Off the beaten path

I'm here for your safety

Just a quick post on two interesting things I read today, from a couple of blogs that deserve more traffic.

First off, Off the Wire has an excellent piece on “El Vigilante,” or to put it in criollo terms, “El Guachimán.” Its author, Brian Pablo, an expat journalist who recently moved from Rio to Caracas, focuses on the security guards, those ever-present characters of daily life in Venezuela. The money quote:

“Whenever something goes wrong, the first one they blame is the vigilante,” said the security guard at my mother-in-law’s lower-middle-class gated community after a house was robbed a block away. The kid’s got a technical degree and trying to finish highschool but he can’t get his studies done while on the job. My in-laws get along well with him and his coworkers, taking them food on holidays and cracking jokes on the way in and out of the gate.

That’s not the usual relationship. In one apartment I lived in, the landlord was shocked when I asked him to leave the key with the security guards. “With those criminals? Are you crazy?”

In looking for pictures, I stumbled on a less romantic vision of guachimanes in the dormant blog Cagá e país.

Another interesting piece on PDVSA and Exxon is in Harvard Prof. Noel Maurer’s blog, The Power and the Money (HT: Setty). I don’t know why the author knows so much about Venezuela, but hehas some interesting things to say. The money quote:

Exxon received from PDVSA what it was contractually entitled to get. The standard used by the ICC was the market value of the assets, not book value. The assumptions used to calculate that market value, however — chief among them estimates of the expected future price of oil — were limited by a clause in ExxonMobil’s 1998 association contract that effectively put a ceiling on the value of the company’s investment.

Is a thank-you card coming soon to Luis Giusti’s mailbox? Perhaps an e-card? I think he’s earned it.