PSUV's Mobilization Not So Militarized After All

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Not coming to knock on your door any time soon: the Milicia Bolivariana
Not coming to knock on your door any time soon: the Milicia Bolivariana

So, that Analisis24.com story on PSUV’s voter mobilization plans stuck on my mind. At the end of the story, the site – which seems to have cornered the market for juicy government leaks to the point of allegedly being firewalled off by CANTV – published hundreds of phone numbers PSUV’s front-line get out the vote activists: 86 excel spreadsheets covering Miranda State, the Distrito Capital and Vargas State. (This is what they look like.)

So, with the help of a volunteer, I spent Friday afternoon chatting these guys up on Skype.

Remarkably, upon receiving a weird phone call from some incomprehensible skype number and hearing a foreign-accented guy (my volunteer is from Bogotá) ask them questions, not a single one of them slammed the phone down!

Everyone knows how lengua floja Venezuelans are, but after all the propaganda about plots and spies and saboteurs, I found this remarkable. Out of a dozen calls, only two chavista front-line operatives even expressed any curiosity as to who we may be or where we might have gotten their numbers – and one pivotted directly from expressing suspicion to offering the mystery caller a ticket to come visit Venezuela and bask in the glories of the revolution!

The Analisis24 leak looked damning because it seemed to indicate the PSUV, the Consejos Comunales, the Milicia Bolivariana, and the National Guard are just one big undifferentiated stew of chavismo. People from all these institutions are listed in the same contact sheets, just incestuously mixed in with one another.

Our key goal, then, was to confirm the allegation that the military – and specifically, the Milicia – would effectively be used as PSUV’s get out the vote machine.

We found no evidence of that.

The milicianos we spoke to were clear: their role that day is strictly Plan República (i.e., providing security at polling stations) and does not involve any element of coordination with Comando Hugo Chávez or with the PSUV.

This clip shows it clearly – from 0:42 in particular:

This next militia respondent, is very much on the same page:

Some Consejo Comunal spokespeople who told us that while they are members of the militia, their role on election day has nothing to do with the militias. “Una cosa no guarda relación con la otra”:

I tend to believe them – these weren’t sleazy media-savvy Caracas politicos we were talking to; they were neighborhood activists heartbreakingly flattered to be “interviewed” by an interested outsider. Their stories were consistent with one another’s and if anything disarmingly forthright.

Some of these grassroots chavistas break your heart. There’s still a share of proper community organizers out there, guys who want to do right by their communities and are still barking up the wrong tree hoping against hope. This interview with a guy in deepest rural Barlovento, for instance, broke my heart – we couldn’t get him off the phone!

It’s of course possible to overstate the separation between the Militia and the more political civilian part of PSUV. One lady told us that yes, last time (on October 7th) she’d worked on the Militia looking after her voting center’s security, but this time they’d asked her to work on the mobilization side:

There seems to be an awful lot of overlap in terms of the actual people involved in both organization, but it also seems like there’s still a functional differentiation: chavista activists, at least at this level, retain the common-sense understanding that it’s not proper for uniformed people to proselytize on election day.

Everyone we spoke to said that their mobilization plan for April 14th is essentially unchanged from last October (and last December). So Defense Minister Diego Molero’s vow to make Maduro’s victory a mission for the armed forces seems to me more like a bit of posturing (or plain braggadocio) rather than a statement of new policy. At least, if that’s what it is, it doesn’t seem to have filtered down to front-line activists.

Of course, whether Civilian or Military, PSUV’s mobilization plan is still built around the massive abuse of state resources to bring governing party supporters to vote. The forthrightness with which people described their plans to lean on PDVSA to pay for the buses and cars they’ll need to mobilize people would’ve been tender were it not so openly illegal.

It left me thinking. If you go by this impressive El Nacional piece, Defense Minister Molero’s statement may have been just a red herring. The state institution that’s now at the center of PSUV’s get out the vote drive isn’t the Armed Forces; it’s PDVSA.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great work. This shows why blogs are necessary – to cover the gaping holes traditional media leaves uncovered.

  2. Great job, man. I wonder (as a “sidequest”) why did you use a colombian. Pure practical reasons? or did you think his accent made them more candid in their response? (I think it probably did, I figure they wouldn’t open up to my sister’s UCAB accent)

  3. Verga!
    Congratulations man. I was complaining about you guys not working enough this election. Now I see why!

  4. Very nice effort, good stuff! This seems to fit in nicely with the theory that everything will be taken care of appropriately at election time by the chavistas at the CNE, who are still dutifully resisting the stance that every single ballot box must be opened and every single vote “papeleta” must be counted, which is the only way of knowing for sure that what is printed in the “acta” truly represents the will of the voters.

    For the disbelievers, please look for the statisticians analyses that have been reporting odd behaviour in Venezuelan voting results since 2004.

    Amanecerá y veremos …

      • Putting aside for an instant the overwhelmingly abusive manner in which the entire Venezuelan election is carried out to accommodate officialdom to the max and keeping only to the actual vote casting process, there are far too many important events occurring, sight unseen, at atomic levels, way beyond the comprehension of most mortals, all of which can be manipulated by the administrators of the system to skew the results.

        The recent CNE-PSUV BIOS password faux pas, despite Aveledo’s somewhat candid explanation, shows clear collusion between the parties involved and leaves open the possibility that the voting machine can be quickly and easily compromised before ballots are cast. These types of exploit have been demonstrated before in many different voting machines, so, it’s a small wonder that there are not deemed entirely untrustworthy. Today many countries are gravitating away from electronic voting machines the world over.

        So, a large part of the problem with electronic voting machines is that the perception of ease of manipulation, exploitable or not, is well understood by those in the know. Add to this the insufficient voter verification bestowed by Venezuelan law, which often enough is not taken seriously or even undertaken at all, helps cast serious doubts as to whether there really is a triple tally at all. You could say that this might improve this time round because the opposition candidate is consciously making emphasis on this issue.

        I’m no mathematician, but if International Statistical Science knows enough to dedicate a whole issue on the odd goings-on in Venezuelan elections, I can safely surmise that “si el río suena, es porque piedras trae”.

        Another major element in this confounding puzzle is that the opposition is immersed in a major struggle in their attempts to have witnesses at every voting centre. A monumental endeavour, because often witnesses’ physical security is seriously at stake in urban barrios or towns near the Colombian frontier.

        At the end of the day the CNE will cobble the required results: heads Maduro wins, tails Capriles loses.

          • In a post where you show clearly how this people organize themselves to get the votes and how well they do it, someone still think there is some hidden fraud.
            If they could do a switch the vote operation why worry so much about the last one of these voters in places where there aren’t even roads? If the machines are going to deliver the victory anyway why go to all this trouble to get people to the voting polls?

          • For the same reason voting was compulsory in the German Democratic Republic even if they could have just stuffed enough ballots on their own.

            Unlike us, they do have plan B, C, D and E when it comes to the only thing that matters to them: power.

            Do you think they would remain in power now if there were a participation of less than 50% and they win with more than 10% by using digital means? This isn’t 1999.
            They will use every single method they have at their disposal.

          • Eucarionte, that’s a supposition, we don’t know that… when they do it (switch voting) I will believe it. In the meantime, I suggest we focus in our get out the vote process that relies only on good will and personal motivation

          • In a post where someone clearly shows that the results for previous votes are a near statistical impossibility, and you still think there is no hidden fraud.

            To answer your questions: because to trick to hide any play with the sum of small numbers is in hiding the play amongst the big numbers.

            Put it this way, Quico asks for evidence, I ask for him to explain away statistics. Just to point to two:

            1) Hausman found a statistically significant correlation between the difference in errors of two independent sets of data. If you don’t know about correlations in data error, ask your friendly neighborhood statistics nerds what they think.

            2) When Benford Analysis was applied to the voting data, Benford Law failed only on automated data, not the manual data, and only for the No votes, not for the Yes votes, and only in the centers that were part of the (non) random sample of centers.

            You see, there is evidence, it’s just not physical evidence, but demanding physical evidence in precisely a context whereby physical evidence is completely controlled by the accused party is unreasonable, but, by implying to win the argument for lack of it, mainly insulting.

          • There is a worldwide trend away from electronic voting machines because of the speed with which they can be compromised. In 2008 The Netherlands banned them, the Germans in 2009. In Europe most countries have a healthy distrust of electronic voting machines and have at least stopped spending money on them. It seems that only Belgium has an ongoing relationship —rather acrimonious, at that— with electronic voting and Smartmatic of all people. In some Belgian locations, these nifty gadgets counted thousands more votes that voters in the electoral roll … does this problem sound vaguely familiar? This is in a controlled environment. Just imagine this “feature” being taken advantage of by the good people of the CNE … unthinkable, right? Don’t even get me talking about Smartmatic’s adventures in the Philippines.

            For many reasons, many states in the US are returning to paper ballots. In a recent North Carolina election, for example, an “ill-calibrated” electronic voting machine changed Romney votes into Obama votes. Of course, that would never happen in Venezuela!

            While there are too many possible defects in electronic voting systems to go into in this post, one of the main sticking points is how little evidence is actually left behind when things go awry. An interesting aspect of our little Smartmatic converted lotto machines is that they do leave a paper trail, albeit one which legally Venezuelans are not allowed to fully audit.

            Computer & net security expert and Johns Hopkins professor Aviel Rubin visited Venezuela not too long ago and explained how easily voting systems could be compromised. Too bad his warnings fell mostly on deaf ears.

            It is very unsafe behaviour to put blind trust in electronic voting systems (unless of course you’re prepared to fully audit the resulting paper trail—which we legally cannot do here) and even more so with our friendly CNE in Venezuela.

  5. To be conformed but looks like your blog has been block somehow in Venezuela… I got here yesterday and put my DIGITEL sim on my iPhone and cannot access to you blog posts since. Check with other people but looks like someone in CANTV also knows english and they block you here 🙁

    Best Regards,

    Alejandro

  6. Wow, amazing work. A couple of questions then: how do these testimonies relate to the polls showing the intensión de voto favoring capriles? Should this be encouraging to some degree?

      • Well, I don’t know if the survey is trustable or not, but Datamatica seems to be a real survey company (unlike most of the ghosts appearing recently) that has done many studies in Argentina before, their webpage is down but they have Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/Datamatica). I even found a report dated May 2010 (before Nestor Kirchner’s death) about a hypothetical Argentina’s vote intention for 2011.

      • Francisco

        You think, if the votes are counted correctly, there is a chance for Capriles? My dear wife got upset when I told her not to get her hopes up, especially after she was optimistic on 7 october. (we live in the USA). She mostly watches/reads Globovision and her family tells her their Miranda neighborhood, which was 75% chavista in 2005 or so, is down to just one family who still supports the Chavernment. Her dad, who works for the metro system and is forced to go to all the chavista marches and has been threatened with his job in the past if he doesnt vote Chavez (he was also told he would lose his job if his family took part in opposition marches), said his boss is so disgusted with the Chavernment that he no longer requires them to go to marches and just signs off for them being there.

        Combining those with many more similar stories and anecdotes, the size of Capriles rallies, and the laughable things Maduro says (the pajarito ‘Chavez’ story made its rounds here in parts of US media as the butt of many jokes) I could see how she may be optimistic. But the polls (even if somewhat skewed in favor of the government due to fears) show otherwise, and the complete and utter unfairness of the election makes any kind of momentum or progress that much harder (if not impossible).

        Most people will never see any media of Capriles rallies, his show with the artists, the electricity is repeatedly cut in places he has rallies, the subway was shut down yesterday in Caracas the day of his rally, the highway was ‘closed for security reasons’ the same day, etc etc etc. The Chavernment can work in so many ways to limit his message and not allow people to hear what he says or know of the breadth of his support.

  7. Thanks for this work. It’s a bit encouraging to know the situation has not escalated to the point where the military is intimidating people into voting.

