jahren nahmen wir uns den Aberglaube - insbesondere im Zusammenhang mit Politik- nicht mehr so ernst.  

What are Venezuelans dying of?

Here you can see the data from 2009 about deaths in Venezuela. Click on the image to have a better picture.

One thing that I find very peculiar is the very large number of deaths reported as "other violent". In reality we know most of these cases are simply murders redefined. It's a pity our opposition politicians apparently haven't got the discipline to keep investigating about how the current government tries to camouflage the real data on murder. This is something they urgently need to clarify.

Still, by checking records from hospitals and mortuaries we know there were not "just" 9595 murders in Venezuela in 2009 but at least 14 thousand. Some say about 22% of all deaths in Venezuela of 2009 were product of violence, even though that doesn't seem to correspond to these numbers above...but then Venezuelan media are not known for their consistency.

Things haven't got any better in 2012. Let's hope things do in 2013.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Will they never do it or only too late?

Some foreigners and I keep telling people within Venezuela's opposition that it is about time to start educating the general population about several things:

  • about how Venezuela is NOT a rich but a poor to middle-income country
  • about how Venezuela is becoming more and more dependent on oil
  • about how Venezuela will only become rich when the average citizen has real education levels that are at least as good or better than the average in the world and when that average citizen can be as productive as the average worldwide
  • about how subsidized petrol is money for the rich and how public transportation should be dealt with differently so that people who have cars pay more and state money can be used for better schools, teachers, hospitals
  • about what debates, real debates are
  • about pluralism and the essence of parties, party programmes and the difference between a programme and a wish list
  • about sustainable development in general - at economic, social and environmental level
If you tell people about these things and you create networks of people in the average Venezuelan city - that is NOT Caracas but El Tigre, Guacara, Punto Fijo or Puerto Cabello - debating about these issues, you will see a real revolution taking place.

We have kept telling Venezuelans about these things for years.

Do you know what they keep telling us? "Not now, we have to focus on the next elections, first things first".

They have been telling us that since at least 2005.

Will they never learn there is no chance Chavismo will ever get out of power unless we depend on oil prices dropping dramatically for a couple of years or we do what I have mentioned before?

Here you have a Russian article from 1983. If you don't read Russian, you can try perhaps with Google Translations. It's about  Caracas back then and how the commies were penetrating the barrios. Some of them are now with the military and thus Chávez. Let's be clear: the current system is not socialist, not communist, it's just a more autocratic form of the usual feudal petro-caudillismo we have had. But the ones in power now are using those methods their extreme left supporters were using back then. What do we have against that?

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Will the Chávez Supreme Court fly to Cuba now?

The current Venezuelan constitution says the following:

El candidato elegido o candidata elegida tomará posesión del cargo de Presidente o Presidenta de la República el diez de enero del primer año de su período constitucional, mediante juramento ante la Asamblea Nacional. Si por cualquier motivo sobrevenido el Presidente o Presidenta de la República no pudiese tomar posesión ante la Asamblea Nacional, lo hará ante el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia.

The last part states that if the presidente could not take office before the National Assembly, he or she shall do it in the presence of the Supreme Court of Justice.

Now, we know the Supreme Court of Justice is just a bunch of Chávez's puppets. My guess: they could simply do as if they were going to Cuba in order to guarantee the farce goes on.

Today military honcho Cabello declared Chávez could postpone the formal event of term inauguration...just an idea for the Supreme the same way as Chávez himself used to "give ideas" to it.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Most Venezuelan readers think...

Chávez will kick the bucket before the end of 2013.

and meanwhile Velázquez is not recognising results in Bolívar. Ledezma supports him...the others are remaining quiet. Velázquez says he has the actas, the audits, to show there was fraud. Will the military simply take away the boxes and destroy the material? Stay tuned.

(sorry for the typo on "venezolanos")

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Numquam est fidelis cum potente societas

testatur haec fabela propositum meum...indeed: the caudillo is not present in Venezuela, some people are tired of voting, others are disappointed the caudillo lied to them about his health, others feel very shortly after having voted for him that perhaps the idea was not so good, others, from the opposition, think their leaders sold themselves out...and some others just want to vote later on during the day.

It is still too early to tell if abstention is really going to be that high. As Miguel, who is in Caracas, says, we would be in uncharted waters.

We don't know if officialdom will try to push their people to vote at the last moment by threatening them...they can, sort of, as they know in real time who has voted and who hasn't. We don't know if the binary files that run the "best voting system on Earth" (Carter dixit) will behave differently in the voting centres where we do not have witnesses..and here lies the rub as there are lots of places where witnesses haven't shown up.

