With the partial takeover of a private golf course in Vargas State last week, the government’s long-forgotten war on golf is back on.

Daily Briefing

From the Summit to the Pit

Your daily briefing for Friday, February 16, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Letter for a Governor So Crazy He Could End Up Doing...

An open letter to Carabobo’s polemic, wannabe influencer/governor. If he got this far doing crazy stuff, how far could he go if he used his powers for good?

The April 22nd Election is Designed to Consolidate a Dictatorship

Dividing the opposition, cornering dissident chavistas, creating a thin veneer of legitimacy: just a few of the many reasons dictatorships sometimes hold elections to consolidate themselves.

The Trail of Failures In Zapatero’s Wake

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s horrible performance as a mediator will have surprised no one in Spain. Made Prime Minister by an accident of history, he badly divided the country and made mindless leftwing posturing his calling card.

Presidential Elections: Venezuelan Youth’s Last Shot

The chance to register to vote on April 22nd closes in just a few days. Amazingly, there are long lines of 18 year old kids outside Registry offices, waiting patiently for the chance to register to vote. We talked to some of them.

Rafael Ramírez Took Bribes, Federal Indictment Reveals

The indictment against Nervis Villalobos and four others doesn't accuse Ramírez of a crime. But it alleges he received bribe after bribe, funding a decadent luxury lifestyle by collecting “speed money” to fast-track payments PDVSA owed to contractors.

The Difficult Case for Henri Falcón

Henri Falcón was chavista before he recognized Pedro Carmona before he went back to being chavista before he became an opposition supporter determined to stay in good terms with chavismo. How can anybody trust a flip flop artist like him?

[UPDATED with Good News!] Hey, MIT: Venezuela’s Official Exchange Rate is...

A young math prodigy from Maracaibo beat the odds to get accepted to MIT. But without financial aid, she can't go. And she can't get financial aid, because at the official exchange rate, she's a millionaire!

Iris Varela Stars in the Gocho Version of ‘Goodbye, Lenin!’

PSUV stalwart Iris Varela wants to convince us that the images of thousands of people crossing the Venezuela-Colombia border are...Colombians, fleeing misery in their country for greener pastures in Venezuela. Yes, really.

Previous Briefings

Wednesday’s Ashes

Your daily briefing for Thursday, February 15, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Don’t get excited

Your daily brienfing for Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Releases and handovers

Your daily briefing for Sunday, 11, 2018. Written by Javier Liendo.

Previous Posts

Valentine’s Day at the End of the Rope

Just thinking back to what a normal Valentine’s Day used to feel like is depressing. Here’s what el Día del Amor is like when you can’t afford — well, basically anything.

Carnavales: Chavista Celebration Turns Violent when People Protest

The government had called for a big Mardi Gras party in Los Próceres. Then people started shouting anti-government slogans and all hell broke loose.

Shots to the Heart: The Human Cost of Extrajudicial Killings

An up-close and personal look at how Venezuelan families cope with losing a loved one to extrajudicial killings.

Is the Petro the Outcome of a Blood Pact With Evil...

An evangelical Whatsapp chain sounds the alarm bells: the Petro is black magic. Looking at the claims, a Haitian sociologist finds room for empathy with those terrified by black magic, but notes the enormous misunderstandings involved.

Venezuela’s Canonical History Reference Book is Now Online

Before there was Wikipedia, there was the Fundación Polar’s Diccionario de Historia de Venezuela. Now every Venezuelan history nerd’s favorite is one click away.

Doing the Impossible to Keep College Possible

Believe it or not, amid the collapse, a hearty band of intellectuals is still trying to keep higher education going in Venezuela. What it takes to teach in these conditions will take your breath away.

Hawking Balloons in Lima: Venezuela’s Most Promising Youth Persevere Abroad

According to official figures, over 100,000 Venezuelans have made it to Peru. On the streets of the Peruvian capital, Venezuelan street vendors have hope, desire to work and degrees.

The Long Road to The Hague Started Yesterday

The ICC just launched a preliminary examination into crimes committed at last year’s protests. What does that mean? And what can we expect?

On Educated Psychiatrists, Poetry and Genocide

Being evil, manipulative liars and cruel murderers doesn’t mean you can’t be smart or cultured. Unfortunately.

