Te invito a entrar en www.armasdecoronel.org para leer mis libros y ver otra información personal

viernes, 27 de febrero de 2009

NUESTRA VENEZUELA: ENTRE GANGSTERS Y PAYASOS.

Hasta luego, Chávez.......



****TRES EJEMPLOS DE DESINTEGRACIÓN
1.
Un miembro de la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela, dotado del cuociente intelectual promedio de sus camaradas, acaba de declarar que “la reducción de la jornada laboral en Venezuela promovería el pleno empleo”. Yo lo leí y no lo podía creer! Lo que este genio chavista argumentaba es que si la jornada laboral se cortase a la mitad, entonces el empleo automaticamente se duplicaría. Por supuesto, decía el genio, los ingresos de los trabajadores deben mantenerse. Lo que eso significa es que la empresa empleadora verá duplicarse sus costos de mano de obra pero no podrá vender su producto al doble del valor original. Ello condenaría a las empresas a la quiebra. Lo peor es que estos payasos son perfectamente capaces de decretar esta estupidez.
2.
Chávez, el gangster mayor, acaba de nombrar, de nuevo, a Jorge Giordani como ministro de planificación. Este pobre hombre ha venido, ido y venido otra vez y varias veces al gabinete de Chávez durante los diez años de régimen chavista. Este pobre diablo concibió la idea del eje Orinoco-Apure, en base al cuál se invertirían miles de millones de dólares en crear una estructura en un lugar remoto de Venezuela, a fin de conectarla algun dia con Colombia. Centenares de millones de dólares le fueron pagados a los vivianes amigos de Giordani, especializados en “estudios”, mamotretos que se pesan por kilos pero que no pasan jamás de pre-proyectos. Quien sabe con que nueva locura acude ahora este pobre diablo podrido de Giordani al gabinete. El problema es que ahora hay mucho menor real petrolero disponible!
3.
El régimen está fuera de control. El gangster mayor se hace rebautizar por un cura sin honor. Un prominente banquero es secuestrado. Serrat alaba a Chávez y Laureano Márquez le da lo suyo. El gobierno de Obama condena a Chávez por narcoterrorista y por lavador de dinero. Chávez dice que tiene dinero guardado en el exterior pero nadie sabe cuanto ni donde. Para mí que el régimen de Chávez está al borde de la quiebra financiera. No le paga a los acreedores, no le envía petróleo a China. En Venezuela se respira hoy el mismo aire que se respiraba a principios de Enero 1958. El aire de la derrota y de la fuga vergonzosa del dictador.

AQUÍ ESTÁ EL VIDEO DE LA PILTRAFA Y EL GANGSTER.

www.dailymotion.com/video/k5XELax3VhFSvxY00N

Este que ven arriba es el link al video que muestra a la piltrafa Rojas (y roja) y al gangster Chávez, en una sacrílega y arrastrada ceremonia de "rebautizo". Esta adulancia/conchupancia/jalabolismo no se veía desde hace un siglo en este pobre y vapuleado país nuestro, donde la mediocridad se le monta encima a los intelectuales sumisos, a los banqueros corruptos y los curas anormales, todos deseosos de lamer botas y de que les tiren algo de los mendrugos que queden del festín podrido que es la Venezuela de Hugo Chávez. Después de ver estas imágenes degradadas y degradantes no me queda duda alguna de que estos gusanos deben salir del poder, si es que el país quiere ser algun día el país civilizado que debe y puede ser.

MAS SINVERGUENZURAS DE LA PILTRAFA: REBAUTIZA AL GANGSTER.

La piltrafa roja, el cura Adolfo Rojas, rebautiza al gangster, Hugo Chávez. Otra viñeta de la absurda Venezuela que se desarrolla en pleno Siglo XXI. Un cura ensucia la religión que prometió defender, haciendo burla de un sacramento para adularle al gangster Hugo Chávez, quien ensució el uniforme que había jurado mantener con dignidad. En la foto de arriba, podemos ver como se halla, de nuevo, Cristo entre dos malhechores, quienes arrastran el buen nombre de su patria por el pantano. Estos payasos merecen una buena patada por el trasero.

jueves, 26 de febrero de 2009

UNA PILTRAFA VESTIDA DE ROJO: ADOLFO ROJAS JIMÉNEZ.

Desde el cielo, nuestro querido Rosalio se pone las manos en la
cabeza, al oir las barbaridades de la piltrafa que se muestra abajo (en tamaño natural):

esta es la piltrafa vestida de rojo, Adolfo Rojas Jiménez.

Abajo pongo el link del video de una homilía dada por una piltrafa humana disfrazada de sacerdote, un adorador del golpe fallido de Chávez en 1992, tan renegado de su investidura clerical como Chávez ha sido un renegado de su poco distinguida investidura militar:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoLGxFtDyzw

El padre Adolfo Rojas Jiménez, probablemente un descendiente de los cobardes que andaban detrás de las hordas de Boves y de Ezequiél Zamora rematando heridos y violando mujeres, se destapó con una homilía peculiar en Maracay. Enjubonado de rojo escarlata para que no hubiera dudas de que era rojo, rojito, el energúmeno se destapó en improperios que hubieran estado fuera de lugar en un burdel llanero, mucho más como parte de un oficio religioso. Entre sus frases memorables:
Esta revolución no dará marcha atráshablarán los fusiles
La gran victoria de Chávez es la unidad cívico-militar (ecos de Pérez Jiménez y del anti-semita Ceresole).
Hay que matar a los sietecueros (nuevo término para los escuálidos?)
No queremos convivir con esclavos (pero, en su adoración por el déspota, habla como un esclavo).
Los enemigos son la UCV, la católica… (Es decir, muera la inteligencia).
Escribiremos con sangre (el pobre diablo es violento, pero tiene cara de ensuciarse, y no de rojo, al primer disparo).
Me visto de rojo para poder gritar: Patria, Socialismo o Muerte. (La audiencia lo mira asombrado, algunos aplauden)

Que de gente despreciable ha parido esta triste revolución!

THE TEN YEARS OF CHAVEZ'S RULE: DEBATE AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY.

Chavez, as perceived in Monterrey, Mexico.

Two nights ago took place, at American University, in Washington DC, a debate on the ten years of Chavez’s rule. Former Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations, Diego Arria and Mark Weisbrot, member of a Washington DC based think tank, were the main participants. The moderator was Robert Pastor, a former high-level member of the Jimmy Carter government team and now at AU. The room was full, about 150 persons, much of them students from AU, GWU and Georgetown. These are my recollections of the debate:
WEISBROT.
I had never seen Weisbrot speaking. He is a bit lethargic, articulates well in a monotone and has little facial expression. He came across for much of his presentation as a social scientist, devoid of passion. He was convincing… for a while.
Weisbrot based his initial presentation on a paper he has written on the performance of Chavez’s government, as measured by statistics provided by…. The Chavez government. I have responded to this paper in detail in this blog (see below: Memo to Weisbrot et al) and offered comments on each one of the points he tries to make, such as the doubling of the Venezuelan GDP, social inequality in Venezuela and the like. Weisbrot repeated some of these statistics during his presentation but also added a few comments which I found very interesting, including:
1. “I am a reformist. I know little about revolutions. I am an economist. I know Chavez but not well”. Weisbrot painted himself as someone who was not particularly approving of Chavez’s revolution. And yet, he has become for the last years his almost exclusive spokesperson in Washington DC. As far back as 2003 Weisbrot was already interviewing Chavez (see my blog below: “The Fellow Traveler and the Gangster”) producing clearly whitewash jobs, not recommended for diabetics. If intellectual conviction is not what drives him to Chavez’s side, what is?
2. “I am very concerned about the attacks against Chavez/Venezuela in the U.S. media and in the opposition-controlled Venezuelan media”. Weisbrot makes the big mistake of equating criticism of Chavez’s undemocratic and abusive rule with attacks on Venezuela as a country. The Venezuelan media that opposes Chavez is constantly subject to harassment while the official media, six TV stations, several hundreds radio stations, and newspapers and publications, all financed by Chavez, present only his side of the coin. Globovision is the only opposition TV station active in Venezuela (RCTV is now cable, since it was closed down by Chavez and its assets confiscated) and invites Chavez’s followers to opinion programs, something not true of the other side. In fact, Chavez does not allow Venezuelan journalists in his press conferences.
3. Weisbrot presented the curious theory that “Venezuelan economic expansion only started in 2003, after Chavez obtained control of the Petroleum Company”. What he did was to start on his systematic politicization and destruction, as evidenced by its current chaotic financial situation.
4. “Mortality has decreased under Chavez”. Well, Weisbrot forgot about the 12,000 + Venezuelans who die violently each year in Venezuela, the most violent country in the western hemisphere.
5. “The Bolivar is overvalued”. Obviously, paving the way for the imminent devaluation that Chavez will be forced to make, in view of his acute financial problems.
6. “Venezuela should diversify from oil”. Well, welcome to the club. Today, under Chavez, the dependence on oil exports is greater than ever”.
All in all, Weisbrot presentation was weak, expressed without enthusiasm. He looked like a professional actor playing a role he did not like.

