Monday, 21 July 2014

Maduro's message to the military caste


Maduro had announced a "sacudón", a sort of "economic and political shakeup. I didn't expect but a couple of announcements of totally insufficient measures to tackle the economic breakdown and a lot of palaver about the Empire, the imaginary economic war and how good socialism was. We got absolutely no announcement but a lot of palaver. At the end the state channels showed a special video about the love story of Nicolás Maduro and Cilia Flores. It couldn't get more surreal. 

There was one real message and that Maduro's message to the military. He started his boring speech with threats against those who dare "offend" the army. This came after the opposition criticised Vladimir Padrino, chief of staff, who declared soldiers should be political and the army was to take a political position. 

Since February 1999 the regime has done everything to turn the military caste into full political actors and the managers of everything, in complete opposition to the very constitution the regime leaders introduced. The constitution was nothing but a facade to the outside world.

In any case, Maduro now said the opposition would not be able to divide the army because "the army knew what happens to those who went along with the opposition". He even explained the generals who tried to "take sides with the opposition" (that is, to criticize the current system) not only didn't get jobs with a new government but ended up in jail. He is right. Below you have a list of the Defence Ministers since Chávez became president in 1999. I haven't been able to find reliable information about what some of them are doing right  now, but you can see the pattern.

The first defence minister Chávez had broke with him but he is now basically retired and invisible. The only civilian  in that list, the extreme left oligarch Rangel, is playing his usual role as state journalist.

Two former ministers are ambassadors. One of them, Bellavia, was one of the worst students in his military studies and that really showed every time he opened his mouth, not that the others were precisely rhetorical models.

Four other ministers are currently governors to different states. One of them is currently on a clinch with the minister of Interior, another military coup monger, so he may have to go soon.

Now Maduro was telling the military caste that any official wanting to belong to the Bolivarian coterie needs to be an active agent of the regime.

The executive is now bluntly cocking a snook at anyone who demands respect for the rule of law or a little bit of separation of powers. The government is  nervous because it is running out of money. Yesterday Maduro received the Chinese leader, Xi, and was so submissive to him as not even Venezuelan presidents during the 1958-1998 period were towards US presidents.

More and more people are scunnered with the government. At the same time, they are disappointed with the opposition politicians' behaviour.

In this context, Maduro's message was basically for the military. Other than that, he kept procrastinating. 

Defence Ministers
Term
Current Status
Raúl Alejandro Salazar Rodríguez
29-4-1950
Feb 1999-Feb     2000

retired, critical of Chavismo
Ismael Eliezer Hurtado Soucre
30-1-1950
Feb 2000-Feb 2001
?
José Vicente Rangel Vale
10-7-1921

Feb 2001-Apr 2002

journalist (for the State)
Lucas Enrique Rincón Romero
1-2-1950

Apr 2002-Jul 2004

ambassador to Portugal
José Luis Prieto
Jul 2002-Jan 2004
?
His nephew, a businessman, was married to one of Chávez's daughters
Jorge Luis García Carneiro
8-2-1952
Jan 2004-Jul 2005
governor of Vargas
Ramón Orlando Maniglia Ferreira
31-08-1952
Jul 2005-Jun 2007
Raúl Isaías Baduel
6-07-1955
Jun 2006-Jul 2007
in jail
Gustavo Reyes Rangel Briceño
16-8-1956
Jul 2007- Mar 2009
in jail in 2010


Ramón Alonso Carrizales Rengifo
8-11-1952
Mar 2009- Jan 2010
governor of Apure
Carlos José Mata Figueroa
30-10-1957
Jan 2010- Jan 2012
governor of Nueva Esparta
Henry de Jesús Rangel Silva
28-8-1961
Jan     2012– Oct 2012
governor of Trujillo
Diego Alfredo Molero Bellavia
12-1-1960
Oct 2012 - Jul 2013
ambassador to Brazil
Carmen Teresa Meléndez Rivas
Jul 2013
current minister


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Maduro anunciará


¿Qué puedes hacer en 5 minutos de ocio con tu motor de búsqueda favorito?

