After Hugo Chavez -?

Reply Tue 5 Mar, 2013 11:00 pm
I've seen other reports, whether all from the same source or not, I don't know. I don't see a reason for doubt. Do you?
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Reply Tue 5 Mar, 2013 11:10 pm
I recall him from the early 90's whe he was running around with his insurgent group. I was in Venezuela just before he got arrested and jailed.
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Reply Tue 5 Mar, 2013 11:27 pm
I'm sure he's getting prepped for a dirt nap. I'm not sure what happens now, probably a great humongous display of love for St. Hugo. Maybe he will get the Eva Perron treatment and be displayed like evita and Lenin.
Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 06:06 am
He was on the young side. With a little bit of luck he could have ruled another forty years.
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Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 12:12 pm
Yeah, that would really be beyond the pale for all the poor people that he helped. Weigh that against the same silly displays y'all go thru for your terrorist/war criminal presidents.

You really oughta be less of a hypocrite. Your US governments have done nothing for the people of Central and South America except exploit them, brutalize them, steal from them.
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Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 12:26 pm
There are two groups of chavistas.

The nationalist military, whose most important face is general Diosdado Cabello, head of Congress and the pro-Cuban civilians, whose figurehead is Vice-president (or President-in-charge) Nicolás Maduro, a former union leader.

A clash of sorts will come. And I personally distrust the nationalist military even more than the pro-Cuban civilians. Why? Because of corruption and a huge possibility of drug-traffic involvement.

Will the democratic opposition be able to thrive while the clash is in course? I don't know. So far, they have dissapointed me over and over. Chavismo is a complex phenomenon.
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Reply Wed 6 Mar, 2013 12:30 pm
How many billions did he and his family steal from the poor?
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Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 09:31 pm
Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, is a leading candidate for next collapsed state.

“To be Venezuelan today is to live on the edge of the apocalypse, convinced it will happen tomorrow,” said Alberto Barrera, a poet, screenwriter and biographer of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, in a recent conversation over coffee that was, by necessity, black. “But then, we’ve been expecting the crisis at any moment for years now.”

Inflation is running at over 50 per cent, a raging black market buys dollars at more than 10 times the official rate, domestic industry has all but shut down; there are critical shortages of many consumer staples, including corn flour for arepas, the national breakfast. TV stations – now all state-controlled – are full of ads that alternately denounce capitalism or show square-shouldered actors talking about how they don’t hoard and buy only what they need. Billboards boast of how socialist Venezuela has never been stronger; yet almost no one has toilet paper in their bathrooms.

The apocalypse hasn’t come yet. “The crash never comes because Venezuela has an insurance other countries don’t have – one of the largest oil reserves in the world,” said Jorge Roig, president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce. Venezuela’s economic indicators defy logic, he said, but the international thirst for oil has postponed the day of reckoning.

High oil prices funded Mr. Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution” over the past 14 years. He made massive investments in health and education; because the government releases almost no reliable data, it is debatable how much impact these had on human development, but they did inspire a belief in redistribution and justice, and ensured his huge popularity.

But since Mr. Chavez’s death nearly a year ago, it has become apparent that his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, lacks his charisma. Meanwhile, the safety net is starting to tatter. Production by the national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A, or PDVSA, is declining, although the government won’t say by how much. The company is crippled by debt, has no cash to invest in operations, must operate on the posted exchange rate, and has been turned into a bizarre do-everything organization that makes jam and processed chicken, builds houses and runs neighbourhood health clinics.

As uncertainty grows, Venezuelans must adapt to an ever-shifting reality. In the middle and upper class, this means cultivating friendships with grocery store clerks who text you when a shipment of butter comes in; shopping on credit cards, because the bolivare, the national currency, will be worth even less when the bill comes due; and sinking cash into hard assets such as a used car, if you can find one (the official waiting list at dealerships is years long.)

“I have so much sugar stacked up in my house you can hardly get in the door,” said Josefina Turco, a lawyer who was lining up repeatedly in stores on a recent afternoon to get ingredients for a birthday cake for her daughter.

