Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Preventing murder: looking ahead in Venezuela

Regular readers know for years I have been keeping track of crime in the central state of Carabobo. That chart you see above shows, on the right side, the amount of murders that are likely to take place in the coming months. Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow I will get some statistics about the total of murders for July and we can start seeing if the statistics are correct. In yellow you have a confidence value of 95%, in orange of 85%. 

It doesn't need to be like this.

If the Venezuelan police had better education levels, if the minister of justice had the right experts, if we used state resources not to buy fancy planes but to get the right equipment for police and the right material for prisons, we could get those numbers down. Since Chávez is in power the murder rate in Venezuela has more than tripled. It's time to change that.

Venezuela in Mercosur

Today Venezuela gets into Mercosur. Is it good for Venezuela? No, it isn't. Mercosur stopped a long time ago being what it was intended to be, a vehicle for economic integration. It is now mostly a playground for Brazil and a political pet project for the military in Venezuela. 

Argentina's economic policies are so bad that in spite of record commodity prices the country is becoming less competitive by the day in any else. Brazil is the   big winner because it is employing very aggressive expansionist policies and no ideological rubbish in order to do business. The territorial expansion Brazil undertook in the XIX century is now being complemented by the business expansion - based on governmental support for Brazilian entrepreneurs, on some planning, on nothing special and yet huge compared to the absolute disarray most Spanish American countries have offered in the last years.

Below you see the trade balance between Venezuela on one side and Brazil, Colombia and Argentina on the other. Colombia is not part of Mercosur but most of its businessmen are also very happy Venezuela has Chávez in power. Chávez has kept an overvalued currency, introduced all kinds of hindrances for exporters and private producers in general - absolutely afraid that anyone can take some power away from him. Chávez has expropriated thousands of companies and has declared Venezuelan businessmen are intrinsically evil. 

My country is now like a swimmer who has to compete against professional swimmers while his hands are tied up and a bag of lead is attached to his feet. This is no integration. This is a disaster.
Balance Venezuela-Argentina

Balance comercial de Venezuela-Colombia

Balance comercial de Venezuela-Brasil

Some sources
ArgentinaArgentina (with data from 1998, even if I didn't have time to plot that on the chart)

Monday, 30 July 2012

Death at the embassy or The Dishonourable Consul?

A Venezuelan embassy employee in Nairobi, first secretary Dwight Sagaray, has just been detained, in relation with the murder of Olga Fonseca,  Venezuelan ambassador to Kenya. Fonseca had arrived on 15 July to replace Gerardo Carrillo Silva. Geraldo Carillo had been previously accused by several Kenyan employees of sexual abuse. Carrillo fled Kenya before he could be interrogated (OK, he had diplomatic immunity). According to some employees, Ms Fonseca had pressurized them to take back their accusations against the former ambassador. She was found strangled last Friday.
Nairobi, Kenya

Things are getting weirder by the day around the Bolivarian employees.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

How ill is Chávez really?

This is what you think:

68 persons took part in the poll. I think Chávez has greatly exaggerated his illness, but that's my guess and on the right you see some other people's guesses - foreigners and Venezuelans alike. What is it? Anything could be right: this is Venezuela.

In any case, today is his birthday. He has been ruling Venezuela for 14 years and he wants to rule it at least for 6 more years, even if he has said he may want to be president for a longer period. I hope he lives a long life...and goes to trial for his violations of human rights and the way he mismanaged Venezuela's longest oil boom ever.

Ps. and I see now Toro has finally realised Chávez may not die any time soon. He talks about how Dan Rather got it so wrong, but in reality Toro himself was also rather sure about Hugo I's prompt demise. I think gringos and people basing their data on US sources were feeding themselves over and over again from the same anonymous sources. We have seen that before.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Chávez orders reconstruction of Bolívar's face and discovers Bolívar looked like Chávez

Yeah, we saw it coming: Chávez  ordered a reconstruction of Bolívar's face based on the bones they started to analyse two years ago and they presented the results just on time for election time.

Lo and behold: the face has a strong resemblance to Chávez's clan.

Bolívar's "reconstruction"


We have reached Mugabe-like status.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Freaky Bird

The Zamuro Rey or King Vulture lives in most of South America and a bit of Central America. Like other vultures, it uses columns of warm air to gain altitude. If you don't know what those warm air columns are, you can go to Venezuela and see for yourself.

