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Chávez Fiddles With Bush While Venezuela’s Economy Burns

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Venezuela’s president-cum-dictator, Hugo Chávez, consumed by his hatred for the United States and President George W. Bush, continued his attempts to disrupt Bush’s fence-mending trip to Latin America by leading a protest rally in Argentina on Friday.

According to the Associated Press, Chávez also excoriated Bush today: this time in Bolivia, “the latest stop on a Chavez tour intended to upstage President Bush’s own trip through Latin America…"

As it turned out, not everyone welcomed Chavez, especially in Bolivia's cattle-ranching state of Beni, which is a stronghold of opposition to President Evo Morales. Morales is a Chavez ally and has promised to redistribute large amounts of land to the poor, threatening the successful cattle industry. Local leaders see Chavez' assistance to Morales as political opportunism and resent his interference in Bolivia.

The governor of Beni and the mayor of Trinidad have refused to receive Chavez. They complained that Venezuelan aid workers have ignored their authority and that Chavez is meddling in their local politics:

"We are grateful for the assistance of the Venezuelan people, but we're bothered by the intervention of Chavez in Bolivia," Mayor Moises Shiriqui told The Associated Press. "He's coming here for a political campaign."

Meanwhile, Bush, in Uruguay on Saturday, was hosted by that country's Socialist President, Tabaré Vazquez at the latter’s ranch retreat, Estancia Anchorena, west of Montevideo. Following a private meeting and discussion, both met with the press. According to the Associated Press:

Vazquez said "We have created a plan starting with this meeting" in which trade and agriculture experts from both countries will meet to iron out differences.

Bush said the United States is "fully prepared to reduce agricultural subsidies" but first wants to make sure "there is market access for our products."

While Chávez indulges in his anti-Bush rhetoric in Argentina and Bolivia, back home in Venezuela the economy is tanking fast. Inflation, which has been rising rapidly due to Chávez’, profligate and importune spending, has reached 20 percent, giving Venezuela the highest inflation in the hemisphere.

Price controls, instituted by Chávez in a vain attempt to control inflation (remember Nixon in the seventies?), have seriously disrupted the food distribution system in the country, causing severe shortages of basic foodstuffs, and prompting the Chávez government to send police patrols to inspect food warehouses and Mom-and-Pop grocery stores, searching for what they are calling “hoarders and speculators,” while threatening violators with jail sentences.

Meat packers and slaughterhouses are turning away farmers’ cows because the government-imposed prices for meat are too low to even pay the cost of slaughtering and butchering the cattle.

According to venezuelanalysis.com a Venezuela-based “news” service, which is plainly biased in favor of the Chávez regime, the government’s latest useless measure to quell the inflation will be an “indexing” of the Bolívar, reducing 1,000 Bolívar notes to a nominal 1 Bolívar face value.

Having lived through similar currency indexings in both Brasil and México, I have seen that this kind of manipulation of the currency does absolutely no good; prices soon rise to their pre-index levels under the pressure of price controls.

Of course, as with all economic problems in any country, the segment of the population hardest hit by the chaos in the Venezuelan economy are the very same poor Chávez has sworn to help, and who are his most ardent supporters.

Mr. Chávez, you would do well to go back home and mind your own business-literally.

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Palomudo

    Wow, superior writers indeed! what a pile of hatred and misinformation.

    You are liers at the service of evil.

    May you and yours burn in hell!

  • Clavos

    Your comment would carry a lot more weight, Palomudo, if you were to point out just what parts of the article you consider to be “lies and misinformation”, and why.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    So perhaps you could point out what in this article is incorrect. Be specific about the ‘misinformation’. If not we can only conclude that the lying and the hatred rests with you, Palo.

    Dave

  • troll

    well…one could object to:

    *Inflation, which has been rising rapidly due to Chávez’, profligate and importune spending, has reached 20 percent, giving Venezuela the highest inflation in the hemisphere.*

    I’m not sure how obvious it is that spending on health – education – nationalization – and building a militia is ‘profligate and importune’

    and remember – as moonraven informed us – he believes that he has a limited number of years to accomplish his ‘good works’

    2012 is just around the corner…why worry about a little inflation just now – ?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    I’m not sure how obvious it is that spending on health – education – nationalization – and building a militia is ‘profligate and importune’

    Well, that last certainly is. I can’t see any reason why Venezuela needs the largest military in the region unless they plan to invade their neighbors. They’ve also purchased a lot of very expensive military hardware which they really don’t need. That’s all pretty irresponsible.

    and remember – as moonraven informed us – he believes that he has a limited number of years to accomplish his ‘good works’

    One would think that not having to run for reelection would give him plenty of time to destroy the country at a slower pace.

    2012 is just around the corner…why worry about a little inflation just now – ?

    Because it leads to real suffering, hardship and deprivation for the people of a country which has a poverty rate of around 40%.

    Dave

  • Paul2

    In this entire article Clavos and his buddy Dave repeat their lies and false assumptions about Venezuela, that you have posted in other threads. You’ve received enough valid data in these threads that proved you were totally wrong and then you just stop replying or deliberately misinterpret sources. So there’s no need for Palomundo or anyone else to waste time with you.

    1. Chavez has been elected 4 times, certified by the OAS, EU and the Carter center and all his actions are within the constitution – not a dictator.

    2. Inflation in Venezuela is -when taking the numbers since 1995- at an all time low (in 1997 i.e. it was over 80%) as you can see here, so the 20% today are actually quite an improvement: latin-focus.com
    Source: Banco Central de Venezuela.

    3. Venezuela has above average GDP growth in South America as you can see here (2006: 9,4%): frbatlanta.org
    Source: International Monetary Fund

  • Paul2

    4. Poverty had dropped steadily since 1997 as you can read here in the report from the Center of Economic and Policy Research (CEPR): From 1997(rate 60.94%) to 2005 (rate 43.47%).

