Land of confusion

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The country is going down the sewer ... but this happened yesterday.
The country is going down the sewer … but this happened yesterday.

“Venezuela is the only country in the world where street vendors sell you both a copy of the Transit Law … and a nice, cold beer.”

Laureano Márquez’s riff began what was a major theme in the discussions we held in Austin about our country – about Venezuela being a land of confusion, a country mired in contradictions. It is a theme that Laureano elaborated some more in his latest column.

In keeping with this theme, the meeting itself was chock-full of contradictions – full of sadness, and also hope.

Last weekend, Nicolás Maduro made a spectacle of himself at the Summit in Panama. While he desperately tried to make his petty rants against the US the center of attention, real issues were being discussed – namely, US policy towards Cuba. Maduro, with his impoliteness, his dozens of paid sycophants, and his outdated world view, represents the worst Venezuela has to offer. It was nice to have an excuse to look away from that debacle.

That same weekend, the Venezuelan government all but suspended the sale of dollars to travel overseas. The Cadivazo took everyone by surprise, and sent many inside Venezuela reeling. Starting now, the amounts available at preferred rates to travel overseas are sharply lower, and in order to get them, you need to bribe your way through a bureaucratic maze in order to open an account with a state-owned bank. While we’ve long criticized Cadivi, we can’t help but feel sympathy for folks back home.

And boy, do they need our sympathy. The funk in Venezuela is hard core. The general tone is one of pessimism. Whether you live there, or speak to someone who does, the feeling of entrapment is inescapable.

The mood inside the country is reflected in the public sphere – when was the last time some political figure from either side sent out an optimistic message about anything?

There is an overwhelming sense of grief in our country. We’ve seen what was, we’ve harbored hope for what could be, and we lost.

Last year was particularly tough on those of us who don’t share the government’s vision. Leopoldo López’s continued imprisonment is demoralizing. Few people see the light at the end of the tunnel, or as Laureano puts it, we see the light but it is a semi truck, speeding at 100 miles an hour, with no brakes.

Amidst the gloom, the kids in Austin – young, educated, polite, forward thinking – presented the opposing view. If Maduro was the worst we have to offer, these kids come close to being the best. In spite of everything going on, they ooze optimism.

Many of them left when they were pre-teens. They don’t know who Betancourt is, or what the Pacto de Punto Fijo was about. They want to try to understand the country they still consider their homeland. They are shocked at what is happening, but they still see the sun shining above the rain clouds.

Venezuela to them is like a dream. They think of the long game. They seem to be the only ones doing so.

It is hardly surprising that the shifting tones about the Venezuelan reality end up confusing casual observers. Is Venezuela a hell hole … or the best country on Earth? Is there hope … or should everyone who can simply pack up and go? How crazy can things get? When will we hit rock bottom? These are all questions with no answer.

Ultimately, the kids are right. The events are bad, but things could get better sooner than we think. History has a way of proving things can change on a whim. Everything remains to be done. Optimism is not an illusion.

This reality risks over-simplifying the drama of the situation. Yes, there is hope, but no, it’s not easy to live off it. The Venezuelan situation is terrible, and may stay that way for many years. It is not hopeless yet, but sometimes – like when you learn that ten police officers were killed by gang members in the space of one week – being hopeful is a fool’s errand.

Ultimately, writing or talking about Venezuela must take into account the complexity of the place. No country’s situation can be reduced to a single word or feeling, and this is particularly true in Venezuela. Just when you are ready to give up hope on the place, you meet someone or something happens that makes you think otherwise. Hope and despair must coexist in a tense standoff. They are both true, and they both remain important.

This can be confusing to any of us. We like our dilemmas to be resolved quickly. We can’t live in a constant state of contradiction. We dislike the tension that this brings.

Sadly, those are the times we live in: old vs. young; optimism vs. pessimism; melancholy vs. hope; barbarism vs. civilization.

That is Venezuela today. We might as well make peace with it.

1 COMMENT

    • I think is only logical. I mean, the way I interpret it, they may very well know who Betancourt was, the bare facts of history, but evidently, they dont have a clear experience of who he was. Or CAP. Or most of what AD and Copei was before.

      Same as nobody commenting here really “knows” who Juan Vicente Gomez was, as in, have a direct experience of what the historical figure represented at his time and soon after. We may know more or less about his role in history in an academic sense, but it doesnt really belong in our mental image of Venezuela, it was way before our time.

