Live-blogging the Sacudón

Try shaking *this* off...

Try shaking *this* off…

You may recall that a full two weeks ago, Nicolás Maduro’s entire cabinet resigned to allow the President to “reorganize it” as part of his quest to make government “more efficient from a socialist point of view” – their words, not mine. This came on the heels of Maduro promising a major shake-up in economic policy, a sacudón, announced more than two months ago.

Let’s simply say the President works at his own pace…

Well, it seems the day of the new cabinet and the shake-up is upon us. Nobody knows for sure what will happen – some people say economic czar Rafael Ramírez will leave PDVSA, while others say he will be promoted (or is it demoted?) to the vice-presidency. In the meantime, the economy is stalling, oil prices are falling, scarcity continues, and we are now importing crude oilFew are betting that the promised “pragmatic” measures will materialize, but you never really know with these folks.

At any rate, it seems as though today will be eventful. We’ll try to live-blog the broadcast. In the meantime, feel free to use the Comments section to discuss your expectations. We’ll update the post as we learn things.

Live-blog:

7:53 PM: Sorry, started watching late. Seems like I haven’t missed anything. Maduro talking about Juan Vicente Gómez…?

7:56 PM: Maduro falsely claims that pre-Chavez government officials acknowledged poverty rates of 70%. Not true.

7:57 PM: Maduro claims Teodoro Petkoff stole people’s pension funds when he was Minister. So far lots of railing against everything that came before Chávez. Insulting everyone from Páez onward.

8:02 PM: The President of the Supreme Tribunal is seated next to Diosdado Cabello, applauding as Maduro blasts politicians. Separation of powers is a joke. Oh, and wasn’t Diosdado in Argentina? Is thing on tape?

8:05 PM: “Chávez did not leave out any details of XXIst Century Socialism without explanation.” Except, of course, how to put toilet paper on the shelves.

8:07 PM: Maduro falsely claiming poverty rates are decreasing. Falsely claims unemployment rates were at 25% before Chávez. Maduro blasting AP and Reuters as having a “campaign” against Venezuela. Claims his model is succesful.

8:11 PM: The head of the Electoral Body, Tibisay Lucena, feverishly, excitedly claps when Maduro says his political project is the only succesful path for Venezuela. Claims unemployment rate in Venezuela is 6.8%.

8:15 PM: I think the word Maduro has repeated the most in this address is “miseria.” Quite appropriate. Claims his “government of the street” is responsible for an increase in social spending.

8:21 PM: Guy whose popularity is in the low 30s, the one most Venezuelans say they wish to see him resign, says his model is irreversible. Funny.

8:27 PM: Maduro claiming Venezuela’s elections are the cleanest in the world because there are opposition governors and legislators, and this proves it and that’s that. QED.

8:40 PM: Maduro ranting against bureaucracy and corruption in the government he has helped helm for the past fifteen years. Calls some of his underlings “parasites.”

8:42 PM: Reading from a piece of paper, some of the new “decisions.” Here we go? Let’s hope so, ’cause this has been the most boring history lesson ever. Announces “5 Revolutions” for the next few years. The first is an economic revolution, because we want to be productive. Really – you should start with state-owned companies.

8:46 PM: Oh dear, Maduro now talking about “knowledge” and “technology.” Hide the children.

8:49 PM: Announces a “political revolution.” Because he has studied stuff. And he thinks we need a new State. And it’s in the Constitution. Because he thinks he’s doing great, but they have to remodel the entire State…

8:54 PM: Acknowledges Jesse Chacón knows what a poll is going to say before he actually conducts the poll. Awesome.

8:57 PM: Not content with reorganizing the state, the economy, social programs, and education, he also says he wants to reorganize the entire territory.

9:01 PM: Talking about saving the planet, one of Hugo Chávez’s goals. Clearly, the strategy here is to lull people before hitting them with higher taxes … isn’t it?

9:05 PM: After announcing he is changing everything, Maduro is outlining how the next campaign will be organized. All they are focused on is winning the next election.

9:11 PM: Economic VP is Marcos Torres, Finance Minister.

9:14 PM: Oil ministry for Asdrúbal Chávez, cousin of the late President. Maduro going back to basics: Chávez and the military. He’s not looking to solve problems, he’s looking to survive the storm.

9:21 PM: Izarra rewarded for Cheverito. Ambassador to Uruguay Isabel Delgado for Trade Minister. And Giusseppe Giofreddo, military man, MAJOR boliburgués, Transport minister.

9:23 PM: Iván Gil becomes agriculture super-czar. He’s already Agricultural Minister, but he gets a new minister, Jose Luis Berroterán.

