Unfortunately, nationalization and El Presidente's other bold initiatives, coupled with dramatic inflation and the general unavailability of hard currency, do not seem to be helping the people of Venezuela much.
[A] consulting and polling company . . . is forecasting that consumer price inflation could come out at anything between 25% and 35% this year. On balance, that would imply little or no improvement, and perhaps a worsening, on last year – for which the comparable figure from the BCV was 30.9%, after 22.5% in 2007 and 17.5% in 2006..
Even at the lower range of this forecast, Datanálisis reckons personal consumption will fall this year by around 3%. But were inflation to hit the full 35%, the company says consumption could shrink by a shocking 13%.
The once excellent medical system in Venezuela has experienced similar changes under the control of El Presidente. There are no reliable Government statistics about any impact which his changes may have had on the death rate in Venezuela. It would be very difficult to compile meaningful statistics, because the very high crime rate in Venezuela produces many deaths, which even the very best universal medical care could not prevent. According to Venezuelan Government statistics, there were 9,653 murders in Venezuela between January and September of 2008. According to a police report leaked to the press, Venezuela has an average of 10,114 a year. Venezuela has a population of approximately twenty-six million. Mexico, with a population of 109,955,400 had "over 5,500" murders. Venezuela, with about ten thousand murders annually, presents a worse picture than Mexico on an absolute basis and a dramatically worse picture on a per capita basis.
El Presidente Chávez has attempted to bring the military, including his former defense minister, completely under his dominion. This may, or may not, relate to the threat, immediately following his 2007 defeat in the Constitutional referendum mentioned above, to decline to quell popular protests should he blatantly fudge the results.
Venezuela’s former defense minister – once a close ally of leftist President Hugo Chávez – was arrested on Thursday by the DIM military intelligence unit, one of his sons told Globovisión television.
Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel was driving with his wife near his home when his vehicle "was blocked off by officials of the DIM who, pointing firearms at them and threatening them not to make any telephone calls, shoved them into a (military) vehicle," the younger Baduel said.
Military prosecutors recently accused Baduel of alleged administrative irregularities during his tenure at the head of the Defense Ministry, a post he left in 2007 after a falling out with Chávez.