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The Bolivarian revolution’s core brutishness, brutality, immorality and total absence of compassion were displayed to the world from Miraflores on 10 January.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, flanked by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, the entire Bolivarian cabinet backed by some thousands of “chavistas” chanting “We are Chavez” staged a bizarre ceremony to inaugurate/extend/perpetuate the 14-year government of President Hugo Chavez for another six years, until 10 January 2019.
A small group of current and former “international leaders” including (as @LIVEFROMMIND tweeted) “1 pederast, 1 adulterous priest, 2 dictators, 3 coupsters, 4 thieves, 1bought (tarifado),1 coca grower (cocalero), and 1 Absent president” were also in Caracas to show the radical Latin American left’s unshakable support for President Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution, which personally has paid off so handsomely for them.
The “Absent president” – Chavez – was in Havana’s Cimeq oncology center, hooked up 24/7 to machines to keep the cancer-ravaged leader breathing, fed and evacuated.
But Chavez was officially present in spirit – “We are Chavez,” the crowd chanted, while the visiting adulterous priest, Paraguay’s deposed president Fernando Lugo, declared that “Chavez now belongs to the Americas.”
Maduro, Cabello and gang set Venezuela’s temporary new course in two moves on 8-9 January, clearly orchestrated by a Cuban regime that infects Venezuela’s government as completely as the cancer that is killing Chavez.
First, the PSUV-controlled National Assembly voted on 8 January granted Chavez a “temporary absence” while he recovers from the cancer surgery he had on 11 December. This move extends the current (previous) government that was supposed to end on 10 January for 90 days, and can be extended to 180 days.
Second, Supreme Court chief justice Luisa Estella Morales announced on 9 January that Chavez’s presidency continues unbroken from the 2007-2012 period that ended constitutionally on 10 January 2013, through the 2013-2018 period. In effect, the court ruled that Chavez is an elected president, not re-elected, and the 10 January oath of office mandated by the constitution is irrelevant.
These Bolivarian regime actions perpetuate the government indefinitely. Chavez officially has all the time he might need to recover sufficiently to return to power in Caracas.
Alternately, Chavez also may recover sufficiently to take the new oath of office in Havana before the Venezuelan Supreme Court, which would set up shop in Cimeq, perhaps with Cuba’s government enacting a new law, decree, resolution or whatever establishing that Chavez’s bed in the ICU is sovereign Venezuelan territory – so that formalities can be observed.
Clearly, President Chavez will be kept alive as long as possible with machines, on 24/7 life support, pumped full of narcotics, antibiotics and intravenous fluids until his final heartbeat. How long can this go on? How many weeks or even months? Where is the line between life and death? Would the Bolivarian regime and Cubans keep the body alive on machines even if he is brain dead?
What extraordinary cruelty – keeping a dying man alive with machines and giving the cancer spreading like wildfire through his body more time to chew up his internal organs, climaxing eventually with massive organ failure and systemic infection.
The death of Chavez will be a game-changer for the Bolivarian/Cuban regime. When Chavez is irrevocably dead, the constitution finally will apply – theoretically, at least, given the assembly’s and supreme court’s penchant for doing whatever is politically expedient for the regime’s determination to remain in power.
But when Chavez finally dies, officially, will the Bolivarian/Cuban regime announce that he is dead? Or will the lies continue, with a dead president still officially imparting orders to Maduro and gang? Eventually the truth would come out.
Chavez dead would trigger new moves in this power struggle between chavistas, chavistas and more chavistas – with the Cubans trying to pull everyone’s strings. New presidential elections would have to be called, since it can be assumed reasonably that Chavez won’t survive the first four full years of the 2013-2018 period. The constitution states that if a president is incapacitated any time in the first four years of a six-year period, new elections must be held.
Maduro likely would be the PSUV’s candidate. Chavez officially anointed Maduro as his successor in the presidency on 8 December. Cabello and others might be tempted to undermine Maduro, but the vice president likely would continue in the presidency with the blessing of the assembly and high court, able to tap the state’s resources to fund his election as Bolivarian Venezuela’s new president. Maduro also hopes to capitalize on the Chavez sympathy vote.
But Maduro and the Bolivarian/Cuban regime also confront an explosive problem. The economy is tanking despite last year’s official 5.5% GDP growth, practically all of it due to two consecutive years of massive public spending that left the government with a fiscal deficit equivalent to about 17% of GDP, 20% inflation, and huge consolidated internal/external debts in excess of $200bn by some estimates. Pdvsa also is broken, perhaps beyond repair in its present form, and the private sector has been decimated.
