Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chavez the financial expert

On Friday, Financial Expert Chavez (representing the financial powerhouse 'Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe') declared that the US would not be able to fix the financial crisis it is currently mired in.

Furthermore, he declared that the US was attempting to buy the world with it's worthless money:

"The Americans harass us and attack us... (they) want to buy the world with paper that does not have any value."
Meanwhile, PDVSA continues to cash those checks that are sent to it by the US petroleum companies for the oil that is imported into the US. And that money continues to flow to Latin American nations in forms of subsidies, 'aid', and down right bribes. Who is trying to buy the world Mr. Chavez?

Why a reporter didn't ask Mr. Chavez about the ever increasingly bad situation in his own country of Venezuela, including rising inflation, crime, etc. I have no idea. Maybe it's because France is a great socialist country that dare not challenge one of their own? Or maybe it's because France wants to fill the void left by the expulsion of American oil and defense contracts, and soon to be automakers? (GM is reportedly looking to get out of Venezuela.)

Mr. Chavez is right in one regard when he said that the crisis won't be fixed "by running the money printer...." Nope, it won't. Yet at the same time, something needs to happen, or Mr. Chavez will start feeling the pinch at home. If the US recession continues to strengthen, the economy will shrink, and there will be less demand for his oil in the short term, meaning less capital in his pocket.

A large US recession will damage the global economy, further depressing the oil market, causing oil producing nations to pump more oil, causing more supply with less demand, thus dropping the price of oil further.

So like it or not Mr. Chavez, this US financial crisis affects you too....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Socialism will save the world.

At least according to El Burro Chavez.

Notice in the article that Chavez sings "you are so like me" in reference President Bush. I'm not sure, but I think someone has the hots for POTUS!!! And it's not Laura Bush!!!

I love the way he states he's been pointing out flaws in the US economic system for years. Sure, he's criticized US for it's 'imperialist' ways, but was he a prophet of the housing bubble burst? I don't think so.

Socialism, communism, or even capitalism are all great theories in a vacuum. Add the element of man into the equation, and any one of them is likely to be twisted into a pretzel to squeeze every ounce of economic advantage to those that are in power or have money. Communism in Russia produced a ruling elite, where long lines for bread were found constantly. Socialism in Venezuela just means that the money has changed hands from the private sector to the Chavez government lackeys. And with capitalism, you have the crisis we face today in the US. No one system is perfect.

Mr. Chavez, socialism isn't going to save the world. No governmental or economic system is going to save the world, because there will always be the haves and the have-nots. It's how the haves treat the have-nots that predicts whether this world will be saved.

And before you, Mr. Chavez, say your model in Venezuela for treating the have-nots is any better than anyone elses, please take a look at the key stats of human conditions in Venezuela. Crime is up (especially homicides and kidnappings), unemployment up, and your infrastructure is crumbling around you as you seek to nationalize key industries. The poor in Venezuela aren't much better off than they were when you took power 10 years ago.

If anything, socialism in Venezuela has helped to concentrate more money in the hands of government officials and those that do it's bidding, and less to the people. Corruption has risen in Venezuela, even though you Mr. Chavez promised to wipe it out. As a popular blogger on Venezuelan issues calls it, you have instituted a 'robolution', not a 'revolution'.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Venezuela among most corrupt nations in the world.

Okay, so the BREAKING NEWS part was a bit of overstatement. Venezuela has always been corrupt in one way or another, but paradoxically it has become more corrupt under Chavez.

Transparency International has released their latest rankings in their Corruption Perception Index Report. Venezuela is ranked 158, compared to the US at 18.

Let's look at the rankings:

1995 - 38/41 (2.66 score)
1996 - 48/54 (2.50 score)
1997 - 44/52 (2.77 score)
1998 - 77/85 (2.3 score)
1999 - 75/99 (2.6 score)
2000 - 71/90 (2.7 score)
2001 - 69/91 (2.8 score)
2002 - 81/102 (2.5 score)
2003 - 100/133 (2.4 score)
2004 - 114/145 (2.3 score)
2005 - 130/158 (2.3 score)
2006 - 138/163 (2.3 score)
2007 - 162/179 (2.0 score)
2008 - 158/180 (1.9 score)

This is pretty fair evidence that things haven't improved much in the corruption arena, or perception there of, in Venezuela despite Chavez' promises to eliminate it.

Compare that to the US scores which have hovered around a rank of 18th overall and a score of 7.3.

Nice revolution Sr. Chavez.

China and Venezuela

China is increasing her investment in Venezuela via a mutual investment fund, and oil refinery building agreements.

As articles have noted, China needs to play out the relationship with Venezuela delicately, considering Chavez public display of dislike for the US (except the billions in petrodollars of course).

