And all that without the suicide bombings…

I’d always figured the claims you hear about Venezuela being more violent than Iraq or Afghanistan were just a bit of criollo hyperbole. You know, nothing to be taken literally. Until yesterday’s staggering revelation in El Nacional sent me off on a bit of a Google search that revealed that no, actually, it’s literally true. By…

19,133

This is the first time in months the public has gotten access to any kind of official-looking number. 19,133 people. Most of them – 81% – were men. Most of them – 80.7% – between the ages of 15 and 44. Most of them – 83.6% – poor. Most of them – 79% – shot to…

That Screwy Seat Distribution

So the improved Swing-o-meter is nearly done. The more I fiddle with it, the more convinced I am that 26S is an incredibly volatile election: relatively minor changes in the distribution of the popular vote yield big, big changes in the distribution of seats. This PowerPoint presentation tries to tell the story graphically. Bear in mind…

Shame on you, Panorama

Today, Venezuelans woke up to a violent, macabre image in their newspaper: the word "Censurado" splashed across the front page of El Nacional. This is the product of yet another mistake from the chavista judiciary, stemming from at least two separate rulings. One ruling forbids all newspapers from publishing "violent images;" another, more sweeping one, forbids…

The pharaoh has his pyramid

Yesterday, Hugo Chávez went shoplifting again. This time, the axe fell on the neck of Seguros La Previsora, a large insurance company, owner of an iconic, pyramid-like building in Caracas’ Sabana Grande district. I don’t know the reasons why Chávez decided to expropriate La Previsora, but part of me thinks the main reason is that he…

You say Doctor, I say activist

In a country where nobody takes responsibility for their actions, where everyone is a political actor, and where the only thing that matters is obtaining and holding power, the problems faced by ordinary citizens fall by the wayside. They are roadkill, afterthoughts in the never-ending debate between sides. The sad spectacle of today’s press conference…

The Rivetting Reactionary Rant of the White Man

So I’ve been reading Pascal Bruckner’s classic 1983 cantankerous screed, "The Tears of the White Man." In English, the book is subtitled "Compassion as Contempt" but, from a Venezuelan standpoint, a better subtitle might by "An Archeology of PSFery." Bruckner is an odd bird: a Left Bank intellectual who’s also a reactionary crank. For all…

Coming Soon: Swing-o-Meter 2.0

Lets be clear: to really forecast September’s parliamentary election results with any degree of accuracy, you would need detailed, circuit-by-circuit polling in key marginal seats, the so-called "swing districts."  We don’t have that. We think, contrary to their claims, nobody does. And we’re not going to have that. So…what to do? The next best thing, as…

When he’s good, he’s really good…

Teodoro Petkoff is on fire in his TalCual Editorial today, dealing with the El Nacional morgue photo controversy. Long story short, after Telesur chief Andrés Izarra got a bizarre case of the giggles during a CNN debate on crime, El Nacional ran this shocking, decidedly Not-Safe-for-Work (or, anywhere, really) morgue photo all across its front…