Archive for Venezuela

Chive Mother

When last we visited the socialist paradise of Venezuela (figuratively speaking—we avoid actually traveling to sh*tholes as a practice), they were denying the hyperinflation ravaging what they laughingly call an economy.

We should have known what would come next, and we kind of did:

“Inflation doesn’t exist in real life.” Neither does hunger, until you can’t get anything to eat.

Thistradamus strikes again:

Amid the worst economic crisis Venezuela has faced in decades, the self-described “revolutionary” government led by President Nicolas Maduro has set in motion a revolutionary idea to solve the acute food shortages: let’s become producers at home.

“Cilia and I have 50 chickens in our house,” said Maduro recently, referring to his wife. “It’s time to develop a new culture of production,” he added, before announcing the creation of yet another ministry called the Urban Farming Ministry.

The new institution is headed by Emma Ortega, a left-wing and colorful activist known to be a longtime friend of President Maduro.

“People have to solve the current emergency cultivating in any available space,” she said this week during a first meeting of urban farmers in Caracas. “We just need sun, water and a lot of hearth. Currently our cities are just food consumers and parasites,” she noted.

Nice way to refer to the proletariat. Your true Marxist colors are showing.

In the past few years, Venezuela has grown increasingly dependent on food imports to cover the needs of its 30 million people. But the dramatic drop in oil prices greatly reduced its purchasing power, which explains the persistent scarcity of the most basic goods and the snaky lines all over the country.

The socialist government is offering workshops and classes to enlighten those who know nothing about farming. In an interview with Fox News Latino, Maria Jimenez, a field technician with the government-run Siare Foundation, explained that all that is required is “any available place at your house with enough light.”

“In a balcony you can cultivate in self-made wooden tables or in bottles,” she said. “You can grow tomatoes, chives, cayenne, pepper and much more.”

Let them eat chives!

“Venezuela’s food production problems will not be solved with urban farming. They are caused by macroeconomic imbalances that need to be corrected,” said Tomas Socias, economist and former president of Venezuela’s Chamber of Food Industry.

Socias argued that the price controls currently in place for certain goods has to be lifted and that the government needs to subsidize producers who are idle due to their inability to import resources.

“Ninety percent of the products made here need foreign raw material. That requires dollars and for that the government has to stop importing food to activate the national production again,” the expert said.

This, instead, is what they get:

“If a gringo comes here, we have to beat him with a stick. If we just have a pencil, we have to poke him in the eyes,” said the 62-year-old farmer and ceramist back in March of 2015, after the U.S. sanctioned seven Venezuelan government officials for their alleged violation of human rights.

I don’t think too many gringos are heading down Caracas, my ceramist señorita. Joe Kennedy, Jr. was probably the last one, but now he can get cheap oil anywhere without kissing Hugo Chavez’s fatal pelvic abcess. Hope you like chives.

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Don’t Cry For Me, Venezuela

It’s for you the tears we’ll be shedding.
You broke your promise,
Now keep your distance:

Venezuela on Friday released its first economic data in more than a year Friday, showing an economy in shambles and inflation at a historic high. The announcement came hours before President Nicolas Maduro began his annual address to congress, facing down an opposition-led National Assembly for the first time.

The Central Bank for the first time acknowledged what analysts have long said: That annualized inflation has surged into triple digits.

The bank said the economy contracted by 7.1 percent during the quarter that ended in September 2015, and inflation reached 141.5 percent.

Ahead of the surprise data release, Maduro said he would declare an economic emergency giving him 60 days to unilaterally enact sweeping reforms. The decree will be debated in the newly seated opposition congress next week.

In this ever-changing world, it’s reassuring to know that we can count on certain immutable truths: Islamic savagery and South American hyperinflation. Who knew there was a Burkina or a Faso until an Al Qaeda spin-off massacred dozens of tourists there yesterday? (Seriously? You have time and money to spend on a vacation, and you blow it on the former Upper Volta? What, Outer Mongolia was booked?)*

And after Brazil’s and Argentina’s frequent “economic emergencies”, it was only Venezuela’s turn:

Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, has suffered enormously as the price of oil has crashed from above $90 a barrel two years ago to just $24 today. Analysts say that means Venezuela is getting dangerously close to just breaking even on the oil it produces, which accounts for 95 percent of export earnings.

The country’s newly-appointed economic czar has written that “inflation doesn’t exist in real life.”

In its press release, the bank officials blame a widely used website that tracks the black market rate of the Bolivar and other participants in an “economic war” for the soaring inflation rate.

“Inflation doesn’t exist in real life.” Neither does hunger, until you can’t get anything to eat.

