Friday, 29 May 2009

Chavez Eternal Talk to the Nation

Every week Chavez has his talkshow. He talks for hours. He never goes to cabinet meetings. He does government through talkshow. All his ministers have to sit there in front of him. He talks to people from some place in Venezuela, he discusses all kinds of projects, he insults people present and not, he talks to journalists (although he does not allow real interviews), he sings, he tells stories about his childhood.

This time he announced he would celebrate the 10 years of his president-show by making an extra long one. He started yesterday Thursday and he will finish late on Sunday. Some Venezuelans who don't watch the show have asked themselves when he will do number 1 and number 2. Those who have seen a bit of it know that is what some folkloric dances are for.

Anyway, in the present show Chávez has already asked his versatile Minister of Information , Diosdado Cabello, when this is going to close down the only regime-critical TV station there is now, Globovisión (with a reach of 30% at most as it can only be seen in Caracas or via cable). So, expect that to be happening soon. Even a lot of Chavistas are having it hard to swallow that one, but then they don't dare to contradict the Jefe.

It would be a tragedy for Globovisión workers and yet I think the closing of this TV station would be good for us oppos in the long run: it would make many Venezuelans get out of their houses. Right now they are glued to the "oppo channel". Globo talks to the already converted.
And the opposition needs to go out and do something Chavez doesn't do in his eternal talk to the Nation: debate with it and actually listen to it.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Venezuela's Alpha and Omega II

Here you see another of my lousy charts where you see oil prices per month since 1983.
Venezuela's oil is usually cheaper than the average OPEC, WTI or Brent. The first bar indicates 1990. During most of that decade the average oil price was below $20 per barrel. Chavez got there when oil prices were the lowest for over a decade. Chavez still has a lot of resources at his disposal, but he cannot afford for long prices under 40. Venezuela's population has increased since 1998 in at least 6 million people and Chavez has to pay loyalties to many more in Venezuela and above all abroad.

Venezuela's Alpha and Omega

Thanks to a friend, here you have a graph on month-by-month oil prices from October 1998 to last month. I made the graph. I will try to make a better one when I get some time. You see OPEC, Venezuela and Brent prices for most of the time but there is some data mining for Venezuela's prices for some years. Still, the price can be deduce as it is usually just a little bit below OPEC prices and these a little bit below Brent ones (not always).

Chávez was elected in December of 1998. Before that oil prices had been around 12-15 dollars per barrel for almost one decade. 91% of Venezuela's foreign currency comes from oil exports and Venezuela imports almost all the rest.

The first red spot you see in the graph is the moment when former military coupster Chávez was elected. The second spot is when massive marches took place against Chavez. An extremist group used the 11 April march to stage a coup and Carmona became dictator for 2 days. Shortly after that the opposition tried for a long time to call for a referendum but the government did everything legal and illegal to prevent it and then to put it off while oil prices kept increasing. The referendum took place under international pressure at the moment you see marked with the third spot. Chavez's last referendum took place just two months ago. You see the last spot there. Notice oil prices today are for sales to be payed approximately in three months, so in March Venezuela was just "feeling" the prices of December.

Venezuela's average oil price is still several times higher than in the last decade before Chavez came to power. Still, now the Venezuelan government has been forced to start looking for loans abroad under very bad conditions.

Monday, 25 May 2009

United Nations and OAS complain

I usually don't refer to CNN as a reference, but this time it does have an article with a good review of things.

United Nations and OAS have produced a joined statement complaining about the Venezuelan government's threats to close down Globovisión, TV news station critical of the Chavez regime.

Venezuela's U.N. ambassador, Jorge Valero declared "we reject and condemn use of the name of such institutions as the U.N. and the O.A.S to attack member states while defending private monopolies that are accustomed to abuse of power and violating human rights". This statement by Valero is despicable. The "monopoly" means Globovisión is the only critical of Chávez nowadays on Venezuelan TV. Most people abroad ignore Globovisión can only be seen via open airwaves only in Caracas (and not all) and via cable in main cities. 70% of Venezuela's population has no way to watch Globovisión. The couple of newspapers where there is open criticism to Chávez also give the floor to Chavistas and anyway, they are read by few people in a country where people don't read even if they can. I wonder what human rights Valero wanted to defend.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

100 years of Venezuelan presidents

Here I put the list of Venezuelan presidents of the past 100 years. Those with "M" were military by profession. Those with "C'" were basically civilians. Gómez used a couple of puppet presidents but I don't bother to write their names as Gómez was very much the one who controlled everything. Dictator Pérez Jiménez (a hero of Chávez) also used a puppet president firstly. I decided to write next to each year the name of the head of state who had ruled during all or most of that year.