People with access to dollars through jobs or travels use a vast network of illegal but openly operating currency traders to buy black market bolivares and fund a lifestyle that is perversely cheap (at 10 to 1 against the posted rate) even as prices shoot up. That cappuccino, if you can find the milk, is the equivalent of $6 at the posted price – but 60 cents in black-market bolivares.

For low-income people – about 40 per cent of the population – there are cushions, such as state-subsidized grocery stores, where the prices of staples are about half the market rate. There are state-imposed price controls on everything from TVs to rice and beans.

Many of the poor and lower middle class remain ardent supporters of Mr. Chavez’s socialist party and his redistribution project. “The Comandante in his 14 years of rule filled us with idealism … the idea that we are all entitled to a share will survive him,” said Henrique Ollorbes, 63, a retired firefighter whose extended family lives on a network of pensions, grants and schemes provided by the government.

But the cost of inflation is felt much more sharply in small household budgets, notes Richard Obuchi, a professor of public policy at Caracas’s postgraduate management institute IESA. So are the effects of a violent crime rate that was already high and is growing; low-income groups are also hit hardest by the declining qualities of health care, housing and public transportation.

“We work so much more than we used to,” said Nancy Ortega, a maid who toils in a leafy upscale suburb each day; a year ago she worked three days a week, and now it is five. Her husband works 9 to 5 in an autobody shop, then does odd jobs for four hours after it closes, and works both days on weekends. The family saves nothing; they spend additional earnings on school fees and food. The laptop they wanted to get their older child for school has doubled in price in the past few months, and her husband had to do even more extra shifts to get the younger one a video game system for Christmas. “He said, ‘Let her not feel like Santa neglects her’ – he doesn’t want the kids growing up like we did.”

This is Mr. Chavez’s Venezuela, said Luis Vincente Leon, who runs a public opinion firm in the capital. There is undoubtedly an economic crisis, “but even the poor have a high level of assets.” And, now, a high level of expectations.

The runaway inflation rate and shortages call for harsh economic medicine: a currency devaluation, an end to state subsidies, a lifting of exchange and price controls. Mr. Maduro has taken steps to reform the foreign currency market, obliging those who want dollars to buy them at auction and thus pay closer to the black market rate. But he has given no sign he intends to take more dramatic steps, and risk the ire of both his base and the hard-left political powers behind him.

Mr. Obuchi, the public policy expert, predicted another year of rising inflation and greater shortages. Mr. Barrera, the screenwriter whose telenovela business has decamped to Mexico, believes the end of the Chavismo project may finally come, in an instant. “The day that oil prices so much as flicker,” he said, “we become a cannibal society.”
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Reply Thu 20 Feb, 2014 03:28 pm
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Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2014 08:24 pm
What began as a student protest on Feb. 4, when activists gathered in the streets of San Cristobal to protest a crime wave that never seemed to break, has now spread across the South American nation once ruled by Hugo Chavez, leaving at least 15 dead, dozens more injured, and the future of the strongman's "Bolivarian Revolution" in an existential crisis.

Here is a look at some of the key players in the turmoil gripping the country.

President Nicolas Maduro

President Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor, Maduro formally took over the presidency after Chavez died on March 5, 2013. He defeated longtime foe Henrique Capriles in a special election 40 days later. Despite his close ties to "El Presidente," Maduro lacks his mentor's electric political persona and guile. To channel those unusual powers, there's usually a picture of Chavez by his side when he speaks in public.

Leopoldo Lopez

The young opposition leader with the matinee idol face surrendered to police on Feb. 18 after being accused of inciting violent protests against the Maduro government. Lopez is just 42 years old, but no political novice (as evidenced, in part, by his dramatic departure into the hands of national guardsmen).

Described as "arrogant, powerful and vindictive" by his former allies in the opposition, his resume includes a Harvard education and a stint as mayor of Chacao, the wealthiest district in Caracas. Two years into his time as mayor, he helped organize a failed coup against Chavez. For his trouble, Lopez - who, ironically, is a descendant of Simon Bolivar, the freedom fighter and president after whom Hugo Chavez named his "revolution" - was banned in 2006 from running for public office.

