Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Venezuelan colours II

Venezuela is very mixed, as we have often mentioned, but: how mixed is it precisely? What differences are there exactly across social groups?

Population geneticists help to investigate how homo sapiens expanded from Africa to settle the whole world and how different groups intermingled. One of the main sources they have are non-recombining pieces of DNA. These are genetic markers we all get from one side of our ancestors only. Most of the DNA information in our cells are a "random" mixture of both parents' genes: it is not possible to know but some parts get transmitted almost unchanged from father to sons across many generations or from mother to daughters and sons. They are patterns that are recognizable after thousands of years. Only from time to time there are minor mutations and those mutations help us see how different branches of mankind appeared.

The markers on the males' side are patterns of DNA-bases found in the Y chromosomes. I have the same sequences as my dad but for very minor variations. The markers on the female sie are DNA bases found in our mitochondria, little structures we all have in all our cells and which we get exclusively from our mothers. We all have the spitting image of our mother's mitochondria.
As populations in previous times stayed put in some places and did not mingle randomly with others, geneticists have been able to find haplogroups that are shared by all common ancestors of an individual many years ago. Things get much more complicated than that, but basically, with those haplogroups we can track down a whole line, either on the paternal side or on the maternal side of each man and on the maternal side of every woman on Earth.

Like your mother

The Y: like dad's

Sub-Saharan Africans, Europeans, Asians and native Americans have particular haplogroups. If you see a "sub-Saharan" male haplogroup in an European, this means that the father of the father of the father...of that European (a male as only males have Y chromosomes, unless we are talking about very unusual cases) came from sub-Saharan Africa in recent history. The same goes on the female side.

I am Venezuelan and as I wrote in previous posts, I have the usual admixture. My paternal haplogroup appeared in the Fertile crescent around 18000 years ago and it is present in lots of Lebanese, Iraqis, Syrians, Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Southern Italians, Jews and to a lesser extent Spaniards. I got it from there. My mother's haplogroup is sub-Saharan and most likely a female ancestor of mine was a slave brought to Venezuela between 1528 and 1810 (it could have come indirectly through Spain as 1-3% of Spaniards also have sub-Saharan female haplogroups, but that is less likely). That lady was from West Africa. That is only part of my background. As my family has been in Venezuela for a long time, it is almost certain there is native American blood there as well and from other parts of Europe (two of them I know) and Africa. One has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents and 2 times n ancestors n generations ago.

Now back to the study carried out by Rodríguez-Larrade. The blood samples were from 50 and 60 individuals who were in a public and a private maternity respectively.

The results for male haplogroup origin in the public maternity (where the dad of the dad of the dad of the dad...of the males came from) showed this:

The results for male haplogroup in the private maternity showed this:

A lot of the people in public hospitals are people from families who came from the countryside to the capital in the last 50 years. About 40% of the grandparents of the people in the private clinic were born in Europe. As the study says, "Many of these migrants, mostly Spaniards, Italians, and Portuguese, helped to develop economic activities related to commerce and construction, activities that rapidly introduced them to the high socioeconomic level. On the other hand, most of those individuals at the low socioeconomic level are a consequence of rural-urban internal migration; they seem to be more representative of the traditional Venezuelan population. This reveals that the identification of the grandparents' geographic origin is an important methodological aspect to take into account in genetic studies related to the reconstruction of historical events."

Still, in both cases we see the European component on the male side is the dominant by far. Male Indians were killed or outbred in previous centuries, whereas the conqueror or richer settler reproduced more, as all around the world.

On the background we got from our mothers, we have a completely different picture. The background in the public maternity looked like this:

The genetic background on the female side in the private clinic looked like t his:

Let's hope in the future there won't be such differences and our public hospitals become as good as those in Northern Europe. Let's hope any background differences between public and private clinics disappear.

