Category Archives: Venezuela

Venezuela: The Protesters’ Power Is Rising | The National Interest

It’s hard to know just how long it will take for Venezuelans to rid themselves of this fifteen-year tyranny. But the process has begun. The government is desperately on the defensive and the opposition has finally reached critical mass. The economy is in free fall, with inflation at more than 60 percent, GDP growth at zero and acute shortages affecting nineteen basic products. As a result, whatever faith the people of the barrios had in the Chavez mystique is quickly eroding.

These are the hallmarks of a “fin de siècle” in Venezuela.

Venezuela: The Protesters’ Power Is Rising | The National Interest

Venezuela crippled by 56% inflation and social unrest, but filling a car with gas still ‘cheaper than a bus ticket’ | National Post

One undeniable reason for Venezuela’s dire straits is the way that oil windfall has been used — or misused. Much of the fuel is, in essence, being given away.

Domestic subsidies make filling a car with gasoline “cheaper than a bus ticket.” This deprives the state-owned oil firm of billions, while Venezuela is indirectly underwriting the cost of oil it sells to Cuba, Jamaica and a host of other Caribbean countries, to the tune of billions more dollars.

“The guy with an unstabilized economy is subsidizing the guy that has better roads, better inflation and better fiscal figures,” said Alejandro Grisanti, an oil analyst with Barclay’s Capital in New York.

“This does not make any sense. The economic and political cost for Venezuela … is huge.”

Venezuela crippled by 56% inflation and social unrest, but filling a car with gas still ‘cheaper than a bus ticket’ | National Post

El Salvador Could Be the Next Venezuela | Washington Free Beacon

El Salvador could morph into another Venezuela if the current ruling party retains control in presidential runoff elections next month, a leading expert on the region tells the Washington Free Beacon.

Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs in the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview that the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), which currently has control of the country, reportedly has ties to regional drug traffickers, violent gangs in the country, and Venezuela’s regime.

El Salvador Could Be the Next Venezuela | Washington Free Beacon

Is This the End of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela? – The Daily Beast

“I want to get out of here. I want to leave this country as soon as possible and never come back.”

The text from my friend Luis surprised me. A lawyer by training, he got his masters in urban planning from an elite Manhattan university, and had returned to Venezuela full of hope. He was hired by a local NGO working on poverty abatement issues. But now, he’s fed up.

“Nothing works. There are lines to buy everything. Prices have gone through the roof. You can’t go out at night for fear of getting shot. If you want to get married, finding a place to live is impossible. The country has become unlivable.”

Is This the End of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela? – The Daily Beast

Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Whatever you tax you get less of. If you want to subsidize failure, then you will get more failure. And you will continue to get more failure until the whole thing collapses. It looks like Venezuela just might be at the end of this road.

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was a Venezuelan politician and the President of Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013. He was the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when it merged with several other parties to form the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which he led until 2012.

Following Chavismo, his own political ideology of Bolivarianism and Socialism of the 21st Century, he focused on implementing socialist reforms in the country as a part of a social project known as the Bolivarian Revolution. He implemented the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, participatory democratic councils, the nationalization of several key industries, and increased government funding of health care and education and made significant reductions in poverty with oil revenues. The Bolivarian Missions have entailed the construction of thousands of free medical clinics for the poor, the institution of educational campaigns that have reportedly made more than one million adult Venezuelans literate, and the enactment of food and housing subsidies.

Hugo Chávez – Wikipedia

Venezuela’s labour market: Labour’s love lost | The Economist

The regime has contrived to make both bosses and workers unhappy

NICOLÁS MADURO, a former bus driver and trade-union activist, is fond of styling himself “Venezuela’s first worker-president”. Like his mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chávez, Mr Maduro believes the primary role of the labour movement is to help the regime crush capitalism and install “21st-century socialism”.

Employers predictably bemoan the rigidity of the labour market, saying that it cripples business and leaves Venezuela trailing in terms of productivity. But as the country prepares for a visit by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the bosses are not the only ones complaining. Many workers are not happy either.

Venezuela’s labour market: Labour’s love lost | The Economist

A country is marked for revolution when it runs out of this one thing:

Now Venezuela’s in REAL crisis as country runs out of toilet paper | Mail Online

First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities – toilet paper.

Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the embattled socialist government says it will import 50 million rolls to boost supplies.

That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on Wednesday.

‘This is the last straw,’ said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for tissue in downtown Caracas.

‘I’m 71-years-old and this is the first time I’ve seen this.’

Now Venezuela’s in REAL crisis as country runs out of toilet paper | Mail Online

Those that are able to flee Venezuela either have done so, or are thinking about it. They would be the most successful, or Group A. The government takes from Group A and gives to Group B – the less successful. Over time Group B swells in size while Group A shrinks.