  • Paul2

    5. Unemployment has dropped steadily since 1996 as you can see here Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadística

    According to the International Business Times Unemployment was at 8.4 % in December 2006. The lowest rate since more than 10 years.

    [Paul2: Please format your links as per Blogcritics protocol. That means like this – Blogcritics and not like this http://blogcritics.org. Thanks. Comments Editor]

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    In this entire article Clavos and his buddy Dave repeat their lies and false assumptions about Venezuela, that you have posted in other threads. You’ve received enough valid data in these threads that proved you were totally wrong and then you just stop replying or deliberately misinterpret sources. So there’s no need for Palomundo or anyone else to waste time with you.

    Paul, because everything we’ve posted about Venezuela has been true, nothing we’ve said has ever been effectively refuted and no contradictory facts have ever been presented – not by you or anyone else. Bring us some facts and we’ll gladly consider them. Remember that unlike those of you who are heavily invested in Chavez’ success because of your allegiance to international socialism, Clavos and I have no dogs in this hunt. We don’t live there, what happens there doesn’t impact us in any way, and we only care because we don’t like to see people exploited and oppressed.

    1. Chavez has been elected 4 times, certified by the OAS, EU and the Carter center and all his actions are within the constitution – not a dictator.

    So disingenuous. He had to CHANGE the Constitution with a legislature which was stuffed with his supporters in order to do the things he has done to expand presidential power.

    2. Inflation in Venezuela is -when taking the numbers since 1995- at an all time low (in 1997 i.e. it was over 80%) as you can see here, so the 20% today are actually quite an improvement:
    latin-focus.com/latinfocus/countries/venezuela/vencpi.htm
    Source: Banco Central de Venezuela.

    That’s great, but inflation in the entire region is down since then – Venezuela less than all of its neighbors. Hell, Brazil had 400% inflation at one point in the 80s. You don’t dispute Clavos’ figure here, do you?

    3. Venezuela has above average GDP growth in South America as you can see here (2006: 9,4%): frbatlanta.org
    Source: International Monetary Fund

    Indeed it did. One of the positives. I’m the first to admit that Chavez’ regime has not been entirely negative. He seems to have a pretty good head for business of the state-controlled type. He’s a good salesman as well. My argument would be that the loss of individual liberty and property rights isn’t worth the economic improvements, but the ultimate outcome of that remains to be seen.

    can read here in the report from the Center of Economic and Policy Research (CEPR): From 1997(rate 60.94%) to 2005 (rate 43.47%).

    This doesn’t change the fact that the current rate is still extraordinarily high. What you’re saying is sort of like a wife-beater saying that he’s a good guy because he stopped beating his wife on weekends and now only does it on weekdays.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Paul2:

    1: I have answered this point repeatedly. There is evidence of intimidation of opposition candidates and voters in all of those elections. He is buying those who do vote for him, with promises of better housing, education, etc., and for the most part has not fulfilled those promises. In any case, I never said he didn’t win the elections; all my writing about him has been focused on the systematic way he is consolidating ALL power in the country into his own (and no one else’s) hands, and setting himself up to be “President For Life,” a la Papa Doc, in Haiti.

    2: So, because inflation has been higher in Venezuela’s past, it’s OK that it’s so high now?

    Again, those who are hurt most by high inflation are the very people he pledged to help and who are his most ardent supporters. As it is now, they can’t even get enough of that most basic of human needs, food. But apparently it’s more important to Chavez to be away, trying to screw up Bush’s trip, instead of staying home and working to fix the economy.

    3: Even my twelve year old nephew could have a healthy GDP growth rate with control of those oil fields. As we have seen, rising GDP isn’t worth anything if the rest of your economy is in shambles and all that income is under the control of just one individual.

    4: Sorry, I don’t trust figures promulgated by the Chavez government any more than you trust figures from the Bush administration.

    Your much ballyhooed “facts” just don’t stack up in the face of the reality in today’s Venezuela.

  • Clavos

    Paul,

    Sorry, didn’t see your #5 until after I published my comment above.

    From the IB Times article you cite:

    The total number of jobless Venezuelans in December fell to 1,038,779 while Venezuela’s total work force stood at 12,323,877 or 66 percent of the total population, the National Statistics Institute announced. (Emphasis mine)

    For my answer, see my answer to your #4.

  • Clavos

    Chris,

    Problems with the anti-spam software again. I lost a comment just now.

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com Christopher Rose

    Look again, Clavos. As always, I got your back!

  • Clavos

    Chris,

    Thank you, Sir!

  • Clavos

    Paul,

    As further evidence that Venezuela’s oil is what’s fueling (!) the economy, remember that when the price of oil plummeted a few months ago, Chavez was forced to sharply curtail a number of his social improvement projects; and to this day there are a number of half finished government projects on which no work is being done yet.

    When the price of oil again goes down, as it inevitably must, given the world’s newfound fervor to reduce its carbon footprint, Mr. Chavez will once again be in a lot of trouble unless he starts paying more attention to the economy.

  • Paul2

    Summary of Hugo Chavez’ work according to the academic sources I stated above:

    1. Inflation is decreasing.
    2. Gross Domestic Product is increasing at an overproportional rate.
    3. The poverty rate has dropped 17% since 1997.
    4. Unemployment is at a 10-year low.

    I don’t understand how anyone can claim that Venezuela is “burning” or going downhill on the basis of these facts or that Chavez is doing a particular bad job.

    I agree that a faster reduction of inflation and a faster reduction of poverty levels is desirable.

  • http://venezuela-usa.blogspot.com/ KA

    Venezuelanalysis.com – yes it is biased, it shares the office space with the government run television station VTV.

    CEPR – their source of info is the venezuelan information office (VIO) 100% run by the Venezuelan government (this has already been shown extensively). BTW, it would be ironic if poverty hasn’t decline some but based on the oil income one would expect a greater reduction. Also the CEPR numbers cited show a ~20 reduction in poverty in one month, makes you think how they got the numbers.

