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Venezuelan Dictator Tries to Legislate Morality and Fix Economic Blunders and Fails at Both

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In a move announced as aiming to bring citizens in line with the new morality of his “21st Century Socialism,” Venezuelan President-cum-Dictator Hugo Chávez announced a stringent set of new laws, highlighted by sharp tax increases for both liquor and cigarettes, during his “Aló Presidente”  TV and radio show recently.

With typical caudillo-style bombast, Chávez scolded his audience during the show, saying, “We’re one of the countries that consumes the most whiskey in the world. We ought to be ashamed. I’m not willing to keep offering dollars to import whiskey in these quantities. What kind of revolution is this? The whiskey revolution? No! This is a real revolution!”

According to Venezuelanalysis, a pro-Chávez website, and other analysts however, the new taxes are really designed to help curb spending, and thus the out-of-control inflation, which at 17%, is currently the highest in Latin America, and to boost government revenues, which were curtailed sharply by other inflation-fighting measures recently implemented by the Chávez regime.

Slated to go into effect on November 1st, the new taxes, which also include a surtax of 1.5% on all business transactions, were announced by Chávez at ceremonies honoring  Argentine thug, perennial T-shirt adornment, and erstwhile “revolutionary,” Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the anniversary of his death. Guevara, a major figure in Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution, who oversaw the trials and executions of hundreds of Batista loyalists in Cuba, was himself captured and executed by the Bolivian Army on October 9th, 1967 while leading a failed attempt to overthrow the Bolivian government.

José Manuel Puente, Venezuelan economist and professor at the prestigious Center for Public Policy of The Institute for Advanced Administrative Studies in Caracas, an outspoken critic of the Chávez regime’s economic policies, notes that the government’s decision to rush the introduction of the new taxes in November instead of waiting for the new year indicates that the regime’s fiscal policy is “unsustainable.”

A story published by Latin American News Agency Mercopress noted,

“The tax increases are part of Chávez's crusade to introduce 'socialist' ethics, which include a new school curriculum and a drive to persuade Venezuelans to become model citizens.

'Old-style individualist, capitalist, egotistical values must be demolished,' Chávez has said, `and new values created.'

Puente described the rhetoric as 'almost evangelical,' adding that `it has very little to do with designing genuinely progressive policies.'”

In other Venezuelan economic news, the country is ranked dead last in Latin America and sixth from the bottom overall in a survey of 178 countries conducted by the World Bank rating them for “ease of doing business”:

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In a further development, the government announced a 60% increase in the wages of the country’s physicians, bringing their earnings to $639 USD a month; third lowest physician income in Latin America, and ahead only of Peru ($500 USD) and Chavez ally, Bolivia ($220 USD). Outraged officials of the Venezuelan Medical Federation noted that the Cuban physicians loaned to Chavez by Fidel Castro are paid three times as much, and that government doctors working for the Public Health Administration’s “Inner Neighborhoods Mission” (Misión Barrio Adentro), are earning twice as much. Responding to the criticism, José Ramón Rivero, the regime{s Secretary of Labor and Social Security, accused the Medical federation of being “antidemocratic, counterrevolutionary, and in the service of the ‘dark objectives’ of  ‘American imperialism,’ according to the independent news site, Venezuela Real. (English translation by this author).

In an article reprinted from the El Nacional newspaper, Venezuela Real notes that shortages of food continue, even in the government-run stores (Mercal) located in the poor “barrios.” According to the report, inventories of such staples as powdered milk, sugar, cooking oil, and chicken are dangerously low throughout the country. When shipments do arrive at retail outlets, the shelves are left bare in a matter of hours. (Translated by author)

I continue to marvel at how badly the Chavistas are managing their economy, despite the incredible oil riches Venezuela owns. Perhaps the Nobel committee should consider creating a new Prize, for Ineptitude.

The real tragedy, of course, is the millions of Venezuelans who are suffering at the hands of the Caudillo and his train wreck of a government. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of those Venezuelans who are able to do so have already arrived here in Miami, and dozens more continue to arrive every day, adding to Venezuela's woes by creating a serious talent and brain drain in the beleaguered country.