      For somebody in his twenties, Betancourt is ancient history. Hell, he was almost that much for me and I’m 43, while he was a clear, distinct and important part of what my father saw as Venezuelan politics.

      There is another side to this of course. May of the Venezuelan youth today will not “know” anything but Chavismo. It will be the foundation of their idea of politics – even if they find themselves in opposition to it, is what they will understand. May they look for inspiration elsewhere as Betancourt did , but this is going to be how they frame things.

  1. If you follow the inward patterns of what is and what is not,of what what was, and what was not ,one realistically sees there is little hope for any near future.

    The opposition has made one mistake after the other, when timing was of the essence.It is still making mistakes.Unfortunately the opposition tends to feel so superior to everyone else, that they cannot see how they have contributed to what is happening today, and without taking this personal inventory, there can be no real solution.

    Clue: harina pan is not as important as the lack of justice.

    second clue: you cannot pretend to vote in a country that you simultaneously call a dictatorship

    Truth has to be confronted even if it hurts…optimism without realistic appraisal is worse than pessimism.

  2. It´s funny, you said a few months ago this blog would be optimistic, but you can´t fulfil your promise and lapse periodically into glum and despair.

    Sadly funny, not funny funny.

    1) If you don’t know who Rómulo Betancourt was, then you are optimistically ignorant about Venezuela.

    2) If you believe any hope is left for a country where 25000 die every year violently because of crime…

    3) I am sick and tired of hearing bad news from my family. Venezuela is a factory of bad news. Worse: they are losing bits and pieces of their pride, they have to queue for common things like shampoo and toilet paper, they have no easy access to dollars, no freedom, they are prisoners under a self-imposed house arrest, they live in fear, with faltering public services, accumulating water just in case… If think living like this has no consequences on your mental health, you are in hallucinatory denial.

    And still they have to bear witness of a government so inept it is a dark miracle it hasn’t collapsed. They have to watch stupidity, callousness and evil on TV day after day after day.

    And Cilia Flores nephew controls PDVSA finance, and Maduro’s son is a high officer, and Cabello’s wife is a minister, and Chavez’ daughter is an ambassador to the UN.

    Man, Venezuela belongs in the middle ages, not in this century.

    • “If think living like this has no consequences on your mental health, you are in hallucinatory denial.”

      There are still a few people among my facebook friends who will occasionally post pro-regime nonsense. I found one of the more effective line of arguments with these people is to repeatedly point out how much of a joke and a laughingstock their country has become to the rest of the Latin America and to the world. No one likes being a sad joke.

      One of the only one of my wife’s siblings who remained a hardcore Chavista has recently decided to leave the Army and move to Panama. He still won’t admit the ‘Revolution’ was a disaster. Honestly, I think he would be a good case study in Chavismo and the kind of people it attracts (beyond the uneducated and ignorant ones). He is by far the laziest, most dishonest, and immoral of all the people in her family, was involved in smuggling gasoline in Tachira and tried to get younger family members involved in it. And one more example, there was some land that he inherited 1/4 of,but paid no attention to for a decade. One of the cousins ended up growing pigs on it. He showed up after 5 years demanding 1/4 of all profits since that is what is “his”. The cousin laughed in his face told him he could have 1/4 of profits if he spent day after day basically living with and taking care of the pigs with him. Sorry for the rant, I just found out he is moving to Panama after spouting BS about the revolution for years…If he’s indicative of the Venezuelan officer class, the rumor of a single Marine company approaching would send them all running, wetting their pants, and throwing off their uniforms.

      • I didn’t mean that, but rather that living in Venezuela pushes anyone into pathological sadness (aka, depression), pathological mistrust (aka, paranoia) and pathological fear (aka, anxiety).

        • On the other hand, yeah, I met this DISIP (or whatever) civil servant who traveled to Canada and wanted to stay because chavismo “had made the country too dangerous” (!)

          They are real cynics.

    • ” If think living like this has no consequences on your mental health, you are in hallucinatory denial.”

      Let me add a fourth point:
      4) Never mind the mental health. Pray that nobody in your family gets sick or has a chronic condition that requires meds. If you do, start figuring out how you are going to send it from where you are (basically impossible to do legally from the US and from other countries DHL refuses to do it). It’s chaos out there and there does not seem to be end in sight. My family has moved “cielo y tierra” and they can’t find the meds they need. It’s not that you have to queue for this stuff, “es que no hay!”. The pharmacies in the entire country have nothing, our friends in the laboratories tell us there is nothing to be had.

