Smudging the line between public and private

Private pictures of Hugo Chávez’s daughters and other assorted members of their inner posse were leaked this week on a Twitter account that was subsequently closed. In them, the girls and their friends are shown in various countries and parties, enjoying the perks of their salaries, I presume. A lot has been made about these pictures, but…

Is Venezuela dipping into recession?

Before devaluing the Bolívar, the government was predicting Venezuela would grow by 6% in 2013. We already addressed how this was way higher than what most other people were predicting, as consensus was forming around a 2.5% figure. Now that Venezuelans’ purchasing power has taken a massive hit, what can we expect? To my mind,…

27F, from East to West

Two articles, both published by Prodavinci (in Spanish), are the best thing I’ve read lately on the Caracazo. The first, by Mayé Primera, tells the story of Hilda Páez, whose son Richard was killed by a soldier’s stray bullet. Páez lived with her family in a shack in Petare, in the East of Caracas. Primera…

Going “bachaquero” for groceries

Grocery shopping is becoming more and more of an ordeal for ordinary Venezuelans. But in Maracaibo, where getting sugar and corn flour means waiting hours under the sun, there’s a new problem: organized groups of people who crash the city’s supermarkets and buy everything they can, a kind of Wayuú flashmob that leaves almost nothing…

Dead men don’t pay

“Right now, I have six of them ready to go that I can’t ship because there’s no glass.” I’m sharing a few beers with an old friend. A cool February breeze makes its way through the skyscrapers of La Castellana, into the second floor of the arepera. A few yards away, the daily gridlock nightmare…

Excess baggage

Just when you think you have heard everything about the Venezuelan prison system, Ultimas Noticias nos trae esta perlita… A young woman was leaving Yare II Prison last Sunday afternoon after finishing her visit and she was carrying a heavy suitcase. When a National Guard soldier tried to help her, he found out that a…

Horseracing comes to a halt

The national horseracing workers’ union has declared an indefinite strike in response to what they consider is the sad state of their working conditions. All activities in the three major Venezuelan racetracks (La Rinconada in Caracas, Santa Rita in Zulia and Valencia) have stopped until further notice. The final straw came last Sunday at La…

Margarita’s “Torre de David”

The “Torre de David” highrise in Caracas got a lot of attention recently thanks in part to John Lee Anderson’s great article in the New Yorker, to the point that its residents have suspended all outside visits. But it’s not the only vertical squat in Venezuela. There are unfinished buildings in other cities where squatters have…

Three from the FP

Three articles you might find interesting in Foreign Policy. The first is a searing summary of Hugo Chávez’s impact on Venezuelan politics, by our friend Phil Gunson. It’s a well written wrapup of the Chávez years that almost reads like a premature obituary. Little in there we political junkies don’t already know, but Gunson puts…

Amuay = devaluation?

Today marks the six-month “anniversary” of the explosion in the Amuay Refining Complex. Aside from being a massive tragedy, Amuay could have also been responsible for the devaluation of the bolivar. These two events might seem to be unrelated at first. The first caused a fire that took days to put out and left dozens…

Your favorite Two Minutes Hate clip

So I’m trying to cobble together a nice list of amazing/appalling chavista agit-prop videos for a piece I’m doing and I realized my readers probably have some amazing leads and forgotten gems to contribute. As the intended audience is not Spanish speaking, I’m looking for strongly visual propaganda spots – stuff that highlights chavismos, erm,…

QUE!?

You need to be forewarned. Clicking on this will expose you to the single most infuriating thing you’ve seen this week, if not this year. As a philosopher put it on Facebook, Cada día pienso más que Venezuela se ha vuelto una parodia de lo que, en el 2002, los ultraderechistas más paranoicos decían que…

Venezuela gives me a migraine

(Overheard at Jeffrey’s Cafe, in Maracaibo) Me: My migraines have been acting up ever since I got here. I think I’m not getting enough  caffeine. That tends to activate them. My buddy: That’s probably because you’re not really drinking coffee. Coffee here is mixed in with ground peas. Some people say it’s half coffee, half…