Chávez’s “21st century Socialism” should be renamed “21st Century Bufoonery.”

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

    Wow, it’s been hours and Moonraven hasn’t found this article about her secret crush yet.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Dave,

    I’ve noticed that she usually shows up in the afternoon (Eastern time).

    She’ll be here, spouting invective, before long.

    She’s VERY predictable.

  • REMF

    Dave, Clavos;

    You’re like a couple old ladies gossiping about a neighbor…

  • Martin Lav

    Didn’t she say she was traveling to the soon to be Mexican Nation or Mohawk Nation in New Mexico (US) to stock up on cigarettes and booze (tax free of course) to sell back to Venezuela? That sounds like a capitalist!

  • moonraven

    Clavos, if you can PROVE–not fatuously OPINE–that Hugo Chavez Frias is a dictator, I will buy your redneck ass all the whiskey you can guzzle.

    Lots of luck!

    Booze and cigarettes are not taxed up the ass in the US?

    Hah! Only on the rez can you get them tax free, as the honorary kike Martin, just observed.

    Nobody–and much less this busy bird–has time for silly opinion pieces like yours.

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • moonraven

    Just a note in passing, as clavos is clearly ignorant about anything to do with the Nobel prize winners, although he CLAIMS to read venezuelanalysis.com:

    Joseph Stiglitz, in Caracas, Praises Venezuela’s Economic Policies

    October 11th 2007, by Kiraz Janicke – Venezuelanalysis.com

    Economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz Caracas, October 11, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Nobel Prize winning economist and former vice-president of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, praised Venezuela’s economic growth and “positive policies in health and education” during a visit to Caracas on Wednesday.

    “Venezuela’s economic growth has been very impressive in the last few years,” Stiglitz said during his speech at a forum on Strategies for Emerging Markets sponsored by the Bank of Venezuela.

    Venezuela, the fourth largest exporter of crude oil to the United States, has experienced the highest economic growth rate in Latin America in recent years, with fifteen successive quarters of expansion and looks set to close the year with 8-9% growth. Despite the high rate of growth, high public spending and increased consumer demand have contributed to inflationary pressures, pushing inflation up to 15.3%, also the highest in Latin America. However, Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001, argued that relatively high inflation isn’t necessarily harmful to the economy.

    He added that while Venezuela’s economic growth has largely been driven by high oil prices, unlike other oil producing countries, Venezuela has taken advantage of the boom in world oil prices to implement policies that benefit its citizens and promote economic development.

    “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have had success in bringing health and education to the people in the poor neighborhoods of Caracas, to those who previously saw few benefits of the countries oil wealth,” he said.

    In his latest book “Making Globalization Work,” Stiglitz argues that left governments such as in Venezuela, “have frequently been castigated and called ‘populist’ because they promote the distribution of benefits of education and health to the poor.”

    “It is not only important to have sustainable growth,” Stiglitz continued during his speech, “but to ensure the best distribution of economic growth, for the benefit of all citizens.”

    Although Stiglitz praised Venezuela’s “positive policies” in areas of health and education and policies to promote economic diversification, he assured that Venezuela still faces the challenge of overcoming structural problems associated with an economy overwhelmingly geared towards oil production.

    In terms of economic development Stiglitz argued it was not good for the Central Bank to have “excessive” autonomy. Chavez’s proposed constitutional reforms, if approved in December, will remove the autonomy of the country’s Central Bank.

    However, Stiglitz claimed, developing nations must strike a balance between public and private control of the market.

    “The key to success is to find the correct equilibrium between the private sector and the government, which is different for each nation,” he said.

    Stiglitz also welcomed Venezuela’s initiative to create the Bank of the South; due to be founded in Caracas on November 3, saying it would benefit the countries of South America and boost development.

    “One of the advantages of having a Bank of the South is that it would reflect the perspectives of those in the South,” said Stiglitz, whereas, he argued, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund often impose conditions that “hinder the development effectiveness.”

    Stiglitz also criticized the “Washington Consensus” of implementing neo-liberal policies in Latin America, in particular the US free trade agreements with Colombia and other countries, saying they failed to bring benefits to the peoples of those countries.