China is the obvious choice to replace the US as the major consumer of Venezuelan oil. Chavez has nationalized the oil industry in Venezuela effectively kicking out American oil companies, and China has an increasing demand for oil.

While this is not necessarily breaking news today, I find the following quote from the article rather interesting. I'm not sure who makes the bigger gaffes, Biden or Chavez.

"In the face of the collapse of global capitalism, we can say: how fortunate that China had a revolution, how fortunate that Venezuela had and still has a revolution, how fortunate that we got to know each other."
Yes, how fortunate. Of course, if you examine the details and history you will find that while it may be fortunate, Venezuela and China owe a great deal of their prosperity to capitalism AND are heavily invested in capitalism. China is a leading trading partner with the US, thanks in large part to cheap labor (a capitalist notion: increase profits by decreasing labor costs). Venezuela (or at least it's leaders) are swimming in money thanks to the increase in the price of a barrel of oil, determined by the capitalist commodities markets. Venezuela floats debt on the capitalist debt markets.

Question to Mr. Chavez: If the US economy collapses, what will that do for demand of Chinese goods, or Venezuelan oil?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What if....

I was doing dishes thinking about an article I had just perused in my quick glance at Google for Venezuelan news. My thoughts quickly wandered to what would happen if El Burro were to get his wish and the US were to attack Venezuela.

Before I go off into my day dream, let me first say that the likelihood of the US having to invade Venezuela is VERY VERY VERY remote. Given the two fronts on which we are fighting the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, our forces are stretched a bit thin to start another war.

Furthermore, there isn't enough provocation at this time to even think about invading Venezuela.

But let's continue the thought of what would happen if the US were to invade Venezuela.

There would be some resistance from the military and armed civilian 'militias', but it would be defeated within about 2 weeks at the most. Pockets of resistance would remain in the mountains of eastern and western parts of the country, and maybe in the south in the dense rain forest. Those would be the only really safe areas for Chavez' allies to hide and operate from. Those would take a little longer to eradicate, but would be eventually wiped out as well.

Those in the opposition, including current military and ex-military members, would rise up and help overthrow Chavez and his buddies. There would be a new government quickly formed to fill the void of Chavez exiting the presidency. It wouldn't be a long drawn out, sectarian process like Iraq. A new government could be in place in a matter of months, with a new Constitution in place as well. The Venezuelan people have previously tasted the freedoms of democracy, and are eager to revisit those days again.

For sure, the US would suffer some casualties, and the armed resistance would be a bit tougher than what was seen in Iraq and Afghanistan - Venezuela has a Navy and Air Force which would quickly engage any invasion force. But even so, these forces would be defeated fairly easily, as loyalties for and against Chavez would quickly split the command and control of the Fuerzas Armadas.

If there were ever a 'winnable' war that the US has faced since WWII, it would be against Venezuela.

Heaven forbid we ever get to that point though.....

The base is crumbling, or just a hoax?

I received the following email from my dad, who received it from a colleague. Not sure where he got it from, but the website noted is real. Would be interesting to know if this is legit or not.
Declaración de la Union Nacional de Circulos Bolivarianos

Imprimelo, copialo y pasalo -22 de Agosto del 2008

Chavez ya no representa al pueblo Bolivariano,
todos a votar en contra del PSUV
creador de desempleo, desabastecimiento,
miseria e inseguridad publica

Le aclaramos al pueblo de Venezuela que Hugo Chavez 'El Viajero' ya no
representa al pueblo Bolivariano que tanto apoyo y victorias le ha dado, yo Juan
Carlos Medina Fontalvo en nombre de la Union Nacional de Circulos Bolivarianos
hago un llamado a todos aquellos miembros de los Circulos Bolivarianos a nivel
nacional, a todos los miembros de PSUV que han sido utilizados y engañados por
la nueva elite corrupta, a todos los venezolanos que han sido victimas de robos
y secuestros, a todos aquellos que han sufrido la perdida de seres queridos en
manos del hampa salvage que se adueño de las calles venezolanas, a todos
ustedes, les hacemos un llamado a no votar por este gobierno retrogrado creador
de miseria e inseguridad, Hugo Chavez ya no es garantia de nada para los

Ya en Diciembre del año pasado vieron los resultados de nuestra fuerza
politica y nuestro trabajo furtivo, ahora llego la hora de sacar a todos los
Gobernadores y Alcaldes que fueron puestos por Hugo Chavez que son una partida
de ineptos (vease Acosta Carles), no hicieron nada por mejorar las condiciones
de vida de los venezolanos y llego la hora de pasarles la factura, en Noviembre
recuperaremos los Estados y Municipios de la cuerda de locos fanaticos y luego
le tocara a la Asamblea Nacional, les queda dos meses de wiskhy y caviar, que
les aproveche.