    I wonder if you asked people about HOW they get people to vote. My experience in the barrios is that people are taught some very manipulative techniques and are not the least bit unwilling to insinuate that refusing to speak to them or to vote for Chavez (last October) would result in some punishment to them. I’m a clinical psychologist and was quite shocked by the sophistication of the techniques. For instance, something as simple as the 10 x 1 lists can be quite coercive. People were asked to write their name, cedula number, and sign. That alone is a pretty strong technique, a mental contract. But, the fact that this is being done under some pressure, under the threat of possibly losing your government benefits makes it very coercive. This would be even worse when you think about the fact that in many neighborhoods the activists are members of the junta comunales or other such organizations, people who have gathered some prestige and authority in their communities. Hence, when they approach their neighbors, there is a power differential there that gives them an advantage.

    I also know that at least in Mérida and Táchira, people involved in other programs were asked to go door to door in neighborhoods to make people sign the 10 x 1. A nephew of mine was working in a government summer recreational program as a recreador, a sort of teaching assistant. The last weekend of work, the instructors gathered all the recreadores and told them that they had to vote for Chavez and make sure other people voted for Chavez or they would not have a job like that one next summer. So, they were then going to go door to door getting people to sign the 10 x 1 form. To their surprise, a lot of people slammed the door on their face. So, at the end of the day, they went back to those homes (they noted which homes) and screamed insults at the houses. Is this democratic?

    • We did ask explicitly about this and got a bunch of very vanilla answers. “We try to remind them, about the ideology, about how important the misiones are, and if that doesn’t work we try to find someone closer to them to talk to them. Like if it’s an older person we try to find an abuelita, you know, who can talk to them in a way they relate to, or if it’s a kid we find one of the kids from the patrulla to go persuade them…”

      1 x 10 is certainly the way they’re doing it. And I’m sure there are all kinds of different ways 1×10 is actually carried out. But at least the guys we randomly called on the phone were relying on pretty much the same types of techniques any campaign anywhere would use.

      I bet if we called 100 people rather than 12 we’d find someone who’d describe more aggressive techniques. But I’m just a dude with a computer and a skype account…and I have a day job, too! You call ’em!

      • I understand. I was just wondering because the absence of military presence does not mean the absence of manipulation and coercion.

    • I heard of a 3000VEB offer to vote for maduro, with the condition that one request an “assist” at the voting booth, where the person assisting is the one to give you the 3k, only if you vote as per the agreement.

      • There is a little of everything in operacion remolque…even in the 7O, a friend of my family, at 5 pm, they were offering 500 BS…so I guess they use different techniques, the one calling in the morning, and knocking on your door again, like the ad of ciudadania activa, …it is coercive…I tried to explained to an american…and he was “but that is a rigged election” and i was well yes, but no…i don’t know if I already have seen so much that for others is really wrong and for me well just part of latin american electoral folklore?…

  8. Quico:

    On the government behavior on this particular issue:

    It is an abuse of power to use government resources to mobilize the vote and It is an attempt against someone’s privacy to publish publicly someone’s name and telephone number

    On your part :

    I don’t agree with your ethics on this. The people interviewed were not said that their conversations were being registered and put with their names on the Internet. Also, the fact that you used someone with a clear colombian accent is misleading to the person that is being interviewed. In the first interview, your friend says that he is a colombian student, but never says that the information will be published publicly in a blog and, at the end, he implies with “Dios y el comandante” that he is somehow sympathetic to the cause.

    You wanted a “tubazo”, you’ve got it, but you did not respect the basic principles of journalistic ethics.You could have perfectly done the same post in a more ethical way.

    If this is you, Quico, what do we have left for the rest?

    Por eso estamos como estamos….

      • Ka-ching!

        Interesting point nonetheless, Bruni.

        BTW, “por eso estamos como estamos”… really? Yo creo que estamos como estamos por culpa de Rafael Ramírez, Diosdado, Maduro, Molero, etc.

        • Juan, yes. “Estamos como estamos” is due first of all to Chávez and his cronies and their unethical behavior….but when we answer behaving in the same way, we end up with a country in which nobody believed in any institution, including the press.

        • “Hi, I’m calling from an anti-Chávez internet site in English and I’d like to ask you some politically sensitive questions about your role in the election…”

          Riiiiiight…

          • Quico, you had several choices:

            1.- “I am calling from the Caracas Cronicles blog and I would like to interview you with respect to….Do you have any problem with my publishing your interview in my blog?”

            2.- “I am a colombian journalist student…etc etc. …BTW, do you have any problem with my publishing this interview on the Internet?”

            3.- [if you REALLY wanted to stretch the ethics] saying nothing and publishing the interview but without the names and without their telephone numbers.

          • Hola Quico:
            No deberias despachar los comentarios de Bruni con un “whatever”. Efectivamente hay algunos problemas eticos en la forma en la que abordaste las entrevistas. Saludos

          • Ends justifying the means counter is not one I expected from you, even less to seemingly well intentioned argumentation.

          • Good journalism finds the truth and then brings it to the public. In a corrupt system, the rules of engagement have to modified, but they must be modified with the sole purpose of finding the truth without prejudice and without pretense. Francisco you’re ok!

          • Sorry chamo I’m with Bruni in this one, the end does not justify the means. You need at least the consent of the persons before even posting their names. But that wasn’t your fault, another person took it and posted it online in another site.

            Finally you can not infer that the person that you contacted would not commit any illegal activity, based on what you’ve done, however clever your disguise was.

            Yeah sure you call them, and you expect them to tell you the crime they are about to commit, to “you”, a “total stranger”, even if you disguise your accent and you pledge allegiance to the revolution, but you are still a “total stranger”.

            You don’t ask a person that is wearing a mask, holding a gun if they are about to commit a crime… sigh…

          • I will like that even some Venezuelan researchers would use that in their papers I have one, in particular that is violating the statistical secrecy law, that what you answer in the census cannot be used for anything else…bu this person use it…and because he is an enchufado because if i wanted to get the same data set from the banco Central and INe, they will be sending me to talk to the little bird…It is what it is

    • Bruni, you raise some good points. While several ethical lines appear to have been crossed (especially on reporting names in a publicly read forum, without permission), can you tell us exactly which “basic principles of journalistic ethics” have been violated?

      I’m not being contrary here. It’s just that I know for a fact that journalistic ethics vary from country to country (and wildly so, it would appear, on the Internet).

      Case in point: In the US, it’s illegal to record a telephone conversation without informing the person, or the object of that recording, that they are, indeed, being recorded. In Canada, only one person has to be informed that the recording is taking place (and that person would be the journo, or otherwise) — dixit, School of Journalism – Ryerson U., Toronto.

      • Syd, this is not pure journalism. Pure journalism is disinterested… and this blog has a much bigger role. Whistleblowers, for example, are often breaking laws and contracts in order to perform public service. Civil disobedience is strategic form of breaking the law in order to perform a public service. There is a grey area area here, and we can hash it out later. There’s no time for it here and now.

        • oh, ok, gordo. Good to have you draw us a picture, to inform us that what Toro and Nagel and GEHA and Duarte practice is not pure journalism, which needs to follow a certain code of ethics. I’ll remember that the next time I read another holier-than-thou exposé. I’ll keep it mind when Toro calls himself a journalist.

          Oh, and P.S. Spare me the “there’s no time for it here and now”. Each of us has the capacity to conclude what constitutes right from not-quite-so right, in a matter of, say 5 seconds. And I’ve made up my mind.

        • Syd, what I mean by there is no time… I meant there is not going to be “enough” time to give it the attention it deserves.

          • Horse sh*t. I’ve not noticed you on these boards before. Maybe it’s all that work you’re doing for the campaign that takes away your valuable time.
            Since you seem to want to set the agenda, so as to avoid discussions over the day’s post of reference, let me tell you, I have no intention of discussing this, after the fact, or with you, for that matter. It is clear to me that you do not to want to understand that certain walks of life, journalism among them, demand ethical standards.

            I know you have no time to be visiting a blog such as this. But in the event you can spare just a second, take a good look at the second image and its on the left-hand side: http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2013/04/08/un-genial-experimento-que-derrota-el-divisionismo-entre-venezolanos-imperdible/

            It’s called consideration. Get it?

          • Your right! I’ll refrain from trying to guide the discourse. I didn’t mean any disrespect, but I see how it can be received that way.

          • Syd, what I notice is that the discussions last only a day or two until Francisco et. al. introduce a new blog takes leads to a new subject. What is the topic here now? Is it the message or the messenger? Excuse me if I’m confused. We do have a crucial election going on now, and do we have to care about blog nomenclature, too. My wife is so worried about this election, she can’t sleep, and her whole body is aching. Both of us, and our kids, are searching web for news, calling family and friends, frequenting the facebooks for news. It’s really getting frantic. I have money at stake along with many other investors who are on the edge of financial ruin. How about you? Where are you at?

      • I just finished reading two articles on Janet Malcolm. The impression I have is that her journalism employed a certain wizardry in organizing and interpreting the complex web of people, relationships, interactions, motives… and then she built it all into a coherent story that others could see was genuine. Her journalism provided a “synthesis” that added great value to her role as a journalist. GOOD POINT!

    • Bruni, their names and numbers were already public. Maybe it would have been good to say that they were being recorded, that is true, but no further personal information or compromising data about them was revealed so no harm done.

  9. Bruni is full of it! By the way your conclusions on plan republica not having anything to do with carretear people to vote does not explain why in last October’s election, chavista vote went up 20% after 4pm.

  10. Thing is, i saw with my very own eyes last 7O milicianos dressed in uniform and even carrying weapons, driving voters all around Caricuao in white Toyota 4x4s with Chávez posters pasted on the windows..

  11. This is fascinating, this is what “maquinaria” is all about. The adecos were masters at this and chavismo has taken it to a new level.
    What comes to mind is, if we lose again, how could we ever begin to build a presence in this rural areas? The presence and influence of these people have always depended on being able to distribute funds or services and that always came from holding a public position and that’s why chavismo has delayed and delayed local elections. They know that If the opposition is able to put a foot in those remote areas and do a better job their whole machinery is in danger…
    Then what are our alternatives after April 14th (win or lose):
    – Will winning the national assembly give us any hope of changing this dynamic?
    – Do political parties understand this is how elections are won in Venezuela? (I think a lot of oppo leaders still believe that by yelling louder or tweeting faster they will change things). And if so how can we have better showing in local elections?
    – Or we have to wait until the economic crisis finally reaches a point of no return and not even this level of grassroot work will be able to disguise the failure of the revolution? Or is this the same wishful thinking of “their own inneficiency will bury them” we have been hearing for 10 years.

    • My concern is that power will become so centralized, and the public so dependent on government for survival, that government waste and inefficiency will become irrelevant!

    • Their own own inefficiency will bury them. People tend to forget that oil went from $13 to over $100, otherwise they’ll already would be buried. Of course oil could go to over $200, you never know, and them it will take another year for the fall.

  12. This is why I think chavismo can only be defeated 2 ways:
    1-Total KO in open elections (almost impossible with the mass media apparatus they have, the successfully brainwashed people, polarization)
    2-Economic crisis

        • Yes, and no. TMN was offered late in the game, so we never got the full story of it’s acceptance. The trend was on a fast rise at the end, so evidence points to potential success. The TMN pitch was confusing and convoluted and apparently its promoters couldn’t get their act together because they kept changing the rules of it, each time making it more limited and less inclusive.

          When I say cash distribution, I’m talking all oil revenues. See:
          http://caracaschronicles.blogspot.ca/2007/07/torres-in-bethlehem.html

          Have a platform of distribution of all oil money and chavismo can be defeated, for good.

          • Its hard to see how the opposition can win by promising givaways when Chavismo actually produce the giveaways during the campaign (mi casa bien equipada, mision vivienda, etc). That is also a field were the government has the advantage. What would we say? “We will give you MORE”? Also we would have to ask ourselves if defeating populism with more populism and “government gifts” would be better for the country. I think I’d rather see them crumble out of the economic crisis they created, so that it is easier to move away from that sort of politics.

