The Cadivi Barricades


Quico Toro, the founder of this blog, wrote an OpEd for yesterday’s New York Times in which he ponders the reasons for the massive protests currently rocking Venezuela. His theory is that the protests are in defense of the right to free assembly.

There may be some truth to that. However, I think we are underestimating the extent to which economic expectations took a hit in the last few months.

Venezuela’s economy is not yet officially in a recession, but people are, increasingly, sharply worried about their future. According to surveys conducted around early October, the Gallup organization found Venezuelans increasingly concerned about their future well-being.

Gallup 1

For example,

  • In 2012, 57% of those surveyed said their lives were thriving. That number was down to 44% a year later.
  • In 2012, 22% of Venezuelans thought the country’s economy was getting worse. In 2013, the number surged to 62%. Only a paltry 12% think the economy is getting better.
  • Only 35% of Venezuelans think their well-being is getting better, a record low.
  • And then there’s crime – 80% of Venezuelans feel unsafe walking their streets late at night.Gallup 2

All this points to bread-and-butter issues behind the protests. The economy is the pits, crime is unbearable, and that’s why people are mad. Still, there is something missing … If this is how people felt in October, why now? Why weren’t they hitting the streets a few months ago? Why … always February?

A perceptive friend of mine may have hit the nail in the head. Talking to her yesterday, she told me something that made a lot of sense.

“I think,” she said, “this all has to do with the end of Cadivi. Up until December, things were really bad, but you could still count on your cupo, your folder, and your raspaíto to make a quick buck. Take a subsidized trip abroad, buy a bunch of stuff to bring back home, or charge the credit card for cash, bring the cash home, and you earned a fortune. Now, Cadivi is a lost dream. It’s dead. The drama with the airlines means ticket prices have skyrocketed. There is an increased sense that the days of free Cadivi cash are gone forever. The end of this bubble … is really difficult for many middle-class Venezuelans to accept.”

This makes a lot of sense to me. Cadivi played such a huge role in the life of middle-class Venezuelans, its death should not be underestimated. For years, it was many people’s main source of income. Now, that’s gone, and we’re coming crashing down to Earth. It’s effect on people’s pocketbooks is enough to trigger a protest movement.

Everyone has their own story about what’s triggering the protests, so I’m going to stick with this one and make it my own. If you agree, we can just call these the Cadivi Barricades.

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  1. Playing down everything to the end of Cadivi is not a good (and fair) assessment (in your friend’s words: “…this all has to do with the end of Cadivi”). It’s also tiresome to see and listen to a President like Maduro “sin nada en la bola” for almost ten months. High profile crime-related killings, crime within the Universities and scarcity…and more importantly a growing sense of “no future” also helped spark things out. Why not now? When is it a good time to start a protest when you have several reasons to do so?

    PD: Cadivi Barricades? C’mom, you’re more serious than that. You asked and I answer: I do not agree to call it that way. However, you’re free to mock whatever/however you want.

    • I don’t think they mean it to be the reason of the unrest, but instead they mean that it was the trigger, there are hundreds of reasons to be protesting in the streets, but for the middle class there was always the possibility to take a week or two off abroad every year, wich served to blow some steam and even get a little income, that oportunity have been made considerably harder this year, it’s surprising that I haven’t thought of that before and that I hadn’t read anyone proposing that theory until now. I guess some people would consider to be a bit cara e tabla to ask for the restoration of the old cadivi times as a protest theme.

      That is probably part of what Heinz Dietrich mean when he claim that Chavez had a pact with the “burgois”.

  2. Agreed. CADIVI was, in a sense, the appeasement of the middle class…
    Opposition to the government was reduced to merely speaking disapprovingly of it and, as you said, no one complained about making a quick buck —un chanchuyito por aquí—, a cheap ticket to Miami…

  3. I would fully agree with the term “Cadivi Barricades.” It also has something to do with people feeling isolated, an overwhelming sense of helplessness and abandonment. There’s no place to go anymore. Venezuelans feel like they may no longer be part of the real world. It’s now distant, remote. They don’t have access to ‘real’ money to engage it anymore. Cuba reality is fast approaching.

  4. I agree with Juan.

    This is the CADIVI effect. There is growing dissatisfaction among the poor but it still not enough. They are on another part of the cycle.