In any case, we sum up saying Venezuelans are, genetically speaking, mostly European on the paternal side and mostly native American on the maternal side, with a sub-Saharan component on both sides (as my maternal haplogroup shows) but any mixture is part of Venezuela and most Venezuelans have a bit of recent background from every continent. There are obvious ethnic differences, although smaller than elsewhere: the poor of the present tend to be descendants of the poor of yore, who tended to be more descendants of Indians and slaves, although it is a matter of some degrees. There has been a lot of mobility in Venezuela for many decades now, probably more than in many other places, although not as we would want. The main reason is the little support given to the quality of education of the poorest, something that hasn't changed.

The cool thing is that a Venezuelan of German or Lebanese, Japanese or Peruvian parents is just that: a Venezuelan with foreign parents, but a Venezuelan 100%. She is also going to eat her arepas and cachapas, she will have the same Venezuelan music, use the Latin American Spanish adorned with those Indian, African and Italian words

Genetics can take us further and teach us more about the history of Venezuela. We will write about this in future posts. But it does not take genetics for us to know we need better education for the poor. This will help us reduce all kinds of social differences and get us on the road to sustainable development.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Venezuelan radioactivity: Iran, no, Russia! Iran, Russia! (and more on weapons)

A few days ago the West revealed Iran had secretly built a nuclear facility in Qom. Iran rushed to admit it had but added it has done nothing illegal. I won't go into the discussion on that but BBC says Iran goes now weakened to negotiations.

At the same time, Venezuelan Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz declared Iran was helping Venezuela prospect for uranium. Blogger Quico has written on his fears about that here and here.

As soon as Sanz said Iran was helping Venezuela, another Venezuelan minister, Jesse Chacon (brother of billionaire revolutionary Arne Chacon), stated it was not Iran, but Russia (Iran, Russia: three letters in common, would you not mix them up as well?). What is going on? Is it chaos? Are they trying to confuse people? Both?

Well, I was browsing a wee bit through Russian sites and I found this. It does not talk about Iran at all. It is a post from August of this year referring to Venezuelan-Russian negotiations on nuclear power research.

Some bits:
  • Bank "Национальный кредит" (National credit)» is working on the restructuring of the assets and liabilities of a Venezuelan-Russian agreement.
  • The ones to sign the agreement were Russian Director General of the State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom), Sergei Kiriyenko, and the Minister of Energy and Petroleum Rafael Ramirez.
  • The agreement is about uranium and thorium and it was based on the agreement on nuclear energy cooperation signed by Medvedev and Chavez in November 2008 (when Medvedev was in Venezuela).
  • The temporary administrator of the National Credit bank said "As far as the bank's obligations to customers, we also offer a choice of two options: a refund in installments, or the extension of deposit contracts".
A news agency, BaltInfo, reports about how the Venezuelan (Hugo's) National Assembly voted on the agreement for confidentiality on Russian technology, an agreement that would be valid for some 5 years and would basically enable them to hide away the details about the whole agreement, as far as I see. El Universal had reported on this earlier on. Now, in the Russian article I read again Venezuela got 92 T-72 tanks plus "some rocket launcher systems Smerch". We don't know how many. Now this says 38+24 such systems were delivered to India for 750 million dollars.

My strong hunch is there is a huge overprice and somebody is getting richer. In any case: transparency is not something you will ever associate with Venezuela's government.

I chose as post picture not one of uranium or thorium but one showing the proportion of the urban population in slums per country. Venezuela, the land of the Blackberry, is at the level of Congo while Chile is eliminating its last slums right now.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Venezuelan blood feeders

Real vampires are not European. They are American and most are Latin American. European bats don't feed on blood.

There are three species of vampire bats that feed on blood only. All three can be seen in Venezuela.

The one on the picture is the common vampire, a.k.a. Desmodus Rotundus.

I have to say it is one of the most repulsive mammals I have seen. In Venezuela you can sometimes see them at sunset (night sets in very fast at 1 to 10° degrees North of the Equator). You can spot them more often in the countryside, but you can find them in cities as well where there is not much light. Once, as a child, I saw one from a distance of one inch or two: I was climbing on my brother's shoulder to put a TV cable on a high window sill and there it was, in front of me, with its ugly snout and sharp teeth. The bat was absolutely dead, but the shout I gave was heard very far.