By the way, if you want to learn fascinating things about birds, you have to get yourself this video where David Attenborough explains a thing or two.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Some naked numbers on education in Venezuela

El Universal finally published some results on the PISA programme in Miranda. That Northern-Central state of Miranda is the only region in Venezuela that is taking part in a scheme for open evaluation of quality in education. The central government, led by the military Chávez and his Boligarcs, is opposed to such programme because they argue "Cubans are our counsellors", so that's enough. Never mind that Cuba's often praised educational system has long stopped being compared to others. 

Kudos to Miranda, specially to Juan Maragall and Henrique Capriles. They decided to introduce some transparency to their administration and see how pupils in their region really compare to the rest of the world. That is something Chavismo would not dare to do. Results in Miranda showed how bad pupils score compared to others. Even though the ones tested in Miranda did better than Brazilian or Argentinian pupils as a whole, they did worse than Chileans or Costa Ricans, not to mentioned those of OECD countries. And mind: those pupils are not completely representative of Venezuela as private schools were over-represented in the sample. Last but not least, and this is something the article doesn't say,  academic levels in places such as the Llanos in Central Venezuela tend to be way lower than what we see in Miranda. That has been the case since time immemorial. That's how most military now in power have a strong Llanos background.

Here you see a chart I produced some months ago based on a German book from 1920 by a certain Otto Bürger. That book is a magnificent snapshot of Venezuela during Gómez's time. I decided to show how many inhabitants each state had per pupil. Barinas (West in red) had one pupil for every 105 inhabitants. Delta Amacuro had 113. Amazonas, in the very South, didn't even make it for the statistics back then (it was not a state and its population was very small - mostly native Americans in the jungle back then- but still they could have mentioned it). Miranda had 48 inhabitants for each pupil you would find. I am absolutely sure relative differences still persist. That's part of Venezuela's reality and that is why we can't still talk about a Venezuela but about several Venezuelan regions.

A large part of schools in Miranda are actually controlled by the central government, so the regional government of Miranda could not include them for this test: the national government would never accept that. Instead, it took some public schools it does control and a lot of private schools that could join in willingly. And of course: there is a huge difference between public and private schools in Venezuela.

I went to public schools for most of the time and only took two years of private schooling at the end. I could see quite some difference. My brothers and sisters went all the way through public -free- schools but they are older. My parents went to public - free - schools. Since the seventies standards kept going down the drain and most people who could afford it started to send their children to private schools. The tendency has worsened...which is quite telling about what a farce this so-called "socialist" revolution has become. Of course, Boligarcs will only say that now, under "Bolivarian socialism", more people can afford private schools. My foot.

Public school standards have kept going down the drain for decades, but more so since Chávez came to power. Private institutions are not very good either and their standards also kept going down but not as dramatically.

And that is one of the reasons why the Chávez government does not want to let Venezuela take part in the PISA programme.

I hope Miranda can include more public schools in the next PISA round. Actually, I really hope Capriles wins the elections and can thus let the whole of Venezuela take part in the PISA programme.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Santos' love for Venezuelan petrodollars

If you still wonder why Colombia's president Santos has become such a good mate with Venezuela's military caudillo, you just have to take a look at the following chart of Venezuelan-Colombian trade.

This is the Venezuelan view

One can get the data from, among other sources, Colombia's governmental sites..

The drop you see around 2008 came when former president Uribe had Reyes, a FARC honcho, killed. Chávez went bonkers and decided to "freeze" relations back then. Colombia's economy resented it and when Santos got elected, he decided to play it safe.

That's why it's not only Lula who is in love with the caudillo's petrodollars. Latin American fraternity and democracy? Sure.

Ps. It is a pity Venezuela's opposition is not using this kind of information time after time. The only one I know that is keeping track of numbers all the time is Primero de Justicia's Julio Borges. Unfortunately, he tends to show the numbers in a rather monotonous way - no visualisation, just recitation and the odd chart. Most Venezuelans have poor maths skills but they will always understand and above all remember everything better if you show them a simple chart and give them the right reference story. I hope Borges and the whole PJ team use this kind of data in a proper way to reach as many people as possible. They should do this not via Globovisión talks but by targeting the other 70%. How? One way is to start spreading leaflets in the buses of Maturín, Punto Fijo, Los Guayos, Acarigua, Caracas.