    My relatives who do live in poor neighbourhoods tell me what these polls show: yes, people are getting angrier there, but those who were there already anti-Chavistas, like them, are really angry at the government. Those who were rather nini or pro-government are now just just getting angrier – in general -, they feel unrest but the uncomfortable feeling is not necessarily connected to governmental policies – often they still think “hoarders” (even if some of them are the hoarders themselves as street vendors) .

    More and more people from poor areas are spending more and more time queueing up in the better-off areas, from where they take as much stuff to sell at higher prices. Those in the better off places who can’t spend so much time queueing up sometimes try to buy stuff at higher prices, alternatives, as far as they can. There is a shift here.

    The buying and reselling stuff on the streets in Venezuela is becoming on one side like a tax on the better off (but one that is highly ineffective), an on the other side like a pyramid scheme.

    And this pyramid scheme is getting harder.

    I believe students should try to to understand how economics work for the others and not only for themselves and approach these people, distribute information about what is going on abroad, even in Colombia, in Peru, in Chile.

    They should understand the non-CADIVI people, adapt their message, actually produce a detailed message and work on propaganda on a middle term.

    • Pyramid Scheme? How so? presuming the classical model of needing exponentially growing “customers” making it impossible to be sustainable.

      • Perhaps that’s not the best term.
        Also, in this case we are in front of up to 4 layers at most, but they need each to have more customers on the next layer with time:

        * buhoneros and their family members need to go to queue up in better-off places
        * there are more buhoneros coming into the flow because there are less real jobs or the pseudo-jobs
        provided by the government are not enough to cover their expenses
        * these people have to do ever longer queues now
        * none of them but those who are top on layers – big organisers – has access to all products for their own existence, they increase prices for the ones they have in a market where information flow is not optimal – remember, it’s illegal -.
        Supply and demand hardly work here in this illegal market for all its intrinsic features.
        It’s not not the same as informal markets in Colombia or Peru. They tend to cannibalize each other here more than elsewhere.

        • Well the thing is the Cadivi or Sicad, is having an awful result –>the scarcity. Everyone is not getting what they need, even people that goes to Mecal (that is 60% of the Distribution, even Polar wanted to be there!) People outside Caracas have it worse! My mother toldme that isn her closest automercado, besides people Fromthe other side of the city, She has found people From Marcaibo, that does a trip to Caracas just to buy everything they need! So, it is not the raspaito, not everyone use the raspaito, not everyone has a credit card. I don’t think is fair to call anyone that studies in a university Middle class. Besides, Maduro no es Chavez

  5. I agree but I would also add that for the opposition sympathizer there is also the end of elections. I mean, soon-to-come elections fed a hope that the problem may be solved or improved somehow with an electoral victory. So they would wait patiently a couple of months letting the politicians do their thing, maybe even participate, expectant of what may come. The political circus would also keep them entertained.

    But with no elections in sight, Christmas over, the horrific murders, Cadivi gone, and no good news to cling too, the outlook was too bleak and tempers were quietly simmering then boiling until boom.

    • I am glad there are no elections now. I often said we had to carry out a middle term propaganda campaign among the people we hadn’t reached, not just an electoral thing. People kept telling me “first things first, we have the elections now, then we can start ‘educating’ people, as you say”.

      That’s not good. Now it’s the time to educate people – I don’t mean courses, I mean propaganda schemes, well-planned debates, well-written flyers-. Instead, people need to do something with rocks and chalk and tyres. I ask what principles these students have, what their actual plan is – nothing, just a fuzzy thing, a “they must go” and the fuzzy points about crime and so on (suddenly they did add something fuzzy about the renovación de las instituciones”). It’s intellectual laziness. We shouldn’t expect from them a Tractatus but some form of proposal for Venezuela.

      Ask the people on the other side whether they have heard about the “renovación de las instituciones” and whether they have a clue about what consequences that could have for them.

    • It would be interesting to plot the incidence of demonstrations over time…. Sort of thing that gets reported once in a while. And compare that to the time before the next election. Elections are a potentially great way to defuse unrest, But of course elections are useless if you don’t make progress, chavistas should have been smarter and given more space to the oposition.

  6. Ukraine’s protests didn’t pick up until they passed the anti-protest law. Never underestimate the will of a bunch of pissed off people who want to protest for the sake of it. If only to feel as if they are a part of something.

