Monday, December 31, 2007
I remember the Ano Viejo (I need to figure out accents and the ~ of the n). I remember people stringing up rope across the street and pulling it up in front of cars to get moey from people to 'contribute' to their Viejo for fireworks. And of course, at midnight the town went off in a bang as everyone lit off their Viejo.
There was the one time that the fireworks store above Rubio in the state of Tachira went up in smoke. It looked like a bomb went off.
I used to have to sit in watchnight services and listen the hermanas and hermanos in their multiple posesias and skits. I just wanted to be out with my friends lighting fireworks!!!! The service would start at about 7pm and go to 12am. I thought it would never end.
I do remember one time when I was around to light off fireworks and Joey Pinch had a boat load of bottle rockets. He got something to shoot them off in, and lit the first one. Shoom... off it went. The shoom... shoom shoom shoom.... Off went the other ones he had. The sparks from the first one lit all the rest that he had. I didn't know what was funnier, all the bottle rockets going off at once or watching him dance to miss them all!!!!!!
We had such GREAT fireworks in Venezuela: morteros, trikitrackis, whistlers, and of course tumba ranchos. Morteros were basically Roman candles but without the sparkles on the end. You had to have a tube to shoot them from with a solid bsse. There was an initial explosion to shoot the next stage in the air, and then a big boom in the sky. Rubio would be full of those on New Years.
So now I eat black eyed peas and hope for a great 2008. Not quite the same tradtion, but you do what can where you are at. Maybe next year we'll build a Viejo and show the neighborhood how to celebrate.
So to all my hermanos and hermanas in the opposition in Venezuela, Feliz Ano, and may 2008 be better than 2007. May that include the downfall of El Burro.
The plot thickens....
The four Venezuelan Jets just departed from Villavicencio to Venezuela
carrying the international observers with them. Colombian president Uribe just
reported that the FARC do not have the kid, as he has apparently been in a
government sponsored shelter for abandoned kids for the last 2 years.
Chavez is on short circuit, as his show is falling apart.
Here is an article from VOA. It doesn't specifically relate the details mentioned above, but gives some indication that this 'rescue' mission is falling apart.
Here is a better article by the AP. It notes what Uribe said regarding the FARC not having the boy.
In the article, note the finger wagging done by Oliver Stone, and of course the excuses by Chavez. It's big of him to admit that it would be very shameful for the FARC to lie about the boy hostage. Maybe this isn't playing like Chavez anticipated, and with all the eyes of the world on him his commrades didn't come through making him look rather ridiculous.
Maybe President Uribe is getting the last laugh now.
I know this for sure, Chavez wants to put 2007 behind him and have another go in 2008. By now, he thought he'd have been crowned 'president for life' in Venezuela by winning the Constitutional referendum, and of course he thought he'd look like the hero negotiating the release of some FARC hostages.
Ay... pobrecito Chavez. Que vaz hacer?
Note that at the time that the land was forceably taken from Mr. Jorajuria, he was producing crops on it.
And then note this at the bottom of the article:
Under a presidential decree, peasants groups have been allowed to create cooperatives to gain access to huge amounts of land, with financial and technical support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Land.
But the policy has produced a side effect, opponents say: It has reduced the production of sugar cane, corn, cereal and milk, contributing to food shortages that have hit Venezuelan consumers.
"Chavez's land reform has diminished sugar production," said Pedro Pablo Alcantara, director of the opposition party Un Nuevo Tiempo and a former representative of the National Assembly that presided over the parliamentary commission on agriculture and land.
So, here is even more direct evidence that Chavez' own policies on land reform are causing shortages in the grocery stores. But of course, Chavez will point fingers at everyone but his own government.
What's that childhood saying? "One finger pointing at me, but 3 fingers pointing back at you?"
By lopping off 3 zeros from the currency, now the official exchange rate between the 'bolivar fuerte' and the dollar will be 2.15:1 instead of 2,150:1. Also now bills bigger than Bs. 100 will be printed. And I've also heard that the locha (12.5 centavos) is making a come back? I wonder if the puya is coming back too....