    So Venezuelans should be happy they “only” have 20% inflation. I’m confused don’t people want a better future not a worse one?

  • Clavos

    1. Inflation is decreasing.

    Inflation is emphatically NOT decreasing. It is lower than it was ten years ago, but much higher than it was a year, or even six months ago (17%). It is, in fact increasing, and rapidly so.

    I already refuted the rest of your points upthread, but here’s yet another set of data, from Wikipedia:

    In the view of the libertarian Russian economist Andrei Illarionov, Venezuela’s policy of state capitalism (successive governments carried out wide-ranging nationalisations from 1958 on) was a debacle: The “patriotically motivated” economic policy proved devastating as Venezuela slid into its deepest economic crisis. By 2004 its per capita GDP was 37 percent lower than half a century before that. The degrading impact of state command in the economy spread beyond government institutions – it caused the degeneration of Venezuelan society, affecting two generations of people who grew up during state capitalism. Today, Venezuela has no political forces capable of leading it out of the historical deadlock.

    Also, from the same source article:

    Venezuelan officials estimated the economy contracted 7.2% in 1999. A steep downturn in international oil prices during the first half of the year fueled the recession, and spurred the administration to abide by OPEC-led production cuts in an effort to raise world oil prices. (The petroleum sector dominates the economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more than half of government operating revenues). Higher oil prices during the second half of 1999 took pressure off the budget and currency. With the president’s economic cabinet attempting to reconcile a wide range of views, the country’s economic reform program had largely stalled. The reforms were mainly in microeconomics such as the reduction or abolition of education and hospital fees. The government sought international assistance to finance reconstruction after massive flooding and landslides in December 1999 caused an estimated US$15 billion to $20 billion in damage.

    There was a sharp drop in investment and a general recession during 2002 and 2003. Total GDP decreased 18.5% during the first semester of 2003 compared with the same period in 2002. This is the steepest decline in Venezuelan history. The hardest hit sectors were construction (-55.9%), petroleum (-26.5%), commerce (-23.6%) and manufacturing (-22.5%).

    In 2002, the Venezuelan economy, as measured by Gross domestic product (GDP), contracted by 8.9% compared to 2001. The petroleum sector, which contracted by 12.6% in 2002 as compared to 2001, was adversely affected by a decrease in exports of petroleum products resulting from adherence to an OPEC quota established in 2002 and the virtual cessation of exports as a result of a national strike by forces intent on removing Chavez from power,The non petroleum sector of the economy contracted by 6.5% compared to 2001. This situation was accompanied by a significant devaluation of the Bolivar during 2002, which resulted in an accelerated inflation rate. The inflation rate, as measured by the CPI, was 31.2% in 2002 compared to 12.3% in 2001.

    In short, under Chavez’ leadership, the Venezuelan economy has been extremely volatile, due in large part to their continuing near total dependence on oil for revenue, and gross mismanagement by the government.

    Current percentage growth rates, coming as they do from abysmal lows, are meaningless.

    Meanwhile, Chavez is gallivanting around South America playing the demagogue and yapping at Bush’s heels like a Chihuahua.

    The “academic sources” you cite are getting their information from the Chavista government.

    All the sources I cited, except for venezuelanalysis, have no connection with the government and give a very different picture of the current and historic state of the Venezuelan economy during the Chavez regime.

  • http://www.venenews.net GWEH

    Palomudo and CEPR are shilling for Chavez… CEPR’s Mark Weisbrot is a big DC recipient of Chavez dough. Checkout this website for the complete lowdown.

  • Paul2

    #17

    1. None of the sources above are from Venezuelananalysis.com, a site that always footnotes its sources, BTW.

    2. If you’ve read the CEPR report, it analyizes the statistical methods used and concludes that they are valid and haven’t been changed.

    3. GDP growth was 9,4% in 2006 according to the International Monetary Fund, it’s not affiliated with Mr. Chavez.

    4. Inflation is at a 10-year low.

    5. Statistics offices are always run by governments-everywhere in the world. Theres no need to show that, because it doesn’t mean anything.

    6. The European Union, the Carter Center and the OAS are not affiliated with Mr. Chavez.

    7. A 17% poverty reduction in nine years is an impressive figure.

    8. You’ve not made one educated statement in your post that enhances this discussion or any of the facts presented.

    9. Go shopping and shut up.

  • Paul2

    Clavos,

    it’s March 2007.

    Economic developments can only be assessed on a long-term basis, thats why I used long term figures.

    You’ve not refuted any of the data referred to in #6,#7 or #8, concerning inflation, GDP, poverty reduction and unemployment.

    Venezuela depends heavily on oil. So does Saudi-Arabia, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

  • http://venezuela-usa.blogspot.com/ KA

    Paul2, venezuelanalysis can cite all they want , but it doesn’t change the fact that those sources are clearly biased, and that many are currently or were at onetime on the pay roll of the venezuelan govt.

    BTW, I do read the inaccurate reports by the CEPR (Mark Weisbrot) I’ve actually read his PhD thesis have you?

    Inflation at a 10 year low? really? show me the numbers!

  • http://www.venenews.net GWEH

    One last thing, the person posting as “Paul2″ is either misinformed or shilling. In either case he is ignorant about the realities in Venezuela.

    The Chavez government has a large Cuban sponsored PR propaganda and disinformation machine in the US. A lot of this activity is funded via the embassy in DC or the Venezuelan Information Office (VIO) in DC. VIO dishes out over $1 million per month placing them at the top of foreign government PR expenditures in the US.

    The rule of thumb with Venezuela is simple: Everything the government says in public and private is a lie. Whatever they say about their enemies (US) applies to them first. Venezuela is very complicated and bizarre. Chavez’s inner circle is comprised of psychopaths. His supporters are either stealing, misinformed, or ignorant.