Vampires feed on all kinds of animals, from birds to horses...and if you are in the countryside and don't pay attention, they could feed on you (although I never saw one attacking humans but they do) . These nasty wee mammals usually bite and let the blood flow. Then they take the blood with their tongue. Their saliva has an anticoagulant substance to keep the wound bleeding. The Desmodus Rotundus in particular is very dexterous and it can walk and jump by using its wings, sort of to approach in a more quiet way and get to the right spot. If it feeds on a tethered animal one day, it will try to go back to the same animal day after day for more blood as the initial wound is easy to open up again. Yeah, it is creepy. People with horses or cows have to pay attention to that.

One needs to be careful because they can carry rabies. As I said, I never saw one trying to approach me (and they would abhor light), but as I was often going to the countryside, I was told to be careful when some were flying around.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Venezuela auf Deutsch: es tut mir weh

Hier findet man einen Link zum Auslandsjournal der ZDF. Rechts oben auf "Alltag Mord" klicken. Es handelt sich um ein kurzes Video über die Gewalt in der gefährlichsten Hauptstadt der Welt.

Einige Kommentare von mir: die Mordrate in Venezuela hat sich in den letzten 10 Jahren verdreifacht und die Regierung will das nicht zugeben. Die zuständigen Minister und der Präsident weigern sich, selbst wenn Beweise vorgelegt werden, über die Zahlen zu diskutieren oder mit der Opposition live zu debatieren. Sie sagen höchstens, dass Kriminalität "ein Problem des Kapitalismus ist", dass sie daran arbeiten, es zu bekämpfen, dass es dieses oder jenes Wochendende weniger Morde als 52 Wochen davor gab und dass es von der Opposition unverschämt ist, das Thema "auszunutzen". Seit 2002 sendet die venezolanische Regierung keine Statistiken mehr über Morde an die United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: die Zunahme der nicht leicht vertuschbaren Kriminalität war einfach zu dramatisch.

Mein Dank an Gus für den ZDF-Link.

PS. Hier mehr Details auf Englisch über das 23-de-Enero-Viertel und die Stadtkriege dort.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Venezuelan colours


We have always known Venezuela has a great ethnic variety. The admixture is not just at the level of groups ("there are lots of people from all over the world", but at the level of most families, at the level of all of us:
most Venezuelans have a very varied ethnic background. I have written a bit about this here.

Alexander von Humboldt wrote about the proportion of different ethnic groups in Venezuela during his times there. He estimated that at the start of the XIX century some 800000 people were living in Venezuela. Some 12000 were "European born whites", 200000 were American whites (people like Miranda or Bolívar), 406000 were "mixed", 62000 were black slaves and 120000 were "pure Indians". The German Wikipedia as well as many other European or US American reference books now say things like this: "67 % of Venezuelans are Mestizos, 21% are of European, 10% of African and 2% of Indian origin". Humboldt was more or less on the right track back then, but modern encyclopaedias from the North are definitely not: the great majority of Venezuelans have European, African and Indian origins and there is little use in putting people in one box only.

In recent years geneticists have carried out very interesting resear
ch work on the Venezuelan population. Results have confirmed what most Venezuelans thought. Still, the new studies give us more details about how we, Venezuelans, came to be. I will comment about those studies here and in later posts.

A particular study carried out by Rodríguez-Larrade and others in 2007 on the population of Caracas (abstract here) shows interesting patterns. Scientists performed tests with blood samples from patients in private or public hospitals of the capital. They analysed autosomal markers (based on genetic information that comes from both father and mother), markers transmitted through the Y chromosome only (and thus only inherited from fathers to sons) and markers transmitted through the mitochondria (given from mothers to all their children).

The tests on autosomal markers for people in private hospitals show this: 75% of the autosomal markers were of European origin, 17 were of Indian origin and 8 of sub-Saharan provenance. People in public hospitals had the following pattern: 32.8% were European markers, 39.7% were native Ameri
can and 27.5% sub-Saharan.