Murder attempts against Chávez AGAIN!

A clown with a red beret

Here we come again: Chávez and his amigos kept announcing supposed attempts against the life of the comandante-presidente every so few months. 
Somehow I missed this: María León, a deputy for the Chávez party, PSUV, declared in May at the Office of the Attorney General that there were plans to murder Chávez and other of the "revolutionary" grandes. The case is based on twitter accounts. This didn't make it to the first pages of Venezuelan newspapers, only to the secondary ones, which will be interpreted by the Boligarcs as yet another proof of the conspiracy against them.

Since Chávez came to power we kept hearing and reading about attempts against his life. Chávez officials and he himself call those attempts "magnicidios" because they are against someone who is ""magno", just like Alenxader the Great or Alejandro Magno. The announcements were legion but the most important ones kept popping up every third month or so. They stopped shortly before rumours of Chávez having cancer started to hit the news in Venezuela. Chávez suggested the US could be provoking cancer among Lula and all his president-friends but other than that, the magnicidio announcement stopped for a while while we had the soap opera of Chávez as the Phoenix. Chávez declared himself healed two months ago. Already in May I predicted we would start getting the announcements about magnicidios very soon and lo and behold: we had that shortly after I said it. But now they are so boring that they don't even make it to the first page of any Venezuelan newspaper that I follow.

Below I copied and pasted (in Spanish, I will later translate that) a selection of the "magnicidios" announced by Chavismo. I wonder: do you think the officials working with Obama or Merkel or anyone of those politicians keep announcing about similar tweets or other attempts against those politicians?

Julio: Chávez declara que lo quieren matar en Puerto Ordaz (fuente Tal Cual contiene otras referencias más abajo)
Diciembre: Castro advierte a Chávez de plan de magnicidio en contra del militar de Barinas.

Agosto: Se anuncia un complot de militares para asesinar a Chávez.

Junio: Chávez anuncia planes para tratar de asesinarlo en celebraciones de la independencia.

Octubre: Chávez anuncia intento de magnicidio en su contra.

Julio: Chávez anuncia que lo tratan de matar en Los Próceres, Caracas.
Julio: Chávez denuncia que preparan su asesinato en Santo Domingo.
Noviembre: Supuesto caso de magnicidio se "descubre" en Puerto La Cruz, pero los "implicados" son puestos en libertad por falta de pruebas.

Mayo: Chávez anuncia que colombianos de extrema derecha quieren matarlo. Mucha más información sobre todo el asunto puede ser leída aquí.

Febrero: Chávez responsabiliza a EU por cualquier atentado en su contra.
Junio: Chávez dice que prepara respuesta a intento de magnicidio.


Octubre: Chávez anuncia que unos meses antes se salvó de un atentado en el Zulia y que Bush tiene un plan para matarlo.


Noviembre: Chávez acusa a CNN de incitar a su asesinato.
Diciembre: Chávez teme por su vida si va a Guatemala.


Septiembre: Chávez teme por su vida en Venezuela.
Octubre: Chávez teme por su vida en El Salvador (cumbre Iberoamericana).

Mayo: Chávez teme por su vida en El Salvador (de nuevo).
Junio: Chávez anuncia que desde Tachira preparan grupos paramilitares para matarlo.
Julio: Diputado oficialista Isea anuncia que se abre nueva investigación de intento de magnicidio en Zulia, Táchira y Mérida. Dice que "la comisión trabaja sin prisa pero sin pausa".
Agosto: El presidente vuelve a anunciar que la oposición tiene un nuevo plan para asesinarlo.

Aquí un artículo de la BBC del 2008 sobre los magnicidios.
Aquí hay un artículo en inglés sobre otros intentos.
Por lo visto me faltaba un artículo deTal Cual que pueden ver aquí donde aparecen más intentos de asesinato de Chávez.

2010Enero: Diputado Mario Isea dice que hay nuevos planes de magnicidio.

Noviembre: Hugo Chávez declara que la oposición tiene 100 millones de dólares para matarlo.


Early 2011: Rumours about Chávez having cancer.


Early 2012: Chávez declares himself cured.