ARRIA.
I had never seen Arria speak in public. He was calm and soft-spoken, two qualities I could not possibly show when discussing Chavez. This was positive for him. He said:
· “This debate could not have taken place in Venezuela, where the Chavez government has conducted a policy of intimidation and repression against the opposition”. Even distinguished foreigners are expelled or not allowed to enter the country, like Leech Walessa, Mario Vargas Llosa, Luis Herrero (European member of Congress) and Human Rights leader Jose Maria Vivanco.
· “Chavez statistics can be challenged and have been challenged by notable economists such as Francisco Rodriguez, now the Head of the United Nations team that puts together the Human Development Index (see Foreign Affairs, May 2008). I will mention only that the Misery Index, the product of distinguished Economist Arthur Okun, that places Venezuela last (as the most miserable) in a group of 60 nations”.
· “Chavez is not running a revolution, only a military regime”.
· “Today Venezuela is the most violent country in the region, leader in kidnappings and in violent deaths”.
· “The policy of handouts to the poor by Chavez is demeaning, humiliating, and does not produce truly independent citizens but ever more dependent poor”.
· “Chavez has aligned himself with the tyrannies of the world”.
· “Chavez ten years in power have been very successful…. For Hugo Chavez”.
· “Chavez won the presidency democratically and his family are now doing very well financially”.
DISCUSSION.
As it always happens in these events, to the frustration of the 150 attendees who wanted to participate, there were only a few minutes left for questions. The moderator did what he could to allow for participation, although I have a feeling that he let Mr. Weisbrot talk too long when answering, especially because many of his answers were evasive and adopted the curious stance: “Here in the U.S. things are worse” or, “There is corruption in Venezuela but is the same in all countries, also here”. A few relevant things came up during the Q&A brief session:
· The link between Chavez and the FARC. Weisbrot, who said that the laptops had been tampered with, denied this.
· The level of corruption in Chavez’ Venezuela. Weisbrot said “it was not too bad, since it is present in all countries”.
· The political discrimination in Venezuela, as evidenced by the Maisanta and Tascon lists. Weibrot denied having said this.
· The fact that the April 2002 ousting of Chavez was not a CIA inspired coup, as Chavez has tried to make everyone believe, but a popular protest that ended with Chavez ordering the armed forces to repress the marchers and this order leading to his forced resignation.
· The fact that now Petroleos de Venezuela produced one million barrels less than when Chavez took over and the immense loss to the nation this has represented.
I would love to see more of these debates. Three times I challenged Chavez’s Ambassador in Washington DC, Bernardo Alvarez, to such a debate and he refused. At one time I was invited to debate in American University on the closing down of RCTV and the Embassy spokesperson did not show up. I challenged Rafael Ramirez, head of Petroleos de Venezuela, to a debate, to take place in Venezuela, and he did not answer. Even now, the debate at American University had to take place between a legitimate Venezuelan stakeholder and a U.S citizen designated by the Venezuelan Embassy, who, to say it kindly, is not fully conversant with the tragedies of our country. Chavez’s employees refuse to debate Chavez with us. This is a strategy. “In a closed mouth flies cannot enter”. The only one who can talk about his government is Hugo Chavez himself but even then he will not debate, simply will pontificate. This shows that freedom of expression does not really exist in Venezuela, since this freedom should be, in a democracy, a two-way street and not a dialogue between the deaf. In a country with real freedom of expression the government has the duty to answer the questions of the citizens. This is not possible today, under Chavez’s rule. He can talk and does, for six hours on TV, about his bowel movements but the real problems of our nation remain unanswered.

miércoles, 25 de febrero de 2009

NO ABRO MÁS MENSAJES ANEXOS EN INTERNET, A MENOS QUE SEPA DE QUE SE TRATAN


Estoy inundado de mensajes con anexos que nunca me dicen que diablos es lo que contienen. Solo me dicen: “Que bueno”, “Te vas a reir mucho”, “Urgente”, “No dejes de abrirlo”, “Ariesgo la vida si no lo abres”, etc. Cuando cedo a la tentación de abrirlos invariablemente me arrepiento. Generalmente son cadenas religiosas, o con mensajes “de inspiración”, o con presentaciones hechas en casa sobre la tragedia de Chávez. Muchos vienen en el idioma Argentino, con esa filosofía porteña que tiene cierto mérito pero que frecuentemente no es apta para diabéticos. Lo más terrible de estos mensajes que se abren ante nuestros aterrorizados ojos es que cada palabra, cada letrica cae lentamente sobre la pantalla, como posando un reto para el lector: “Adivina, bolsa, lo que te voy a decir”. Eso es sadismo reconcentrado: “E…n… e..l….s….i…g…l…o X…X”, Qué! Qué…. Lo que pudieran decir en 10 segundos lo dicen en diez minutos. Para quien tiene 75 años de edad eso es inaceptable.
Acabo de recibir uno sobre la genealogía de Simón Bolívar. Cometí el error de abrirlo porque quien lo enviaba, astuta ella, me prometía que esto haría a Chávez muy envidioso. Cuando lo abrí comenzé a ver, con agonizante lentitud, las letricas que caían como flecos de nieve, lentamente, una por una, y empezaban a hablar de Bolívar…. No te…ni..a hi..jo..s… pe…ro si.. her…ma…na…. Y la hermana… tu…vo..…. Cua…tro hij…jos….”
Y yo con ganas de ir al baño.
El mensaje continuó su marcha implacable, a la velocidad de la actividad judicial en Venezuela…Y.. lo..s hij..os tuvie..ron hijos y uno se casó con otro fulano y el fulano se casó con x y z y finalmente llegaron a tener a Leopoldo López, el alcalde de Chacao, quien es, realmente, el verdadero descendiente de Simón Bolívar, para que te revuelques de frustración, Chávez.
Yo quiero mucho a Leopoldo, a quien conozco desde chiquito, a sus padres, quienes son bellas personas, pero la angustia que me han hecho pasar quienes me enviaron este mensaje por cuentas gotas, el cuál estuvo a punto de causarme un soponcio, me hace sentir menos amigable con ellos, aunque no tengan la culpa de esta bolsería.
Hay otros mensajes, uno sobre un niño llamado Kyle, que está garantizado para hacernos derrarmar abundantes lágrimas… Otros sobre la trayectoria del bandido, ladron y analfabeta que nos gobierna.. algo bien sabido y quien, al final, se rie como una hiena. Etc y ad nauseam.
No abro más anexos. Corro el riesgo de que alguno de ellos contenga algo realmente importante o digno de verse, o mejor aún, un anuncio de haberme ganado el primer premio de la lotería de Zimbabue. Ese es el riesgo que tendré que correr porque abrirlos es morir de la manera más cruel: una mezcla de fastidio con indignación.

martes, 24 de febrero de 2009

ENTREVISTA INCESTUOSA A MARTIN SANCHEZ

Con Bernardo, con el bandido ex-gobernador de Illinois y con la crápula de Mario Silva. Por la maleta se conoce el pasajero.






Martín Sánchez, empleado público, pagado con el dinero nuestro, no sirve a los venezolanos sino a un solo amo: Hugo Chávez. Es el editor de un sitio pagado por Chávez para insultar a la disidencia, llamado http://www.aporrea.com/. Ya su nombre lo indica. Y es además consul “venezolano” en San Francisco, donde practica activamente el anti-semitismo. En las fotos anexas lo vemos con una galeria poco recomendable, incluyendo al ex-Gobernador de Illinois, botado recientemente por inmoral y a Mario Silva, probablemente el venezolano más despreciable de la actualidad.
Aquí transcribo parte de una entrevista que se mandó a hacer recientemente Sánchez en su sitio, lo que llamaríamos una entrevista incestuosa.

LA ENTREVISTA.

http://encontrarte.aporrea.org/hablando/60/


Martín Sánchez: “El reto venezolano es cambiar las turbinas del avión en el aire, sin que los pasajeros se den cuenta”.
Comentario G. Coronel. Lo que ha pasado es que los chavistas se han robado las turbinas del avión en pleno vuelo, sin importarle que los pasajeros se den cuenta, dándoles a una parte del pasaje unos mendrugos gratis. El avión viene pa’bajo!
Martin Sánchez. Mi papel en Aporrea llamó la atención de la cancillería venezolana, debido a mi dominio del inglés, mi conocimiento de la política estadounidense y debido al hecho de que me encuentro en los EE.UU. Al existir pocos diplomáticos dispuestos a defender, o al menos a respetar el gobierno del Presidente Chávez, me proponen tomar las riendas de nuestro consulado en Chicago, propuesta que acepté.
Comentario G. Coronel. Da la impresión de que Martín hubiese respondido un aviso de la cancillería: “Se necesita alguien que hable inglés y sepa insultar sabroso para se nombrado cónsul en Chicago”.
Martin Sánchez. Mi único pasatiempo es ver las carreras de Fórmula Uno los domingos, lo cual he hecho religiosamente desde 1983. El ver el Aló Presidente no es un hobby, es una obligación revolucionaria.
Comentario G. Coronel. El ver al Aló Presidente es una obligación, el jalabolas lo confiesa. Además, es un acto de masoquismo.
Martin Sánchez. El verdadero socialismo es producto de la auto-emancipación de la clase trabajadora, es decir, de la mayoría de la población. El socialismo verdadero no será decretado ni definido por una persona o por una comisión de “sesudos analistas” o “grandes pensadores iluminados.... ha sido muy positiva la actitud de Chávez de proponer la construcción del Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV).
Comentario G. Coronel. Entonces, por qué el único que habla del socialismo del siglo XXI es Hugo Chávez? Botó a Ceresole, botó a Marta Harnecker, botó a El Trudi, botó a Dieterich, ya Izarra no habla pendejadas desde que está aburguesado. Chávez se quedó solo, pontificando sobre algo que no entiende. El partido único es una invención tipicamente fascista, stalinista.
Martín Sánchez. La izquierda estadounidense ha cambiado su opinión sobre Chávez. Al principio lo consideraban otro militar progresista más, ahora en general lo ven como un líder respetable que merece ser defendido. El reto en estos momentos es contrarrestar la matriz mediática que coloca a Chávez como un dictador en potencia, enemigo del pueblo de los EE.UU.
Comentario G. Coronel. El dineral que Chávez ha hecho llover en USA a través de la Venezuelan Information Office, de Bernardo Alvarez, cuando era embajador en Washington y varios otros canales de “distribución” han capturado a algunos pendejos sin fronteras como Oliver Stone, vivianes como Joseph Kennedy, “sandalistas”, castristas, extorsionistas como Jesse Jackson y su “rainbow coalition”, racistas sin escrúpulos como Danny Glover, académicos de segunda, pseudo “think tanks”, toda una fauna de ingenuos, vividores y parásitos, quienes se reunen con frecuencia a hablar en contra del gobierno de USA y a cantar las loas del déspota venezolano. Esa no es la izquierda. Fíjense que la izquierda en Venezuela está solidamente en contra de Chávez.
Martín Sánchez. [nuestras] actividades de relaciones publicas y de fomento de la solidaridad con Venezuela está limitada sólo por la falta de recursos económicos y de personal calificado y comprometido con la defensa del proceso revolucionario. Organizamos una gran cantidad de foros y ponencias sobre Venezuela en universidades, iglesias, escuelas, etc. Frecuentemente organizamos delegaciones de estadounidenses para que visiten Venezuela y vean el proceso revolucionario con sus propios ojos.
Comentario G. Coronel. Falta de recursos? Usan a CITGO como caja chica, sin controles de ningun tipo. El dinero fluye incesamente. O es que enviar delegaciones de estadounidenses a Venezuela, a ver lo que ellos le arreglan para que vean (la aldea Potemkin) no cuesta un dineral? El tipo es ingenuo, después de todo.
Martín Sánchez. Me he desarrollado y obtenido gran experiencia en el campo de la informática y la diplomacia, y llevo a cabo esas actividades con relativa eficiencia.
Comentario G Coronel. No dudo que en el desierto chavista Martín pueda ser una penca de tuna. Pero, debe recordar que “El talento sin probidad es un azote”.