  • Paul2

    KA+GWEH

    1. I didn’t use venezuelananalyis, so it doesn’t matter what you think about it. You link to venezuelancrisis on your site, that speaks for itself.

    2. I’ve cited six real sources to support my arguments, you haven’t cited anything and you’ve not presented any arguments either, besides calling people “psychopaths, stealing and being ignorant.”

    3. Your choice of words suggests that you are not suitable for a rational discussion and have not been properly educated.

  • http://venezuela-usa.blogspot.com/ KA

    GDP growth was actually ~11% for ’06 but is going to significantly drop this year to ~5% then 2.5% in ’08 again growth was due to oil income (not sustainable). – the poor lose out

    CEPR- I won’t comment they are unreliable

    unemployment is now in double digits again ~60% work in the informal economy which is reliant on consumer spending which is rampant.

    In short things will begin to look ugly sooner rather than later unless oil prices increase drastically.

  • GWEH

    Paul2:

    That’s http://www.venezuelatoday.net

    “Your one-stop source for the latest news & info”

    Go read and learn

    that website has all the relevant English and Spanish links from both sides. The reader decides. How’s that for fair and balanced?

    My comments are not aimed at you Paul2. The are for the folks who visit this article. You are correct about us not bothering to discuss with idiots like you.

  • Paul2

    If your comments aren’t aimed at me, than don’t adress me in the first place.

    And don’t call me an idiot when you’re unable to make a substantiated comment about any of the issues adressed other than “his supporters are either stealing, misinformed, or ignorant.”

  • BriMan

    First the IMF and Venezuelan elites sell out the Venezuelan people, Texaco and others rape their resources and trash the environment, Chavez gets popularly elected, the CIA tries to f- that all up, Bush and his supporters threaten Chavez with his life (minimal US press), Chavez calls Bush evil (maximum US press) and Chavez cant clean up the mess quick enough to make Clavos and Dave happy.

    One lie is that Chavez hates the United States – he hates our government along with half of all Americans who dislike Kool-Aid as well.

    Another lie but not about Venezuela per se is that Bush is touring S. America to mend fences. That would require Bush to admit his foreign policy to date has been a failure and he hasnt done so. For instance, he goes to Brazil to ask for help supplying America with ethanol (they make it out of sugar-cane there – a much more efficient form of ethanol) but Bush refuses to lower tariffs to import the stuff. Not very pragmatic for a fence-mender I’d say.

    And one last point about how desperate the tone of this article is – really rich Bolivian ranchers dont like Chavez meddling in their country!! Poor rich ranchers – might have to give some land back to the people they stole it from…almost made me cry —- with laughter!!!

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    really rich Bolivian ranchers dont like Chavez meddling in their country!! Poor rich ranchers – might have to give some land back to the people they stole it from

    This shows the typical lack of understanding of the brainless left when it comes to exploitation of natural resources. The people they ‘stole’ the land from were hardly using it and easily relocatable. The land itself had little or no intrinsic value. Almost all of the value in the land came from clearing and cultivating it and from importing and maintaining the cattle on it. All of this a massive investment of generations of labor, which ‘paid’ for the land hundreds of times over and far more than the physical land itself was ever worth. When you take that land away from the rancher, you’re taking away everything he and his family ever had – every bit of savings and hard work and giving it to someone who didn’t do that work and didn’t earn that land. It’s disgusting.

    Dave

  • soontobeexpat

    Clavos! You hit it on the head man! I am a Venezuelan, living in Caracas. Inflation rate you name is a LIE. I buy at the supermarket every week, what is left, mind you. You can flip over at the cash register EVERY TIME. I have receipts saved from every purchase I make, from 2000 to now. FORGET about those numbers you get from the Central Bank…
    The truth is that many “ideologists” want to believe Chavez’s words and propaganda at face value. Many are based on information from internal sources, or information that is fed into the mainstream news sources as “real”. Hitler and Goebbels were master minds of this technique and if the message doesn’t convice you, at least it confuses (as you can read in all the comments) You need only to step foot inside a public hospital, a public school or one of the famous health systems (Barrio Adentro I, II, III or IV) to understand what is happening. It SEEMS wonderful on paper, on ads in TV spots and documentaries produced by the government, but it is pitiful in reality.
    The votes you say? I just had a long talk with a good friend of mine that works INSIDE the CNE (Electoral council) She has been there for 13 years and is a good friend of the VicePresident (Who was before the president of the Electoral Council) She said to ME (Not a news agency, not the OAS… to ME) there is a “black box”, meaning an unreachable part of the database, that has 2.5 million votes already accounted to Chavez, votes that don’t change EVER, no matter what election goes on. That is how you explain that 12 million electors voted in 33 thousand machines in less than 10 hours (polling places are open from 6 am to 4 pm). That gives us a rate of 1 vote every 98 seconds in EVERY machine, without stopping even for a breath and without taking into account that most voting places did not even start at 6 am at all. THe evidence is plainly there, but ONLY TIME will finally set the truth. We now know who Hitler really was, even though many around the world would not have accepted you criticize him in 1933, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 ,39, etc, etc. We will know who Chavez really is and those fanatics will be the FIRST, hear me well, FIRST to say they never, ever in a lifetime defended Chavez or his policies.
    And that my friend is a lesson to be learned, after a country has been destroyed, the fanatic defenders of the regime won’t be there to pick up the pieces… This is also why so many government people are sending their families out of Venezuela, they already know…

  • moonraven

    Same old shit:

    1. Clavos and Dave [Personal attack deleted] posts a bunch of lies and disinformation about Venezuela–quote marks included in the original post but no source sited. How original can you rednecks get?

    2. Other folks post information and facts–WITH SOURCES–that COMPLETELY refute the Clavos/Dave post of OPINION.

    3. Clavos/Dave insults the poster who has refuted him with facts and information, and then tries to take the moral high road when confronted.

    4. Dave and Clavos slip a couple of their cloned posters into the mix to try to gang up on the folks who have facts and information on their side. I am surprised that Vox Poluli was not trotted out again….