    • Totally agree, students have time, energy, and are easily pissed off…. Demonstrating sounds like a godgiven excuse to vent that anger…..

  7. Maybe for the older protesters it might be CADIVI, but most of the students who are unemployed 25 years old who do not have access to a credit card which is requisite for CADIVI. I think is more complex than that.

      • I still think is oversimplifying, inflation and shortage have play a very big role. No one in Venezuela is able to buy a car since last year (specially affecting young people getting out of college who want to buy a car), eating out has became an unattainable luxury for most people (affecting young people that goes out a lot), stores and empty and the few things that are there are prohibitively expensive, go to an empty Zara store in Craacas and you’ll understand (I saw the same Jacket that I had bought last year at 4 times the price at the same store), rents have increased by 200% 300%.
        I think that blaming this on the cupo CADIVI is similar to the government saying that we ran out of dollars because of raspacupos. Cadivi viajero dollars are a small fraction of the dollars approved. What has happened is that the collapse of a heavily subsidized currency control system that has heavily impacted the ability of the middle class to acquire goods and servicing (clothes, food, cars, housing)

        • It might be a small portion for the country (although I am not sure what share) but it definitely affects lots of people from all the first areas that rose. Of course it is not the only factor, just like some English Americans were thinking about it before they heard about the tea tax.

          • I think is the collapse of the currency system as a whole. Car production stopped in January in Venezuela, rents rised sharply in January, taxis, restaurants. And none of the slogans related to the Cadivi cupos in the protests.
            I don’t know why there is an overfixation with the viajeros cupos, probably because is the more visible part of the piñata although its only a small fraction. What really determines the macroeconomic impact of the control are the imports dollars. Many people seem to forget that Cadivi cupos for travel and online operations were severely reduced yeats ago without having much of an impact. But I guess that any opportunity to blame the disaster on “el consumismo del venezolano” is always taken.

    • I have to agree. Of the students I know who have actually travelled abroad…I am trying to think if any of those are politically active…

  8. I have been thinking this for years.

    In my opinion it is precisely the hypocritical middle class gaming the system that has kept it all together for years.

    I know too many Venezuelans living high on the hog or at least pretty well without working that hard and going on beaucoup vacations who claim to be strong opposition but never really supported a strong way out of this.They gave lip service to being opposition people.In theory they hated the regime but in reality, not enough to do what it takes to get rid of it.

    It was the absolute perfect way to corrupt those who might have had the drive and understanding to fight back.

    I do not feel sorry for them either.I feel sorry for the poor who had less choices as usually in a country full of vivos,

    And I am going to expose this scamming as much as I possibly can.

    Asco es lo que me da!

    • I agree, wholeheartedly. While the main idea is this post does nothing but grossly oversimplify the issues at hand, I agree that CADIVI had a major role within those who took advantage of it…mostly the HIGHER middle class. It provided them with a sense of relief among the chaos that is Venezuela. This however, is not representative of the larger reality…of those Venezuelans that cannot afford to go to a supermarket and when they go to the bodegas, the find them completely empty. Those who live in a barrio and are afraid 24/7.. having to lock themselves up, fearful of stray bullets, break-ins, etc. Those who cannot even dream to even set foot at the American Embassy to apply for a tourist Visa…never mind buying a ticket to go to Miami. The privileged people that have ignore their neighbors to the “west” or “south” have a lot to do a lot of soul searching once this nightmare is over.

      P.S : I am a big fan, Firepigette! 🙂

    • Maru,

      It affects A LOT of the people who could have done the most to protest ; the people who in other societies would have been at the forefront of stopping this disaster from happening.

      The masterminds of this false revolution are not stupid.

      The have corrupted precisely those who could have had more power against them.They created unconscious allies.

  9. Once people are corrupted they will search for ways to maintain their levels of comfort, even if this government falls.

    What a country needs is to create a fairly, large body of hardworking citizens – people who wake up in the morning and say:

    “What can I do for my family and friends today? How can I make a difference?”How can I be a good citizen and participate in helping those in need?


    Hey ,what can the government do for me to make my life easier.How can I take advantage of it?

  10. “For years, it was many people’s main source of income. ” Reality check: Until Nov 2012, you would be hard pressed to sell your Cadivi dollars at twice what you paid for. Factor in the tickets, hotel, etc. and el raspaíto was a losing proposition. Only in 2013 it was, for some, a source of income.