I understand that capitalism and sound economic practices are not sexy. People are drawns to swarthy Latinos riding motorcycles and preaching revolution more than they are to besuited gringos with their gospel of fiscal reform. But as romantic and Utopian as the former may sound, it is only the latter that delivers over the long term. Venezuela had money to burn under Chavez. And that’s exactly what he did with it. It’s not hard to build a socialist paradise when the single resource you have aplenty is selling for its weight in gold. But as Margaret Thatcher said, the problem with socialism is sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. Or as Mike Tyson put it, everybody’s got a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth.

Sorry, Venezuela. Just tell yourself bankruptcy doesn’t exist in real life.

PS: * Besides this man, that is?


Socialist Paradise Update

Socialist Paradise Update—one out of three ain’t bad:

Venezuela’s opposition party has claimed the majority of seats in the National Assembly in elections held Sunday, the first major shift in power in the legislative branch since the late President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) took 99 seats to just 46 for the United Social Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Tibisay Lucena, president of Consejo Nacional Electoral announced.

“Venezuela, we won!” said opposition key figure Henrique Capriles, governor of the state of Miranda. “I always told you all, this was the way! Humility, maturity and serenity. Long live the people of Venezuela!”

To be sure, the tubby tinpot, Hugo Chavez, had none of those qualities.

The vote comes as the oil giant faces major economic inflation, a crippling recession and a rise in violence and insecurity.

A Pew Research Center poll this week showed 85% of Venezuelans are dissatisfied with the direction the country is taking.

And what is the first thing to go when socialist economies enter a “crippling recession”?

Plenty of countries have damaged or failing health systems. Few are like the Venezuelan.

This country, which holds parliamentary elections on Sunday, has oil reserves exceeding Saudi Arabia’s.

That natural wealth provided hundreds of billions of dollars of export earnings for Hugo Chavez, the man who, for 14 years until his death in 2013, ushered in and then presided over a radical left Bolivarian Republic.

It was against this wreckage, in a bare hospital lecture-room, that Dr Andrade joined a group of doctors, students and heads of department to talk to me about the state of the hospital.

I had asked to speak to one or two. Over the course of an hour, more than 15 – I lost count – walked in, off shifts, off ward-rounds.

They waited their turns and then listed their woes. No syringes. No operating equipment. Violence from patients’ relatives, furious that the hospital management had assured them of high quality care.

The paediatric emergency department closed for repair; the temporary site had, one student doctor told me, “no oxygen, no medicine for asthma, no antibiotics, no food”.

We’ve been mildly curious about Venzuela since before Chavez’s fatal cancer was described as a “pelvic abscess”. Which is a pretty good description of the quality of life down there these days.


Going Caracas

In Seattle, they merely police your garbage (see below). Other socialist paradises take things even further:

A day after being sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez took to social media to say he has no regrets.

“Great causes merit great sacrifices,” he wrote Friday on his verified Twitter account. “This sentence is not only against me, but it attempts to bring down the spirits of everyone who is fighting to have a better country.”

In a four-page letter, Lopez said he was writing from the military jail of Ramo Verde. He urged all Venezuelans to instigate a “democratic rebirth” by making their voices heard in the country’s next parliamentary elections.

Leave it to UN Watch to savor the irony:

“Venezuela’s verdict, following a trial that denied basic due process to the defendant, is a travesty of justice that exemplifies the Maduro government’s gross and systematic violation of its own citizen’s basic rights and freedoms,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“When the jailer of a human rights hero is allowed to sit as a world judge of human rights, it’s like having a pyromaniac as the town fire chief. It’s absurd, and casts a shadow upon the reputation of the United Nation as a whole,” said Neuer.

That’s right. Venezuela is a member in good standing of the scrofulous UN’s leprotic Human Rights Council. Like I said: a member in good standing:

Venezuela would likely be backed by Russia, China, Cuba, and several other dictatorships on the council…”

Don’t forget Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar!

I would just disagree with the good Mr. Neuer’s description of a shadow being cast “upon the reputation of the United Nation as a whole”. How do you cast a shadow on a nullity? A black hole? A gaping void of emptiness?


Socialist Paradise Update

You put unlimited wealth into the hands of Latin despots, someone’s gonna get hurt.

I’m just sorry it’s the kids:

Every 28 days, Bill Monterrey has to take his 11-year-old daughter on an hour-long bus ride from Maracay, Venezuela, to Caracas to receive treatment at the state-run children’s hospital there.

“She has Albright syndrome” – a genetic disorder affecting bones, skin and the hormonal system – “and the medicines she needs are available only in three cities in the country: Maracaibo, Barquisimeto and Caracas,” Monterrey told Fox News Latino.

While in Caracas last week, Monterrey participated in a protest outside the children’s hospital because 20 medicines needed for cancer treatment haven’t been available there for 15 days, affecting most of the 120 patients undergoing treatment in that facility, according to local media.