    The Washington Consensus “is undermining the Andean cooperation, and it is part of the American strategy of divide and conquer, a strategy trying to get as much of the benefits for American companies,” and little for developing countries, he said.

    Stiglitz also met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Miraflores, where they exchanged points of view on the global economic situation, economic indicators and the behavior of world markets.

    Of course we all know, without that GED to prove one can read, we only have his word for it.

    And he lies like a swamp dog in heat.

    I SUPPOSE HIS NOBEL IGNORANCE MEANS HE DOESN’T KNOW THAT GORE WON THE PEACE PRIZE.

    How fucking uninformed can you greaseballs be….

  • Clavos

    What’s the matter moon? Can’t you write your own article? You have to post someone else’s work in its entirety to make your point?

    Interesting that you pick a piece about “Economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz,” when just a few weeks ago you were denigrating Milton Friedman’s having won the exact same prize on the basis of it not being a “real Nobel prize.”

    Go back to your hammock, moon.

    Come back when you can actually mount a coherent and cogent argument instead of simply flinging insults around like a baby with her toys.

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

    Stiglitz is another globalist progressive wanker who softpedals marxism and ideas for a command and control economy as ‘information economics’. It’s hard to take anything he says terribly seriously. And take into consideration he was getting paid to show up and say nice things about Chavez. Plus Chavez turned to Stiglitz for advice on how to reorganize his economy in the first place. Of course Stiglitz is going to praise him after that.

    But here’s the thing. If Stiglitz wants to be Friedman to Chavez’ poor man’s Pinochet, that’s fine. We’ll see if he’s half as successful as Friedman and Pinochet were in a decade or sol.

    Dave

  • alessandro

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    CR, I hope you’re keeping all these attacks. They’ll make for a great book one day.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dave, I’ve been noticing a pattern the last day or two.

    Just in the last few hours, you have employed the very non-Texan words ‘wanker’ and ‘bollocks’.

    Are you becoming a wannabe Brit?

    :-p

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

    Dr. D., I spent a substantial portion of my childhood and young adulthood in England or in English schools in other countries, hence the Britishisms. I did manage to get rid of my British accent some years ago, though.

    Dave

  • moonraven

    Clavos made no attempt whatsoever to provide PROOF that Chavez is a dictator.

    He has lost again, but this site has also lost as anyoone visiting it can see that it is just a fraud: clearly the site owner only cares about depositing the money per hit that he gets from advertizers and anything to do with ideas or debate is simply NOT HERE.

    [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor]

    Pray that you come back next lifetime to a family that can afford to put shoes on your feet and send you to school.

    Lots of luck.

  • Clavos

    The AP wire service has just reported that the Chavista dictatorship is blocking a concert by Grammy-winning Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz scheduled for Novemebr 1 by prohibiting the use of of the state-controlled Poliedro stadium as a venue for the event.

    A dictatorship spokesman gave Sanz’s criticism of Chavéz three years ago as the reason for the move:

    “[Higher Education Minister Luis] Acuna said during a radio interview: ‘If an artist comes to Venezuela to rail against Chavez, against the Bolivarian project, how do you think the people of this country would respond if he were to be allowed to use the stadium?’

    Responding to questions about Chavez before a 2004 referendum on the president’s rule, Sanz said: ‘I don’t like your president. I don’t like those from other places either.'”

    Contrast Sanz’s mild remark with Chávez’s own recent remarks about Bush during his recent visit to New York.

    Free speech is becoming a relic of the past in Chavezuela.

    Speech is always the first freedom suspended by dictators.

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

    learly the site owner only cares about depositing the money per hit that he gets from advertizers

    That’s how the site is able to maintain its political neutrality and allow even those too ignorant to spell ‘advertisers’ correctly to express their ill-informed political views.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    My understanding is that Venezuela is converting from Windows to linux on all government computers. If so, they get my vote. I have coffee with one of the movers tomorrow night so I’ll find out. I hope.

  • moonraven

    Several countries in SA are converting to Linux.

    Venezuela is just one of them. Brazil is another.
    And then there is Argentina.

    Not to mention clavos favorites: Chile and Colombia.

    And Linux is getting a big toehold even here in Mexico.