    If there was a trigger for Venezuelan middle class desperation, it was- in my not so humble opinion- the Spear killings.

  11. The shutting down of Cadivi is just another sign that all doors to a normal sattisfactory life are closing : trips abroad, cheap travel USD , buying a car or getting the parts to have one fixed , access to even the most ordinary foodstuffs and staples , access to needed medical drugs or prompt medical care , access to independent news , a margin of security against crime , generally access to a good life is being closed , things are getting increasingly worse and there is nothing but shitty propaganda bombarding you about how great things are accompanied by continual threats and insults . Finally there comes a time in which a lot of people reach a bursting point so that any small spark triggers a full blown torrent of social protests .

    Blaming just cadivi seems exagerated , its the cummulative effect of all those many increasing dissapointments and frustrations that make people explode in angry demonstrations .

    • There are numerous underlying factors, but the trigger is usually something smaller, more circumscribed. That’s why it’s called a trigger! Anyway, everyone is entitled to have their theory, so I have mine…

      • Remesas were to popular class that cupo cadivi was for middle class. Why aren’t we seeing Remesas’ Barricades in Catia or Petare?

          • Firepigette,

            It is not a rethorical question: why the discontentment in popular class, which is probably high, is not yet translated in political movilization? Few hundred colectivos militants cannot repress the movilization of dozen of thounsands, and even in this case, why those militants, living in barrios and suffering the same economical situation, are still passive (remember very critical Aporrea’s op-eds againts Maduro few weeks ago).

          • Well first of all let me explain to you that many of the people who live in barrios are not poor.Many are, and many are not.There are quite a few who love the lifestyle in Catia whether you believe that or not…..There are benefits.Living in Catia is sometimes more of a lifestyle choice than just the only option.Criminals who live in Catia are often loaded, but they hide there because there is safety in numbers and it easier to dominate their neighbors who usually feel helpless.It also fits with their value systems (like having more freedom from being traced).Even the police are afraid to go into Catia.

            From my friends in Catia I get that most are opposition but they dare not go out because of the Tupamaros….even so there have been some protest in Catia I believe.

      • I think CADIVI doesn’t reach enough people to be considered the trigger of all this by itself.

        On the other hand, if you’re looking for a single reason, I would say it’s the post-Dakazo effect. Almost the only social activity for mid-class (and even the upper layers of the lower class) is get together in a mall, eat an ice-cream, maybe go to a movie (if you have enough money). Imagine what happens to your certainty in the future when you see all malls with empty shelves, stores being closed, degraded services… malls became useless… the feeling being there was just depressing.

        Now add to that the uncertainty of the job for all the people that works on the stores (usually young people that works and studies). According to CAVECECO malls represent 589.000 jobs

        Do you want to keep digging? Add the feeling of seeing major companies slowly closing (GM, Toyota, Ford) because of lack of dollars. Where am I going to work in the future?

        I have 27. Mid-class. From Valencia. More than half of my graduated friends are “entrepreneurs” because there are no jobs, you have to create your own “business” and provide services to earn some money. It’s impossible to buy an apartment. It’s almost impossible to rent one. It’s impossible to buy a car, the ones you can find with a lot of luck are the most expensive ones and we can’t pay for them.

        How in the heck my generation emancipates? In general we just feel that there’s no future for us, not even if you find the job of your life with a super salary (which doesn’t exists). And that became more tangible with the loss of quality of life we felt since January.

    • Bill Blass,

      I am not saying the poor were not suffering…on the contrary….quite the opposite…but many middle class were not,and they are precisely the ones who in a normal country would have been the most vocal.

      The poor join in now because of the tidal wave, and because of food issues, but those who are really angry and started the ball rolling are the more middle class.