Maduro Might Lose the April Election, but Democracy Won’t Win It

No government can feel easy going to an election with inflation running at 85% per month. But even if Henri Falcón wins the April vote, the transition that follows will be organized entirely around the losers' needs.

Habemus Fecha: Presidential “Election” to be Held April 22nd

After the dialogue collapsed in the Dominican Republic today, the government decided to move ahead with "elections" on their own terms. (Hence, the scare-quotes.)

The Gambian Scenario: How a Dictator Lost the Election He Rigged

After two decades of exceptionally tyrannical rule, almost nobody thought Yahya Jammeh would leave power through the ballot box. Least of all him. But that’s what happened.

Workplace Absenteeism Takes Over PDVSA Gas Anaco

Oil industry workers in Anaco don’t show up to work anymore. Why risk life and limb for salaries that just won’t put food on the table anymore?

FX Controls: A Tragedy Turns Fifteen

Tal día como hoy, in 2003, Venezuela began rationing foreign currency by fixing its price. Has any other policy done more to ravage Venezuelans’ livelihoods?

Facing Harassment, Armando.info Journalists Flee the Country

Alex Saab had had just about enough of Armando.info airing out his dirty laundry in public. So he took to the courts and forced the site’s principals to run off to Colombia.

Seventeen Years On, Linda Loaiza Seeks Justice Long Denied

In 2001, she was the victim of a harrowing set of crimes that shocked the nation. Today, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights begins to hear her case.

The Storming of the Apostille

The long, spirit-debilitating process of getting an apostille stamp affixed to their official documents is the red tape nightmare separating Venezuelans from a life abroad.

The Prisons We Slowly Build For Ourselves

Venezuelans, in an effort to keep robbers and criminals out of their homes and businesses, build custom-made prisons to fence themselves in.

As CNE Moves the Goal Posts, Primero Justicia Activists Fight Like...

Primero Justicia failed to collect enough signatures to retain official party status last weekend. Activists were trying to recover from those days, but last night the CNE said they wouldn't get a second chance.

Democracy Retrenches Globally, Collapses Locally

For the first time since The Economist publishes its annual Democracy Index, Venezuela went from hybrid regime to authoritarian regime. Only 19 countries in the world are considered full democracies and 52 are in our new category.

Venezuela Ranked Last in the Rule of Law Index 2017-2018

The World Justice Project considers eight key factors to determine how and if governments uphold the law and if citizens can hold them accountable. Chavismo failed epically, as if officials from the government had gotten their degree at a Misión Sucre.

Anti-Hate Law Used to Harass Media

Security and intelligence agencies are enforcing the Anti-Hate Law, even though it stems from an illegitimate institution. First they went for protesters, now a Cumaná newspaper became the first in its kind to be under investigation.

Oil-Black Future: What if Oil Output Keeps Dropping?

The alarming rate at which our oil output is reducing, makes us wonder what we’ll do with it if our main buyers find other alternatives, which they have already started doing, because that’s just how normal markets work. Guys, oil isn’t edible.

No Country for Civil Rights

Amid the most terrible crisis Venezuela’s ever faced, anything not related to food or medicine might sound a little ambitious… That’s how we get to be – surprise! – the last country in the region in a matter that’s as much a right as any other.

The Opposition Doesn’t Know What Democracy is Either

We have been focusing on the government’s dictatorial nature for so long, we might have been missing one important circumstance: what if, when observing carefully, we found similar trends in the opposition, too?

The Weekly Standard, Meet Piñata Ethics

The Weekly Standard’s Barton Swain introduced an idea for solving the crisis and rescuing the Venezuelan people, and called it “coerced humanitarianism”. Whether or not it can be done, there are always piñata flashbacks to keep us grounded.

What’s Next for the Worthless Petro

The chavista cryptocurrency is worth nothing and still they’re planning to sell 44 million units come March 29. They probably think people will rip them out of their bloody hands, like Clap bags.

Corruption and Inefficiency by the IVSS Kill Venezuelans

Health industry workers know how bad it is and who is to blame for all of it, but patients don’t know how purposefully inefficient the government is.

Taming Hyperinflation: A perspective from a skeptic of monetarism

My research suggests rapid money supply growth does not cause ordinary inflation. But I want to be clear that hyperinflation is a whole other story.

