A Report on the Affairs of the Empire to our Eternal Emperor Hugo

In, MMXI, the XIIth year of the V Republic and the VIIIth year since the founding of our glorious Bolivarian empire, affairs seem to be going well, for the most part.

The rise in oil prices that began in late MMIII allowed us to establish an empire like no other Venezuelan ruler ever achieved. Today we are happy to report that we have satellite protectorates in Ecuadoria, Bolivania, Paragus, Nicalandia, Salvatore, and many Caribbean islands. Our administrators there are proving to be unfailing loyalists.

Ecuadoria and Bolivania deserve special recognition. They each have essentially adopted the Empire’s idea of a constituent assembly to destroy the separation of powers. They have also implemented many of the Empire’s laws and ways of governing. Ecuadoria and Bolivania in particular are each enjoying a booming trade, minimizing the need for our Treasury to subsidize them as much as in the beginning.

We have created a coalition of ideological allies and economic opportunists abroad. They provide diplomatic cover for all we need.

Nicalandia remains poor and dependent, always in need of plenty of subsidies —$1.6 billion since MMVII, close to 8 percent of the country’s GDP—but nothing the Empire cannot afford. Our regent Danilo has been able to use our subsidies well—coopting all merchant barons and church officials—thus ensuring peace rather than confrontation, as was the case when he ruled in the 1980s. Our Emperor should be congratulated for turning governor Danilo into a transformed man and for giving him so much advice on how to organize self-serving elections.

We lost our protectorate of Hondurasia, after Zelaia was unseated in MMIX, but something positive did come out of that loss. We were able to change public opinion on a train wreck. Before Zelaia’s removal, world discourse focused on our spies’ undue influence over the affairs of Hondurasia and his re-election drive, a policy we advised him to pursue. After Zelaia’s removal, we managed to focus the narrative on the undue influence of our enemies—coup-seeking judges, politicians, and capitalists. We should acknowledge the role of your foreign minister, Brutus Madurus, in turning this crisis into a semi-win for the Empire. You should continue to deposit all your trust in him. Yes, brighter men surround you, but none as insistent and loyal as Brutus Madurus.  

Another side benefit of the Hondurasia imbroglio is that it allowed us to learn to cooperate with our most important neighbor, Brazilicum. Relations with Brazilicum are always difficult. We have never been able to conquer that giant. It is clear at this point that our Empire cannot compete with Brazilicum’s global reach and prestige. Brazilicum, first under Lulia and starting this year under Dilmana, has acquired a level of soft power that we can only envy. Brazilicum is respected by both the left and sectors of the right, whereas our Emperor is admired only by the radical left. Brazilicum has succeeded in being treated as a second-tier empire by the Orientals, which of course fills us with jealousy.

Yes, brighter men surround you, but none as insistent as Brutus Madurus.

So it was a smart decision on the part of the Emperor to abandon the idea of preventing Brazilicum from trying to become the leader of the Americas. It was a smart decision also to allow business tycoons from Brazilicum to win major contracts at home. Thanks to our overpayments, imports from Brazilicum expanded by more than 500 percent this past decade to $5 billion. Direct investments from Brazilicum amount to almost $20 billion. Thanks to these numbers, rather than turning against us as competitors at the world stage, Brazilicum has become our strongest defender in world affairs, and will soon welcome us into Mercosur, which is not a trivial victory for the consolidation of Pax Bolivariana south of the Equator.

Regarding the South, the Vichy kingdom in Argentia, led by Queen Cristiana, has been a godsend.  More so than her deceased husband Lord Néstor, Queen Cristiana has been truly accommodating of our wishes. She has started implementing some of our favorite policies—massive nationalizations, aggressive rhetoric toward the opposition and media, increased polarization—and this has consolidated her base. Like Brazilicum, Argentia has become one of our biggest champions in the world, in part because they, too, send us lots of bills for their exports. It almost seems that, now that she is a widow, the Queen has united our two lands by virtual marriage. Furthermore, she creates problems for the renegade lands of Chilia, which helps our interest. The Emperor should be congratulated for having sent all those funds to secure the Queen’s permanence at the throne.

