A cryptic Henrique Capriles took to social media last night to tell us of a dramatic announcement, which should be coming today at 11:30 AM Venezuela time.
I have no idea what it could be, but according to well-placed sources (i.e., people shooting off on Twitter) it has to do with an important defection from chavismo.
I’ll be live-blogging (Sorry, I can’t find a feed online, and apparently it includes a 50-minute video, so I’ll just tweet about it here) the announcement by opposition Congressman Ismael García.
It’s hard to imagine what could possibly justify so much build-up. In the meantime, here is the list of what I think would be the top ten most dramatic defections:
Maduro’s dwindling base
During the last presidential campaign, I took to highlighting the differences between a Chavez-led race and a Chávez –less one. For the sake of consistency, indulge me while I revisit this theme during its immediate aftermath, by asking: what is the difference between a Chávez-presided shortage and Chávez-less foodlessness?
Let us first review the uncanny similarities between Escasez 2008 and its lame 2013 iteration.
For State media, this is what you should be angry about. Not the shortage of toilet paper, but THIS.
Venezuelan State news agency AVN is apparently angry. But why?
Is it because of the toilet paper shortage? Or perhaps because of recent events of violence in Cojedes State? No, and no.
According to this report, the evil search engine Google (in deep alliance with the “international right”) is allegedly mocking Nicolás Maduro by deliberately putting manipulated images on his biographical sketch and ridiculing him in the Internet.
As someone that usually googles Maduro for work reasons, I never saw that particular image of him until AVN brought it up. And after State media’s latest attempts to present “the truth” of what happens in Venezuela have backfired, I must say: this seems legit.
UPDATE: Google has withdrawn the questioned image of Nicolás Maduro, in accordance to its internal rules. The company offered no comments about AVN’s accusations.
I ask ’cause if the dire predictions come true, that’s what we’re gonna have to do. In the Transitions blog, I wonder if we’re on the road to becoming a failed state. My money quote:
Venezuela has so far avoided the fate of its neighbor Colombia, a country still deep in a long civil war with Marxist guerrillas and drug cartels. This is largely due to the deep pockets oil has afforded the government, which allowed for state presence even in the most remote corners of the country. It is hard to see how that presence can be maintained if oil rents were to dry up significantly, and for a prolonged period. This could lead to the type of problems that have bedeviled Colombia, or even poorer neighboring failed states such as Haiti.
Even though its problems are of its own making, the thought of a large, failed state in the heart of the Western Hemisphere should trouble the continent’s leaders.
In short supply
Clever use of puns aside (“Venezuela hopes to wipe out toilet paper shortage by importing 50m rolls,” chuckle chuckle), I have a small beef to raise about this AP story, reprinted by The Guardian and, most likely, hundreds of other newspapers and websites all over the world.
The piece says that “[m]any factories operate at half capacity because the currency controls make it hard for them to pay for imported parts and materials. Business leaders say some companies verge on bankruptcy because they cannot extend lines of credit with foreign suppliers.”
With today’s inflation, it reads like the Sucesos page
Economists sometimes use the term “bounded rationality” to explain the impossibility managers have in understanding reality in all its complexity. Basically, bounded rationality says that managers and economic actors are rational, but only up to a point. At that point, people’s natural cognitive limitations kick in, and this affects their decisions.
Now, if this all seems too abstract, I have a useful tool to provide you with an example: Official Gazette Number 40,166, dated May 15th, 2013.