Can't Stop the Music


Vice-President Jorge Arreaza just announced that all the Ministers have offered their resignations to President Maduro in the midst of what the government has deemed The Shake: The Revolution within the Revolution (El Sacudón: La Revolución dentro de la Revolución.)

This, of course, is not a new funky (yeyé-gogó) dance step promoted by Maduro, nor is it different to when the government would play the Musical Chairs game once a year, and the same group of scumbags would trade places to keep on ruining the country (where you had an Education Minister now you would have that guy who was kicked out from the Sports Ministry for an alleged corruption scandal —and then sent to the doghouse at the Youth Ministry— and so on and so forth). The thing, this time around, is that this is (sort of) the third or fourth government restructuring in three months. Remember, when Maduro first spoke of El Sacudón, a while after Giordani was canned, there were strong rumors (hehe) that Arreaza was to leave his position as VP and Ramirez would step down from PDVSA and all his other positions as, well, All-Powerfull-Money-Minister, to once again assume his old job as VP. Of course, no one could touch all-powerful Ramírez, and Arreaza is probably still playing bowling at La Casona.

Right now things are different. To those who don’t have their heads up their butts (the opo v. opo conflict), you may have noticed there has been a lot of crap going on in the country these past days. Enough to trigger a deep Revolution within the Revolution, a profound change in the Government, the Second Coming of the Bolivar and the Eternal, or, most likely, none of the above.

Shake all you want, but when the music stops, the same guys will sit at different chairs.

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  1. Hey, guys…in the following chart I tried to show a little bit the ministerial transition states for just a couple of ministries:

    I have an idea for an oppo commercial.

    Imagine about 60-80 actors for all the ministers we have had.
    They start with a dozen or so chairs and end up with about 34.
    They have 4 minutes to represent 1 year…a minute per quarter.
    They move around the chairs and when they arrived at a new chair they
    announce something.
    They proceed to show cards indicating what kind of scandals they
    got into.
    They do this all synchronized.
    One of the most notable characters will be Arne Chacón’s brother, Jesse.

  2. Not sure if I understand: do you think THIS is finally the transition at PDVSA, with Ramirez going to executive VP and the new Minister of Energy & Mines and the new President of PDVSA taking over?

    It seemed Maduro had too many problems to deal with from critics on his Giordani-left and from economic issues to allow him to make the changes, as previously planned, at the PSUV Congress. It required some consolidation of his positions first.

    That would be a significant nodal point in both economy and oil … continuing (albeit slowly) along the pretty well-defined ‘reform’ path.

    • The recent rumour of Ramirez being replaced by the current president of Citgo maybe wasnt a rumour but a rehearsal of what was to happen when time made it convenient , Ramirez sits atop a heap of gold , the control of Pdvsa resources is a position which is much coveted by other members of the ruling clique . A rich source of wealth and patronage for people who hunger for a bigger piece of the pie.

      Ramirez announces policy move after policy move and then …nothing happens , a sign that maybe not every one inside the ring of power sees his initiatives as ‘good for the cause’. When shit hits the fan as conditions worsen, taking him out of Pdvsa may prepare the scenario to make him into the scape goat for all the regimes failures on the economic front , the corrupt man who betrayed the revolution for greed .!!

      Could be that Tom is on to something !!

      • Hey Bill, I would just say as compactly as possible and very tentatively, this:

        Some of the people expected to take over the Ministry and PDVSA (perhaps all of them) tend to admire Alí Rodríguez Araque (who, I have been told, opposed Ramirez’ policies in several important ways when HC decided to put Ramirez in power in preference to Ali Rodriquez), So, the new oil crew are were not really supporters of Ramirez in the past, and were generally upset when HC was alive about how the company was being run (i.e., Ramirez would again and again give in and hand Chavez whatever money and people he asked for.). “Reformers” is rather vague, I might prefer to call them the new guys the “business chavistas”.

        However, I don’t see any evidence that this transition is not amicable between them and Ramirez at this point. Ramirez and the Board’s plans for recovery of the company seem to have wide support among ‘reformers’ (and even the private sector if PDVSA had the cash to really get it going). It’s more that the plans were not really implementable until HC was leaving the scene.

