Sunday, 30 August 2015

Wenn Ausländer nicht mehr nötig sind im Sozialismus des 21. Jahrhunderts


Die Maduro-Regierung versucht, den freien Fall in Hinblick auf die Wahlen der Nationalversammlung Anfang Dezember zu vermeiden. Dafür hat die Regierung die Grenzen zwischen Venezuela und Kolumbien im dichtbevölkerten Bundesstaat Táchira geschlossen und Tausende Kolumbianer ohne gültige Aufenthaltsgenehmigung des Landes verwiesen.

Dieses Foto ist noch von den Zeiten als Chávez noch lebte: "Kinder von Scheisseinwanderern: raus!" Gemeint sind vor allem die Kinder vieler Europäer, die mit der Chávez-Regierung nicht sympathisierten


Nun häufen sich Berichte über wie die Militärs Illegale anderswo festnehmen. Hier kann man zum Beispiel lesen, wie die Guardia Nacional im Groß-Caracas-Gebiet 21 Ausländer ohne gültige Aufenthaltsgenehmigung festnahm...einige von ihnen sollen "privates Eigentum besetzt haben". Man wusste schon seit vielen Jahren, dass es überall Menschen gab, die illegal Wohnungen besetzten und es sind nicht nur Ausländer: es sind Menschen, die leer stehende Wohnungen, oft Wohnungen, die noch nicht fertig gestellt waren, besetzen und diese dann an andere Menschen "vermieten". Dies hat Chávez toleriert, ja befördert, da seine Regierung nicht schnell genug Sozialwohnungen bauen konnte (er hatte weniger Sozialwohnungen pro Jahr gekauft als die Regierung Caldera II, die nur ein Bruchteil der Petrodollars erzielen konnte). 

Nun werden die Ausländer unter den Okkupas+ gezielt als Kriminelle identifiziert. Wahrscheinlich wird man auch sagen, dass die USA-Regierung und die Opposition diese Menschen nach Venezuela gebracht hat.

Diese Maßnahmen der Regierung können in die Hose gehen. Einerseits kann sie die Ausländerfeindlichkeit einiger Gruppen benutzen. Anderseits gibt es jede Menge Venezolaner, die die Ausländerfeindlichkeit ablehnen oder selbst Einwanderer ersten Grades sind (wir sind alle schließlich Einwanderer).

Friday, 28 August 2015

Venezuela's fall


The Venezuelan regime is organising today a march in Caracas in order to blame a lot of the Venezuelan mess on Colombia and what it considers "the paramilitary supported by the extreme right". 
Colombians can buy these without any trouble, Venezuelans can't

The regime also says the Venezuelan opposition wanted to kill Daniella Cabello, the daughter of military Diosdado Cabello. Daniella is the Venezuelan version of Uzbekistan Gulnara Karimova...without the brains.

Today a76-year old woman was trampled to death in one of the many mass stampedes taking place in Venezuela in the context of the shortage economy...what Chavista apologists abroad consider part of the "economic war".

In little more than three months the National Assembly elections should take place and the regime is trying everything it can to avoid absolute disaster.

The average price of a barrel of oil in 2015 is about 53 dollars, a bit less for a Venezuelan barrel (currently around $34 but we are talking about average). The average price back in 1998 was $12. 53 dollars of today are about $36.2 of 1998, the year before Chávez came to power. That means the Venezuelan regime is still getting much more money than what the previous government was getting. And yet poverty levels are now back to the worst times before Chávez and the murder rate is over three times what it was back then.

The Central Bank of Venezuela stopped publishing any real piece of information a long time ago.

This is Venezuela today. The repression will keep increasing while Venezuela's neighbours try to ignore it as much as they can.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Ausländerfeindlichkeit als neue Triebkraft der bolivarischen "Revolution"


Wenn es nicht mehr geht mit der Wirtschaft, muss Maduro auf Ausländerfeindlichkeit zurückgreifen. Jetzt gibt es einen Ausnahmezustand an der Grenze mit Kolumbien. Die Militärs werfen Tausende Kolumbianer aus dem Lande. Mehrere ihrer Häuser wurden von Bulldozern zertrümmert. Das kommt bei einigen in Venezuela gut an. Bei vielen anderen eher nicht. 

