September 2, 2006

Rosales' Chances

Quico asks:

What do you think would happen supposing CNE counts the votes cleanly?

Manuel Rosales would have a good chance to win
Manuel Rosales would have some chance to win
Manuel Rosales would have a small chance to win
Manuel Rosales would have no chance to win

Current results

September 1, 2006

Rosales, in his own words (part II)

Katy says: Manuel Rosales gave a lengthy interview to Valencia newspaper Notitarde. Here is a summary of what he had to say:

  • He repeated his promise to give the unemployed a minimum wage; details are fuzzy at this point.
  • Came out in favour of restoring Central Bank autonomy.
  • Came out strongly (and surprisingly) on voter secrecy and fingerprint scanners, saying "there is no way for anyone to know who is voting for whom, not with these machines, nor with any other established system." He said fingerprint scanners are useless, and only serve the purposes to give the government information on turnout in real time.
  • Said that the main problem with crime is that the courts and the prosecutors are paralysed and overworked.
  • Said that the military must return to what they were trained for, and placed emphasis (not surprisingly) on border patrolling.
  • Criticized the government on its lack of respect for private property, saying "this government does not respect any private property, neither for those who have a small house or a plot of land, nor for those who may have a bigger house, a company, a car or an ice cream store. We all want property, we all want to own what is ours, but this government does not respect that."
  • Talked about defining a new way of redistributing oil rents, using Norway and Iraq (!) as examples.
  • Repeated his proposal to redistribute 20% of yearly oil income in the following way: a minimum wage for the unemployed, and a cash handout to middle class and poor families, defining these families according to certain guidelines to be developed.
  • He promised to maintain social programs called "misiones".
  • Emphasized his record defending the environment.
  • He said that he would look for the "least traumatic" constitutional mechanisms to have a new National Assembly if elected.
  • Came out in favour of abolishing the infamous Media Law, or "Ley Resorte".
(Note: The picture is of Valencia, home of "Notitarde", as a gift to my Valenciano friends for their once-wonderful, now-chavista city)

August 30, 2006

Rosales, in his own words

Katy says: Excerpts from Manuel Rosales' press conference today.

On his signing the Carmona decree: "It was a moment of confusion that stemmed from Chavez's resignation, which he later denied having made. I was in Zulia and I recieved a call asking me to come to Caracas urgently. I went to an event and I signed in attendance... Yes, I made a mistake, I acknowledge that, but it was made in good faith. Unlike Chávez, I did not plan it, I did not spend years plotting a coup that caused many deaths."

On the current administration: "This is a lawless government, that does not respect human rights, freedom or private property."

On his attitude toward chavistas: "If elected, I will do my best to make sure the rights of those currently in power are respected fully."

On the National Assembly: "I will promote new elections to the National Assembly."

Globovisión has filed a report here.

Another one for my collection...

Sorry for the disappearing act, everyone. I'd figured I'd be able to blog sporadically from my vacation, but found out to my slight shock that Internet Points are rarer in Sicily than in Barinas. Living out of a tent is definitely not conducive to the blogging lifestyle. Thanks so much to Katy for keeping the home fires burning...

Anyway, I come back just in time to find out Chavez has been working to fatten up my right-hand column. Great fun.

August 29, 2006

An escalation of cheap talk

Katy says: Caracas mayor Juan Barreto has expropriated four golf courses in the Caracas metropolitan area. At least that is what the Official Gazette says. No word yet on whether this is more hot air or whether they are actually going to invade the lots.

Chinese stories

(Katy says: I thought yesterday's editorial by Teodoro Petkoff deserved translating. In Venezuela, a Chinese story is simply a tall tale, a fishy story; my somewhat sarcastic comments are in italic)

Chinese stories, by Teodoro Petkoff Tal Cual daily, August 28, 2006
Our country's president definitely lives in a fantasy world, one that he builds for himself and his illusions to live happily ever after. Do you remember the movie (and an even better book!) The World According to Garp? Well, there should be a sequel: The World According to Chávez.