      How many people are going to die before we as a people stop being optimists? Optimism right now is just naïveté. Things are going to get much uglier before it gets better. Sorry not in a good mood about this.

      • I would also point out that the depression and stress of living in Venezuela is producing a epidemic of collateral damage manifested in physical illnesses. A doctor friend of mine says that half of his patients are suffering from hypertension.

        • That’s very sad Roy, but I am confused by people like you and some of my American and European friends who live there still.One lady I know has enough money to move back to the US easily where all her children are living, but she prefers to stay on because she says she loves it there.It is getting harder and harder for me to believe in the supposedly difficult life of Venezuelans when simultaneously I see those who have plenty of choices, tell me they would rather stay and enjoy the good life there.This sort of ambivalence does nothing to convince the outside world that Venezuela is a living hell, which people are announcing.I mean either it is or it isn’t.We cannot have our cake and eat it too.

          • That some people like living in a hellhole doesn’t mean that the place is good. That reasoning is primitive at best.

          • Inconsistent values can never be taken seriously.If Venezuelans want to be heard and heard strongly and put forth their strongest effort, consistency will be the baseline from which to start.

    • Obviously, the Betancourt thing was a generalization. Most of them probably know who Betancourt is, but they don’t have quite the grasp on his importance as perhaps some of us older folks do.

  3. The optimist says:
    These deck chairs keep sliding
    I know, let’s rearrange them so that they stop sliding.
    There, now that’s much better!
    Wait, why are my shoes all wet?
    Con todo respeto, un pesimista es nada mas que un optimista con experiencia.

  4. I don’t think that they are ‘optimistic’, but rather that they are just clueless. I’m tired of seeing the sons of emigrants from my country abroad. The first sign of how interested they are on their parents’ country’s current situation is that they can’t speak the language quite fluently (haha)!

    This quote is very accurate:

    “Venezuela to them is like a dream.”

    Yes, and I would take their optimism on a dream with a grain of salt.

  5. First, I agree with Jeffery and Alejandro on the subject of Betancourt. He wrote a very good book “Venezuela: Oil and Politics”. While politically a bit slanted, historically it is pretty accurate and well worth the read.

    Second, I agree with Firepiggete that “harina pan is not as imprtant as the lack of justice”. I make that agreement a bit tongue in cheek, because I just finished sending my third shipment to family members last week. It’s hard to be righteous when you and your children are hungry.

    Third, I agree with Roy, that the time for the “long game” in Venezuela is way past. Much too late at this juncture to even realistically consider.

    I have lived happily in Venezuela on two occasions, both in Zuela, but my wife is from Caracas. We last went for Christmas 2013 and decided then that it would probably be our last trip. My wife made one more trip this year against my best wishes, and managed to return safely. (are there any latinas that actually listen to their husbands??) I remember many times flying into Caracas and picking up my old J40 cruiser and heading off to Altagracia Orituco without a care or worry in the world. Alas those halcyon days are long gone.

  6. “And boy, do they need our sympathy. The funk in Venezuela is hard core. The general tone is one of pessimism. Whether you live there, or speak to someone who does, the feeling of entrapment is inescapable.”

    Sure, many deserve our sympathy, empathy, solidarity, all you want.

    Many don’t, and are are getting exactly what they deserve.

    There’s an argument to be made that the Majority of Venezuelans left in Corruptzuela do not deserve anything but what they are getting, unless, of course, they are getting very rich.

    Starting with the 3 Million + on the Dictatorship’s payroll. How many of them are not crooks, enchufados, flojos, tramposos, receiving favors and doing nothing for change? 95%? All of them are certainly helping the system perpetuate itself, and sorry, if they are ignorant enough to believe in that crap, my empathy has expired. Que se la calen ahora, y que gozen su chequecito Chavista !

    That, in itself is already what, a Fifth of Corruptzuela’s adult, working population? Say half of the 30 million we have are children/studens and elderly people. Those do deserve sympathy, empathy and help, of course. Education, above all. But the rest?

    Beyond the 3 Million on the Masburrismo payroll, how many more constantly receive Freebies from the Regime, favors, gifts, tricks, Tigritos, and practice big or small illicit activities, corruption, bribes, etc? 5 more Million? Wild guess..