From 2003 I could find the price of the OPEC oil barrel. I added that at the end. Notice Chávez has had higher oil prices every year with one exception, in 2001. That and his mismanagement triggered the events of early 2002. Oil prices have dropped since the end of 2008 and that is causing a lot of problems to the government, problems that are making it become more repressive. As the government is rapidly running out of money, it has been negotiating very bad deals for Venezuela. It has, for instance, accepted a Chinese "investment" which in reality means Venezuela gets several billion dollars now for it to give away oil for many decades to come. Notice Venezuela's government is now getting into these bad deals even though oil prices now are several times higher than in 1998, when Chávez was elected.

1909 M Gómez
1910 M Gómez
1911 M Gómez
1912 M Gómez
1913 M Gómez
1914 M Gómez
1915 M Gómez
1916 M Gómez
1917 M Gómez
1918 M Gómez
1919 M Gómez
1920 M Gómez
1921 M Gómez
1922 M Gómez
1923 M Gómez
1924 M Gómez
1925 M Gómez
1926 M Gómez
1927 M Gómez
1928 M Gómez
1929 M Gómez
1930 M Gómez
1931 M Gómez
1932 M Gómez
1933 M Gómez
1934 M Gómez
1935 M Gómez
1936 M López Contreras
1937 M López Contreras
1938 M López Contreras
1939 M López Contreras
1940 M López Contreras
1941 M Medina Angarita
1942 M Medina Angarita
1942 M Medina Angarita
1943 M Medina Angarita
1944 M Medina Angarita
1945 M Medina Angarita
1946 C Betancourt
1947 C Betancourt
1948 C Gallegos
1949 M Chalbaud
1950 M Pérez Jiménez
1951 M Pérez Jiménez

1952 M Pérez Jiménez

1953 M Pérez Jiménez
1954 M Pérez Jiménez
1955 M Pérez Jiménez
1956 M Pérez Jiménez
1957 M Pérez Jiménez
1958 M Larrazábal/Sanabria
1959 C Betancourt
1960 C Betancourt
1961 C Betancourt
1962 C Betancourt
1963 C Betancourt
1964 C Leoni
1965 C Leoni
1966 C Leoni
1967 C Leoni
1968 C Leoni
1969 C Caldera
1970 C Caldera
1971 C Caldera
1972 C Caldera
1973 C Caldera
1974 C Pérez
1975 C Pérez
1976 C Pérez
1977 C Pérez
1978 C Pérez
1979 C Herrera
1980 C Herrera
1981 C Herrera
1982 C Herrera
1983 C Herrera
1984 C Lusinchi
1985 C Lusinchi
1986 C Lusinchi
1987 C Lusinchi
1988 C Lusinchi
1989 C Pérez
1990 C Pérez
1991 C Pérez
1992 C Pérez
1993 C Lepage/Velásquez
1994 C Caldera
1995 C Caldera
1996 C Caldera $20,29 OPEC oil barrel average
1997 C Caldera $18,68
1998 C Caldera $12,28
1999 M Chávez $17,48

2000 M Chávez $27,6
2001 M Chávez $23,12
2002 M Chávez $24,36
2003 M Chávez $28,1
2004 M Chávez $36,05
2005 M Chávez $50,64
2006 M Chávez $61,08
2007 M Chávez $69,08
2008 M Chávez $94,45

2009 M Chávez $46,43 (currently $58,32)

Do you know how many Norwegian heads of state were military? None but for this.

Globber is not working properly and I have little time, so I post the comment to J. here:

I have no problem with posting your comment, on the contrary. I have deleted comments from people of different tendencies (pro or against Chavez) if they 1) have a blog that promotes hatred towards any religion, ethnic group or belief or 2) are promoting hatred themselves here.