Sadly but not surprisingly, even in Venezuela people with a darker skin tend to be poorer and go to publi
c and very overcrowded hospitals with little resources. People with a recent European background (parents are European) tend to be better off and they go to private institutions. The situation is not as bad in in many other countries, even if racism is still very present in Venezuela. Still, it is a big problem. This issue is mostly based on the fact people with poor education earn less and find it more difficult to provide for a better environment. The State has never done its homework as it should.

In spite of this division, a big admixture is present in both private and public hospitals.

Now, autosomal studies are not the whole story. They just give us some glimpse about the geneti
c contributions of people in general. It gets more interesting. Genetics can tell us a little bit more than what we knew from recorded history. It can help us broaden our picture of how we came to be Venezuelan. I will write about that in a future post.

Ps. Multiply the column value by 100 to get the percentage.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

No volverán (or how corruption is getting much worse)

The apologists of Hugo Chávez often shout "No Volverán" when they want to make clear they intend to stay in power forever. They often say they mean the time of the dishonest thieves stealing from the poor is over. In reality, that time is more present than ever. The very bad situation we had before has only become worse. Now Venezuela's plunderers are the very rich Boliburguesia, people like Arne Chacón, minister Jesse Chacón, the Chávez clan and Vicente Rangel, working together with those from the Ancien Regime who play along.

Here you have a chart taken from the World Bank figures. You can see how different aspects of governance have worsened dramatically in Venezuela in the last decade.

Voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality and control of corruption are compared between 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1998 and 1996. Again, the levels are presented as percentiles.

Let's remember this regime is in power since 1999 and it has benefited from oil prices that are over 300% higher than in the previous decade.

The red-shirted barons transformed Venezuela from a "standard corrupt Latin American kleptocracy" into a kleptocracy that is much worse than most in very poor Africa.

PS: A series of posts on non-political issues will follow next.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Mapping corruption

I just prepared a couple of maps showing levels of corruption control based on the 2008 data provided by the World Bank. You can get all the data by selecting countries and parameters here.

The colours represent different percentile groups: dark green is the 90-100% best. Light green is 75% >. Then we have orange, yellow, pink and red. Red is really bad. Mind your wallet at any time.

In the Americas the by far most corrupt countries are Haiti and Venezuela. Venezuela always had big corruption problems, but now, as we can see from the last post and 90% of the others, things have got to new (lower) levels. The least corrupt countries in the Americas are Canada and the USA. Venezuela has more in common with the most corrupt countries in Africa than anything else. There are quite some countries in the poorest continent on Earth with much better accountability standards than in Venezuela.

(there is a wee error in the explanation: Ukraine belongs to the pink, not the red percentile group)

In Europe you can see the worst countries are Russia and Belarus. I was surprised Moldova did not make it to the worst here, but perhaps it does in other parameters like rule of law.

There are also important differences between countries in the same rank. There is a difference between the US, Belgium or France and, say, Norway or Finland, all in dark green here. Sleaze in Brazil or Colombia is much higher than in Costa Rica and you have more issues in Bulgaria or Romania than in the Czech Republic. There are more problems with corruption control in some regions within a nation (yes, clichés are sometimes based on reality, as we can see in Italy, Spain and Belgium).

Ps. I know, I did not colour the Asian part of Russia or Turkey or Greenland or Armenia-Georgia-Azerbaijan. Perhaps I do it later on.

The Red Mafia

You can find a very good post about the governmental mafia at Caracas Gringo.
Caracas Gringo has very good sources. You will read there how the big bosses of the chavismo movement have become multimillionaires, even billionaires in the last few years.

And these are the guys who are destroying the chances of Venezuela's poor to get out of poverty on a sustainable basis. I don't know what proofs the Chomskys and Sarah Wagenknechts of this world need to see the farce of the "revolution".

