BlackBerry Nation

Quico says: So I flew into Maiquetía yesterday and man, what a let down. Not one dirty look, or extra check or even the vaguest hint of intimidation. Buenas noches – stamp – in you go. And that was after I’d announced I was coming, right here on CC! My Q-Score must really be in…

Mad with Power Chronicles

Quico says: I swear when I first heard that Chávez wanted to do a 96-hour marathon version of Aló, presidente to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary on the air, I just took it for granted the story was a Chigüire Bipolar-style spoof. But no. He’s really doing it. It just started…runs through Sunday night.

Radicalism and its consequences

Juan Cristóbal says: – In the last few months, the Chávez administration has gone into overdrive radicalism. Whether it’s the forced takeover of vast sectors of the economy, the harassment of private opposition media, the passage of draconian new legislation, the attacks on opposition politicians or the massive tax increases recently passed, there seems to…

Cubanization is a process, not an event

Quico says: A year ago, when I went to Caracas, it seemed as if everyone I met had a single thing on their minds – Cadivi. Every conversation seemed to circle back to it: how to get dollars, the latest tips and tricks on how to skirt the bureaucratic hassles and reach that promised land…

The Buffoon Meme

Quico says: Here’s a sobering thought: it’s a good bet that this month worldwide many more people have heard about Hugo Chávez giving a state-produced cel phone a vaguely cock-associated name than about his moves to silence dissenting broadcast media, strip most elected opposition politicos of any real power, steal dozens of private businesses (“nationalize”…

Oligarcas Temblad!

Quico says: So, there’s an earthquake. It wakes you up. You turn on the TV and see a report about it. What do you think is more likely to leave you feeling alarmed, fearful, anxious or panicky? The earthquake, or the news story about it? Gah…it’s like fish in a barrel, this story…except we’re the…

Crafting a Chavista Court

Quico says: Five years ago today, the court-packing Organic Statute of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice came into effect. As I’ve recently discussed, I think that event should be recognized as the moment when Venezuela ceased to be a constitutional democracy in any recognizable sense. To continue our commemoration of the event that made our…

Así, así, así es que se gobierna…

Quico says: So you want to know how a minimally responsible petrostate elite might manage the oil industry’s boom-and-bust cycle? Go ask the Norwegians. Facing a worldwide slump that has seen energy prices tumble dramatically, the government has just announced a big boost in public spending. And how will they pay for it, you ask?…

Government eats itself

Juan Cristobal says: – The Chávez administration has been gobbling up everything in sight at such a pace, it’s actually nationalizing itself now! The Banco Industrial de Venezuela (BIV) was Venezuela’s original state-owned bank: one of the few holdovers of the puntofijista Import Substitution Industrialization strategies of the 1960s and 70s to remain in state…

Periodization

Quico says: My guess now is that when the historians of the future come to periodize the Chávez era, they’ll settle on something like: December 1998 – November 2001: Ascendent ChavismoJanuary 2002 – August 2004: Acute PolarizationAugust 2004 – February 2009: Competitive Authoritarianismfrom March 2009 : The Chávez Dictatorship

Comments worth reading

Quico says: One of the great joys of blogging is when a post sets off a really good debate. The comments thread following my previous post was one of those: substantive, serious, and by turns heartfelt and piercingly insightful. Thanks to all who’ve been taking part.

The Barrage

There are missiles coming from every direction. In just a few weeks, it was the comisarios, the ports and airports, Rosales, Ledezma, the Miranda clinics, the oil service companies, farm expropiations, laws challenging private property, el Ateneo, Globovision and the list goes on. After the February referendum they suddenly went into over drive, with the…

Denying Plausible Deniability

Quico says: What I find most significant about Chavez’s announcement that he has decided to shut down Globovision is, precisely, that he announced it. Think about it: if the guy was at all concerned to maintain even a minimal kind of legal window dressing in place, he easily could have. Nothing was stopping Chavez from…

Apocalypse Now

Quico says: Gah! I really don’t have time to blog about it properly right now. But Chavez’s move to seize the oil sector’s private contractors is a catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions. The contractors have been undergoing death-by-a-thousand-cuts for some time now, but the consequences of this final kamikaze move are hard to overstate. Some…

Les Misérables

Juan Cristobal says: – This from the Annals of Dadaist Dictatorship Chronicles: Two bakers in the city of Guanare, in central Venezuela, were arraigned today. Their crime? Selling bread for a price higher than the regulated price. Noticias 24 reports that Lucitano Da Conceicao Pereira and Wu Guang Quan were caught selling loaves of sandwich…