    You can sneeze at Venezuela–despite all its resources–but sneezing at Brazil is like sneezing at Russia–two countries that are the size of continents.

    Two years ago the push to open-source technology fired up in in Europe.

    Admittedly, Chavez set the ball rolling in Latin America.

    BIll Gates is, after all, just another monopolist robber baron.

    Here in Mexico we have the guy who finally outrobbed him this year–Carlos Slim.

    Chavez does not believe that technology should be used as a capitalist weapon.

    And he is a very persuasive guy–so much so that yesterday Uribe–president of Colombia and bastion of US interference in Latin America–requested that Colombia be admitted as a member of Banco del Sur–which will officially start up Nov. 3rd.

    By the way, clavos “forgot” to mention in his “article”–which I have printed out on toilet paper here–tat Chavez is currently mediating the end of Colombia’s 60-year long civil war (which began with the CIA inaugural assassination of Gaitan).

    Even the US State department has had to come out in support of Chavez on that.

    But–poor old clavos–accent on the OLD–just keeps on sqirming along the Gusano Highway to Nowhereland.

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

    I have to admit I’m with Chavez on switching to Linux. There’s no justification for using the crap which is Windows when there’s a decent alternative available.

    dave

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Great article, Clavos.

    When you’re 24 places behind Haiti in “ease of doing business,” you know things aren’t going particularly well… :-/

    The real tragedy, of course, is the millions of Venezuelans who are suffering at the hands of the Caudillo and his train wreck of a government. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of those Venezuelans who are able to do so have already arrived here in Miami, and dozens more continue to arrive every day, adding to Venezuela’s woes by creating a serious talent and brain drain in the beleaguered country.

    That’s always been somewhat of a goal for communist governments, though. Make most of the intelligent, educated, wealthy people flee, so that any potential political opposition is weakened. Eventually it will be mostly impoverished, illiterate sheeple who remain, and they’ll suck up the propaganda and the government handouts with clueless glee.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Hah! Only on the rez can you get them tax free, as the honorary kike Martin, just observed.

    Nobody–and much less this busy bird–has time for silly opinion pieces like yours.

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    Christopher: If you let the slur “kike” stay, what in Gawd’s name did you delete!?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “Venezuela’s economic growth has been very impressive in the last few years,” Stiglitz said during his speech at a forum on Strategies for Emerging Markets sponsored by the Bank of Venezuela.

    And it’s purely based on high oil prices…

    Despite the high rate of growth, high public spending and increased consumer demand have contributed to inflationary pressures, pushing inflation up to 15.3%, also the highest in Latin America. However, Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001, argued that relatively high inflation isn’t necessarily harmful to the economy.

    If this clown seriously believes that 15.3% inflation isn’t “harmful” to an economy, he deserves his Nobel Prize about as much as Al Gore or Yasser Arafat deserve theirs…

    “It is not only important to have sustainable growth,” Stiglitz continued during his speech, “but to ensure the best distribution of economic growth, for the benefit of all citizens.”

    Yeah, that worked so well in the former USSR, North Korea, and Cuba…

    Stiglitz also criticized the “Washington Consensus” of implementing neo-liberal policies in Latin America, in particular the US free trade agreements with Colombia and other countries, saying they failed to bring benefits to the peoples of those countries.

    Let’s see…Colombia is #66 on the list Clavos cited…Chile is #33…and Costa Rica is #115…they all have free trade agreements with the United States (Costa Rica just approved theirs). Venezuela (at #172), however, doesn’t.

    Face it – If it wasn’t for the recent oil boom, Venezuela would be Cuba without the good cigars.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    As for his economic ineptitude: more than 10% per annum economic growth is just too much for you to calculate on the one finger you use to count, apparently.

    Hmmm…

    From the Venezuelanalysis.com article you “cited” –

    “Venezuela, the fourth largest exporter of crude oil to the United States, has experienced the highest economic growth rate in Latin America in recent years, with fifteen successive quarters of expansion and looks set to close the year with 8-9% growth.” [emphasis mine]

    8% does not equal “more than 10% per annum economic growth”

    9% does not equal “more than 10% per annum economic growth”

    So I guess you’re just making stuff up again. Typical.