9:28 PM: Maduro asks his ministers to “look out for problems.” Because, you know, they’re not clearly evident.

9:30 PM: A vice-presidency of knowledge! Next door to the Ministry of Rainbows. Wow, merging Ministry of Science and Ministry of University Education. Major Shake-up #Not.

9:34 PM: Minister of Education continues to be our “eternal young man” Dorian Gray … erm, I mean, Hector Rodríguez.

9:36 PM: Hector Rodríguez also in charge of social policy. How many salaries does this guy charge?

9:39 PM: Other ministries involve changing or ratifying no-name bureaucrats for other no-name bureaucrats.

9:40 PM: More army ministers. Chief of Staff Carlos Osorio. Delcy Rodríguez stays in the Information Ministry. Foreign Minister is now Rafael Ramírez. Defense and Interior ministers stay put. What a joke.

9:45 PM: Eulogio del Pino now heads PDVSA. Remind me what the scoop on this guy is.

9:47 PM: Jaua Minister for Communes. The shuffle continues.

9:55 PM: Jesse Chacón remains in the Electricity Ministry. Because he’s doing a swell job…

9:57 PM: Everything we needed to know about this evening can be summed up in the fact that Chacón remains on his job. We were leaning on the edge of a cliff, and we gave a brave step forward.

9:59 PM: Announcing a unification of all of the country’s foreign reserves. We’ll see if they publish the figures.

10:03 PM: Maduro seems to be saying that he didn’t increase the price of gas just to teach AP and Reuters a lesson.

10:14 PM: “Nuestro pueblo no comía carne y ahora come carne…” I can’t believe I do this for free.

10:18 PM: Ameliach lying by saying that in 1996, Family Minister said extreme poverty was 64%. These guys are unbelievable.

10:26 PM: Arreaza remains as VP. No real surprise there.

10:26 PM: From the jumble of ministers, shuffles, and positions that Maduro has spit out tonight, one thing remains clear: this man has no idea what governing is about. He thinks governance is about giving people titles.

10:30 PM: Only Maduro could think of a Bureaucracy for Bureaucracy. Dante Rivas is in charge of that.

10:35 PM: Hilarious – all ministers, governors, and mayors will have to take classes in governance.

10:42 PM: Maduro reading Chávez’s words with the Comandante’s picture super-imposed. #LomitoPaLaBase.

10:45 PM: As this address ends, it is clearer than ever that Nicolás Maduro is completely incapable of an original thought. He tries to follow the Chávez model without realizing he cannot afford the country Chávez thought he was building. As major decisions are pushed aside indefinitely, with oil prices continuing their downward slide, the only vision I take away is of a poor sap, trapped in a web of intrigue, surrounded by increasingly powerful narco-generals, incapable of understanding what good governance is about, unable to understand the plight of ordinary Venezuelans. Dark days are coming to Venezuela indeed.

118 thoughts on “Live-blogging the Sacudón

  1. Can you please guess what ministry Jesse Chacón will have?
    He was minister of 1) Interior,
    2) Science, 3) Telecommunications, 4) Secretary and 5, 6) Information (twice) and now Since April 2013 he has been minister of Electricity. He must be tired of being in that chair for so long

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  2. Never mind the oxymoron: “more efficient from a socialist point of view”, I for one would love an official explanation. Oh wait, no explanation is necessary among the starry eyed, indoctrinated to not question the word ‘socialism’.

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  3. I predict that el sacudon will start late, as requered by socislism etiquete, and will contain lots of noise and smoke and few real content

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  4. Economic terrorism, capitalist speculation, measures against contraband, yadda yadda yadda… Israel and Obama, lord chabe the saviour of the world, will soon show evidence of acts of sabotage by opposition criminals, yadda yadda yadda… no word on a possible sovereign default, CITGO, price of fuel, exchange rates, inflation figures, yadda yadda yadda… my guess: all top level cabinet members will be ratified, with perhaps a couple of switches, perhaps a couple new people in the board of Central Bank, and promises of drastic economic measures coming soon.

    Sacúdeteste.

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  5. Eeeeennnnrrrrrrroooooqqquuuueeeeee.
    Of course, Rafael “chacalito” Ramírez’s enroque is with himself, on yet another position, as if the guy wasn’t getting enough paychecks already…

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  6. comments from the twitter fray:
    Joel ‏@joeleando
    Mejor quiten a Maduro y ponen el vídeo de Chávez echando el cuento de la vez que tenía diarrea. True icon.