Brazilicum has become our strongest defender in world affairs, and will soon welcome us into Mercosur, which is not a trivial victory for the consolidation of Pax Bolivariana south of the Equator.

Relations with our most important partner, Cubanacán, also look good, despite the semi-retirement of our most formidable ally ever, Fidelius, now Commander Emeritus of the Empire. Relations with his brother and successor Raulius were rocky at first, but have improved considerably. The Emperor is paying a significant price to keep this alliance afloat — major oil subsidies and above-market payment for Cubanacán slaves —costing us close to $18 billion since 2008. But this is money well spent. The empire needs all the help we can get from this gerontocracy.  It is essential for domestic order.

Our war in our neighboring kingdom of Columbia did not go that well, as the Emperor knows. Our forces there, the FARC, experienced severe losses over the years—from possibly 18K troops in the late 1990s to about 8K last year—all under the steadfast heavy hand of King Uribium, who fortunately was de-throned last year. In recognition of those losses, the Bolivarian empire changed its foreign policy last year, away from promoting war to promoting a long and protracted peace negotiation in Columbia, now under the weaker and more pliable Sanctum. If you can’t defeat them, make peace with them, under your terms.  We thank the Emperor for such an insight. Incidentally, one added bonus from our new policy toward Bogotae is that we can now import electricity from Columbia, which we urgently need and which nobody needs to know about.

Overall, Pax Bolivariana is secured. Our sphere of influence today extends beyond the borders of our protectorates and allies. Thanks to our unprecedented open-import policy and huge construction contracts, we have created a coalition of ideological allies and economic opportunists abroad. They provide diplomatic cover for all we need. Analysts are wrong in assuming that our greatest economic foreign policy tool is our oil subsidies. It is instead our import policy and our non-transparent contracts with foreign actors at visiting Domus Miraflores. We are redefining what it means to be nationalists.

It almost seems that, now that she is a widow, the Queen of Argentia has united our two lands by virtual marriage.

Things are not going that badly either with our biggest adversary, the United Forces of the North. The good news is that we succeeded in forcing Washington to cease engaging in efforts to recruit mercenaries to destabilize our lands. The current administration in Washington does not seem too worried about our relations with Persia, The Orient, or Cubanacán, and this has compelled them to lower their guard.

However, not all is well with the United Forces. Our oil sales to the United Forces, when Devil Ambush was ruling, provided an added benefit that we no longer get. Under Devil Ambush, our oil sales helped fund the United Forces’ militarism in the Middle East and South Asia, which was a hidden blessing for the Empire’s affairs, because it gained us adoring fans. Remember Fidelius’s great teaching: the more people hate the United Forces, the more they will forgive our trespasses.

Things are a bit more complicated under Obamaman. Militarism has declined, and the president is enormously popular, all of which reduces our pool of apologists abroad. Funding Obamaman makes less sense.

The Emperor is paying a significant price to keep our alliance with Raulius afloat—major oil subsidies and above-market payment for Cubanacán slaves.

We have reviewed your suggestion to interrupt oil sales to the United Provinces of the North, but we have concluded that we cannot afford this move. Oil exports to the United Provinces, though declining, still represent our only source of unrestricted funding. All in all, our enemy offers us a better deal than we get from our strategic partner, China of the Orient, whose leaders have nothing positive to say about our placid tropical culture in which failing to meet deadlines stresses no-one. The Bolivarian Empire thus has no choice but to continue to fund the unfortunate Obamaman administration and hope for its replacement with another Ambush-like president. It will come.

Our foreign policy has been the subject of three main criticisms.

The first is that our conquered lands are worthless. Our inability to secure control of the rich kingdoms of Chilia, Columbia, Peruvium, and Mexicum means that we only have control of the poorest, less consequential territories of the Americas. We don’t respect this criticism. Our protectorates provide plenty of diplomatic shield—we even control the OAS— and in today’s world, cover is more fundamental than taxing our subjects.   

