Live-blogging the Sacudón

Try shaking *this* off...
Try shaking *this* off…

You may recall that a full two weeks ago, Nicolás Maduro’s entire cabinet resigned to allow the President to “reorganize it” as part of his quest to make government “more efficient from a socialist point of view” – their words, not mine. This came on the heels of Maduro promising a major shake-up in economic policy, a sacudón, announced more than two months ago.

Let’s simply say the President works at his own pace…

Well, it seems the day of the new cabinet and the shake-up is upon us. Nobody knows for sure what will happen – some people say economic czar Rafael Ramírez will leave PDVSA, while others say he will be promoted (or is it demoted?) to the vice-presidency. In the meantime, the economy is stalling, oil prices are falling, scarcity continues, and we are now importing crude oilFew are betting that the promised “pragmatic” measures will materialize, but you never really know with these folks.

At any rate, it seems as though today will be eventful. We’ll try to live-blog the broadcast. In the meantime, feel free to use the Comments section to discuss your expectations. We’ll update the post as we learn things.


7:53 PM: Sorry, started watching late. Seems like I haven’t missed anything. Maduro talking about Juan Vicente Gómez…?

7:56 PM: Maduro falsely claims that pre-Chavez government officials acknowledged poverty rates of 70%. Not true.

7:57 PM: Maduro claims Teodoro Petkoff stole people’s pension funds when he was Minister. So far lots of railing against everything that came before Chávez. Insulting everyone from Páez onward.

8:02 PM: The President of the Supreme Tribunal is seated next to Diosdado Cabello, applauding as Maduro blasts politicians. Separation of powers is a joke. Oh, and wasn’t Diosdado in Argentina? Is thing on tape?

8:05 PM: “Chávez did not leave out any details of XXIst Century Socialism without explanation.” Except, of course, how to put toilet paper on the shelves.

8:07 PM: Maduro falsely claiming poverty rates are decreasing. Falsely claims unemployment rates were at 25% before Chávez. Maduro blasting AP and Reuters as having a “campaign” against Venezuela. Claims his model is succesful.

8:11 PM: The head of the Electoral Body, Tibisay Lucena, feverishly, excitedly claps when Maduro says his political project is the only succesful path for Venezuela. Claims unemployment rate in Venezuela is 6.8%.

8:15 PM: I think the word Maduro has repeated the most in this address is “miseria.” Quite appropriate. Claims his “government of the street” is responsible for an increase in social spending.

8:21 PM: Guy whose popularity is in the low 30s, the one most Venezuelans say they wish to see him resign, says his model is irreversible. Funny.

8:27 PM: Maduro claiming Venezuela’s elections are the cleanest in the world because there are opposition governors and legislators, and this proves it and that’s that. QED.

8:40 PM: Maduro ranting against bureaucracy and corruption in the government he has helped helm for the past fifteen years. Calls some of his underlings “parasites.”

8:42 PM: Reading from a piece of paper, some of the new “decisions.” Here we go? Let’s hope so, ’cause this has been the most boring history lesson ever. Announces “5 Revolutions” for the next few years. The first is an economic revolution, because we want to be productive. Really – you should start with state-owned companies.

8:46 PM: Oh dear, Maduro now talking about “knowledge” and “technology.” Hide the children.

8:49 PM: Announces a “political revolution.” Because he has studied stuff. And he thinks we need a new State. And it’s in the Constitution. Because he thinks he’s doing great, but they have to remodel the entire State…

8:54 PM: Acknowledges Jesse Chacón knows what a poll is going to say before he actually conducts the poll. Awesome.

8:57 PM: Not content with reorganizing the state, the economy, social programs, and education, he also says he wants to reorganize the entire territory.

9:01 PM: Talking about saving the planet, one of Hugo Chávez’s goals. Clearly, the strategy here is to lull people before hitting them with higher taxes … isn’t it?

9:05 PM: After announcing he is changing everything, Maduro is outlining how the next campaign will be organized. All they are focused on is winning the next election.

9:11 PM: Economic VP is Marcos Torres, Finance Minister.

9:14 PM: Oil ministry for Asdrúbal Chávez, cousin of the late President. Maduro going back to basics: Chávez and the military. He’s not looking to solve problems, he’s looking to survive the storm.

9:21 PM: Izarra rewarded for Cheverito. Ambassador to Uruguay Isabel Delgado for Trade Minister. And Giusseppe Giofreddo, military man, MAJOR boliburgués, Transport minister.

9:23 PM: Iván Gil becomes agriculture super-czar. He’s already Agricultural Minister, but he gets a new minister, Jose Luis Berroterán.

9:28 PM: Maduro asks his ministers to “look out for problems.” Because, you know, they’re not clearly evident.

9:30 PM: A vice-presidency of knowledge! Next door to the Ministry of Rainbows. Wow, merging Ministry of Science and Ministry of University Education. Major Shake-up #Not.

9:34 PM: Minister of Education continues to be our “eternal young man” Dorian Gray … erm, I mean, Hector Rodríguez.

9:36 PM: Hector Rodríguez also in charge of social policy. How many salaries does this guy charge?

9:39 PM: Other ministries involve changing or ratifying no-name bureaucrats for other no-name bureaucrats.

9:40 PM: More army ministers. Chief of Staff Carlos Osorio. Delcy Rodríguez stays in the Information Ministry. Foreign Minister is now Rafael Ramírez. Defense and Interior ministers stay put. What a joke.

9:45 PM: Eulogio del Pino now heads PDVSA. Remind me what the scoop on this guy is.

9:47 PM: Jaua Minister for Communes. The shuffle continues.

9:55 PM: Jesse Chacón remains in the Electricity Ministry. Because he’s doing a swell job…

9:57 PM: Everything we needed to know about this evening can be summed up in the fact that Chacón remains on his job. We were leaning on the edge of a cliff, and we gave a brave step forward.

9:59 PM: Announcing a unification of all of the country’s foreign reserves. We’ll see if they publish the figures.

10:03 PM: Maduro seems to be saying that he didn’t increase the price of gas just to teach AP
and Reuters a lesson.

10:14 PM: “Nuestro pueblo no comía carne y ahora come carne…” I can’t believe I do this for free.

10:18 PM: Ameliach lying by saying that in 1996, Family Minister said extreme poverty was 64%. These guys are unbelievable.

10:26 PM: Arreaza remains as VP. No real surprise there.

10:26 PM: From the jumble of ministers, shuffles, and positions that Maduro has spit out tonight, one thing remains clear: this man has no idea what governing is about. He thinks governance is about giving people titles.

10:30 PM: Only Maduro could think of a Bureaucracy for Bureaucracy. Dante Rivas is in charge of that.

10:35 PM: Hilarious – all ministers, governors, and mayors will have to take classes in governance.

10:42 PM: Maduro reading Chávez’s words with the Comandante’s picture super-imposed. #LomitoPaLaBase.

10:45 PM: As this address ends, it is clearer than ever that Nicolás Maduro is completely incapable of an original thought. He tries to follow the Chávez model without realizing he cannot afford the country Chávez thought he was building. As major decisions are pushed aside indefinitely, with oil prices continuing their downward slide, the only vision I take away is of a poor sap, trapped in a web of intrigue, surrounded by increasingly powerful narco-generals, incapable of understanding what good governance is about, unable to understand the plight of ordinary Venezuelans. Dark days are coming to Venezuela indeed.