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How the Revolution Ate the Joropo-Playing Japanese Students

A special investigation by Kanako Noda. This post is available in Japanese here. 日本語でも読めます。 The four Japanese students look hot and excited as they clutch their instruments and break into a rendition of “Fiesta en Elorza.” Their performance is accompanied by children dancing in colorful costumes. They’re in Elorza, playing at the “Fiestas Turísticas Elorza 2014…

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One Giant Leap for Oppo Political Culture

Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, Secretary General of the Opposition umbrella organization, MUD, has just announced he is leaving his post. In a developed country setting, this would be unremarkable. In Venezuela, where the whole principle of separating institutions from the personalities that lead them has never really caught on, it’s almost revolutionary. Here’s his resignation letter:…

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Poverty Isn’t A Thing

Here’s a little secret development nerds know that muggles struggle with: poverty isn’t a thing. Those newspaper stories you see about rises and falls in “the poverty rate”? They boil the question down to a single summary statistic. A rate. At most two rates (“poverty” and “extreme poverty”). That gives the illusion that poverty is like the temperature outside…

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On the Uses of Phantasmagoric Profits

Willie Neuman has a really great piece in the New York Times today about the big hit various multinationals’ bottom lines are taken as they’re forced to revalue their Venezuela profits from the fantastical Bs.6.30:$ rate to more realistically devalued levels. A taste: Brink’s, the armored car company, could see about $400 million in revenue…

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A Telling Schism

Is it just me, or do you also have the sense that Maduro is looking at the brewing Rebelión de los Utópicos and grinning widely to himself? On the heels of Jorge Giordani’s purge-hissy-fit, fellow purged leftie academic/extremist Héctor Navarro takes to the pixels of Aporrea.org to get Giordani’s back. Navarro’s shocked – shocked – that no action…

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Ramón J. Velásquez (1916-2014)

Ramón J. Velásquez, eminence grise of Acción Democrática, has died in Caracas at the age of 97. It’s unfortunate that Velásquez will be remembered by most for his short, ill-starred stint as accidental president following the resignation of Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992-1993 or, alternatively – in the wake of the publication of Francisco Suniaga’s enormously…

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Strawmanslaughter

I was disappointed to see Miguel Angel Santos, normally so lucid, join the unhinged chorus of voices passionately arguing against a straw-man made to stand in for Francisco Rodríguez’s position on macro-economic adjustment. I can understand why a guy like Luis García Mora, who plainly doesn’t understand what adjustment is, could find comfort in arguing against…

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The End of the Monk (UPDATED)

Jorge Giordani, who as Planning Minister has done more damage to Venezuela’s economy than any single thing since Zumaque I, has been shunted out of the cabinet altogether for the first time in 15 years. Official titles don’t come close to capturing his influence. A Utopian socialist with a soft spot for Kim Il Sung, Giordani is the…

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¿Te acuerdas, Pepe?

Estimado Pepe, Discúlpame el tuteo, pero todos dicen que no te gustan los formalismos. Te escribo hoy porque hay cosas que están pasando en mi país, Venezuela, que no termino de creer que te sean indiferentes. Anoche, a las 3 y media de la mañana, una jueza-esbirra del régimen Venezolano decretó que Leopoldo López continuaría privado de…

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Missing the Point of Fonden

Long time readers know I have a special fascination with Fonden – the Chávez-created National Development Fund – and, as a corollary, with the Venezuelan press’s utter failure to explain it. It remains a subject of undying fascination for me: all these years later, even the newspaper reading elite – hell, the newspaper writing elite – doesn’t seem…

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The Ripping-The-BandAid-Off-Sloooooowly School of Devaluation

Today, International Air Travel was “switched to the SICAD II rate” – a wonderfully euphemistic way of saying the bolivar was aggressively devalued in the international air travel sector. In for-dummies terms, the cost of airline tickets for bolivar holders just went up about five-fold. And, just like that, one of the most cherished chavista…