A second criticism has to do with rising piracy. Ever since the Empire made the landmark decision in 2005 to expel spies from the United Forces, operating under the guise of fighting narcoterrorism, our land has become the favorite passageway for drugs from the Andes into the world. There is no question that this contraband is huge and growing, and pirates are always potential troublemakers. But we applaud the Emperor’s smart policy toward piracy, really unique in the region: if we cannot defeat them, let’s figure out some modus vivendi.

Allowing narcotraffickers to do their work unimpeded, as the Emperor wishes, has delivered a magnificent payoff. Pirates are choosing not to direct their fire against the State. The war on drugs is one war that we don’t need—fighting the resistance at home is hard enough, and at least, the resistance does not have weapons. Corruption and illicit business are increasing, that is true. But this is not unfortunate, since it does not pose a security threat, and in fact may be helping our Pax Bolivariana by lowering the number of battlefronts to monitor.  

The current administration in Washington does not seem too worried about our relations with Persia, The Orient, or Cubanacán, and this has compelled them to lower their guard.

The third criticism is more serious. It is the idea that we may be engaging in imperial overstretch. Imperial overstretch is a term attributed to Magister Paul Kennedy, a historian at Universitatis Yalensis. In his treatsie The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, Magister Kennedy argued that empires have a tendency to extend beyond what they can realistically afford militarily and economically. Eventually, the cost of overextension becomes unaffordable and the path to ruin.

These critics have a point. We are the only oil-dependent empire, at peace, whose deficit is out of control and whose production is declining. We strongly recommend holding key meetings with our economic and oil experts, if there are any left, to address imperial overstretch. While Pax Bolivariana is currently secured, it is costing a lot.  

Perhaps it is time for one more Hu-Evo summit. Our governor Evolio in Bolivania has figured out a way to keep finances under control and still deepen our common extractivist economic model. Meeting with him again, strictly to discuss finances this time and not just mysticism, could give you some ideas on how to mend the Empire’s strained macroeconomy. Bring along Oil Minister Raphael; he could learn a thing or two about how not to run an extractivist energy company to the ground.     

Allowing narcotraffickers to do their work unimpeded, as the Emperor wishes, has delivered a magnificent payoff.

We cannot emphasize enough the problem with our deficit, and more seriously, declining oil output.This is an urgent matter: with declining production, the Empire has fewer dollars. With fewer dollars, we have fewer imports. And with fewer imports, we stand no chance of offering bread and circus at home.  

We wish the Emperor a prompt recovery from all your surgeries this year. We were delighted to learn, directly from you that Cubanacán doctors in June successfully removed your tumor from your abdomen and that you are now “cancer-free.”  Praise be to the Gods. And praise be to Cubanacán medicine. It can always be relied upon to assure that the Emperor, and by extension, our Pax Bolivariana, have a long life ahead.

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Javier Corrales is the Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science at Amherst College, Massachusetts. His parents were victims of the Cuban Revolution, hence his sympathy toward Venezuela. He loves aviation, hates traffic jams, and is trying to become a better biker.


  1. While joking in tone, I think that there is an important element in this farcical recount of true events that is missing – but maybe by design.

    The fact that most of those “provinces” and “governors” were in it just for fleecing the “Emperor”. Sure, they have provided some help (to Chavistas, not to the country) but any pretension of any actual ascendance over them is just that, pretension. Sure, they like the money, sure, they like the “frisson” of true-left contact (sells well with the local bunch of idiots), and sure, some of them want to have a lot of what Chávez and the gang got in terms of political power. But they are in it for themselves, first, so all the friendship is going to be up to the point it is a net benefit to them.

    Like the new rich that wastes money on gifts to friends and think they “owe” him and are “his”. While his entourage is just in it as long as the gifts keep coming.


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