May: PSUV deputy María León denounces a new attempt against the life of Hugo Chávez and other "revolutionaries".

Friday, 20 July 2012

You know Chavismo's claims on social justice are a farce when

You know Chavismo's claims on social justice, sustainable development and security are a farce when you see what is happening in Venezuela's prisons now.

The latest is this: there has been a riot at the Merida prison centre, in Venezuela's West, and some 20 prisoners have died since everything started a couple of weeks ago. A gangster still refuses to be transferred and has "kidnapped" several hundred fellow prisoners, whatever that means. You should know gangsters in Venezuelan prisons keep running their business when in jail and they always end up getting to a compromise with the guardia nacional.

Below you can see the amount of murders in Venezuelan prisons since 1999. On the Y axis you have the total amount of murdered people and on the X the years. The source is the ONG Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones.

La espada del caudillo Bolívar, el caudillo Chávez y el caudillo Assad

Esto fue en 2010.
Hasta los rusos se dan cuenta ahora de que las horas de Assad están contadas.
Me pregunto quién más querrá recibir la "Espada del Libertador".

Miranda, transparency and charting it all

The government of Miranda, managed by the opposition, is doing an outstanding job in many areas, in spite of the fact that the Chávez government has taken away from it - against the law- a lot of competences and most income sources. The Miranda team keeps working for the community and looking for new ways to carry out projects that really make sense. 

They have also been stressing the need for transparency in their work. 
Higuerote, Miranda

Now they are developing an interesting site where they put as much information as possible about every corner of the state - at physical, social and economic level. They use maps.

Please, take a look at their interactive visualisations of Miranda. Be sure to select a parameter and hover the cursor over each region - parroquia or municipio -.

Hat tip: Dorothy

Monday, 16 July 2012

This is cool: discovering where we are, discovering Venezuela and PISA

If you speak Spanish, read this.

Basically, tomorrow the government of Venezuela's central state of Miranda will present to the general public the results of the OECD tests carried out in that state. Some general data has been available here since last December. Results are only about schools under Miranda administration and private schools, as the Chávez government did not want to cooperate at all.

It has been thanks to Henrique Capriles and Juan Maragall and their team that  we had the first open test of pupils' competences in Venezuela in the last 14 years. Actually, this time it is really open as the Unesco studies carried out before were seen by education specialists only. Results came out at the end of last year, after some delay due to sabotage by the Chávez government.

The current national government - the military and Boligarchs - hates this kind of project like hell because such a project demands transparency. The Chávez government prefers to tell tales about "Unesco-certifications" and zero illiteracy that useful idiots abroad can repeat. Several people, including this blogger, actually asked in open letters for the Venezuelan government to take part in this project, a project where most of Latin America is already in. They ignored it.

I hope a lot of people start discussing in Venezuela what it really means to have first class basic and secondary education for everyone. I hope people really start thinking about what we need to get there.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Arms trade...what for?

There are few books have been written exclusively about the arms trade and that may surprise many. There are plenty of articles out there, there have been some films like The Lord of War, which slightly touch the subject in a Hollywood way....but real books? Not much out there.

And here you have one. It is really good. And it is frightening. And it is what your government and my governments support and thrive on.

Defence, security? Defence and security my foot. It's about profit. 

Below you can watch Andrew Feinstein, the author's book, giving the general picture at this year's Oslo Freedom Forum. It starts to get interesting at minute 4. Go for it. And remember: Venezuela has given Russian arm traders over 9 billion dollars for weapons. It doesn't matter if the arm traders are Russians, Chinese, British, Spaniards, Brazilians or US Americans: they are the ones who get the money that should go to my compatriots' schools and hospitals and research centres.

Most of the money does not come from the Defence department through the national budget approved by congress but through FONDEN, the Fondo de Desarrollo Endógeno, the one that should be used for Venezuela's sustainable development. Yesterday, Chávez told the military that Capriles hates them.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Crazy Venezuelan statistics: suicide

I have reasons to doubt about the professional values of employees at the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas (INE) when they start to sound like propaganda masters. When I see their numbers don't fit with the data coming from the National Electoral Centre, I become more cautious.

