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Author Topic: Venezuela  (Read 67459 times)
captainccs
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« Reply #150 on: October 07, 2012, 01:42:54 PM »

I walked  from Los Caobos to Altamira, a leisurely one and a half hour walk. There was a big turnout al all the polling stations I went past but one. Despite being "3a edad" (senior citizen) it took me from 9:30 to 12:00 noon (2.5 hours) to vote. They were applying "operación morrocy" (delaying tactics). Only four fingerprint machines (capta huella) were working and getting past them was snail paced. The actual voting was quite fast. Early on the picture of your candidate took a long time to show up and if you pressed the vote button before the picture was complete you vote was null. The notice spread quickly. For me the picture of the candidate appeared instantly. Earlier there were stories about the picture taking for ever.

The delay at the fingerprint machines was so bad that they had to allow people (at least senior citizens) to go past them but to do that you first had to find out the book and page where you are listed. There was only one set of lists and the crowding and shoving was quite disagreeable.

Why they had the fingerprint machines when you had to use a second fingerprint machine to vote is quite beyond me. Either bureaucratic stupidity or purposeful delaying tactics. During the several days leading up to Sunday it had rained and my gut feeling is that the government was trying to get the opposition to go home without voting. Today was a beautiful sunny day in Caracas. When the process got to be very slow people started chanting "we want to vote!" I'm not sure if that had any effect on the "authorities" but it did get me past the fingerprint machines.

Turnout was strong at all the polling stations I went past but one but that one never seems to have a lot of people. People were happy and determined to vote. I think we will have a good turnout.

Denny Schlesinger
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #151 on: October 07, 2012, 01:52:30 PM »

Electoral Tourism In Caracas (visit the link)
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #152 on: October 07, 2012, 04:07:01 PM »

It's 4:30 VE (local time) and the weather is holding up just fine which is good news as people won't need to flee the rain.



Chavez's socialist rule at risk as Venezuelans vote

By Daniel Wallis and Todd Benson | Reuters – 14 mins ago

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelans lined up for hours in searing tropical heat on Sunday to vote in the biggest electoral test yet to President Hugo Chavez's socialist rule from a young rival tapping into discontent over crime and cronyism.

Henrique Capriles, a centrist state governor, narrowed the gap with Chavez in final polls thanks to a vigorous campaign that generated widespread enthusiasm, giving the opposition its best chance in 14 years to unseat the popular president and take the reins of South America's leading oil exporter.

Chavez has used record oil revenue to support ideological allies around the world while preaching a fiercely anti-American line, so the election is being watched eagerly from the United States and Cuba to Belarus and Iran.

Thousands of Chavez supporters lined the streets to welcome him as he arrived at the school in a Caracas hillside slum where he cast his vote. Some handed him flowers, and one elderly woman serenaded the president with a folk song in his honor.

"Today is a day of joy, a day of democracy, a day for the fatherland," Chavez said, adding that a massive turnout meant that voting could take longer than expected.

In a show of vigor, Chavez - who underwent grueling cancer treatment in the past year - shadow-boxed with U.S. actor Danny Glover, who was on hand with some other celebrity fans of the Venezuelan leader to watch him vote.

In poor neighborhoods, where Chavez draws his most fervent following, supporters blew bugles and trumpets in a predawn wake-up call. In the run-down center of Caracas, red-clad loyalists shouted "Long live Chavez!" from the back of trucks.

Despite his remarkable comeback from cancer, Chavez, 58, could not match the energy of past campaigns - or the pace set by his 40-year-old basketball-loving opponent.

Capriles, who showed up to vote in his lucky shoes, struck a conciliatory tone, urging Venezuelans resolve their differences at the ballot box.

"Whatever the people decide today is sacred," he said to screaming applause from supporters. "To know how to win, you have to know how to lose."

In wealthy enclaves of the capital, Capriles supporters geared up for the vote by banging pots and pans overnight.

"Today I'm doing my bit to build a new Venezuela," said Francesca Pipoli, 26, walking to vote with two friends in the city's upscale Sebucan district. "Capriles for president!" all three sang in the street. "Henrique, marry me!" said one.

In the United States, Venezuelan expats flocked to New Orleans to vote - mostly for Capriles - after Chavez closed the country's consulate in Miami earlier this year.

NO FORMAL ELECTION OBSERVERS

Most well-known pollsters put Chavez in front. But two have Capriles just ahead, and his numbers have crept up in others.

Some worry that violence could break out if the result is contested. There are no formal international observers, but a delegation from the UNASUR group of South American nations is in Venezuela to "accompany" the vote.