  • Clavos

    Welcome to the thread, RJ, and thanks for the “attaboy.”

    You make some good points, especially the one about wanting the intelligent and educated people to leave.

    My favorite:

    “Face it – If it wasn’t for the recent oil boom, Venezuela would be Cuba without the good cigars.”

    Not surprisingly, with Castro as his mentor, the chavista regime begins to resemble Cuba’s more and more every day. I wonder how long it’ll be before they start lining dissenters up against the paredón (wall) and shooting them, Castro style?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Thanks, Clavos.

    It’s very helpful that you’re bilingual (actually, more than just bilingual – quintilingual? – but you understand my point), because you are able to read and translate Spanish-language news reports.

    I remember a college course I took several years ago. The title of the course was “Comparative Latin American Politics” or something similar. The big class project, worth 30% of the final grade, was to visit a news website from a Latin American country several times a week during the course of the semester, supplement what we learned about the politics and government of that country from our chosen news source with other references, and then write a 10-15 paper on recent political developments in that country.

    I made a huge error in choosing Venezuela as the country I would write about. The only English-language internet news source that the professor would allow for Venezuela was VHeadline, which at that time was little more than a leftist, anti-American mouthpiece of the Chavez regime. (I don’t know what, if anything, it is anymore. Hopefully it doesn’t exist.) But, because I don’t speak/read fluent Spanish, that was my only available Venezuelan news option.

    So almost every day, for approximately four months, I visited this poorly-written “news” website, and read their barely-concealed anti-American agit-prop. Some days the site was simply offline. Other times, the major “news” story of the day consisted of little more than quotes of lengthy denunciations by Venezuelan government officials of independent American journalists who reported on the goings-on in Venezuela. It was essentially worthless as a news and information site.

    Anyway, long story somewhat less long, I wrote the paper; it contained about 12 pages of text, it had three pages of citations, and it was generally anti-Chavez. Unfortunately, the professor was a Castro apologist and supporter of the leftist EZLN revolution in southern Mexico. So, naturally, he didn’t like the fact that my paper was highly critical of Hugo Chavez Frias. And so he gave me a “C” on the paper, despite giving me an “A” on every single other assignment in that class. My final grade was, get this, 89.4%, just one-tenth of a point below what would have been rounded to an “A” … coincidence? LOL. I’ll let you decide…

    Anyway, just a rambling personal anecdote, and yet another reason why I utterly despise the leftist American apologists for left-wing despots (in academia especially).

  • Clavos

    RJ,

    I went to college in the late 60s, after returning from Vietnam, and taking advantage of my GI bill benefits, which didn’t amount to much: a check for $130 a month while enrolled full time (not during the summer), with no assistance for tuition or anything else.

    Even in the late 60s $130 wasn’t much, so I worked my way through (and took out a couple of loans, too) for the rest. Ironically, one of my jobs was night shift in a factory, building air-to-ground rockets for the Air force (I made the venturi tail pieces), so I helped the war effort for another couple of years after I got back to the World.

    But, that’s not my point.

    My point was, I found your story pretty interesting (and I chuckled a bit) because, you can imagine what it was like to be a conservative student AND Vietnam veteran on a college campus in the 60s!

    Mostly, I kept it quiet (about Nam) until I really got to know someone well (NEVER the profs!). My (now) wife moved in and lived with me for several months before I told her I’d been in Nam, and her Dad was a retired lifer WW II and Korea vet!

    Those were weird times, but we sure had some good rock and roll!.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Yeah, the music of that era was great, but…

    It really must have taken a lot of personal willpower to not just fuckin’ lose it, as a conservative ‘Nam vet on a college campus in the 1960s.

    Seriously, how many times did you hear some dirty, unkempt commie, who probably had a “Che” poster above the bed in his dorm room, denounce anyone and everyone who had ever served in the US military as “criminal baby-killers” or something similar? And how many times did you have the strong urge to commit A&B? :-/

  • REMF

    “Seriously, how many times did you hear some dirty, unkempt commie, who probably had a “Che” poster above the bed in his dorm room, denounce anyone and everyone who had ever served in the US military as “criminal baby-killers” or something similar?”