But when I discover data like this  and plot it to produce charts like the one below, I really become puzzled. This data is based on what the INE claims to be the suicide statistics for each state in Venezuela from 2000 to 2010. If you look at the total, you see Venezuelans are apparently killing themselves less often now. Of course, one can argue that as the murder rate has more than tripled in the last 13 years, Venezuelans with suicidal tendencies feel they can just walk around and someone else will do it for them.

But then we look at the numbers per state and  through time,  we notice a strange thing:

It's Zulia, that special state in North-Western Venezuela where people eat this at 35°C under the shadow. How is it possible that the amount of suicides could be so much higher in 2000 and it went down so dramatically in 10 years whereas suicides remained the same in the rest of the country?

What do you think is going on there?

Preguntas para un país

¿Qué esperanza hay para un país cuyos actores más influyentes - gente en el poder o en la oposición, de supuesta izquierda o de supuesta derecha - tienen una mentalidad profundamente medieval? ¿Cuándo se enterarán de que en Venezuela jamás llegó la Ilustración, de que hay que traerla, de que no bastó con repetir consignas que jamás se analizaron?
¿Cuánto tiempo tiene que pasar para que surja un movimiento que promueva el debate real en todo el país y no monólogos paralelos?
¿Cuándo llegará un político conocido y con carisma que sea capaz de decirles a los venezolanos que el país no es rico, pese a todos los recursos naturales que tiene, y que solo será rico cuando el ciudadano promedio tenga un nivel de educación y productividad igual o superior al de la media mundial?
¿Cuándo conseguiremos que se hable de la farsa que es la educación primaria y secundaria actual en Venezuela? ¿Cuándo querrán las mafias universitarias interesarse por lo que pasa en las escuelas públicas? ¿Temerán que sus nietos no puedan entrar en una universidad pública por la competencia que les llegue de las zonas pobres si la calidad de la educación allí comienza a aumentar?
¿Cuándo hablará alguien en Venezuela sobre la imperiosa necesidad de realizar un catastro completo de la república?
¿Cuándo hablará alguien en Venezuela sobre desarrollo sustentable e implicará con ello algo más allá de sembrar arbolitos?
¿Cuándo dejaremos por un lado el conformismo y por otro las ínfulas de grandeza y comenzaremos a discutir lo que necesitamos hacer para que el país se transforme en un país desarrollado, de manera sostenible, avanzado, de manera probada, e industrializado, de manera cónsona con el medio ambiente? 
¿Cuándo aprenderán los venezolanos su verdadera historia, la realizada por los civiles y pese a los militares? ¿Cuándo verán la imperiosa necesidad de convertir a la sociedad en una sociedad ante todo fundada sobre bases civiles y no militares?

¿Cuándo tendrán las élites venezolanas una identidad propia, una que le permita escribir primero en su propio idioma, que le haga ver la necesidad de insertar al país en un proceso de cooperación real con  todo el mundo hispano y que le haga asumir con naturalidad y sin complejos nuestros variados orígenes?

Son algunas preguntas que me hago y que le hago a mi país.

More oil spills in the Land of Grace

Two new oil spills are reported from the Anzoátegui region, where there were a series of pretty bad oil spills in the last few months. We always get to hear about a fraction of the oil spills happening in Venezuela now. Although the state company employs twice as many employees as in the times prior to Chávez, the management has gone down the drain...perhaps some Chavista loonies will say it is all part of a sabotage, but the reality is that the state company PDVSA is letting Venezuelans down. It is simply incompetent.

Here you can read (in Spanish) about those oil spills.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Die Chávez-Pseudorevolution, Erdöl und alles, was damit sinkt

Gustavo Coronel hat einen ausgezeichneten Artikel über einen schokierenden Korruptionsfall bei der Regierung Venezuelas - einen von vielen. Es geht um die Überzahlung seitens von PDVSA, die staatliche Erdölgesellschaft Venezuelas, für die Miete eines Bohrinsel, die Aban Pearl. In Deutschland wird mittlerweile gegen Stephan Mappus wegen der EnBW-Affäre ermittelt. In Venezuela wird vielleicht nie - zumindest solange Chávez an der Macht ist - was unternommen werden.
Dieses Ding hiess erst Dolphin, dann Aban Pearl und dann Chávez-Fiasko Nr 3280123

Der von PDVSA erklärte Preis für die Transaktion ist wesentlich höher als der Preis, der die Eigentümer der Bohrinsel erklärten.