Puedes encontrar resultados como los siguientes:
  • 18 de marzo de 2013: presidente encargado Maduro anunciará nuevas medidas económicas
  • 6 noviembre de 2013: Maduro anunciará nuevas medidas para enfrentar inflación.
  • 14 de enero de 2014: Maduro anunciará nuevas medidas para enfrentar "guerra económica".
  • 23 de abril de 2014: Maduro anunciará cambios en política económica.

Si hubieras tenido cinco minutos más a tu disposición, habrías podido encontrar un par de anuncios más con un contenido semejante.

Maduro anunciará hoy, 15 de julio, nuevas medidas económicas. Esta vez se trata de un "sacudón". Desde 1999 los gobernantes tienen entretenidos a los venezolanos con "un verdadero cambio", un "ahora sí", un "cambio de verdad", "el comienzo en serio".

Ahora Maduro tendrá que anunciar medidas de ajuste mucho más fuertes de las que se ha atrevido a anunciar desde que Chávez lo dejó con el poder, pero es algo que se veía venir.

Abajo pueden ver un gráfico del PIB de Venezuela en comparación con el de Noruega. Lo he usado ya un par de veces en los últimos meses. En los próximos 12 meses veremos cómo la línea roja, que representa el cambio anual de PIB de Venezuela, volvera a hundirse...esta vez con mayor fuerza de lo que pasaba desde hace mucho tiempo.

Pero las cosas no serán totalmente "más de lo mismo". Estos tiempos se diferencian de los pasados en el grado de corrupción - récord-, en el aumento dramático de presión social producto del crecimiento demográfico, en un mayor  porcentaje de población afectada por la drogadicción, en  un aumento del autoritarismo y en la desaparición por completo de la ya de por sí débil división de poderes que tuvo el país.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

GDP per capita for Chile, Colombia and Venezuela

Venezuela's GDP is bound to drop significantly between this year and 2015. The data you see here speaks for itself. Of course, Chavismo will say Venezuela has now the best GINI coefficient in the Milky Way. That doesn't seem to compute very well with the fact Venezuela has the highest murder rate in South America and crime is provoked, to a big extent, by inequality.


Source: IMF

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The revolutionary oligarchy's infighting in Apure (updated)

Minister of Interior, who led the bloody attack to the Presidential Palace in 1992. His father wants to become the governor of Apure

News came in of a conflict between two Chavista groups in the Southwestern region of Apure, bordering with Colombia. A group of eight armed men went into the hacienda of 46-year old rancher Juan Carlos Rodríguez Torres and tried to kidnap the rancher. They didn't succeed because he was not there.

The first detail: Juan Carlos Rodríguez Torres is the brother of Miguel Rodríguez Torres, the current minister of Interior. Miguel Rodríguez Torres was one of Chávez's military pals. He was the one officer who commanded the bloody attack against the president's palace back in February 1992 during the coup led by Chávez.

Second detail: Juan Carlos also works as "political consultant" to his brother, the minister.

Third detail: Juan Carlos' hacienda has an area of five hundred hectares. That is not small for the brother of a socialist revolutionary. The place is located in the municipio Rómulo Gallegos of Apure.

Agents of the criminal police, under Miguel Rodríguez Torres' control, detained Oscar Montilla, member of a group called Frente Campesino Ezequiel Zamora. Montilla was accused of coordinating the attempted kidnapping. They accused him of commanding the men who tried to do the kidnapping. He was taken into custody to the alcaldía of Alto Apure and, according to deputy Zambrano, another Chavista, he was beaten up there. Alto Apure is a 10-year old entity, a sort of Über-municipality comprising the municipalities of Rómulo Gallegos and of Páez. It was created in 2004 by Chávez's suggestion. The mayor of Alto Apure is Jorge Rodríguez Galvis, Miguel Rodríguez Torres's father. Jorge wants to become the next governor of Apure.