      • I am with you. It is not easy to live in a Barrio where Colectivos, or malandros (think petare) have some kind of pact with the government (Think los Orejones and the siege of Ocumare). Barrios has always been a place were police and guards,could kidnap them (yes they have their own secuestro express, but is the police saying well we are takingyour muchacho, and if you don’t give us X Bs, he appears killed and is a enfrentamiento because he was a thief in a band, whatever – and yes it was a close case to me so it is not an urban legend). Even in the Barrios there are some people that have a little more, and other less…In a way they have always suffrered from the violence of the state, and they have police that are neighbors etc) So if you are in a barrio that nobody gets in the middle of a crime? Are you going to protest? I wouldn’t . and the 15 years os social engineer, that is powerful one . We understimate that

  12. I disagree with the CADIVI Barricades theory. I think these protests are just about getting fed up. Fed up with crime, scarcity, lack of infrastructure, lack of progess, a general sense of the government not giving a s**t about Venezuela, massive repression of protests, total paralysis of the government for almost a year, and yes CADIVI as well, why not? The CADIVI/airline tickets problem is just another side of the problem. It’s easy and understandable to reach a breaking point when having to endure all that for months and with no end in sight. Venezuela is morally, politically, and economically bankrupt. It’s been a long process of continuous decay and now a large portion of the society has reached a breaking point. It’s simple: If you poke a dog once, or twice, you may get no reaction, but if you keep at it over, and over, doing exactly the same thing, you’ll eventually get bit.

    • The way I see Juan’s point is that the end of CADIVI was the catalyst for the protests. People realized that they would not be able to get by despite the chaos. All of the things you mentioned existed, but people’s income got a massive hit with the end of CADIVI.

  13. Juan is obviously on to something here. But it’s the kind of post that can land you in a deep depression of you think about the implications too closely. People aren’t protesting against the Piñata State. They’re protesting about the fact that the goodies are all gone.

    If, I dunno, an earthquake wipes out all the oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia tomorrow and oil hits $300, the protest movement will be forgotten about by mid March.

    • I don’t think the government could react to that influx of money in such a short time. Or even ever. But going back to the discussion, the protests in the Chávez era were shorter and les visceral in part because there were enough petrodollars to come up with “bozales de arepa” (candy) in the form of misiones, Universidades Bolivarianas, CADIVI goodies, etc to keep people quiet for a while. Today’s government has neither the money, nor the imagination to come up with similar solutions, plus such solutions would probably not be as effective today.

    • This hits the nail on the head. For years the middle class in Venezuela has enjoyed benefits of a higher class. I.e subsidized international travel and shopping trips. With the loss of CADIVI, they are now realizing this.

      If Maduro was to be thrown out, I doubt whoever replaced him would be willing to make the difficult choices needed to actually improve the country. Instead, it will be more of the same – handouts and free goodies.

      • And that is the problem. Even Venezuelan oil reserves won’t last forever. I don’t know how people and the government in particular can be so short-sighted…

  14. Perhaps it explains the persistence of the demonstrations, an important drop in the bucket of complaints, but … Do students rely on cadivi? And why not demonstrate on front of the national bank or pdvsa? Barricades because you didn’t get your cupo? Don’t gel…

    • But i can see how the end of cadivi indicates a change in tone, things are suddenly terminally serious, that explains the perceptions indicated in the plots … Maybe you are right and its the thing that took venezuela to the tipping point …

      • Good point: End of CADIVI as a symptom, rather than a cause. Because after all, the CADIVI thing was announced together with a bunch of other economic decisions. It wasn’t an isolated announcement.

    • Let me provide you with an anecdote. When I went to Venezuela in December, I spoke to my taxi driver at length. He had a college degree, and for a while had emigrated to the US (Naples, FL) before the housing crisis shattered his dreams. He was back in Venezuela driving a cab, yet living an OK life for Venezuelan standards – he lived in Los Chaguaramos, sent his kids to a small parish private school, etc. I think he would qualify as a middle class Venezuelan. When I asked him how his business was doing, he said it was slow, but that he complemented his income with Cadivi – he had just returned from Madrid, where he had gone to “raspar.” He said he made about BsF 100.000 on that one trip alone.

      A few days ago he wrote me, desperate, asking if there was any chance I could help him land a job in Chile.

    • John I think ‘many’ has already been defined by the dictionary,and there are as many people as there are jobs….so your question is unanswerable, because is it too obvious.

      • The operative word would not be “many”, but “years”. The raspaíto came to be when the black market $ skyrocketed in early 2013. Compound “many people” + “for years” + “main” and you’ve got something that is beyond exaggeration.

  15. The cubans used Venezuela’s income to corrupt and control all segments of the populations. Starting with the military who were first with plan Bolivar 2000 (14 yrs. ago people!) they were fast to tag, the corruptible ones from the less corruptible ones. The later were sent home. then came Gas subsidies, Cadivi and other goddies for Middle calss, and obvioulsy, all the TLC from the lider supremo to the masses via misiones and lip service.