Gustavo entdeckte, u.a., dass

  • PDVSA eine Zwischenfirma benutzt hat, um die Bohrinsel zu mieten. Das ist eine sehr fragwürdige Praxis, denn das ist nicht effizient und fordert Korruption.
  • PDVSA hat doppelt so viel Geld an diese Zwischenfirma bezahlt, als was der Eigentümer bekommen hat.
  • Die Zwischenfirma wurde in Singapur von einer Panama-Firma errichtet und das nur um diese Transaktion durchzuführen
  • es keine öffentliche Ausschreibung gab
  • Die Firma ein gezeichnetes Kapital von nur $10000 hat, für ein Abkommen von $1.3 Milliarden
  • fünf der Besitzer dieser Mittelfirma bekannte Unternehmer waren, die mit PDVSA Venezuela zu tun haben

Gustavo stellt auch fest, dass der Generalanwalt der Nation sich weigert, Rafael Ramírez, Vorsitzender von PDVSA, in diesem Zusammenhang zu untersuchen, wie die Opposition in Venezuela es verlangt.

Es geht um Hunderte Millionen Dollar, die der Staat nur in diesem Fall verloren hat. Übrigens: diese Bohrinsel zog die Aufmerksamkeit auf sich, nur weil sie während des Einsatzes im Meer sank und dadurch Schlagzeilen machte.

Journalist Bodzin hat ein paar Bemerkungen mehr zu diesem Fall gemacht.

Die Korruptionsfälle der früheren Regierungen, die die Chávez-Apologeten benutzen, um Chávez zu erklären, waren wahr und nicht zu verschönen. Was die Chávez-Regierung tut steht aber schon 10 Stufen niedriger.

Und die Kinder in meinem Land haben keine gute Schulen und die Lehrer haben keine gute Löhne und die Krankenhäuser sind schlecht ausgestattet.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Venezuela's Wonderful Electoral Registry (chapter XXIII)

Do you know somebody with the surname J? I do not mean J., I mean "J". Not even the Chinese can beat that with their Southern Chinese Ng.

In Venezuela there is apparently a guy who has as full name this: "José C J". C is supposed to be his unabridged middle name and J his full surname. Check him out, his ID is  17074225, according to the National Electoral Registry. He voted in 2010 in one of the most pro-Chávez parishes of Venezuela. 

Among other surnames in that voting centre we see Bailón (person that dances a lot) and Perdigón (pellet). I had never heard those surnames before but there are also a few Bailones and Perdigones in Spain, according to Spain's Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas. There is no one in Spain whose surname is J, though. He must be Czech or Chavista.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Venezuela: sinking in ignorance

Another report about the state of things in Venezuela: we keep sinking when it comes to international standards. The Global Competitiveness Index came out and it shows how Venezuela is now at position 124. Last year it was at position 122. There are 18 countries worse off than us, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa plus a few others like Yemen and Haiti. When it comes to education in general Venezuela doesn't seem to do it so badly, "only" position 84 or so...but then that position is based on data coming from the national government, without independent verification. Do you know why the Chávez regime refuses to take part in the PISA programme of the OECD? (as opposed to the government of the opposition in Miranda, until now led by Henrique Capriles)
Free Bolivarian Fall

Because it prefers to lie.

Let's go back to the report: "Venezuela (124th) continues to fall in the rankings, despite a slight improvement in its overall score". I am sure the Chávez government and its foreign sycophants will really try to see the positive: some score went up. They won't tell you the truth: Venezuela is being left behind.

We read that the tertiary enrolment rate is very high (8th) - something that does not surprise me at all, but it is because I have always known how much of a farce a lot of university faculties have become. Students at Venezuelan universities often do not have the level of a 12-year old pupil in a developed country. The Chávez government, instead of working on improving primary and secondary education firstly, forces universities to accept everyone, even if they are functional illiterate.

On page 366 you can see how Venezuela's GDP evolved since the early eighties until now compared to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. In spite of the fact Venezuela's profited from the longest oil boom in history - thanks, China -, the rest of Latin America as a whole just caught up...and that is putting everyone else together - Haiti and El Salvador with Chile and Brazil. In reality lot of countries have overtaken Venezuela. But remember: Venezuela is the Latin American nation that spent the largest amount of money in importing weapons in 2010 according to Russian sources!

