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July 04, 2007

The Hugo Cup

The FIFA Under-20 World Cup is taking place in Canada right now, but in South America right now the Copa America is the big thing, and is taking place in Venezuela. The motto for the tournament is 'La Copa ahora es de todos!', or 'The Cup is now for all!' -- a splendid little jewel of socialist doublespeak. Of course it is not for all, as this report from the Guardian hints at:

The ticketing chaos continued as thousands of fans queued in vain in Merida, where hosts Venezuela play Uruguay on Tuesday.

Some said they had paid in advance for their tickets but had not received them.

A Reuters reporter saw touts freely selling black market tickets at up to twice their face value.

Fans accused the government of President Hugo Chavez of buying-up tickets and filling stadiums with their supporters to avert possible protests and anti-government chanting during games.

The government has denied the allegations.

And that's the last of it you'll find in the media. But a little digging easily finds the truth. Daniel in Venezuela has a copy of a poster that promises free tickets to those
"who contribute [...] to construction of the fundamental base of XXI Century Socialism promoted by the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias"
Which kind of explains images like this...

February 20, 2007

The Zimbabwification of Venezuela continues

You've probably heard that Venezuela is facing food shortages. From the Devil's Excrement:

"Since 2003 the efforts of the Government have been focused mainly in production plants for milk, sugar, coffee and refrigeration plants for meat and processing ones for fruits and vegetables. It is precisely these basic items that now present shortages, thus official intervention has not improved the insufficiencies of the economy."

In fact, shortages follow the efforts of the Government. That is, the top priorities for the Government have shown the most intense shortages: Sugar, milk and meat in that precise order. This is nothing new, it is the history of Venezuela, where sectors where the Government participates are always lacking.

Now Chavez is threatening to nationalize supermarkets and corner stores. He seems to be aiming at breaking the speed record for destroying an economy.

A few years ago I read a great piece on what happened in Zimbabwe, but have never been able to find it again. It simply described the policies first introduced by Mugabe's government, followed by how the economy adapted, then by what the government did in response, and so on. Each destructive iteration was a mass cull of golden geese that laid waste to the country's economy and left it in the horrible state it's in.

January 09, 2007

Venezuela begins its descent....

All you need to know about the hell Venezuela is heading for is summarized neatly in this post by Fausta Wertz.

September 25, 2006

Chavez's Inferno

Alvaro Vargas Llosa is a South American economist, historian and writer, and is a passionate supporter of free markets and free societies. As you might expect, he doesn't care for Hugo Chávez very much and offers this description of the hell being created in Venezuela:

Chávez's Inferno

It would have been more appropriate for Hugo Chávez to brandish Dante's "Divine Comedy" than Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival" during his sulfuric broadside at the U.N. last week. In the first part of the Italian masterpiece, the author undertakes a journey through the nine concentric circles of the Inferno, each representing a type of evil. Dante's description reads like a script of present-day Venezuela.

Dante's first circle is for those who lack faith. In Chávez's Inferno, the first circle is made up of those who lack food. Cendas, a research center, maintains that 80% of Venezuelans cannot meet the cost of a basic daily diet. According to an official statistic the government inadvertently made public on the Web site of the Instituto Nacional de Estadística, between 1999, the year in which Chávez took office, and 2004, poverty rose to 53% from 43% of the population. The authorities attributed the figures to an outdated methodology and now claim the rate of poverty is 42%. If it were true, that would be embarrassing enough, because it would mean that poverty has remained at nearly the same level for eight years.

Dante's second circle is for those unable to control lust. Chávez's second circle is for those unable to control homicidal instincts. His government has degraded social coexistence so much that there have been more homicides in Venezuela during his seven-and-a-half years in office than there have been deaths in any single armed conflict around the world in recent years. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of homicides in Venezuela has been three times the number of victims in Afghanistan.

Dante's third circle is for gluttons who leave us with no food. Chávez's third is reserved for corrupt authorities who leave Venezuelans with no wealth. The major sources of corruption have been Plan Bolívar 2000, the state-owned oil company, and social programs known as "missions." Under Plan Bolívar 2000, the army took over development programs from the local governments. In the case of PDVSA, the energy giant, no one but Chávez and his cronies have access to detailed financial records. The budget for social programs, personally controlled by Chávez, is not included in any government ministry.