    Being Venezuela the beggars society it is, everyone went to their pinata, and took the candy and remained contained.

    It seems the orgia is over and the money gone. now starts the fingerpointing and blaming game over the destroyed house the morning after.

  16. The trigger was that a group of very empathetic students were enraged with a specific assault, and protested, which triggered more assault. That escalated to include empathy from more people, triggering more assault.

    That other reasons and emotions are finding their way to vent in the above, partly because they’ve been all pent up since October, well, that’s just human. Attempting to diminish the importance of the mourning for all the dead, the exhaustion from the effort to maintain a decent life for loved ones, the fear of going out or even staying at home, etc., and boiling it down to a single label and associating it to opportunistic self-interest is even sadder than if the label were true.

    • Excellent point extorres, especially your last sentence.

      Leave it to an economist to argue that the “tipping point” was the demise of an economic construct that the ‘middle class’ (mostly) were able to profit from. Can anyone point to any banners out on the street that say “Bring Back CADIVI”?

      JC’s hypothesis apparently concludes that the spark that ignited the current protests was based on greed. I’m sure all the “Anon’s” out there will agree with him. Great job over-analyzing (and undermining) the cause.

      I think Daniel has it right.

      • The problem you are making Mike is in not reading what JC said I think.He never said that CADIVI was the only cause.He said that it was the trigger, and I thoroughly agree.

        Causes are complicated.

        • I know he didn’t say that CADIVI was the *only* cause. He said it was the trigger, the tipping point, the final straw as it were, and for all I know it was, but he’s postulating – and postulating a hypothesis that only adds fuel to the PSF argument that no matter how bad as everything is in VE (and the PSF’s will still argue that everything is hunky dory) the majority was ok with everything and the current protests are just expressions of outrage from “rich kids” who can’t continue to ‘game’ CADIVI.

          I think this line of argument is counterproductive and while it may not make light all the other legitimate concerns it does add more weight than necessary to the CADIVI factor.

          • You have a good point there Mike.Perhaps right now is not the right time to tackle that one,though I know it is making a big contribution, and I still agree that perhaps it was the trigger point….but yes it could be used wrongly, because in reality even though it is a possible trigger , the fact remains that the country in all aspects is going down the tubes.

          • The concern I have is that international journalists who do not have a clue what they are talking about who now have this assignment read something like this and instead of taking it for that it is, which is an interesting speculation, print it as a kind of fact. I almost fell off my chair when I read Quico’s observation that the protests were “self-referential” but then I read on and realized what he was saying essentially was that people were protesting repression.

            So I guess my conclusion is: here are two examples of two smart guys trying to come up with an interesting take on things = higher risk of being misinterpreted by the multitudes…

  17. Quico’s op-ed was excellent…

    Catastrophe theory would probably have something to contribute to an understanding of what’s fueled unrest in Venezuela.

    The NYT has been doing better with its coverage, here’s another one from them:

    Is backfiring policies the recurring theme?
    * Price + currency controls = shortages + inflation
    * making chavistas the beneficiaries of a clientelar system = more pressure on the government to keep dishing out the goodies…
    * And now …. cheap gas = more molotov cocktails

    Gotta love it… the snake biting it’s tail.

  18. My middle class family in Venezuela should be protesting the loss of Cadivi but are not. They were recently denied their dollars since we bought their plane tickets in the US with US dollars (can’t buy them in Venezuela with bolivares on this airline). That was the excuse given. Anyway, they support the protesters and getting rid of Maduro due to lack of security and the economy, inflation, and shortages., nothing more, nothing less. They generally never profited from Cadivi as they spent the dollars on products they couldn’t find or afford in Venezuela and on actual “vacationing” while in the US.

  19. I think there is a good chance that Maduro might prolong Carnival mood until Holy Week , trying to calm things down to do a quick “fix” of the economy.

  20. Your theory is really stretching it. Obviously it is part of the factors driving the discontent but hanging it out there as the main driving point is ” halado por los pelos”. Non the less it is a factor among so many more.