          • Sorry, I replied to you further down, by mistake. I’d like to add to that reply about populism. Yes, if the populist proposal is good for the economy, we should go with it. The key with this proposal is that it does away with the petrostate model, and gets us back on track with a sound economic model. (did you read that link; it seems like you did not. I have other links, too).

          • Laz, I’m not sure to what math you refer, but I assure you all the math I’ve done has been rehashed by countless others and it all adds up.

            In a nutshell, if you have a population receiving a fixed *amount* of money distributed equally, no one in that population would have a smaller income than that amount, which can be tweaked to guarantee that non one is ever below the poverty line. If that population’s government then taxes a fixed *percentage* to every member of that population, then the richest would pay more than the poor, the poor would still be pitching in with taxation, and the government can tweak the percentage to guarantee obtaining enough for its budget.

            In Venezuela’s case, the oil revenue is a bonus. It can be added to the nutshell system above and it will simply translate into a healthy economy whereby the government can lower the tax percentage.

            Don’t just take it from me; do the math.

        • P.C., My premise is that the oil belongs equally to each Venezuelan. This implies that for every 30million barrels of oil extracted, each Venezuelan is pitching in 1 barrel. But the government is converting each barrel to USD, then spending it. This implies a 100% oil tax because the government is taking from each Venezuelan 100% of their oil for its spending. do you support an oil tax, whereby the poorest are being taxed an amount equal to the amount taxed of the richest and that to to the poorest represents 100% of his income whereas to the richest it represents near 0%? That is what Capriles proposes to continue doing, and what you seem to be suggesting.

          The cash distribution that I support is not a “giveaway”, nor a “handout”. What I suggest is that people be given what is theirs, and oil money *is* theirs.

          • Well maybe this would work in a sound economy with a sound society. However, in the economy that we have now, even if Capriles wins, he is going to need all the petrodollars to try to save the country from financial collapse. In a country like Venezuela, where the majority of the people would just grab their corresponding oil money and waste it on booze, the best thing would be for the state to invest the petrodollars into building the best infrastructure, the best education system, and the best national security possible. I think that would be a better way to help your citizens.

          • P.C. Yes and no… I don’t necesarilly agree that the proposed redistribution method is as just and fair as extorres would point out… but it could seem better than the current system where there is no transparency whatsoever.

            The first measure there is just to tax it before you give it out. If it’s your only income then you would arguably be in a lower bracket. The fact that they spend it in booze is irrelevant, especially because you would be following a mechanism where you limit the liberties of the “people”. If you don’t think spending it on booze is good, simply tax the booze… alcohol and cigarretes are an incredible source of income for any government, including venezuela. You are just taxing the individual at the back end instead of the “before”.

            Receiving the money and having to spend it in everyday things that we take for granted is also an interesting approach I can think about… you use a hospital you pay a fee from that money, same as roads, schools, etc. I DO NOT THINK this is feasible BUT it would slowly regain the notion that things you use cost… and you have pay for it with YOUR oil money… and any other income you get! How about a loan from your future oil income? You just cant have it both ways… either services or cash… we are after all, a poor country as we have pointed out in this discussion board many times.

          • P.C., I agree that maybe this would work in a sound economy with a sound society, but you avoided the main argument completely. Are you suggesting that it is OK for Capriles to tax the poorest Venezuelan 100% of his income while only taxing the richest less than 30%, given that oil revenue truly belongs to the Venezuelan’s, or are you suggesting that the oil does not belong to Venezuelans?

            As to booze, two angles: 1) all recent cash distribution studies point to people being much more savvy with their money than you suggest, and 2) even if they do, the money gets taxed back by the government for its spending, which is the way it works in sound economies with sound societies. (it really does seem like you did not read Quico’s article from the link I provided).

          • Great theory, bad economics, the math doesn’t work.. just another “socialist” idea that pays out more than is taken in. Why not focus on policy that encourages working instead handouts. Rewards innovation and education. Again, the math doesn’t work.

          • lazarus, giving out cash, unconditionally is hardly a “socialist” idea. Also, no one is paying out more than is taken in; the difference here is that the money is spent from the bottom, instead of spent from the top, but it’s the same amount of money as you propose.

            As to incentive to work, what better incentive for businesses to provide goods and services efficiently than having consumers decide where to spend their money, or do you not believe in a free, competitive market economy? Perhaps it is you with the more “socialist” model. Also, consider all the cash that would necessarily be in the banks. The banks would be forced to lower interest rates, which promotes business expansion and construction, which creates jobs, which achieves exactly what you claim an alternative method would, yet all alternatives have been failing for half a century.

            Again, it’s not handouts, since it is simply giving people their own money. It’s theirs. Is it a handout if you take money out of your ATM account? Or is your inheritence a handout?

            This is more efficient than any alternative. Do the math. It’s the same money, but like fertilizer, spread throughout the land instead of only to a few plants.

          • May I add:
            – Is it a handout when a company pays dividends to their shareholders?

            – Are not all Venezuelans the owners of the oil or should it belong to the state instead?

            – Is not the state getting a fat handout when it gets all that money from oil?

            -Doesn’t that handout promote a culture in the government of not needing to do their job because they get the money anyway?

          • I disagree with this statement: “it is simply giving people their own money”. I don’t think so. These people are not working or doing anything to get the oil from the soil. With what you are suggesting, a lot of people would find ways to live off “their corresponding oil money”. This would just encourage more dependency on the state, because it is the state owned PDVSA the one pulling out the oil. And what is going to happen to this new social class of people that live off oil allowances when oil prices go down? Mejor ensenarlos a pescar que regalarles el pescado.

            This is not the same as a company paying a dividend to their shareholders. Shareholders are making an investment. In this case, people are not doing absolutely anything for them to expect a return. If it would depend on them, the oil would stay underground. And this is not a tax, since they did not work to earn that money. On the contrary, having people expect an income “just because they are Venezuelan and there is oil in Venezuela” is not a good idea.

            On the same note, I still think that the best way to spend that oil money is to first solve the economic crisis, and then start building schools, paying teachers and professors excellent salaries. Lure your best professionals to be teachers. Buy books, and school kits for poor kids. Make sure evey single kid has access to the best education possible. Build soccer, basketball and baseball fields for them. Build a tourism infrastructure and lure travelers. Build the best hospitals, have the best doctors come here. Give low and low-mid class workers 100% tax break. Give government credits for first home buyers. Provide nice roads, hospitals, schools to be proud of. Provide academic education and places to practice sports so that poor kids would get out of poverty instead of becoming criminals.

            Bottomline: invest the money in the country and encourage people to study and work. I think that is how the Venezuelan society could become better. Not by repeating the same old formula of handing out money/subsidies.

          • P.C.,

            Regarding the part about it being their oil, it’s not for me or you to decide; it’s in the constitution. Look at it like an inheritence, not as shares. As Venezuelans, it simply is our oil.

            As to people not doing anything to get the oil from the soil, true. For this reason is that I suggest the government sell the oil to whomever wishes to extract it at the highest possible price that the people who do extract it are willing to pay. What the buyers do with it after they buy it is their business –literally, not the government’s business. But then the money received by the government in name of the people belongs to the people. I don’t equate the oil to shares, because shares imply a shared risk, which is why profits are shared in a business, in proportion to the risk. In this case, there are no profits. It’s simply a capital asset that is sold to those wishing to risk money on making profits from purchasing this asset, the oil, from the Venezuelan people, represented by their government.

            As to some people living off of those monies, it should not create a dependency on the state because it would not be the state giving them the money. It could create a dependency on their “inheritance” money, but you’d have to explain how that gives us the right to not give them their inheritance. Also, I challenge you to explain how that would be bad for the economy, given that these people manage to live off so little while still helping the economy by spending on the goods and services that best provide their needs. This action alone would help the market provide where it’s most needed the things that are most needed in the most efficient way possible with as little corruption as possible. Keep in mind that people trying to live off of the oil distribution would tend to leave the cities, or stay away from the cities, since money would go a longer way outside the cities. This not only alleviates city issues, but also opens up jobs for those who want income greater than the oil distribution income.

            You argue that the oil cannot be considered a tax. You can’t have it both ways. If it’s not a tax, then the government must have entered the oil business using taxation money, which is Venezuelans’money, which would make it a shared risk by the people, which would make Venezuelan’s shareholders of the industry? It’s our oil, in equal amounts, no matter how you cut it, since the government is simply a there to represent us; the government is not our zookeeper and we the animals.

            I like your plan for investment of oil money, but you’re sidestepping the main issues. Let me start with your last statement: “Not by repeating the same old formula of handing out money/subsidies.” You’ve got it wrong. The handing out the money has never been done, unconditionally. It’s your proposal that is the tired old formula that’s been attempted for half a century and failed. People keep promising what you suggest, but it doesn’t succeed. Here again you can’t have it both ways. If you claim that merely giving non government people money will get the money wasted, you can’t turn around and claim that the same won’t happen by giving government people money. Government is made up of the very same people you don’t want handling small amounts of cash! The difference is that they’re handling huge amounts of cash, and it’s getting wasted.

            By the way, you claim to believe in the teaching how to fish rather than giving fish. Isn’t the best way to teach people how to handle money (you know, value, saving, budgeting, investing, spending, defending, etc.) by giving them some with which to practice and learn? Or are you suggesting that we teach people the theory of fishing, and then wish them good luck? You see, the government is not the parent. The society is what will become a context that encourages people to study and work to improve their lives. And this social context is achieved if people everywhere in society have cash with which to compete to see who gets the most out of it, and learn from each other, without risk of falling below the social minimum, regardless of the risks taken. The key: nobody is left behind and nobody falls through the cracks.

            On a more philosophical note, consider if civilization still hasn’t reached a point in which we decide that survival should not be the motivation to learn and work. This is an important concept because medicine and technology are taking us to a point where there simply won’t be enough jobs for everyone. When do we decide that it’s OK for people not to work to survive. I think it’s time. Being civilized is all about trying to rise above the rules of the wild.

            Bottom line: money flows more efficiently and effectively with a bottom up approach as I suggest, than with a top down approach as you suggest. History backs me. Besides, my approach has a higher chance to win elections in poor countries; here we are risking a loss just because people refuse to let others live even at minimal levels without working for survival… Sad, really.

  13. I believe Bruni has a valid point here. Two wrongs, or three, do not make a right, as many of us have heard since childhood.

    I have to say Bruni, that personally I don’t have a problem with a bit of dissembling in terms of who is calling . I think reporters that do so are entitled to do so in many circumstances.

    I do agree with you Bruni, however, regarding posting of names and calls without telling the person one has called that this will happen, especially as regards the Venezuela of the Tascon List.

    I admire the effort of what you did, I question your posting of names, Cedula numbers and phones.

    You could have done better in thast sense

    • Roberato N: “Two wrongs, or three, do not make a right, as many of us have heard since childhood.” If only following simple rules could make our decision so much easier. Right and wrong is a difficult and complicated exercise. The better concept is “integrity” The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. Let’s focus on what matters.

      • I agree with you Gordo, that is the better concept.

        I question whether in a Society that enabled the use of the Tascon List, whether it is if not correct, then let’s say advisable, to publish names and phone numbers of people who could conceivably see some consequences, without letting them know that would happen.

        After all, the recordings and this article could have had the names and numbers withheld and would not have taken anything away from it.

        You could argue that the info was already public since it was accessible via Informe24.com, but there it is just info. Talking about how you are violating the law and being identified as doing so is a bit different.

        • I agree 100%. IDing respondents added nothing to the intended effect of the expose, but did betray respndents’ “trust” in a manner which should be below the ethical standards of this Blog. We can beat the adversary, but we should do so in a manner which reflects our own higher standards than their’s

      • Roberto N. In this environment, we need to be extra careful to distinguish our findings from innuendo. Information has to be documented to stand up against ideology.