    And that’s worse than mocking the appearance of a dismembered combat vet, or comparing being killed in combat to traffic fatalities…?

  • Clavos

    Actually, it wasn’t too bad, for the most part.

    The profs were far worse than the students, giving me a life-long low opinion of wooly-headed academic types.

    I went to USF (yes, the #5 ranked football team, THAT USF), and having worked for a few years before being drafted, I was a few years older than most of the students, who for the most part treated me OK (and, as I said, I DIDN”T tell anyone about ‘Nam–none of us did back then).

    Also I lived off campus, first with two other vets, and later with my girl friend (Now my wife), so didn’t have much dorm contact.

    Some of the profs were real jewels, though. I had one hippy-dippy guy in Humanities(?!) who told us at the beginning of the quarter that we would be required to write one term paper on a work of art of our choice, turn it in at the end of the quarter, and that would be our entire grade for the course’s three credits.

    I asked what constituted a “work of art” for the purpose, and he replied any book, music, painting, sculpture, even a movie, but we had to tell him what we’d chosen and get it approved first.

    This guy had a VERY broad definition of the term “work of art,” so I decided to test his limits and asked if I could write a paper on the movie, “Easy Rider,” in which Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper play a couple of hippie bikers.

    Much to my astonishment, he accepted my idea. I wrote a paper basically postulating that ER was nothing more than a modern updating of the old Hope/Crosby “Road” movies, with the road trip serving as a metaphor for the road of life.

    Pure BS, in other words.

    Dude gave me an “A!”

    As I said, weird times.

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

    Hell, when I was teaching I would have been predisposed to give you an ‘A’ for coming up with that premise. You don’t realize how tiresome it is to see the same papers taking the same slant on the same subject semester after semester. Anything that breaks out of the expected patterns is such a relief that it gets a warm reception.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Well, thanks, Dave. He did write a note in the margin saying something about my “originality.”

  • bliffle

    C & R,

    Could you please take your circle-jerk to a private room.

  • troll

    it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Chavez’ short term tax policies have the ‘desired effect’ on inflationary trends

  • troll

    …is 10% annual growth a sign of a healthy economy – ?

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

    I think 10% inflation could be a sign of a healthy economy if it was coupled with high employment and a corresponding rise in the standard of living. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Venezuela, plus as I understand it the inflation is closer to 18%.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “C & R,

    Could you please take your circle-jerk to a private room.”

    Nope.

  • Clavos

    To exacerbate the inflation problem (this guy really hasn’t got a clue about how to run an economy, but he’s expert at demagoguery), he’s proposing to constitutionally reduce the work day to 6 hours, with no reduction in wages and a full range of benefits.

    That’s the carrot constitutional change, one of several changes he’s proposing, to be decided by vote on December 2. The headliner is his proposal to permit indefinite re-election for president, effectively allowing him to become that old totalitarian favorite, “president for life.”

    He’s nothing if not clever politically. Unlike his mentor Castro, when people are tired of him 40 years from now, this guy will be able to say (semi truthfully), “But, you elected me. You approved perpetual re-election, back in ’07. I’m only doing your bidding.”

  • Clavos

    troll,

    According to this forecast (published in May, 2007), Venezuela’s growth rate for 2007 will slow to 6.8%, while inflation will remain near 20%.

    I tried to set up a link, but the URL contains a “banned word,” so the BC software wouldn’t publish this entire comment with the link included. the report is available at m a r k e t r e s e a r c hdotcom (that’s the banned word!-take out spaces) and is titled “Venezuela Business Forecast Q3 2007.” There’s an onsite search engine available.

    The forecast is a short abstract, the full report costs $495.00. There are some interesting points made, even in the abstract:

    Venezuela’s macroeconomic climate is likely to remain highly unstable over the course of 2007. In our view, the government’s lack of coherent monetary and fiscal policies and a potential decline in international oil prices are the greatest threats to sustainable economic growth over the forecast period. The key problem is that the government is implementing little in the way of reform, despite the favourable conditions for change. Inflation still runs close to 20%, and import growth is spiralling as domestic production lags robust growth in demand. Private sector investment is badly needed to set the economy on a sustainable growth path, though increasing state intervention is preventing this from occurring.”