For many Venezuelans, time to leave may be close – Sun Sentinel

According to the U.S. 2010 Census, the number of Venezuelans living in South Florida increased by 150 percent in the first decade of the new century — from 41,000 in 2000 to 102,000 in 2010. Many more have come in the last two years. That number is likely to increase exponentially in the next few months, particularly if Chávez continues his socialist policies and is unable to control violence in the country — one of the highest per capita in the Western Hemisphere.

I don’t believe my long-time acquaintance will be among those making the Caracas to Miami trip. She is depressed, but by early in the week she was busy working on a new personal endeavor.

Others, however, will not hesitate.

Those leaving will continue to be the cream of the crop. As was the case in the early years following the Castro revolution in Cuba, those who came as exiles, only to establish new lives in the United States, were the best their country had to offer.

For many Venezuelans, time to leave may be close – Sun Sentinel

As Venezuela Professionals Leave, Foreigners Move In – NYTimes.com

On this booming continent, oil-rich Venezuela is the exception: South America’s only shrinking economy this year. Officials are rationing hard currency. Government takeovers of private businesses are increasing. One prominent financial analyst recently had just two words of advice for investors here: “Run away.”

Many middle-class and wealthy Venezuelans have done exactly that, creating a slow-burning exodus of scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs and engineers. But wander into the bazaar in the shadow of Santa Teresa Basilica in this city’s old center, and the opposite seems to be happening as well.

Merchants murmur in Arabic, Urdu and Hindi. Haitians pushing ice cream carts chatter in Creole. Street vendors selling DVDs call out in Colombian-accented Spanish. Sip coffee in Naji Hammoud’s clothing shop, where photos of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley grace the walls, and the outlook is downright bullish.

As Venezuela Professionals Leave, Foreigners Move In – NYTimes.com

Related articles:

Jews flee Venezuela amid security fears – Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews
Venezuelans leave the country for Ireland | Voxxi

Venezuela on the edge of collapse? « Hot Air

There hasn’t been much coverage of these events by the US media of these protests, or of Venezuela’s economic collapse. CNN’s coverage of the shootings in Caracas notes that Maduro alleged that the protests were a “coup,” but otherwise mention little about the economic conditions in the country.  Neither does the Associated Press report at the Post, other than to note the “inflation-plagued economy [and] worsening crime,” which makes it sound like the Jimmy Carter administration.

The truth is much worse than that, as Stephanie Nolen reports for The Globe and Mail in Canada:

In the serene private clubs of Caracas, there is no milk, and the hiss of the cappuccino machine has fallen silent. In the slums, the lights go out every few days, or the water stops running. In the grocery stores, both state-run shops and expensive delicatessens, customers barter information: I saw soap here, that store has rice today. The oil engineers have immigrated to Calgary, the soap opera stars fled to Mexico and Colombia. And in the beauty parlours of this nation obsessed with elaborate grooming, women both rich and poor have cut back to just one blow-dry or manicure each week.

Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, is a leading candidate for next collapsed state. …

Inflation is running at over 50 per cent, a raging black market buys dollars at more than 10 times the official rate, domestic industry has all but shut down; there are critical shortages of many consumer staples, including corn flour for arepas, the national breakfast. TV stations – now all state-controlled – are full of ads that alternately denounce capitalism or show square-shouldered actors talking about how they don’t hoard and buy only what they need. Billboards boast of how socialist Venezuela has never been stronger; yet almost no one has toilet paper in their bathrooms.

The apocalypse hasn’t come yet. “The crash never comes because Venezuela has an insurance other countries don’t have – one of the largest oil reserves in the world,” said Jorge Roig, president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce. Venezuela’s economic indicators defy logic, he said, but the international thirst for oil has postponed the day of reckoning.

Except that, as Nolen reported earlier in the week, the oil industry in Venezuela is slowly collapsing, too:

Venezuela on the edge of collapse? « Hot Air

“The oil engineers have immigrated to Calgary, the soap opera stars fled to Mexico and Colombia.”

It’s not just oil engineers and soap opera stars who fled Venezuela. There are quite a few Venezuelans who have fled to the US and even where I live in Switzerland. The current Bachelor star Juan Pablo Galavis grew up in Venezuela, although he was born in the US. So there appears to have been an exodus of those who can – many of the best of Venezuela.

Venezuela, A State Of Emergency – All News Is Global

Likewise, Venezuela in 2013 is not the country Chávez governed for 14 years. The endemic problems of the Chávez era — like spiralling crime rates that have placed the country among the 10 most dangerous in the world, and high levels of corruption encrusted in the upper echelons of the state apparatus — have grown worse and will not be resolved by handing out flat-screen televisions. To this we may add a dramatic deterioration of economic conditions seen in the shortages of food and other basic goods, inflation at almost 50%, and an unfettered black market where American dollars can cost up to nine times the official rate.