Ps. In Barinas a witness was thrown out of the voting centre because he denounced Chávez supporters were "helping" people to vote. This has been a frequent thing in Chávez's feud.

Leo et Socii Eius

Regionalwahlen in Venezuela 2012 (2)

Nachricht an Wissen Radio: die Wahlen von heute sind für Gouverneure und Parlamente der Bundesstaaten, nicht für die Bürgermeister. Die sind für April 2013, auf Wunsch des Caudillos. Ich hate auch den Fehler gemacht.

Was kann passieren? Wir, die Oppositionellen, laufen die Gefahr, den Bundesstaat Carabobo und den Bundesstaat Nueva Esparta zu verlieren. Warum? Zuerst weil die Militärregierung seit 2009 durch ein Ermâchtigungsgesetz fast alle Kompetenzen der Gouverneure weggenommen hat und parallele Institutionen errichtet hat, um staatliche Ausgaben zu verteilen. Während ein Gouverneur der Opposition kaum Geld hat, um Schulen zu bauen, Lehrer zu bezahlen usw, kommen die Kandidaten des Chávez überall hin und verteilen Essen, elektrische Geräte und vieles Namen des Staates, der Partei, des Comandantes. Es gibt aber noch was: sowohl der Gouverneur von Carabobo wir der von Nueva Esparta regieren seit sehr langem, sie agieren genauso wie Chávez, als ob sie Feudalherren sind, die niemanden in der eigenen Partei finden können, um sie zu ersetzen. Während Chávez aber immer noch viele Petrodollars hat, haben diese Leute sehr wenig Geld.


  • im Bundesstaat Zulia haben Chávez-Sicherheitsbeamten versucht, das Haus des oppositionellen Gouverneurs irgendwie anzugreifen. Ihr Auto ist gegen ein Zaun gestossen, einer konnte fliehen. Dies ist ziemlich ulkig. Es konnte gar kein Verkehrsunfall sein, man fährt nicht bloss mit Karacho gen Gouverneurshaus spät in der Nacht, vor allem, wenn man bei den Sicherheitsdiensten der Sozialistischen Einheitspartei Venezuelas arbeitet.
  • Der schwarze Wechselkurs steht zur Zeit auf 22 Bolívares pro Euro, wie eine Freundin (H) mir berichtet. Einige Boliburgueses und andere, die einfach mitspielen, werden damit sehr reich. Die meisten Venezolaner kapieren nicht, was mit ihrer Volkswirtschaft passiert. Der Chávez-Bonze Aristóbulo Istúriz hatte einmal gesagt, dass wenn man die Währungskontrolle aufheben würde, die Regierung stürzen würden. Er hatte recht, aber nicht wegen der Gründe, die er benutzte...nicht, weil die Wirtschaft kollabieren würde, sondern weil die Bonzen und ihre Kumpel sich nicht so schnell bereichen können...und wie werden sie so die sogenannten Revolution verteidigen wollen?

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Just chill out

Why? Because we say so.

Venezuelans watching Big Dad

"How are my people doing?" is what the Chavez government claims Chávez said after he regained consciousness.  

This is going to get more and more ridiculous by the day: tomorrow they will tell us Chávez is much healthier and is calling for a massive vote in favour of PSUV candidates.

And today, just a day before the regional elections, the state will sell over 3 million tones of (mostly imported) food at very low prices. All workers will be wearing government-friendly t-shirts and all this will be linked to the current government on state TV. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Regionalwahlen in Venezuela 2012 (1)

Am 16.12 gibt es Regionalwahlen in Venezuela: Gouverneure und Bundesstaatsparlamente werden gewählt. Diese Wahlen sind nun eher symbolischer Art, denn Chávez hat seit 1999 jede Menge der Kompetenzen der Regionen durch ein Ermächtigungsgesetz für sich genommen.

Die Chávezregierung will sicher sein, dass sie alles unter Kontrolle hat. Sie weiss, dass viele Venezolaner, die im Ausland wohnen, aber in Venezuela wählen gehen, gegen den Caudillo sind. So hat die Militärregierung beschlossen, fast zwei Tage vor den Wahlen die Grenzen des Landes zu schliessen. Das heisst: keiner darf rein oder raus. Seit dem 12.12 gibt es keinen Schulunterricht mehr und das bis zum nächsten Jahr: die Militärs denken, dass sie die Schulen mehrere Tage vor den Wahlen für sich allein haben müssen, um "die Wahl zu verteidigen".