This is a man who goes to China and in a country where capitalism runs wild, discovers "21st century socialism." (perhaps we should christen this the "Chavez in China" syndrome)

In China, there is practically nothing left to privatise. The first time a Formula One race was held in Shanghai, Ferrari sold 80 of its ultra-expensive "Testa Rosa" models to China's new millionaires. (I wonder how many they would have sold in Caracas; do we see a Formula One race in our future? Perhaps they could drive from Caracas to La Guaira, although that would be more akin to the Paris-Dakar rally)

Does Chávez know that in China, contrary to what happens in Venezuela, the private sector is not harassed? On the contrary, the Communist Party recently ammended its statutes to define the party not only as "a working-class and peasant party", but to include the emerging capitalist bourgeoisie and the emerging middle class that populates enormous shopping malls filled to the rim with the poshest boutiques Western capitalism has to offer. (I think Petkoff has never been to Sambil)

The only thing left of "socialism" in China (in case there ever was anything that could be defined under this term) is the iron-grip dictatorship of the Communist Party. (with a variant - in China, at least there is a party pulling the strings; in our case, he wants all power for himself) The same thing happened in Vietnam. Chávez had recently proclaimed that there, he had found "his" model of "21st century socialism." (hmm, can there really be a working definition of "21st century socialism" if Chávez is still travelling around the world looking for it?)

The flabbergasted Vietnamese leaders could not believe what was coming out of this extravagant character's mouth. The president of Vietnam's Chamber of Commerce had to come out and say that what our local fantasy-man was saying was "completely inappropriate" and that they did not share this view. (nevertheless, they said they would love to do business with him)

But, like in China, Chávez did not see in either country the exuberant examples of (very savage, by the way) capitalist growth, but rather the dictatorship of the local Communist Party. This is what really appeals to him of archaeological socialism. (that, and the worship of decaying tropical pharaohs)

On another run of ideas, when he speaks of the USA as "a dictatorship", he points out that Americans are subjected to "phone wire-taps", or as we say back home, that phone lines are "pinched". This is completely schizophrenic. (no, it's completely chavista, schizophrenics are ill and are not responsible for their acts)

I assume that our overseas friends must think that in Venezuela, this practice is forbidden and severely punished. (just like Anderson's murder was severely punished)

However, can Chávez possibly allege ignorance and not recall that here, in his own country, phone calls are not only recorded but have even recently replayed on state-owned television? Either this is a case of cynical double personality, or this is a master of deceit at work. (or it's just Chávez being Chávez)

Trouble for him is that, what he says overseas is retransmitted here, so Venezuelans, including for example (chavista deputies) Darío Vivas and Ismael García, who until recently flashed on state-run television, "the channel of all Venezuelans", their own recordings of private conversations, must have been flabbergasted by Chavez's ability to lie without seeing his nose grow. (being "flabbergasted" would require a working conscience, something these two fellows seem to lack)

After having spent almost one of his eight years in power travelling around the world, it would not be surprising to find that, like Jules Verne's character in Around the World in Eighty Days, the man had finally lost touch with reality. (funny, when he talks to his deputies, Chávez reminds me of Dr. Doolittle)

August 28, 2006

The bla-bla revolution

Katy says: I'm feeling low on inspiration lately, partly due to the fact that I have a lot of work, and partly because it's August back home and things tend to shut down in August. But on surveying the news, I am struck by one of the main characteristics of Venezuelan politics: the over-abundance of cheap talk.

Some of the main news items are:

  • A war of words between the Venezuelan and US government over somebody's bags. Memo to both: who gives a rat's ass?
  • Caracas Mayor Juan Barreto announcing that they will take over buildings, golf courses and entire municipalities, and not carrying out any of it.
  • Chávez announcing that China will invest heavily in our oil sector, and that we will double our oil shipments to that country. Aside from the fuzzy math behind this one, when after seven years all you have is plans and more plans, it means you are not doing your job. Furthermore, Venezuela produces slightly less oil than it did at the beginning of Chavez's government, just another sign that the government has yet to put their money where their mouth is (instead of putting it in Panamanian banks).
  • Statoil announcing they will continue exploring for oil and gas in the Orinoco Delta, to go with ongoing plans for the Gasoduct to the South. In the meantime, Venezuela after 7 years still does not export a single whiff or drop (take your pick) of natural gas.
  • Jesse Chacón announcing ongoing discussions regarding police reform. Again, seven years in the making, and they still don't know what to do about soaring crime rates, even announcing that when the reform is implemented, crime rates may actually increase, but that it would be a good sign.
Crime. Oil production. Private property. Venezuela's antagonism toward the US. Natural gas. Topics we cannot afford to just talk about.

In the meantime, Danilo Anderson's killers are still on the loose, and nobody has been convicted for the deaths of April 11th. Pure talk, but nobody actually does anything.