You know what’s weird about MarioSilva-Gate?
Well, several things.
For starters, we’re still not sure who leaked the audio in the first place nor for what purpose, and we’ve yet to hear a statement from any of the main actors involved.
It’s also weird that the endlessly malleable Prosecutor General announced she would look into investigating the whole scandal. Super weird.
But the weirdest part, in my view, is that no one in the Cuban faction of this intrigue has stepped up to make the case for continuing our unusually close alliance with Cuba, or for Cuba period. Nobody.
We’ve not heard a word from Cilia Flores, nothing from Jorge Arreaza, not even a peep from partisan outfits such as Patria Para Todos or even the Communist Party itself, and certainly nothing from Nicky Ripe.
Is Maduro (sorry, I mean Raúl) going down without a fight?
Following the broadcast of his damning audio, in which Mario Silva exposed all the narco-corrupt shenanigans of non-Marxist, decidedly non-Cuban military businessman Diosdado Cabello (which, by the way, included rumours of a coup plot), Cuban sweetheart Nicolás Maduro embarked on a media frenzy aimed at convincing the world that he is, in fact, Commander in Chief of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces. Hell, he even has a placard to prove it!
Courtesy of Miguel Angel Santos.
I’m always slightly alarmed when I find out that Alejandro Tarre disagrees with me, because that’s usually a pretty reliable indicator that I got it wrong.
For Tarre, the key bit in the Mario Silva Tape isn’t that funny but ultimately trivial story about Maduro’s Sai Bobo side that I picked out, but rather the part about the coup Maduro came to believe – wrongly – that the Defence Minister, Diego Molero, was planning against him.
The relevant bit starts at 12:16…
For Alejandro, the takeaway here is that Maduro must have been convinced a coup was imminent if he refused to even meet with his own defence minister. But that’s not quite what I get from it.
Now, as Tarre says, Silva comes across as a bit of a hay-talking blowhard. The guy’s all over the place, so interpretation is always problematic. But for me, the point of the coup story is what it says about Diosdado Cabello’s mastery of palace intrigue as a political weapon. Continue reading
Maracaibo-based TV channel Americana de Televisión (ATEL) is not your typical local TV station. Since its foundation ten years ago, ATEL can be only seen by cable and satellite services.
But early this month, there was a press report indicating the channel was close to shutting down because of debts, and because its owners were in negotiations with a group from Caracas.
Except that the folks of CONATEL don’t approve.
The Venezuelan broadcasting authority legally has the final word in all matters regarding media ownership, and they can simply veto the operation. In this case, they made clear their opposition by ordering all cable and satellite carriers to take ATEL off the air.
Why such drastic action? ATEL’s chairman Ricardo Bravo believes the government is pressuring the station to stop its sale to Grupo 6to Poder, owner of the newspaper of the same name. In a press statement, the group admitted there were already talks between both parts underway for months but that no final agreement has been reached yet.
Almost six years after RCTV’s shutdown (a case to be soon reviewed by the Inter-American Human Rights Court), the communicational hegemony has shifted its approach to take control of private media outlets. The “forced intention to sell” recently seen in the case of Globovision is the clearest example of that, and now its effects are pretty visible.
Perhaps CONATEL wants all media owners to be just like Venevision’s Carlos Bardasano.
The closest to an oasis for caraqueño drivers
Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the ordeal that drivers in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities face every day just to find an available parking spot.
Well, at least 40,000 parking spaces in Caracas have been lost between 2005 and 2012, according to Benigno Luis Marco, head of the National Association of Parking Lots and Garages (ANPAGE).
A 2010 report of the same organization indicated the overall deficit of parking spaces in the capital was around 740,000. There were 800 parking lots at the time, but the report said the city needed at least another 800 more to satisfy the demand.
There are multiple reasons behind this problem. During this time, all parking lot-related prices were frozen by the government (until they were finally reviewed last year). But the lack of clear rules and no investment in new spaces (with the exception of private shopping malls) have forced some to even use public sidewalks as an alternative.
The lack of parking space is also a collateral damage of the G.M.V.V. housing program, as the State expropiated parking lots to construct new buildings. The irony is that many of those buildings don’t have any garages for their residents, so… they have to leave their cars right out in the open. Think about that the next time you’re stuck in traffic in Caracas.
Back in 2006, the Venezuelan state’s development bank BANDES decided to expand its operations overseas by starting a commercial branch in Uruguay.
Five years later, Bandes Uruguay announced an internal reorganization, but reaffirmed its committment to continue working, to the point of reopening its main headquarters.
There were reports at the time that the bank was only making huge losses. Confirmation of this came in February as the Uruguayan state-owned Banco República (BROU) took over nine branches of Bandes Uruguay and has absorbed 146 of its employees.
UPDATE: Success! The story’s headline is suddenly altered.
I usually go out of my way to resist the BBC-bashing instincts of many of my readers, mostly cuz I listen to the World Service every day and I know these guys do tremendous journalism in unbelievably tough circumstances all of the world day in and day out.
That said, the beeb’s Bambi insouciance on Venezuelan issues is really reaching an untenable extreme.
Really? These guys announce that they intend to to import – notice, announce that they intend to import - 1.3 rolls of TP per capita (what’s that? like a week’s worth if you’re stingy?) and THAT’S your headline?
If I announce that I intend to smack your headline writer upside the head for being a lazy hack, is the headline “Venezuelan blogger assaults BBC staff”?!!?
Ferchrissake. Listen, those guys you got dodging bullets in Aleppo are unbelievable. Just amazing journos doing amazing work. Best in the world, really, and you have my undying gratitude for empowering them to do the work they do.
But that does not give you carte blanche to phone it in when it comes to covering lower priority countries…