Hat off to reader Guido

Lula's love for Venezuelan petrodollars

A few days ago Lula, a social democrat, took party for Chávez in a way not even Angela  Merkel would have done for Sarkozy: he said Chávez' success was "nostra victoria". In a complete lack of respect for the sense of democracy and pluralism, he assumed whoever is a Latin American and a democrat would support the military Hugo Chávez. Thing is: even many socialists do not support Chávez.

But money seems to be more important for these so-called socialists à la Lula. Do you want to know why Brazil cares so much for Chávez remaining in power? Look at the chart above. This is the trade balance between Venezuela and Brazil in the last few years (more details, in the language of Camões, here).  Venezuela imports machines and other highly-elaborated products from Brazil plus maize, meat and other food products. Brazil imports iron, aluminium and some other raw materials. The thing is: it is not just that there is more trade, but that it is much easier for Brazil to export anything to Venezuela because Chávez has kept an overvalued currency at home, destroying Venezuelan competitiveness, has kept harassing Venezuelan producers because he is afraid they may get some clout and thus power and he prefers to use petrodollars to import everything even if that means destroying Venezuela's producers.

These people are telling us that we either export raw materials to the USA or to Brazil and import processed, higher value products from the USA or Brazil. The first thing is bad, the second is supposed to be good, just like that.

What if there is a third or a fourth possibility and that doesn't necessarily require adding yet more country names?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Venezolanische Nationalpolizei (Chávezpolizei) sabotiert demokratische Aktivitäten

Die Nationalpolizei, die dem Innenminister und daher Chávez völlig untergeordnet ist, hat jetzt eine Demo des Oppositionskandidats Henrique Capriles in La Vega verhindert.

Schon vor einigen Tagen hatte Chávez Bruder, Adán Chávez, Gouverneur des Bundesstaates Barinas, wo Chávez geboren war, eine Aktivität von Capriles torpediert.

Denken die venezolanischen Militärs, dass die Welt nicht sieht?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bolivarian idiocy and our lack of innovation

I wanted to write about this for a long time, but I kept putting it off because I wanted to do some thorough research on patent generation and I wanted to explore different ratios. I had written something about the patent issues  a couple of years ago in my Spanish blog. Anyway: someone did the work for me and you can read some of it in Spanish here.

The most telling item is this: Venezuela has a level of innovation similar to Uganda...even if Venezuela's GDP per capita is five times that of the African country. That is more than embarrassing. Brazil, not surprisingly, is doing it rather good for Latin American standards. As I mentioned before: Spanish American countries are now under threat of getting yet another master if they don't start putting their house in order.

This situation shouldn't be surprising considering the Bolivarian idiocy we have now. The military caste is the military caste.

"Bolívar, Bolívar, Bolívar...el imperio...socialismo, Bolívar, el imperio, socialismo"

Our problem is not new, though...as Fernández Morán or even Carlos del Pozo y Sucre could have told you.

Murder in Venezuela, the local perspective

The murder statistics for the municipalities of Guacara and Los Guayos in Central Venezuela are shown above. I get my data, among other sources, from the newspaper and the CICPC (police) leaks.

Both Guacara and Los Guayos are poor areas. The first one voted in 2010 for the alternative forces, for the first time. The second one was still mostly pro-Chávez back then but the PSUV's share of the vote had decreased from previous occasions. I know well the areas because I partly grew up there and often visit them. There are some data missing for a month in 2011 but the trend is clear there. The municipalities share borders. They also tend to have ups and downs at about the same time. We can actually detect many more patterns than this. I will return to this soon.

This is Guacara:

and this is Los Guayos:

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Physician detained, anything to do with the caudillo? (updated)

Ana  María Abreu is the sister-in-law of Rocío San Miguel, a human rights activist who denounces the militarisation of Venezuela. Ana María was working for twelve years now at the Presidential Palace.

She was detained on Saturday 30 at 17:00 Caracas time and she hasn't had any access to a lawyer. She is being kept at the SEBIN, the Chávez Secret "Intelligence" Service. Some people say it was "because of a leak". A leak of a leak?

The caudillo starts his campaign officially today, even if he hasn't stopped using state resources to carry out propaganda.

Update: Ana María is accused of "disseminating state secrets".