Thursday, 30 October 2008

Chávez goes on wasting Venezuelans' money

Bolivia will export $200 million of textiles to Venezuela. That is good for the Bolivians, but: what about Venezuelans? Well, Venezuelans had to pay to the Chinese hundreds of millions of dollars because Chavez wanted a "Bolivarian satellite", which is nothing more than a satellite manufactured and maintained by the Chinese. Venezuela will have to pay through the nose every single year to keep that satellite for Chávez's aims.

Hugo Chávez has spent billions of dollars in weapons from the Russians. He has used hundreds of millions to pay Belorussians for them to build houses in Venezuela which Venezuelan engineers could have built. He has further financed many foreign companies in the form of direct help, subventions or the very overvalued Bolivar.

Meanwhile, our industry is going to pot. The only companies florishing in Venezuela are those engaged in importing all kinds of products. How long will this last?

Going back to the Bolivian deal: what is Chávez doing this for? We know he needs to keep feeding Evo to have support from this. But: what can he exactly get from that? Votes at the Organization of American States in the future when he becomes more isolated? A haven when he has to run away from justice? Or is there something else?

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

My Venezuelan DNA Part I

Last month I ordered a genetic kit of the Genographic Project from National Geographic. I got my kit in less than two weeks together. The package included a video about genetic research on human expansion and migration. You can use the kit to order either a test on your paternal ancestry or your maternal one. I chose to check out first thing the paternal part because I thought that could give more details.

I scrapped slightly in my mouth with two buccal swabs and sent them back to the Genographic project. On their site I can see the samples have been analysed and they are now being re-checked by two analylists. In a couple of weeks I hope to get basically the haplogroup as indicated in my Y-chromosome.

I would probably not have done this test if I were not Venezuelan: I am the average mixed person. I know who the parents of my grandparents were, but most of the rest in the past is difficult to find out. I know some came to Venezuela from the Canary Islands. I know one probably came from Northern Spain. I know another one was perhaps Central European. I certainly know my grandmother on my mother's side had Indian blood as she looked very Indian, as my sister. Perhaps her ancestors were the Indians that populated the Tacarigua Lake, from where a lot of my people came. Unfortunately, records in Venezuela have been mostly destroyed. I know one of my ancestors from my dad's side was called a "zambo", a mixture of a Black with an Indian. I just don't know where the maternal or paternal ancestors came from.
My guess is that the paternal line will turn out to be West European and the maternal one Native American, but it could be anything: African and African, African and West European, etc.
That is why this test will bring me something really new.

I was thinking it would be very interesting if National Geographic or other groups could carry out a comprehensive research among Venezuelan Indians. We know some things about the Indian migrations that took place in what would become Venezuela, but nothing very sure. We know more or less where the Arawacs were and how the Carib groups were expanding when the Spanish invasion arrived. It would be interesting to find out the genetic distance between Arawaks as still represented by the Wayúu and a couple of other minor groups and the Caribs, as still represented by the Pemones and the Yeq'wana. It would be very interesting to find out how related Warao Indians - with a language considered an isolate - are with the other groups still present in Venezuela. But then: scientists hav had difficulties getting permission from Indian groups, who were afraid - with good reason - of being cheated again. Now, with a government that sees everything coming from the United States and Europe as "evil", such a project would be less likely to happen. It is a pity. We could find out interesting information about how our history.

After I am done with the paternal ancestry, I will check out the maternal one. Did I come from I? J? X? Something else?

Monday, 27 October 2008

News on Venezuela

The European Union approved a resolution condemning the Venezuelan government for the inhabilitaciones, the trick it used to prevent mostly opposition candidates from taking part in the 23 November elections.

Here you can se the resolution. Only one person opposed the resolution, one from the extreme left. The social democrats abstained. It is a real shame they did not have the courage to go for it. Why is it that the right and the left always need double amount of violations of human rights to act against a regime that claims to be "on their side"? OK, I am being too naif. Still, the European socialists should start acting a little bit faster. It was fine that the French Socialists condemn last year the Chavez plan to reform the constitution, it was fine mostly socialists decided, as I reported earlier, to sign a resolution in the Council of Europe to condemn the situation of human rights in Venezuela right now, but: was it so much for them now to also get involved in this resolution? They will be sorry very soon.

Meanwhile, Hugo Chávez declared opposition leader Rosales is a gangster who wants to kill him. Chávez has denounced plots against him every month or so, but now the cries about the wolf are accelerating. Why? As Quico wrote in Caracas Chronicles, it is the paranoia of power.

