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Few groceries, fewer former leaders

Typically, when discussing a particular country’s fortunes, Investment banks, NGOs, Multilateral Development Institutions, and society as a whole expect some of its former heads of state to speak out about the country’s challenges. Their wisdom is often used as a barometer, their opinion on how they might address problems is sought after when an electoral…

Lusinchi Square

Jaime Lusinchi, 1924-2014

Jaime Lusinchi, whose 1984 to 1989 presidency is remembered as possibly the least competent of the 1936-1999 period, died last night in Caracas. The last of the old-style Acción Democrática populist apparatchiks to run the country, Lusinchi’s ruinous term in office was marked by rampant corruption, a pig-headed refusal to countenance evidently needed reforms, the accumulation of…

Living Out Your Own Counterfactual

In his 2011 ProDaVinci interview with Rebelión de los Náufragos author Mirtha Ribero, Moisés Naím launched into a well-rehearsed little rant about the inevitability of economic reform when he came into government in 1989. People didn’t understand or accept that there was no alternative. You could give speeches, you could grandstand, you could bleed for…

Malaria comes back to the future

As the H1N1 outbreak which started last month is still affecting the country, a very different health concern is now among us. The Venezuelan Society of Infectology is denouncing that the number of malaria cases has reached a new high this year. Though this outbreak is mostly limited to the Southeast of Bolívar State (where illegal…

Joaquín Crespo is missing

The family mausoleum of 19th century General and President Joaquín Crespo (1841-1898), located in Caracas’s main public cemetery (Cementerio General del Sur) has been found empty. The remains of Crespo, his wife Jacinta (of “Misia” fame) and other family members are unaccounted for, according to the municipal office in charge. The desecration of graves is a…

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…

Annals of historical name-changing

The new Chavista governor of Mérida Alexis Ramírez has decided to roll up his sleeves and do some serious work, with the help of the State Legislature (controlled by the PSUV). Is this about solving the never-ending problem of trash recollection? No. It is about building a necessary new road for the state? Nanay. Or…

Cubagua is on its own

The small island of Cubagua (part of Nueva Esparta State) was the location of Nueva Cádiz, the first Spanish settlement in Venezuela and South America. After running out of pearl oysters (the main source of local income, and the reason Margarita used be called “la perla del Caribe” until some place in Belize apparently snatched…

The mausoleum still awaits its opening

The day after Bolivar’s new 3D face was revealed to the public, Hugo Chavez was supposed to officially open the new mausoleum behind the National Pantheon, as a permanent place of rest for the Libertador’s remains. The Communication Minister Andres Izarra released then this photo of VP Elias Jaua and State Minister Farruco Sesto, making…

El Caracazo nuestro de cada día

So I’m just now – far too late, I know – settling down to read Mirtha Riveros’s La Rebelión de los Náufragos, a blow-by-blow account the pivotal second CAP government of 1989-1993. It’s a cracking good read. I’ll be posting thoughts on it over days to come. For now, I just want to note one…