Local groups are also monitoring the election and both sides say they trust the electronic, fingerprint voting system. The opposition deployed witnesses to all of the 13,810 polling centers, from tiny Amazon villages to tough Caracas slums.

In a politically polarized country where firearms are common and the murder rate is one of the world's highest, tensions have risen in recent weeks as both campaigns used harsh rhetoric. Three Capriles activists were shot and killed by alleged Chavez loyalists on September 29 at a campaign rally in rural Venezuela.

After voting, Chavez pledged to respect the election results and called on the opposition - who he suggested could cry foul if he comes out on top - to do the same. Some opposition activists fear Chavez could refuse to step down if he loses.

A Capriles victory would unseat the most vocal critic of the United States in Latin America, and could lead to new deals for oil companies in an OPEC nation that pumps about 3 million barrels a day and boasts the world's biggest crude reserves.

OBSTACLES TO ANY TRANSITION

Capriles wants to copy Brazil's model of respect for private enterprise with strong social welfare programs if he is elected - but he would face big challenges from day one. For starters, he would not take office until January 2013, meaning Chavez loyalists could throw obstacles in the way of the transition.

He would also have to develop a plan to tackle high inflation, price distortions and an overvalued currency, while surely butting heads with the National Assembly, judiciary and state oil company PDVSA - all dominated by "Chavistas."

Another big task would be to figure out the real level of state finances. Last month, a Reuters investigation found that half of public investment went into a secretive off-budget fund that is controlled by Chavez and has no oversight by Congress.

The president has denounced his foes as traitors and told voters they plan to cancel his signature social "missions," which range from subsidized food stores to programs that build houses and pay cash stipends to poor women with children.

Tens of thousands of new homes have been handed over this year, often to tearful Chavez supporters at televised events.

If Chavez wins, he would likely consolidate state control over Venezuela's economy and continue backing leftist governments across Latin America such as communist-led Cuba, which receives Venezuelan oil at a discount.

Any recurrence of Chavez's cancer would be a big blow to his plans, however, and could give the opposition another chance.

Investors who have made Venezuela's bonds some of the most widely traded emerging market debt are on tenterhooks.

"There is a perception that a tight electoral outcome may trigger social and political unrest and market volatility," Goldman Sachs said in a research note.

Voting runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (1030-2230 GMT), although polls will stay open later if there are still queues. Results are due any time starting late on Sunday evening.

The electoral authority says it will only announce the results once there is an "irreversible trend" and parties are barred from declaring victory in advance of that announcement. (To follow us on Twitter: @ReutersVzla) (For multimedia coverage, go to http://reut.rs/QzUtvN)

(Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne, Deisy Buitrago, Mario Naranjo, Liamar Ramos and Girish Gupta; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

http://news.yahoo.com/chavezs-socialist-rule-risk-venezuelans-vote-050439730.html
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #153 on: October 07, 2012, 10:10:11 PM »

It's official, Venezuela lost.

Very high turnout, less than 20% abstention. First bulletin with about 90% of the votes counted:

Chavez 54.44%
Capriles 44.97%
Others 0.60%

Denny Schlesinger


Hugo Chávez Reelected With More Than One Million Votes

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Denny Schlesinger
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #154 on: October 08, 2012, 02:23:00 AM »

So very sorry to hear that Denny.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #155 on: October 09, 2012, 11:16:44 AM »

So very sorry to hear that Denny.

Likewise.  This is a very bad thing for the people of the world and a really really bad thing for the people of Venezuela.

I wonder what to think of exit polls that showed Capriles leading narrowly.  I would think exit polls understate his support.  I didn't notice if we sent Jimmy Carter again to 'certify' the vote.

Interesting is the idea that if/when there is a demise of Chavez that Capriles from the opposition could be the next leader instead of some hand picked successor.
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captainccs
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« Reply #156 on: October 09, 2012, 11:41:06 AM »

Quote
I wonder what to think of exit polls that showed Capriles leading narrowly.  I would think exit polls understate his support.  I didn't notice if we sent Jimmy Carter again to 'certify' the vote.


It should not be surprising because the vote is very polarized. Where I voted you can be sure it was 80% for Capriles. In other places surely it's 80% Chavez. In the US Republicans and Democrats might live side by side. Here adecos and copeyanos (people voting for the former two major parties) would also live side by side but not so for chavistas and anti-chavistas although the chavistas who have enriched themselves are moving out of the barrios and into the upscale neighborhoods.

I visited my beach condo two weeks ago. It's full of chavistas. I was told that the apartment sold to the local mayor fetched more than the owner thought she would get. Prices are back up to US$1,000 a square meter. They had been as low as $375 around 2004. Nothing has changed, only we have new "Amos del Valle."