To your questions:

"What is the point of detailing which presidents had a military background? Only about a dozen U.S. presidents did not have military backgrounds."

Firstly: one thing is "military background" and another "military background and nothing else".
I think most US presidents can be defined as having a different background than military. They could have served in the military, but most were before that lawyers, editors, there was even a mathematician (Washington). Washington was more than just a military become he went to arms.

Being a military is not a point to exclude a president nor having studied for engineering/law/etc a guarantee for being any good at all, but I do see a certain trend in Venezuela: the military has played an excessive role and once they are in, they hardly leave.

Even those in the US like Eisenhower and the like were surrounded by a whole bunch of people with a much firmer level of education than military matters.
In a country with a much lower level of education, having military leaders (specially those who planned a coup) with nothing else for education and who came to power via non-kosher methods (or became known because of that) is no good.

"As for the price of oil, it is not Venezuela that is solely responsible for its increase. I believe it has more to do with a current military conflict elsewhere in the world."

Oh, I perfectly agree. I just put the price of oil to explain how the popularity of any one president has greatly depended on the easy petrodollars he has had at his disposal. I will add more data on that later on.
Basically, all of Chavez's popularity is based on external factors, the corruption already present before him and Chavez TALK.

"As for president Perez Jimenez, under what conditions did he become president?
How is he remembered by many pre-Chavez Venezuelan politicians and Venezuelan citizens?

Many people saw him as a bloody dictator, which he was. Others saw in him "a man who ruled a Venezuela where one could leave doors open and there was law and order and prosperity and big construction works took place".

In reality those who saw Perez Jiménez positively don't realize Venezuela had less than 5 million people back then
and that problems that affect petro-states grow exponentially ceteris paribus. Pérez Jiménez, like many other presidents, also forgot the countryside and robbed a lot. Besides, he murdered and tortured quite some people.

"I lived in Venezuela for several years, I am also a Venezuelan citizen, I have no allegiance to Chavez or to anyone else, but I have witnessed the poverty that so many of the poor masses of Venezuela have been subjected to for decades and I do not understand why one would choose to malign a president who has taken it upon himself and his government to try to rectify that problem. I am not a communist, nor am I a socialist, it just seems that it is about time that something was done down there to change the status quo. "

I may be seen in the US sometimes as a communist, sometimes as a liberal or socialist, I have no allegiance with any political party and I come from a family that has always been critical and independent but at the same time people who have tried to give proposals.

I greatly criticized the governments that came before Chavez (there was basically no blogs back then, let's remember Chavez is in power since 1998). The fact they were very bad, very corrupt and oblivious of the poor does not mean I should praise this government. I am old enough to remember a bit the decade of the seventies and what oil booms in Venezuela do.
Chavez has been riding on the biggest oil boom in several decades and he has just given crumbles to the poor and a lot of resources have been wasted.

I am not a seer. When Carlos Andres Perez was elected in 1988 I was very sad and almost cried. I knew there were going to be riots very soon as people were thinking he would repeat the conditions of the seventies, which he couldn't. I also predicted very much the bloody coup of Chavez to the week.
I did not know Chavez at all, I could "read the signs on the wall".

Chavez still had no justification to carry out that coup, CAP was going out anyway and Chavez later did nothing to prosecute the military who organized the massive shootings of poor people.

"The only Venezuelans that I have heard complain about the current government are the "haves"; the "have-nots", or the poor if you prefer, love this man for their own reasons(education, health care, and finally, a say in their future for better or worse)."

Are you in the US? I did not check where you were coming from, but you should get around Venezuela more these days.
A couple of my relatives are still Chavez supporters, several others are very sorry they voted for him, others were always against him.

Take a look at this:
1) the poorest tend to be still with Chavez, but then +-70% of the population are considered as poor and Chavez got 55% of the votes. Not all those votes came from the poor.
2) the biggest divide is actually between the city and the countryside now, where the opposition has no reach via media . Petare is the biggest slum in Venezuela and yet it voted against Chavismo now.
Miguel Pena is a parish that is very poor, it has half a million people and 58% supported Chavez and 41% opposed him. Are those 41% haves? Not at all.