It is a pity European deputies have not heard Chávez's last words on the elections: he won't send the money due by law to those regions where the opposition wins. Amazing, isn't it?

Someone should put subtitles for such videos as this.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What if Cuba does not need Venezuelan oil anymore?

I just stumbled upon this piece of news on The Guardian. Apparently, the recent discovery,

"if confirmed, puts Cuba's reserves on par with those of the US and into the world's top 20. Drilling is expected to start next year by Cuba's state oil company Cubapetroleo, or Cupet."

If this were true, what are your bets?

- Hugo Chávez would feel less need to spend Venezuela's money supporting the Castro regime and he would be able to use it for good or bad in Venezuela.

- The Castro regime would get more leverage in Latin America

- United States would feel compelled to easy down the embargo.

Your bets?

Sustainable development, a hint:

More lurkers than I thought have been writing me about my request for helping help Venezuela. I cannot reveal yet all to those I know nothing about.

Here so far: we have a very concrete proposal for improving a bit the situation of education in Venezuela, something we want to bring about to all sectors of society. If you are interested in hearing about the idea off the blog and via email, let us know a little bit about you. We do not need your ID. We just need to trust you a bit: what are you and what you think of Venezuela's problems now in a couple of sentences.

The reason is simple: even though everyone in public agrees the idea is good, we are afraid some will try to torpedo it because it does not suit them politically, whether they are, like us, opposed to Chavez, or they are still supporting him. We have good reason to be afraid of that.

This is a very basic, simple but concrete proposal that needs people of good faith. Tell us if you are interested in hearing about it and we (a couple of expats and me) will send you an email.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Randomly checking journalists' passports

Today Baudelio Medrano, head of ONIDEX, the institution in charge of identification in Venezuela, declared the extra security checks some regime critical journalists have to do through when they arrive in Venezuela are completely "random".

When I was studying the basics of computer science, I got another definition of randomness. For us, a random process meant it did not show predictability, that could not be described in a deterministic way.

Mr Medrano said the extra checks where journalists' passports were taken away to be photopied were "a randomly done security measure carried out only for verifying some details in the passport that we cannot check out at the moment because if we did, we would take two hours".

I wonder what details Chavez-critical journalists have in their passports that merit that. I wonder why some people in Venezuela are more randomly searched than others.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Help Venezuela - Venezuela helfen - Ayudar a Venezuela

Do you want to take part in a project that could be useful for all Venezuelans, specially future generations?
Contact me at desarrollo.sostenible.venezuela at gmail...
It won't require much of your time. A couple of clicks and spreading the idea would do the trick.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Chávez and the Gollum

The people from the Patria para Todos and the Venezuelan Communist Party were accused by Chávez to be anti-revolutionaries, he told them they would disappear from the map if they did not submit 100% to him (I wrote something in German in my previous post). This is not the first time he criticizes his former friends.

At the start I thought this was some kind of pathological battered-masochist-wife-sadistic-husband relationship (Albornoz/Figuera vis-a-vis Chavez: "please, hit me, hit me", "no, I won't hit you" "ooh"), but then I realised: these blokes are just begging for their crumbles, for their bolívares fuertes, while Chávez just needs people who adore him and submit to him 100% and he was using his Sunday programme to define that relationship. The discussion has been going on for a year now: he was asking all the parties that were in his alliance to join the PSUV. Only those two parties were still "together but not as one".

I think his mental health was very bad from early on. It is not just "a gossip" he cut off the head of a dead donkey and placed it in front of the door of a girl who had rejected him back in Barinas when he was a young man.

But his desire for recognition is growing by the day. Like Séagol when he found the ring, Chávez is mutating from a minor autocrat who at times could say "he was not indispensable" (as he said in 1998) into a complete egomaniac Gollum.

We can see that clearly in his language. The use of "Chavez" to refer to himself, or some other times "we" for the same reason is much more present now than a few years earlier. Chávez's statements that the so-called "revolution" is him come more often than ever. In the case of Hugo Chávez, "my precious" is the presidency.

More on this later...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Die Kommunistische Partei Venezuelas und der Führer

Hier sagt Hugo Chavez, dass er mit Patria Para Todos und der Kommunistischen Partei (KPV) nicht mehr zusammen arbeiten wird, wenn sie ihn nicht als "Führer" anerkennen. Er sagt, dass wenn die PPT und die KPV sich ihm nicht unterordnen, diese Parteien verschwinden werden. Die PSUV - Chávez Partei - würde Chávez zufolge bei 40% in den Umfragen liegen, während sie weniger als 1% hätten.