If Jimmy Carter came likely he would be lynched -  the weasel. As far as I know there were no foreign observers, for all the good they did in the past, I certainly didn't miss them.

Denny Schlesinger
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #157 on: January 04, 2013, 03:38:03 AM »

Yesterday I was struck by the headline: "The Post Chavez Era Is Here." In our highly regulated news industry, papers are not allowed to print what the government does not want people to see. If this headline was allowed it must mean that the government wants the people to get ready for a transition. Maduro, the bus driver turned vice president, has said that Chavez's condition was delicate. There are only six days to go to Chavez's inauguration. There has been talk about inaugurating Chavez on his sick bed in Havana, a truly preposterous idea but inline with Chavista opportunism.

This arrived by email:

Quote
Venezuela: Chavez In Coma - Report
January 2, 2013 | 0049 GMT

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's health continued to deteriorate Jan. 1, Colombia's Caracol Radio reported, citing a report from Spanish newspaper ABC. The report said Chavez is in a medically induced coma with weak vitals and that a biopsy during a Dec. 11 operation to extract 43.1 centimeters of his small intestine that left him unable to ingest solid food revealed cancerous cells in his intestinal wall and bladder. The report also said Chavez's cancer had spread to his spinal cord, the treatment of which requires a bone marrow transplant that he is unable to undergo because of respiratory complications.

Comments? Send them to responses@stratfor.com

http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=74786417f9554984d314d06bd&id=9abafcf8af&e=90672325cd
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #158 on: January 04, 2013, 03:48:12 AM »

Spanish Newspaper Says Hugo Chávez Is In A Coma And On Life Support
Matthew Boesler    | Jan. 2, 2013, 10:58 AM | 3,177 | 8

Sources told Spanish newspaper ABC that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is in an induced coma and being kept alive on life support in a Cuban hospital following emergency cancer surgery on December 10.

UPI has more details from the report:

Sources told ABC Chávez was breathing through mechanical ventilation and being fed intravenously and rectally, and Russian doctors treating him said his kidneys were failing.

The doctors were considering ending the life support, the newspaper said.

However, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro denied the report, saying that Chávez was in a conscious state.

Chávez recently named Maduro as his chosen successor should he be unable to serve his third term as president following his re-election in October. While Chávez has battled cancer for a while now, never has he taken the step of naming a successor, making the announcement significant.

Chávez is well known for his socialist government and economic policies. Investors have bid up both Venezuelan stocks and bonds this year (Venezuela was the world's best performing stock market in 2012) on hopes that the end of Chávez's rule in Venezuela will mean an end to those socialist policies and usher in a more business-friendly government.

Today, yields on Venezuelan government bonds are falling toward multi-year lows. The move reverses a climb upward in recent weeks after the Venezuelan government downplayed fears that Chávez's December 10 surgery didn't go well.

The yield on the Venezuelan 15-year government bond has fallen 40 basis points today.

Torino Capital CEO Jorge Piedrahita told Bloomberg News, "There is a clear correlation between the price of Venezuela’s debt and Chávez's health."

Today's report from ABC cites anonymous sources inside the hospital. Although it's been refuted by Maduro, it appears as if it's been enough to re-ignite investor speculation.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/report-chavez-in-coma-on-life-support-2013-1#ixzz2GzxNvsUO
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Denny Schlesinger
DougMacG
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« Reply #159 on: January 04, 2013, 12:01:57 PM »

If coma reports reports are true, then?

The constitution says Chávez, who in October won re-election to a new six-year term, is supposed to be sworn in a week from today, on Jan. 10. But his condition would appear to preclude that happening. So here’s what Article 233 says:

"When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election … shall be held within 30 consecutive days.”

http://world.time.com/2013/01/03/hugo-chavezs-constitution-is-a-muddled-map-out-of-venezuelas-crisis/#ixzz2H1wp6xrq
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captainccs
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« Reply #160 on: January 04, 2013, 12:20:51 PM »

Quote
"When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election … shall be held within 30 consecutive days.”


That is the crux of the matter. If Chavez can be sworn in Maduro becomes president. If not, chavistas have a good chance of losing the presidency. We fear that chavismo will go to any trickery to get Chavez sworn in, dead or alive.

Six days to go.

Denny Schlesinger
 
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #161 on: January 05, 2013, 06:19:47 AM »

The chavista Venezuelan Supreme Court is not an independent body. The court is populated with Chavez pupets and it acts like a rubber stamp. Now Maduro wants to use the rubber stamp to delay the swearing in of the president which it totally illegal.

I never doubted the dirty tricks were coming, the only unknown was the form they would take.