HEALTH UNDER CHAVEZ




**** BEYOND HIS PROPAGANDA CHAVEZ IS NOT DOING MUCH FOR THE HEALTH OF THE POOR. MOSTLY GARBAGE.
A 2007 report on the situation of health care in Venezuela: “Informe sobre el derecho a la salud en Venezuela, 2007”, put together by a group of ten organizations which include, among others, the Universidad Simon Bolivar, Accion Solidaria (ACSOL), Convite A.C., Nuevo Amanecer, CESAP, and the Coalition of NGO’s for the Right to Health shows convincingly that the health sector of Venezuela, under the regime of Hugo Chavez, is far from the success that mercenaries and paid propagandists of the Chavez regime would like us to believe.
The report (http://www.derechos.org.ve/Informe_derecho_Salud_2007_.pdf) contains some observations that serve to put the real Venezuelan health situation in a true perspective. Some of its findings include:
Since 1999 onwards the expenditure for health in Venezuela “is one of the lowest in the world”, at $122 per person for the year 2006. According to government officers this expenditure is totally insufficient to cover the objectives of universality in the health public system. In other words, the population remains largely unattended. Public investment in health should be between 7-10 percent of the GDP but in Venezuela is around 3 percent of the GDP. Three fourths of the investment in health in the country is made by the private sector.
What exists now in Venezuela is a government’s health system more than a public health system. It is strongly centralized and proposes the creation of a National Institute of Medical Services that would control all of the Medical Centers of a public nature. This would destroy all the advances made by the decentralization process that took place in Venezuela during the 1990’s.
There is no Organic Law for the health sector. A project has been pending in the National Assembly for several years that would replace the currently existing health service structure by one that models the Barrio Adentro structure.
The Barrio Adentro Mission or Program currently has several problems: there is a withdrawal of Cuban doctors; health centers are being closed down, possibly because the Cuban doctors are retuning home. As doctors are becoming scarcer the number of individual centers is declining or become less active since the doctors have to rotate in order to attend to them. Work hours are not being followed and home visits have stopped. The provision of medical materials, cleaning products and medicines has become irregular. As a result, patients are asked to bring their own materials and/or medicines.
Due to lack of trained nurses the doctors in Barrio Adentro have had to rely on volunteers to help them. Volunteers do not last long due to the intense routine and doctors have little help. The centers are “managed” by a community committee that often does not work well.
The health infrastructure in Venezuela is still insufficient to provide for universal healthcare. There are significant deficits of infrastructure and of services. 54 percent of the personnel interviewed by the authors of the report say that the capacity of their health center is insufficient to attend the demand. Public hospitals have to turn back about 30 percent of the patients due to lack of facilities and services for them.
IN 2004 the deficit of ambulatory health centers was of some 7,000.
The deficit of hospital beds is significant. The WHO establishes a standard of 40 beds per 10,000 people and Venezuela has 17 beds per 10,000 people. While the percentage of intensive therapy beds should be equal to 5-8 percent of the total in Venezuela they amount to less than one percent of the total. This only covers 25 percent of the total demand. What this means is that access to these beds is only possible for those who have a chance to recover.
Hospitals have one nurse for every 40 patients while the standard required by the World Health Organization is one nurse for every eight patients.
Since public hospitals do not receive enough financial resources from the government they request patients to pay for medicines, services or the like. The hospitals that do this include those of the Social Security system (Seguro Social). The gratuity of medical attention in public hospitals is largely mythical. This represents a clear violation of the constitution that stipulates that medical service will be free.
The health sector in Venezuela is not regulated at present by any law and does not comply with the international standards on organizational structure.
The findings in this report coincide with the observations presented by Francisco Rodriguez in his work on “The Empty Revolution”. Foreign Affairs, May-April 2008, and contradict the rosy picture presented by Chavez government bureaucrats and lobbyists for Chavez in other countries. .






domingo, 22 de febrero de 2009

QUE DEFIENDO? A QUIEN DEFIENDO?


**** LA BATALLA ES DE PRINCIPIOS, DE VALORES, DE NUESTRA PARTE NO HAY CUANTO HAY PA'ESO.


Un amigo me preguntaba hace unos días el por qué de mi posición tan intensa en contra del actual régimen dictatorial venezolano. Me decía: “estás viviendo tranquilamente fuera del país, tu familia está cerca de tí, no tienes intereses económicos de ningun tipo en Venezuela, el gobierno no te puede lesionar, no tienes rabo de paja ni relación alguna con los partidos políticos de la oposición. A tu edad, uno pensaría que has hecho ya lo que ibas a hacer y que deberías dejar a quienes vienen atrás que arréen, como dice el refrán. Que te anima a mantener esta actitud?”. Antes de que pudiera decirle algo, añadió: “Sobretodo porque pareces estar queriendo defender a quienes aparentemente no desean ser defendidos. Si vas a Venezuela verás los restaurantes llenos, la gente disfrutando del baño de petrodólares, los ministros robando, los banqueros robando, los contratistas de PDVSA y los altos gerentes de esa empresa robando. El robo al erario público ha pasado a ser una actividad democrática y respetable, parte indivisible del socialismo del siglo XXI. La gente de clase media y media alta se rie y desprecia a Chávez en privado pero muchos se le inclinan en público porque tiene el dinero y el poder. Mientras tanto, muchos pobres están recibiendo limosnas de Chávez y se sienten, por lo tanto, tomados en cuenta. Miles de ellos son más felices que nunca. Entonces: A quien defiendes tu, que defiendes tu?”
Casi le dije que no lo sabía, que el tenía toda la razón, que mi postura anti-chavista era una simple manifestación de senilidad. En realidad, todo lo que el me decía era cierto. Acaso quería o necesitaba la rústica Aldonza ser defendida por Don Quijote de unos molinos de viento que no eran gigantes malvados, como él pensaba? Todo lo que requería Aldonza era que la dejaran en paz, rodeada de sus animales domésticos y sus campos de bellotas, viviendo una vida oscura, poco distinguida, de aldeana analfabeta.
Para mi era dificil hacerle entender a mi amigo que el problema que he tenido toda mi vida es que he visto siempre y continuaré viendo a Venezuela no como la Aldonza Lorenzo que es sino como la Dulcinea del Toboso que pudiera llegar a ser. Siempre he creído que Venezuela es un país que puede superar su atraso si se le proporciona la manera de hacerlo. Lo que defiendo, por lo tanto, es una manera de vivir en sociedad que pueda convertir a Venezuela en el país que yo desearía que fuese. Eso es lo que defiendo. Y a quien defiendo? Esto es también sencillo. Hago causa común con los centenares, miles o millones de venezolanos quienes comparten mis mismos anhelos. No tengo la menor idea de cuantos somos los que soñamos con una sociedad venezolana civilizada, donde haya igualdad de oportunidades, respeto hacia nuestros semejantes, solidaridad con los menos afortunados y donde el lenguaje y la maneras de los miembros de la sociedad sean de homo sapiens y no de gorilas. Se que estos venezolanos existen porque los he visto actuar, marchar y oído hablar expresando mis mismas aspiraciones. Pienso, inclusive, en que hay venezolanos que siguen a Chávez y comparten estas aspiraciones, excepto que piensan de buena fe (después de estos diez años de pesadilla!) que Chávez los llevará allá. Saber cuantos somos quienes vemos a Dulcinea detrás de las toscas facciones de Aldonza solo me daría una indicación aproximada de cuanto tiempo tomará la transformación de nuestra aldeana en princesa, pero aún cuando fuésemos poquísimos ello no influiría sobre mi decisión de continuar la batalla o de tirar la toalla. En última instancia, considero tirar la toalla un acto irracional, equivalente a suicidarnos porque vamos a morir tarde o temprano o, peor aun, porque vivimos en un universo que no tiene sentido. Creo que tenemos un deber que cumplir, ciertamente con otros y para otros, pero, si no hubiese otros, el deber es con nosotros mismos. Creo en el imperativo categórico de Enmanuel Kant y pienso que lo que hago debería constituirse en regla universal, aunque nadie más lo piense así.
En términos prácticos, que significa todo este filosofar? Significa que debo oponerme a quien o quienes llevan a Venezuela en dirección opuesta a la que considero la correcta. En los últimos diez años nuestra Aldonza es más Aldonza que nunca y el rostro de Dulcinea se ha difuminado significativamente. La sociedad venezolana es menos tolerante, menos confiada, más agresiva, más influída por el odio de clases y el racismo, el cuál es una bestia de doble vía, de blancos a negros y de negros a blancos. Creo que esto nos está sucediendo porque el líder político que tenemos lo ha proyectado así, para lograr sus fines muy mezquinos, nada solidarios, de poder político permanente. Su lenguaje nos conduce a la división social y ello no puede lograr el resultado que anhelo para mi país. Pienso, además, que cada día que pasa nos alejamos más de la Venezuela que yo desearía ver y se incrementa la verdadera pobreza y la desunión entre los miembros de la sociedad. Cuando oigo elogios en el exterior sobre los programas sociales de Chávez sonrío tristemente, porque estoy convencido de que la dádiva, la limosna nunca podrá reemplazar el empoderamiento de los venezolanos para convertirse en generadores de riqueza y escapar de la humillante dependencia en un estado que reparte peces pero que no enseña a pescar. En diez años he publicado más de mil artículos de prensa sobre este asunto, una gota de agua en el mar considerando la inmensa masa de propaganda chavista que inunda todos los periódicos, radios y televisoras del planeta. Como venezolano, amante de la democracia y de la libertad, compito a diario sin más remuneración que la convición de un deber cumplido con una gran jauría de pistoleros a sueldo, desde Ignacio Ramonet hasta Mark Weisbrot, desde Eva Golinger hasta Richard Gott, Joseph Kennedy, Luis D’Elía o Diego Maradona, quienes cantan las alabanzas del caudillo, no por convencimiento desinteresado sino porque ello les da beneficios materiales o porque Chávez es enemigo de sus enemigos (léase el gobierno de los Estados Unidos).
En cierta manera estoy empeñado en la tarea de convertir a Aldonza en Dulcinea, aun en contra de su aparente voluntad. Fue solo cuando Santos Luzardo le lavó la cara mugrienta a Marisela que ella comprendió que era bella y comenzó a respetarse a sí misma. El verdadero Mr. Danger es quien no le permite a Marisela lavarse la cara.