    So you now have at least, just to guess a number, 8 Million crooked Venezuelans, out of the imaginary 15 million “active” population.

    -Most of the honest, educated professionals left the country long ago, that’s you guys on these blogs, another 2 Million, worldwide? Gone. We don’t need much sympathy or empathy, we’re just fortunate to have been able to leave that mess, and avoid getting killed for a pair of shoes.

    So sometimes I say.. Cry me a freaking river, already.

    The fact is that most of our people sowed exactly what they are reaping. Not all, but a very large chunk of us. They continue to steal all they can, and contribute to the chaos, helping to perpetuate and solidify the Regime. And they certainly don’t fight and oppose as much as they could (I know, it’s dangerous and not easy, but still).

    So yes, let’s continue to feel sorry, sympathize, empathize and support our country, helping anyway we can for the abroad or from within (those brave Few who still live there, don’t STEAL, and oppose) .

    But when you see those long queues and news with our people standing there like sheep, even still supporting the Dictators and leeching the system, only a few resist and/or complain much less fight, what can you say?

    Sarne con gusto no pica. Se merecen esa vaina, muchos de ellos.

    “There is an overwhelming sense of grief in our country. We’ve seen what was, we’ve harbored hope for what could be, and we lost.”

    Good. Hopefully we’re learning a much needed lesson. About hard work. About the fallacies of “socialism”, and free lunch, and generalized corruption down to every obrero, campesino and ama-de-casa. Almost all.

    Now for all of those Millions of culpable thugs I just described thar are are “suffering” there, deal with it!

    Thgat big part of our population DESERVES it..

  7. Loudly wallowing in self pity while hating our selves ( or that part of ourselves we see as emblematic of our flawed national character) and taking great sattisfaction in heaping crude and creepy (albeit well deserved) insults on our tormentors has become an almost mandatory national pastime !! We do it constantly , screetchingly and with copious outpouring of bile . groaning our way through every minute of the day.

    Maybe we need a bit of that stiff upper lip, stoic steadfastness, inmovable persistence, patient belief in the value of continual undramatic effort that other people have shown in traumatic moments of their history to keep our spirits in balance. There is a long run perspective , without guaranteed results but with maybe better chances that we imagine. If we only knew how people inside the circle of power felt about how things are going , at the challenges they face , at their own hidden but ferocious divisions we migh find ourselves more hopeful.

    Its a long term struggle , you try one game plan and if it fails another and then another . YOU NEVER GIVE UP.!! It helps to work at things piece meal , break down the problems by pieces , figure on a plan to tackel each piece of the problem one at a time , dont get wed on a single strategy, try as many as circumstances allow !!

    One thing that Ive found that many of us have is a basic sense of solidarity when facing hardships , in our family and circles of acquiantances , whenever there is a shortage , something that any of us misses and cant find , there are many in the family or circle that come forth with the needed article or assistance on how to get it . Father Alejandro Morenos latest interview tells of how in the barrios where he as lived for 50 years he has found this widespread spirit of solidarity among families and neighbors and often in respect of total strangers, sure we have a generation of malandros that are worse than we have ever seen doe to the govts neglect and corruption , but that spirit of solidarity is still there , Ive seen a lot of that in the queues , mothers with toddlers are protected , every one protests if they are not given their numbers because of some mistake , also elderly people , if someone gets more than they need they share with those that have been left out .

    What I miss the most in the opposition is the work in looking at concrete practical ideas on what has to be done to tackle the problems , I dont mean magic wand type of abstract rethorical formulas , eduation , honest leaders and the like . but something more specific and pragmatic . Also more generosity and tolerance at other peoples mistakes or errors , the response is too often self righteously savage !!

    My father used to say that the only person who never makes mistakes is the person that doesnt do anything , because to act under difficult conditions always involves an element of error , so we cant act as if honest error is to be chastised with utter fury if we are to remain honest balanced men.!!

  8. “1) If you don’t know who Rómulo Betancourt was, then you are optimistically ignorant about Venezuela.”

    Well, how many people in Venezuela do know Betancourt or Uslar Pietri or any important writer from any country anyway?

    If only half of our terribly under-educated people knew that their “hero” Simon Bolivar was the biggest Burgues, Sifrino, Elite, from the richest family in Venezuela, they would not be where they are.