Das ist die Militärregierung, die Frau Wagenknecht und die Linken so sehr lieben.

Wieso ist so was nötig, um Schutz für Wahlen zu garantieren?

Venezuelans killing themselves on the road (updated)

This is really nothing new and yet nothing is being done about it: we, Venezuelans, have the highest death rate when it comes to road accidents in South America - by far: almost 56 men get killed on Venezuelan roads per 100 thousand inhabitants on a yearly basis (the rate for women is lower everywhere).

It is time for this to change. I got the data from WHO (2008). You will almost never see a simple map like this or a chart in the Venezuelan media, which is a pity. There is nothing like visualizing numbers.

So we don't only have now the highest murder rate of our sub-continent but also the highest death rate by stupid, mostly very aggresive driving. I think this shows a general attitude that has permeated society and has become worse with the years, the car and the petrol prices. It also reflects the fact tests for driving licenses are an absolute farce in the and of Grace. It shows there is almost no road control unless some cops need to round up their salary.

Venezuelans know about the latest music rythms from the USA or Sweden, Italy or Chile. They know how fashion is in Italy right now. They, on the other hand, very seldom try to compare how their country stands with regards to issues that have to do with life and death. 

Death on the road (dead males x 100 000 inhabitants)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A wild, wild bet

First of all: I have to stress the following is just gut feeling. I have the impression Chávez' honchos will keep talking about how serious Chávez's condition is until late 15 or very early 16 December...and then they will tell Venezuelans how Chávez is having a wonderful recovery, they will communicate what he said to them and they invite people to celebrate their caudillo's recovery by going to vote en masse for the PSUV candidates. Chávez's actual state is inconsequential to this.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

From the Black Forest...about Maduro

The German regional newspaper Badische Zeitung has a very good article about Nicolás Maduro, the Hugo Chávez's apparent heir - and I want to stress the word apparent -.

They describe there how Maduro was actually not just a bus driver but a body guard to José Vicente Rangel in 1983. They also mentioned how Maduro, in spite of being strict about other deputies who would arrive late at the National Assembly, would tolerate his wife's penchant for nepotism. The Badische Zeitung also mentions how the investigations on corruption were halted.

Sehr gut, Badische Zeitung!

Ps. I also love how Germans get a hold of people's ages: Cilia Flores, the wife and also deputy at the National Assembly, is 9 years his senior.

Ps 2. if you read Spanish, you can also get some biography here . Beware: there is some Venezuelan slang that might be difficult to the non-initiated.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Happy day for the human rights!

Yeah, today is supposed to be the day of the very battered Human Rights.
Here you see the top exporters of weapons: 

by total:

  1.  USA 
  2. Russia 
  3. Germany 
  4. France 
  5. China 
  6. UK 
  7. Sweden 
  8. Italy 
  9. Netherlands 
  10. Israel
Chávez considers Lukashenko and Mugabe democrats, buys more weapons than ever and let Venezuelans die by the thousands out of incompetence, Germany trains Belarussian police officers, Russia does a killing with its AKs, Israel occupies more land in the West Bank, Hamas kills people who think differently.

Don't ever forget to think! If you want more information on human rights in any given place on Earth, take a look here

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Hugo Chávez, Der Spiegel und die vielen Wahrheiten

Chávez kam zurück aus Kuba und erklärte nun, dass er "wieder" Krebs hat...als ob er jemals genesen wäre. Er erklärte uns auch, dass Nicolás Maduro der Vizepräsident ist - das wussten wir schon - und dass falls er, Chávez, nicht mehr fähig wäre, im Amt zu bleiben, das Volk Nicolás Maduro als Präsident Venezuelas wählen soll. Also: Maduro ist des Caudillos Kandidat.

Das war gestern spät in Venezuela. Fast alle Europäer schliefen um die Zeit. Und nun entdiecke ich diesen Artikel im Spiegel. Seit Jahren hatte ich so was im Spiegel nicht mehr scheint, als käme der Text aus Le Monde Diplomatique oder aus einer Seite der Linken-Partei.

Was steht da?

"Acht Millionen Venezolaner erhalten über die Missionen in der einen oder anderen Form staatliche Unterstützung. Chávez sorgt so für alleinerziehende Mütter, Analphabeten, stellt medizinische Versorgung, finanziert Aus- und Weiterbildung, vergibt Stipendien und hilft Obdachlosen. 34 Missionen hat die Regierung bisher aufgelegt. 300 Milliarden Dollar hat der Linksnationalist seit 1999 in diese Programme gepumpt. In seinen 14 Jahren an der Macht sank nach Uno-Angaben die Arbeitslosigkeit von 13 auf acht Prozent, die Armut von 50 auf 32 Prozent."