“My daughter’s medication was available, but I joined them because the lack of chemotherapy could be fatal for some patients,” Monterrey explained.

“Cancer doesn’t wait,” screamed the protesters, some of them accompanied by children in wheelchairs.

The protest, and others like them, were organized by the Venezuelan Association of Children with Cancer (Asovepanica), which, according to the Pan Am Post, says that other medical supplies necessary for treating cancer patients, such as syringes, bandages and needles for biopsies, are also in extremely short supply.

Do you know how many spare band-aids we have lying around the house? How many cotton balls? This is not the tough stuff, people!

I take no joy in reporting this story—no matter how much contempt I had for Hugo Chavez and still have for his followers. No joy, but no surprise, either.

But I will wonder how an Arab clan that ruled nothing but sand dunes for centuries until oil was discovered beneath them is able to amass incalculable wealth, while poor Venezuelans–sitting atop the largest proven oil reserves in the world!!!—can’t get basic medical treatment.

Heckuva job, Hugo. You and the boys must be having quite the chuckle in Hell.

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Animal Caracas

I saw a headline about Venezuela declaring martial law, and my heart skipped a beat. Had the beleaguered populace finally risen up against the Chavistas? Was it a popular revolution against the permanent revolution?

Not exactly:

The Venezuelan president has declared a state of emergency in a border region near Colombia following an attack by smugglers in which three soldiers and a civilian were injured.

Nicolas Maduro said there would be 60 days of martial law in five municipalities of the state of Tachira.

He also said the closure of the border, announced on Thursday, will be extended until further notice.

Caring about border security—how quaint!

The BBC’s Daniel Pardo in Venezuela reports that Mr Maduro said Colombian paramilitary groups regularly travel to Venezuela, generating chaos and shortages in order to destabilise the revolution.

Without making direct reference to Mr Maduro’s recent statement, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Venezuelan citizens were “always welcome”.

Too funny!

“Destabilise the revolution”: told you it was a permanent revolution! Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999, and they’re still revolting. (They certainly are. G. Marx)


Socialist Paradise

If you-know-who is your daddy:

On more than one occasion the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez declared that being rich is bad, often adding “Rich people attack me for saying that, but I claim it is bad.”

His favorite daughter, however, may disagree.

According to the Miami-based Diario Las América, Venezuelan media sources will soon publish materials showing that María Gabriela Chávez has bank accounts in the U.S. and Andorra with assets totaling nearly $4.2 billion.

If the claim is true, Chávez’s daughter would be the richest person in Venezuela….

But don’t look just at the money, the princess says:

Shortly after the allegation surfaced, María Gabriela posted to her Instagram account a note to her late father saying, “They speak about millions, about inheritance, about riches … and the think they insult us. They’re such simple beings that they have no inkling about the bigger riches that you always gave me and that you left me.”

What, his double-chin? Or by “bigger riches”, does she mean bling as well as cash?


No Good Deed

Goes unpunished:

Israel used its humanitarian aid mission to Nepal as a cover for trafficking 25 Nepalese babies, two Spanish-language networks reported.

Iranian HispanTV and Venezuela’s Telesur networks broadcast the reports. Telesur is the national public television channel in Venezuela, which is rebroadcast throughout Latin America on other public television networks.

HispanTV broadcast the original report, which quotes an unnamed NGO as stating that “Israel uses humanitarian help as a cover for trafficking of 25 babies in Nepal.” Telesur picked up the report last week.

The report stated, correctly, that of the 25 babies that were taken to Israel, “15 of them were born through Tammuz, an Israeli surrogacy company which provides services to Israeli couples unable to bear children, particularly homosexual couples.” The other babies also reportedly were born to surrogate mothers for Israeli parents.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the report.

“The ‘Tehran-Caracas axis’ even perverts humanitarian aid to victims of natural disasters such as the Nepal earthquake, just as they had accused the Israeli medical mission of harvesting body parts in the Haiti catastrophe,” said Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Center. “Through these Spanish-language television satellites, Iran foments anti-Semitism across the Americas, just as it sponsors global terrorism, slanders the Holocaust and pursues its nuclear program.

When we reported to you that Israel had sent 250 doctors, nurses, medics, candy-stripers to Nepal within only a few days of the earthquake, and had saved many lives, we were evidently taken in. When we told you that IDF personnel were still there, clearing and rebuilding, and are to remain indefinitely, we were apparently duped.

We regret the errors.

PS: If Iran is in error, however, they are excused. They have no homosexuals (or Jews), so how would they know anything about them?


Has Anybody Here Seen My Old Friend Hugo?

Aw, woozums:

The mural above Ana Caona’s head in the gritty Caracas slum known as 23rd of January is no ordinary depiction of the Last Supper. Instead of disciples, the figures flanking Jesus Christ are rebel figures such as Mao, Lenin and Hugo Chávez.