Chavez swearing-in can be delayed: Venezuelan VP

By Andrew Cawthorne and Deisy Buitrago | Reuters – 9 hrs ago

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez's formal swearing-in for a new six-year term scheduled for January 10 can be postponed if he is unable to attend due to his battle to recover from cancer surgery, Venezuela's vice president said on Friday.

Nicolas Maduro's comments were the clearest indication yet that the Venezuelan government is preparing to delay the swearing-in while avoiding naming a replacement for Chavez or calling a new election in the South American OPEC nation.

In power since 1999, the 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public for more than three weeks. Allies say he is in delicate condition after a fourth operation in two years for an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvic area.

The political opposition argues that Chavez's presence on January 10 in Cuba - where there are rumors he may be dying - is tantamount to the president's stepping down.

But Maduro, waving a copy of the constitution during an interview with state TV, said there was no problem if Chavez was sworn in at a later date by the nation's top court.

"The interpretation being given is that the 2013-2019 constitutional period starts on January 10. In the case of President Chavez, he is a re-elected president and continues in his functions," he said.

"The formality of his swearing-in can be resolved in the Supreme Court at the time the court deems appropriate in coordination with the head of state."

In the increasing "Kremlinology"-style analysis of Venezuela's extraordinary political situation, that could be interpreted in different ways: that Maduro and other allies trust Chavez will recover eventually, or that they are buying time to cement succession plans before going into an election.

Despite his serious medical condition, there was no reason to declare Chavez's "complete absence" from office, Maduro said. Such a declaration would trigger a new vote within 30 days, according to Venezuela's charter.

RECOVERY POSSIBLE?

Chavez was conscious and fighting to recover, said Maduro, who traveled to Havana to see his boss this week.

"We will have the Commander well again," he said.

Maduro, 50, whom Chavez named as his preferred successor should he be forced to leave office, said Venezuela's opposition had no right to go against the will of the people as expressed in the October 7 vote to re-elect the president.

"The president right now is president ... Don't mess with the people. Respect democracy."

Despite insisting Chavez remains president and there is hope for recovery, the government has acknowledged the gravity of his condition, saying he is having trouble breathing due to a "severe" respiratory infection.

Social networks are abuzz with rumors he is on life support or facing uncontrollable metastasis of his cancer.

Chavez's abrupt exit from the political scene would be a huge shock for Venezuela. His oil-financed socialism has made him a hero to the poor, while critics call him a dictator seeking to impose Cuban-style communism on Venezuelans.

Should Chavez leave office, a new election is likely to pitch former bus driver and union activist Maduro against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the 40-year-old governor of Miranda state.

Capriles lost to Chavez in the October presidential election, but won an impressive 44 percent of the vote. Though past polls have shown him to be more popular than all of Chavez's allies, the equation is now different given Maduro has received the president's personal blessing - a factor likely to fire up Chavez's fanatical supporters.

His condition is being watched closely by Latin American allies that have benefited from his help, as well as investors attracted by Venezuela's lucrative and widely traded debt.

"The odds are growing that the country will soon undergo a possibly tumultuous transition," the U.S.-based think tank Stratfor said this week.

(Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga; editing by Christopher Wilson)

http://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-vp-says-chavez-swearing-delayed-011654991.html
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Denny Schlesinger
DougMacG
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« Reply #162 on: January 05, 2013, 12:28:18 PM »

Chavez cronies addressing the inauguration question make the coma rumor look true.  I know nothing but it seems to me that cancer in the very late stages is a one way street.  The one saying otherwise is VP Maduro, as his one big shot at the Presidency may be slipping away.  "Chavez was conscious and fighting to recover", said Maduro.  If so, then what is the question about inauguration on schedule as required?

I would hope the opposition start right in with their campaign on Jan. 11 no matter what 'ruling' comes down.
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captainccs
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« Reply #163 on: January 07, 2013, 11:32:31 AM »

Received by email

Chavez's Health and Schrodinger's Cat

It is not often that we get to discuss quantum mechanics in relation to Venezuela, although my colleague Miguel does have a PhD from Harvard in physics, so over the years sitting on a trading desk next to each other you get to speak about almost everything as the days roll on.  (By the way, did you know that Venezuela had an experimental nuclear reactor -- the first in Latin America -- fifty years ago?  That came to light in one of our riffs back in 2008 when Venezuela President Hugo Chavez was promising to build a nuclear reactor with Russia in oil-rich Zulia state.
 http://www.laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=10717&ArticleId=320618 ) 
 
