Friday, 30 November 2012

A Canadian gringo explains where oil-rich Venezuela is getting petrol from

You have to go and see Steven's post. This is the kind of reporting you would normally read in a special article in The Economist, but instead you find it in a blog.

Venezuelans get less and less petrol from this place
Guess who Venezuela's "revolutionaries" are buying  it from

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Red and white stripes

The Guzmania monostachia is endogenous to Venezuela. The whole genus, Guzmania, got its name form a Spanish scientist who did research in Northern South America a few years before the whole civil war broke out which would ultimately lead to the independence.

A state for Palestinians

They didn't want to leave. 

As a Venezuelan I support the Palestinian bid for the UN.

Did you know about Irgun? It was Israel's Hamas and yet Israel got what Palestinians haven't got because people recognised not all Israeli Jews were supporting Irgun.

Certain hawkish groups around the World want to let Hamas flourish in Palestinian that illegal Israeli settlers keep stealing more Palestinian land.

Read this...don't let others prevent you from doing so.

Is it better to live in Colombia or Cuba than in Venezuela now?

According to The Economist probably yes. My guess: your parents may be able to buy less whisky or petrol with their salary if they live in Colombia or Cuba than in Venezuela, but you would be less likely to get shot dead.

And perhaps that's also why Hugo is flying to Cuba for treatment for the eleventh time in 17 months...or perhaps not? Or perhaps it's just for the secrecy Cuba offers?

Better be born in Colombia than Venezuela, PPP notwithstanding

Pravda with bananas

Anyone who ever read Pravda at least before Gorbachev came to power would recognise the style...but in Venezuela things get a little bit tackier. Yesterday honcho Diosdado Cabello announced Chávez was going to Cuba for some new treatment...nothing wrong, just to make him stronger...and the national television channel - which is nothing but a propaganda channel for the Chavez government - says now Twitter has been  flooded by messages in support of the Comandante.

They talk about "complementary phrase" of the treatment.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Genesener Militärführer Venezuelas zurück nach Kuba für Behandlung

Das sagt uns jetzt sein Kumpel Diosdado Cabello: der Comandante-Presidente wird einige Wochen in Kuba sein, um sich einer hyperbaren Oxygenierung zu unterziehen und sonst medizinisch behandelt zu werden. Chávez konnte das selbst nicht mitteilen. Chávez hat seit dem 2.11 keine Twittermeldung von sich gegeben. Er war auch fast nirgendwo zu sehen. Er soll aber kerngesund sein. Alles klar.

Der Comandante höchstpersönlich will uns schon am 10.1 seinen Nationalplan bei der Nationalversammlung vorlesen...natürlich, ohne auf Fragen zu antworten, er wird aber da sein.

Vor zwanzig Jahren haben Militärs wie Diosdado Cabello versucht, die korrupte aber demokratische Regierung des Carlos Andrés Pérez zu stürtzen. Chávez hatte das einige Monate davor auch versucht, auch damals Zivilisten und treue Militär umgebracht und sass im Gefängnis. Viele Bürger wurden in beiden Putscversuchen umgebracht, wahrscheinlich genauso viele wie beim Caracazo 1989. Manche behaupten, während des Caracas wurden zwischen 250 und 3000 Menschen getötet, es gab aber nie eine Liste von Vermissten, die über die erste Zahl hinausgegangen wäre...dennoch benutzten die Militärs den Caracazo (der zum Teil von denselben Menschen durchgeführt wurde) als Ausrede, um ihre Gewalttaten von 1992 zu rechtertigen.

Einer der Männer, die in diesem Video spricht, ist Arne Chacón. Nun soll Arne Chacón wegen Korruption verhaftet sein...auch wenn niemand weiss, wo er wirklich ist. Sein Bruder, Jesse Chacón, ist immer noch ein wichtiger Bonze und behauptet, er habe nie gewusst, dass Arne in ein paar Jahren zu einem Milliardär wurde...auch wenn der Rest des Landes das schon wusste.

Diese sind die Herren, die die deutsche Linke-Partei unterstützt.

Do you read Spanish?

Read this

Perhaps they shake him up a wee bit for another round.