Yet despite these symbols of revolutionary commitment, Ms Caona is disenchanted with Venezuela’s socialist government as it grapples with falling oil prices and an economy ravaged by inflation, shortages and corruption.

“There are internecine fights, micro-powers within the revolution, everyone defending their interests,” complains this member of one of Venezuela’s militias, called colectivos, which consider themselves keepers of socialism’s sacred flame and also sometimes act as auxiliary state security forces.

Ms Caona illuminates a growing public disaffection with President Nicolas Maduro’s government as oil prices have slid 40 per cent since June. She says her colectivo has taken to delivering food staples around the neighbourhood so that supplies are not “mishandled by corrupt forces”.

“Socialism’s sacred flame”: I think I see your problem. Their ain’t nothing sacred about socialism. Since when did The Last Supper depict Jesus sitting at a table full of Judases?

Rather the article makes clear that Venezuela’s system is the croniest of crony capitalism. Which worked (up to a point) when oil was at $130 a barrel, but not so much when it’s less than half that. Enjoy the fall, commies. It’s not half bad until the end.

PS: Why is Ben Stiller at the table, three seats to the left of Jesus?


Kinda Ironic

Don’t you think?

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has defended the seizure of a factory owned by US-based company Clorox.

“Socialist formula: any company that’s abandoned will be taken over by the working class,” Mr Maduro said.

Cleaning products maker Clorox closed its production facilities in Venezuela last week, saying government-imposed price freezes were crippling it.

Not even bleach can clean the caked grime on the “socialist paradise” that Chavez built.

Clorox, which sells bleach and other household cleaning products in Venezuela, announced in a statement on 22 September that it would cease its operations there immediately and try to sell its assets.

It cited as its reason government price controls on its products, which it said had led to millions of dollars in losses.

The statement said that for nearly three years, the company had had to sell more than two-thirds of its products at fixed prices which did not cover its production costs, which had been driven up by skyrocketing inflation.

It also said recent price increases “were nowhere near sufficient”.

Venezuela earlier this month announced that its annual inflation rate had reached 63.4%.

We want three digits! We want three digits! (They’ll probably have it by the time you read this.) Only a socialist country could have 63% inflation when prices are “fixed”.


Our Substitute-Teacher-In-Chief Pummeled With Lots Of Spitballs

Obama was elected on Hope-n-Change. Every now and then, it is instructive to see where he has lead us.

Let’s begin with his foreign policy. Obama has adopted the foreign policy of Neville Chamberlain, with similar results. The Arab Spring has turned into chaos in Egypt and Syria, with reports of approximately 140,000 deaths in Syria alone. We don’t have a grim milestone watch for Egypt or Libya. The press seems a bit bored. And it seems that Iran will soon be a nuclear power. That should help.

As Sarah Palin predicted, Russia has invaded Ukraine and Obama stands holding his limp you-know-what. (Ms. Palin didnt put it that way, I did.) At least Bill Clinton was capable of doing two things at once.

Oh and there are problems in Latin America too, it seems.

That’s all so dreary. Let’s turn to domestic matters. We now have a shiny new health care system that costs much more than predicted and delivers much less. But we love it just the same. It’s called ObamaCare.

And the economy continues to play CandyLand. Did you ever play CandyLand? Nothing ever happens and it goes on and on forever. I think that ObamaCare is somehow related to the performance of the economy, but who knows?

And what else is there? What am I missing here? Oh yeah. We hired a stoner, apparently, to be the President. He recently gave a talk in which he said that he “got high a lot” instead of doing school work, but that he got many, many chances to improve. This confirms what I suspected. Obama went to an elite private school in Hawaii, and from there to an ok school in California, Occidental College. People who work very hard at those elite private schools usually end up going to elite colleges. I’m not trying to be snotty here; that’s just a fact. Obama somehow then managed to go to Columbia and then to Harvard Law. The public has never seen his transcripts so we don’t know what his grades were in High School or what he studied at either Occidental or Columbia. But we can guess. Those of you who have kids in high school, or had them in high school, just imagine your son or daughter getting the ride this man has gotten. We elected him, fair and square. We deserve this because elections have consequences. But it is shocking to consider the power in the hands of such an incompetent.

– Aggie


How’s The Reset Button Working, Mr. President?

Russian warship docked at Havana.

Maybe stopped for a quick brewski?

A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media.

The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.

Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.

The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.

The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Hmm. Perhaps Obama is the genius that Joe Biden told us he was. Maybe He is trying to disrupt the entire communist world. After all, there are problems in Venezuela and in Ukraine. Maybe the plan is to get them to tear themselves to pieces? Or maybe he is just the dolt that I think he is, and the world is simply much less safe than it was the day George W. Bush handed him the keys to the White House.

– Aggie


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