Anyway: there is a conflict between the Rodríguez clan and the governor of Apure, Carrizález. The criminal police is, according to Montilla, trying to link him and Carrizález to the kidnapping. 

That's just the start. What do I expect? Carrizález's days as governor of Apure are counted.

Here you can read (in Spanish) a little bit more about how some local PSUV politicians critisize the Rodríguez clan.


Alto Apure, where the minister's father is the boss


Ps. Jorge Rodríguez Galvis had already been accused of not providing the required reports for the way he managed Alto Apure. The red judiciary system dismissed the case in 2009.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Venezuela's post versus the rest of the World

Venezuela's postal service has always have issues but since May of this year Venezuelans simply cannot send post to most of the rest of the world. Perhaps letters may arrive in Cuba, but I am not even sure of that. The system is so bad that even state employees, always afraid of losing their jobs, were protesting some weeks earlier.

When I was a child in Venezuela I used to get lots of post from people from the Soviet Union to Canada. A normal letter from Valencia, Venezuela, to Beliko Turnavo in Bulgaria or to Brno in Moravia would take at most two weeks to arrive.

In the last few years friends of mine have sent letters from Venezuela to Western Europe that took from three to six and a half months to arrive. Those letters spend at most two or three days of that duration in Europe. The rest of the time except for the flight they are in Venezuela. At the end of the XVIII century Venezuelan letters to Prussia would take less time than that. Only during the British blockade against Spain did letters take the time they were taking until this year, as Alexander von Humboldt once reported (a letter he sent from an Indian village in remote Apure arrived six months later in Prussia because of the English battle ships). Now Venezuelans can only use rather costly private services...even though the state employees keep getting their salaries.

What's the matter? The system is highly ineffective. People are not motivated to work. Prices don't change according to inflation. But the reason for the total collapse now is that the government doesn't have dollars to pay for getting letters out of Venezuela. This is yet another proof the government simply hasn't got the money.

Venezuela's postal services have become highly ideological spots. If you go to one of the few postal offices in Venezuela you will be shocked to see the level of personality cult and propaganda for Chavismo there.

Look at the twitter account of Spain's postal services:



And look at the twitter account of Ecuador's postal service:


This is the one for Venezuela: full of pictures of a military coup monger:


Venezuelan authorities say the "temporal suspension of international post" is due to a high demand. This is, of course, ludicrous.

Venezuelans now cannot send letters through the "revolutionary post service" but they still can buy these stamps and take part in the craziest, sickest personality cult of the last decades:



Friday, 4 July 2014

Venezuelas Nachrichten, Anfang Juli 2014


Maduro, Flores und Cabello haben zusammen über 20 nahe Verwandte beim Staat angeheuert

Diosdado Cabello, Putschist und Vorsitzender der Nationalversammlung hat eine Sendung beim staatlichen Fernsehsender VTV. Die Sendung heisst "mit der Keule geben". Dort hat er zuvor mehrmals illegal angezapfte Gespräche oder angebliche Gespräche von Oppositionspolitikern gezeigt. Gestern hat er dort angekündigt, dass es ein Halftbefehl gegen Henrique Salas Römer, Oppositionspolitiker und früheren Gouverneur des Bundesstaates Carabobo, und gegen Gustavo Tarre, einen Anwalt, gibt. Sie sollen zusammen mit anderen Zivilisten Pläne geschmiedet haben, um Maduro umzubringen.

Was viele Deutschen nicht wissen: am 3.5.2013 hatte Maduro schon gesagt, der ehemalige Präsident Kolumbiens Uribe und die venezolanischen Rechtsextremisten hätten Pläne, um ihn zu töten.  Unter "Rechtsextremisten" verstehen Maduro und Cabello die ganze Opposition, die aus Parteien von Mitte-Recht und Sozialdemokraten bis zu den sehr linken Bandera Roja und Causa R besteht und die zusammen die Hälfte der Wähler ausmacht.