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    • He did. De repente se ha vuelto endocrinólogo.
      Nelson Bocaranda S. ‏@NelsonBocaranda
      Maduro alerta sobre la repetición de los “metabolismos” de la vieja política

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    • They said once they weren’t going to be satisfied with “at least 30 years of continuous government” to “do something about Venezuela’s problems”

      It’s incredible how much hatred for other venezuelans drives the chavistas to not aknowledge they’ve been scammed like a bunch of idiots.

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  7. The Soviets had their Five Year Plans. Venezuela will now have their yearly “Five Revolution Plans.” It’s hard to exceed their own oast stupidities, but, as we see, never say never….

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    • That’s what it looks like.

      So if he’s foreign minister, is this an attempt to marginalize him somewhat? After all, its hard to stir the pot if you can be sent out of the country on a diplomatic mission to Syria or Iran on a moment’s notice.

      That’s what I find fascinating. It looks as the ideologues vis-à-vis our favorite Monk and the “pragmatists” both lost. Which leaves only one group…and they all seem to be the big winners tonight.

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  8. Watching this I cannot stopped wondering about hoe lame and decadent our country has become. No laughs, no jokes, not even a slight desire to wake up tomorrow and at least keep trying to float hope in the midst of our tragedy. Could our future portend worse? Perhaps, my wife alywas warns me about the day Ma. Gabriela becomes president.

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      • Maybe just another idiot who’s going to steal as much as he can while spouting the same stupid stuff, just like chacalito Ramírez.

        Only that this guy doesn’t seem to hold evidence of all the chavismo’s corruption to destroy them on a whim, much like it was rumored about Ramírez.

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      • Del Pino is one of the few real oil professionals at the top of PDVSA. He studied engineering at Stanford and gets along well with oil leaders from around the world. He is bilingual Spanish and English. He answers his messages. He gets up early. He’s probably the best promotion of the day, but it remains to be seen what he can do amidst the many Ramírez family members and loyalists he will have to manage.

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        • He has been part of Pdvsa’s ruling clique for quite a few years now, so he is probably no worse no better than the rest of them in substantive management style (with all that such ‘style’ implies ) , All those years he was no stranger to what generally was being done in Pdvsa and probably complicit in much of what Ramirez did to ruin Pdvsa . Wouldnt be surprised if the reason he is now Pdvsa head is that Ramirez recommended him for the job.in order to forestall his worse enemies getting the job (Citgo’s President ) .

          In Chavez time he vied desperately to gratify Chavez crazy wishes even more than Ramirez . Understand that his efforts in advancing the eastern venezuelan offshore programs were almost total failures.with a whiff of a ‘stink’ in some of the transactions made to advance the job !! Still one never knows, perhaps he will in time prove an improvement over the past !! Im doubtful but time will tell. !!.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’d argue the opposite — it’s a miracle that the company has continued to produce so much oil after firing most of its professionals, scaring off many outside vendors, and spending every third day at a demonstration instead of in the office or oilfield.

            I’m not saying the guy is a saviour. I’m saying he’s better than most of the other options.

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              • El Palito and Amuay weren’t his department, they were under Asdrubal Chávez’s downstream division of the company.

                Aban Pearl and the rest of Mariscal Sucre — and the mess in the Orinoco Belt — definitely militate against any positive thoughts for Mr Del Pino.

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            • The changes in the oil industry are interesting. Everybody thinks Ramirez controlled PDVSA with an iron fist. He didn’t There were(are) parts of PDVSA completely under the control of Asdrubel Chavez. And now both are out. Also, I second Setty’s opinion of Del Pino. He’s one of the very few competent executives left in the industry. He has his work cut out for him. First and foremost, he has to get rid of the hacks in other executive positions in the company. Much easier said than done.

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    • They may be trying to emulate Chinas party cadre cum meritocratic political culture . The Chinese have elite schools which form cadre leaders,who can be competent in handling economic tasks and who are selected among the best of the best in Chinas yearly crop of university graduates.

      One side of Che Guevara is his criticism of the ineffectuality of Cuba’s leaders as managers of state business, ( he once very publicly drank from a bottle of local coke , spat what he had drunk and pronounced ‘tastes like shit’ to underscore the incompetence of the new revolutionary heads of the beberage factory ).

      JC deserves our applause for his blogging of this sacudon business , way ahead of anybody else !!.

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  9. I second Bruni’s appreciation. Fine live blogging, Juan. But as for your “this man has no idea what governing is about.”.. that’s why he’s perfect for the job of the ‘enredo’. Rumor mill has it he went to Havana on Saturday.