Elections? Please read

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Earthquake in Venezuela

Yesterday there was an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 in the Northern part of Venezuela, just a few kilometres offshore on the central coast. There was quite some damage of buildings specially in Falcón and the Northern part of Carabobo and some people were wounded. Fortunately, there seems to be no dead. The chaos was particularly big as it was raining cats and dogs or rather, hail.

In general Venezuela goes through quite some earthquakes due to the tectonic activity in the Northern Venezuelan plate margin. The same forces that make those beautiful green mountains rise up just next to the blue Caribbean sea create the geological instability of the region. The earthquakes are not as strong as in other places along the Andes proper or other major tectonic regions, but they still can be powerful and they have had important historical repercutions as in 1541 and 1812. After the big 1967 earthquakeVenezuelan buildings have been generally built using anti-seismic technology (quite remarkable in spite of our chaos), so we have been spared worse catastrophes. The big problem in Venezuela is the construction of slums in mountaineous regions. That and profound governmental irresponsibility caused the thousands of dead in 1999.

The Rapid Earthquake Viewer showed this:

Here you see the ruins of Nueva Cádiz, on the Cubagua island. This was one of the first Spanish settlements in the Americas and it was abandoned after the 1541 earthquake.

UPDATE: For the incredible politics around the earthquake go here to read Miguel's post.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

One tank instead of 100000 books, 100 rockets instead of...

Hugo has not only left Spanish officials in love with Venezuela's gas. He has now also put a fat arms order with the Russian Federation. He will get rockets with a 300-kilometre range and a lot of T-72 and T-90 tanks (BBC on this here). Hugo declared his toys are for "defence only" and added "they never fail".

In reality: what will those weapons be used for?

There is a continuous tension with Colombia particularly because of Hugo's support for the Farc and Colombia's new deal with the USA military, but: could these new weapons be really "useful" in this issue if diplomacy failed and stupidity prevailed? Venezuela's borders are mostly mountains and jungle. Most people think Hugo's purchase of over 100000 Kalashnikovs from Russians some years ago and the Kalashnikov factory set up in Venezuela could indeed be used for an asymmetrical warfare in a hypothetical war with the US or with our cousins next-door. Those tanks and those rockets, on the other hand, seem to make little sense. The rockets would be destroyed in a jiffy if the US or Uribe were to attack Venezuela (which I doubt) and the tanks would be also destroyed or could not get anywhere.

In reality these new weapons could be used for one main purpose: making some Boliburgueses a wee bit richer. Are Torres Ciliberto and Arne Chacon now going to buy even more banks? Or will some other revolutionary buy a new factory or just have a fatter bank account?

It is a pity. Our state primary and secondary schools are badly equipped. The normal set of books for a schoolgirl costs the equivalent of the minimum wage. Lots of people work in the informal sector earning less than that and most have more than 2 children. We could better use that money in order to provide books for primary schools. In Belgium and Germany, Finland and many other countries in Europe children in primary school get their books from their state schools as a loan. Those pupils get the top results in the international PISA programme of academic evaluation. Venezuelan pupils, unlike other pupils in South America, do not even take part in any international evaluation programme since this government is in power. The regime refuses to accept accountability. Still, based on the last tests Venezuelan pupils took part in in 1998 and on many reports from real teachers, not government officials, we know our pupils are bottom of the bottom.

Friday, 11 September 2009

What does the Spanish government do if it needs money?

Well, it welcomes Hugo of Venezuela in Spain and it pretends it hasn't heard about what Hugo's regime is doing in Venezuela. It pretends it hasn't heard about a dysfunctional but still democratic presidential system becoming another dictatorship.

Shame on Spain. Venezuela harbored hundreds of thousands of Spaniards running away from Franco's dictatorship and poverty. It did not welcome Franco. Now Rodríguez Zapatero and the king of Spain are eager to let themselves be photographed with Hugo I.

What kind of business deals are Spanish businessmen securing with this action? Oil alone? Or again, the phone companies? What is it now?

Do they know little Andorra next-door just froze the bank accounts of multimillionaire "socialists" from the Hugo's revolution?