      • Facts are backed up with names, dates, and voice recordings… otherwise, they are no more than innuendo and suspicion.

  14. Really good work… every one working from their knowledge for our democracy!! “Asi es como deberiamos estar” I only want to be sure that comando Simón Bolívar have all ready read your post!! Did You sent it to them?

  15. I have to say this first: great work! this is real journalism.
    Having said that I also have to agree with Bruni. Not so much for having lied to the interviewees, but for publishing their names and their taped conversation without their knowledge and/or approval. That is not right, if you had done it from the US you would be criminally liable. You should remove their names and the conversations. Including excerpts from the conversation would be ok. I know it loses some punch but it’s the right thing to do.

    On another note: kudos to the Rural Activist from Miranda he is what a real politician should be. He should run for office, he would surely win.

    • Here’s the thing: when somebody calls you saying they’re calling you for research, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. We’ve just told you explicitly we’re researching what you’re doing on election day!

      We’re here at the very extreme end of the spectrum from, oh, I dunno, broadcasting a private conversation on state TV!

      • Quico: Logic dictates that the two scenarios (a recorded in-family testimonial vs. a public broadcasting) are not the same, and therefore, would be subject to different interpretations. You should know that.

        Having said that, I don’t want to deal with affected whines from chavistas and PSFs who conveniently forget the covert operations and filmed clips of a private party by the Irish Marxists, who passed themselves off as BBC journalists, and who created “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.

          • If evidence in a court of law is your differential, why did you submit the in-family testimonial as justification for your actions?

            Another way of looking at it … does this mean that you’re perfectly ok with the ends justifying the means in political campaign consulting?

            In the final analysis of public perception, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. O chicha o limonada.

          • My point is that given that the standard for the legality of one-party consent is stricter where you seek to use it as evidence, it’s clearly the case that if it’s legal in that context it’s legal in this context.

            People cold-called in the context of a research study have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

            Of course, I expect this will annoy them, but then their illegal use of public funds for the Maduro campaign annoys the hell out of me too 🙂

          • In the courtroom, sworn testimony is under the threat of perjury. In Francisco’s situation, added disclosure reduces the probability that the interviewee is telling the truth. Good work Francisco!

          • I think a point in your favor is that actually you are using the conversations to prove that they are NOT part of a conspiracy to use the military to drive the vote. They come out in a very positive light.
            But if it was me I would like to know if something I said to a “researcher” would be published or at least would have edited the clip to take out names. Yes, they do a lot worse things but just a little tweak in your approach could allay any misgivings as to how you got the information.
            But you are totally right, you are in a grey area, this is a blog, not a newspaper, and there aren’t any written rules about this, maybe if their interviews were damning it would be worse because they could face retaliations for speaking to you. In this case, it’s not big deal, just something to keep in mind next time.

          • It’s true that they acquit themselves from the charge of Milicia involvement in mobilization, but not from charges of illegal use of state resources for the campaign.

            I was genuinely shocked at how freely EVERYONE we called spoke. Chama, el día que la CIA de verdad nos quiera espiar, no van a tener ni que mandar gente. Con skype les basta…

          • well, that wasn’t very different under Adeco rule was it? yes, it’s bad, but so ingrained in the petro state culture that I doubt people really see that as corruption, they are working their asses off and all they want is a truck to mobilize people… I can see why they don’t feel they need to hide that part, that’s how se bate el cobre in Venezuela… I don’t say I agree but I don’t think anybody outside a small opposition sector really cares about it.

          • EUA espía Venezuela día a día, como al resto del mundo, como Rusia espía a todo el mundo, como lo hace China, como Cuba a EUA y Venezuela,
            con métodos más o menos sofisticados o localizados.

            El principal problema para los analistas de Venezuela es filtrar lo relevante. La habladera de paja y el caos hacen las veces de canal de ruido para los espías menos avispados.

          • Only in Venezuela would people cheerfully admit to a stranger on the phone that they engage in activities against the law such as illegal use of state resources for campaigning. But when you live in a country where the government illegally wiretaps people and the releases the conversation in the state owned tv channel, then you see how they thing thatb nothing will happen to them if they do.

          • Maybe somewhere where the rule of law is implemented this would be incriminatory. In Venezuela your interviews might get them a promotion and kudos from Maduro in national TV.

          • Look, when a contract is broken by the other party, you are no longer obligated to follow the contract. When the interviewer discovered illegal activity, the interview was no longer subject to the same standards.

      • “Taping a person without their consent might be a violation of her privacy. Making the information public via venues like a television, radio or Internet program can carry additional penalties. All but nine states assess additional penalties for publishing the conversation. Even if you did not tape a conversation illegally, you could be punished for making the conversation public.

        The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that you inform the other party that you are using recording device if that person is in another state or country. Interstate and international conversations are not allowed to be recorded unless you gain oral consent of everyone who is to be recorded. You must also notify those involved when the recording begins.”

        Read more: Is It Legal to Tape Record Conversations? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5147135_legal-tape-record-conversations.html#ixzz2PxBrxEYR

      • That is a different case because the son didn’t publish the tape. He didn’t make it public, he introduced it as evidence in a trial. Evidence in a trial can always be contested by the parts prior to its use and ultimately the judge decides if the evidence can be used in the trial and how. For instance the judge can decide if it s divulged publicly or only to the jurors.

  16. My comments are a little long but, please, take the time to read them as I think it will help in your endeavour to report the “truth” on Venezuela.
    Everyone knows how lengua floja Venezuelans are, but after all the propaganda about plots and spies and saboteurs, I found this remarkable. Out of a dozen calls, only two chavista front-line operatives even expressed any curiosity as to who we may be or where we might have gotten our numbers – and one of them did so and then pivotted to offering the mystery caller a ticket to come visit Venezuela and bask in the glories of the revolution!
    It’s remarkable – to use the term loosely – when a journalist knows how to exploit every angle. If they had been secretive, the article would read something like a spy novel – about all the secrecy behind this so-called militia of armed kids in the running up to an election….But, since they weren’t secretive, the article seems to be about the poor, brainwashed kids that still hold on to some hope, without seeing the “dictatorship” for what it really is, and of course about how “all the propaganda about plots and spies and saboteurs” is just that: “propaganda”. But no, my friend, the reason why they “pivotted (it’s actually spelled pivoted) to offering the mystery caller a ticket to come visit Venezuela and bask in the glories of the revolution!” was because a country that is creating socialism and where the fruits of this endeavour are so easily and obviously seen (reduction of poverty, to begin), has absolutely nothing to hide…Perhaps it is only you who is of that type of thinking (being ashamed to invite people to ‘your’ Venezuela), remembering the old Venezuela, the one with which the common people didn’t even identify.
    The Analisis24 leak looked damning because it seemed to indicate the PSUV, the Consejos Comunales, the Milicia Bolivariana, and the National Guard are just one big undifferentiated stew of chavismo. People from all these institutions are listed in the same contact sheets, just incestuously mixed in with one another.
    While I won’t speak at length of something I’m not 100% on (like the above mentioned groups – not on all of them anyway), I just want to point out that the precise point of Socialism – but for this, you’d actually have to understand the Marxist-Leninist Ideas that drive such Creation – is to erase the separation between a “government,” a “people,” a “military,” a “business class,” a “working class,” etc, etc. REMEMBER, THIS IS THE GOAL! Before you react indignantly to that statement, understand that I’m not talking about putting guns on kids’ hands; I’m simply talking about the PARTICIPATORY nature of a Socialist System. As such, it makes sense that the Consejos Comunales, run by and for the people from each neighbourhood, would be also members, or at least have representatives in the other arms, such as the Milicia and the National Guard (in the U.S., if I’m not mistaken, the National Guard is made up of Citizen Volunteers as well, no?).
    The milicianos we spoke to were clear: their role that day is strictly Plan República (i.e., providing security at polling stations) and does not involve any element of coordination with Comando Hugo Chávez or with the PSUV.
    Now that is Organization/Discipline by a People/People Power!
    Their stories were consistent with one another’s and if anything disarmingly forthright.
    Perhaps they are disarming because you are going in with certain agenda/perception already formed in your mind??
    Some of these grassroots chavistas break your heart. There’s still a share of proper community organizers out there, guys who want to do right by their communities and are still barking up the wrong tree hoping against hope. This interview with a guy in deepest rural Barlovento, for instance, broke my heart – we couldn’t get him off the phone!
    It is called feeling part of something bigger – of a Cause. These people shouldn’t “break your heart,” they should inspire you. “Guys who want to do right by their communities,” is what the Chavismo you’re referring to is all about (in actuality, it really is called 21st Century Socialism). It isn’t “hoping against hope” – it is putting something else before your own, personal, “individualistic” needs: that is, putting the Creation of a more Fair, Participatory and Just society ahead of you, as the horizon that can be seen if only we organize ourselves and act in solidarity, putting the needs of the poor ahead of our own immediate, selfish, egotistical material comfort (POVERTY rates have gone down dramatically, something like 70% in last 14 years! – I don’t even think you can deny that; the statistics are mentioned even in the more right-wing newspapers in North America and have been accepted/confirmed throughout the world – U.N. included). Again, you should be inspired by these people, and if they are younger than you, if they are kids, you should feel proud of such Revolutionary, Selfless Youth.
    That is all from me.

    • 70% of poverty reduction:
      is it a) reduction of poverty or b) increase in cash?
      whether it is a) or b),
      how much do you think would be the rate of poverty reduction/cash increase
      if the increase in oil prices hadn’t been over 500%?
      What do you think the poverty reduction would have been with CAP III and these oil prices? What with Salas Römer or a cactus or a morrocoy as president?

      • I’ll answer you, but consider the following: It’s very interesting that you don’t contend any of the other points. It’s hard to contend something when it is true, no? Moreover, do you ask these same questions when you read of “poverty reduction,” or “job creation” in the United States, or any other such placeÉ (For instance, when you read that the so-called CAP III ” currently provides short-term jobs in combination with on-the-ground training for over 460 youth between 18 and 24 years old who are graduates of technical institutes and universities”?????

        I SAID REDUCTION IN POVERTY (NOT INCREASE IN CASH). I thought I spelled it correctly the first time.

        CAP III (I assume you refer to the Community Action Program III) – some type of organization funded by USAID to supposedly strengthen “local government institutions and grassroots democracy in Iraq”?? Ja! You must be joking. The U.S. invades the country under false pretences that now nobody seems to mind (since they got Saddam), and then after tearing apart from illegal bombings/invasion, it sends its own arm to “help” reconstruct the country and implement its U.S.-style democratic system. If this is what you are talking about, I don’t have to even mention how ludicrous it would be to think that the Revolutionary/Socialist government would let that Imperial Arm inside its borders?? jajajajjajaj……Also, why didn’t CAP III or II or I or any other U.S. “helping hand” help the climbing poverty rates before 1998, if they are such goddamn Samaritans???

        Now, as for the names you mentioned (though I only understood Salas Romer, for I am not Venezuelan), this is my answer: Mr. Romer was Governor of Carabobo from 1990-1996? What was his record like then? And as for the rest of the people (if they were, in fact, ‘people’ that you mentioned), then where were their efforts to reduce poverty or “increase cash,” as you say, before 1998? Why was there upwards of 80% poverty before Chavez, and now there is much, much less???!!! There is no need to try to find something obscure, that isn’t there: the facts are simple: Chavez comes with a Socialist/Revolutionary government and ideas, with errors nonetheless but with a clear goal, and as time goes by, poverty continues to drop, people continue to educate themselves (lowering the crippling illiteracy), they get healthy, they get jobs, standards of living (for those people in poverty) increases dramatically….What isn’t clear?

        • I think you have reading problems.
          I mentioned it several times: oil prices.
          In Venezuela you compare a government with a government under similar oil prices.
          Can you read this?
          http://chartsbin.com/view/oau

          Poverty increased when oil prices dropped, it went up when oil prices increased.