    The bottom line is:

    1. Neither Clavos [Personal attack deleted] nor Dave has ever been to Venezuela. Clavos does hang out with the Posada Gang of terrorists in South Florida–hence his obvious bias. (Maybe they even give him leads on narcos in need of fast boats?)

    2. Neither of these jokers ever reads ANYTHING–in Spanish or in English. They just make it up as they go along.

    3. The Chavez tour speaks for itself–it’s Chavez on all the front page in Latin America over the past few days. Not Bush. I ought to know–I LIVE HERE! Here there have been massive–and I mean MASSIVE–street protests in Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Bogota, Guatemala and the lines are now in place for “bombas yucatecas” (Merida is the site for the Mexico meeting). NOBODY has anything good to say for Bush. The papers are full of pieces on the order of “Bush: Peligro para America Latina”.

    The propaganda machine of the White House didn’t work, so why bother to listen to pennyante rednecks like Dave/Clavos?

    Point of fact: clavos indicated that Chavez LEAD a protest ralley on Friday. Wrong, as usual. Las Madres de la Plaza del Mayo organized and lead the rally–for those of you who don’t know who they are, they are the mothers and grandmothers of victims of Argentina’s dictatorship in the 70s and 80s that was SUPPORTED BY THE US.

    Chavez just happened to be the most important speaker….

  • moonraven

    The soontobeexpat has pretty good English. I happen to know that the folks who take English classes in Caracas are “escualidos”.

    Cero credibilidad, compa.

  • Zedd

    Did anyone say Dave + moral high road in one sentence??

    That’s just wrong on so many levels.

    Clavos

    You’ve got to give it to MR #1 was funny, even though I blushed profusely.

  • BriMan

    Dave-
    Your bleeding heart for the downtrodden, criminally rich makes me swoon – in hysterical amusement!!

    If I took your logic, applied it to the indigenous population and took the perspective that unexploited land has inherent wealth and beauty beyond just its monetary value without the interference of man then I could easily come to a similar conclusion about the original inhabitants who WERE THERE FIRST!!

    By your logic – married women who are not getting laid are fair game due to lack of use!!

    God – I couldnt make this shit up in my wildest dreams! Only clear cut land has any value – WOW!

    Are you really f-ing serious?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    #31 was damned funny coming right after #30. Here’s MR ranting on and on about how we know nothing about Venezuela because everything in the news is lies and right above her someone posting FROM Venezuela is telling us we’re UNDERSTATING how bad things really are. Truly rich. So much for the credibility of MR and the other propagandists.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Just to help MR out, I just confirmed that not only are none of the people commenting here ‘clones’, but I also confirmed that the Venezuelan commenting in #30 is indeed posting from Caracas. But I’m sure she can discount his first hand knowledge from inside Chavezistan.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    God – I couldnt make this shit up in my wildest dreams! Only clear cut land has any value – WOW!

    Maybe you ought to leave the dream world and enter the world of reality. The value of that land derives far more from the labor put into clearing, planting and maintaining it than from any intrinsic value of the land. That’s just a basic fact of colonial agriculture. Sorry if it bothers you.

    Dave

  • moonraven

    Dave Nalle is the Fox Guarding the Henhouse. Now he tells us–assures us, no less–that there are none of HIS CLONES on the thread.

    How funny!

    The guy from Caracas is an escualido–that’s all that’s necessary to say. There are also vendepatrias here in Mexico–but no one gives them any credibility.

  • http://www.friendlymisanthropist.blogspot.com alessandro nicolo

    bloomberg
    The Economist
    Latin Focus may be of service too.

    Moonraven – she who holds the Chalice of Truth – hates it when foreigners comment on South America yet she believes – while living abroad – 9/11 was an inside job – without fact and/or reason. Socialism breaks all the laws of economics because it barely understands man’s flaws and talents.

    What do I know? I’m going to buy cereal now. I think the prices here are ok – 3% inlfation. Then again, inflation is very much in the eye of the beholder and intensely personal.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Dave Nalle is the Fox Guarding the Henhouse. Now he tells us–assures us, no less–that there are none of HIS CLONES on the thread.

    No, it’s a given that I have no clones on the thread. What I was assuring people was that YOU and others have no obvious clones on the thread.

    The guy from Caracas is an escualido

    As I understand the term, what you’re engaging in here is pure bigotry. The term has no meaning that is descriptive. It is solely derogatory and used as an insult to anyone who doesn’t swallow Chavez’ dogma hook line and sinker.

    Dave

  • moonraven

    It is NOT a given, Vox Populi, that you have no clones on this thread!

    You are the ONLY one, in fact, who has been caught with his pants down–and without the balls to own up to it and apologize!

    Escaulidos are the “thin ones”–fashionistas estilo venezolano who follow the US trends and squeak and squeal at the possibility that socialism might mean that they can’t say “Dáme dos” when shopping in Miami every weekend.

  • Emerson

    FIRST OF ALL CHAVEZ DOES NOT HATE THE US!!!

    CHAVEZ HATES THE WORLD HATED BUSH ADMINISTRATION. PERIOD!!!

  • Clavos

    So now, to all his other “achievements” as Venezuelan President, Chavez can add the emergence of Venezuela as a major cocaine transshipment point between Colombia and the USA.

    According to a report issued by the Joint Interagency Task Force-South recently, thanks to USA’s ongoing aid to Colombia in fighting drug trafficking, the Colombian traffickers have shifted their transport operations to Venezuela, where, since 2005, they have found a “permissive environment” for their flights.

    Says an article published today in The Miami Herald, regarding the government report:

    The report blames the surge on the ”permissive environment” in Venezuela, ruled by U.S.-bashing President Hugo Chávez. Under Chávez, Venezuela has banned U.S. anti-drug patrol aircraft from its airspace, has not extradited any suspected traffickers to the United States, and stopped working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — accusing it of spying.