        • And yet NO ONE in Venezuela actually knows who was Marx.
          Because if the hate-filled stuff he said against Bolívar (regardless of what might actually been true) would have been known before chavismo arrived to power, then communism wouldn’t stand a chance to seize people’s brains here, because we all know people here is used to think with their guts…

  9. “Loudly wallowing in self pity while hating our selves ( or that part of ourselves we see as emblematic of our flawed national character) and taking great sattisfaction in heaping crude and creepy (albeit well deserved) insults on our tormentors has become an almost mandatory national pastime !! ”

    Exactly!. Typical of our “Criollo” character.

    While a good majority of the same people complaining, moaning and crying are the same ones participating in the overall corruption, leeching the system as much as they possibly can.

    • I doubt very much that the regime stalwarts are so generous in sharing the fruits of their corruption with their enemies , they are a greedy lot and good haters , hatred is their strongest emotional fuel , venality is strong but their conceited hatreds come first . In Santo Domingo on Trujillos death Balaguer cried at the funeral and gave a most moving speech on his grief at the untimely passing of his spiritual father the generalisimo , then he started plottting to take power over from the generalisimos family who were still strong and defiant , it took him a while but untimately the million dollar bribe he gave the brothers to leave the country gave him the power he wanted. Of course Balaguer was incorruptible but in politics things play a little differently than in nice morality plays.!!

  10. “What I miss the most in the opposition is the work in looking at concrete practical ideas on what has to be done to tackle the problems ”

    Which reiterates what I wrote above, I forgot to mention that part too:

    The Millions of “opposition people” either organized, belonging to AD, Copey, Causa R, or whatever crap, corrupt party, or out in the street.

    That so called “opposition” is often “Chavista Light”, as Diego Arria recently put it.

    They are not perhaps directly Enchufados to the Dictatorship’s system, but they are in many Guisos, deals and bribes, just to keep quiet, or even accepting bribes to spy on each other!

    The main reason why Corruptzuela’s horrible, pathetic “opposition” is so divided, the opposite of “Unidad”, MUD is just that River Mud, it’s because most of them are also cooking their deals left and right. Corrupt.
    They fight each other, have Zero sense of direction, except for the very few, and the ones in jail.

    Why do they fight eachother and are completely ineffective as “opposition”?

    $$$$ of course, for the most part.

    • We have to watch out because there is a team of people permanently hired by the regime to infiltrate blogs and other social media , using different assummed names , savagely purporting to be opposition but really trying to sow discontent and suspicion against whatever organization or person represents the opposition , accusing them of invented misdeeds in order to break the morale of naive opposition followers and have them abstain from voting against the Regime in the forthcoming elections . Remember one abstention is the equivalent of one vote for the Regime . This form of subreptitious sabotage is practiced by Putin and Cuba and they have manuals where they teach it as very effective form of warfare against an unwary rival.

      Lets be cautious , specially when the end result of the message is to make you give up and indignantly reject supporting the opposition candidates . That the regimes game and we should not collaborate with it . !!

      • Could be. But the fact remain that the opposition is a fragmented mess. Mainly because of you know what. Inept, low education, corrupt to a Chavista Light extent.

  11. The 2012 presidential elections depleted our optimism. The 2013 elections burned any hopes, leaving only a little tiny bit of them not turned into ashes. Let’s see what happens with what has been left of hope when they steal the parliamentary elections later this year…

    • 1. There’s no “Parliament” in Corruptzuela. It’s monday, not in a mood for jokes..

      2. The upcoming “elections” are already rigged and stolen, changing the seats around + bribes.

      3. The real Mass Fraud, of unprecedented proportions will happen in the Presidential elections. That’s when they will deploy Chavez’s Smartmatic in full force.

      Can’t wait to see the pueblo reactions to THAT.

  12. We have to toughen up our resolve and not be fair weather patriots, whatever the obstacles there is always an opportunity for destroying your enemy , what may seem as a defeat today may leave the enemy weakened so that next time arround its easier to cause it more damage and ultimately destroy it. The idea is in each bout or round not to win or lose but to inflcit the maximum damage , ultimately it adds up and allow one to reach ones goals . I have reasons to believe that inside the circle of power things arent as sweet and easy as they want to make us believe . Im quite sure they have big problems just keeping themselves in one piece .

    • I suspect the opposition has much more problems in keeping themselves in one piece.. of Mud.

      Also suspect that Diablodado is the mastermind,in jailing or expelling from Vzla. the few, real dangerous threats: Leopoldo, Ledezma, Arria, etc, etc.