          As for Chávez being a revolutionary or a socialist: what a joke. It’s too preposterous a thought. As I mentioned to Yoyo, just another banana republic caudillo shift.

          When I said CAP I meant Carlos Andrés Pérez. Obviously, you shouldn’t be talking about Venezuela. And CAP was an absolute disaster, but you didn’t understand why I said “or a cactus”. I meant a captus. Even a captus as president would have reduced poverty more than the military Chávez if oil prices had gone up for so long not just 50%, not 100% but over 500%.

          • Sorry to but in , but there are two questions , just two I would like to hear answered from our beligerent argumentative troll , one : by what percentage would poverty have fallen in Venezuela if during the Chavez years the price of the oil bl would have remained at 16USD as was the case when he begun his term and second , can you call participatory a system that systematically exclude 45% of more of its population from any participation in public decisions or even from holding a government job simply because their convictions dont tally with those of the ruling cliques . I could make many more questions because his reasoning is so full of holes and false assumptions, but truly its not worth it!!

        • How do you define poverty? Internationally, and in Venezuela, it is defined by income, critical poverty most usually at 1.25USD per day per person, and non critical poverty at double that. Therefore, cash increase would directly decrease poverty. What’s your distinction on the matter?

        • Relativism. “The doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.” This is not the time for academic debate… but it is an important point, because we all need to understand one another before judging and condemning each other… when we have time…. after Capriles wins!

    • Poverty reduction is very relative. If we look at poverty reduction as the number of people that are above or below an income level as it is defined in all the organizations that you referred to (including UN) you will find that it all ties to the exchange control and FX rate.

      You see, if a family reports an income of minimum wage they live off almost $400 when calculated at $6.3. Truth be told 6.3 does not exist it is somewhere in the likes of double that according to SICAD (no to mention the illegal one). The reason why they fear devaluation is not only spiraling inflation and all the rest… it is that a great deal of their achievements go down the drain! that family of 4 now lives with less than $1 a day and IS CONSIDERED poor!

      At a real exchange rate of whatever it is all those achievements in poverty reduction vanish because they are base in the false premise that when you get them they are worth 6.3 but when you want to exchange them for anything they are worth much less… (they have all been cheated out) or it may be even worth nothing at all because you can’t save using the currency. This is where all the other economic distortions take place (afterwards), trying to make up for the lie. Many people in Venezuela are still poor, just because you hand out a cent and say its a dollar doesn’t make it true!

      I wont even go on many of the other arguments simply because you manmade1988, just as many extremists from the other side seem to justify anything in the name of ideology. Your professed theories are just as good in paper when compared to an FMI paquetazo… and look just as bad in real life.

      • marmota, it is my understanding that where the UN and most other organizations get their dollar value for the definition of poverty is based on non relative terms such that one can calculate reduction even if exchange rates are all messed up.

        Specifically, critical poverty is defined as the amount of income required for an average person to be able to afford a minimally nutritionally balanced diet. Non critical poverty is then defined as twice that amount. You can use whatever monetary conversion you want, but the key is the provision of that minimal local diet.

        • Yes… this is true… it is also true that the measure to that relative purchasing power is also measured in surreal exchange rates. Report staples that have regulated prices that may or not be anchored to the official exchange rate (closely mimicking its nominal value) -but are not widely available-, and you have just created a set of false poverty line because the true value of the income is lower and the true value of available staples is way higher.

          Purchasing power parity (PPP) is completely distorted in Venezuela. In some cases the distortion is absorbed by the middle man (private sector going bust or government subsidizing food)… but it gets translated to the people regardless.

          This is precisely why there have been multiple exchange rates… the government says its one but PDVSA actively supplied secondary markets to get more BsF, now they just auction it off at a premium through SICAD. The real value lies somewhere in between, affects PPP, and undoubtedly increases poverty in the country.

          Our exchange system is so convoluted that you will find very different PPP depending on who you consult and how strict they are in using prices or exchange rates.

          Don’t you think that you will get very different PPP if you get staples from say mercal than the buhoneros? which one is the real number? My guess its somewhere in between the blend of exchange rates and prices…. but very far from what is reported as official.

          • The measure as I describe, however, talks about an average person getting a minimally nutritionally balanced local diet. That means variation is the norm, that people from the west will differ from the east, sometimes because of transportation costs; people that are poor from people that are rich, sometimes because of rent costs, etc.

            I agree that it’s convoluted, and definitely tweakable to make things seem better than they are, which is what governments attempt to do. What they cannot change is an independent study going around sampling how many people are incapable of obtaining a minimal nutrition every day. This is how we know that, on average, the poor in Venezuela are better off, thus explaining chavismo’s support, but it is also how we know that not enough of them are better off, nor are they sufficiently better off, considering the amount of increased government income.

          • I don’t disagree that the poor are better off in Venezuela when compared to 30 years ago or 20, or 10. And as you and others mention, this is true for almost any country in the world to varying degrees.

            I guess to close the point I would like to reinforce the notion that the reduction we’ve seen is miniscule to what could have been should we have spent the money better, and that many of our achievements are bloated versions of what they really are -coming from a person who volunteered time to “mision robinson” at some point of his life-.

            This becomes particularly true in economic accomplishments where our economy is sooooo messed up you cant even tell what is real and what is not; Poverty level is entangled within this economic paradigm and is prone to severe manipulations.

            Coming back to the point of manmade, as soon as you start justifying atrocities with bloated numbers that don’t represent the true hardship of the Venezuelan people, one wonders how are we going to get out of this hole?

            As Laureano recently said, we’ll have to oppose Capriles when the time comes (hopefully, if the time comes)

          • “the reduction we’ve seen is miniscule to what could have been should we have spent the money better” what I said; agreed.

            “we’ll have to oppose Capriles when the time comes ” I already oppose that he’s planning on continuing the oil revenue government graft, and only support him insofar as he’s the better of the available alternatives.

          • This is a wonderful detailed answer as to why there has been litlle (I say probably none) poverty reduction in Venezuela during the Chavista 10x increase in oil price income years. The UN definition notwithstanding, I believe that a commonsense definition of poverty should not be only in terms of minimally covered nutrition levels, and my sense is that the vast majority of people, poor or not, would agree.

          • NET, just to be clear, the minimal nutrition definition is only for critical poverty. Non critical poverty is double that. There are other studies of poverty that have determined that the perception of poverty is very relative to inequality. If I remember correctly, they specifically point to people feeling poor if their income is less than half the average income, yet this result was in the context of perceived lifestyle level, not salary amount. This result seemed consistent whether it was in a country like USA or one of the poorer nations.

          • I know, XT, but 2x minimal nutrition is still way-too-poor. One-half average income is better, but in an impoverished real average income Venezuela is still way-too-poor. I like to refer to real Venezuelan minimum wage (Bs. 2M/mo. divided by an estimate of a real Bs./$ exchange rate) for foreign visitors to realize how poor the average Venezuelan really is.

          • NET, I hear you. I think we’re on the same page. By all measures that I’ve seen, the poverty line definitions are just way too low, worldwide. I don’t use the measure you say for the very reasons you’ve stated, the FX is too messed up, so no matter what numbers one gives, foreigners are bound to give incorrect, or at best debatable impressions. Personally, I give them an estimate of the population that I think do not have their minimal diet, shelter, clothing, transportation, security, communication, and entertainment needs met. But for the purposes of the UCT proposal I continue to use the 2.5USD per day because I see an important value internationally in achieving the milestone of eliminating poverty, even if it’s by their low ball definition. Yet tremendous trade advantages could result from such a shortsighted measure.

          • extorres, I would love to gain a better understanding as to how you make the calculations. I find FX rate must have an impact regardless simply because at any exchange rate I can think of, many things (including basic staples) seem incredibly expensive. More so than the USA and Canada; Not to mention Colombia, Brazil, or Argentina. Yet Chavez once touted Venezuela the highest minimum wage in Latin America!
            I know people who made a ton of money importing milk to Venezuela from the USA at black market rates! explain that in your poverty reduction calculations 😮

          • marmota, this is a reply to your FX request just that that comment did not have a reply link, though I’m not sure if I understood your question.

            To what I have been referring regarding FX is that the reality of whether a local person can or cannot obtain a certain level of meal quality may not be as straightforwardly simple as merely knowing the price of the meal and the income of the person, then converting to a different currency for a foreigner to have an idea as to a person’s level of poverty.

            There are so many tweaks available to governments to affect that reality, while not allowing price and income to reflect it, that limiting oneself to converting those values to different currencies would already have a potential flaw in translation for foreigners, but compounding the flaw is also that the currency exchange itself has been tweaked further. It is for this reason is that the key in determining poverty numbers as close as possible to the intended measure, independent of the government tweaks, is to simply study whether persons has access or not to the poverty staples, regardless of their price, their income, or the exchange rates.

            That chavez touted the highest minimum wage is an example of how governments can tweak things like to make things look better than they are. The money people make with black market rates on milk is quite simply those making money off of the difference between the real value of milk and the priced value of milk, which has been “tweaked” to not reflect the real value. The question for poverty reduction calculations, however, is simply: “are more people getting milk now in their diets than they did before?” The answer is yes, even if it’s through a misión leche, and even if it’s costing the government triple what it would have cost if it simply gave people the money for their own purchases of milk in a free market.

            The way to judge the government’s efficiency is to determine if with the same government spending poverty could have been reduced even more with a different policy. The answer to this latter issue with chavismo is what is most heartbreaking; with its increased income from oil, there should be zero poverty by now in Venezuela, yet we’re far from it.

    • It is called feeling part of something bigger – of a Cause. These people shouldn’t “break your heart,” they should inspire you. “Guys who want to do right by their communities,” is what the Chavismo you’re referring to is all about (in actuality, it really is called 21st Century Socialism). It isn’t “hoping against hope” – it is putting something else before your own, personal, “individualistic” needs: that is, putting the Creation of a more Fair, Participatory and Just society ahead of you, as the horizon that can be seen if only we organize ourselves and act in solidarity, putting the needs of the poor ahead of our own immediate, selfish, egotistical material comfort (POVERTY rates have gone down dramatically, something like 70% in last 14 years! – I don’t even think you can deny that; the statistics are mentioned even in the more right-wing newspapers in North America and have been accepted/confirmed throughout the world – U.N. included). Again, you should be inspired by these people, and if they are younger than you, if they are kids, you should feel proud of such Revolutionary, Selfless Youth.

      All of those were the principle of the “well-intentioned” grassroots nazis in Germany.

      Intentions don’t matter what matters are results and this government hasn’t provided any results, just propaganda and political campaigning, that’s all they do all year long. All their numbers are pure propaganda they don’t even try to hide that they fix the numbers to their convenience, they recognize that openly, so you’ll understand how we Venezuelans can’t take those numbers seriously when we crash everyday with the unforgivable wall of reality every day.

      • “It is called feeling part of something bigger – of a Cause. These people shouldn’t “break your heart,” they should inspire you. “Guys who want to do right by their communities,” is what the Chavismo you’re referring to is all about (in actuality, it really is called 21st Century Socialism). It isn’t “hoping against hope” – it is putting something else before your own, personal, “individualistic” needs: that is, putting the Creation of a more Fair, Participatory and Just society ahead of you, as the horizon that can be seen if only we organize ourselves and act in solidarity, putting the needs of the poor ahead of our own immediate, selfish, egotistical material comfort (POVERTY rates have gone down dramatically, something like 70% in last 14 years! – I don’t even think you can deny that; the statistics are mentioned even in the more right-wing newspapers in North America and have been accepted/confirmed throughout the world – U.N. included). Again, you should be inspired by these people, and if they are younger than you, if they are kids, you should feel proud of such Revolutionary, Selfless Youth.”

        All of those were the principle of the “well-intentioned” grassroots nazis in Germany.

        Intentions don’t matter what matters are results and this government hasn’t provided any results, just propaganda and political campaigning, that’s all they do all year long. All their numbers are pure propaganda they don’t even try to hide that they fix the numbers to their convenience, they recognize that openly, so you’ll understand how we Venezuelans can’t take those numbers seriously when we crash everyday with the unforgivable wall of reality every day.