Maduro, Cabello and the rest of the Bolivarian thugs in the current Cabinet are not competent managers by any stretch of the imagination. The can steal and destroy, borrow and spend, but they cannot create productive growth.
The government needs $5 billion per month to finance its deficit, Devil’s Excrement reports, confirming Bank of America’s recent assessment that the Bolivarian regime confronts a $65 billion financing shortfall in 2013 if it doesn’t enact reforms including a substantial currency devaluation, local energy price hikes and such.
The longer these reforms are postponed, the greater the overall macroeconomic impact on the populace. But the reforms will hurt as much as doing nothing. The regime’s options, basically, are to undergo painful economic surgery quickly or postpone the surgery so that the economy grows even sicker than it is now. Today it appears that the Bolivarian/Cuban regime has opted for postponing critically needed economic measures.
This year’s projected financial shortfall of $65 billion is equivalent to over two-thirds of the more than $92 billion of oil export revenues that Pdvsa generated in 2012, according to Central Bank’s preliminary year-end report. Last year imports also totaled about $55 billion, the highest one-year total in memory.
Venezuela imports more and more of everything, and exports less oil. But Venezuelan exports of human talent and capital have boomed during the Chavez era.
Delay could prove politically lethal for Maduro and gang. How will Maduro explain the economy’s crisis this year? Chavez died and the economy also went to hell. Who will he blame besides the gringos and the vast right wing international conspiracy to destabilize Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, steal its oil and enslave its people?
But a dim light glimmers in the past 72-96 hours. Henrique Capriles Radonski put it succinctly. Maduro and gang hold the reins of power; now let them confront/manage the economy’s plunge. The Bolivarian/Cuban regime controls the presidency, national assembly, supreme court, attorney general, solicitor general, and the armed forces.
Capriles Radonski’s defeat in last October’s presidential election may have been the best outcome for his political future, and for the country’s truly democratic forces – notice, we didn’t say “parties,” because most/all of the organized political parties don’t represent anyone except their own very narrow interests.
“I think this is exactly what Chavez wanted,” Devil’s Excrement remarked yesterday as we exchanged New Year’s greetings.
Crowd chant: “We are Chavez!”
Après moi, le deluge… digo yo.
The Bolivarian bus – without brakes or transmission, with flattened tires and lacking a driver – is plunging into a deep ravine, carrying a Venezuelan people that appear to be infected with a societal death wish.
Some of the passengers apparently think they’ll survive the plunge and continue gorging on freebies and thievery.
Others think that the Bolivarian revolution is immortal – that chavismo without Chavez will somehow prevail.
Still others apparently believe that they can strike deals to insure that they’ll walk away without a scratch from the imminent impact.
Fools, knaves, imbeciles and opportunistic bottom-feeders abound on the Bolivarian bus.
Hugo Chavez is dying, kept alive now only by 24/7 life support in a Havana oncology center, the moment of his death hastened by the incomparably incompetent Cuban physicians that Fidel and Raul Castro reportedly handpicked to treat Chavez’s cancer.
Thank you, Fidel and Raul, for ridding Venezuela of this pestilential plague named Hugo Chavez.…but was it accidental, or deliberate?
What we’re seeing now is a power struggle that pits chavistas against chavistas against more chavistas, like buzzards dancing around a moribund cadaver pecking each other in a feeding frenzy.
On the other side of the divide, the political opposition – aptly called the MUD – is more confused than anyone in this tragicomic drama.
MUD is irrelevant in these times.
The notion that MUD is united is laughable.
Who, and where, are the opposition’s leaders?
Henrique Capriles Radonski, Leopoldo Lopez, Pablo Perez, Maria Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma, Henry Ramos Allup and all the many other parrots and crows that flock together in the MUD?
Sure, Capriles Radonski officially captured over 40% of the vote in last October’s elections, but he still lost to a dying man who – let’s face it – is worshipped mythically by most of the country’s poor pueblo.
Capriles Radonski also won re-election as governor of Miranda, but certainly not by a landslide. He barely squeaked against a contender – Elias Jaua – that even most chavistas dismiss as a pathetic clown.
However, how many votes would Capriles Radonski likely win in new presidential elections where he confronts a larger field of presidential wannabes including most/all of the above opposition “leaders”?
Would AD and UNT support a new Capriles Radonski presidential candidacy, or try to make backroom deals instead with diverse factions of chavismo?
Reports of secret meetings between various factions of the MUD and the likes of Nicolas Maduro, Diosdado Cabello and Jose Vicente Rangel hint at double- and triple-crosses brewing inside the MUD.
It seems that everyone in the MUD nowadays has a Plan B under way to ensure their personal/political ascendancy – and screw the pueblo.