No se justifica que nuestro pais siendo tan rico y que cada dia salgan
miles de venezolanos al extranjero porque en nuestro propio pais el Presidente
no nos garantiza ni la vida (vease inseguridad publica) ni un empleo justo y
digno (de empresa privada) para mantener a nuestras familias, cada dia miles de
miembros de Circulos Bolivarianos emigran aun habiendo apoyado su gobierno y
habiendo arriesgado todo para que usted lograra la victoria, hoy tienen que
emigrar, eso no se lo han dicho ni Elias Jaua, ni Diosdado Cabello, Ni Cilia
Flores, Ni Maduro, Ni Saul Ortega, ni Pedro Carreño, ni ninguno de los ineptos
que sin tener experiencia ni ganas de trabajar hoy ostentan cargos que otros
venezolanos competentes deberian de ostentar.

La revolucion no justifica acciones y leyes que producen mas miseria, somos
Bolivarianos pero no imbeciles, desde hace tiempo venimos observando una actitud
erratica y poco elocuente del Presidente Hugo Chavez Frias y los maximos
representante de la Asamblea y demas organos publicos, existe mucha opulencia y
egocentrismo en su forma de actuar, ya ustedes se desconectaron de la realidad
venezolana y por eso ya no nos representan.

Tenemos todo el peso moral para reclamar y ustedes todo el peso inmoral de
aceptar que fallaron, llego la hora de corregir los herrores y en Noviembre lo
haremos, saldran todos de eso pueden estar seguros,


Bolivarianos SI Socialistas NO
Votemos por los Lideres Regionales
Votemos por nuestra Patria Venezuela
Todos a reproducir nuestro Manifiesto

'Mientras Venezuela Tenga Hijos quie la quieran, Lucharemos por ella'

Juan Carlos Medina Fontalvo
Director General de la Union Nacional de Circulos Bolivarianos

Pagina Oficial de la UNCB

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pot calling kettle...

Okay, so we all know about the Human Rights Watch folks getting kicked out of Venezuela. Apparently there were 'meddling' in Venezuelan affairs.

Um... So a few folks from this organization go to Caracas and hold a press conference and say that human rights in Venezuela are slowly deteriorating due to Chavez heavy handed ways, and they are removed from the country.

That's far more innocent than the revelations about the Venezuelan government connections to the FARC found on the now famous laptop computer taken from the Ecuadorian encampment of the FARC by Colombian troops. I guess that's not 'meddling' in the affairs of Colombia.

Or the revelations coming to light in the 'maletagate' (suitcase-gate) case in Miami where Venezuelans were detained in Argentina with a suitcase of $800,000 (and reportedly millions more that went unfound) bound for the presidential campaign of Cristina Kirchner. Nope, that's not meddling either. That's just good old graft.

Nor the money funneled to Daniel Ortega's presidential campaign in Nicaragua, or to similar efforts in Peru, Ecuador, or Bolivia to name a few. Nope, these aren't meddling in affairs. Not at all. These are just good business.

Aside - I wonder if Chavez has attempted to funnel money to Barack Obama's campaign fund. I'm sure that it would be easier to do up here, don't even have to try to sneak a suitcase full of money into the country. In no way am I making an accusation, just would be very curious to know if an attempt has been made, and by which means.

Chavez loves to use the word 'imperialist' in reference to the US. In effect, he's setting up his own empire in Latin America by selling oil to nations in the region at a preferential rate, financing guerrilla groups in countries that oppose him, pledging troops to places like Bolivia where uprisings are threatening the presidency of Chavez' puppet Evo Morales, and on, and on, and on. Chavez isn't building his empire by war, he's building it by rhetoric, and money. Money talks loudly in Latin America. Always has, and always will.

For instance, in Nicaragua, Venezuelan aid has gone missing. Suspicion is that it has gone into President Ortega's coffers someplace. Even Ortega himself doesn't know exactly how much his country has received from Venezuela. On may he said it was over $500 million. Someone must have told him that over half that had been siphoned off into his own personal bank accounts, because in July, the amount he reported in a speech with Chavez by his said dropped to just over $200 million. Regardless, the aid isn't showing up in the Nicaraguan budget, leading some to think it's going directly to President Ortega.

HA HA HA HA HA..... oops!

Chavez was happy to hear that Lehman Brother's has gone kaput. He said they should have been looking out for themselves instead of putting out negative reports about Venezuela.

Maybe Chavez should have checked with his personal wealth manager to find out if the Lehman demise would affect his portfolio. According to the Wall Street Journal, Venezuela stands to lose about $300 million in debt instruments that Lehman had agreed to cash. Oops.

Sure, it's not billions, but it's not chump change either.

It's just funny that Chavez ridicules Lehman, but forgets he has business dealings with them.