Der Vorsitzende der PPT, José Albornoz, zeigt seine Angst: (4:09) "Präsident, hier in der PPT gibt es keinen Chavismus ohne Chávez". Er behauptet, Chávez sei schlecht informiert und dass seine Partei völlig hinter ihm steht (hinter oder unter?).

Der Vorsitzende der KPV, Oscar Figuera, zeigt, wie unterwerferisch seine Partei sein kann:"Unsere Partei existiert auch ohne Kandidaturen für Bundesstaaten oder Gemeinden". Er sagt aber auch, dass er mit der Chávez-Allianz (d.h. mit der PSUV und PPT) über mögliche Kandidaturen sprechen will.

Am Dienstag werden PPT und KPV weiter mit der PSUV diskutieren, inwieweit sie weiter "den Führer" unterstützen wollen.

Woran denken nun die extreme Linke in Europa? Wollen sie auch "den venezolanischen Führer" so unterstützen? Wie lange? So wie sie Mugabe unterstützt haben?

FOX: US Venezolana de Televisión? Rumblings on US-Venezuela

No, it is not that bad, but it is pretty bad.
Look at this:
FOX just selecting the non-critical part

The Youtuber here is right: FOX, as usual, is just showing what fits their wee world.

I found The Economist's edition of 4th October 2008 one of the best reviews I have seen about the US campaign so far. It would be nice if both Republicans and Democrats could sit down and read aloud from those articles.

Whatever I say will be seen as a reason for Conservatives to vote for the candidate they wanted to vote already, but I will say it for the Europeans and Venezuelans out there: I believe, now more than ever, as other Venezuelan opposition bloggers, that Obama will respond on a more firm way than McCain. I am sure Chávez would be be happy to get a McCain and specially a Palin as his counterparts in the US. Obama will help the US get back more of the admiration and respect it used to have. McCain and Palin would divide more and keep the US in this "crusade attitude" towards the world.

Do you know what the extreme Conservatives are using against Obama? This
apart from other accusations he is a "Muslim, a friend of terrorists" and the like. As The Economist stated, the Republicans are now so sure they cannot win on serious topics, they have to use mud-throwing. Obama has stated there and later in a very clear way what his position is. He has later being much more specific about Chávez's regime and condemn it in a much more clear way than McCain. But beyond that, he has shown more respect and insight when treating the rest of the world and that is an asset for the US as well.

There are still things I do not like of Obama's proposals, but in general I would say: he is better for the US and he would be better for promoting democracy in Latin America.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Council of Europe worried about Venezuela

22 members of the Council of Europe signed a declaration declaring their worries about the way the Venezuelan comptroller excluded against the law the participation of several opposition leaders in the elections of 23 November 2008. They also condemned the attacks by the Chávez government to critical figures and the expulsion without any lawful procedure of the director of Human Rights Watch, Vivanco.

The interesting thing I see here is how the list is including more and more people who belong to SOCIAL DEMOCRATS, like Christoph Strässer (German SPD) and Gerd Höfer (also German SPD)
and Arcadio Díaz Tejera (PSC/PSOE), as well as those who had taken a more critical stance towards the current government earlier like people from the Spanish PP, like Pedro Agramunt Font de Mora.

The Council of Europe is not the EU. Still, I wonder in view of this the following:
- Will there be EU observers in Venezuela for the elections on 23 November? I doubt it: no one is moving a finger for that.
- What new ways will the extreme left find to defend Chávez?
- When will Rodríguez Zapatero be more firm in condemning the Chávez government? Under which circumstances?

The EU took a long time to recognise how Mugabe's regime was damaging the people of Zimbabwe. Let's hope it won't take so long to recognise the full extent of what is happening in Venezuela.

Monday, 6 October 2008

What the international community is missing from Venezuela

Hugo Chávez is known outside Venezuela for his controversial speeches. They go from the folksy to the simply insulting. I am not precisely a fan of George W. Bush, but I found, as almost everybody, the speech of Chávez at United Nations a tasteless way of looking for attention, while some in the Left found that "funny" (thanks God not all the left and the truth be said, the right has similar clowns and people who applaud the clowns). But what most people abroad do not know is the caliber of most speeches Chávez makes in Venezuela, speeches where he very explicitly says how he is going to break the law and violate the most basic principles of democracy.