sábado, 21 de febrero de 2009

THE FELLOW TRAVELER AND THE GANGSTER. MARK WEISBROT INTERVIEWED CHAVEZ IN 2003.

The palm tree Weisbrot did not see.
A Caracas taxi in times of the revolution.




In 2003 Dr. Mark Weisbrot was already working for Hugo Chavez. Below there are excerpts from a very long interview Weisbrot did with Chavez. The questions were clearly loaded to produce the desired answers. Some of the answers look heavily edited by Weisbrot himself. This shameless whitewash is clearly not the work of an independent, objective, journalist but the work of a hired gun. I have included some brief comments (in black) next to each question and answer. The interview was published originally in May 2003 in the site of the North American Congress on Latin America, NACLA, an organization of “castristas”, “sandinistas” and now “Chavistas” who seem to support anyone that attacks the U.S. government.
************
INTERVIEW.


Mark: First I would like to try to set the record straight. This is for a U.S. audience. I have spoken with almost all of the journalists who report for U.S. newspapers from Caracas, and they agreed that people in the United States have a distorted view of Venezuela -they think it some sort of dictatorship, and has a repressive government.
Can you respond to this, and explain why you believe that Venezuela is a democracy?
Hugo: Well we can try to measure democracy, just as you measure temperature with a thermometer, or pressure with a barometer. In light of everything that's happened here, is there a single journalist imprisoned here? In four years of government, can anyone point to an imprisoned or persecuted journalist? Has there been a single media outlet closed for even a second?
I believe that there are a lot of ways to conclude objectively that we are a democracy. We're not perfect, but we do have democracy.
I believe that our constitution is among the most advanced in the world in terms of its observance of human rights. It observes the principles of human rights in all the theoretical depth that implies [inaudible],
There's practically no social or human right that cannot be found in its pages.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. The question posed by Weisbrot already says a lot about bias. He says that almost all reporters working in Venezuela agree that there is a distorted view of Venezuela in the U.S. (although they were the ones reporting to the U.S. public). He asks Chavez: tell us why Venezuela is a democracy. And Chavez replies: Oh yes. We are a democracy. There is no one in prison. No media outlets closed down, etc. Well, that was a lie. Even at that moment Chavez had already violated the civil rights of 23,000 workers of the state oil company, dismissed by him without due process and who are still waiting for their severance payments almost six years later. He would go on to close down and confiscate the assets of Radio Caracas TV, owned by a political dissident. Even today more than a dozen political prisoners remain behind bars, after being falsely accused of the April 2002 massacre that Chavez’s snipers produced (the snipers are free and some have even been decorated). He also said that the constitution was kind of perfect. Well, he has already tried to change it several times to suit his personal political project and has violated it many other times.
M: And you did in fact release many prisoners who were awaiting trial when you took office?
H: Of course. More than 10,000. I myself went to the prisons, and interviewed the prisoners..
A lot has changed in our prisons... We've set up computer labs with internet access in the prison, so that the prisoners can share their story with the rest of the world.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. Weisbrot puts words into Chavez’s mouth: you released the prisoners that had been awaiting trial, didn’t you? And Chavez, the big liar, replies: Yes. 10,000 of them! And he adds: “I interviewed them”, suggesting that he had seen them all. First of all, there were not 10,000 prisoners awaiting trial. There have never been 10,000 prioners awaiting trial in Venezuela. Second, Chavez never interviewed them all. Third, the Venezuelan prisons under Chavez are, if anything, worse places than before. Hundreds of inmates die violently every year in Chavez’s prisons. In 2007 an expert on this issue said: ‘Humberto Prado, of the non-governmental Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP), told IPS. "Minimum standards of treatment for persons held in detention are not met, and even the most basic rights are violated." Venezuela, with a population of 27.5 million, has 20,200 people incarcerated in 30 jails, of whom only 7,440 have been convicted and sentenced and 12,660 (62.6 percent) are being held on remand. Between January and July 2007, "292 people died in prison, and 634 were injured, a 55 percent increase in fatalities compared to the equivalent period in 2006. In the whole of 2006 there were 412 deaths and 728 injuries," Prado said. In short, Venezuela’s prisons are among the most violent and dangerous in the world”. Chavez lies about his prison system, just as he lies about everything else.
M: Let's talk about the press for just a bit more. You have a problem with both the international and the Venezuelan press. The international press: the New York Times actually endorsed the coup in April of 2002. Probably the first time in more than 25 years that they supported a military coup against a democratic government. That was on the Saturday. And then on the Tuesday -this was their editorial board -they issued a retraction, but they never apologized. Have you talked to them since then? Or asked for an apology?
It seems to be part of a larger social defect in the US -that's a society that should really develop some kind of response to the intellectual battering by part of the media that seems to take place daily. I sincerely hope that some day the US public will develop some kind of mass critical consciousness, that they will remove the veil from their eyes and see the media powers for what they are. No part of the human community can live entirely on its own planet, with its own laws of motion and cut off from the rest of humanity. They must be critical, and make it their personal responsibility to humanity and morality to discover the truth.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. In Chavez’s view the U.S. public is duped by the press systematically. He advises them to “discover the truth”. I think they have already discovered it! They now see that Chavez is just one more banana dictator with a lot of money in his pockets to buy followers.
M: Yes, Brazil has [media] laws like that too.
H. Yes. It's about time for a regulation of this type in Venezuela, passed through the legislative branch.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. Here they talk about media laws. Chavez says that it’s about time they get one. Well, he did. It’s called the Gag Law. It is a jump back to the XIX century, since a journalist can go to prison for four years for “insulting” the president or his relatives. Who defines what an insult is? Chavez.
M: Can you talk a bit more about what your government has accomplished?
H: For the first time in Venezuelan history, a president has advanced massive child immunization campaigns against hepatitis B. We've brought down the infection rate by 15%. …..In the educational field, we've opened up nearly 3,000 Bolivarian schools, which represents about 10% of the total number of schools in the country, where children learn only after having breakfast first. Before these schools [existed], kids would arrive at school without having eaten breakfast. There's not much you can learn on an empty stomach! Now they eat first and then go to classes. They have mini libraries in each classroom. They no longer have to work out of tiny individual desks, now they work at larger tables with more legroom and where they can spread out, and have some ownership of their personal space. They can pour out their creativity, receive medical attention, they have computer labs with internet access.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. In the case of the hepatitis B vaccination all countries in Latin America have it, with the exception of Dominica and Haiti. There is no need for a revolution to do that. In the issue of “bolivarian schools” with breakfast, etc, Chavez lies when he says that this is his creation. Schools like this existed long before he came into power. In Carabobo, where I worked fo the State government during the 1990’s they were called “Escuelas de Excelencia” and this was not the only state where they existed. In fact, they were a national project started by then Minister of Education, Antonio Luis Cárdenas, in his native state of Merida during the 1990’s and extended to other states. Chavez is a compulsive liar.
M: It was announced recently that the land reform would cover 100,000 acres, or about 40,000 hectares...
H: ... it's very beautiful, very clean earth. Your brand new landholder can take a few kernels of corn, dig and put the seeds in a little hole, and tend it with care. A few days after the rain comes, you'll see a leaf begin to poke out, and within a few months you have a stalk. You grab it yourself, tearing off the leaves, skinning it, deseeding it, cook it up and then you have cachapa [a corn meal delicacy].
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. Well. It is far from beautiful. Hundreds of private farms have been invaded by Chavez’s followers in Venezuela. Two million hectares of land have been invaded by Chavez’s protected squatters that know little or nothing about farming. As a result of this large scale invasion Venezuela now imports two thirds of its food requirements. The so-called land reform or land revolution has been a total disaster.
M: 1954, the US overthrew the elected President of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz. In '64, the US was apparently involved in the events leading to the military coup against President Goulart of Brazil. The following year the US marines invaded the Dominican Republic, another intervention against a democratic government. The Sandinistas were elected in '84, and the US spent the next six years destroying the country through warfare and sabotage, and even?
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. Let’s forget about the answer of Weisbrot’s dummy. In this question Weisbrot is revealed as the person actually generating both questions and answers. This is not a question. This is a statement that Chavez, the dummy, is asked to corroborate. Weisbrot, above, accuses the U.S. of destroying Nicaragua during the sandinista regime. Actually the sandinista regime was one of the most corrupt and inefficient in Nicaragua’s history. The Ortega brothers were a couple of thieves. I would not be surprised if Weisbrot argued that Daniel Ortega’s raping of his daughter in law for 14 years was due to his being hypnotized by the CIA.
M: Let's go back to the economy for a bit, and look at the region.
H: It's time for a new political and economic era… To hear the Argentine president Kirchner say the kinds of things he said yesterday, such as "Argentina will pay its [foreign] debt [only] if things are going well for Argentina." It's a tremendous political commitment,
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. This revelation by Chavez says it all about Kirchner’s, Correa’s and Chavez’s lack of responsibility. They will pay their debts “as long as things are going well”. If not, they will not pay their debts. It is as simple as that for these gangsters. In light of this revelation, whoever lends money to these gangsters does it at considerable risk.
M: And what role do you think that Venezuela has? One reason I ask this is that it often seems that there are times when the vast majority of people are ready for change, but one of the things that holds them back is when they think there is no hope of winning anything.
H: The Bolivarian process is at the forefront of this struggle…. I should confess to you that the exchange controls ARE a political measure. One must reflect on why I made that decision. I think that I even made the decision too late! Do you have any idea how much capital flight we've suffered since I came to power?
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. Another important revelation. Exchange controls are "a political measure". They have lasted already six or more years. Since controls are applied politically dissidents do not get dollars or get them late. Controls have been the source of enormous corruption. Chavez’s ministers of finance have been shown to be a bunch of crooks, racketeers and extorsionists and controls have served their purposes well. Capital flight manages to keep at some $40 billion per year, in spite of the controls, due to corruption and a fluorishing black market.
M: Another topic: it is hard not to notice the difference between the color of the people on the two sides here. The opposition crowds are noticeably lighter and more European looking than those who support the government. Do you think there is a racial dimension to this struggle?
H: Yes, there is racism here -it used to be more hidden and now it is more open. But it is not the main factor. And this is part of the picture in other countries, too -look who supported Lula, or Evo Morales [in Bolivia].
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. Crowds against Chavez include the whiter and the darker, the rich and the poor. Yes, there is more of the middle class in these protests since the middle class has been the main victim of Chave’z hatred.
Racism is at the very heart of ‘chavismo”. He has sown hate and racial resentment for ten long years. He tells the poor that the rich, white, oligarchs have robbed them and that this is the time for revenge. In this preaching he has been helped in the past by U.S. “experts” in racism such as Jesse Jackson and Danny Glover (who received $20 million from Chavez).