As for my relatives: half of them live in prefabricated houses with zinc ceilings, 2 of my grandparents were illiterate and my other grandmother, who could read and write, did two years of basic schools and was a single mother keeping up her children as a sewer.

My parents profited from free education and a free health system. They were, like Chavez's parents, teachers. Unlike what Chavez said to the foreign press, one did not have to go barefooted back then if one's parents were teachers.

Those systems were far from optimal but they basically collapsed when sinking oil prices and huge population growth strained the state budget.

As for education, I have written a lot in this blog. Please, browse a bit.
And specially tell me: how come a Venezuelan government can oppose the introduction of the PISA programme?
I tell you why: because it would show what a farce all those courses are and how the education in Venezuela, already very weak, has only deteriorated.
Have you analyzed the literacy numbers? The "literacy reduction" is a farce. I can go over the reasons why I say so, but please, try to see if you can find the data in the blog first.

One anecdote: once my sister had a poster of the opposition on her second-hand Fiat. A guy passing by in a brand new SUV shouted at her "capitalista de XXXX". Probably the guy would consider himself a man from the working class.

Yes, there are people from the Ancien Regime who are completely elitists, who did not care about the poor, etc, but that is not the majority in the opposition.

Chavez has been very popular because he has been able to do a Carlos-Andrés-Pérez II, with more populism still, but
1) inequality is worse (and my indicator is not so much the GINI but the corruption levels and the tripling of the murder rate, the biggest hike ever
2) education has worsened, programmes for getting some money and spending half the time learning about socialism and Chavismo is not the way to go, Venezuela stopped taking part in open evaluations of education in 1998
3) there is huge political mobbing, people who signed against Chavez have been sacked (do you want me to show you the video of Labor minister saying they should be sacked?), others
have been forced to march for Chavez
4) 10 years have been wasted without any plan for sustainable development

I have no time to go deep into all of this but if you please consider Chavez has done what he has done because he has had much more money than all the presidents in the last 20 years, then you will understand.

Expect much more repression in the coming months.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Some days ago I placed here a poll to ask your main national background. Although this blog is getting more and more visits, the vast majority are still lurkers. Anyway, in spite of that I got a response.

  • Most visitors are EU citizens
  • There are almost as many Venezuelan visitors and some of them have another nationality
  • The amount of US Americans is also important
  • There are also some Canadians, more than their share in the world's population
I can tell you from the data I have about the lurkers that:
  • The US is the major source of visitors
  • Germany is the EU country with the most visitors, followed by the UK
  • The only country in Europe from which I did not have a visitor this month was Serbia, I did have several Slovenian visitors!
  • There are visitors from most Asian countries, with exceptions in Central Asia and most Arab-speaking Middle East countries (but then hello Jordan and UAE!)
  • The continent with the least visitors is Africa, but there are some constant visitors from half a dozen countries
Now I will make another poll and I hope some more lurkers come and write what they want to read about regarding Venezuela and perhaps its European connection. If there are special requests, please write them down in the comments' section.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

My vote and the Venezuelan government

My vote, like the vote of thousands of other Venezuelans abroad, has not been reported yet by the CNE, the National Electoral Council. The referendum took place in March of this year and since then the government has ignored Venezuelans' petitions (even handed over by registered letter) to publish those results. In fact, the government hasn't reported on Venezuelans' votes abroad of 2007.

Why? Is it perhaps because they cannot cheat so easily with votes of Venezuelans abroad?
Is it because Minister Maduro said most Venezuelans abroad signed a petition in support of Chavez when that is just a blatant lie? Is it because they want us to become tire and stop voting?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

PISA for Venezuela, education for Venezuela

On 18 and 19 May, Mr Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD Indicators and Analysis Division, will talk at the Universidad Central de Venezuela about the PISA programme. He is the creator and director of that programme. PISA has helped to improve education policies around the world. You can read something about it in The Economist here and there are many other articles about it in German, Dutch, Russian and Spanish out there.

I hope Venezuelans will finally dare to introduce transparency to education in Venezuela. I hope with all my heart the PISA programme sets foot in Venezuela and the Chavez government abstains from wrecking it, from interfering, from manipulating or preventing others from contributing.

The only countries in South America that still are not taking part in this programme are Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela.

