The big news for the past day or two has been a leaked tape of a conversation between Mario Silva, the hardcore Chavista spokesman anchorman of “La Hojilla” [The Razor] (a TV show on state-run TV channel VTV), and Aramis Palacios, a lieutenant colonel of Cuban G2.
In it, Silva suggests that the military – at the prodding of Diosdado Cabello – is plotting against Maduro.
Plus, in the scorecard,
100 points to Diosdado Cabello for being Darth Vader AND Hannibal Lecter on the same day. And then showing up at Miraflores just to mug for the cameras and rub it in Maduro’s and Silva’s face. Cue in Destiny’s Child “Survivor.”
And finally, a negative 857 points to the Venezuelan people, for if Diosdado gets his way and it’s true that he has, to quote Mario Silva, “all the power without being President,” we are about to enter a world of pain that no Cuban doctor can cure.
Caracas Chronicles concludes,
What’s clear, folks, is that Diosdado Cabello is untouchable. He is the pillar upon which “chavismo sin Chávez” is built. The evidence that Cabello is undermining the Revolution with his corrupt ways is staring Maduro in the eye just as clearly as that picture in the Museo Militar. When faced with the choice of throwing Silva or Cabello under the bus, Maduro chose Silva.
Indeed, Mario Silvia is off the air “for health reasons“, the Latin American equivalent of “spending time with his family.”
Economists say Venezuela’s shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government’s controls on foreign currency.
“State-controlled prices — prices that are set below market-clearing price — always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
Then the government raised prices by 20%, which will eat up the 20% raise in minimum salary that went in effect on May 1st.
According to the Spanish newspaper ABC, the Maduro dictatorship is blaming its opponents for Caracastan’s toilet paper shortage.
“The Revolution will import around 50 million rolls of hygienic tissue… so our people can calm down and realize that they should not allow themselves to be manipulated by media campaigns that speak of shortages,” said Minister of Commerce Alejandro Fleming, through the state-run Venezuelan News Agency.
Minister Fleming cited facts and figures to prove that the production and importation of toilet paper was more than adequate in Caracastan, and then claimed that a “sobredemanda” — a sudden spike in demand — fiendishly orchestrated by the government’s opponents had caused the product to disappear from store shelves throughout the country.
Considering the disastrous state of what’s left of the Venezuelan economy, it’s no wonder people may have the runs,
Finance Minister Nelson Merentes said the government was also addressing the lack of foreign currency, which has resulted in the suspension of foreign supplies of raw materials, equipment and spare parts to Venezuelan companies, disrupting their production.
“We are making progress … we have to work very hard,” Merentes told reporters Wednesday.
Many factories operate at half capacity because the currency controls make it hard for them to pay for imported parts and materials. Business leaders say some companies verge on bankruptcy because they cannot extend lines of credit with foreign suppliers.
Speaking of runs, consumers who had spent hours waiting in line were stampeding in Caracas when they heard chicken parts and flour were finally available,
accusing him of hoarding products as part of an “economic war” on the state by private business.
Mendoza, whose company is Venezuela’s biggest beer- and flour-maker, denied that and pointedly challenged the government to sell production plants nationalized under Chavez back to the private sector to boost efficiency.
Mendoza would not be intimidated, and at least for now, Maduro backed off.
Toilet paper buyers continue to wait in line,
Fleming, the commerce minister, said monthly consumption of toilet paper was normally 125 million rolls, but that current demand “leads us to think that 40 million more are required.”
“We will bring in 50 million to show those groups that they won’t make us bow down,” he said.
Hmmm… 125 + 40 – 50 still leaves you 115 million rolls short, Minister Flemimg.
The procedure uses a technique called follicle-hair extraction, in which doctors remove clusters of hair from the more hirsute areas of the body and implant them along the lip or cheeks to magnify a mustache or beef-up a beard.
We’ll draw a curtain over what “more hirsute areas of the body” they’re talking about.
One thing for sure, Venezuela’s Madurito Bandido doesn’t need no steenkin’ implants: he’s got the biggest mustache in the hemisphere,
Nicolás Maduro first said the yankis were going to kill Henrique Capriles, then he said the Salvadorans were plotting to kill Maduro, and now’s saying that Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe is plotting to kill him, too,
“Uribe is behind a plot to kill me,” Maduro said in a televised speech. “Uribe is a killer. I have enough evidence of who is conspiring, and there are sectors of the Venezuelan right that are involved.”
After Tuesday’s shameful assault at the National Assembly, people are trying to identify the man who punched Julio Borges.