  17. SORRY FORGOT TO SEPARATE MY COMMENTS FROM THE QUOTES. THE COMMENTS ARE THE SAME THOUGH!

    My comments are a little long but, please, take the time to read them as I think it will help in your endeavour to report the “truth” on Venezuela.

    “Everyone knows how lengua floja Venezuelans are, but after all the propaganda about plots and spies and saboteurs, I found this remarkable. Out of a dozen calls, only two chavista front-line operatives even expressed any curiosity as to who we may be or where we might have gotten our numbers – and one of them did so and then pivotted to offering the mystery caller a ticket to come visit Venezuela and bask in the glories of the revolution!”

    It’s remarkable – to use the term loosely – when a journalist knows how to exploit every angle. If they had been secretive, the article would read something like a spy novel – about all the secrecy behind this so-called militia of armed kids in the running up to an election….But, since they weren’t secretive, the article seems to be about the poor, brainwashed kids that still hold on to some hope, without seeing the “dictatorship” for what it really is, and of course about how “all the propaganda about plots and spies and saboteurs” is just that: “propaganda”. But no, my friend, the reason why they “pivotted (it’s actually spelled pivoted) to offering the mystery caller a ticket to come visit Venezuela and bask in the glories of the revolution!” was because a country that is creating socialism and where the fruits of this endeavour are so easily and obviously seen (reduction of poverty, to begin), has absolutely nothing to hide…Perhaps it is only you who is of that type of thinking (being ashamed to invite people to ‘your’ Venezuela), remembering the old Venezuela, the one with which the common people didn’t even identify.

    “The Analisis24 leak looked damning because it seemed to indicate the PSUV, the Consejos Comunales, the Milicia Bolivariana, and the National Guard are just one big undifferentiated stew of chavismo. People from all these institutions are listed in the same contact sheets, just incestuously mixed in with one another.”

    While I won’t speak at length of something I’m not 100% on (like the above mentioned groups – not on all of them anyway), I just want to point out that the precise point of Socialism – but for this, you’d actually have to understand the Marxist-Leninist Ideas that drive such Creation – is to erase the separation between a “government,” a “people,” a “military,” a “business class,” a “working class,” etc, etc. REMEMBER, THIS IS THE GOAL! Before you react indignantly to that statement, understand that I’m not talking about putting guns on kids’ hands; I’m simply talking about the PARTICIPATORY nature of a Socialist System. As such, it makes sense that the Consejos Comunales, run by and for the people from each neighbourhood, would be also members, or at least have representatives in the other arms, such as the Milicia and the National Guard (in the U.S., if I’m not mistaken, the National Guard is made up of Citizen Volunteers as well, no?).

    “The milicianos we spoke to were clear: their role that day is strictly Plan República (i.e., providing security at polling stations) and does not involve any element of coordination with Comando Hugo Chávez or with the PSUV.”

    Now that is Organization/Discipline by a People/People Power!

    “Their stories were consistent with one another’s and if anything disarmingly forthright.”

    Perhaps they are disarming because you are going in with certain agenda/perception already formed in your mind??

    “Some of these grassroots chavistas break your heart. There’s still a share of proper community organizers out there, guys who want to do right by their communities and are still barking up the wrong tree hoping against hope. This interview with a guy in deepest rural Barlovento, for instance, broke my heart – we couldn’t get him off the phone!”

    It is called feeling part of something bigger – of a Cause. These people shouldn’t “break your heart,” they should inspire you. “Guys who want to do right by their communities,” is what the Chavismo you’re referring to is all about (in actuality, it really is called 21st Century Socialism). It isn’t “hoping against hope” – it is putting something else before your own, personal, “individualistic” needs: that is, putting the Creation of a more Fair, Participatory and Just society ahead of you, as the horizon that can be seen if only we organize ourselves and act in solidarity, putting the needs of the poor ahead of our own immediate, selfish, egotistical material comfort (POVERTY rates have gone down dramatically, something like 70% in last 14 years! – I don’t even think you can deny that; the statistics are mentioned even in the more right-wing newspapers in North America and have been accepted/confirmed throughout the world – U.N. included). Again, you should be inspired by these people, and if they are younger than you, if they are kids, you should feel proud of such Revolutionary, Selfless Youth.

    That is all from me.

    • “a country that is creating socialism and where the fruits of this endeavour are so easily and obviously seen”
      Sure, it’s pretty obvious, go to the morge any day and you will see the fruits of your revolution… Go to any supermarket and try to find oil, milk, rice or any other basic stable and you will se the fruits of your revolution. Go for a few days to any town and when you are using candles to light the place because of another black out you will be able to see even better the fruits of your revolution.

      “the precise point of Socialism – but for this, you’d actually have to understand the Marxist-Leninist Ideas that drive such Creation – is to erase the separation between a “government,” a “people,” a “military,” a “business class,” a “working class,” etc, etc. REMEMBER, THIS IS THE GOAL!”

      As per this second point, give me the articles in the constitution Chavismo wrote and approve where it says that’s the goal and we can have a discussion. What the consitution says is quite different:

      Artículo 3. El Estado tiene como fines esenciales la defensa y el desarrollo de la persona y el respeto a su dignidad, el ejercicio democrático de la voluntad popular, la construcción de una sociedad justa y amante de la paz, la promoción de la prosperidad y bienestar del pueblo y la garantía del cumplimiento de los principios, derechos y deberes reconocidos y consagrados en esta Constitución.

      • Jesus, why do you think I stressed the very point of what you yourself quoted: that you’d have to understand the “the Marxist-Leninist Ideas that drive such Creation – is to erase the separation between a “government,” a “people,” a “military,” a “business class,” a “working class,” etc, etc. REMEMBER, THIS IS THE GOAL!” ARTICLE 3, what you are citing, is precisely defining this!!! Social justice, development of the human being, respect towards his dignity, “ejercicio democrático de la voluntad popular” – DEMOCRATICALLY EXCERCISING THE POPULAR WILL — ALL OF THIS IS WHAT SOCIALISM IS: WHAT THE MARXIST-LENINIST IDEAS OF SOCIALISM ARE!! How much clearer can i be?

      • By the way, hoarding by food companies to create shortages, and sabotage at the electric planst and other such industries has been very well documented, even in some right-wing papers up here

        • jajaja, you really made me laugh… everything is the result of some sabotage, sure and pigs fly… why don’t you accept responsibility for supporting useless people? It’s so easy to blame some obscure forces. But if your government can even track down some silly clowns that took their clothes off in the beach, why can’t they track these supposed saboteurs? why isn’t anyone in jail over those alleged situations? because they are made up, that’s why…

        • Even if that was true, it actually just made Chávez and Chavismo seem even more incompetent. Chávez has been given everything he could have asked for and the only thing that was denied to him by vote he passed it by law anyways.

          Chávez managed over $1.000.000.000.000 as his private state, he owned the Legislative, the Judicial, the Electoral, the General Comptroller (control of corruption) the Citizen Power (something like National Attorney´s Office mainly about human rights), the Armed Forces, PDVSA (Oil Industry), all of the Mining Industry and of course the Executive, like he owned his balls, this recognized publicly by these powers themselves, they were in their own words at the whims of the Comadante Presidente Chávez himself.

          He even came to rule by decree for over two years, he nationalized every fucking company, industry, TV station, house, apartment, hotel complex, farm, shop, toilet he wanted every time it struck his fancy.

          And yet you’re telling me he couldn’t deal with food shortages despite the fact that he was the only one to access to food because he owned everything he wanted and was the only one with direct access to dollars to import food. Is there a food company hoarding food then why didn’t he expropriate it, he has expropriated for much less and sure the folk would support him unconditionally if that was the case like they had supported everything else. Even the I would support him expropriate those hoarders!

          So Chávez and his Communist allies are so incompetent that with the control of… here we go again… the Legislative, the Judicial, the Electoral, the General Comptroller, the Citizen Power, the Armed Forces, PDVSA, the Mining Industry and the Executive they still couldn’t stop sabotage.

          OK I see it now, it’s clearly not communism that it’s the problem, it was so evident all this time, I just understood it now thanks to your enlightenment. Now, the real problem is very simple: it’s just that communist are just some kind of sub-humans that are incredibly stupid and unbelievably incompetent, of course it’s the only rational explanation.

          If only we could get some capitalists to run the Revolution for us, we would reach Nirvana in no time.

    • “putting the Creation of a more Fair, Participatory and Just society ahead of you” That sounds like a great horizon. Too bad, that the leaders of the side that you think shares that horizon demonstrates every day how they wish to weed out those on a different side, even if we share the same horizon. You see, they believe in participation so long as the participation is in supporting them –not anyone– just them.

      Which is why it may be heartbreaking to see such good souls, with such beautiful horizons, falling for such a cheap con. Look up Napoleon. Paraphrasing, he used to say that he could not pay anyone enough to die for him, but they would die for him for a yellow ribbon. You could be inspired by those who did die for Napoleon for beautiful promised horizons, but to those who can see that Napoleon was just using them, fooling them with a lofty salespitch, it’s more heartbreaking than inspiring.

        • Sir, you misquoted me. I said WE because I share the horizon of a “Fair, Participatory and Just” society, but I but I’m not on maduro et al’s side because I think they are conning chavistas to think they are the way to achieve it. As to being weeded out, I’m not one of those few Capriles supporters to whom you pointed, and yet I am being weeded out, so your counter is a lie. chavez and now maduro have been clear, that it’s not about supporting the horizon that defines whether I should be weeded out; it’s whether I support them, specifically.

          maduro, as are the castro bros., is con.

          • My friend, I didn not misquote you. There is a reason why I put the square brackets ([]) around the “they”, because I changed it from the original “we,” without taking away its meaning or context. I simply did not want to include you in there without knowing whether I should or not; that does not take away from the meaning of the quote, thus, I did not misquote you.

            And it is absolutely ALL CLEAR — all of your reports – when you think the say way of the “castro bros”. I, on the other hand, would give my life to live IN (not under) such a beautiful country/system as that led by Commanders Fidel and Raul Castro. Thus, you’ll never understand any of my points of view, not even the essence of what I write (I don’t mean that with disrespect. It is just a simple truth given our polar opposites).

          • We should start to collect money for you to go to Cuba. Yes, yes, yes!
            What a joke. Dónde carajos vives ahora? En la Luna?

          • I disagree; it sure did change the meaning of the quote. Regardless, it’s clear now that I share the horizon, yet I’m one of the ones being weeded out, argument to which you did not reply.

            If you think I can never understand, yet you promote such a system on people like me, where do you leave us in your “fair, participatory, and just” horizon? How do you claim that a system I cannot even understand is going to be fair to me, allow me to participate, and be just if it’s weeding me out?

          • Anyone who supports the Castro government is authoritarian. Given that this person has revealed they support Castro I don’t think there’s much point in arguing about democracy. ManMade1988 will never respect your calls for pluralism, open debate or logical comparisons because he despises those things. He’s no different than Germans who in 1938 would have proudly pointed to reduced poverty, increased pensions and better health care – forgetting that in giving away pluralism and democracy they gave away their ability to protect those gains.

            Of course someone like ManMade1988 will NEVER actually move to Cuba, not so long as it’s communist. These Castro worshippers are prennial, and always claim they would like to move to Cuba, but I’ve yet to hear of a single one to do so. It’s not impossible either, they’d just need to get an engineering degree and actually provide something useful to the island. Of course they are all a bunch of free loaders and would be a drain on the island. hence they are very unwelcome there and will never, ever be given permanent residency.

          • Thanks, NorskeDiv, I was just trying for him to admit that his “participatory” system wasn’t so participatory by weeding me out, yet my paticipatory system would include him, gladly, which also kills his use of “fair” to describe his system. Clearly, he’s been conned with a description of a horizon that has nothing to do with its implementation.