    …James O’Gara, the White House’s deputy drug czar, said Chávez had been working aggressively with U.S. law enforcement until two years ago — when his country’s borders opened up to the Colombian traffickers. Traffickers are now ”doing it with no opposition,” he added.

    The depth of the problem is revealed in the report by the Joint Interagency Task Force-South in Key West, which uses radar and other high-tech gear to track suspected drug shipments. The Miami Herald obtained the key parts of the report and confirmed its authenticity with other U.S. officials.

    …The task force report describes the surge in Venezuela-to-Hispaniola traffic this way: “Colombian cocaine is being prepositioned in VE [Venezuela] where a permissive environment exists that is allowing smuggling aircraft to depart/return with impunity. Smugglers are targeting Hispaniola [because of the] lack of enforcement and corruption.”

    The recent State Department report said Venezuela is now a transit point for some 200 metric tons a year of Colombian cocaine. That’s about one-quarter of Colombia’s total estimated cocaine production. Washington ”de-certified” Venezuela as an ally in the war on drugs in 2005.

    Apparently the Chavista government is developing a hedge against the inevitability of a future loss in oil revenue…

  • S.T.M

    But at least they’re all racing around at 100 miles an hour saying, “shit, let’s have another line”.

  • moonraven

    Right. The US is just pissed off because Chavez threw the DEA jokers out on their ass last year–because not only were they trafficking the cocaine they supposedly were there to intercept, they were also spying.

    Just sour grapes. The DEA wanted to be the high rollers (pun intended) of cocaine like the CIA are the high rollers of heroin thanks to the invasion of Afghanistan.

  • http://www.econotarian.org Mr. Econotarian

    I don’t think one can really fault the use of oil revenues for truly poverty-fighting measures such as education.

    However in the process of doing some good things, Chavez is also breaking the ability of Venezuela to have a functioning economy when the oil revenues end. Already he has made foreign investors skiddish about investing there, and his price controls are leading to shortages.

    The inflation is pretty severe, compared with Chile’s for example. Chile now has the highest GDP per capita in Latin America, and an inflation rate of just 2.1%. Chile has reduced poverty down to 18% from near 40% 20 years ago. Chile is experiencing stable GDP growth of 4%-5% for several years without high inflation.

    Time will tell whether the Chilean way or the Venezuelan way will be right way for a Latin American country to grow.

  • Clavos

    Mr. E:

    I don’t think one can really fault the use of oil revenues for truly poverty-fighting measures such as education.

    Nor do I.

    My objections to him are the freedom-limiting, anti-democratic measures he’s taken, and as you point out, the utterly gross mishandling of Venezuela’s economy.

    He talks a good show, but thus far has delivered little, except for himself.

  • http://antipatrioticvenezuelan.blogspot.com Julia

    Interesting debate indeed, the one that has been develop throughout this page. I got only a very few things to add. Im venezuelan, it is quite clear that I live in a different Venezuela of the ones who has write in this page supporting the goverment. I go to the supermarket, with the same ammount of money, but I can buy less than before, and sometimes I can’t buy a thing. Shortage of meat one day, shortage of chicken the next, shortage of sugar or black beens. Products you need and you cannot find.
    And I’m still not talking about the lack of many other things: freedom, life standards. One under Chavez live under uncertainly and fear. Im sorry for the venezuelans who cannot notice this, who can be easily fooled for the goverment version, who believes on every word that Chavez says. Im sorry for them, because we all are suffering the consecuences of the revolution. But when they finally realize of the madness of this regime, I dont know how they are going to manage with their conscience. They will be like some germans saying: “Who? Me? I never supported Hittler”.
    Many had quote sources here, I wont do it. The only source I can be related its to my blog, so any opinions against my stance, you know where to go.
    PS: Excuses for my poor english.

  • Clavos

    Su inglés es bien claro, Julia.

    Gracias por su participación y por compartir sus experiencias actuales en el Venezuela de hoy.

    For our American friends:

    Your English is quite clear, Julia.

    Thanks for your participation and for sharing your experiences in today’s Venezuela.

    I hope you will tell us more about what life is like in contemporary Venezuela.

    Clavos

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I took the trouble to check the blogsite listed in comment #48. The writer appears to be a native Venezuelan living in Caracas. She is not poor – she has the money to travel to Mexico. But she is not rich either, and her comments support those contentions of Clavos, the author of this article, as well of the fellow writing under the screen name “soontobeexpat”..

    It does not appear that Venezuela is a democracy any longer, except in the notional sense. There may be more justice for some people (I have enough sense not to comment on something I do not know), and the sitting president, Chavez, does appear to have a level of popular support, as evidenced by the details of the entry in Julia’s blog on the flag of the country, and its celebration of “Flag Day.”

    I suspect we are seeing in Venezuela much what happened in Cuba in 1958, only in slow-motion. The difference is that we know for sure that the predecessor to Fidel Castro, Battista, was a dictator. I do not know that Chavez’ predecessor was a dictator.

  • Clavos

    Ruvy,

    You’re dead on in your comparison of the Bolivarian Revolution with Castro’s; I actually was in Cuba for most of 1958 (I was a teenager at the time), and there are strong similarities. And, of course, Castro is Chavez’ mentor.

    Chavez’ revolution is in “slow-motion” (good description) because, as julia points out in her blog, he is clever enough to be making his changes slowly, so as not to stir up the opposition unduly.

  • Les Slater

    U.S. accuses many of drug related crimes. The truth is however that there is ample evidense that the CIA and U.S. military have been major contributors in drug shipment and selling.

    The police in the U.S. are in the drug business up to their ears. Many banks have substantial dealings in drug money. There are significant businesses that are there only for money laundering.

  • Les Slater

    “I actually was in Cuba for most of 1958 …., and there are strong similarities.”