Kein Kontext. Das Wort "Erdöl" wird nur einmal erwähnt und zwar als der Schreiber erzählt, man verwendet jetzt Erdöleinkünfte für die Armen.

Wer hat das geschrieben? Es war ein Herr Klaus Ehringfeld, ein Deutscher, der seit 2001 in Mexiko  lebt. In seiner Biographie hier erkenne ich die üblichen Themen der alten Linken: wie Kuba den "Kommunismus" zu retten versucht...und natürlich, wie die multinationalen Konzerne Lateinamerika ausbeuten.

Es ist nicht, dass es in Venezuela keine soziale Programme gäbe. Das ist wahr. Es ist nicht, dass es keine Millionen Menschen gibt, die Chávez unterstützen...das ist auch wahr. Das weiss ich sehr genau. Auch mehrere meiner Verwandten unterstützen Chávez, wie viele Russen auch Putin unterstützen. Ich weiss auch, dass die Castroregierung ihre Macht zu verteidigen versucht, was sie "Sozialismus" nennen. Natürlich wurde Haiti Opfer der Mächtigen...Frankreich hat Haiti so ausgepresst wie nur möglich, die USA-Amerikaner haben das Land immer wieder besetzt, NGOs haben Haiti von Entwicklungshilfe abhängiger gemacht. Man muss aber auch andere Wahrheiten nicht verschwinden lassen.

Herr Ehringfeld sucht seine Wahrheiten sorgfälltig aus.

Lass uns aber nur über Venezuela hier sprechen, denn dies ist ein Blog über Venezuela und ich bin ein Venezolaner.