  • Clavos

    troll,

    Sorry, I got so hung up in the banned word problem, I left out two other points I wanted to mention to you:

    The above cited (sort of) forecast is apolitical; it’s strictly an analysis of the Venezuelan economy, being sold as a guide to potential entrepreneurs/investors, and is only concerned with the businees climate from that POV.

    Even if the growth rate were to continue at 10% plus (which, as Dave mentioned, all other conditions of the economy being stable, would be a good thing), it’s entirely due to the high price of oil, which is not within Chavez’s control.

    The “success” of the Venezuelan economy as evidenced by the past few years’ growth rate is deceptive; in addition to all the problems mentioned above, Venezuela is basically a one crop economy (oil), and that’s not good, for obvious reasons.

  • Clavos

    Another foreign firm, South Africa-based Gold Fields, Ltd., owner of the Choco 10 gold mine in Bolivar state, abandons Venezuela’s sinking economy before it’s too late:


    ”Additional capital investment is required to realize the full potential of the Choco 10 gold mine,” Gold Fields Chief Executive Ian Cockerill said in a statement. “However, after careful consideration we have concluded that, given the current environment, this investment is better made by others, with Gold Fields retaining exposure to the upside inherent in the assets.”
    (emphasis added)

    And the middle class brain drain continues apace:

    “Disagreement with the direction of Chávez’s Venezuela runs at the core of many emigrants’ experiences, though the catalyst for leaving differs.

    “Chávez is not the threat; he’s the consequence,” says Antonio Guzman-Blanco, who relocated to Panama a year ago for political and practical reasons. “Fifty percent of the people believe in him … They want the state to do everything and think it will miraculously improve their lives. I felt alienated from my own country.”

    But others say it’s fear more than disillusionment that’s driving the emigration.

    “I think people leave the country because they’re scared,” says Raudo Diaz, who works in publicity in Caracas. “The opposition here also uses fear to stoke the political discourse.” Mr. Diaz says only something as traumatic as the kidnapping of one of his children would force him to emigrate.

    Many, including Mervin – a former Chavez supporter – are leaving precisely because of crime. Caracas is considered one of the most violent cities in Latin America. In surveys, Venezuelans say crime is a top concern.

    “It’s not just Caracas,” says Mervin, who no longer drives the one hour to his small ranch because he fears getting kidnapped. “The government has done nothing to address security.

    And the beat goes on.

  • moonraven

    The beat may goon, but clavos STILL HAS PROVIDED NO PROOF THAT CHAVEZ IS A DICTATOR.

    And RJ now thinks that 2007 is over–despite the fact that this bird sees that today is only October 15th.

    Today being October 15th means that the growth in the PIB for 2007 has NOT been calculated yet.

    However, what I referred to in my comment–which was an average growth of more than 10% per annum in 2004, 2005 and 2006 HAS been calculates.

    Venezuela May or May NOt have a growth of more than 10% for THIS year. I do not know, and more to the point some whiny-ass undergraduate C student does NOT KNOW, either.

    Venezuela only estimated SIX PERCENT for this year when it made its budget. Experts are preducted 8 to 9% based on growth through the THIRD quarter (which I believe means through the end of September 2007).

    Any other really stupid blunders you [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor] would like to make today?

    Really pathetic, since not a single one of you has ever even been to Venezuela!

    I am the only person on this site who has spent timein Venezuela [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor].

  • moonraven

    Many Mexicans are crossing the border to the US because of the widespread crime here in Mexico.

    THAT crime doesn’t seem to worry any of you Alfred E. Newmans, but the crime in a country that is not on your borders and which you have never visited–and in the case of Dave Nalle, a country that you don’t even know which continent its on–seems to really get your droopy drawers in a painful wedgie.

    WHY?

    What’s it to you?

  • brian

    Clavos…try to get it thru your thick skull…and stop doing your Goebells routine: President Hugo Chavez is the legitimately elected leader of Venezuela.You may not like it, but the mass of Venezuelans have made their rightful choice..I suggest you stay inside your own benighted country (the US) and deal with your real problem: anm unelected mass murderer (Bush)in office. serving the interests of a racist state: israel , and who has killed > 1 million people.