The Protesters

To the government, they are "fascists" taking cues from American imperialist infiltrators. To most neutral observers, they appear to be largely middle class students and workers who have been squeezed by a dire economy plagued by shortages: Medicine and toilet paper, most notably. Their demonstrations, which began as a reaction to unchecked violence, in particular the rape of a university student in San Cristobal, blew up after the government declared them illegal.

The protesters are not, to this point, coming from the country's poor communities, many of them deeply beholden to Chavista social programs.

Diosdado Cabello

The head of the power State Assembly, Cabello is also a powerful figure among the military elite. There was some thought he would use his leverage with the armed forces to leapfrog Maduro and claim himself as Chavez's heir after the president died. But Maduro moved quickly, winning his own election by a small but statistically significant margin, and the whispers soon faded. Today, any potential rivalry with Maduro comes second to their shared interest in keeping the Chavistas in power.

Rafael Ramirez

The state oil minister and "vice president for the economy" is one of Maduro's most powerful cabinet members. He has been tasked with managing the valuation of the Venezuelan bolivar, the country's fragile currency. He is the author of a plan that would allow private companies to exchange bolivars for U.S. dollars at a set rate. The goal: Take American banknotes off the black market and slow inflation.

Henrique Capriles

The opposition candidate in the last two presidential elections, he lost by 11 points to Chavez in 2012, then by just 2 points in his special election run against Maduro in March 2013. Capriles, governor of the large and economically powerful Miranda province, initially appeared open to negotiating with the government, but has withdrawn from a government-planned "peace conference."

"I am not going there to make Nicolas Maduro look good," he told reporters Monday, pointing to Leopoldo Lopez and other anti-government protesters now languishing in state prisons.

Hugo Chavez

Dead for more than a year, Chavez is still the most powerful political leader in Venezuela. Where Maduro can underwhelm at public events, the mention of Chavez, his image on a mural, fuels the Chavistas.

"Chavismo sin Chávez no existe," (Chavismo without Chavez does not exist) Elias Jaua, his former vice president, said in 2012 when concerns about the president's health threatened his reelection campaign. In 2014, his theory is being tested.
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2014 08:27 pm
A key player you forgot, Ed, the CIA.
Reply Thu 27 Feb, 2014 12:17 pm
Another key player, the Cuban government.
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2014 08:52 pm
Chaos, Chavismo and a Telenovela.
Very good.

Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2014 09:30 pm
Yes, good, thank you for the link.
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Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2014 09:32 pm
Re: JTT (Post 5593237)
Another key player, the Cuban government.

Continue, please, fbaezer.
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Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2014 09:46 pm
Well, not to be a Debbie Downer, but it appears that Dan Rather's source was legit.
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Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2014 09:54 pm
The CIA Is More Active Than Ever In Venezuela

by Jean-Guy Allard, Granma International

www.informationclearinghouse.info, 5/19/08

Her name and her accent are from the movies. Her manner of an incorrigible young girl, her humorous regard and ironic smile touch everyone. The daughter of a U.S. father and Venezuelan mother, Eva Golinger is a most unusual woman.

A lawyer trained in New York, she specialized in international human rights and left that U.S. metropolis to live in Venezuela, a country that she passionately defends.

Her book, The Chávez Code, which reveals U.S. intervention in this South American nation, was described by José Vicente Rangel, then vice president, as an "incredible record of Venezuelan experiences from 2001-2003."

Her most recent work, Bush vs. Chávez: Washington's War on Venezuela, documents the constant escalation of imperial attacks on the Bolivarian Revolution.

She attacks without blinking, without distinction, the CIA, the Pentagon, the NED, the RSF, USAID, the Venezuelan mafia in Miami or Colombian paramilitarism, with the ardor of an attorney confronting the court with irrefutable evidence in her portfolio.

From Caracas, the Venezuelan-U.S. lawyer and researcher Eva Golinger responds to some questions from Granma International:

It has been affirmed that the coup against Chávez was CIA-made. You have studied this case closely: how has this become more evident to you?

