Annals of historical name-changing

The new Chavista governor of Mérida Alexis Ramírez has decided to roll up his sleeves and do some serious work, with the help of the State Legislature (controlled by the PSUV). Is this about solving the never-ending problem of trash recollection? No. It is about building a necessary new road for the state? Nanay. Or…

The crowded bandwagon (cont)

Note: Long-time reader Dago takes the Torres/Monaldi/Morales/Rodríguez proposal for handing out oil rents to citizens and then taxing them, and frames it in an interesting, approachable way. He also talks about the likely amount we’re dealing with here, and he ends with practical implementation issues, and how to (easily) overcome them. I found it thought-provoking.…

All Roads Lead to Repression

Here’s a thought someone put in my inbox – and a good one. The major paradox of the Chávez era is what you might call the Case of the Missing Repression: governments as authoritarian as Chávez’s, with an eliminationist rhetoric towards opponents and all state power consolidated under a single leader are normally far, far…

A timely reminder

This nifty BBC interactive feature serves as a timely reminder: gasoline in Venezuela isn’t so much “cheap” as it is, for all intents and purposes, free. [Hat tip: Anelim]  

Hugo Chávez, darling of Wall Street

Bloomberg’s Ye Xie and Nathan Crooks have a very interesting article profiling the cozy relationship between Hugo Chávez and his bondholders. They make the case that, in spite of all his rhetoric, Chávez has never missed a bond payment, and the 14.7 percent per year Venezuelan bonds have yielded in the last 13 years or…

Games people play

When the final chapter in chavismo is written (and I’m one of the few that think this will happen sooner than most think) one of its most glaring mistakes will be how they sacrificed governance for politics. We elect governments, in part, because of politics, because of the game they bring to the ring. Many…

The Savage Discourse Revisited

It’s been eight years since I translated the passages below from the classic (if too-little-read) book by Merideño philosopher/poet J.M. Briceño Guerrero, but I still sporadically go back to them for inspiration. The essays were written over 30 years ago now but, somehow, they only seem to gain in relevance with time. I realize many…

The bandwagon is getting crowded

Long-time readers know extorres, our frequent (yet annoyingly anonymous) commenter who has been pushing the direct distribution of oil wealth for a loooong time. Today, the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady buys right into his idea. Citing a study by our friends Pedro Rodríguez, José Morales, and Francisco Monaldi (great read), she talks about…

Local elections to be postponed (Updated)

The CNE is set to announce that the date for the already-delayed municipal elections is to be moved again, this time from May 26th to July 14th. The reason is that the PSUV is preparing a closed primary vote to select its candidates. The current schedule didn’t allow enough time for such process. As the…

Prannation

Just finished Jon Lee Anderson’s (infuriatingly paywalled) New Yorker piece about the ranchification of Caracas. Anderson well justifies his reputation as a journalistic legend here: the piece really is a remarkable read. (Update: Prodavinci published an authorized Spanish version) It comes at the lawlessness angle we’ve long covered in this blog the other way around,…

This is what the Paquetazo looks like

As the government finds it has fewer dollars to fund imports of cut-price food, scenes like this one are set to become increasingly “normal”. When people imagine the “paquetazo“, they imagine a grave Giordani announcing unpleasant measures on TV. But it’s not like that. Instead, the paquetazo – the quick retrenchment in real government spending…

Finding a cure for pessimism in Rio’s favelas

(A Spanish version of this post appears in Prodavinci) The New Yorker published a shattering article this week by Jon Lee Anderson, about Caracas’ slow, brutal decadence. The city Anderson paints, seen through his foreign eyes, is known by all but it remains gloom-inducing: informal barrios where the only rule of law is violence; middle-class…

A hard day at Uribana (Updated)

Today, personnel of the Prisons Ministry along with soldiers of the National Guard tried to inspect Uribana Prison (located outside Barquisimeto) for illegal materials. The procedure was supposed to be low-profile in nature. But a local journalist found out, thanks to the very not-so-subtle presence outside of at least ten military light tanks. There was…