      The rest of the opposition all he has done is “Divide, Bribe and Conquer”. (Cabello’s patented DBC formula).

      Not a difficult task a tall, when you consider the average moral fortitude of Corruptzuela’s Adecos, Copeyanos, etc..

  13. I suspect that the situation inside the Regime circle of power is also messed up except that they have the means of keeping it quiet , I would not give that much credence to DD proclamations of undying loyalty , he is crafty and totally unscrupulous and has his own agenda which only includes Maduro to the extent he remains useful as a figure head, a usefulness thats growing fainter by the day. I also suspect that Castro is this very moment looking at alternatives because he realizes how badly things are going . One thing the Castros are is ruthless . the sweeter the words they use to describe their support of Maduro , the more dangerous they can be . He is probably juggling with the best way of coming up with a more competent succesor. Dont know why these ideas keep cropping inside my head.

    Isnt there a rumour that they are offering the top job in Pdvsa to former minister Rodriguez Torres who recently fell in disgrace , that Del Pino has tendered his resignation , what is the relationship between DD and Rodriguez Torres . is it close ?? If the worsening crisis erupts into something uglier, could Rodriguez Torres , so genuinely military, the spit image of the strong man type not be a candidate for putting things in order .!!

    I ‘m sure the US knows everything thats happening inside the circle of power , that they have information from all over the place including people close to the events , maybe they dont share their information with eveyone in the oppo . or perhaps many in the Mud know exactly what is going on !!

    When it comes to voting in the parliamentaries I am quite sure that whoever the oppo puts as a candidate is going to count on my vote and that of most of my acquaintances , beause the alternative is so much worse !! I know that most oppos will think the same way.!.

  14. Even the guy they presented as grey eminence behind Evo Morales got tired of these people:
    (http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2015/04/18/actualidad/1429309889_052576.html)

    P. El modelo económico boliviano ha funcionado, pero el de algunos de sus socios como Brasil, Argentina y, sobre todo, Venezuela, no. ¿Qué han hecho mal?

    R. No me atrevería a juzgar lo que sucede en algún país. Respondo en términos generales. Cuando uno es opositor, lo fundamental de su estrategia tiene que orientarse a la articulación social; al ámbito discursivo, de construcción de ideas-fuerza y al ámbito de organización. Cuando uno gobierna, a esos tres componentes imprescindibles, tiene que sumar un cuarto que se vuelve decisivo: gestión económica. Ahí se decide el destino de los otros tres componentes y del propio proyecto de gobierno. Nosotros lo aprendimos del fracaso de la izquierda en Bolivia en los años ochenta.

    P. ¿Qué futuro le espera a la izquierda en América Latina?

    R. El riesgo de una inflexión, leve o crucial. Los países hermanos con problemas están a tiempo de hacer un giro de timón que permita reencauzar una buena gestión económica. Lo importante es tener la voluntad política para tomar decisiones, para volver sostenible su economía y la distribución de la riqueza que emprendieron tiempo atrás. Una distribución de la riqueza que no es sostenible puede generar frustraciones terribles de las que uno no se recupera en 20 o 30 años. Estamos a tiempo, sin poner nombre a los países, para dar estos giros.

    • In other words , the bolivian regime clearly recognizes that Chavez and Maduros handling of the economy has been a disaster and that (being in deep sh..t) it needs radical correction ..or else. Correa said as much a few months ago . Ive always wondered what would be the situation if Chavez had lef the handling of the economy to real professionals inside his own camp ?? . Despite the ideological similarities each ALBA regime went for very different economic policies , I guess we owe the difference in part to Chavez megalomaniacal hubris , his delusion that he was a kind of God who could tranform the laws of economics to suit his utopian dreams.

      • So Bolivia has a somewhat educated crook behind Cacique Morales , who can actually speak Spanish? Good for them. They’re lucky to have Natural Gas minerals, and are obviously less greedy as thieves than we are.

        Oh, and there’s no “handling of the economy” in Corruptzuela.. Here is the advanced Macro-economic principle behind it: Steal every penny, then ask then sell whatever’s left of the country to the Chinese, and steal that too.

          • Really? A lousy 5% difference in laughable “literacy”:

            “Adult literacy rate is the percentage of people ages 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life.”

            Both countries are obviously, painfully under-educated. Extremely well represented by their presidents, a bus driver and a coca-chewing Inca. Actually, Bolivia invests more in College Education and goes farther in Secondary school education, which are what matters.

