Monthly Archives: January 2010

Venezuela, a non-expert analysis

I just got back from Venezuela and had to make a few observations about how things are there.

First, I love Venezuela, but it definitely has some problems.  And it all stems from one person.  El Presidente, Hugo Chavez.

When you´re in Venezuela, it´s hard not to hear from, or about Chavez and his talking about the U.S.  In fact, there´s a great YouTube post (looking for the video, but can’t seem to find it) (It’s there now, in Spanish. thanks to Julia)from the OAS where the representative from Panama told the joke.

“When his wife cheats on him, a right wing fascist will beat her up.  A social conservative will plead with her “Why?” The communist will immediately collect all the stones around and start throwing them at the U.S. Embassy.”

In Venezuela, there is more than a little truth about that joke.

Throughout the whole country, there are rolling power outages and water shortages, all because Chavez long ago fired anyone capable of maintaining these infrastructures who was not Chavista.  So what does he do?  Does he try and fix the problems?

No.

Instead he throws rocks at the United States.  Chavez says U.S. planes are spying on him, that Obama is the same as Bush, and that a U.S. attack on Venezuela is coming anytime.

Listening to all this, there’s only one conclusion I can make.

He wishes the United States would invade.  It’s the only way he can get out of this complete fiasco he’s created for himself.

Think about this.  Ten years ago, Venezuela was exporting electricity to other countries.  Now there are shortages.  So much so that Christmas lights were forbidden in many areas.  Additionally, water is being rationed throughout the country.  In Caracas, the water is shut off so they can conserve.

Incredible.

Ask any Venezuelan about this.  They are tired.  Tired of lines 50 people deep waiting for the money machines with no power.  They are tired of shopping in dark malls because  whole cities lose power for hours on end.  They are tired of storing water so that they can use the toilet, or have a drink of water.  One woman said to me that if she had told people that Venezuelans were sitting in the dark”with no light and no water they would never believe us.”

It’s true.  And they know who’s to blame for it.

Oh yeah, elections are coming up this year, which could spell big trouble for Chavez.

If the elections are clean (a huge “if”, I know) there is a good chance that the congress could have a significant number of opposition members elected.  Why?  Opposition parties who have boycotted past elections in protest are instead organizing and winning.  There were several opposition wins last year for governor and mayors of major cities, including Caracas.  Of course, Chavez usurped the election and took away the winner’s powers, the police, etc.  That will be much harder to do if several opposition candidates gain seats in congress this year.

He will certainly try, but it may just backfire.

Many remember that when the first vote to change the Venezuelan Constitution, in order to let Chavez run indefinitely, failed Chavez tried to withhold the voting results until the military stepped in and said it would not support him if he didn’t acknowledge the results.

I can see a similar scenario unfolding again if Chavez, say, dissolves an opposition controlled congress.

His grip on the presidency is weak right now with many of his former supporters now turning against him.  He must tread carefully if he wants to remain president.

Chavez, of course, recognizes none of this.  He still grandstands, acts impulsively (devaluation anyone?), and still believes (and hopes) a U.S. invasion is coming.   It won’t of course.  And why would we?  Chavez is doing a fine job of losing his grip on Venezuela without our help.

So here’s to a hopefully happy, and Chavez free Venezuela in 2010.

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