Maduro macht Uribe und die "Rechtsextremisten Kolumbiens" für die Mangelwirtschaft in Venezuela verantwortich. Der Schmuggel aber, der auch zum großen Teil von venezolanischen Militärs verwaltet und vorangetrieben wird, konnte nur dadurch blühen, dass Maduro weiterhin die verfehlte Wirtschaftspolitik des verstorbenen Caudillos Chávez verteidigt hat. Die offiziellen Preise vieler Produkte in Venezuela haben nichts, aber nichts mit ihrem Wert zu tun. Da die Produktion zusammenbricht, gibt es im Lande nichts mehr zu tun, als subventionierte Produkte zu kaufen und wieder im Schwarzmarkt oder im Ausland nach Schmuggelaktionen zu verkaufen.

Was ich von Freunden und Verwandten außerhalb Caracas höre ist ziemlich schlimm. Die Mangelzustände werden immer grösser. 


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Fast Plünderung in Makro, Valencia / Almost Looting in Makro, Valencia



That's the mood in Venezuela. A few days ago the looting took place in San Felix, Guayana.

Things got under control...sort of.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Chávez farce: import substitution



12 September 1999: Chávez unveiled a "plan" to diversify the economy and make it less dependent on oil.
End of 2009: One of Chávez's military pals, Jesse Chacón, announced in one of his many positions as minister for everything a program for import substitution.
January 2010: Chávez announced a new fund to substitute imports
September 2014: Another of the former military coupsters, now minister Rodolfo Clemente Marco Torres, unveiled a plan to substitute imports.
1 August 205: Maduro makes public a new plan to substitute imports and diversify the economy.


There were many more declarations in the last 15 years about the regime's commitment to diversifying the economy. Actually: Venezuelan governments have repeated similar wishes for the past 5 decades or so but since Chavismo is in power, Venezuela's productivity has only known one way: down. 

The truth is that in 1998 Venezuela's non-oil related exports accounted for about 15% of the total and nowadays it is less than 4%.

Still, a change will be extremely difficult. According to Hinterlaces (not a pollster I trust much, but I think they do have it right here), most Venezuelans still think the fixed currency exchange rate of 6.3 Bolivars for a dollar should be maintained.

Venezuelans do not know what a free currency exchange is. Nobody, much less economists, wants or can explain them how things work in the world and what currency exchange rates have to do with productivity.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Venezuela's regime doesn't want international observers

It is clear what happens when oil prices are not enough: the Maduro regime refuses to accept international observers for December's National Assembly elections.

The question now is what the international community will do about this.

Will it start to finally put real pressure on the autocratic regime that has so long ruled over Venezuela?


Monday, 27 July 2015

Polish newspaper Wyborcza, Ms Sapiezynska and Venezuela (updated 2)

Last month I was in Poland and I asked a couple of friends there to recommend a newspaper on the "liberal side". They both mentioned Gazeta Wiborcza, which is a newspaper that usually partners with the Guardian. My Polish is still basic, but I want to improve it and one of the ways of doing that is by reading as much as possible. 

One day on a trip to the Tatras I had some time and decided to read a bit during a dinner. There was a very interesting article about Pasternak, a victim of communism. Then I found a couple of other articles about economic matters. Interesting. Before I continue I have to say it seems, all in all, like a good newspaper. Then I came across an article about the populist politician Pawel Kukiz written by a certain Ewa Sapiezynska. That's when I almost chocked on my until then delicious borsch. I re-read it thinking I hadn't got it right. I checked with GoogleTranslate. It still said what I thought was nonsense. I checked with my Polish friends: it was nonsense.

Ms Sapiezynska studied sociology and spent some time in Chile and a few months in Venezuela. She currently works as researcher at a lesser known private university in Warsaw and she is, apparently, one of those in Poland who still defend the Chavista regime.


I knew little about Kukiz. Basically, what I knew was what my friends had told me and what I had read in such publications as Spiegel, the Guardian and The Economist. All in all the guy doesn't leave any positive impression on me: he is a disgusting populist, has conservative, extremist view, etc. This post is not about him, though. It is about Chávez and the way Sapiezynska tries to say Chávez was the good populist. Basically Sapiezynska says Chávez might be a populist, but a good one, while Kukiz is a bad one.

I leave it to others to discuss about who this Kukiz character is. I still hardly know about Poland, even if it seems my very superficial knowledge about that country is better than the idea Ms Sapiezynska has about my country.

