Sunday, 14 February 2016

Cocaine and Chavismo, a Country in Decomposition

Everyone I know across Venezuela tells me the same: they are having a lot of trouble trying to make ends meet. Chicken? Onions? Beans? Meat? Flour? Hard to find and incredibly expensive for someone who earns in Venezuela's currency. We have heard for years now about the shortages in medicine supplies but now we have reached levels unheard of. We are entering hyper-inflation mode and the regime keeps talking about "economic war". Other bloggers have written a lot about this even if Chávez initiated the destruction of Venezuela's already weak economic structure, Maduro has accelerated the process. Maduro has allowed the shameless kleptocrats to prevail over all other interest groups of Chavismo. Desperation is increasing by the day. Still, most Venezuelans in Venezuela find it hard to understand things are going to get worse. When you suffer an inflation of over 150%, you haven't got much time to grasp it will keep increasing. You just try to survive yet another week.

On Friday we read of a major detained at the Colombian-Venezuelan border trying to smuggle cocaine. He had about 503 kg of cocaine in his lorry. This is nothing new but this major, Juan José Sorja Ojeda, turns out to be a permanent assistant to Hugo Chávez's father. The Chávez Family treats Barinas, their home state, as their fiefdom and there they have their haciendas, a lot of relatives have high ranking state positions. This major was a sergeant with nurse training who suddenly became a major. That is quite a jump in the Venezuelan military system.

Here you can see a picture of him next to Walter Martínez, the "star of international news" at the national - Chavista - state channel Venezolana de Televisión.
Juan José was very active on Facebook and he was a very vocal supporter of Chavismo. The fact that he was caught while trafficking cocaine doesn't say anything about independence of powers but everything about lack of coordination among the different groups in power now. It also might show at least some of the low-key soldiers controlling our roads do mean business and want to do the right thing. The minister of defence, Vladimir Padrino, rushed to explain the guy was "no real military". The reasoning? "A coward, someone lacking dignity, honour, someone scorning his arms, cannot be a military". I suppose most Chavista militaries, once discovered by others in some crime, stopped being military.

Venezuelans are getting more and more isolated and neighbours do not seem to care. If you speak Spanish, you can read Krauze's article about that in El País.

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