Am 11.06.2014 erklärte die Regierung, man habe Paramilitärs, die diese Pläne verwirklichen wollten, an der Grenze festnehmen können. Beweise gab es keine. Am 27.08 sagte Cabello, es gebe Pläne gegen ihn und Maduro und er würde die Beweise bald liefern. Am 15.3.2014 hielt Maduro eine Rede, wo er erklärte, dass Obama wieder Pläne hätte, zusammen mit der venezolanischen Opposition ihn zu töten.

Zur Zeit gibt es zwei oppositionelle Bürgermeister im Gefängnis. Leopoldo López ist auch im Gefängnis, weil er "Gewalt" bei den Demos vom 17.2.2014 provoziert hätte. Die Menschen aber, die an diesem Tag Zivilisten umgebracht haben, waren Polizisten und Leibwächter des Innenministers und, wie Cabello, früheren Putschisten Torre.

Die Wirtschaft steckt trotz sehr hohen Erdölpreise in der Klemme. Die Zentralbank Venezuelas hat die Angaben über das BIP vom ersten Quartal nicht veröffentlicht. Man weiß aber: es sind rote Zahlen.

Die Mangelwirtschaft geht weiter. Chacón, Putschist und jetztiger "Minister der Volkmacht für Eletrizität", kündigte an, das Ministerium habe jetzt seine Schulden von 2010-2012 an die Arbeiter der Stromversorgung bezahlt.

Man kann in Venezuela Post aus dem Ausland bekommen - extrem langsam -. Seit Mai wird aber kein Post ins Ausland geliefert. Begründung: der Dienst hat zu viele Briefe bekommen. Das ist Quatsch: bestimmte Dienste haben einfach keine Dollars für die Sendungen. Vor 20, 30 Jahren kamen meine Briefe zwar erst in zwei Wochen in Deutschland oder Russland an, sie kamen aber immer.

Regierungsnahe Menschen haben El Universal, die wichtigste regierungskritische Zeitung, gekauft. Es bleiben wenige noch frei und das in einem Land, wo man sehr wenig liest (unsere Nachbarn, die Kolumbianer, sind echte Leser verglichen mit uns).

Unten könnt Ihr im Grün die Entwicklung des OPEC-Erdölpreises seit 16 Jahren sehen gemessen an das Niveau von 1998. Im Rot sieht man die BIP-Entwicklung. 

Hier könnt Ihr die jährliche Entwicklung des BIPs sehen. Die Angabe für 2014 ist nur meine eigene, sehr vorsichtige Einschätzung. Viele Ökonomen - ich bin ja keiner- sind pessimistischer. Wie auch immer: man wird die Krise viel deutlicher fühlen als zwischen 2009 und 2010. Das ist kein gutes Zeichen für Maduro. Er wird dementsprechend mehr Gewalt anwenden als Chávez, um die Kontrolle nicht zu verlieren.


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Norway versus Venezuela, the Ministries

Norway and Venezuela have some things in common.

  • They both have oil and gas
  • They both have beautiful landscapes
  • They both have a minority of "First Nations" (Even if Sami and Native Americans had different interactions to the majority of the population, they also have many similar concerns)

Even so, as any visitor to both countries can tell you, these two countries couldn't be more apart. You can see wealth in Norway. It is, indeed a rich country. Venezuela is a poor country that insists it is rich because of its soil. Venezuela's population does not realise a country is only rich when the population has the productivity, the education and the organisation to use that soil or to generate wealth from other means, as Japan or Switzerland do. Norway's population reached many decades back levels of education - literacy and numeracy, for instance - that haven't been attained in Venezuela to this day.