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Final comment. This was only Part I of the interview. I have not seen Part II but I can already guess what it looks like.

jueves, 19 de febrero de 2009

MEMO TO MARK WEISBROT ET AL

Health services, a la Chavez.
In 2004 Weisbrot was already Chavez's spokesperson in Washington DC.

A street of Caracas, drowning in garbage.


Abandoned Venezuelan children sleep in the streets.



**** HOW CREDIBLE CAN THESE PEOPLE BE?

A paper published by Mark Weisbrot, Rebecca Ray and Luis Sandoval: “The Chavez Administration at 10 years, The economy and social indicators”, published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington DC based organization, provides a clear example of how some intellectuals can put themselves, inadvertently or not, at the service of a rogue, failed regime, to try to make it look good in the eyes of international public opinion. The paper focuses on economic and social statistics (conveniently provided by the Chavez government) and forgets, also conveniently, the aspects about political corruption, abuse of power and mismanagement that have characterized the tragic Venezuelan ten years under Chavez.
The main conclusions presented by Weisbrot et al in the Executive Summary of the paper follow, with my comments:

“The Venezuelan economic expansion began when the government got control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003”.
What Mark Weisbrot et al call “control” has been a tragic story of corporate deterioration and managerial prostitution. Up to 2000 Petroleos de Venezuela, the state-owned petroleum company, had been a professionally managed organization. In ten years under Chavez it has had seven presidents and boards. The current president is also the minister of Energy and Petroleum and, as such, he supervises himself. With the exception of the first president named by Chavez, Roberto Mandini, who was a professional manager and only lasted six months, all others have been his unconditional followers, not managers at all but political appointees. In 2002 Chavez named as president of the company a Marxist professor, Gaston Parra, who was totally ignorant about the petroleum industry and, furthermore, had a pathological hatred of oil industry managers. As a result there was a big protest from the managers and technical staff of the company. In retaliation, Chavez dismissed 23,000 staff, without paying them what labor law establishes. This is what Weisbrot et al call “getting control of the company”. Under Chavez’s total political control the company has already lost 800,000 barrels per day of production capacity. When this huge loss in production is multiplied by oil prices prevailing during the last years it is easy to calculate the immense loss for the nation that has been generated by the politicization of the petroleum company. I estimate this loss for the nation in about $40 billion during the last six years. It shows ignorance and/or bad faith on the part of Weisbrot et al to say that getting control of the company started the economic expansion of the country. High oil prices have helped to compensate, partially, for the tragic deterioration of the company but there is no doubt that the company is now in crisis. Much of the oil income has been going directly into Chavez’ s pockets, bypassing the Venezuelan Central Bank, a process lacking transparency or accountability, to the point that Venezuelans simply do not know how much money the nation has or how the money is being spent. The little we know is horrifying: record levels of government corruption, populist social policies with only a short-term effect, $36 billion in handouts to ideological friends of Mr. Chavez in the hemisphere, almost $10 billion in acquisition of weapons from Russia, China and other countries. All of this makes up an orgy of financial waste never seen before in our country. Today the petroleum company is dedicated to non-core activities such as importing and distributing foods while its physical assets and human resources are at the disposal of Hugo Chavez.
“GDP has nearly doubled… growing 13.5 percent annually…. most of this growth has been in the non-oil sector of the economy”.
The doctor aboard the Titanic examined the passenger and told him: “Your good cholesterol has doubled… congratulations”. The Venezuelan GDP, say Weisbrot et al, has nearly doubled. The Venezuelan GDP actually fell almost 20 percent in 2002 and 2003 and the more recent growth of GDP has been essentially in services, as result of the huge government expenditure. Manufacturing contributes a poor 17 percent of this GDP, since almost 40 percent of Venezuelan industries have folded during the Chavez years. Agriculture only contributes a meager 7 percent, since Venezuela now imports two thirds of its food requirements. Petroleum contributes a hefty 28 percent of the GDP, since it represents the only significant export. Obviously, this is a highly distorted economy, characterized by one single export commodity and gigantic and inefficient government expenditure. The overdependence on oil as the sole mover of the economy has become deeper under Chavez.
3. “The poverty rate has been cut by more than half, from 54 percent of households in 2003 to 26 percent of households in 2008”.
Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodriguez, now the Head of the Team of the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations (so, he should know what he is talking about) says (Wesleyan Economic Working Papers; “How not to defend the revolution”, March 25, 2008) that “the performance of the Chavez administration in reducing poverty compares unfavorably with that of most other countries… the decline in poverty between the first semester of 2003 and the first semester of 2007 corresponded to a decline of roughly one percent in the poverty rate for every percentage point increase in per capita income, a ratio that compares unfavorably to that of most cross-national estimates”. The size of the income enjoyed by Chavez during the ten years in power, over $700 billion, for a relatively small population that averaged some 20 million people during the decade should have produced a much better performance than what our reality shows. Let me emphasize that the statistics of Weisbrot et al are provided by The National Institute of Statistics, a very unreliable, politicized source of information that has been known to manipulate these figures in the past. In 2005 this institute determined that poverty had actually increased. The head of the Institute, Elias Eljuri, received an immediate reprimand from Chavez and, within weeks, poverty numbers had drastically decreased, as if by magic.
“Inequality, as measured by the Gini Index, has also fallen substantially…”
Quoting Francisco Rodriguez again: “Venezuelan income has gone up since Chavez came into office, and in particular since the second semester of 2000, the moment in which Chavez gained control of all branches of government and was first granted enabling law legislation allowing him to approve laws by Executive Decree. In particular I cited the findings of a study by the Venezuelan Central Bank that found this deterioration [of the Gini coefficient] in the 2000-2005 period. Weisbrot takes issue with the comparability of the indicators used by the Central Bank”.
Of course he would! He insisted in using the data from the much more “flexible” Institute of National Statistics. Adds Rodriguez: “The series used by Weisbrot is highly problematic because it excludes from the calculations all households with reported income equal to zero, thus omitting the poorest households from the construction of an inequality index”. What Rodriguez is saying, in fact, is that social inequality has not improved, in spite of the enormous income received by the government.
“Social spending more than tripled from 1998 to 2006”.
Rodriguez also has something to say about this assertion by Weisbrot: “The only significant change that appears to have occurred in this period is an increase in social security spending. Indeed, if one takes out social security, the share of social spending in total [government] spending actually goes down from 32.0 to 29.8% between the pre-Chavez and Chavez periods”. Therefore, the increase in the share of “social” spending that Weisbrot presents as evidence of the government’s pro-poor priorities is completely driven by a more than doubling in the share of social security spending… Venezuelan social security spending is essentially spending on pensions”. In fact, Weisbrot et al admit in their paper that the social security beneficiaries have “more than doubled”. Again, this shows that social spending is not greater under Chavez and certainly not more efficient.
“_ over the decade, the government’s total public debt has fallen from 30.7 to 14.3 percent of GDP. The foreign public debt has fallen even more, from 25.6 to 9.8 percent of the GDP”.
The Venezuelan debt in 1998 stood at some $22-23 billion. Today, it is, by conservative estimates, over $50 billion, more than doubled in real, concrete terms. For a country with such a windfall oil income the doubling of the debt should be considered as a national disaster. It is weak of Weisbrot et al to present it in sugary terms, as being the equivalent of a smaller percentage of the GDP. The fct is that we now owe more money than when Chavez came into power, in spite of the huge income he has had at his disposal. This is a clear sign of incompetence and waste in the management of our national resources.
“_ Inflation is about where it was 10 years ago, ending the year at 31.4 percent. However it has been falling over the last half year (as measured by three-month averages) and is likely to continue declining this year in the face of strong deflationary pressures worldwide”.
This is not serious. Venezuelan inflation is the largest in the Western Hemisphere. In 2008 overall inflation was 35.3 percent while food inflation was over 50 percent. The inflation trend in 2009 is equally ominous.
“Venezuela has $82 billion in foreign exchange reserves”.
The only amount of foreign exchange reserves known by Venezuelans with some certainty is some $32 billion, in international monetary reserves at the Venezuelan Central Bank. Where are the other $50 billion mentioned by Weisbrot et al? This is one clear example of the chaotic situation of our national finances. Chavez has created agencies for his own purposes that no one knows much about. He almost certainly has money stashed away, but no one knows how much or what use he is giving them (except, apparently, Weisbrot et al). Agencies created by Chavez and controlled directly by him, such as FONDEN, BANDES, a Treasury Bank, plus some other assorted banks mostly gone bankrupt, like the Banco Industrial de Venezuela and the Women’s Bank, allow him to use national money with no transparency or accountability.
How can Weisbrot et al claim that Venezuela has $82 billion in foreign reserves? This, in itself, would constitute a criminal act, since national funds should be accounted and accountable for.Hyper-Corruption is a characteristic of this regime.
In addition to the murky organizations listed above there is a China-Venezuela fund where China has placed about $4 billion, to be paid back by Venezuela in oil, which is an irregular transaction. . Petroleos de Venezuela has stopped giving most dollars coming from oil to the Venezuelan Central Bank, giving it to Chavez instead. The Venezuelan Central Bank claims to have received $120 billion from the oil company between 2005 and the third quarter of 2008, whereas the oil income has been of more than $206 billion. (Victor Salmeron, El Universal, February 13, 2009). Where is the rest of the money, the $86 billion? Is this the money Weisbrot et al mention? It is clear that we are being ruled by an inept, corrupt, gang.