Dante's fourth circle is for misers. In Chávez's Inferno, the fourth circle is made up of bureaucrats who claim to provide social services but use funds to pay people to attend rallies or bust up opposition gatherings. Marino González, from Universidad Simón Bolívar, says that the "Barrio Adentro" program that purports to tend to all the pregnant women in the country only serves 2,000 expectant mothers out of a total of half a million each year. No country ever became prosperous through socialism, but for a government that claims to be able to tend to the needy, not being able to meet even 1% of the commitment is a particularly hellish sin.

Dante's fifth circle is for those who succumb to wrath. Chávez's fifth is for political persecution. Venezuela's human rights record is atrocious. Two violent incidents involving Chavista henchmen with many fatalities have gone unpunished, including the killing in April 2002 of 12 people who were protesting near the government palace. There are political prisoners such as Francisco Usón, former minister of finance in Chávez's government, who received a six-year sentence for saying he thought an incident in which a few soldiers died at Fort Mara in 2004 was no accident. Henrique Capriles, the mayor of Baruta, was jailed in 2004, accused of organizing a violent protest against the Cuban embassy which he had actually helped diffuse.

Dante's sixth circle is for heretics. Chávez's sixth circle is for heretic journalists who try to tell the truth. In December 2004, a "gag law" was imposed making it easy to prosecute journalists. The president continually threatens to withdraw TV and radio licenses -- the reason why there are no opinion programs on network TV. Government-controlled mobs called Bolivarian Circles, formed with the help of the Cuban intelligence apparatus, harass journalists.

Dante's seventh circle is for the violent. Chávez's seventh circle is another name for imperialism. His government has bought (or is buying) 100,000 AK-47s, 53 Mi-35 assault helicopters, fighter jets, transport planes, patrol boats, speedboats and Tucano jets from Russia, Spain and Brazil. Chávez is a long-time supporter of FARC, Colombia's terrorist group. He granted Venezuelan citizenship and protection to Rodrigo Granda, its "foreign minister," until Alvaro Uribe's government hired bounty hunters to bring him back to Colombia in 2005. The Venezuelan leader has given financial and political support to movements from Mexico to Bolivia. (His support for Ollanta Humala in Peru and Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico was a major factor in both men's recent defeats.)

Chávez buys influence through oil. It is a form of blackmail: At OPEC, Chávez fights for increasing prices, making life hard for poor countries that import oil, and then offers those very nations oil subsidies they have no choice but to accept. That is what happened with the 14 Caribbean countries that make up the Caricom group. He also sends 100,000 barrels of oil to Cuba daily; and 200,000 barrels to Bolivia every month in exchange for soy, poultry and political subservience. And he has bought $3 billion worth of Argentine bonds to entice President Kirchner's loyalty. Chávez is denying his nation its wealth from oil, somewhere between $40 billion and $50 billion a year. His annual "aid" budget totals more than $2 billion. He sponsors 30 countries, including some in Africa, in order to buy their vote for a seat at the U.N. Security Council.

Dante's eighth circle is for those who commit fraud. Chávez's eighth is fraudulent anti-Americanism. Chávez exports 1.5 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S. Since oil makes up half the government's revenue and the U.S. is the principal destination of Venezuelan oil, he pays daily homage to U.S. capitalism. Moreover, Venezuela imported $18 billion worth of goods and services from the U.S. in 2005. He may have signed 20 trade deals with Iran's Ahmadinejad, but what he really lusts for is U.S. capitalism. (Another type of fraud involves the electoral system. Chávez has manipulated the voter registration rolls, adding two million phantom voters, including 30,000 who are 100 years old and citizens named "Superman." Four out of five members in the Electoral Council are Chávez lackeys.)

Dante's final circle is for traitors. Chávez's ninth is for traitors, too -- and the place is getting crowded. Army officers betray Chávez every day. Labor leader Carlos Ortega recently fled with three officers from a high-security prison controlled by the army. They evaded security controls thanks to help from army personnel.

At the end of Dante's Inferno is the center of the earth, where Satan is held captive in the frozen lake of Cocytus. In Venezuela's Inferno, Satan is frozen in oil-rich Lake Maracaibo, a metaphor for astronomical wealth squandered by tyrannical populism. The journey through hell is now complete.

July 27, 2006

Russia working to improve the UN's effectiveness

Oh, good. Russia supports Chavez on the Security Council for two years. Could you imagine? Thanks, Vladimir.

Actually, I think the US should also support Venezuela's bid. There's no bigger monkey wrench that could be thrown into the UN's workings than Chavez's paranoia and ego. The UN would become completely irrelevant. More obviously so, I mean.