        So, now, if sufficient cash remains in PDVSA’s hands and more can be raised in various ways (selling Citgo, etc.) then, unlike when HC was alive, the plan could increase production and income. It’s not “rocket science” to make a lot of money when you are sitting on such oil riches with such simple geology, … and then there are the gas reserves (with no legal obligation to have PDVSA be the operator or major share holder – Clearly, Repsol, Eni and Wilson from Houston, and Chevron, etc. know what they’re doing.)

        Perhaps Ramirez wants to be the next president of the Republic Any modicum of a turn around at PDVSA and with it, the economy, would make him the go-to guy. Lot of ifs in this, of course.

        • Tom : Lots of stories come from deep inside the grapevine that point to the ambition of people close to Maduro to have one of their accolytes replace Ramirez as head of Pdvsa ( do you know if the current pres of Citgo is the ‘godson’ of anyone high in Maduros circle ??) . The rumour is that an attempt was made some months ago to have him replaced which failed despite Maduro having approved the move because of some fast footwork by Ramirez . Maduro although seemingly friendly to Ramirez wasnt pleased and is waiting for ‘payback’ time” (you dont challenge people in power and just get away with it ) . They have to do it in a way that doesnt cause scandal . The plan of course would be to kick Ramirez upstair to a VP position but without all the power one might expect him to have. Replacing Ramirez isnt easy because he has people inside Pdvsa who run things and have profited from his endorsement protection and replacing them or buying their alligeance might take a bit of time . This rumour ( and of course there can be no evidence) doenst necessarily clash with the idea that the new people in Pdvsa are people who in the past have been close to Ali Rodriguez and perhaps more pragmatic than Ramirez who was a total toady to Chavez crazy whims (which all along was Ramirez biggest political asset) .

          What I hear is that Ramirez is really trying to be more pragmatic in the handling of Pdvsa than he ever was before HC death , in part because Pdvsa situation problems have grown critical and because HC replacements dont have the despotic hold on decisions that HC had . In a way conditions have forced him to become a reformer just in order to try and survive , There are now a lot of policies in Pdvsa which go towards a more pragmatic approach in the handling of its activities However I do have the feeling that Ali Rodriguez had a more rational pragmatist cast of mind than Ramirez but am not sure that he could ever stand up to HC and insist on his views.

          Maybe Ramirez has given up on remaining in Pdvsa , will take up the VP position as a consolation price and is already working with Maduro to ease the transition to a new team in Pdvsa ( including some people who are already there) but who can really tell ?? I guess time will tell as it always does.

  3. “nor is it different to when the government would play the Musical Chairs game once a year, and the same group of scumbags would trade places to keep on ruining the country”

    You sir, deserve respect. “scumbags” is the proper way to name them.

  4. “…nor is it different to when the government would play the Musical Chairs game once a year…”

    I’d say once a month. I really don’t get why would they switch the same names between seats over and over again, it just doesn’t make sense. It’s not like they need to switch positions to steal money, nor that they think that they’ll do in the next chair what they failed to do in the last one, I just don’t get it.

    • They are following an old Mao stratagem for keeping oneself in power which is to produce a lot of empty but attention getting activity to make people think that things are being done , even if nothing of substance is being done , makes people feel that the leader is effective and active and on top of things hiding the fact that they are incompetent and cant really do anything to improve the countrys situation .

      For example there is an abandoned childrens problems you create a ministry and announce something dramatic of how you will solve the problem …then nothing happens that makes a difference . Chavez did it all the time and Maduro is following in his steps. !!

      In WWII Rommel would have some old trucks with branches attached to the back run across a dessert track creating huge colums of dust in the middle of the dessert making the brits believe that an army of tanks was on the move . What Maduro and team are doing follows the same principle .!!.

      They believe in the power of smoke and mirrors to decieve people into believing their are taking effective actions to correct past failures even if really they are doing nothing of the sort.!!

  5. Maybe a lucky one will get posted to Aruba. One not connected with a cartel or human rights abuses. I am not expert enough to even speculate who that might be.

  6. Such a long time outside of Venezuela, had never heard this bobolongo speak, two minutes and I was dozing off to sleep…..’bueno’, ‘pues’, ‘su desarrollo espiritual’…….what a bore – bring back Chavez! (surely something can be done), I mean they did it with Edith Piaf……..(I think if there are Chavistas reading this, I may have just given them an idea…..ha ha ha)

  7. Is there a way you can rewrite this article without so many winky knowing references so that the poor souls who drop into this from the cold can read it and understand it as if it were a decent piece of reportage?


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