  1. Ehringsfeld erwähnt nicht, dass es in Venezuela seit vielen Jahrzehnten soziale Programme gab - um den Analphabetismus zu bekämpfen. Er sagt nicht, dass die Analphabetenrate nicht schneller gesunken ist, seitdem Chávez an der Macht ist, trotz Recorderdölgewinne. Dies kontrastiert natürlich mit dem Märchen, das von Sarah Wagenknecht wiederholt wird, Venezuela habe den Analphabetismus besiegt und der Analphabetenanteil der Bevölkerung wäre geringer als in Deutschland und zwar "von UNESCO bestätigt". Die Wahrheit? Die Chávez-Regierung hat um das Jahr 2004 oder 2005 eine Studie selbst produziert, wonach Menschen befragt wurden, ob sie lesen konnten oder nicht. Die Regierung hat dann die Daten auf ihrer Seite des UNESCO-Portals hochgeladen und dann erklärt, das sei alles "von den Vereinten Nationen bestätigt worden". Die Chávez-Regierung kann aber nicht mal konsequent sein und letztes Jahr kam aus der Volkszählung heraus, dass wir immer noch 5%  Analphabeten haben. Ende der Neunziger Jahren waren es 7%, von denen die meisten über 60 Jahre alt waren. Die Chávez-Regierung hat keine unabhängige Studie durchführen lassen und wehrt sich, die PISA-Studie in Venezuela zuzulassen. Nur die Opposition hat diese PISA-Studie in Miranda durchgeführt und zwar trotz Hürden der Nationalregierung.
  2. er erwähnt nicht, dass es schon vor Chávez Programme zur Weiterbildung gab, zB beim INCE, Instituto de Capacitación y Educación, der nun INCES (Instituto de Capacitación y Educación Sociaista) heisst. Dieses Institut und andere haben tatsächlich mehr Geld as in den Neunziger Jahren...und zwar aus den Erdöleinkünften...
  3. Ehringsfeld sagt auch nicht, dass der Erdöl seit 1998 immer wieder gestiegen ist, von $12 pro Fass damals bis über $100 sagt nicht, dass das das Alpha und Omega Venezuelas ist. Er sagt nicht, dass es in den Siebziger Jahren und Anfang der Achziger die sozialen Programme viel umfangreicher und effektiver as die der Neunziger Jahren waren und wie dies mit dem Erdölpreisniveau zu tun hat.
  4. er sagt nicht, dass die Chávez-Regierung in 12 Jahren weniger Sozialwohnungen baute als während der 5 Jahren zweiten Amtszeit von Caldera, als der Erdölpreis nur ein Bruchteil von heute war. Er sagt nicht, dass diese Regierung erst für die Wahlen von 2012 anfing, wieder Wohnungen zu bauen - ohne die entsprechenden  Schulen, Krankenhäuser, Grüngebiete, einfach ohne Planung und nur für die Wahlen
  5. er erzählt, dass die Leute vor allem Pseudojobs bei der Verwaltung bekamen oder einfach als Strassenhändler schuften müssen, also schwarz. Er erläutert nicht, dass dies nicht nachhaltig sein kann. 
  6. er verschweigt, die Tatsache, dass die Industrie unter der Chávez-Regierung deutlich gelitten hat, dass die Abhängigkeit vom Erdöl deutlich gestiegen ist und dass wir jetzt nicht 80%, wie im Jahr 1998, sondern über 95% unserer Devisen aus dem Erdöl erzielen
  7. er erzählt nicht, dass obwohl die Armut angeblich so stark gesunken ist, die Kriminalität dramatisch gestiegen ist, dass Venezuelas Mordrate im Jahr 1998 19 Morde pro 100 000 Einwohner betrug und jetzt über 65, womit das Land das bei weitem höchste Mordrate Südamerikas hat, viel höher als in Kolumbien oder Brasilien.
  8. er sagt auch nicht, dass Chávez laut Verfassung gar keinen Familienangehöriger as Nachfolger ernennen kann, so dass die Ernennung von Maduro gar keine Überraschung war...wir wissen auch, dass das Volk den anderen wichtigen Bonzen, Cabello, gar nicht mag. Chávez hat einen Bruder als Gouverneur eines Bundesstaates, einen anderen as Bürgermeister seiner Heimat und einen anderen as Vizepräsident von PDVAL...nur um seine Brüder zu nennen.
  9. er beschreibt nicht, wie die Regierung in den Monaten vor den Wahlen Staatsresourcen benutzt hat, um Hunderdtausende chinesische Plasmabildschirme, Kühlschränke, Waschmischen sehr billig zu verkaufen, dafür aber das Geld nicht in Krankenhäuser oder Schulen investiert hat
  10. last but not least, er erwähnt nicht, dass der Anteil der Armen in vielen anderen Ländern Lateinamerikas genauso stark oder stärker gesunken ist und zwar ohne Erdöl.
Na gibt vieles mehr, was der Herr Ehringsfeld nicht erwähnt. Er sagte aber, Chávez sei ein "Linksnationalist". Wo habe ich das wieder gelesen? Ja, bei Michael Zeuske. Das ist alte-Linke-Lingo für "guter Nationalist":  links gut, rechts schlecht. Für diesen Mann sind die Fronten deutlich: es gibt nur die Bösen und die Guten und wer gegen Chávez ist, ist sicher für die bösen multinationalen Konzerne und gegen die Armen. Oder? 

Spiegel hätte vielleicht einen guten Journalist mit diesem Thema beauftragen müssen.
Venezuelas Alpha und Omega: ohne dies lässt sich das Land seit 1937 nicht mehr erklären

Einige Quellen zu Bildung und Analphabeten

Friday, 7 December 2012

Who wants to live forever? (denn die Toten reiten schnell)

Well, obviously Chávez...that's not bad if he didn't want to rule forever. He is back in Venezuela, but as Daniel says, he again chose a very strange hour to come back from his home in Cuba.

What do I think? Whether the  military caudillo is ill or not, he is pulling Venezuelans' legs. He is acting like a drama Queen trying to play on whether he is dead-ill or not in order to excite his fans and let his enemies waste time wondering and not acting.

If we talk about Chávez, we don't talk about the mess he and his big honchos are carrying out. This will go on for months or years unless we simply invest more of our energies into a campaign to educate people about the way Chavistas are plundering the nation.

Another thing I have been thinking lately: couldn't we learn a little about cognitive bias, prospect theory and the evolution of happiness in Venezuela and how our country differs from other places where people do not think they are living in El Dorado?

Thursday, 6 December 2012


I started two polls: one for Venezuelan citizens and the other for non-Venezuelan citizens.

Give us your gut feeling. What do you think is going on?

The caudillo won't be going to the Mercosur Summit on Friday. Miguel was saying Chavista honchos are trying to keep Chávez safe and quiet until 10 January, when he will have to go to the National Assembly to formally start his new term.