March 22, 2006

Chavez insanity watch II

The latest diplomatic overture from Chavez to Bush:

You are demented and a coward. You're a donkey, Mr. Danger, a coward and an alcoholic. You are the worst thing that has happened to this planet. God free the world from this threat because psychologically you're sick. Seventy percent of Americans are against the war and you. You're killing children that aren't to blame for your sickness.
Do you think he might be envious of all that attention the Iranians are getting?

February 08, 2006

Venezuela is now a dictatorship

How far do the leaders of a country have to go before that country can be labeled a dictatorship? For me, Chavez has been a dictator for some time, but there are those that are persuaded by his revolutionary twaddle, refusing to look at his actions. The UN for example, regularly finds justification to praise him, no doubt getting a thrill from thumbing their nose at the US.

But can anyone read this story, and doubt that Venezuela has descended into becoming a brutal authoritarian state?

A one-man Venezuelan court demanded 16 years in prison for Venezuelan democracy campaigner Maria Corina Machado. The one-stop-judge/jury/jailer also violated her rights by refusing to allow her to speak in the courtroom as is her right.

The jail sentence hes demanding is much higher than anyone expected. The politicized judge also demanded to detain her-- in an abysmal Venezuelan prison-- when she returns to court on Feb. 14.

What did she do? She organized the peaceful campaign that attempted to unseat Chavez last year (and failed due to a fixed referendum). And now Chavez is getting his revenge.

Need more proof? How about this: The ceremony to open the Supreme Court of Venezuela this year was concluded with the judges in their formal robes standing up and singing the Chavista chant Uh Ah Chavez no se va (Uh Ah Chavez is not leaving). When a once independent judiciary so openly displays its subservience to the President, it's pretty clear that any semblance Venezuela once had to a democracy is gone.

January 05, 2006

Go Chavez!

Hugo Chavez is pulling into the lead as LGF's Idiotarian of the Year competition for 2005 draws to a close. I'm usually a Kofi man myself, but it's important to vote strategically. Chavez is a far better choice than runners up Cindy Sheenan and the New York Times, and Kofi is out of the running this year.

The voting was supposed to be concluded last night, but evidently the polls have been kept open because of the long lines still waiting to vote. While you still can, go to LGF's main page to help give Chavez the honour he deserves.

UPDATE: Voting has closed, and it seems like Chavez has won it. But there may be a controversy as to whether he won it legitimately. Former IOTY winner Jimmy Carter has been summoned to adjudicate.

UPDATE II: Chavez has been robbed. There's a run-off election underway and Cindy Sheenan has a big lead. I think it was James Taranto at Best of the Web that boosted her vote. Chavez will have to wait until next year.

November 01, 2005

Chavez insanity watch

Hugo believes Halloween is part of the American's great plan to destroy him:

Venezuela's president has called on his people to ignore Hallowe'en, which he described as an American "game of terror".

Hugo Chavez claimed it was part of the US culture of "putting fear into other nations, putting fear into their own people".

Speaking during his weekly radio and television show, he described Hallowe'en as a "gringa", or North American, custom." Families disguise their children as witches," he said. "That is contrary to our ways."

One of the worst things about 'socialist revolutions' of the sort Chavez is promoting -- aside from the mass killings -- is that they're run by people with no sense of fun.

May 12, 2005

Speaking of Chavez...

I found this revealing post by Facundo Rivera on Arianna Huffington's new megablog. He seems to strongly support the guy:

As a proud member of the Hispanic-American lower-class hoi-polloi, I would like to say how much I support Hugo Chavez and his wonderful land reform program.

Life as a Venezuelan peasant is not chic. I have seen it on television while being driven to the aromatherapist. One gets calluses on ones hands from digging cassava. One cannot afford proper products for ones hair. One must walk everywhere or use seedy public transportation. It is not like America, where one works three or four hours a day telling others what to do and then relaxes in the rear seat of ones Bentley while motoring to ones customary table at The Russian Tea Room...

Wait a second. There's something wrong here...

Castro is nostalgic for the 70's

Fidel Castro, with the help of his sugar-daddy Hugo Chavez, has been implicated in a plot to deliver weapons to Marxist guerrillas in Mexico. It's not been enough for these two to stir up trouble in Bolivia, Columbia, and Brazil, now they're meddling in a country on the US border. They seem desperate to provoke some kind showdown with the US. I can't imagine how this will all end.