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An Election Fraud as Big as the Ritz

Last week, the government announced that addressing the country’s deep-seated economic distortions…just wasn’t something they were going to worry about. A few days have passed since the economic non-announcements that made this patently clear. So what does this tell us about the political road ahead? That the 2015 National Assembly elections are going to be rigged. Big time.…

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Of grandmothers and bicycles

There’s a good reason why seasoned politicians are careful never to answer questions about hypotheticals. Trying to take positions about what you would do if something that isn’t currently the case were the case is a good way to get yourself into all kinds of trouble. Politicians know hypotheticals sow misunderstanding, give opponents openings for attack, and generally leave you…

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Dime a quien no le defaulteas y te diré quien eres

Over on Project Syndicate, Ricardo Hausmann and Miguel Angel Santos have a fun riff on the state of the debate on whether Venezuela will go into default in the coming months. Because, viéndolo bien, Venezuela is already in default with regard to a huge range of obligations.  Cancer patients? Check. Food importers? Check. Car-makers, airlines, PDVSA suppliers? Check, check, check.…

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Dude, Your Strategic Fund Has Less than a Week’s Worth of Imports In It

For years – literally years – we’ve been wondering exactly how much money the Venezuelan government had squirrelled away in its “parafiscal funds”: Fonden- and Fondo Chino-style unaudited, unreported, wholly discretionary accounting black boxes. Finally, yesterday, Maduro let the cat out of the bag: announcing he would finally unite all of these different pots into a…

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Sacudón Chronicles: The Big Shakedown

So what do we take away from last night’s Sacudón? First, as Kanako put it to me, that Rafael Ramírez’s power turned out to be the political equivalent of the bolivar’s value: at the same time enormous and basically nil. Oil minister, PDVSA chief, vice-president in charge of the economy: on paper, Rafael Ramírez had all the power he could’ve…

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Frank + Laura + Tamoa’s Special Day (Updated)

Three Caracas-based journalists were honored at the Columbia Journalism School’s Cabot Prizes this year: the AP’s legendary Frank Bajak takes a prize, while one time Ultimas Noticias investigative power duo Laura Weffer and Tamoa Calzadilla get a special citation. Their awards are richly deserved. Three of their highlights: Bayak’s story on the colectivos in Venezuela (co-authored with Fabiola…