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  10. So, Rafael Ramirez, they guy that was out selling all the economic reforms that Venezuela was going to make to Wall Street and the World’s financial communities only a few months ago, has now been removed from all financial positions, after having failed to implement any of the things he said they would do. That will certainly send the right message (in voice heavy with sarcasm). Can’t wait to see what Venezuelan bond prices do tomorrow…

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  11. Juan Cristobal, great report.
    And I can imagine how you felt at the end, after listening to such a clown of a president: exhausted, nauseated and wanting to take a shower.

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  12. “Only Maduro could think of a Bureaucracy for Bureaucracy. Dante Rivas is in charge of that.”

    Reminds me of that Oscar Wilde quote:

    “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

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  13. There are so many Ministries and Vice Presidencies of this or that, that we could create a card game from it.

    Or a World Cup style “album de barajitas” a la Panini

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  14. As anounced Ramirez was politically beheaded and shuffled to a much less powerful but still high profile position of Min of Foreign Affairs.whilst beign allowed the consolation of having two members of his trusted Pdvsa entourage ( Asdrubal and Del Pino) remain respectively as head of the Petroleum Ministry and Pdvsa .!!

    Arreaza definitely becomes the most important man in the govt after Maduro and Cabello . and with Arreaza Giordani makes a kind of behind the doors comeback.!! The radical wing rises in power. Ramirez economic initiatives will now be pared down or dispensed with to make them more palatable to true revolutionaries !!

    Corruption and waste of course will continue unabated but with less hope that any half rational measures will be adopted in the near term to cope with the deepening crisis. (no wonder the bond market dropped just before Maduros speech)

    If this is a sacudon its primary effect is to concentrate the regimes power in a smaller group of factions and to make its handling of the crisis even more inneffectual .

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    • I’m thinking that the “corruption and waste” issue, which I do agree with, is a non-ideological issue and is solely fact-driven and is hard to be persuasive in a information controlled environment. Ideologically, I think the class war argument is more vulnerable. Chavismo is heavy on redistribution of wealth. However, redistributing from the “productive” classes to the “nonprodtive” classes makes it easy to understand what is happening!

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  15. With all due respect, has Maduro ever been diagnosed with any sort of mental disability or cognition problems? Frankly speaking, he seems to be incapable of grasping reality. He sincerely believes that talking gets the meat broiled. He has absolutely no idea what is actually going on and where his actions are taking the country to. He needs medical attention, by capable mental health professionals.

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    • “With all due respect, has Maduro ever been diagnosed with any sort of mental disability or cognition problems?”

      Yes, chavismo.

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    • I don’t think he’s mentally ill, just wholly unsuitable to managing anything beyond a small union. He’s economically illiterate, and has no ideas other than to try to imagine what Chavez would have done. Unfortunately for him, Chavez broke the bank so he doesn’t have cash to throw at the piling list of disasters that has become Venezuela.

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    • Bill Bass and Gro,

      I agree that this is ‘mas de lo mismo’. Logic dictates that this cannot go much longer. Even the oil boom is no longer enough to hide their incompetence and yet they insist with the same formula (definition of crazy anyone? One that repeats the same action expecting different results).

      The removal of Ramirez is the big news. After all, he was the only one that made some sense. They are doubling down on more state control as shown with the “cacta guellas”. Things shall only worsen. This upcoming Christmas is going to be the saddest on record. Maybe this is what is needed to have Chavismo flame out.

      My fear is that we may be more like Zimbabwe or Cuba, putting up with misgovernment for generations.

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    • But remember, this is Venezuela, where everything is possible and chévere! The governement doesn’t care nor want to half-assedly try to clean all the turd laying around. They’ll leaving it there for convenience, and shuffling people so they can continue shitting forever and ever in the face of all venezuelans. And sorry for the language, but it’s true.

      And when the chicken bleeds to death, they’ll find another one to chop it’s head off, and rinse and repeat. This will go on longer, but no one really knows for how much time.

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  16. Yes, the Ramirez removal is the big news…. all that effort and spin about change and more pragmatism and now it looks like an about face… however, for the sustainability of the regime, this could accelerate the inevitable….

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  17. El sacudon lleno mis espectativas: Comenzo tarde – mucha paja – aplausos – enroque ministerial – mas burocracia – ninguna medida o decision en nada – seguimos los pasos del comandante eterno y siempre mencionado – seguimos pa’bajo, ahora quizas mas rapido.

    Alguiene esperaba algo distinto?

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  18. For me, aside of Ramirez out from oil and economy related positions, the best thing is Jaua out of the cancilleria. That position has been always too big for such a pathetic character. Ramirez will use his oil lobbying companies to their advantage better, i would say.

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    • I thought so, too. Jaua’s appointment as head of cancilleria was so out of whack with his qualifications. Then again, aren’t most appointments that way, in the 5th republic?

      Like

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