Venezuela, A State Of Emergency – All News Is Global

Venezuelan oil diplomacy curbed by economic crisis – MiamiHerald.com

The late President Hugo Chavez’s dream of leveraging Venezuela’s oil wealth to spread revolution across Latin America is crumbling under the weight of an economic crisis that is forcing his hand-picked successor to cut back on generous foreign aid.

While Venezuela has fallen behind on payments before, the latest cash crunch is more severe, and the economic outlook more uncertain, than any time in 15 years of socialist rule.

Analysts said Venezuelans are now feeling the financial stresses that worsened seven months ago, …

Still, the days of geopolitical chest thumping, best captured when Chavez in 2006 laid out plans to build a pipeline stretching across South America, are a fast-fading memory as Maduro tries to get his house in order. A sign of the times: Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras last month officially pulled the plug on a joint oil refinery with PDVSA after Venezuela failed to pay for its share of the project.

“It would be very difficult for Maduro to attempt anything as audacious again,” said Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, director of international relations at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Latin America’s strategic options are changing rapidly, and they no longer pass through Caracas.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/02/3791802_p2/venezuelan-oil-diplomacy-curbed.html#storylink=cpy

CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan oil diplomacy curbed by economic crisis – Venezuela Wires – MiamiHerald.com

Much of Venezuela’s Russian arms inventories said to be faulty – UPI.com

Russians arms inventories in Venezuela are blighted by widespread malfunction, breakdown and an endemic lack of operational readiness, opposition critics said.

Amid data indicating Venezuela is now Russia’s largest weapons customer in Latin America, thanks largely to deals reached before former President Hugo Chavez died of cancer in March, the Venezuelan military is having to cope with useless military hardware on a large scale, El Universal reported, citing opposition critics.

Much of Venezuela’s Russian arms inventories said to be faulty – UPI.com

Dangerous Days for Venezuela, and America too?

Calling the main opposition figures thieves and terrorists “prepares the ground for dangerous days in Venezuela.”

Dangerous Days in Venezuela [Nov. 13, 2013]

By describing the three main opposition figures as thieves and terrorists, the government has crossed the line that separates political confrontation, no matter how aggressive, from the criminalization of dissidence and opposition. It’s an act of hatred that prepares the ground for dangerous days in Venezuela.

Maduro ritually—and bitterly—condemns the government’s enemies for conducting an “economic war” with the support of the United States. But the most credible surveys tend to show that a majority of the population attributes the country’s problems to government mismanagement. Today, according to the same poll by Datanálisis, seven out of ten Venezuelans evaluate the national situation as negative, up from only three out of ten six month ago.

Chavez’s Successor Sees a Trilogy of Evil : The New Yorker

Isn’t that happening in America too?

Tea Party Members Fit Profile of Domestic Terrorists, Obama Claims – National Report | National Report
Does Army consider Christians, Tea Party, a terror threat? | Fox News

Below is a NYTimes article that calls Tea Party members terrorists and jihadists who are waging war on America. Sounds like Venezuela is coming to America.

The Tea Party’s War on America – NYTimes.com [Aug. 1, 2011]

You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It only encourages them.

These last few months, much of the country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people. Their intransigent demands for deep spending cuts, coupled with their almost gleeful willingness to destroy one of America’s most invaluable assets, its full faith and credit, were incredibly irresponsible. But they didn’t care. Their goal, they believed, was worth blowing up the country for, if that’s what it took.

The Tea Party’s War on America – NYTimes.com

 

48 Hours in Venezuelan Custody | MiamiHerald.com

In San Cristóbal, people line up for hours to buy a few kilograms of flour. On the Colombian side, that same flour crams storefronts and is hawked by street vendors.

When Maduro talks about economic “warfare” and “sabotage,” Táchira is a frontline.

I wanted statistics on contraband. Several sources told me to ask the Bolivarian National Guard, which controls the border. After a phone call to its headquarters, I was invited to make the request in person.

Things seemed to go well. I introduced myself as a reporter and was told “The General” would speak to me soon. The afternoon dragged into the evening with multiple reassurances that “The General” had just cleared his agenda for me. At 7 p.m. — about four hours into the wait — I told them I had to leave. They said I couldn’t.

Instead, I was handed over to “The Inspector,” who put me into an armored car with doors that didn’t open from the inside (I checked). When I asked him where we were going, he said, “My office.”

Miami Herald reporter Jim Wyss recounts his 48 hours in Venezuelan custody – Americas – MiamiHerald.com