Opposition assemblymen Maria Corina Machado and Julio Borges
Nancy Asencio broke Maria Corina Machado’s nose in four places; that much is clear.
What’s not totally clear is the identity of the man who punched out Borges. Two men have been identified: Michel Milán Reyes, Cuban who is currently a junior assemblyman in Venezuela while apparently also being president of a municipal assembly in Cuba,
or another man, a Venezuelan named Michael Leeroy Reyes Argote, who was identified in this photo,
Jaime Bayly named Milán Reyes as the perpetrator in his Tuesday show; the man who assaulted Borges stood behind a Chavista spokesman during the press conference following the altercation (4:05 into the video):
National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello is not content with not allowing the opposition assemblymen to speak (unless they recognize Maduro as “legitimate”, or so he says). Now Cabello unleashes thugs to assault and punch the assemblymen:
The real danger in Venezuela is not that an Obama administration unwilling to provide leadership in Syria would make any serious attempt to prevent Mr. Maduro’s consolidation of power. It is that Mr. Maduro will follow up on his jailing of an innocent American with a full-scale crackdown on the opposition.
Venezuelan authorities said Thursday they arrested a U.S. citizen they accused of trying to spark a civil war in the country with the aid of alleged right-wing youth groups following the contested April 14 presidential election.
Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez alleged that 35-year-old Timothy Hallett Tracy was trained as a spy by an unspecified intelligence agency and was involved with right-wing youth groups that investigators say were trying to stoke clashes between government supporters and opposition backers.
Curious about the country’s highly charged political situation, he had decided to see what was happening for himself. In the few months he had lived in Caracas, Tracy met and filmed Venezuelan students who form part of the country’s broad anti-Chavez movement, not an unusual activity for filmmakers or journalists.
And he remained in Caracas for much of the recent political crisis that began after Chavez’s battle with cancer took a turn for the worse in December.
racy had been detained at least twice before by Venezuela’s SEBIN intelligence police. The last time was five days before the April 14 presidential election when he was taking video of a pro-government rally in the port city of Puerto Cabello, said an associate who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to endanger people inside Venezuela.
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas declined immediate comment, citing citizen privacy.
In Washington, State Department spokesman William Ostick said U.S consular officials in Venezuela are attempting to meet and speak with Tracy. He declined to discuss details of the man’s arrest.
Yet more bizarre news from the capital: a 28-year old man named Yendri Sánchez rushed to the stage as Maduro rambled on about the Pope, yelling, “Nicolás, my name is Yendri, help me!”
The inauguration was taking place at the National Assembly, with guests of honor Presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Raul Castro of Cuba and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who I’m sure would not be amused at the prospect of their own inaugurations being interrupted.
Considering the amount of security, I’m wondering if anyone (Cabello? Cuba? drug lords?) is trying to send Maduro a message by allowing this to happen.
Things are not looking good for Venezuela,
The International Monetary Fund said this week that it expects Venezuela’s economy to contract 0.1 percent this year compared to 5.5 percent growth in 2012 and to have the region’s highest inflation at 27 percent, forcing an inevitable cutback in the public spending that was key to Chavez’s popularity.
Rest assured Cuba’s slice of the Venezuelan oil pie will remain unaffected.
Details of the audit were unclear. Ms. Lucena said the revision would be electronic and wasn’t the same as a recount, which is what the opposition had demanded following the election. “This should not be interpreted as any sort of ‘scrutiny,’” she said in televised comments.
Which, from the looks of it, means that they’ll just go over some data from the electronic voting machines while ignoring the paper ballots, fingerprint data, and the voting location records.
I do not want to offer any opinion because it is a complex matter to evaluate how good the news really is. Capriles team seems happy with it so for the time being let’s roll. However I will note that the CNE is talking of 30 days of audit and who knows how many more for a final verdict. In short the regime is accepting an audit as long as it gives it time to come up with a better strategy to confront the opposition and smash it down before the result is out. At least that is my worry at this time as a one week audit should already generate enough info to see if it is worth going on.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected calls for a recount of the country’s disputed presidential vote, even as the opposition submitted reports of thousands of alleged irregularities and the U.S. government reiterated its call for a new tally of ballots.
And as the military has been pressuring Maduro to allow a recount, the Impostor-President had none other than the President of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, Luisa Estela Morales, issue her already formed opinion, once again without the legal arguments being presented at the time in her Court.
Over in Rome, Venezuela’s ambassador to Italy, Julián Isaías Rodríguez Díaz, posed for the cameras holding the Cuban flag,