The show must go on.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The incredible Venezuela...(denn die Toten reiten schnell)

Without any public discussion a new law came into force whereby you become an organ donor by default. I wonder: does this law apply to Chávez? By the way: the caudillo hasn't twitted since 1 November, now officially a record.

Lots of people are wondering whether the new law in the country with the highest murder rate in South America will bring a reality like what the old film Coma showed.

And on another matter: what has happened to the US American who was detained for being a spy?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Mord in Caracas

Jeder mittelgrosse rote Punkt entspricht 100 Morde. In der venezolanischen Gemeinde (municipio) Libertador wurden in den ersten 10 Monaten dieses Jahres 2580 Menschen umgebracht. Diese Gemeinde wird vom Gauleiter Jorge Rodríguez regiert. Das hat der Comandante Chávez so entschieden, als er sah, dass die Bevölkerung Caracas den Oppositionspolitiker Ledezma für das Amt des Caracasbürgermeisters gewählt hatten. Durch ein Ermächtigungsgesetz konnte der Llanosführer fast alle Kompetenzen von Ledezma an Rodríguez übertragen. Die zweitärmste Gemeinde in Caracas, Sucre, folgte mit 550 Morden. Da regiert der Bürgermeister Carlos Ocáriz. In Baruta gab es 67, in Chacao 11 und in El Hatillo 10 Morde. Das sagen uns unoffizielle Berichte der venezolanischen Polizei. Die können aber ganz leicht in den überfüllten Leichenhäusern der Nation bestätigt werden.

Unten könnt Ihr die Mordrate per Municipio per 2010-Wähler sehen...wohlbemerkt: für die zehn ersten Monate dieses Jahres. Im Dezember wird Caracas einen besonders roten Monat erleben müssen...schon wieder.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Venezuela's infamous revolution and the sense of injustice

Some days ago Venezuela's strongman declared the country had seen a dramatic decrease in "the number of crimes". He talked about 20% reduction in Carabobo, for instance (here). There were no details about how that 20% was measured, how a "crime" is seen now or one year ago. That is absolute rubbish, though. Crime in real Venezuela goes on unabated. In fact, it just keeps getting worse and worse. Chávez didn't talk about the murder rate, of course. He knows murder is more difficult to re-define than a fluffy concept such as "crime", even if even murders are now counted in a more restrictive fashion.

An NGO published new stats about the clearance rate for murder in Venezuela. It stands at about 3%. Try to grasp what that means: from every 100 murders in Venezuela, 97 remain unresolved, the criminals remain at large. Look at the chart. In red you see the percentage of murders that have not been solved and in cyan you see what has been solved.

The clearance rate for Germany is around 96%...against 3 for "socialist Venezuela".

Latin America in general shows very high murder rates. Lots of people specially in the USA and Britain talk about the rampant crime in Mexico, the drug wars there. Indeed, Mexico is in a mess. Some useful idiots abroad mention the case of Mexico to explain Venezuela is not the only major country in America with a high murder rate. But if you put things under perspective, you will see Venezuela under Chávez is in a league of its own. Check out The Economist's interactive map of Mexico to get an idea and bear in mind:  Venezuela's murder rate is now around 70 murders per 100 000 inhabitants, twice as many as the second most dangerous country in South America, Colombia, and only slightly surpassed by tiny Honduras and Guatemala.

Juan Cristobal and other bloggers have been discussing for a long time whether Venezuela is still a democracy or not. Juan Cristobal is particularly depressed because of the surprise he seems to have got with last elections' results. It is as if he were telling us: "it is not so much a problem of democracy but of people's will and this is what most want". 

But the thing is this: democracy is by any means much more than elections. This is something even those Greeks opposed to Plato's model of democracy would agree with. Most Greeks understood 2400 years ago what most Venezuelans still do not get.

One of the key requirements to call a system democratic is the existence of the rule of law.

There is none in Venezuela.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The caudillo's absence and Venezuelans' logic

Hugo Chávez hasn't tweeted since 1 November. Is he resting? This is becoming a record now.

Giordani mentions petrol prices are way too low. Does he have plans?

Chávez has repeatedly mentioned petrol is heavily subsidized but he hasn't had the courage to raise prices just yet. Recently I had a "conversation" with a Chavista. She told me petrol comes from oil and as Venezuela has oil galore, people have the right to get it for (almost) nothing. Apparently, she didn't pay attention during chemistry classes at school. Let me tell you: in Venezuela we were supposed to learn at school much more about oil processing than in many other countries.