Here you read my comments on what she wrote in Wyborcza and what she wrote in Al Jazeera.

Sapiezynska said Chávez came from a poor family. In reality his family was lower middle class, like mine. Chávez used to say - this is not reported by her but many other foreign 'believers' bought into that- his family was so poor he had to go barefooted. That was simply bullshit. At that time two teachers could afford to buy shoes for their children and much more. I know: my parents were teachers as well. In fact: the purchasing power of a teacher back then was higher than now. And Chávez's family had quite some land that came from one ancestors of his, Maisanta, who was a competing warlord to dictator Gómez but who was turned into a revolutionary by Chávez's take on history.

Education didn't become free with Chavismo. In fact: a lot of Chavista honchos not only went to university for free during the so-called "IV Republic". They even got scholarships to study abroad, like the husband of the Infanta María Gabriela Chávez, who studied foreign relations abroad with a scholarship introduced in the government Chávez tried to topple.

This Polish sociologist claims Chávez was born "with the wrong skin colour" and in spite of the racial component, he managed to become an official. That is also rubbish. There was and there is racism in Venezuela and yet the situation is much better than in countries such as Poland. There were governors and presidents of the Central Bank that were as or darker than Chávez. The reason is simple: the vast majority of Venezuelans are incredibly mixed. I know that. My family is.

She doesn't go into details about what really happened in Venezuela in 1989 and 1992. In reality the "neo-liberal reforms" Carlos Andrés Pérez announced in 1989 were hardly implemented as the government became largely paralyzed firstly by the violence than ensued that announcement, the violence called El Caracazo, and by the legal actions against Pérez because of corruption. Some claim up to 3000 people were murdered during those days. Still, until now there is no list of missing people, even if the violence took place in the most urban centres of Venezuela. Until now only about 270 deaths have been accounted for. Why has Chavismo not been interested in an independent investigation about those events? Because military honchos close to Chávez were as much involved in the crimes against innocent people as what they later called "the right". Because even some of the military honchos who got power when Chávez arrived had relatives who were actually killed by the extreme left fighting the military in their usual cat-and-mouse games in the eighties.

Ms Sapiezynska doesn't say right-winged dictator Pérez Jiménez, a man who got hundreds of social democrats, communists and other people in prison camps, who got them tortured and sometimes jailed, was a model for Chávez and that Chávez repeatedly mentioned his admiration for that guy and how superior he was over the democracy that came after him and preceded Chávez.

Ms Sapiezynska is probably under 30 but she should have known about the shortage economist at the end of the socialist regime in Poland (probably she would call it "state capitalism"). Venezuela's shortage economy precedes Maduro: it started to appear when Chávez instituted massive price controls, introduced a currency control that helped increase corruption and let the Central Bank print money to win every possible election.

Sapiezynska quotes two very well-known Chavista apologists other people from the extreme left quote as "independent analysts": Mark Weisbrot and George Cicariello-Maher. They are as independent as the current ambassador of Venezuela to Cuba.

She writes in Al Jazeera that Venezuela had a stable economy when Venezuelans had been queuing up for many years to buy milk and chicken, flour and sugar. She doesn't not mention Venezuela has the highest inflation in the Western hemisphere and she does not mention the government of Chávez let M2 grow as you would not see in any single normal country. 

This is how the Chávez regime printed money


Sapiezynska doesn't mention that although Venezuela has been highly dependent on oil for over 70 years, the  dependency now is much higher, even if we didn't take into account the oil price development in the past 15 years. In 1998 oil made up 70% of Venezuela's exports. Now the percentage is more than 96%. Back in 1998 Venezuela exported - in total - more non-oil related goods than now.

This sociologist does not explain how the "empresarios" (it seems she wants the word to take the same sense as "politicos" in English) managed to take money out of the country and create chaos. Actually, she probably doesn't have a clue about how Chavismo has created the most corrupt system Venezuela has had by maintaining the different currency systems that enable shameless arbitrage.

She may not understand the fact the government keeps giving petrol almost for free does not have to do with any social measure, as subsidized public transport could be introduced, but on the fact the military  is the main beneficiary of the smuggling that ensues. If Venezuela's petrol prices were raised to a fraction of the average price you see in South America as a whole, the government would have several times more money to spend on education or health...but the military wouldn't be able to make the profits it make now. It goes the same for a lot of other products.