This harkens back to yesteryear when I was a little kid in Venezuela, and the exchange rate was Bs. 4.28 to $1. Of course, that was back during the Jimmy Carter administration and oil prices were high, and Venezuela wasn't fighting inflation like it is now. (Funny, oil prices are high again, but Venezuela is fighting inflation this time around. Wonder who screwed up that economic model. Could it be the economic genious of El Burro?)
I can remember buying Matchbox cars on my allowance for about Bs. 4 or maybe a little less. Ice cream was like a real y medio (75 centavos). I don't remember usng the locha very much, but I did use medios (25 centavos), reales (50 centavos), as well as Bs. 1, Bs. 2, and Bs. 5 coins. And of course, to see a Bs. 10 or 20 bill wasn't as big of thing as seeing a Bs. 100 bill. When I was a kid, that was a big deal.
In high school, the Bolivar went on a floating exchange rate. I remember the exchange rate popped up to 7 bolivares to a dollar and fluctuated there for a bit. I think it hit roughly 12:1 by the time I left Venezuela. By then, I was carrying around Bs. 100 bills, as prices went up for things I wanted to buy at the Japonesa.
Maybe Chavez wants to bring back the old days, so he figured he'd simply change the currency back to when he was a kid. He wants to yell "Heladero!" for the ice cream man and not have to pull out a wad of bills to buy a Tio Rico cone. He wants to be able to buy Chicle for a real, or a cafe con leche for a couple bolivares.
And he may be able to do that with the 'bolivar fuerte'. But the 'strong bolivar' is strong in name only as the article points out.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Here is an article from Bloomberg, and one from Reuters.
I love the quote in the Bloomberg article from the former US Ambassador to Colombia:
"I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't show up for several days, or if in the end, they didn't show up at all,'' said Myles Frechette, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia from 1994 to 1997. "The FARC will say army patrols were intensified all over the place and `We didn't want to get the prisoners killed.'"And of course you have the standard excuse from Chavez in the Reuters report: blame it on the US.
Chavez blamed poor weather and difficult terrain for the rebels' delay but the outspoken critic of the United States said he does not rule out U.S. interference.
"There could be acts of harassment, let's hope not, to try and make things difficult, to lengthen the waiting time," he said on Saturday.
Yes, the US seeded the clouds to rain just at the right time, and place the rugged terrain just in the right place so the FARC wouldn't be able to get to the release point. Ay carramba.....
It could be though that Chavez is somewhat correct in his assessment that the weather and difficult terrain are playing a part in the delay, because it's a long way from the FARC's fincas in Venezuela to Villavicencio.
Interesting that Chavez, Stone, and company are bivouacked in Villavicencio. 14 years ago, 2 New Tribes missionaries were kidnapped by the FARC near Villavicencio. Both were found dead June 21, 1995. Wonder why Oliver Stone didn't do a documentary on their slaying at the hands of the FARC.
(Side note: New Tribes used to have a missionary kids school in Villavicencio where my niece and nephew went to school. New Tribes pulled out of Colombia after the kidnapping of their two missionaries. For a time, my brother was the New Tribes liaison with the Colombian government in the attempt to secure the release of these men.)
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Apparently, Chavez needs to garner more headlines so he pulls out the tried and true 'Bush wants to kill me' line.
Meanwhile he looks the other way as 33 people per day are murdered in Venezuela. (Article from El Universal here.)
Read the article: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=186506
Looks like the military will be busy milking cows and picking crops. Reminds me of the new recruits I would see on the plane coming in from the 'llanos' with their baggy uniforms. At least they will now be in familiar territory tending to the fields and livestock.
The Foreign Exchange Administration Board (Cadivi) announced it decided to cutIn reading another blog, I found out that there exists a black market in buying and selling of these internet quotas.
from USD 3,000 to USD 400 the yearly quota for Venezuelans to make purchases
over the Internet, according to the Official Gazette published on December 27,
And as stated by a dear close friend of mine:
This was yesterday at our local airport, cheap show indeed, as [Tachira] has the priviledge of having the highest number of people being held hostage by kidnap. Go figure.