But, the Chavez story is not only about statistics.
“I learn a good deal by observing you..
and taking note of what you do not say”.
T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party, Act II
Weisbrot et al have closed their eyes to the horrors of our Venezuelan reality. What they do not say is much more important and incriminating to Hugo Chavez and his cronies than what they say. I will simply outline some of the political, social and cultural aspects of Hugo Chavez’s so-called revolution; in order to illustrate the disaster Venezuelan life is today.
Living in day-to-day Venezuela under Chavez.
Venezuelans go out very early in the morning to their jobs, or to look for a job, or to sell their small wares in a street corner (as “buhoneros”, informal economy laborers that make up about 50 percent of Venezuelans of working age) or to go to school. The lucky ones ride the still reliable Metro in Caracas or in the incipient one which exists in Valencia. The rest wait for buses or vans that may or may not show up. If and when they show up, they may or may not stop, depending on the mood of the driver. Just before becoming Foreign Minister, by the way, Nicolas Maduro was a bus driver in Caracas. This serves both as an illustration of “extreme” social mobility and an illustration of irresponsibility in staffing, which is typical of the Chavez regime. After the day is done Venezuelans hurry up home, before dark. Venezuela has the highest crime rate in the hemisphere and 98 percent of murders remain unsolved. Venezuela also has the highest rate of kidnappings in the world. Members of the police actually carry out many of the murders and kidnappings. The Caracas morgue is chronically overrun with corpses.
In public schools children are bombarded with political indoctrination. History is being re-written by Chavez and his followers to convert some historical villains into heroes and some heroes into villains. Zamora, who led a disastrous war of extermination of the white and rich in mid XIX century is now a main hero. Paez, an independence hero and Bolivar’s most able general, is now pictured as a villain. Chavez has created a commission to look into the death of Bolivar, since he claims he was assassinated in a conspiracy promoted by the United States. In Chavez’s version of history Bolivar is described as a mulatto, when in fact he was a “criollo”, a white aristocrat. Chavez gave Danny Glover $20 million to make a picture that would somehow enhance the role of the mulatto in the political history of the Americas.
In terms of formal education Chavez is a very ignorant man. He writes with frequent errors of spelling, he is not very good at math since he claimed on national TV that 8X7 equals 52. He also asserted on national TV that man had appeared on Earth 2000 years ago and told surprised Caribbean heads of state, at a meeting in Caracas some years ago, that Venezuelan petroleum was “formed by earthquakes”.
Chavez is also rude, vulgar and sexist. He sent this message to his (former) wife, also on public TV, “I’ll see you tonight, to give you what you want”. He suggested that Condoleeza Rice had “the hots” for him but added that he would not “do her the favor”. He called President Bush “a donkey, a drunkard and a genocide” in one of his “formal” speeches. During his ten years of authoritarian rule he has imposed on Venezuelans almost 3,000 hours of national TV and Radio hookups (cadenas), where he talks different and mostly irrelevant topics, from baseball to the intensity of his bowel movements.
If Venezuelans want to travel abroad they have to make do with an annual foreign currency allowance of $2500. Can anyone imagine what can be done today with that amount of money in Europe or the United States? In spite of the rigid foreign exchange control imposed six years ago, capital flight is of the order of some $40 billion per year and corruption flourishes in the financial sector.
Housewives will go to half a dozen or more food stores looking, often in vain, for their most basic needs: meat, milk, sugar, corn flour and the like. Venezuela now imports two thirds of all the food it consumes, due to the collapse of the agricultural sector. Thousands of acres of productive land have been taken over by Chavez’s mobs that install themselves in private property without working the land, sometimes killing milk cows for a cookout. The Chavez government has ordered the petroleum company to import and distribute food, giving this food for free or at low prices to the people. This looks good at first sight but constitute an example of handouts that deepen the political dependence of the poor in the paternalistic regime. The poor wait sometimes two or more hours in line to receive a can of milk and a bag of potatoes.
The dozens of government controlled radio stations; the government TV stations and hundreds of publications shower Venezuelans with slogans about the revolution. Posters of Che Guevara, Castro, Marx and Lenin dominate public buildings, avenues and streets, even in the smallest towns of Venezuela.

Chavez political and financial corruption.
Chavez is directly connected to political and financial corruption. He took money from a foreign bank for his presidential campaign and even after he was president. He has given or promised up to $36 billion of Venezuelan national funds to ideological friends in the hemisphere, including Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina, without asking for authorization from the Venezuelan people. He has lent support and given cash and weapons to the Colombian terrorists, FARC. He has financed and is financing electoral campaigns in Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Five of his ambassadors have been expelled from Latin American countries because of their intervention in the internal political affairs in those countries. He abuses his power and uses national assets as if they were his own (aircraft, money television and radio stations). His financing of Cristina Kirchner’s presidential campaign in Argentina has brought to light intense corruption. In the Miami trial of three Venezuelan government brokers, an extensive corruption network connected to three of his ministers and two governors has been uncovered. In particular, one of his former Finance Ministers, Tobias Nobrega, has been mentioned in the trial as receiving kickbacks for over $25 million. The U.S. government has named a minister (Ramon Rodriguez Chacin) and armed force officers (Hugo Carvajal and Henry Rangel Silva) as collaborators of the Colombian terrorists, FARC.

The prostitution of the Venezuelan armed forces.
Under Hugo Chavez the armed forces have been forced to become loyal to a man, not to the country. In December 2007 the Venezuelan voters defeated a change in the constitution that would have converted the armed forces in a “socialist, bolivarian, anti-imperialistic group” from the professional, non-political institution that it should be. Chavez imposed a salute to the forces: “Fatherland, socialism or death”, which contiutes a clear violation of the constitution. Large scale bribing by Chavez has maintained the top military brass under his political control. Today the middle and lower ranks of the Venezuelan armed forces are highly unmotivated and some components (National Guard) are collaborting with the Colombian FARC in drug trafficking. The amount of drugs moving through Venezuela has grown by a factor of ten (25 to about 3000 tons per year) in the last few years.

The collapse of Petroleos de Venezuela.
For almost 25 years after its creation the state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela enjoyed excellent international reputation. Today it has become a third rate organization, deeply politicized and involved in activities that have little or nothing to do with its core business. It is not surprising, therefore, that its production capacity has declined in about 800,000 barrels per day and is facing an acute financial crisis, unheard of in the petroleum sector, which is probably the best business in the world. The company is failing to pay its suppliers and, even, its employees, because Chavez is deviating the money required to keep the company operating efficiently to finance political activities. Of the 2.4 million barrels of oil per day of the company’s current production, some 800,000 barrels are sold at about $9 per barrel in the domestic market, below production costs and about 500,000 barrels per day are given to countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Argentina at highly subsidized prices or exchanged for “services” or staples like bananas and black beans. This leaves the country with only 1.2 million barrels of truly commercial exports. Due to the decline in oil prices and to the loss in export volumes the 2009 national budget will face a deficit of about $30 billion. As a result, Chavez will probably be forced to devalue the currency and the nation could be very near to an economic and political crisis.
Chavez’s alignment with international terrorism.
The documents found in the laptops of deceased FARC’s leader Raul Reyes show an intimate connection of Chavez with these Colombian terrorists and drug traffickers. The documents include information about the money contributionsmade to Chavez by the FARC when he was in prison, in the 1990’s and of Chavez promises to the terrorists to provide money. In a separate video Chavez’s Minister of Interior, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, can be seen transmitting to the terrorists the “greetings and promises of support from Chavez”.
Equally incriminating to the regime has been the increasing alignment of Chavez with Hamas, Hizballah and Iranian extremists. There are daily flights between Teheran and Caracas, often loaded with passengers that the U.S. Congress has considered to be Islamic terrorists trying to reach the United States with false Venezuelan documents.

