TSJ

TSJ to citizens: the State’s too busy to be accountable

As Venezuela currently faces a major shortage of medicines (with, literally, deadly consequences), a related case of corruption involving the purchase of large amounts of medicine from Cuba moves ahead. The case was the reason behind a controversial, little known decision by the TSJ’s (Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice) Administrative Chamber last week. A few years…

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Out of the closet

It must be frustrating to cover Venezuela for international news organizations. The country is crappy enough to make it burdensome to live there, but not nearly crappy enough for you to earn journalistic prestige points for covering it as opposed to, say, Iraq. Add to that the notorious lack of transparency of the “no comment revolution,” and…

The plane! The plane!

The Carvajal plot thickens

The international press is going to town with this story. Three pieces stand out … ABC’s Emili J. Blasco (the well-sourced Washington correspondent with the juicy details on Hugo Chávez’s illness) says sources in Washington confirm Carvajal was the “main figure” in the drug-running operation set up between the FARC, the Venezuelan military, and Hugo Chávez…

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Does a caged chavista sing the blues?

A few months ago, Nicolás Maduro appointed former general Hugo Carvajal to be Consul General of Venezuela to the Dutch island of Aruba. Yesterday, as Carvajal laid low in the island waiting for the Dutch government to approve his position, he was detained. The US had asked the Netherlands to incarcerate and extradite him. Carvajal was head of…

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The Argentine middleman

Last week, Argentine newspaper Clarín offered some juicy details on the alleged sale of overpriced rice from Argentina to Venezuela thorugh a company linked to Julio De Vido, Cristina Kirchner’s longtime Planning Minister. The head of the Argenitine Rice Producers’ Federation (Fedenar), Jorge Paoloni, has denounced that a company named Bioart SA has taken over all…

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Nothing is free

Our pal Setty has a thoroughly researched, hugely important story on a little footnote in the PDVSA financials. It turns out that, long ago, PDVSA seized some ships from one of its partners, and yadda yadda yadda, Venezuelans lost $644 million. In minute detail, Setty goes through the job of untangling this particular ball of yarn. The…

enchufe

Enchufado chronicles

I just got back from a short trip to Maracaibo. One of the many things that struck me (more on that in future posts) is the extent to which the enchufados hold the key to Venezuela’s future. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was in a border town overrun by pimpineros,…

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Lightbulb Fiasco

Way back in 2006, the comandante eterno launched a brand new mission: Energy Revolution (Misión Revolución Energética), which intended to promote “the efficient and rational use of electricity”. Even if the plan also included developing alternative sources of energy in the long term (and unsurprisingly that’s hasn’t gone well so far), its main priority was…

Bachacos

Bachaqueo chronicles

Two items today on the smuggling of gasoline from Venezuela to Colombia – commonly known as bachaqueo. Both are in Spanish. This first-person account by Colombian journalist Sinar Alvarado is a must-read. Alvarado takes us to the back roads on both sides of the border to give us a real sense of the “business” and…

amalia salario

Amalia Sáez’s golden parachute

When I did my 8-D post on my hometown of Barquisimeto, I called then Mayor Amalia Sáez “the worst in history”. Now, weeks after she has left office, she has given all barquisimetanos one final slap. According to an internal audit done by the new municipal authorities, Ms. Sáez gave herself a good exit package…

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‘Tis the season to be vindictive…

Looks like the recent case of political payback in Maturin isn’t the only one. Robert Ramos, who was until just days ago the mayor of El Vigía (Merida State’s second largest city) was detained days ago in Merida and will be charged for alleged influence peddling when he worked for the Agriculture Ministry (2001-2005). Months…

Payback time in Maturin

In the local elections held two weeks ago, chavismo lost the race for mayor of Maturin, capital of Monagas state, by 2664 votes. This was mostly the fault of former mayor Numa Rojas, who ran outside of the official PSUV-GPP coalition. Maduro blamed him for the loss because of “…(Numa’s) individualism, lack of discipline and…