Hugo’s Pimps

Julio Borges, leader of Primero Justicia (the political offspring of Rafael Caldera’s faction in Copei, and self-proclaimed national opposition “leader” who doesn’t have a credible national support base), deplores the fact that President Hugo Chavez has “given away” to other countries “over $53 billion during the past ten years” while Venezuelans are gradually losing all access to hard currency.
Borges compares the billions given away regionally by Chavez with Cadivi’s recent decision to reduce the total sum of hard currency Venezuelan travelers are permitted annually from $5,000 to $2,500. This is a stupid comparison, given that probably 80-90% of Venezuelan inhabitants are poor, rely 100% on public transportation, and have a difficult time costing the price of a family day trip to a Venezuelan beach.
Holding a press conference to deplore the fact that 10-20% of the population henceforth will only get $2,500 per traveler annually indicates that whoever advises Borges on communications strategy ought to be fired for gross incompetence. Whatever happened to connecting with the poor voters who make up 80% of the electorate?
Borges could have argued a more compelling case by describing what $53 billion would have obtained over the past decade for poor Venezuelans in terms of decent housing, public education and public transportation; better infrastructure (electricity, potable water, cooking gas); improved public safety, etc.
Anyway, the total cited by Borges is very conservative. Other estimates of Chavez’s freebies to other countries as of third quarter 2008 generally total between $65 billion and $70 billion. In fact, depending on how the numbers are calculated and what is included (for example, the outstanding Petrocaribe debts which never will be repaid fully, or the millions of dollars Chavez has paid to US-based communist propagandists that pass themselves off as “think tanks” and “progressive policy experts,” it’s possible the ten-year total could easily top $100 billion.
It’s likely that never before in human history have so many pimps benefited simultaneously from the same one-person stable.
Borges says Cuba has been the biggest beneficiary of Chavez’s cash giveaways, receiving $19.7 billion from the Bolivarian revolution. We think Borges errs on the low side. Argentina ranks second with $8.56 billion, followed by Ecuador ($5.58 billion), Brazil ($5.25 billion) and Nicaragua ($4.88 billion). Bolivia appears to have been omitted, but we estimate President Evo Morales, who certainly qualifies as President Chavez’s most faithfully subservient puppy, has received at least $4 billion from Caracas.
The cash freebies and the debts owed regionally to Venezuela’s people will continue rising while Chavez remains in power and Venezuela’s oil revenues hold up (the price of oil will recover in about a year). Chavez must continue paying to keep all of his pimps happy to assure their continued political support and “friendship.” Part of these debts probably will be repaid over time, perhaps a third or so (optimistic forecast), but at least two-thirds likely will never be repaid. The historical record suggests strongly that perennially deadbeat governments like Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua will never fully repay their debts to the Venezuelan people. And neither will the Central American and Caribbean states currently receiving discounted oil supplies under PetroCaribe.

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About Caracas Gringo

Representing less than 0.00000000001515152% of the world population as of 31 December 2011.
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