Chavez’s sowing of class and racial hatred.
Although this cannot be quantified or subject to statistics it is, probably, the worst of Chavez’s crimes. Chavez has been systematically preaching hatred against the rich, the middle class, the white, the Catholics and the Jews. He tells the poor that their misfortunes have been caused by the well to do and the educated. As a result Venezuela is today a deeply divided country. Close to one million Venezuelan have left the country since Chavez took over, driven away by his aggressive rhetoric and his abuses of power. Only in the State of Florid it is estimated that there are about 600,000 Venezuelans, mostly middle-class, in an exodus that resembles the first decade of Fidel Castro’ Cuban dictatorship. If anyone wants to see the future of Venezuela under Chavez all they have to do I to look at today’s Cuba, after 50 years of Castro’s dictatorship. Einstein defined madness as “the repetition of the same process expecting to have a different result”.

Changing names as a replacement for creating new things.
Ten years and $700 billion later Hugo Chavez has created very little infrastructure in the country. No significant new highways, hospitals, schools, buildings have been built, certainly not in proportion to the amount of money received. Instead, he just changes the names of pre-existing infrastructure. Example: what used to be a well maintained, beautiful park in Valencia, named “Fernando Peñalver”, an independence hero, was renamed “Negra Matea” (Bolivar’s black nanny) by the Chavez’s governor and its maintenance neglected. The opposition is back in power in that city, so there is still hope for the park. The country has been renamed Bolivarian Republic. The coat of arms has been changed. The flag has been changed, all (as you can well imagine) at a significant cost to the nation.

Hugo Chavez now pretends to become president for life.
A man who has caused so much grief and generated so many disasters in Venezuela during the last ten years now pretends to become president for life after imposing on Venezuelans an illegal and unconstitutional change that would allow him to be re-elected indefinitely, converting Venezuela into some sort of a grotesque tropical monarchy. How can a democratic leader pretend to become president for life? What makes him indispensable? He has already ruined much of the country. We do not want to become another Cuba. We will fight his undemocratic pretensions each inch of the way.
People like Weisbrot et al, who write “academic” papers designed to enhance the international reputation of this pupil of Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe, become in my eyes accomplices of the Venezuelan tragedy. I think they should be ashamed of what they are trying to do. It is obvious that they are using Venezuela as a pawn in an ideological game for their own purposes or benefit, basing their posture on the dictum: “The enemy of my enemy must be my friend”.
I also think I have the right to ask them a question: Has any one of you obtained a Venezuelan government contract or have a link of any kind to the Chavez government that would compromise your objectivity?
I know this is not a polite question to ask. But it is very important to know.
I write this as a Venezuelan who loves freedom and democracy and who considers Chavez a great enemy of my country.




*********************************************
I have given my reasons above. I am prepared to debate with Weisbrot at al about these issues at the place they choose, if and when they want.
My credentials are as good as theirs. And, of course, I am a Venezuelan, I am a stakeholder of Venezuela Inc.






7

domingo, 15 de febrero de 2009

UNA PRIMERA REFLEXIÓN SOBRE LA SITUACIÓN PLANTEADA EN VENEZUELA.

El resultado que anuncia el CNE de Chávez es, de nuevo, como en el 2004, el reverso en el espejo de lo que nos estaban diciendo los "exit polls". Eso habrá que examinarlo una vez más y, si es necesario, habrá que pelear, a pesar de que la pelea será desiguál.. Pero, supongamos que los resultados son genuinos, que un 54% de los venezolanos votaron por el sí a la pregunta ininteligible que fue cocinada por la sumisa Asamblea Nacional. Ello significa que la mitad de Venezuela, precisamente la mitad que produce riqueza, votó en contra de una modificación del contrato social Venezolano que reza: seremos un país democrático, descentralizado, de alternabilidad electoral... en contra de lo que intenta Chávez, eso de elegirse presidente de por vida. En este intento usó Chávez todos los recursos de la nación, los dineros, los aviones, los autobuses, los medios, en su grosera y pornográfica campaña.
Bueno, mijo, déjame decirte, eso es inaceptable. Nadie puede gobernar un país partido por la mitad, con una mitad animada del odio que tu les has inculcado. De ahora en adelante, esta profunda división que has creado entre nosotros te va a llevar por la calle de la amargura. Podrás mandar por un tiempo pero ni puedes ni sabes gobernar. Y nuestro país requiere de un gobernante, de un estadista, no de un payaso populista y procaz, porque estamos al borde de la ruina material, moral y espiritual. Esta es una victoria que no te será de mucha ayuda, debido a la crisis política y financiera que se te viene encima.
Vamos ahora contra tí, con todos los hierros. Lamentablemente el país tendrá que esperar por el resultado de esta batalla. En diez años no has hecho un solo gesto que una sino que has seguido un plan sistemático de desunión. Eres un buen alumno de Zamora. Quienes soñabamos con una patria civilizada, próspera y unida, tendremos que posponer ese objetivo por algun tiempo, el tiempo que sea necesario para sacarte del poder. Algunos nos quedaremos en el camino pero de que vas pá fuera, vas pá fuera.

EL HAMPON ALI RODRIGUEZ TRATA DE HACER TRAMPA.

Terrorista, inepto, adulante, se presta a cualquier cosa.
Segun www.noticias24.com el hampón Alí Rodríguez Araque, Ministro de Finanzas de Hugo Chávez, terrorista durante la etapa democrática, dió una rueda de prensa para anunciar la "victoria" de Chávez, ANTES de que nadie estuviera autorizado para hacerlo, antes de que se cerraran las mesas. Este hampón actúa de manera abusiva y en cualquier país civilizado debería ser puesto en prisión.

La verdad es que todos los exit polls existentes dan ganadora a la oposición en estos momentos. Los estudiantes y el pueblo están listos para defender su democracia.

Chávez sabe que si sale del poder será enjuiciado por sus inmensos crímenes. De allí que esta pandilla de gangsters esté aferrada deseperadamente al poder.

Por cierto, esta mañana voté y puedo decir ya que mi exit poll dió al NO el 93 por ciento.

sábado, 14 de febrero de 2009

A VOTAR, A VOTAR, POR LA LIBERTAD, CONTRA EL MIEDO Y LA IGNORANCIA

Mañana espera la libertad, la democracia. Vamos a votar!!
Vamos de nuevo a votar. Mientras el país se cae a pedazos por la ineptitud del loco que tenemos enquistado en Miraflores tenemos que seguir haciendo profesión de fe democrática, para expulsar de nuestra sociedad a esta pesadilla gorda, sudorosa y procaz. El gorila tendrá que entender a la larga que a los venezolanos se les respeta, que no puede comprar suficientes conciencias con limosnas, comida gratis y caña para ir a los mitines a oir sus desvarios de semi-analfabeta.

EL MASOQUISMO DE LOS LÍDERES "DEMOCRÁTICOS" DEL HEMISFERIO

Visita de la Sra. Kirchner al Museo de Cera de La Habana.
Definitivamente no comprendo a nuestros líderes democráticos. Hablan de su amor por la libertad y la democracia, hablan de derechos humnos, hablan de cosas bonitas pero se van, como quien va en peregrinación a la Tierra Santa o a La Meca, a visitar al asesino y dictador Cubano Fidel Castro y se fotografían con él (o con su doble) y regresan hablando maravillas : "cuan bien se ve, cuan alerta está, me acosó a preguntas!!" Lula, la codiciosa Kirchner, la buena Señora Bachelet desfilan, respetuoso él y respetuosas ellas, por la habitación donde espera la imagen sagrada.

Que hipócritas, que cobardes son. La visita al carnicero del Caribe niega toda sus vacías expresiones sobre democracia y libertad porque en Cuba hay miseria, opresión, represión, todo lo que ellos dicen combatir. Las visitas constituyen un epaldarazo al régimen opresor y una bofetada a los Cubanos víctimas de esa opresión. Otro hipócrita y, además, ignorante de los deberes de su cargo, es el Secretario General de la OEA, quien ha manifestado varias veces que Cuba debe estar en la OEA. Como va a estar, si viola una de las condiciones fundamentales de la Carta Democrática Interamericana, si no es una democracia? Este caballero, por cierto, debería estar más atento a lo que pasa en Venezuela, donde también existe una dictadura, de acuerdo a la definición de dictadura que da la misma OEA. Pero adoptando la misma pose falsa, snob, de "izquierdista" y "anti-imperialista" que aflige a los presidentes mencionados y que tanto daño le ha hecho a nuestra región, carga los dados a favor de los regímenes de fuerza que se dicen de ïzquierda", cuando son realmente fascistas y militaristas.

El problema de la región es que hay más Perones que Lleras Camargos, más Velasco Alvarados que Betancourts, más Ortegas que Cardosos. Demasiados populistas y muy escasos estadistas.

viernes, 13 de febrero de 2009

THE FUTURE OF HUGO CHAVEZ'S PETRODIPLOMACY

Opponents of Chavez are multiplying.
February 2009.

**** This is Background information on Venezuela, mostly for foreign observers of our reality... if any of you need further information, drop me a message in Internet: coronel.gustavo@gmail.com . I will be glad to answer.

1. Origin of Hugo Chavez’s petrodiplomacy.
During the 1990’s the oil price had averaged $20 per barrel, reaching $10 a barrel in 1998, as a result of the Asian financial crisis. That year Hugo Chavez came into power. He can be partially credited with persuading OPEC to engage in a rigid production quota reduction that took 3 million barrels per day off the market. As the Asian economy improved, demand increased while supplies remained tight. As a result prices recovered in 2002, to about $30 per barrel. By 2004 prices had already reached $40 per barrel and were well under way to what became a wild increase that ended in mid-2008, when they reached almost $140 a barrel. Reasons: expanding demand outpacing the supply; non-OPEC production affected by natural disasters (Katrina, Prudhoe Bay); geopolitical instability (Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela); refining bottlenecks in the U.S.; generally low inventories, and, in later stages, financial speculation due to the weakening of the dollar and the intense demand for commodities.
Producing countries started to receive an oil income windfall. Some countries used it in a conservative manner (Norway, Saudi Arabia, Arab emirates). The leaders of Russia and Venezuela used it to further their political agendas. Putin and Chavez behaved in almost identical manner, in order to gain political control over institutions and the economy in their countries and to become main geopolitical actors. Early in 1999 Hugo Chavez, coached by Fidel Castro, started to outline the essential strategies that he has put in place during the last 8 years.