Cash Crisis in Guayana Pica y se Extiende (Part II)

Facts and figures that might help you understand why it’s so hard to find cash in our country and Part II of the guayaneses’ odyssey and their many tactics to find cash.

Crisis Consumes Venezuelans – and Nobody Else

We shouldn’t count on a foreign solution because most of the world doesn’t know what’s happening, those who know don’t really care and those who care – Venezuelan immigrants – can’t do anything.

SUNDDE Glimpses a Rabbit Hole of its Own Making

Having ransacked the supermarkets, SUNDDE was forced to focus its attention on a higher link of the value chain, going after agrifood companies. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Cash Crisis in Guayana “Pica y se Extiende” (Part I)

Caraqueños dealing with faulty and slow points-of-sale should know: it’s even worse in the rest of the country. Having cash may mean you’ll afford dinner, since prices are cheaper if you pay cash.

Losing Official Party Status, Voluntad Popular Staggers Toward Irrelevance

Diosdado Cabello’s multi-year crusade to render Voluntad Popular into a forgotten footnote in Venezuelan history looks maddeningly close to success.

Breaking News: TSJ Bans MUD from April Presidential Ballot

In a sign of things to come, the regime bars the opposition coalition from appearing in April's ballot just hours after VP took itself out of contention, as well.

CECODAP Condemns Children’s Rights Violation in State Propaganda

The NGO accuses the government of violating the rights of minors and manipulating them in a new spot that’s been broadcast on mass media. They have contacted CONATEL and so far… no answer.

Turning Yesteryear’s Bullshit into No-Joke Reality, a Communist Achievement

For years, chavismo fed the old canard about poor people being forced to eat dog food before the revolution came. It was a lie...until they made it true.

From Difol to Default: The Five Stages of Venny Bull Grief

In 2017, some of the most brilliant people in the investment community, in El Rosal and Wall Street alike, fell for a trap that undid them. How a reckoning came to Venny Bull world.

How Diosdado’s Cunning Plan Could Spectacularly Backfire

It wouldn’t be the first time an overconfident authoritarian government pushed forward into an election they were certain they couldn’t possible lose… and lost.

The 23 de Enero Myth Turns 60

Today, we celebrate the day democracy was born in our country. 60 years on, we keep trying to find reasons to celebrate it. So far, we haven't found many.

April Elections: This is not a drill

There are lots of good reasons for chavismo to want to rush a presidential vote: Getting ahead of a worsening economy. Taking advantage of a listless opposition. Playing on opposition splits. Leveraging our distrust of elections.

Dialogue RIP: Diosdado Announces Presidential Vote Before May with No Agreement

The early bird catches the presidency. An announcement of presidential elections before April 30th, without minimum guarantees of fairness, scrambles an already scrambled political scene.

You Wouldn’t Work a Whole Day for Five Cents Either

With hyperinflation raging, wage-rises in Venezuela now lag so far behind normal people can't afford to turn up to work. At what point does that turn from curiosity to system-threatening crisis?

Óscar Pérez Vive: How a Desecration Created a Threat

When he was alive, half of the Venezuelan opposition thought Óscar Pérez was a chavista plant, the other half that he was a bit of a joke. His death —and the desecration of his body— have turned him in death into his dream: a real threat for the government.

A Chavismo of Nightmares

In Germany in the 1930s, a journalist took to collecting and curating people’s nightmares. I reflect on the terrible relevance that project has for Venezuelans today.

De Mérida pa’ Montevideo: How the Little Human Rights NGO that...

In a meeting chavistas requested at the Interamerican Human Rights Commision, Gocho activists watched the government delegation’s faces contort with rage as they realized the official truth wouldn’t go unchallenged.

WSJ’s Anatoly Kurmanaev Wrote a Moving Farewell Piece about the Oil...

The Wall Street Journal correspondent is leaving the country after five years. His last story from Venezuela is about the collapse of the oil industry in Lake Maracaibo and what it means for oil workers there. He says he’ll miss the Venezuelan people, just not as much as we’ll miss him.

Maracucho Taxi Drivers Pioneer Dollarization Pa’ Resolver

Dollarization won’t be decreed by an economist wearing a suit from a podium in Caracas. It's going to come when taxi drivers figure out how dollars can “hacer su agosto, Navidad and Carnavales” all in one go.