There are distinct factors that I have been able to detect and expose through an investigation that I began more than five years ago, utilizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to demonstrate the involvement of the CIA and other U.S. government agencies in the coup against Chávez. The most conclusive facts and evidence include a series of documents classified Top Secret by the CIA, dating from March 5, 2002 to April 17, 2002, which clearly refer to plans for a coup against Chávez: who, how, where and when, everything clear. One in particular, dated April 6, 2002; in other words, five days before the coup, emphasizes how the opposition sectors, the CTV, Fedecámaras (the country's main business federation), dissenting soldiers, the private media and even the Catholic Church were going to march through the streets in those first weeks of April and how the coup conspirators would provoke violence with snipers in the street, causing deaths, and then the intention to arrest President Chávez and other important members of his cabinet. After that, they would install a civic-military transition government. Anyone who knows what happened that April 11-12, 2002, knows that that's how it was, and after taking President Chávez prisoner, it was only U.S. government spokespersons who came out and recognized the coup government of Pedro Carmona, and moreover tried to put pressure on other countries to do the same.

So, those documents that clearly show knowledge of the detailed plans for the coup against Chávez, written by the CIA, are the most damning evidence confirming the role of the CIA in the coup. However, the fact that financial and advisory agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) financed all the groups, NGOs, trade unions, businesspeople, political parties and the media involved in the coup, also demonstrates overwhelming evidence of the role of the CIA and the other U.S. agencies in the coup against Chávez. After the coup, those agencies even increased their funding for the coup organizers themselves, something that re-confirms their commitment and their intention to continue with efforts to overthrow Chávez.

We could also talk of the role of the Pentagon and U.S. military, which trained the coup members, equipped them with weapons and promoted their actions.

In what way is the U.S. embassy in Caracas keeping up its interference?

The U.S. embassy in Venezuela is very active. These days, its main strategy is subversion. This is manifested by USAID, NED, IRI, Freedom House, CIPE, etc. funding of opposition groups, but there is also an attempt to penetrate the pro-Chávez sectors and communities. This last tactic is one of the most dangerous and effective. In 2005, William Brownfield, then U.S. ambassador in Caracas (he is now the ambassador to Colombia), began to open what they call "American Corners" in different Venezuelan cities. Currently, they are operating in Maracay, Margarita, Barquisimeto, Maturín, Lecherías and Puerto Ordaz. They are little propaganda and conspiracy centers that function as nuclei to recruit and bring together an opposition. To date the Venezuelan government has not taken any concrete steps to eradicate this illegal initiative (in violation of the Vienna Convention given that they are consular bases established without the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Relations).

The CIA and the State Department maintain various fronts in the country, as they always do. We have Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a U.S. corporation based in the El Rosal de Caracas sector, which functions as a money filter from USAID to the opposition sectors. Then there is the Press and Society Institute, part of the Reporters sans frontiers (RSF) network, which receives funds from the NED, USAID, the CIA etc. to execute its neoliberal, pro-U.S. policy and to attempt to accuse the Venezuelan government of being repressive and violating the rights of free expression and a free press.

Freedom House and the USAID are also financing right-wing student leaders and movements and sending them to Belgrade to train with experts in the Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and other so-called processes for "overthrowing dictators." Recently, the neoliberal right-wing Cato Institute think tank, which advises Bush and receives funding from Exxon Mobile and Philip Morris, awarded a "prize" worth $500,000 to the opposition Venezuelan student Yon Goicochea. The prize, which bears the name of Milton Friedman, who was an advisor to Nixon, Reagan and Pinochet and is the architect of the neoliberal policy and the "shock doctrine," is to finance a new, "fresh-faced" political party in Venezuela - a group of young people trained since 2005 by U.S. agencies that have had some influence over certain sectors during the last year.

They were thinking that this group could come to be a powerful political force being that it does not belong to the old corrupt politics of the country. However, we have been able to unmask the majority of them and demonstrate their relation with Washington as well as the politicos and elite that governed here before.

With the new CIA Special Mission for Venezuela and Cuba (set up in 2006), we know that the Agency is more active than ever in the country. The stronger and more popular Chávez and the revolution become, the more resources they are dedicating to neutralize it.

The residue of various Latin American dictatorships is currently to be found in Miami. The pro-Batista Cubans have dominated the city for years, but the number of so-called anti-Chavists is growing. What are your observations on this subject?


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