UPDATE: well, the answer just appeared in El País: Spanish Repsol discovered huge gas reserves in Venezuelan Zulia. So: how could the Spanish king and the Spanish prime minister have some scruples about Hugo? Business is business.

Who cares for socialism, human rights or social justice when there is so much money to be earned in Venezuela with Hugo's regime?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Venezuela's sounds and colours: the troupial

This is Venezuela's national bird. It is one of the 1417 bird species humans have seen in my country. You see a short video one of them having lunch here. It is a pity people still keep birds in cages.

Wikipedia on the troupial.

UPDATE: And here more beautiful pictures of Venezuela's fauna.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Venice, between dictators

Hugo made a little pause in his new world tour: after having been to Gaddafi's 40-year-in-power party and after having visited dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria and prior to his visits to dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko in Belarus and autocrat Vladimir Putin-Medvedev in Russia, Hugo went to Venice to be with film-maker Oliver Stone. Stone has just presented a new film in which he praises Hugo all the time. Stone keeps repeating now that Hugo is not a dictator...hell, if he wins elections! That is all what democracy is about, isn't it? Never mind elections in Venezuela have THESE little problems. Never mind all the rest we have reported about the state of human rights in Venezuela.

Juan and Daniel wrote about this new episode of our soap opera here and here. Hugo's propaganda masters Tariq Ali and Mark Weisbrot were Stone's advisors.

This is really a bad joke. Stone is using Venezuela for his little ideology war in the US. The enemy of Stone's enemy is automatically his friend, specially if he can catch some attention like that. At best this is intellectual laziness and show-business zeal. At best.

The magic of Venezuelan mathematics (LXXVIII)

The Chavez propaganda site VTV says Hugo's popularity keeps increasing. According to the - how shall we call it? - non-imperialistic polling agency IVAS, the president's popularity has increased to 57.9%!
That is amazing, considering the same IVAS reported his majesty's popularity in May 2008 was just 73.9% and in August 2008 69% (see my Spanish blog here for some of the sources).

I love charts, as you know by now. On the left I put the data I have available from that same agency. Unfortunately, I don't have the stats for every month. I am not even sure they publish results for every month. Perhaps Hugo's popularity increased from last month...perhaps it increased from some other month. In any case: they always say it keeps increasing and the most gullible keep believing that.

How is it possible Hugo is still in power? Well, a big part has to do with the fact our other politicos are also acting as caudillos, just thinking about themselves and not even dreaming about presenting a plan (they always fear someone else is going to steal their ideas). Hugo is the largest caudillo in Venezuela, but he has a little advantage over the others: he has total control of over 90% of Venezuela's foreign currency and the oil price during his presidency has been on average over 300% higher than in 1998 and in any case much higher than in the 20 years before. So, Hugo has some advantage, specially as Venezuela is now importing even black beans and almost all the rest from bloomers to shoes to electronic devices to anything. Our opposition needs to form a team, it needs open primaries to show it is better than the Electoral council Venezuela has, it needs to show it has thought through some sensible plan for sustainable development.

We are going nowhere by organizing marches "for ourselves". We don't do anything by foolishly chanting in a posh Sambil "Libertad, libertad". We are going to go somewhere if we stop being intellectually lazy and socially irresponsible and ponder: what can we do to improve the education level of all the population (not just the 20% who go to private schools), what can we do to force more transparency and fight corruption in Venezuela? What can we do to promote pluralism once WE are in power?

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Hugo in Turkmenistan

Yes, Venezuela finally made it: our dictator "in the making"* is visiting Turkmenistan.
The governmental channel VTV announced Hugo is the first Venezuelan president to visit Turkmenistan. I wonder why he is going there. Did his entourage ask him to visit some new, exotic country in this new vacation time? Did Hugo want to see
the land of his role model, Saparmurat Niyazov, a man who promoted a personality cult similar Hugo seems to be aping? Too bad for Hugo that Niyazov died some years ago.

I wonder if Hugo would like a golden statue of his like this?