Jose Tadeo Monagas: one of the most unpopular presidents of Venezuela, a state is called after him

Sunday, 18 November 2012

1001 post: Amoebae and politicians

It seems our long-standing suspicion was right. It seems it is less costly and much more effective to maintain the appropriate amoebae cultures in Petri dishes and observe their reactions to problems on sustainable development and social challenges than spend money in thousands upon thousands of politicians.

Think again

Seriously: are there ways we can deal with less politicians and give more power to people without falling into the "Soviet/council mobbing" trap the extreme left is trying to take Venezuela to?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Venezuela's children and development

Venezuela is the third country with the highest incidence of under-age pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Only Honduras and Nicaragua have a higher proportion of adolescent mothers. That's what the United Nations Population Fund said today.

That is sad.

And what do you expect from the Chávez regime? For the moment, nada.

Later? Perhaps Chauvinistic statements from the caudillo and pseudo-revolutionary lingo from the others.

And what do we expect from Primero Justicia? I don't know, but my suspicion is some of them would prefer to talk about whatever the Pope says.

And what about the others? Not their topic.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mord in Caracas der "Revolution"

2580 Menschen wurde zwischen Januar und Oktober dieses Jahres im Municipio Libertador von Caracas umgebracht. Das ist der Westen Caracas. Im Oktober gab es 1608976 Wähler dort. Manche von ihnen sind bestimmt unter den Ermordeten. Das Jahr ist gar nicht zu Ende. Die meisten Morde finden im Dezember statt. Das ist Venezuela der "bolivarischen Revolution". Das ist Venezuela des 21. Jahrhunderts. Das ist das Venezuela, das von Die Linke unterstützt wird. 

Unten seht Ihr den Bürgermeister dieses Municipios. Die Frau neben ihm, Lina Ron, starb vor fast zwei Jahren...offiziell war es Herzversagen, man sagt aber, es hätte sich um eine Überdosis gehandelt. Ein Slogan von ihr war: "mit Chávez, alles. Ohne ihn lauter Schießpulver".

Rodríguez und seine rote "Rhewoluzion"

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Because people don't keep asking the right questions

A few days ago Richard Javier Díaz Sequera, a 31-year old policeman from the state police in Carabobo, a state in central Venezuela, was murdered. Although a very tragic incident, this is nothing extraordinary in the former Land of Grace. Venezuela's murder rate is about 70 murders per 100 000 inhabitants, twice as much as the second most dangerous country in South America, Colombia. Policemen also die like flies in a country that will account for over 17 thousand murders this year.

But the governor of Carabobo, Henrique Salas, asked a good question: where did the gun that killed that policeman come from? Salas is not my cup of tea, but I have to say: hey, people, do try to give an answer to that question or keep demanding from those who should know to give an answer. Ask very loudly. And do not stop asking.

For the gun that tore apart agent Díaz's vest was a Belgian FN FAL, one like of those the Venezuelan army has.

And this is no exception. Venezuelan jails, which have been horrendous since time immemorial, are now completely lawless places, a farce of a "security institution"... and the few controls carried out there every single time massacres occur reveal a huge amount of heavy weapony, from grenades to Kalashnikovs and other automatic rifles.

The origin of most of those guns is clear: the Guardia Nacional and the Venezuelan Army.

But this question the governor is asking will be seen as just a rhetorical question or just a question people don't need to keep asking because: what's the point?

Well: the point is your  life, our life, the life of our children and friends.

Will the head of the Guardia Nacional answer? Will the minister of Defence say something clear about this?

They will not.

How many politicians will dare ask this question at the National Assembly?

I am afraid no one.

It would be too dangerous.

So: where do we end up?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Fast and slow

I'm reading Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow ThinkingFast and Slow. It is definitely good food for thought

Bad news for the Venezuelan caudillo

Obama won again. Venezuela's caudillo had previously expressed he "preferred" Obama getting re-elected but we know he was lying. It's much harder for him to use Obama as the Bogeyman than someone like Bush or Romney.