The State Department has confirmed it has been in contact with Vice President Nicolas Maduro, officially Chavez’s designated heir as “leader of the revolution.”
However, the US government is interested only in the military and civilian drug traffickers inside the dying Chavez regime, including First Brother Adan Chavez and Division General Cliver Alcala.
Venezuela under Chavez has become Latin America’s premier hub for drug trafficking and money laundering, bigger even than Mexico by some accounts.
The US government wants to shut down Venezuela’s drug traffickers, extradite them to the US and lock them up forever and a day.
Beyond that single US policy priority, the US government doesn’t give a damn what else happens in Venezuela, provided that the Consitution of Venezuela is upheld and respected.
It’s up to Venezuelans to deal with Venezuela’s problems, State Department official Roberta Jacobsen said very recently.
However, Maduro, Cabello, Jaua and the other Bolivarian gangsters determined to perpetuate their criminal regime already have announced that they will not abide by the Constitution’s explicit rules of the game.
So it’s very likely that the governments of the US, Canada, Spain and other democratic states will announce on 11 January or very shortly thereafter that they will not recognize the legitimacy of the Bolivarian government.
Venezuela’s government will be an illegitimate outlaw regime as of 12:01 AM on 11 January.
Cabello announced today that a bunch of world leaders will visit Venezuela on 10 January to show their support for the continuation of the Bolivarian government that, per the constitution, ends on 10 January and must be renewed officially with a presidential oath of office administered to President Hugo Chavez.
We’ll know in three days who’s coming to Caracas to praise the dying red Caesar.
Very possibly Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, Cristina Kirchner, and Daniel Ortega will show up. They know that when Chavez kicks the bucket, their days in power also will shorten dramatically after the Bolivarian financial spigot is shut off for good.
Possibly Raul Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could make appearances in Caracas as well on 10 January, although I wouldn’t bet on it.
Perhaps the Chinese and Russians will send someone important.
But my Russian, Chinese, Brazilian and even Cuban contacts report that their political and business bosses were all growing tired of Hugo Chavez’s worsening craziness in recent years.
It’s likely that not a single “critical world capital” will light a candle for Chavez or hasten to defend the continuation of Venezuela’s illegitimate Bolivarian government after 10 January.
Sure, professional idiots like Oliver Stone and Sean Penn may sputter gobbledygook.
But that’s to be expected, considering Hollywood’s longtime reputation as a haven for multi-millionaire communist jackanapes who collectively are dumber politically than a bowl of soup.
Wealthy armchair revolutionaries are surely a pathetic bunch of losers.
Give me Douglas Bravo any day. He has integrity, even if he is an unrepentant communist.
The political, economic and social situation in Venezuela is untenable.
The coming crash certainly will eclipse every previous crisis that Venezuela has experienced over the past 100 years or so.
Supposing for discussion that Nicolas Maduro manages to stay in the presidency after 10 January while Chavez lingers at death’s door, held back only by machines and an array of tubes to feed him and evacuate his piss and shit.
How will Maduro explain to the Venezuelan people why their economy has plunged into the ravine with the Bolivarian bus?
China won’t come to Maduro’s rescue financially.
Sure, the Chinese have loaned Venezuela about $50 billion since 2008, but that’s spit compared to the roughly $2 trillion to $3 trillion of dollar reserves held by China. More to the point, China’s real financial risk in Venezuela is a paltry $4 billion to $6 billion, according to my banker friends.
China can write off $6 billion without batting an eye.
The Chinese and Russians also are confident that après Chavez, and après the Boligangsters like Maduro and Cabello are out of the way, they can do more productive business with a legitimately elected Venezuelan government that will desperately need every cent it can obtain abroad to ensure that the country doesn’t plunge into a civil conflict as a result of a structural crisis that will take at least two decades to repair.
The chavistas will go for each other’s throats like starved rats trapped inside a barrel in a sinking ship. Count on that.
The MUD will be on the sidelines, making lots of noise but packing little punch.
Don’t expect the Bolivarian armed forces to ride to the rescue either.
A once-in-a-lifetime perfect storm is about to engulf Venezuela, and it could last for weeks and even months.
Batten down the hatches, mates, and ride it out as best you can.
Is President Hugo Chavez saying farewell to his pueblo, to Venezuela, to life even as he proclaims his victory in the 7 October elections? Presidential tears flow at approximately 2:34. From approximately 8:00 forward the president becomes increasingly emotional, closing his appearance in Elorza singing as he weeps.
“If I could, I would ask God to set me free again like the wind….”