Take the last speech Hugo Chávez held in the central state of Carabobo. In that speech Chávez simply declared he was not going to send money to Carabobo if the governor elected iin November s from the opposition. Never mind the national government has by law to transfer a part of the budget to the governors and mayors of all regions. Chávez also said - again - Carabobo is a "nest of traitors since Venezuela's independence." He frankly declared "I won't be sending money to those places where there are counter-revolutionary governors and mayors. What for? For them to steal them or plan a conspiracy against me?"

Carabobo is a state that has been known for being independent for a long time. It has been one of the places where the opposition has scored best. Unlike what some very badly informed foreign "socialists" say, it is not because it is a "province of mostly white people who do not want to share their wealth". First of all, Venezuela is not Bolivia and the European-Indian divide Bolivians have is not present. I come from that region and my very average African and Indian and European background can testify for it. Secondly, Carabobo is a big urban centre and has an important university, with lots of students who have not been brainwashed yet. Then there are relatively more people with access to regime critical media (critical mass, critical TV can only reach Venezuelans via cable or satellite but for Caracas and most people do not have cable or satellite).

The region rejected Chávez's referendum with a higher percentage than other regions. That hurts Chávez more than most think. It also has a couple of mayors who belong already to the opposition.

Chávez is desperate because he knows his candidate, Mario Silva, has little chances if the election is clean. Mario Silva is a TV presenter at the state channel who uses ilegally state TV to promote his candidacy (I will come in future posts to this issue about illegal use of state funds). He can be so low that even most people who still support the regime do not like him. He wants to be governor of a state where he had no previous link whatsoever (he changed his registration to vote in Carabobo just a month ago).

It would be very interesting to know what people like French minister of Foreign affairs, Bernard Kourchner, has to say about this. Would he finally speak out or is he afraid of losing too many dollars of business deals? And would Zapatero just shut up? We know already what Lula would say, Brazil is profiting too much from the shambles Venezuela is in right now.
What is the EU going to do about those elections? And specially: what is it going to do about the aftermatch?

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Chávez's slaughter house

Venezuela has become a slaughter house: the country is now one of the most dangerous regions on Earth whereas it was just an "average dangerous Latin American country" 10 years ago, when Chavismo came to power. The increase in the murder rate is unprecedented. Not even Mexico with all its horrible drug problems and murdered women at the border, not even Colombia with its civil war show such murder rates and such general trends for so many years in a row. In fact, in cases such as Colombia we see falling rates, in most other countries in Latin America but for small ones like Jamaica we see stable rates for many years now.

Here you can see the updated numbers of murdered people in Carabobo, my state since I have them, since 2004. It is a pity I do not have the rates for before, but in general terms, the big hike happened from the moment Chávez started "governing". Caracas is even worse, but I am using the statistics of Carabobo because I know that state particularly well.

As usual, the Venezuelan regime blames it on "past government", "social injustice" (sure there is social injustice, in the year 9 of Chavismo more than ever). and "Bush". Chavista officials, starting with the Comandante himself, claim time after time the numbers are "going down" because they compare one isolated week or month in a region to another one that suits them or just like that, without bothering to use any senseless pseudo-statistics.

And when something big hits the news and there is a new outcry, they claim the opposition is "manipulating the suffering of the people, oh, how vile they can be". What is one supposed to do with such development? In 9 years Chávez has changed the minister of "Justice" ten times, in 2002 the Venezuelan government stopped sending the number of murdered people to United Nation's body on crime research when the trend became so clear: they had lost control of crime.
It did not help they have tried to redefine what a murder is. No, it is not they are taking out violent deaths that do not belong to murder, like car crash victims. No, it is they try to redefine each case when the perpetrators are not completely evident, have been caught or the like.

It is a pity Venezuelan media does not know what to do with such numbers. They tell of the total number of murdered people per day, per week, per month, but always in an isolated fashion, without reference to previous years, without reference to the outside world.

Chávez's officials have avoided all the time to debate the issue on a public debate. Such are the levels where Chavismo is.

The main reference I use here for Carabobo is Notitarde, which uses official numbers from the police. They go into gruesome details about the murders, the names of the victims and so on, it is not a "lie of the imperialist press". If you doubt, you just need to go to Venezuela's mortuaries.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Venezuela's music: golpe tocuyano

One of the things I love a lot of Venezuela is its traditional music. Each region has its particular music style, reflecting a specific mix of native American, European and black African influences there. Here you can see a video of golpe tocuyano here. Several of my dearest friends come from the area of Lara, specially El Tocuyo and I used to visit that region as a child. This video brings very beautiful memories back.