Chávez was probably expecting US conservatives to use his statement to increase their chances: "look, Chávez is an ally of Obama!" And indeed that is what happened. But most US Americans had a thousand other priorities. What the military man from Venezuela's Western Llanos may say doesn't really matter that much to most abroad but for Cubans and Nicaraguan politicians, Russian weapon dealers, Lukashenko and a few others.

The current president of Venezuela couldn't get the much needed Bogeyman

Monday, 5 November 2012

Oil price development versus GDP growth

Based on World Bank and OPEC figures, I came up with this new chart.  What you see yearly GDP growth and oil price variation (OPEC basket).

The developments are not synchronous but they tell us a story: oil hikes are becoming less and less productive for the Chavezcracy. Unless there is an incredible oil price rise next year, Venezuela is heading for a tough time...even if it still has record oil much is mismanagement.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Venezuela and money, money

When I was a child, my dad told me something big was coming for Venezuela's economy. He had been trying to explain to me in simple terms the unsustainable way in which our politicians were using our resources and - last but not least - our he told me, it was not only about petrodollars wasted but generations lost.
Venezuela's Alpha & Omega

El Universal has an interesting article today about Venezuela's debt: 232,589 billion dollars. There are lots of promises the government won't be able to fulfil. The public debt amounts to 93,6 billion dollars. The Chinese fund amounts to 32 billion dollars. PDVSA owns 43 billion dollars. Lots of people ask for employment benefits. Hundreds of thousands of temporary employees the government hired for electoral purposes are expecting to get a permanent contract and extra benefits.

Where is the caudillo going to get more from?

Expect many more expropriations, expect a heavy devaluation after the December elections and expect bank intervention and the use of Venezuelans' savings to pay for salaries next year.

We still are having record oil prices.

Callyspongia vaginalis

This particularly colourful sponge can be found everywhere in the Caribbean, also along Venezuela's coast (for instance, at the now heavily polluted Morrocoy National Park).

Who gave this name to this species?


Saturday, 3 November 2012

How can the BBC be so clumsy?

The BBC had this clip about ethnicity in the USA. It's supposed to be about how English America South of Canada evolved. And there is not a single mention of native Americans.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Die Militärs und die Regionalwahlen in Venezuela

Mitte Dezember gibt es Regionalwahlen in Venezuela. Die Venezolaner werden die meisten Gouverneure und Bundesstaatensparlamente des Landes auswählen können. Der von Chávez-Anhängern dominierte Wahlrat sorgt schon dafür, dass die Chávez-Kandidaten eine Sonderbehandlung bekommen.

Hier könnt Ihr eine Karte Venezuelas sehen, wo ich angezeigt habe, wo die Kandidaten der Chávez-Partei Militärs sind und wo nicht. Dunkelgrün sind solche Bundesstaaten, wo die von Chávez auserwählten Kandidaten Militärs - meistens ehemalige Putschisten von 1992 - sind. In Gelb sieht man einen Bundesstaat, wo der Kandidat ein ehemaliger AD-Politiker ist, der sich aber von der vierten Republik distanziert und so tut, als ob er nichts damit zu tun hätte.

Die Bundesstaaten in hellgrün sind solche, wo die gegenwärtigen Gouverneure und Kandidaten der Sozialitischen Einheitspartei Venezuelas nahe Verwandte von Militärs sind. Im Fall Barinas ist der Gouverneur Adan Chávez, der älteste Bruder des nationalen Caudillos. Im Fall von Falcón, Yaracuy und Delta sind die gegenwärtigen Gouverneure und Kandidaten Geschwister von Militärs.

Caracas wird nun eine Art von "Gauleiter" bekommen, der von Chávez höchstpersönlich ausgewählt wird.

Venezuelans and Facebookers

Mia Newman produced a nice interactive map where you can see how Facebook users from one country are connected to the rest of the world. As far as I see, the patterns are rather clear: you get most connections in countries where there is a lot of expats or from where the country has lots of immigrants.

For Venezuela things are like this: people in Venezuela tend to connect to people in Colombia, in Spain, in Mexico, in Peru and in Chile. I suspect most connections to the South American countries are from immigrants of those countries reconnecting to their relatives, even if Venezuelans are increasingly leaving their country for more secure pastures. Colombia is much safer these days.

And most people in Spain connected to Venezuela are - this is my educated guess- Venezuelan expats, a lot of them with recent Spanish roots.