Stupid prices

Here you have two items: a chocolate bar, and a box of over-the-counter painkillers. One of these items costs BsF 4.5, about 60 US cents at the official rate, and about 7 cents at the black market rate. The other item costs BsF 50, about 8 dollars at the official rate, and about 83 cents…

Snow in Havanna

As you know, an enormous haul of cocaine made its way into an Air France 777 A340 that flew from Caracas to Paris last week. While a few low-ranking National Guardsmen have supposedly been detained, I await with short breath to hear which Cubans will fall on their sword for this one. It has long…

The non-scandal

Today we “celebrate” the 60th anniversary of the assault on the Cuartel Moncada, which marked the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. Maduro is in Cuba, alongside Evo, Daniel Ortega, and that charming old man, Pepe Mujica. They are all there singing the praises of the Cuban Revolution. And I ask: ¿hasta cuando vale?

Reading the god-given tea leaves

Let’s recap Monday’s events: A conversation is leaked between Mario Silva and a Cuban intelligence operative, in which it is made clear that the Maduro faction in this government is heavily influenced by the Cubans. In it, Silva suggests that the military – at the prodding of Diosdado Cabello – is plotting against Maduro. In…

Who is Maduro?

My take on the big, fat question mark we may be electing tomorrow – over at Transitions, by Foreign Policy. An excerpt: One of the failures in this campaign is that we have yet to learn much about Maduro’s life prior to politics. Earlier this week, a document presuming to be Maduro’s work evaluation from his days…

To recall is to live

On February 5th, 1992, Caldera sided with Chávez and Fidel Castro sided with Carlos Andrés Pérez. I’ve always been struck by what a grubby, squalid little Myth of Origin the putsch of February 4th makes. Next the glories of the Sierra Maestra, next to the romance of Granma, next to the whole majestic sweep of the Bay…

The cost of Cuban “expertise”

As the ongoing electric crisis continues, this blog reported last September how Cuba was helping the national electric company CORPOELEC handle the numerous problems of our power grid system. Today, an article in the Valencia newspaper Notitarde gives us an estimate of how that assistance is worth by the day: 3.1 Million US$. Expenses include…

Schrödinger’s President

Over on the IHT, I meditate on what a long, strange week it’s been… Given the impenetrability of Cuban state secrecy, it’s hard not to speculate that even if the president has already died, we would have no way of knowing it. Venezuelans now have a Schrödinger president: a leader suspended in quantum indeterminacy, simultaneously alive…

Is stupidity a pre-existing condition?

A few readers criticized me for implying, in a previous post, that the more educated you are, the less likely it is (or should be) that you are chavista. Putting aside the obvious correlation that leads me to this, I get where they’re coming from. Hopefully, they will make an effort to get where I…

The cost of Venezuela’s oil discounts

$100 billion. That’s how much oil discounts have cost Venezuela since 1999, according to estimations by a group of oil researchers who go by the name of Subaeshi. Now, you may wonder what business I have quoting some random group of people from the Internet. But heck, check for yourselves – I can’t see any…

The Machurucuto Incident

It’s not just a great name for a band: 45 years ago this week, a group of Cuban and Cuban-trained Venezuelan guerrillas actually tried to invade Venezuela by sea through Machurucuto (just east of Higuerote). Machurucuto was a kind of through-the-looking-glass Bay of Pigs that went just as badly as the original: when all was…

Chávez to undergo surgery, again

After disappearing for a few days (and leaving in his trail a swathe of rumours about his health), President Hugo Chávez reappeared today in what appeared to be a live broadcast from his home state of Barinas. In a dramatic speech, with his daughter at his side (apparently holding back tears), with Vice-President Elías Jaua…

Treason.jpg

The Cuban flag proudly waves next to the Venezuelan tricolor inside a Venezuelan military compound. HT: Memo Arocha, photo courtesy of El Carabobeño. PS: Busy today with work, so a short post, but this picture is worth a thousand posts. Plus Quico is … preoccupied.