  21. Juan, this is you more enjoying to be intelectually naughty much more than a serious reflection…this is obviously a oversimplification even if reduced to the trigger argument ( street vendor inmolation in Tunisia is a trigger event, but end of raspacupism …less clear) . Last drop ? perhaps, but inflation, crime, scarcity, unemployment, realisation by the youth that they are worse off tha parents, etc etc are the glass full…In any case, i don t live in Vzla, so perhaps I m missing a nuance there, but if your Cadivi spring has a bit of truth, what depressing this is,…. a mega tantrum as Audry or the Catia writer friend description of Leopoldo and Lilian display.

  22. I get where this is going, but I think this is overly focusing on a symptom rather than the disease itself.

    Why is Cadivi gone when its largess anesthetized the middle tiers of the population? Why allow the scarcity when there is a high degree of ingrained consumption in the society? Why is the government not importing more with oil revenues at high levels? Why are businesses starved of necessary currencies to import the needed material for production within Venezuela due to the dysfunction of Sicad (I, II, III, XIX, whatever)? Why the rot via disinvestment in the infrastructure when that is one of the foundations of commerce and growth? Why the inflation and the monetization of debt via Nelson and his Magical Mystical Printing Press o’ Plenty? Why the lack of real jobs and economic growth that results in crime, along with the relevant impunity and ineffective law enforcement?

    One answer covers all of this. The government is broke. The BoP chickens are starting their long …well, not flight, but whatever chickens do… home.

    So why the harsh response? The government is out of options to do much else. They simply cannot afford to pacify people with freebies anymore. The rising issues from the “middle” class is, I believe, due to the fact they feel more directly at this time, the bankruptcy of the state. The government will try to husband its scarce resources to continue paying its bonds and to subsidize the cheap food (despite its scarcity and waiting hours for a kilogram of chicken or oil) and gas because they don’t want to alienate potential lenders and their voting base that will be far less docile than the middle class folk with more to lose.

    Morally bankrupt? Already there. Fiscally bankrupt, coming soon to a country near you.

    Just a thought…but what if those off balance sheet funds didn’t have anywhere near the money that people think they do? Do we really believe funds such as Fonden with no accountability whatsoever have the same amounts that have been input less the supposed expenditures? Why would they?

    They will do their dance as long as it keeps them in power. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

    The regime has absolutely nothing to lose at this point, except power.

  23. Voy a hablar en español debido a mi poco dominio del inglés.

    Me parece insultante decir que el detonante de estas protestas fue la semi-devaluación de enero. A fin de cuentas, A Juan se le olvida, y bastante, de que el grueso de estudiantes de las universidades públicas del país -que somos quienes hemos dirigido esto- somos de clase media baja cuando no popular, que se dirigen en autobuses o “carritos por puesto” a sus lugares de estudio, que han sido asaltados varias veces dentro del recinto universitario, y que todo esto empezó por un intento de violación a una chica. ¿Que influencia podría tener CADIVI sobre nosotros si ni siquiera viajamos? Yo sin ir más lejos nunca he salido de Venezuela. Y eso que mi padre es profesor universitario, pero así son las cosas.

    Si hubo un detonante fue la convocatoria de “La Salida” de Leopoldo y María Corina. Eso logró el nivel de movilización y comunicación por las redes sociales que no habíamos logrado los autoconvocados. La gente estaba brava y tan solo esperaban la señal. Eso sumado a que este no es año electoral.

    • Pablo, pero ¿cuántos son ustedes? ¿Cuántos marcharon el domingo? Esto ya no le pertenece a los estudiantes. No todos los que protestan son como tú. No te sientas insultado, yo sólo analizo.

      • Lost in translation:
        1) you’re not even enough numbers to count anymore
        2) you’re not even to credit anymore; it belongs to others
        3) these others are opportunists having a tantrum about losing their opportunity of the decade
        4) you’re wrong to feel a part of these others
        5) don’t feel insulted; I’m just analizing

  24. There are so many poignant and distinct causes for dissatisfaction with the govt that singling out the loss of the cheap cadivi ‘travel’ dollars as the detonator of the students protests seems a tad exagerated . Havent met anyone who was overwrought with the idea that the rewards of getting cheap cadivi ‘travel’ dollars would now be curtailed .Is it discomfitting, yes , blood curdling provocative , hardly ., .

    To consider it one among many contributing factorss to the dissatisfaction feeding the protests is probably believable, but to attribute it a decisive importance in the motivation of the protest movement is not easily credible !!.

  25. When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the
    exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to
    remove me from that service? Thanks!


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