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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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

Edgardo Parra’s fall from grace

The incumbent Chavista mayor of Valencia, Edgardo Parra, was arrested last night by SEBIN agents for his possible involvement in a corruption case. Days ago, the office of a company belonging to Parra’s son was also raided. Four people were arrested and several properties seized. Parra has denied any wrongdoing and said that “…he’s open to an…

The phantom bike menace

We’ve been hearing as of late that SICAD dollar auctions were being used as stopgap measures to avoid scarcity for particularly sensitive items. For example, many SICAD dollars are apparently going to people wishing to import school supplies and toys for the upcoming Christmas season. But now, it appears as if something doesn’t fit. The government…