At the end of the day, though, the purchasing power of a Venezuelan is nowadays lower than that of a Colombian or a Brazilian. Cars in Venezuela are now several times more expensive than in Germany but petrol is for free...and vegetables that grow optimally in Venezuela are cheaper in Western Europe. This is not caused by greedy "empresarios" but by policies of people who are sometimes just complete incompetent military or pseudo-revolutionaries and sometimes complete criminals with huge fortunes based on the arbitration produced by price controls and import benefits to friends of the government.

Sapiezynska doesn't mention at all the murder rate in Venezuela more than tripled since the military caudillo got elected in 1998. If she did, she would probably say, like notorious Ramonet, from Le Monde Diplomatique, that it is a plan by the CIA (Ramonet wrote years ago two full pages in that rag to explain why the increase in crime during Chávez's tenure was caused by the CIA and what he called the extreme right, which is anyone opposing Chavismo...he didn't provide a single proof in those huge two pages).

Sapiezynska does not tell people that the so-called achievements of the regime lag far behind those of a lot of Latin American states.

She claims Chavismo reduced poverty by 50% since 1998 but she doesn't say that data is already old, that that reduction was only possible because international oil prices rose not by 50%, not by 100% but by more than 500% and that poverty has been increasing for many years now. Even if the Central Bank and the INE are hiding most of the recent data, poverty figures are probably back to what they were in 1998. How do you know that? You just have do do the maths and compare the purchasing power back then and now. On top of that, Sapiezynska doesn't tell the readers poverty reduction has been more effective in many of the Latin American countries with governments that belong to bad "team" (in her Manichean world). If she cared, she could check out the data from ECLAC or the World Bank: the less developed countries of South America have overtaken Venezuela in poverty reduction already before oil prices started to drop (and they still haven't reached by far the levels they were before Chávez came to power, even if you take into account inflation).

She claims Chavismo has done something for education when we know that claim is bogus: Venezuela didn't eradicate illiteracy as I wrote already here. There was never an independent United Nations' study about illiteracy in Venezuela. In fact, Chavismo took Venezuela away from international academic tests on education quality. As I reported earlier (in German here, with some links in English), Chavismo even tried to sabotage the efforts carried out by the regional government of Capriles to let the few schools it had under its administration to take part in the PISA programme. If some journalist has any doubt about this, she can get in touch with me.
Life expectancy: Mexico got to Venezuelan levels, Colombia and Peru overtook it since Chavismo is in power

Sapiezynska won't tell you about how the current head of the Supreme Court was a friend of Chávez and a former candidate for the position of governor of Nueva Esparta for the Chávez party. She won't tell you the previous head of the Supreme Court - during Chávez's time - publicly declared that the division of powers was bad for the State (and thus not welcome).

She doesn't say anything about the incredible nepotism under Chávez or Maduro. Nepotism nowadays is even worse than during the Monaga times of the XIX century. The head of the Republic's Treasury is Maduro's nephew. Several dozen relatives of Maduro and his wife are employed by them at the National Assembly.

She won't tell you about how the former military coupster Diosdado Cabello, the second in command and a coup monger like Chávez, uses illegally wiretapped recordings of the opposition to threaten them on public TV. She won't tell you Cabello's wife is minister of tourism and his brother is the minister of Industry.

Above all, she won't tell you about how oil prices evolved during the eighties and the nineties.

I suppose this sociologist prefers not to read Amnesty International's reports on Venezuela and much less Human Rights Watch's. They are probably agents of the Empire and HRW was even expelled by Chávez. I suppose she would consider the current ombudsman of the Venezuelan people, Tarek Williams Saab, the right source of information for that. You can watch Chávez here reading a poem Saab wrote.

Wyborcza has a wide range of contributors with very different opinions. I suppose this person is one of those who claims to be "the real left". Poland might not have as many contacts with Latin America as Germany, France or Spain and Ms Sapiezynska might have been one of the few "scholars" available at a certain time and moment and who might have had the time to write something about the country. Still, Wyborcza should try to find people who have a more solid knowledge about Venezuela's economy and history and who are honest enough as to present the different positions of the Venezuelan population as a whole, not only those of a particular ideology or, should I use Kundera's term?, of a particular imagology.


Ps. tip: read what The Guardian's journalist Rory Carroll had to say about Chavismo