    • Umm, somewhere in there I’m sure you might have a point or two to make, but answer me this:

      Is it OK, as far as you are concerned, to use goverment vehicles and money to mobilize voters while encouraging them to vote for one of the candidates?

      Is this OK as long as the goal “is to erase the separation between a “government,” a “people,” a “military,” a “business class,” a “working class,” even if almost half of the population does not want this?

      Is it OK to sponsor criminal gangs on motorcycles to harass and intimidate to keep people from expressing themselves?

      Whatever point one wants to make, whatever political belief you wish to express should not have to depend on cheating, on misappropriation of funds, on violence, etc. to become valid.

      One of the major problems I have with Marxism-Leninism is the belief that the only way for this philosophy to come to fruition is by destroying, by violence and intimidation and by killing people to get it accepted.

      • The government is sending vehicles to pick up people so that they can go vote – people that perhaps otherwise don’t have a way to do so. These people say, shit, this guy’s giving us a way to participate, maybe we should vote for him. THis is “buying votes.” If Capriles does it, is it “buying votes,” or is it “helping people get to voting stations”? If he doesn’t do it, is he hoping that those people who don’t have the means to get to voting stations, who are therefore most likely poor, don’t get to vote since they might vote for Maduro; or is he simply allowing the democratic process to unravel fairly, letting each person fend for themselves?

        If almost haf the population doesn’t want it, “almost half” is not the majority – it is the minority. That has always been democracy no? Majority Rule? On top of that, the policies help everyone, not just the majority, it is just that the minority is reactionary – they want to maintain the status quo, because they were able to get more of the wealth than the majority who is poor in the old system.

        It’s not ok to sponsor criminal gangs. I don;t believe this happens. I ask you: is it ok for food companies to hoard food in their warehouses so that there are shortages at the supermarkets? Is it ok for the Lara governor (opposition) to not pass on the funds that come from central government to the state, therefore crippling the consejos comunales there, knowing that people are then going to blame Chavez and the Government for this?

        Cheating, misappropriation of funds? Read previous paragraph to know who really is doing those things.

        If that is one of the major problems you have with Marxism-Leninism, I suggest you read up on it, see what it really is, what the theories really are, so that you see how skewed your understanding of the PROCESS is.

        • You are obviously avoiding the responses I gave you on Leninism, on oil price evolution, on so-called “participatory democracy” and the attempts carried on to bring about your beloved Marxism-Leninism and I know why. People like you do avoid those who know a tiny bit of Russian history or have actually taken the effort to go through the boring Marxist-Leninist literature AND some elementary history.
          Yours is a religion. Actual debate is not your stuff. You prefer parallel monologues.

        • Debating with you is about as productive as listening to a perinola competition by radio.

          It is obvious you have not only drunk the kool aid, but are incapable of accepting facts and prefer to re-gurgitate 4 class crapola in lieu of intelligent reasoning and argument.

          Have a nice life, I wish I could be around to see your face when you finally realize just how wrong your perception of the world has turned out to be.

          Good Luck

    • No one is saying that soldiers, or militia, or PdVSA employees should not participate in the election as Venezuelan citizens, using their personal resources and time.

      But the funds and equipment of the Army, militia, and PdVSA, and the paid working hours of soldiers, militia, and PdVSA employees belong to all Venezuelans, including those opposed to chavismo (nearly half the people, by the voting in October). They are being used in support of chavismo. Is this right?

      Even under “socialism”, there still have to be distinctions between people in diffferent functional roles – especially between those who make decisions or conduct decision-making processes, and those who benefit or suffer by the decisions. If that distinction is not maintained, then self-dealing and universal corruption ensues

      Not that I expect any ideological chavista, much less a professed Marxist, to acknowledge this. Their admitted goal is total concentration of power in the state, to be wielded by the infallible Party. The people will have complete and total freedom to do as they are told by the Party.

        • “Firstly, with more than 8 of the 11 million citizens voluntarily joining the so-called Committees for the Defence of the Revolution – in every neighbourhood of the country – it is clear that “People Power” is indeed more than just a term. Critics of the system say that this is essentially a “secret police” that monitors every activity, and every minute detail of peoples’ personal lives, tattling on the ones that are plotting against government or who simply are dissidents. This is the loss of freedom they woe. However, the roles of these bodies are much more than simply monitoring, though it has never been denied that one of those is indeed to monitor for counter-revolutionary activities.”

          Why should we be swayed by someone who admits to supporting a informer-state?

          What he’s describing is exactly the thing which ACLU and others complain that the FBI implements on a very limited scale in Muslim communities in the US.

          “Two things to say about this: One is that once it is established that a new society is in creation – that the task has been embarked upon by the masses (MAJORITY) – any non-compliance automatically means the wish/fight to keep the old one alive, therefore being counterrevolutionary, therefore being illegal. Period.”

          Let me reword this: Once it was established in Germany that a new society was in creation – that the task has been embarked upon by the masses (MAJORITY) in the 1934 elections – any non-compliance automatically means the wish/fight to keep the old one alive, therefore being against the creation of the New Germany, therefore being illegal. Period.

          Sorry, that’s fascism. Putting a red flag on it makes it no better! A central tenant of pluralism is the idea that the majority can not vote to strip the minority of its rights, whether that minority is capitalists, homosexuals or religious evangelicals. If you disagree with that, you disagree with the Venezuelan constitution and should move somewhere that suits you better, like North Korea (moving there is very do-able).

    • The problem with revolutions is that law, constitutions, opposition parties, morality and ethics are just obstacles to the revolution. Think about that!

    • Dude, start your own blog if your comments are to be as long or longer than the post itself. We don’t want to clutter the comments section with off-topic debate.

  18. Quico, when making these phone calls, did you never feel like the naive journalist trying to hunt down the conspiracy that simply doesn’t exist?

    The milicias are one of many groupings of popular power, whose primary function is to defend the revolution. However, since we are not currently engaged in a civil war or insurgency, they revert to plain old revolutionaries, whose primary duty is to help the revolution in any way that they can. On voting day, this means getting out the vote.

    In fact, on voting day, all revolutionaries are supposed to do this — except the military! Not too hard to understand, surely?

    • Yoyo, most of your text is correct but for 2 words: revolution and revolutionaries.
      There is absolutely no revolution or revolutionaries in Venezuela, not even evolution.
      It’s just same old banana republic and only partial shift in caudillo names. Red berets and red pants don’t make a revolution.

        • I don’t relie much on Wikipedia, but I think it very much hit the mark here:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_republic

          And the plutocracy, already existing for centuries, has increased to record levels…and the dependency on one raw material increased as well.

          Venezuela is what it is. If you want it to change, you have to start telling the truth, the same way as we need to admit Venezuela is a poor country. Recognize where you are, what your current problems are and then you can start to think how to improve it.

          • I wouldn’t trust a counterrevolutionary to tell a revolutionary who supports the revolution that it isn’t a revolution at all.

            Just as I wouldn’t trust an atheist to tell a theist that he isn’t religious.

            Unfortunately for you and other counterrevolutionaries, the world’s largest oil reserves will mean dependency for a long time.

          • They’re not revolutionary because they haven’t changed the statue quo, it’s the same shit it has always been.

            If they think they had changed it, good for them, so did the Acción Democrática supporters who were very “revolutionary” and very “socialist” and very close to Cuba, and they were pretty much the same people that support Chavismo these days “el pueblo mesmo”.

          • And you are a revolutionary? Which part do you support? The stupidity? The shortages? The Lies? The corruption? Inflation? Waste? Cheating? Should I keep going? Stupid is,stupid does…

  19. These people are in the middle of history. We need to know who they are and what they are doing, because they are government employees working in the single defining moment of modern representative democracy.

      • Did you know the Soviets were supposedly about “participatory democracy”? And do you know what they really became, right away? Just meetings where the thugs from the party forced the ideas from the Central Politbureau and that is why Lenin and all the others from his gang were absolute centralist even if they produced the farce of the “councils” and created so many Soviet Republics and autonomous republic on paper.
        You really should have studied more history than the one you got from that book on Historia del Comunismo you got at the Casa del Partido Comunista of Cali/Maracaibo/Guayaquil

      • I didn’t mean defining as in this particular election, I meant defining to the process of rep. democracy. Participatory democracy would require that the consejos comunales weren’t a sham.

    • This is true.

      Art. 328. La Fuerza Armada Nacional está integrada por el Ejército, la Armada, la Aviación y la Guardia Nacional, que funcionan de manera integral dentro del marco de su competencia para el cumplimiento de su misión, con un régimen de seguridad social integral propio, según lo establezca su respectiva ley orgánica.

      Artículo 329. El Ejército, la Armada y la Aviación tienen como responsabilidad esencial la planificación, ejecución y control de las operaciones militares requeridas para asegurar la defensa de la Nación. La Guardia Nacional cooperará en el desarrollo de dichas operaciones y tendrá como responsabilidad básica la conducción de las operaciones exigidas para el mantenimiento del orden interno del país.

      No militia in there anywhere. And yet our respondent says clearly “En Venezuela la Fuerza Armada son cinco componentes.”

    • It’s not only him Roberto. It’s like believing the cult just makes them completely irrational (we have some of that in our side too of course)… the other day I fell into temptation and commented to a chavista tweet and the response I got was that 14 years wasn’t enough to solve the problems! As if problems were getting better and they just needed a little more time to get it totally right instead of problems getting worse and worse and every “solution” they try it’s so badly designed/managed that they make the problem worse.

    • I’m sure Chavez and his ideals would sound very good to people that don’t need to live in this mess of a country since they don’t have 30% inflation/year, +45% currency devaluation, 160 thousand violent deaths in 14 years, 20% food/staples shortage. They get to skip these statistics, which for us is the day to day reality, and just throw in the numbers they have been fed by the socialist media. Reduction of poverty with oil prices at 160$/barrel, what an excellent achievement! 😀

      Also, their country is not run by a bunch of criminals who call themselves revolutionaries and anti-imperialists, yet have millionaire bank accounts in Switzerland, love Paris for a vacation, and have their families living in Europe, USA, and Canda. For instance, Huguito (chavez’s son) lives in London, and Chavez’s daugther loves traveling to New York.

      Yes, we have to live throught these things, but they get to sit back and enjoy the show, while talking about “social justice” and the thruth in Chavez’s words about imperialism and the evils of capitalism. They get TO CHOOSE to watch the massive propaganda which we are subject of WITHOUT a choice. Yes, I’m sure there’s some thruth in there, but the fact that Stalin denounced Hitler’s evils, didn’t make him any better.

      Also, they get to write about how good Chavez is from the comforts of their foreign homes since they have nice power service, unlike in Venezuela were you get daily interruptions. I hope one day these first-world communist (oxymoron) scholars get to live through a government like ours, so that they really understand what is like. In the meanwhile, don’t bother with them.

      • Canada, which you apparently believe to be such a paradise of freedom and opportunity:

        Unemployment is close to 9% (I think Venezuela is like 8 or 7?)
        You are right, our inflation isn’t as high (only 1.9%), but you know how hard it is to live? And consider the unemployment rate I just mentioned is actually much higher if you include the Native Population which lives in abject poverty, and which the non-criminal government does nothing for).

        We don’t have 45% currency devaluation, you are right; but our house (just big enough for the four of us – my family), costs upwards of $370,000. My mother had to work two jobs (minimum wage at 10.25/hour) for a long time; then she got a job at a factory getting close to 20. After five years she had broken tendons in both her shoulders and elbows, had surgery and has been battling the Governmental Body (Workers Safety Insurance Board) for the two or three years trying to receive adequate compensation or at least retraining to go back to work. My father has been a truck driver all his life, from 5 in the morning to around 7 or 8 at night.