    There are very few similarities between 1958 Cuba and present Venezuela. In ’58 rebels were fighting in the hills. The revolution in Cuba took power by force with the active participation of much of the population.

    To get an idea of what was happening in 1958, one should read ‘Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War, 1956-58′. To get an idea of what was happening after 1959 you should read the ‘First and Second Declarations of Havana’. You will not see much similarity of anything going on in Venezuela now.

  • Clavos

    Les wrote:

    In ’58 rebels were fighting in the hills.

    True. In fact, I was in Baracoa (port city in eastern Cuba’s Guantanamo province) while it was under siege by Castro’s guerrillas, and witnessed daily firefights in the jungles at the far end of Baracoa Bay.

    The revolution in Cuba took power by force with the active participation of much of the population.

    Partially true. Castro’s Revolution was by force, but the myth that much of the population participated was propaganda perpetuated by the Castro regime.

    We (my family and I) were there for much of 1958, which as you know, was the final year of the fighting; Castro took La Habana on January 1, 1959. We met many people during our travels throughout the island; both pro- and anti-Castro.

    The revolutionaries we met were very open and informative about their partisanship, but our experience was that, while some of the general population were sympathetic, most were afraid of fidel and his band of Merry Men and what they portended. Among the sympathizers, many feared reprisals from the SIM (Batista’s secret police) and did not actively participate in the revolution.

    The similarities I spoke of were in the goals of both revolutions. That’s not a coincidence, since Fidel is clearly Chavez’ mentor and padrino.

    You’re right in that the methodology is different; Castro should have learned something about that by now.

    C’mon Les: A book by Che and another by prominent SWP member Mary-Alice Waters can hardly be considered to be non-partisan, truthful accounts of Fidel’s adventures!

  • Clavos

    Les wrote:

    You will not see much similarity of anything going on in Venezuela now.

    I disagree. Expropriation of private property, muzzling of opposition press, and intimidation of opposition voters and candidates, as well as curtailment of civil liberties, are several obvious similarities that come readily to mind.

  • Les Slater

    Neither book was or is written by Mary-Alice Waters.

    The ‘First and Second Declarations of Havana’ were two speeches that Fidel gave to the populations at a couple critical junctures of the Cuban Revolution.

    The other, ‘Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War…’ by Che is just Che’s account of his experience. There is not any dispute that the events he described can be corrilated to well-documented history of the Cuban Revolution.

    Do you have any basis to dispute Che’s account?

  • Clavos

    Do you have any basis to dispute Che’s account?

    No, just his POV, which, of course infuses the writing. All depends on whether you want to ascribe any authority to the writings of an assassin and mass murderer.

    The ‘First and Second Declarations of Havana’ were two speeches that Fidel gave to the populations at a couple critical junctures of the Cuban Revolution.

    And edited by Waters. In any case, that doesn’t disqualify (in fact it reinforces) my point about lack of neutrality.

  • troll

    imo the main similarity is that both revolutions were/are attempts to the reject the $tatus quo and improve conditions for the have nots

    Clavos – I appreciate your critique of Chavez but

    given that things change what kind of a kick in the pants would you prefer Venezuelans experience – ?

    iyo would a Dictatorship from the right be preferable with the usual motif of deaths squads and disappearances quieting the have nots while resources are directed to a growing ‘middle class’ – ?

    how can a society direct resources to its have nots without impacting privilege – ?

  • Clavos

    troll writes:

    imo the main similarity is that both revolutions were/are attempts to the reject the $tatus quo and improve conditions for the have nots

    True. No argument from me.

    iyo would a Dictatorship from the right be preferable with the usual motif of deaths squads and disappearances quieting the have nots while resources are directed to a growing ‘middle class’ – ?

    IMO, NO “dictatorship” is a good thing. Growing a middle class IS, (again, IMO) a good thing. One of the principal economic strengths of the USA, is its large and comparatively (with most of the rest of the world) middle class.

    I don’t buy all the left wing propaganda about the horrors of modern capitalism. There are excesses, which should be corrected, but by and large I see in the USA and the other major developed, capitalistic nations, a better life for a much greater proportion of their populaces, as compared with historical societies as well as contemporary ones that are less developed.

    A healthy economy can be achieved without “disappearances” or curtailment of civil liberties inherent in dictatorships by encouraging, not discouraging, capital investment, rather than simply robbing peter to pay Paul. Your idea presupposes that an economy is a zero sum entity; history proves that’s not true.

    how can a society direct resources to its have nots without impacting privilege – ?

    By allowing “privilege” to improve themselves while improving the society at large. See also above.

    As I look at history, I don’t see socialistic societies which have improved the lot of their citizens across the board to the extent that the well-run capitalist ones have. Mostly, i see experiments in socialism which have failed abjectly: the Soviet Union and North Korea, e.g.

    The contemporary Scandinavian countries have done a pretty good job with their socialism, but even they are much more capitalistic than socialistic.

    China is rapidly improving the lot of its people by finally beginning to turn its economy toward capitalism.

  • Les Slater

    “And edited by Waters.”

    She is indeed the editor of the book, ‘First and Second …’ but she did not edit the actual First and Second Declarations that are in the book. Mary-Alice wrote the introduction explaining why Pathfinder was publishing a new combined edition at this time. Many photographs and a timeline were included to put those two Cuban documents in a historical perspective for the modern reader.

  • troll

    Clavos – your plan is fine as long as the haves can convince the have nots to accept their poverty while waiting for the trickle down effect

    there has been investment capital in Venezuela for quite some time with no appreciable improvement for so many that it is clear that investment and growth alone won’t do the trick…is it a surprise that time’s up for such utopian schemes – ?