Juan Carlos Caldera got caught (filmed) taking cash money from an agent of the fallen-from-grace Bolivarian shipping ‘entrepreneur’ Wilmer Ruperti, who surely qualifies as one of the biggest scumbags spawned during the era of Hugo Chavez.
Ruperti very clearly set up Caldera, who showed appallingly bad judgment by accepting a “contribution” in cash for the alleged purpose of financing his campaign for mayor of Sucre distict in Caracas.
But in the context of how Venezuelan politics is played, Caldera did not do anything particularly unusual and it can’t be said right-off that he is corrupt, except perhaps if one applies the old Venezuelan rubric, “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres….”
Some professional Venezuelan politicians have university degrees in law or another profession. Rafael Caldera was a lawyer. Jaime Lusinchi a physician.
But, mostly, professional Venezuelan politicians traditionally have abandoned their professions, if they had such before going into politics, and largely fund their political activities and personal lives with monetary contributions.
And when professional Venezuelan politicians and technocrats have gotten into power, it’s frankly astonishing how swiftly they become millionaires personally.
I’ve hung around professional Venezuelan politicians on and off for almost 40 years. I’ve personally known some who were wealthy before they got into politics, including several prominent figures in the MUD.
But I’ve known many more who didn’t have “dos cobres pa’ batir” before going into government, and yet somehow left their low-paying government jobs with titles to very expensive new “quintas” in upscale areas of Caracas, apartments in Miami and beach vacation homes.
This is as true for chavista politicians as it is for opposition politicians, not a few of whom (I suspect) have survived over the past 13-plus years of Chavez by taking regime money.
The regime is cackling gleefully, but many professional opposition politicos are of two minds, caught as it were between a rock and a hard place.
Many of the opposition politicians who watched Caldera crash in flames on video would agree, likely, that “there but for the grace of God go I…”
Private money funds professional politicians and election campaigns in Venezuela. That’s how it’s always been done in Venezuela and how it’s done in many democratic countries around the world.
But while large numbers of supporters make small individual contributions to political parties or individual politicians, the real money always comes from a small group of donors with a lot of cash in the bank.
Henrique Capriles Radonski reacted immediately to the PSUV’s disclosure of the video showing Caldera accepting cash in an envelope, announcing Caldera’s immediate expulsion from the MUD’s election campaign and his permanent separation from everything related to the Capriles campaign.
Primero Justicia, headed by Julio ‘Power Point’ Borges, also expelled Caldera from the party’s ranks, effective immediately.
The reaction from Capriles is understandable. This is Caldera’s mess, and his alone.
But Borges’ expulsion of Caldera from Primero Justicia without the benefit of a formal trial or hearing smacks of lynch mob justice – tossing Caldera out of the party, although Caldera didn’t do anything that Borges and others in Primero Justicia probably haven’t also done.
In fact, it wouldn’t surprise if the regime releases more videos like Caldera’s over the coming days.
The video is so obviously an entrapment of Caldera, whose unwitting stardom eminently disqualifies him from holding any kind of elected public office, including that of the city worker dressed in a clown’s costume who pushes a wheelbarrow at the tail end of parades to shovel up the horse dung left behind on the pavement.
Caldera has been around long enough to know, with certainty, that Ruperti is a longtime personal associate of President Hugo Chavez.
Caldera also must know that Ruperti is very crooked. He’d have to be deaf, dumb, blind and locked in a closet for the past decade not to know that Ruperti is a crook.
It’s a matter of public record that Ruperti is crooked, so crooked – in fact – that Energy Minister (and Pdvsa) president Rafael Ramirez refuses to pay Ruperti’s oil shipping companies over $300 million in past due invoices claimed by Ruperti.
“Ruperti and the minister had some differences a few years ago,” a contact close to Ramirez understated.
But even if Caldera didn’t know that Ruperti was a crook, a bit of Googling due diligence beforehand would have turned up sufficient information on Ruperti to suggest that Caldera shouldn’t be seeking or accepting even a penny from the disgraced Bolivarian shipping magnate.
This begs the question: Is Caldera crooked, or worse simply stupid?
If Caldera knowingly took cash from the crooked Ruperti’s personal agent, then Caldera is as crooked as Ruperti. That’s bad news for his supporters and the residents of Sucre district.
But if Caldera is stupid, that’s still bad news for the residents and voters of Sucre district. After 13-plus destructive years of Chavez and his Bolivarian thugs, who needs more stupid in public office?
Whether he’s crooked, or stupid, or both, Caldera ought to redeem what’s left of his savaged reputation and career by declining his candidacy for Sucre mayor. Personally, I wouldn’t want someone who takes cash from slimes like Ruperti to serve as mayor of my district.
