Venezuelan Culture is Dead

In recognition of his daring, boundary-pushing performance art installation consisting of laying perfectly still inside a rectangular marble box for 19 months, the Venezuelan government has awarded the 2014 National Culture Prize to…Hugo Chávez. If you need a good weep, check out the video of the official announcement. 


Ugandan Slum, Venezuelan Eyes

I’m in Uganda just now, doing some nothing-to-do-with-Venezuela research. I suppose travelogues can be terribly tiresome, but who knows, maybe some of you are interested in reading what staying in a barrio in Kampala feels like to an east-side caraqueño. My little stab at it is here. 


The Routinization of Barbarism

I can’t help but feel we’re missing the point about Convenio Cambiario #30. Forget the monetary dynamics for a moment, forget PDVSA’s cashflows and the October bond payments and all the rest of that. Let’s look at the big picture: in twiddling the nobs on PDVSA’s contribution to FONDEN, what CC30 regulates is the recondite detail of the…


Is Chuo Up to the Job?

Saying “the news here is that the opposition is going to hit the streets,” Jesus (“Chuo”) Torrealba has just accepted Venezuela’s most thankless job: Secretary General of the opposition’s umbrella roundtable, MUD. A journalist, crusading civil society activist, preternaturally gifted communicator, and chief of barrio-to-urbanización cross-cultural diplomacy, Chuo is a curious choice for MUD chief. Far…

Corn oil? Do you want the 1 l. bottle, or the 5 l. jug?

“Ya Nos Vamos Pareciendo a África”: Ojalá Edition

A little photo essay from the Shoprite supermarket on Entebbe Road in downtown Kampala, Uganda, this morning. As a term of abuse, “africanización” is doubly noxious: at once luxuriating in its own casual racism and then, on top of that, just plain inaccurate. The facile lament that “vamos a terminar como Africa” serves only to signpost one’s ignorance…


The Bank That Sells $10 Bills for $1

Over on the FT’s Beyond Brics blog, Francisco Rodríguez explains why saying that since Venezuela can’t keep goods markets supplied, it should default on foreign debt is like telling someone with a toothache that he should call the plumber: Imagine for a moment that a central bank – any central bank – decided to put up a…


Torre de David Avant la Lettre

A visionary Caracas urban development abandoned amid political turmoil, squatted on, turned into an epicenter of urban legends and violence…El Helicoide was Torre de David before there was a Torre de David. Celeste Olalquiaga picks up the fascinating, mostly forgotten story of what’s now Venezuela’s Security Policy headquarters for Failed Architecture. Nelson Rockefeller tried to…