    (I won’t get into the Capitalism vrs Socialism debate as imo these two isms are not in conflict in this age of government ‘regulated and protected’ corporate capitalism…Socialism is way too far to the right for me

    and I don’t accept your charge that my idea rests on an assumption of a zero sum game…but consider – a dingy anchored too firmly to the bottom can be sucked under and out of sight and mind in that rising tide)

  • http://antipatrioticvenezuelan.blogspot.com Julia

    Ruvy in Jerusalem” (comment # 50) has pointed in a very objective way what I wanted to tell about whats happening in my country. What this comment says about “it appears”, it is true (although, i must say that spounsours payed that trip to Mexico, i couldnt ever possible afford it given the current circunstances). Im middle class, “poor” middle class now, like many, and this is perhaps the class that Chavez focus so hard to destroy for obvious reasons. About the similarities among venezuelan “revolution” and cuban revolution; well, I was born way after 1958 but i have read enough to know that theres definitly some strong differences: Venezuela knew a democracy that Cuba has never experience. And Chavez was elected by constitution, Castro not at first at least. Chavez is a product of the democracy, but he is destroying the system that made him a president and its right there where similarities starts, like all dictatorship (and venezuela is living in a dictatorship sorta, I would never accept for this to be called a democracy) has. Besides that, we have many cultural similarities with Cuba, witch makes this whole process quite dramatic. What its really important in this matter its this: if you find any similarity, on the spirit and ways to do things, between Cuba and Venezuela, Fidel and Hugo, no matter how tiny it is, take it as you should take it: as a warning. And dont worry about some details and historic facts that wont match,because at the end, every society has a different background, right?
    PS: Excuses again for my english. And thanks for reading my blog with an open mind.

  • Clavos

    troll,

    there has been investment capital in Venezuela for quite some time with no appreciable improvement for so many…

    True, but that’s more a result of all the graft and corruption rampant in the country , as it is in most LatAm countries. This was the chief reason Chavez was able to get himself elected on promises of cleaning it all up and providing for the have-nots.

    Unfortunately, according to numerous reports from Venezuela, including those of julia, above, in her blog, the clean up hasn’t happened yet, and the have nots still don’t have…

    is it a surprise that time’s up for such utopian schemes – ?

    IMO, Chavez’ “Bolivarian Republic” is the truly utopian scheme, exacerbated by Chavez’ failure to consider the basics of macroeconomics and human psychology in his somewhat grandiose and utopian plans.

    The proof that he doesn’t consider them lies in the current chaotic condition of the Venezuelan economy; a situation that is all the worse because Chavez (unlike Castro) controls enormous petro-wealth and, after nine years, he still isn’t providing for the have-nots but he has destroyed democracy and the country’s economy in the process.

    and I don’t accept your charge that my idea rests on an assumption of a zero sum game

    When you ask:

    how can a society direct resources to its have nots without impacting privilege – ?

    Your question implicitly assumes that there is a finite amount of resources which cannot be made larger, and therefore one group must give up resources for another to acquire them.

    I see capitalist systems (in particular the USA’s) disproving that idea repeatedly throughout modern history. And, in the particular instance of Venezuela, with the aforementioned enormous wealth at Chavez’ disposal, it’s clearly not necessary to take from one group to give to another.

    No, what Chavez is doing has less to do with providing for the have-nots than it does with his personal accumulation of power and control.

  • troll

    Clavos says – *Your question implicitly assumes that there is a finite amount of resources which cannot be made larger, and therefore one group must give up resources for another to acquire them.*

    nope – in a growing economy rationalized by maximizing profit (‘greed is good’) the haves are privileged (and even required) to keep as much of the increase to themselves as they can without collapsing consumption…growth does not imply or necessitate equitable distribution

    political action (unions – syndicates etc) is what has driven the history of distribution and the growth of the consumer base (read middle class) in the US…not the economic nor the benevolent social behavior of owners

  • Clavos

    troll:

    political action (unions – syndicates etc) is what has driven the history of distribution and the growth of the consumer base (read middle class) in the US…not the economic nor the benevolent social behavior of owners

    I’ll grant you most of that ‘graph. Though there have been notable exceptions among the capitalists (Henry Ford, for one), historically there has been a need for other “equalizers”, such as trade unions (up to the point they, too, inevitably begin to act in the best interests of their leadership, to the detriment of the rank-and-file).

    But, not a single non-capitalist system in history has provided enough resources to be distributed equitably. You can have all the political actions in the world, but someone has to make the money first.

    Politicians and the governments they work for are economic parasites; they produce nothing but regulation (restriction), and harassment, and in extreme cases, oppression-not resources.

  • troll

    Clavos – I’ve got to go snatch up some resources…I’ll get back to ya later

  • troll

    any amount can be equitably distributed or not –

    laborers make value – owners concentrate it

    and this act of concentrating wealth is necessary work…worth at least $25/hour imo

    we agree about professional pols and governments

  • susu

    Troll:
    What exactly do you think “owners” do with their money read profit? They certainly do not stuff it under their bed. They either:
    Buy things
    Invest in other projects

    Both of these activities funnel the money back into the economy for the benefit of all participants. I for one have never worked for a “poor” person.

    Wealth is created by labor i.e. taking something worth less and creating something worth more. The easiest example of this is a lump of iron ore turned into a wheel for a car. This could even be an idea for a completely new thing.

    The real issue with socialism and communism etc is that they completely mis-understand human nature. People do by nature what is in their own best interest not is the best interest of some ethereal collective. What capitalism does is force people to look out for other people’s interests. How it accomplishes this is a very simple concept. If a business / person does not produce or serve the interests of their customers they can and will be replaced by a competitor.

    The best thing governments can do is get out of the way and allow people and businesses to compete openly with each other. Government controlled monopolies or oligopolies are inefficient at best and can invite graft and corruption at worst.

  • troll

    susu – I agree that government would do best by getting out of the way so that the process of class conflict could run its course

    but I disagree with your view of human nature as a static ‘given’ – imo change is basic to the nature of all things

    and in many ways we already understand that positive results are achieved by considering what is best for ‘me’ and for ‘you’ at the same time

    no need to let Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ stagnate and morph into Marx’s ‘dead hand of the past’

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