Citgo receives oil from US Strategic Reserve

What?!?!?! Are you kidding me?

Apparently, Citgo needs oil for some reason after Gustav rolled through Louisiana, and they have requested it from the US Strategic Oil Reserve.

As of the report, they were the only ones to have asked.

I guess Venezuela is hurting for oil? Wonder what gives on this.

Response to Dallas Morning News Editorial

I responded to a Dallas Morning News editorial on Chavez and the lack of US involvement in South America.

I'll let you read the editorial on their site, but here is my response:

There is an easy solution to the Venezuelan problem - start producing more of our own oil, and reducing our demand on Venezuelan oil. This is what should have been started back when Chavez came to power many years ago, or at least when he nationalized the oil industry. Take away his petrodollars, and he's nothing. He thumbs his nose at the US, and we pay him anyway. It's insanity.

Yes, the US needs to counter-act Chavez, but we need to do it by bolstering our allies in the region, and adding more. We need more allies like President Uribe of Colombia who aren't afraid to stand up to Chavez.

I don't think that the US government takes Chavez too seriously (until maybe now with Russian bombers landing on Venezuelan soil), because his threats have been hollow. He choses his words vey carefully - 'if' the US invades there will be no oil. Yeah, doesn't take a genious to figure that if you are invaded by a country to which you supply oil, you aren't going to continue to do business with them or they with you. But at the same time, Chavez needs our petrodollars as much as we need his oil so his oil isn't going anywhere for the time being.

You're observation about 'leveling the playing field in the upcoming elections' is a bit naive. That Chavez recognized the referendum last December was a miracle. Reports are that regional elections will gain more opposition governors. Chavez has already moved to divide the country up into sectors for 'defense' purposes with generals over each sector, with the thought that these generals will effectively render the governors useless. You presuppose that Chavez is going to let the elections go on in a democratic fashion - you are sadly mistaken. It wouldn't even surprise me if he were to rig the elections in his favor or through them out altogether.

Drill Here, Drill Now

If there ever was an argument for 'Drill here, drill now...' that the Republicans chanted during their convention, or the protesters chanted during an event attended by Speaker Pelosi during the Democratic convention, it is a single human being - Hugo Chavez Frias, the President/Autocrat (I won't say dictator just yet) of Venezuela.

As I've said before in posts, Chavez thumbs his nose at the US every chance he gets, and he can do it with money that we supply him thanks to our dependence on Venezuelan oil. Sure, it's not the percentage of oil this country imports (Canada is tops), but it does account for 60% of Venezuela's oil exports. And as we all know, oil is king in Venezuela as far as source of revenue for the government. So the oil we import from Venezuela feeds the corrupt political system with Chavez at the helm.

For instance - the scandal where Venezuelan operatives were caught attempting to smuggle a suitcase with $800,000 into Argentina (with another $4.2 million possibly aboard) came from Venezuela's oil company PDVSA thanks to you and me who buy gas.

Not enough? Now, there are allegations on the same tapes used to prosecute the above case in Miami that Chavez' government attempted to bribe nations to vote for Venezuela when a seat became available on the UN Security Council. (BTW, this guy's blog is very good and very current on what's happening in Venezuela - it's a great read. He's a financial expert who I believe I've seen quoted on Bloomberg regarding Venezuelan economic issues.)

And so, with impunity Chavez can run his mouth (I wonder if he's auditioning for an Orbitz commercial), and expel the US ambassador and play war games with Russia and buy billions of dollars of weaponry all at the expense of the US. (Sorry Mr. Wright, I know that's probably a run-on sentence.)

So to Speaker Pelosi, all Senators and Representatives, and the future President of this United States please, please, please - DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW!!!!! Yeah, we won't reap the benefits of an immediate drop in the price of gas, but we could replace or reduce or demand for Venezuelan oil, and stop sending as much money to Chavez. Besides, he's on a trip now to China to explore shipping more oil there to replace the US as a buyer.

I'm back.... (it's been a while)

For the one or two readers that I used to have, I'm back. Took a long hiatus for many different reasons, but with the flare up of Chavez in the news I thought I'd jump back into the game.

In the intervening time between my last post and now, I actually had an 'RLM' (real life meetup) with Jungle Mom. See, my parents used to work with her and her husband in Venezuela. So there is a connection.

In June, I surprised my parents with a visit to their home in California. Turns out it was good timing because they had been invited to Jungle Mom's son's wedding in South Lake Tahoe, and they needed someone to drive them. So we spent a weekend in South Lake Tahoe, and I got to meet Jungle Mom and her family.

Anyway, I'll start posting again on Venezuela and current events down there, and maybe a few other things not so necessarily related to Venezuela as I'll use this to maybe vent some frustrations, etc.

Catch you on the flip side.