        I was working as dishwasher for my third and fourth year of university, then for a time at my mom’s factory as well. All of this to pay the house (monthly mortgage is little more than 1000 – plus all the other credit card bills/car insurance/food/electricity/water/ etc – at least most health care is free); to pay my school tuition, which so far is down to something like $15,000, but there is going to be another $20,000 charge now that I’m going back to school (my brother is in his second year, so by the fourth there will be another $20,000 loan to add to that pile). Now, for two years after graduation I’ve been applying everywhere looking for work but to no avail; this is a very common situation among many students. This is all very common up here, especially since the 2008 crisis (my parents’ and my story).

        Not to mention the indecently high number of kids living in the streets (all around Canada, not just natives), despite a supposed booming economy, the rule of law, democracy, non-criminal governments, etc., etc. (I don’t know the updated figure, but I thnk three or four years ago it was something like 700,000??)

        Our economy grew I think something like 1%; Venezuela was something like 3%?
        Insecurity exists anywhere – it is just a matter of how much you exploit it through the news.
        Wikiepdia (citing Statistics Canada):

        “There were 2,452,787 crimes reported in 2006; 48% were property related crimes and 12.6% were violent crimes. At a rate of 7,518 reported incidents per 100,000 people, the crime rate in 2006, the latest year for which there is statistics, was the lowest crime rate in twenty-five years.[1]The crime rate has been in general decline since 1991.” Again, this doesn’t include the rates in the native population.

        In the United States – another of the beautiful, free, democratic and safe lands some Venezuelans want to escape to:

        TRANSLATED: “According to the Center for Control and Prevention of Diseases, the United States is experiencing epidemic levels of violence that cause more than 30,000 deaths each year and more than 60,000 wounded…Between 1955 and 1975, more than 58,000 north-americans died in the Vietnam war, a lower rate than the average number of deaths in a period of two years…The big massacres receive emphatic coverage by the media, but the majority of the citizen deaths occur daily in the streets of the U.S. without any media coverage….”
        Harper, “our” (not mine – I did not vote for him) current conservative prime minister, as well many other functionaries in Canada and the United States, have many off-shore bank accounts, apart from their lavish vacations (which are documented on the news) and the lavish “diplomatic” meetings they have; plus their private jets; plus all that other stuff that apparently most governments of the world have/use….

        You are right: here we just have to sit back and watch prices rise but not along side living wages; we have to sit back and watch most of our parents literally break their backs to put us through school; we have to watch as the companies lay us off for lack of work; we have to watch as many of the elder people reaching retirement, approach a future where the government funds that were SUPPOSED TO BE THERE, simply aren’t (though the government assures us that it will be ok).

        You are right: we do have to sit back; but we can’t CHOOSE to watch or get real news over here – nothing except skewed comments about the grandiosity of life here and the demonic powers that ruin life over there through the mainstream/private media. Believe you me, if you want to talk about the free media, consider this: You can print absolutely anything you want here, because all the media is private; so unless you are directly insulted/defamed by an article/information and therefore choose to sue them for libel, a journalist/owner/editor can choose to write anything about anyone they don’t agree with, such as Venezuela being a DICTATORSHIP, for instance, and repeat it enough so that people believe it without any repercussions.

        Thus, I look for alternative pieces of information: not just what the mainstream, private media wants me to see.

        And no, I don’t just watch it from the comfort of my own home. I’ve been to Venezuela for 4 or five months (a short time, of course, not a life-time like perhaps yourself, but long enough to clearly see CHANGES); I’ve been to Cuba as well, and fell in love with the system and the people, who have incarnated new ideas, unlike the ones voiced by the Opposition to Chavez (they speak of other things instead of “me, me, me” – they say “us, us, us”). You’re right, we don’t get power outages – at least not as many, because in reality we do.

        I’m no scholar, my friend, though thank you very much for thinking so. I’m merely a person who has finally opened his eyes.

        Finally, as for your comment of “in the meanwhile, don’t bother with them” – Alas! The problem to progress is found: That anything we don’t understand or don’t agree with, we must simply “not bother with”. YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD MY ‘PROGRESSIVE’ FRIEND!

        PATRIA SOCIALISMO O MUERTE!

        • Well, here’s the perfect solution to all your problems, manmade! Just move to Cuba already (yeah, I checked out your blog: you “heart” Che, Fidel, Fidel, Lenin…I get it)! You can do it without any problems!! You live in Canada, where you don’t need any special permissions!! Or, move to Venezuela!! Please!

          • No jodas, Roberto…yo creo que los ñames se sienten profundamente ofendidos por semejante comparación.
            I’m just curious about what kind of studies this guy is following.

            “Mama-mey” 88, did you actually go to primary school in Canada or in Ecuador?

          • Dude I understand you want to escape the rampant violence and corruption in Canada but….if you really are $35 K in the hole already and washing dishes for a living, your sibling is also another $20K in the hole, your mom is tied up with WCB and your dad is working 12 hour days to support you guys, you may want to postpone the socialist paradise globetrotting gig.

          • Sacrifice, my friend. Sacrifice for a better future ( A BETTER SOCIETY) not only for my kids but for the generations that are coming after us. We sacrifice now…We see the fruits with nothing but that quality. And my parents, as myself and my brother, are more than willing to do so. Patria O Muerte!

          • Mamey: You may want to avoid the Muerte card. Didn’t work too well for someone who died in December, January, February, March.

          • Of course if you’re really the real deal, you should work like the rest of us, as a lowly Government employee, nothing even remotely close to the high spheres of powers, if you’re really far from power and aren’t sponsored by the Government like foreign “friends of the revolution” usually are then you’ll truly appreciate this wonderful social paradise.

            Come on I know it’s you dream to live like the rest of us “El Pueblo”.

          • Good God I hope this Manmade1988 doesn’t have a Canadian pssport. He is a total embarrasment. The sooner he moves to one of his socialist paradises the better. Please go now, Canada and the world need you like we need another hole in our head.

        • Do you have a remote understanding of scale?

          “According to the Center for Control and Prevention of Diseases, the United States is experiencing epidemic levels of violence that cause more than 30,000 deaths each year and more than 60,000 wounded”

          First of all, you are lying, there was 14,748 murders in 2010 in the US. Compare this with 19,336 murders in Venezuela. You KNOW the comparison you’re making is asinine. If you were comparing the Vietnam war and murder in America, you likewise know the comparison makes no sense. Either way, the murder rate in the US has never approached the current one in Venezuela. You’re just throwing it out there as part of your psychological defense, you desperately, desperately need to establish some soft of equivalence to justify your religious in salvation through socialism. Actually accepting such a huge failing would bring your entire world image into question, and you’d likely gradually realize the cause of your problems in life lies with your own failings. As it is, you’ll have to come to this realization once you move Ecuador (a country which spends a smaller portion of GDP on social programs than Canada or the US).

          • Noske, cut him some slack–he’s already said that, despite his ample university education, and massive socialist/communist readings, he’s “no scholar”. Anyway, anyone who wants to live in Cuba (and earn, maybe, $30-40/month), is missing something, especially since he can go live there anytime he wants. But, no, he’ll soon form part of the cadres of the Ecuadorian Alba underground Socialist Revolutionaries (lots of “reactionaries” there still to be taken care of)….

          • I know, I’m a bit hard, I just don’t react well to authoritarians, whether they be neo-nazis, Kim Jong un worshipers or Castro lovers.

            I do have to correct you on one point. Moving to Cuba is almost impossible, you need to be highly qualified, much more than is required for moving to the US. Cuba has a very discriminating immigration policy, the last thing they want are a bunch of idealistic freeloaders like ManMade1988 with no useful education. Not only that, but Cuba requires a number of psychological tests, so ManMade could be disbarred on that ground as well.

          • All tongue-in-cheek, Norske, but it does remind me of that old saw: “When one is 20-ish (particularly in universities), if he isn’t a “socialist”, he has no heart. But, when he’s 30, if he’s still a “socialist”( meaning leftist-leaning commie-type, not enlightened Norway-type) (and after family-forming/responsibilities/understanding how the world really works), he has no brain.” Being generous, we could still give Manmade the benefit of the doubt, but I still think he should try to go live in his Cuban paradise (rafting in reverse).

        • All your stats include first nations, metis and innuits. It is derogatory and politically incorrect to call them aboriginals. A political science major should know better.

          If you really think that national numbers in Canada do not include them you should consider your debt wasted money.

          Just as you dont want to sit back… Neither does the extreme other side… Any chance you can give the first step and be inclusive? After all that is what you profess…

        • You are seriously comparing USA and Canada crime to Venezuela?

          I dont believe you have ever been to Venezuela. Ludicrious

  20. Well, all I can say Quico, after reading all comments and interpretations is that your policy is that if you got the tubazo, it is worth it, regardless of the ethics.

    I am very sorry that you feel that way, for you, for us and for journalism as a whole.
    Ethics and professionalism is what makes the distinction between good, bad and excellent.
    Between short term and long-term. Between solid and ephemeral fame.

    In Radio Canada, there was many many years ago a special program called “Le Point media” by Madelaine Poulin that analyzed how news were obtained, perceived and treated. Too bad it does not exist anymore…many aspiring journalists could learn a thing or two about it.

    BTW, I liked the post, but not the way it was obtained.

    • Let’s say that in a society where rule of law prevails and government institutions are mature and stable, professional journalism plays an important role. However, in a totalitarian state or some other social environment where the rules favor those in power, pure professional journalism applying ethical standards is not going to perform its mission effectively. In the end, the mission is simply to inform the public. Being faithful to high journalistic standards does indeed support credibility, but what use is credibility if you have no story?

  21. I like the journalism used. I would have abstain from publishing names by “Bleeepin’ out” mentions on the voice clips. It adds little value to the story and it shows some respect for the interviewee’s privacy.

    Otherwise, it shows how naive the own corps within chavismo are and how manipulated by media both “sides are”.

    My reading (or advocacy) is, we are being manipulated by expert communications managed by our cuban occupation. Both chavistas and opositores feed the right bits to get divided, to get confused, fearful and paralyzed/mobilized as required.

    The electoral system, a huge hoax, that can be manipulated as needed and the results “explained” via the communication machine.

    Money is plentiful to buy certain persons here and there.

    Meanwhile the show goes on! the Venezuela treasury is being pillaged and we will wake up to an empty coffer and a huge resaca/raton someday.

    Quico, you can save your 100$ BTW. I see cubans have motive, opportunity and means on this.
    The evidence is everywhere, but some purists insist they want to see the dead elephant in the room, instead of accepting this fraud is done by compounding a myriad of separate vectors. In other words, the whole Government and state institutions are putrid, but you and others systematically defend the effectiveness of the “best electoral system in the world”.

    For the record, Capriles should not loose this one if one projects what the Calle is showing. Lets hope they do and then defend the votes con pantalones largos. Dura semana por delante.

  22. Felicitaciones Quico, estaré revisando cuidadosamente este material y probablemente haciendo mención en las próximas horas con la fuente y con tu permiso… Yo revisé el Excel de Guarenas por ser el de mi área más cercana y le di vueltas durante días a la idea de llamar a la gente incluida en el archivo, pero realmente tú hiciste aquí el trabajo periodístico.

  23. The situation in Venezuela is a mess, and there is no simple way forward. There are many different people doing many different things for many different reasons… some good and some bad. My biggest concern is that things could get much worse, and we should be doing everything we can to prevent that, or at least to prepare for it. These debates about ethics, history, philosophy, politics, journalism, etc. seem to me to be creating more confusion. My biggest worry is what can happen to my family if things get much worse. For example, will they have access to food?

  24. that colombian accent is way too fake haha and the answers are obviously fake too. . . they are obviously trained to say their work is part of the plan republica and not partisan

  25. This manmade character is clearly delusional and has not spent time in the real Venezuela. It’s depressing to read what he writes. A waste of a mind.

  26. Your style is unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this web
    site.

  27. If this is your drug of choice, you can expect a life where you are trapped in the stress zone.

    But admit it; sometimes you give to be able to
    receive something in return, don’t you. While the bananas are caramelizing, desperate the bwatch, spwatch with the butter, and spatter with the bark and nutmeg.

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