Why not? For a man like this:

*We can fairly talk about a dictatorship since this year, the same way as we can talk about a dictatorship in Belarus

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Ideas for Venezuela: agriculture

This is part of the ideas for Venezuela.

The country is right now a big importer of most of its food. This has to do, among other things, with an extremely overvalued currency, high salaries for extremely low productivity, insecurity for investors as the government confiscates the lands of its enemies (not of its rich Boliburgueses), the food imports the government distributes for very low prices "to fight inflation" and the price controls in general. There are other factors, of course.

Here I will be presenting some ideas about how to improve things once this regime is gone. I will be constantly updating this and the other posts on Ideas for Venezuela. As I have nothing to do with agriculture (well, my grandparents were poor farmers and my dad was one as a young boy), I count on the help of others. So: if you have an idea, share it!

  • Start a comprehensive registration of all land properties in every municipality of Venezuela and make the available information online: you - I mean every Venezuelan - go to a site, you choose the municipality and you get the information about who owns or claims ownership of what land larger than 2 hectares. I will be expanding this topic very soon. The Boliburguesía and the Ancien Regime won't like this. Norwegians do that and many others as well. Here you can see (in Norwegian, sorry) the site of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, a governmental organization responsible not just for mapping but for the record of who owns the land. The Venezuelan government should make every municipality responsible to count who owns (or initially who claims to own) what in Venezuela. The technology is available. A lot of people are going to oppose this but we need transparency if we are ever going to stop being an underdeveloped country. Right now if you want to investigate property rights in Venezuela, you have to go to local registries where everything is in boxes, in folders, in absolute chaos or nowhere...and you have to beg or pay your local authorities to give you a glimpse on that.

Who owns what land of the 769km2 that make Alberto Arvelo Torrealba municipality (the place where Hugo comes from)? Let's register it, let's everyone check...there and in every other municipality.

  • Tax legal landowners accordingly, but give them security they won't be invaded.
  • Define what areas in densely populated regions should be reserved for agricultural purposes: This is actually already in Venezuela's law but nobody pays attention to it. Most of the best lands for agriculture are located among the largest cities and urban agglomerations. In Carabobo, for instance, lands south of Valencia are being used for building shanty towns, for big haciendas (specially for the boliburguesía now) most other municipalities the areas that once produced a lot of food for the region are now just more and more urbanizations.
  • Make phosphate deposits available to improve possible farmland: Venezuela has the potential to be a great agricultural country, but at present much of the otherwise suitable farmland is missing important elements, mostly phosphate. The Llanos are a good example of this, very deficient in phosphate and hence not good grazing lands or croplands. Bring the phosphate to the Llanos! (Big thanks to Astera, this is his idea and most of his words)

Get that phosphate to the right spot and you will get more than a dime's worth!

  • Keep an eye on possible pollution sources from those phosphates and other agricultural products: if we want agriculture to be sustainable and do not affect our delicate environment, we need open controls that everyone can verify about phosphate levels in rivers (Orinoco, etc) and otherwise.

We don't want the Orinoco to be polluted as the Potomac or as anything else.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Hugo living la vida loca

Our caudillo went for some days to Libya. The reason? He was invited to take part in the festivities for the 40 years of Qaddafi's dictatorship.

According to German Der Spiegel, the party is going to be a real treat. The Libyan dictator is spending quite some money in celebrating himself. The initial budget was going to be 58 million dollars but it seems it will be much more. You can see some pictures of the preparation here.
Here you can see an Al Jazeera video of the preparations. The Telegraph says Qaddafi wants to overshadow the Olympic Games. How could Hugo and his whole court of pseudo-socialists resist going there? I suppose our president finds that being in Libya now is more fun than helping our compatriots at home:

According to Spiegel, Qaddafi is getting over a hundred French chefs. I am sure Hugo, his family and many dozens of our dear revolutionary heroes will come back to Venezuela with a pound or two more.

I imagine what the red bourgeoisie will say: you are just envious.

Ps. Here you can read what Amnesty International had to say about Libya in 2008.