2. The basic political strategies of Hugo Chavez.
They have been: (1), the utilization of oil income and oil in kind to gain followers in the Western Hemisphere for his political project; (2), the structuring of global political and economic alliances against the United States; (3), the consolidation of political power in Venezuela, by means of: (a), a policy of handouts to the poorer sectors of the population, that make up the majority of Venezuelans and, (b), the systematic harassment and intimidation of the middle-class and the rich. For almost ten years these strategies have served him rather well.
He has distributed over $35 billion to his ideological friends in the hemisphere (see annex) in order to keep their loyalties and count on their votes in the OAS and the U.N.
He has promoted the creation of political and economic organizations that are designed, in essence, to weaken U.S. influence in the hemisphere and drive wedges between Latin America and the United States: ALBA, UNASUR, The Bank of the South, PETROSUR, PETROCARIBE. Most of them have failed to crystallize, although PETROCARIBE has given him, so far, excellent results in Central America and in the Caribbean Anglo- speaking states.
He has acquired some $8 billion in sophisticated weapons from Russia and China, in order to establish strong political links with these two countries and to create a strong military force to be used against his foreign and domestic enemies.
He has formed an alliance with Iran, based on their only common interest, hatred for the United States.
He has established a strong basis of support for his authoritarian and undemocratic government in the most democratic country on earth: the United States, including a program of fuel oil subsidies for the poor in which CITGO has already spent about $400 million and the seduction of influential congressmen, notorious public figures, academicians, think tanks, lobbyists and Hollywood actors. For some time he even controlled the company (Sequoia) that operated the voting machines in about 10 states in this country.
He has openly intervened, through illegal financing, in the presidential races of Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Paraguay. Five of his ambassadors have been expelled from some of these countries for their open partisan activities. The scandal of the moneybag smuggled into Argentina is only the tip of the iceberg.
In Venezuela his policy of handouts, throwing fish at the masses but not teaching them how to fish, has created an illusion of prosperity that has allowed him to maintain high levels of popularity. With enough money at hand he has been able, so far, to keep most everyone happy, although happiness exists as long as the money keeps flowing. He has given many Venezuelans a feeling that he cares for them and that they are now in power against the rich and the educated middle class. He has obtained significant control over the nation at the high cost of dividing society into almost irreconcilable segments.

3. Declining oil prices and his own errors now threaten the

success of his strategies.
Two factors now exist that threaten the continued success of Hugo Chavez’s strategies and put his permanence in power at high risk. One is political and the result of his own behavior and errors. The other is economic and is related to oil prices.
(a). Loss of followers.
The first has to do with his increasingly arrogant and authoritarian manners, his open abuse of power and his virulent rhetoric, all of which have convinced many Venezuelans, including many of his followers, that he is not, after all, the answer to their prayers. The last two electoral events, in 2007 and 2008 have produced defeats. His attempt at modifying the constitution to become president for life was defeated in December 2007. In November 2008 he lost political control of the most populated urban centers of the country, where half of the Venezuelan population lives. In spite of these defeats he keeps trying to become president for life and has proposed a new referendum to approve a change in the constitution to that effect, although this is both illegal and unethical. If he wins this referendum it will be for a narrow margin, which would render it illegitimate given the radical nature of the change he is proposing. The climate of opinion prevailing in the country is now one of progressive dissatisfaction with his government.
(b). The economic factor.
The average price of the Venezuelan oil basket stands today at some $34 a barrel, about one third of the price of July 2008, when Chavez’s government was putting together the 2009 national budget. This budget, now approved by a compliant National Assembly, calls for expenditures of about $90 billion, although year after year Chavez has been over spent by 15 percent or more. The official estimates of income were made on the basis of an oil production of 3.6 million barrels per day and exports of 2.9 million barrels per day and an average price for the year of $60 a barrel. This is science fiction! According to OPEC and the IEA the average production of Venezuela is closer to 2.4 million barrels per day. The figures that seem to be closer to the truth are:
Production: 2.4-2.5 million barrels per day
Domestic Consumption: 0.8 million barrels per day, selling for about $9 per barrel!!!
Net volume left for exports: 1.7 million barrels per day, of which:
To Cuba: 0.1million barrels per day
To Central America: 0.06 million barrels per day
To Caribbean countries: 0.150 million barrels per day
To China: 0.2 million barrels per day
To South America: 0.1 million barrels per day
Other: 0.05 million barrels per day.
A total of some 0.66 million barrels per day (660,000 barrels per day)
All of these volumes above go to clients that do not pay (Cuba), partially pay in kind (Central America and the Caribbean), or pay in an irregular manner (China, South America). It is difficult to estimate an average price for these volumes but is very low. Therefore, the net volume for export at really commercial prices is only close to 1.2 million barrels per day. Almost all of this oil is coming to the United States.
The other assumption, a $60 a barrel average export price, is also significantly optimistic. All indications suggest that the 2009 average price for the Venezuelan basket will not be above $50 a barrel, if that much.
Venezuelan Oil income for 2009, therefore, cannot be expected to be above some $30 billion, as compared to the $ 60 billion estimated by the Chavez government. This will produce a significant fiscal deficit of some $30 billion.

4. Impact of this deficit on Chavez’s Petrodiplomacy.

Some of the actual and possible results of this deficit include:

· Mounting pressures for devaluation of the Bolivar. The longer Chavez delays it due to political reasons, the higher this devaluation will have to be. I estimate that it will be in the range of 30-35 percent, coming at midyear.
· Increasing reluctance on the part of the government to pay due compensation to the companies that have been taken over, in amounts of about $12+ billion (oil companies, steel mill, cement companies).
· Reduction in the level of imports, which stood at $50 billion last year. This cannot be sustained under current conditions. This mean less food available, since most of the Venezuelan food, some 65 percent of consumption, is being imported.
· Cutting down on the handouts to hemispheric “allies”. This will be very damaging for Chavez’s objectives of hemispheric leadership since Morales and, possibly, Ortega, are his only two unconditional allies. Others will not be loyal if the money does not keep coming, in special, Argentina’s Kirchners and Ecuador’s Correa. On the other hand, it is true that these countries require relatively small amounts of money and/or oil to keep them going.
· Reduction in acquisition of weapons and in state takeovers of industries. Slow payments of Chinese loans and Russian weapons, damaging the relationships. In fact, the deliveries of oil to China are already faltering. This, in turn will mean no more loans or lines of credit from these countries.
· Reduction in social expenditures within the country. In fact, this has already started. Direct cash handouts have practically disappeared and the money allotted to eight of the Misiones, including Barrio Adentro, has been reduced. Almost all of the money is being dedicated to free or subsidized food handouts, a program which is being managed by… the Venezuelan petroleum company!!!
· Economic crisis in Petroleos de Venezuela, the state-owned petroleum company. The company is falling behind in its payments to contractors and two drilling companies: Helmerich and Payne (Tulsa, Oklahoma) and Ensco have stopped operations altogether, awaiting payment of about $70 million. The company obtained loans for about $15 billion during 2007 and 2008 but the money went to the central government, not to meet company requirements.

5. Outlook.
The combination of political losses and economic deterioration is significantly weakening Hugo Chavez’s grasp on power. I estimate that he now has just an even chance of ending his normal term in office, although there is no organized political or popular pressure to oust him. The pressure will come spontaneously due to Chavez’s continued erratic performance, increasing financial disarray, high crime rates and lack of essential food and other requirements for the Venezuelan population. Protests will take place, the armed force will not repress the protesters, civil violence might erupt and the army will invite him to step down, as they already id in the so-called CIA inspired “coup” of 2002. This is a scenario that I perceive as becoming more and more likely as time goes by and as the general situation in the country becomes more volatile and, even, desperate.







Annex.

Table 1.
An estimate of Hugo Chavez handouts
USA. Million U.S. dollars.
River Hudson cleaning program 0.1
Oil subsidies for the “poor” 400.0
Donation to a Danny Glover film 18.0
Venezuelan Information Agency expenses 10.0
428.1


Cuba.
Oil subsidies, 2004-2008 11,000.0
Cienfuegos Refinery 45.0
Houses, other infrastructure 150.0
Over-payment to Cuban personnel 600.0
11,795.0
Nicaragua.
Oil subsidies, mostly diesel 150.0
Electrical plants 80.0
Promised refinery 5,000.0
5,230.0
Argentina.
Acquisition of government bonds 5,000.0
Diesel subsidies 200.0
Oil bartered for food 300.0
Illegal money to the Kirchners 12.0
5,512.0
Bolivia.
Diesel subsidies 85.0
Cash given to Evo Morales 10.0
Infrastructure given or promised 50.0
145.0


Ecuador.
Refinery promised 5,000.0
Acquisition of government bonds 300.0
Oil subsidies 100.0
5,400.0
Paraguay.
Promised expansion of refinery 100.0
Oil subsidies 50.0
150.0
Uruguay.
Upgrading refinery La Teja 500.0
Social handouts 30.0
530.0
PetroCaribe.
Oil subsidies for Caribbean countries 2500.0
2500.0
Africa.
Handouts to Niger, Mauritania, Mali
and Burkina Fasso. 5.0
5.0
United Nations, expenses connected with
efforts to obtain a seat in U.N. Security Council 1000.0
1000.0

Brazil.
Promised Pernambuco refinery, 50% 1500.0
40 oil tankers, promised 2000.0
Donation to Rio samba school 1.0
3501.0
--------------
Estimated total: U.S $, millions 36,196.1