            Plus they obviously steal less than we do. Much, much less. And they have Álvaro García Linera, matematico guerillero,, yet an educated Vicepresident, not a street thug named Diosdado.

            One could easily argue that Bolivia is doing much better than Corruptzuela mainly because they don’t have to Bribe as many people as we do. But that’s a long story.

          • Not only is there not that big a difference in educational levels between the two countries, Bolivia has greatly reduced the gap in the last 30 years.

          • Thats why ideological tags are so misleading , the guys who really count are not the clowns up front , they get all the attention and adoration, with their gestures and posturings , they are all centred on the politics which feeds their narcicism , instead what really counts for a country are those nerdy guys who behind doors handle the economy even with a modicum of expertise . If Evo had a Bolivian Giordani , same as us , they would be falling on an abyss.!!

            We all think that we want only one thing from our rulers that they be great inspiring leaders concerned about peoples freedom and social justice and what we forget is how important it is that they have the capacity and expertise to handle the countrys resources and economy with some balance and proessionalism.

            Corruption is unfortunate but Taiwan and South Korea and even MPJ’s Venezuela knew corruption and yet they were competent at running the countrys economy with some measure of success.

          • Interesting detail , Bolivia has the highest birth rate in S America followed by Ecuador and Venezuela (all ALBA countries) , the rest of the continent lags behind , 23% of Venezuelans are born to mothers less of 19 years of age , 20% to fathers who dont recognize their paternity , only some 16% to wedded mothers. some 25% to illiterate parents. There is even a percentage where not even the mother gives her name to the birth registry. (specially in eastern Venezuela) .

            Venezuelas birth rate from 1960 to 1987 was phenomenal , then it remained very high , and has now descended to half of what it was in 1960 still one of the highest in South America . during that time the rural masses went to the cities to live in shanty towns where old family ties were broken and lost to a new much more asocial milieu.

            I think the society born of those conditions explain how people like Evo , and Correa and Chavez got to be so poiltically popular . !!

      • “ve always wondered what would be the situation if Chavez had lef the handling of the economy to real professionals inside his own camp ??”

        Nothing, because his goal was NEVER the benefit of Venezuela, his goal was always to destroy Venezuela to feast in the carcass along castro.

    • Lorenzo,
      I have written stuff like this:
      http://venezuela-europa.blogspot.de/2012/04/we-dont-have-devices-for-treating.html

      Until 2013 Venezuela was spending more on the import of weapons than Brazil, a country with 6.8 times Venezuela’s population and higher GDP per capita. No other country in Latin America wasted so much money in weapons import. With stats like this, it is easy to “reduce” military spending, particularly if the economy is collapsing.

    • Arms purchases by Chavismo have been very attractive only because of the Galactic Bolivarian Kickbacks involved with the Russians or Chinese. Then the equipment is literally left to rot on some Barlovento yard.

      By now they must be all billionaires and/or don’t have credit anymore for those juicy purchases.

  15. How is this for an optimistic scenario:

    Exxon-Mobile hits it big-time off the Guyanese coast. Maduro and his generals, feeling frisky with their new Russian armament, cannot, “stand by and let the imperio and Guyana steal the resources that rightfully belong to the Venezuelan people.” They invade and occupy the Esequibo. Sort of like Iraq invaded Kuwait…… See where this is going?

    • So, you are suggesting that the regime would attack Guyana, triggering the defense treaty with Britain, and U.S. civilians and business interests at the same time, thus simultaneously bringing the United States and Great Britain into open warfare with Venezuela… Seriously?

      • Roy,
        Sorry for the nebulus answer above, I was still working on my morning coffee. But yes, your extrapolation or something similar seems to me to seriously be within the realm of possibilities. Think Falklands, Granada, Panama.

    • My guess over the reason why Maduro is standing quiet while Guiana licenses Exxon and other to explore for subsea oil in maritime territory Venezuela claims to own is because Guiana is part of Caricom and Caricom has quite a few votes in the OAS which Maduro can afford to lose in case it faces a fight with the US in that organization. Also its facing a huge social economic and political crisis from the debacle in the economy and the increasingly hostile international environment . In any event the purchased russian equipment consists mostly of obsolete junk which the Venezuelan army (whats left of it ) doenst know to operate . (Chinese equipment is much better ) .!!

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