I had already written about this programme here and here

Please, help us distribute this idea in Venezuela. I wrote about it in Spanish here.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Die "Reichen" als Tiere

Chavez hat auch gesagt, die Reichen seien Tiere in menschlicher Gestalt. Könnt Ihr das nicht glauben? Also, bitte, hier. Besonders krass ist die Tatsache, dass man nicht als Reicher gilt, wenn man wohlhabend ist aber hinter Chavez steht. So einfach ist es das.

(thanks to G.)

Chavez a step closer to Mugabe

Yesterday Hugo Chávez threatened again regime-critical TV channels (Globovision) and newspapers (El Nacional, El Universal and a couple of other minor ones). He also announced a new wave of land expropriation in Barinas. As I have written earlier, expropriations of all kinds will increase in the measure Venezuela's economy deteriorates. It is incredible how we have come to this point even though the oil price is still a couple of times more expensive than in 1998, when Chavez was elected.

The Barinas strongman won't expropriate lands of his political fans, much less those of his family, which is one of the biggest landowners in Barinas. He will just go for those who oppose him. The interesting thing here is how he declares the amount of acres that need to be expropriated, which shows how little he cares for legality: 10.000 hectares have to be taken over.

Expect professional squatters and his military people to end up with the best of those lands.

The picture below shows the entrance to La Chavera, property of the Chavez clan. The president's family has much more than that hacienda, but most other properties are under the official name of front men.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Eurodeputies concerned about Venezuela or 4% against 0.148%

The European Parliament has just approved a resolution condemning the Venezuelan government's latest political persecution. You can find the motion here.

Antonio García, Venezuela's business representative to the EU said 'this was a maneuver of the right and extreme right" and the parliamentarians did not represent even 4% of the Parliament's representatives". What García does not say is that all European deputies get to know well beforehand what is going to be debated and they all can vote. Also: most votings at the European Union take place with just a tiny fraction of European representatives. If what the Chavez regime calls "extreme right" just made it to less than 4%, the "extreme left" (or actually, the Chavez fans) are many less. Actually, there were 27 euro-deputies who voted for the resolution and only one who defended Chávez (I will find out who that one is...perhaps Sarah Wagenknecht, the German Eurodeputy who mourns the SED dictatorship?). So: 4% against 0.148%.

Here in Spanish

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Getting to know you a wee bit better

As you probably know, a blogger can find out a lot of interesting things about readers just by looking at the basic statistics of visitors. Still, there is something I would like to know and browsers cannot tell me: what is the main national background of my readers. I want to find out, for instance, what the Venezuelan/non-Venezuelan ratio is among readers outside Venezuela.

You can select multiple origins.

Thanks for your cooperation!

Little people with white faces

One of the many animals you can find in Venezuela's nature is the white-faced Saki (pitaecia pitaecia). This primate lives in the Venezuelan jungles and in those of Brazil, Guyana and Suriname.
The IUCN has not classified it as threatened, but that is primarily because it never knew how numerous these sakis were. This species was never very abundant.

Friday, 1 May 2009

The Venezuela-Europe drug connection - II

Thanks to Bridge we got a Dutch article about the recent detentions in Curacao.

I won't translate the whole article. Just some highlights:

  • More than 250 police officers were involved in the action
  • The cocaine was in shipping containers to West Africa and Europe or in couriers going from Curacao or Aruba to the netherlands.
  • The organization was probably responsible for import and export of at least 2000 kilos of cocaine per year
  • The suspects were investing drug profits in real estate in Colombia, Venezuela, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic
  • The organization had contacts with Hezbolla in Lebanon; they were supporting Hezbollah
  • Lebanon uses the money to buy large amounts of arms from South America (where there exactly?)
  • Basically the route is from Colombia through Venezuela to Curacao/Africa/Europe
  • The ships went from Venezuela to West Africa and from there to the Netherlands, Lebanon and Spain.
  • Money couriers went from Curacao to Venezuela mainly
  • 17 people were arrested. They were from Curacao, Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon, Suriname and Cuba. There were 4 women and 13 men.
  • The police action was done in cooperation with the judiciary in the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela and the US

My questions:

- was the judiciary in Venezuela really involved?
- what route was taken from Colombia through Venezuela and what can Venezuelan authorities do about this?
- would they really want to do something about it?