The video was shot in the state of Tachira, a border state with Colombia. I used to go to school in Rubio in Tachira, where it is reported now murders are a common occurence almost on a daily basis. It used to be a peaceful town in the foothills of the Andes.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I'll bet you dollars to donuts that he set up this whole 'rescue' mission to recover the 3 FARC hostages to make himself look like a hero.
If you were able to read the article from El Pais (article in Spanish) that I posted, you will know that there is strong suspicion that these hostages may have been sequestered in Venezuela. So it would be somewhat obvious that if Chavez wanted to act before this time, he could have very well done so under his own authority, and on his own soil.
Chavez is upstaging Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and thumbing his nose at him. Uribe, you will remember, cut off Chavez from negotiating with the FARC because Chavez attempted to circument Uribe and deal with Uribe's military. Chavez is basically saying to Uribe, "you need me to negotiate with the FARC, you can't do it without me."
Here's a post from the San Diego Union Tribune talking about an ad for Citgo. As I've stated before, American's aren't the brightest bulbs in the bunch. Only we would buy gas at gas station owned by government that claims to be our enemy. We might as well just go ahead and shoot ourselves in the foot. (Of course, this isn't isolated to just Venezuela, we also buy large amounts of oil from the middle east, and they've hated us longer than the Venezuelan government has.)
Maybe it's time to invest in a cheap diesel car, retrofit for biodiesel, and go down to McDonalds and fill 'er up with french fry oil!!!
I wonder if the delay in releasing of the hostages by FARC was so that they could be transported back to Colombia from Venezuela, and so that Oliver Stone could come down and make a documentary out of it and make Chavez look like a hero.
These guys (Stone, Penn, etc.) want to make me puke!! These guys sit in their ivory towers in Hollywood where they have nothing to want, and glorify people like Fidel and Hugo who build their own fortunes on the backs of their countries. These Hollywood types are sheer hypocrits.
Hey Oliver..... why not make a documentary about the crime in Venezuela? Why not be like your BBC brethren and expose Chavez for the fraud that he is? Go live in the barrios of Caracas and watch and listen what these people deal with day in and day out. Take some shots of the empty shelves in the grocery stores, where Chavez' economic policies have derailed the supply of food.
Of course, you would probably sit there and nod your head that all of Venezuela's misfortunes are at the and of the Yankee imperialist. Hey Ollie, did you know that prior to your buddy taking office, Venezuela had the most stable economy in all of Latin America? Even with the oil companies run by foreign investors? Have you asked yourself how it is that they Venezuelan economy has gotten WORSE since the increase in the cost of a barrel of oil? It's because of mismanagement of Venezuela's coffers by Chavez and his cronies.
In the words of El Burro himself, "Mr. Danger, you are a donkey!!!"
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Watch this clip.
Note that one man interviewed stated that land was redistributed that was thought NOT to be cultivated, but actually WAS, causing scarcity in some items. Venezuela is having to import products now to help meet the basic needs of the citizenry.
Of course, land redistribution isn't the only cause, but it is an interesting side effect of the policy. Of course, no blame is put on the government. As with anything Chavez, the problem lies elsewhere: the distributors, the manufacturers, etc. Everyone is conspiring against Chavez and the chavistas, at least that what El Burro wants you to think.
Give it a watch.
- He'd give up power after 5 years.
- Would not nationalize another communications channel
- Would not nationalize the oil industry in Venezuela, and in fact invites international development.
- And the last bit he says he can't sit in Caracas and condemn the other governments of the world.
And she doesn't have 3 Master degrees like Milka does.... Hmmmm..... I wonder which lady is more wise.
Unfortunately, she is rather naive about her president and what he is doing to her country. Or maybe because he makes possible her racing a car, she doesn't dare speak ill of him.
I found this video clip on Univision when I was searching for another clip.
Give it a watch.
If only more Venezuelans can see what she sees about Chavez: they were fooled into electing him president.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Where do your hard earned money go when you fill up at the pump? Other than into the pockets of the big oil companies, some of it is going to finance projects in Cuba. Venezuela sells oil to the US. You put the gas in your car from that oil, and El Burro gives some of your hard earned money to Castro to finance projects.
It just another way that El Burro is sticking it to the 'imperialists'.