Me? I haven't got a clue. I wait. I think we need to have plan A, B and C for any of the possible scenarios awaiting us in the Land of Grace. One of the problems with the opposition is that it keeps betting or waiting for X or Y to happen, without any elaborate plan. And we should know better: en Venezuela todo puede pasar.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Venezuela's latest (first) in the corruption index

And this is the time of the year when we get to this point. Transparency International published its latest index on Transparency and we are on position 11 from bottom to top. Yeah, and now we are no longer second worst after Haiti: we are the most corrupt country in the New World (at least according to this organisation).
Diosdado Cabello

You can check out results here. This is part of the "Revolución Bonita" the military have carried out.

Argenis Chávez

In 2011 Haiti, Iraq, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea and Somalia were worse off.
In 2012 it's Iraq, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia.

Way to go!

Wer ist wer im Chávez-Zirkus

Als Referenz werde ich hier Chávez-Bonzen auflisten.

Al Aissami, Tareq Familie bei der Baath Partei Syriens
Cabello, Diosdado Militär
Cordero Lara, Róger Militär
Chávez Frías, Adán               Bruder des Caudillos
Chávez Frías, Argenis               Bruder des Caudillos
Molero Bellavia, Diego               Militär
Ramírez, Rafael               Ingenieur (PDVSA)
Rangel Silva, Rangel             
Rodríguez Chacín, Ramos             
Varela, Iris             

Monday, 3 December 2012

Noruega le dice adiós a Venezuela

Esto es realmente lamentable y una verdadera vergüenza para los venezolanos: el gobierno de Noruega ha decidido cerrar su representación diplomática en nuestro país. El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores declaró que esta decisión se debe a motivos de seguridad, aparte de motivos económicos y políticos. La embajada de Noruega en Bogotá, que se reabre ahora, pasará a cumplir con ciertas tareas que antes realizaba la representación en Caracas. Colombia, dice el gobierno noruego, se está desarrollando desde el punto de vista económico y político. Noruega cierra también su embajada en Eritrea mientras que abre representaciones diplomáticas en otros paí es que esté economizando, sino que sabe en qué sitios está perdiendo el tiempo y arriesgando la vida de su gente. Entiendo totalmente a los noruegos, aunque lo lamento.

Noruega pasa a fortalecer sus relaciones hacia China, Brasil, Colombia, Rusia y la misma Nigeria mientras que las elimina hacia países como Venezuela, Eritrea y Somalia.

Y pocos compatriotas míos se van a enterar de esto.
Ha det bra, Norge!

Ps. gracias a Stig

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Venezuelan genetics, revisited

I am taking part in National Geographic's Genographic Project 2.0. I had taken part in the first project, as I a couple of years ago.  Genographic 1 was about analysing the DNA patterns reflecting the origin of our ultimate paternal or maternal ancestors: our father's father's father's father's side or our mother's mother's mother's side. That means just two walks through someone's ancestry graph. For me results went like this: European from the paternal side (but ultimately from a clear Middle East origin) and sub-Saharan from the maternal one. I am sure I have native American blood as well, which is something I can see when I look at some of  my relatives...just like so many millions of Venezuelans.

Since I got the first results I managed to carry out some additional tests and used historical records together with some population registries to find out more about my ancestors. It turned out, by some fortune, that I could discover a little bit more about my ancestors than I had expected. By combining genetic and historical records I know now some of my European ancestors came in the XVI century to Venezuela...rather early. And they were not from the Amos del Valle lot. From the sub-Saharan background I know little, though. I hope that changes in the future.

Genographic 2.0 will present a much detailed analysis of the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA profiles, but on top of that it will present an analysis of quite some autosomal markers, which are the ones that result from the mixing that occurs at conception time.

Here you have more information on the test.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Spend money on maths books, not on this

The Chávez government has spent many billions in importing weapons, many more than what the official defence budget might indicate. Most of the money comes from FONDEN, the Fund for Endogenous Development, probably one of the worst misnomers in Venezuela's history. The country was in 2011 the seventh most important weapons importing countries on Earth.

The Caudillo has often spoken about "asymmetric war", but the vast majority of expenses has been for big weaponry, items like tanks and planes. Against whom can they be used? Against US Americans "invading Bolivar's Fatherland"? Very unlikely. They are most likely used not against but for the wallets of some generals and industrialists

Anything else is secondary. And that's how the little soldiers are very badly trained and how it really doesn't matter what kind of quality control and maintenance measures are taken.

And that's why military planes are falling down so often in Venezuela. This was one of the latest, while the military caste was celebrating a bloody coup - the second one- it carried out in 1992 using as excuse another bloody coup it had carried out three years earlier.