  • Clavos

    Brian,

    Try to get it through your thick skull: Unless you come up with facts that prove El Chango de Chavez is NOT steadily and systematically eroding the people’s rights while simultaneously exporting the people’s treasure to other despots like Fidel Castro and Evo Morales, it doesn’t matter that he was “legitimately elected,” especially when there is considerable evidence and testimony by eyewitnesses that electors were intimdated at the polls in those “elections.”

    But, regardless, his behavior since being elected is unquestionably despotic and ruinous for the country.

    Oh, and I’m not interested in your suggestions as to what I should do.

  • brian

    Clvos, your skull is indeed very thick…YOU have to prove president Chavez is eroding rights…. Othewise its more of your antivenezueland lies.

    ‘it doesn’t matter that he was “legitimately elected,” ‘

    oh yes it does,and he was, much to your chagrin….The mass of people chose Chavez and his party…youd better learn to live with it.

    Clavos:’his behavior since being elected is unquestionably despotic and ruinous for the country. ‘

    No, theres no sign of despotism. But you wish there was….The real despots are the bunch of thugs who now are out of power, thank god.

  • Clavos

    “oh yes it does,and he was…”

    Read this.

    And this (from Harvard, no less!)

    And here.

    I can only post three links per comment. I found lots of others, all noting the uncertainty of the legitimacy of the “Chavez elections.”

    “No, theres no sign of despotism”

    Um, let’s see:

    Concentrating all power into his own hands.

    Refusing to renew an opposition media license.

    Seizing private property and threatening to seize more for retaliatory reasons.

    Suppressing dissent, both on the part of journalists and students.

    And on and on.

    Yep. He’s democratic, all right.

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

    If democratic means absolutely nothing except for counting votes, then Chavez is certainly democratic.

    But as we’ve seen time and again in history, just voting on things doesn’t make a government any less oppressive.

    It all takes me back to Jefferson who said ” Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

    That’s the perfect expression of the limitations of democracy and of why democracy alone is NOT enough to base a society on.

    Chavez has not failed as a democrat, he’s failed as a steward for the rights of his people.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    According to this Houston Chronicle article, corruption in the chavista regime has resulted in a sharp increase in the quantity of drugs transiting through Venezuela and bound for the US and Europe:

    “Now, however, the volume of cocaine trafficked through Venezuela has risen sharply. Shipments have increased significantly, with suspected northbound drug flights out of the country increasing threefold from 2003 to 2006, according to American radar tracking.

    Counter-drug officials say up to 220 tons of cocaine — a third of what Colombia produces — now pass through Venezuela, double the figure in the 1990s. Most of it is bound for the United States and burgeoning markets in Spain, Britain and Italy.

    The traffickers have operated with illegally obtained Venezuelan identification cards from agencies as varied as the National Guard, the DISIP intelligence agency and even the economy ministry, all while living in some of the finest neighborhoods in the Venezuelan capital, according to authorities in Bogota, the Colombian capital, and in Caracas.”

    One wonders if the motivation is simply corruption, as the article says, or a deliberate (and far more sinister) attempt on the part of the chavista regime to further undermine the relationship between the US and Colombia in their ongoing joint efforts to fight the drug cartels, and advance Chavez’s plan for Venezuelan hegemony over the region.

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

    That’s an interesting theory, Clavos. I think it’e entirely possible that Chavez has picked up some ideas from the Taliban and other groups which use drug sales to finance terrorism. If he is indeed comparing notes with them, I’d expect his next move to be to begin to finance revolutionary movements outside of his own territory more aggressivley. We already know he has a relationship with the FARC terrorists, and that seems like a logical route for him to follow. As a small but ideologically extreme and repressive state investing in a terror network is a very cost-effective way to exert greater international influence than you would be able to just based on your size and resources.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Not only do I think, as you do, Dave, that he’s picked up ideas from the Taliban, I also think he is actively subverting neighboring countries by supporting opposition forces wherever they exist.

    That, in my opinion, is one of the principal reasons why he’s buying all those Russian weapons, and why he wants their arms factories in Venezuela.