The murder rate in Norway is about 1/60 of what Venezuela has now (1/19 of what Venezuela had in 1998). There are no shortages of electricity or other goods in Norway (unless you count the sun as a good). Tourism is well organised in Norway. In Venezuela tourist infrastructure is extremely bad.

Most importantly, Norway has a rule of law and separation of powers.

Here I try to compare bureaucracy in both countries. I try to compare ministries in Norway and in Venezuela. This is a hard task. Many things that a ministry does in one country are the tasks of other institutions in the other. In some case, there are ministries in Norway that do not exist in Venezuela but that is the case for a few only: Fisheries in Norway is something more or less carried out by 2) in Venezuela. The Ministry for Government Administration is something that is not quite available in Venezuela, although Planificación used to do a bit of that. The Ministry for Regions is not existent in Venezuela, although it is  something carried out by a couple of the 111 viceministries Venezuela has.

Chávez came to power promising to reduce the number of ministries. He increased them and no one dared to tell him what a liar he was. The number went from about 10 to 31. The number is now between 30 and 33 depending on how you count. Even ministers in Venezuela are not sure what is a ministry anymore.

Venezuelans have a ministry for Women, another for Youth and another one for the First Nations when those things are the matter of one ministry in Norway: the one for Children, Equality and Inclusion. Notice that Norwegians don't say "Ministry for Women" even if women in Venezuela and even many countries in Europe can envy the position women in Norway have.

Venezuela has a ministry for Sports even if it does so poorly in sports. Norway has that as part of the Ministry of Culture, but also of Health and Education.

Norway has a ministry of Education and Research, like Venezuela before Chavismo, but now Venezuela has a ministry for Education, one for University Education and another one for Research...even if research in Venezuela - very limited - has almost totally collapsed since the military and boligarchs are in power.

Venezuela under Chavismo has a ministry for Trade and a different one for Industries, even if industries have gone down the drain.

It also has a ministry for Tourism even if there are no decent public offices of tourism (the opposite of Norway and most other countries without such a ministry), a ministry for Housing even though the housing problem becomes worse and worse than it ever was, a ministry for Communication that is nothing but a Propaganda Ministry, a ministry for Communes and Social Protection, another one for Jails, one for the "Revolutionary Transformation of Caracas" and, last but not least, one for electricity.

My thanks go to S.H. for his input about Norway's bureaucracy. 


Office of Prime Minister  1) Despacho de la Presidencia y  Seguimiento de la Gestión del  Gobierno
Agriculture and food 2) Agricultura y tierras

3) Alimentacion
Fisheries and coastal affairs
Children, equality and inclusion 4) Mujeres, igualdad de género

5) Juventud

6) Pueblos indígenas
Culture 7) Cultura

8) Deporte
Defence 9) Defensa
Education and research 10) Educación universitaria

11) Educación

12) Ciencia, tecnología e innovación
Environment 13) Ambiente
Finance 14) Economía, finanzas y banca pública
Foreign affairs 15) Relaciones exteriores
Government administration, reform & church affairs $) Planificación
Local and regional government
Health and care services 16) Salud
Justice & police 17) Relaciones interiores, justicia y paz
Labour 18) Trabajo y seguridad social
Petroleum and energy 19) Petróleo y minería


Trade & industry 20) Comercio

21) Industrias
Transport and communications 22) Transporte terrestre

23) Transporte acuático y aéreo

24) Turismo

25) Vivienda y hábitat

26) Comunicación y la información

27) Comunas y protección social

28) Servicio penitenciario

29) Transformación Revolucionaria de la Gran Caracas
30) Electricidad


Here you see the GDP growth of both Norway and Venezuela across decades.

This year you will see the red line go under the zero level once more. Chavistas will say the cause is capitalism and the "Economic War". We know it is not. Norway's GDP will grow less than in previous year but Norway is not likely to enter into a major recession. Norway has always tried to develop policies for sustainable development. Venezuela is quite the opposite and this attitude has been at its worst since Chavismo is in power.