I say "Let's Go Green!!!!!" Don't get me wrong. I'm not an Al Gore "the sky is falling from global warming" (wonder if the folks in the midwest think the globe is warming right now) freak. I'm a "let's stop funding terrorism and despots like Hugo Chavez" proponent. But no, American's are too worried about the spotted owel in Alaska or a weird endangered fish of the coast of California so we can't drill for oil in those places.
The oil companies have no incentive to find alternative sources of energy because they are seeing record profits from oil. Only the car companies appear to be somewhat heading in the right direction with more hybrids coming out, simply because consumer demand is rising in those areas.
American's are too stupid to understand the global economy and how their spending habits actually hurt this great country. No wonder we are slowly losing grip on our 'Super Power' status. We will soon become an irrelevant player as our once vibrant economy tanks due to the great credit crunch. Banks will soon be selling out to foreign investors, and we will become a 3rd world country. All because we are too short sited.
Wow.... didn't mean to go off on that tangent.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
After 'successfully' getting an interview with El Burro De Barinas (Hugo Chavez), Naomi Campbell is now determined to get an interview with Castro.
I wonder if she'll ask the hard hitting questions that a real journalist should ask. Chances are it will be a fluff piece on how glorious Cuba is.
I'm tired of seeing celebrities going to visit these dictatorships (Venezuela included), being treated like kings and queens, and spreading their propaganda here in the US. I've always maintained that if these are such great countries, why don't these celebrities emigrate? Doesn't Sean Penn or Kevin Spacey know that Chavez wants to end their luxurious life styles? No, they don't know why those people in the barrios in Venezuela are armed to the tooth, and the amount of disinformation that is spread by the Venezuelan government regarding the US desire to overtake the country. (Of course, this is utter bunk, but this has been a perceived notion for many years in Venezuela, and Chavez knows how to play on the fears of the people like most dictators do.)
If you hate America that much (one that has given you the means by which you can jet around the world and spout your vitriol), THEN LEAVE!!!! I'm sure Cuba or Venezuela or North Korea or China would love to have you. People like Roman Polanski have left and lived lovely lives in other countries.
Well, here's proof of how connected Chavez is to the FARC:
The thing is, Chavez is rather smart. He knows that he has the FARC over a barrel. He knows he has the President of Colombia over a barrel, because he can influenc the FARC and make the Colombian President look powerless.
Chavez will milk this for all it's worth, and unfortunately, he'll come out smelling like a rose (at least to the media that doesn't bother to dig too deep into his nepharious dealings).
Friday, December 21, 2007
Unfortunately, the article is in Spanish.
According to this report, some 30% of drugs bound for Europe and the US go through Venezuela. How is this possible?
- 'Ideological' similarities between the FARC and Chavez' government: anti-imperialism, and the so-called Bolivarian revolution.
- Quid pro quo: FARC has safe haven in Venezuela, and they teach Chavez' militia in terrorist tactics.
- Wide spread corruption in Venezuela, something that Chavez said he would eliminate when he came to power back in '98. If you need any further evidence that Chavez is a hypocrit, just look at the wide spread corruption and nepotism in Venezuela that he swore to stamp out so long ago.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
While Chavez hasn't lost many elections since coming to power, the defeat of his Constitutional referendum is very telling. The 'No' vote won: 51% to 49%. Many speculate that Chavez lost because a large bloc of his supporters abstained from voting. This article gives the reasons why.
As the article points out, Chavez is already figuring a way around the referendum defeat. Time will tell the effect on Venezuela if he is able to get his proposals through via a different avenue.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Will comment later.
The title was chosen as a play on a statement made by Mr. Chavez about U.S. President George W. Bush when Chavez called Bush a donkey (in broken English). In retrospect, I should have could have called the blog "callate burrito" in reference to the aforementioned statement, and the incident when the King of Spain told Mr. Chavez to shut up. Oh well.....
I am not a politico or even a great writer, and don't expect many people to actually read my ramblings. I'm just someone who spent 14 years of my life in Venezuela and is greatly disturbed by what has happened to such a beautiful country under the rule of Mr. Chavez.
Feel free to comment on my posts, and let me know what you think.