Summer is ending, our elected gringo “leaders” soon will be returning to Washington, D.C., so it’s a good time to start blogging anew. I expect to continue writing about Roger Noriega’s activities, including the ongoing defamation lawsuit that exiled Venezuelan banker Eligio Cedeno has brought against Noriega and his Venezuelan associate Martin Rodil. But I’ve been reading a lot of history recently, so I’m returning from my summer vacation from blogging with the following historical anecdote reproduced verbatim from the memoirs of a former U.S. Ambassador who served in Central America during the mid-1980′s…
Dodd: Add Sleaze to Corruption
The regional security officer was upset when he arrived in my office the morning of February 20, 1987. His men – my personal security team, consisting of two U.S. officers and 14 Honduran contract employees – felt their professionalism had been compromised by the nocturnal pursuits of two visiting American senators: Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and a Democratic colleague of Dodd’s from a border state.
Dodd was a frequent and unwelcome visitor to Tegucigalpa where I was serving as Reagan’s ambassador. Besides overseeing U.S. support to the Nicaraguan Resistance (known as the contras), my instructions were to work closely with the Honduran government to strengthen democracy and aid that poverty-stricken country’s economy. Our aim, fully backed by Honduras’ government, was to cleanse Central America of the communist threat posed by rebel movements in El Salvador and Guatemala, aided by the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, Castro’s Cuba and the Soviet Union.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the subsequent impoverishment of Cuba, and the mistake of the Sandinistas in allowing a free election that ousted them from office put an end to the Central American crisis. But before that happened, Dodd had made it his business to try to undermine U.S. policy by seeking to persuade the Honduran government to withdraw its support to the Nicaraguan Resistance and to block further U.S. aid to the anti-Sandinista combatants.
Dodd – and a number of fellow-traveling congressional cohorts whom he was wont to drag along on his visits to Honduras – made our job more difficult, but we succeeded in thwarting him, and our relationship with the Honduran political leadership (government and opposition) remained strong and mutually-supportive.
When Dodd announced, on the second day of a three-day visit, that he and his sidekick would relieve the Embassy of responsibility for entertaining them that evening, and asked that we recommend a suitable restaurant, my staff and I were delighted to oblige. But given a high incidence of street crime, my security detail was assigned to escort them – to make sure they could enjoy a safe and relaxing evening together.
During Clinton’s presidency much was made of the risks inherent in a president’s losing confidence in his Secret Service detail – as would result from disclosures members of the detail might make about their principal’s “private,” personal activities. “Professionalism,” it was said, required that they remain impassively mum about any inappropriate extracurricular acts by their boss, so as not to lose his trust and thereby place him in greater jeopardy.
That argument was exactly backwards. It’s not the principal’s losing confidence in his security team that matters, but vice-versa. If the principal is a sleaze, his bodyguards will lose respect, and that can and will undermine their willingness to risk all on his behalf. In fact, expecting them to do so when the principal is engaging in immoral acts is a direct insult to their professionalism.
And that is precisely what happened in Tegucigalpa, with Dodd and his buddy.
The regional security officer was specific in his complaint.
“Sir,” he said, “my men consider themselves professionals. They weren’t trained to escort U.S. senators to whorehouses.”
He handed me a written report (naming the three bordellos visited – Villa Hermosa, Gran Via, Punta Azul), he wanted to know what the Embassy could do about it. Other than denouncing the two visitors to their hometown newspapers, which I’m sorry now I counseled him not to do, the answer was, absolutely nothing. Visiting members of Congress are pretty much untouchable.
But, lesson learned: Should the situation arise again where visiting members of the Legislative Branch wished to go off on their own, we would caution them that they’d be on their own if they went to certain areas of the city considered off-limits to Embassy personnel.
Shortly after this incident, a very senior Democratic senator, known for his probity, visited us, with his wife. One of the Embassy’s junior officers asked him point-blank why someone like Dodd would frequent whorehouses in a place like Tegucigalpa (where AIDS was known to be rampant). This visitor’s response (as reported to me) is not printable, but I’ve always wondered if he carried back a message of caution, if not remonstrance, to his sleazy Connecticut colleague.
On subsequent visits, Dodd, as far as the official record goes, managed to hold his baser instincts in check, if not his anti-Administration antics.
Gringo’s PS: The former senator from CT has been Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America since March 2011. Given Dodd’s historical record of ferociously opposing the US embargo against Fidel Castro’s Cuban dictatorship, I’ve always wondered if he was honeytrapped by Cuban G-2 in Central America or during one of his many trips to Havana.