But I could have never foreseen that we would be able to allude to Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger in this missive.  Yet, Chavez has become Schrodinger's cat.  In that theoretical experiment (for you cat-lovers out there, no actual cats were injured), a cat is in a sealed box and may be alive or dead. Or both, in theoretical quantum mechanics.  Likewise, we don't know if Chavez is alive or dead. Some reports say Chavez is basically in a coma or being kept alive on life support. The government keeps saying that his situation is 'delicate' and that he will return 'sooner rather than later.' But the fact is that we have neither seen nor heard from Chavez in almost four weeks since December 10 and we don't know what his real situation is.  Nobody is letting us see inside the box in Cuba and everyone (including Chavez) is lying or obfuscating the truth.  And yet, people are trying to continue to rule in his name, even bending the Constitution to allow them to stay in power after the Constitutional term ends.  And worse, because Chavismo controls the legislature, the courts and all the other governing institutions of the country, there is no place for the Opposition to go to resolve it.   As Opposition Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma put it "Our President has been kidnapped" and we don't even have a "proof of life." This could get messy.

Russ Dallen
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #164 on: January 08, 2013, 07:27:43 PM »

Why am I not surprised?

Chavismo Takes The Path Of Maximum Illegallity In Venezuela

January 8, 2013

Chavismo and the Venezuelan National Assembly have today decided to follow the path of maximum illegality when they announced that Hugo Chávez will not show up on Thursday and will be sworn in a some time in the future by the Venezuela Supreme Court. At the same time, the National Assembly approved that President Chávez can take an unlimited leave of absence, something that it is unconstitutional and illegal.

The whole show is a bizarre and unnecessary twist to the problem of what to do with Chávez’ inability to be sworn in due to his illness, as this is simply a break with the laws and the Constitution that is likely to have repercussions beyond what Chavismo apparently believes.

The whole sequence of events is bizarre to say the least:

-It all starts by a letter by Vice-President Maduro, the person with the largest conflict of interest in all this, as his tenure as Vice-President clearly ends on Jan. 10th. with Chávez’ six year term. Moreover, there is not even the pretense of having Chávez sign the letter. If Chávez is doing better and will be able to be sworn in sometime soon, why didn’t he even sign the letter? Maduro clearly has no legal right to make this request for the Venezuelan President.

-As if this was not enough the National Assembly approves a spurious resolution, giving Chávez an unlimited leave and without even following what the law requires for a President, which is a medical committee giving an opinion and the Assembly approving the recommendation of such a committee. Only the Supreme Court could approve that you can extend to Art. 233 of the Constitution a President-elect, but under no circumstance could the Court or the Assembly grant Chávez an unlimited leave.

-In the case of a temporal absence, the Vice-President would become President, but since Chávez has not been sworn in, it is absolutely unconstitutional for current Vice-President Nicolás Maduro to extend his Vice-Presidency into the next term. Since Chávez has not been sworn in yet, and it Maduro says he will not be for a while, then the only legal solution is for the President of the National Assembly to become President until the situation is resolved with the approval of the Venezuelan Supreme Court (Which may still happen before Jan. 10th.)

What is scary about this whole situation is that if it does extend into Jan. 10th. Chavismo (And not Chávez! We do not know his opinion!) will be taking the country on a path of piling up one illegality on top of the other. This could take years to unravel, as someone has to run the country, but all decisions after Jan. 10th. will lack any legality and could be challenged some day. This could have dire consequences for the stability of the country medium and long term. Moreover, once someone decides to bypass the Constitution, all sorts of demons are unleashed among all of those aspiring for power.

I wonder if those demons are what is already causing these bizarre situation.

The question remains why this path has been chosen. Either Chavismo does not want or does not trust Diosdado Cabello as President or Chavismo (and the Cubans) have decided to turn the country into a Dictatorship, the Constitution be damned. The question is in the former case is why would Diosdado follow Maduro on this?

And as one analyst asked me yesterday: Will these guys even hold elections if Chávez dies?

You have to start wondering…

For the last few days, I have believed that a Constitutional crisis would be avoided when push came to shove. Right now, I can only sit here and hope that the Supreme Court will say something tomorrow, before Venezuela is taken into an unknown path packed with instability.

After Jan. 10th. anyone that sides with Chavismo and this foolishness will be on the side of illegality and and a coup. Remarkably, not one person on the Chavismo side has yet raised a voice of concern.

They have less than two days to speak up or side with those breaking with Venezuela’s Constitution.

http://devilsexcrement.com/2013/01/08/chavismo-takes-the-path-of-maximum-illegallity-in-venezuela/
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #165 on: January 08, 2013, 08:40:05 PM »

Denny S. post already states this but CNN also reporting Chavez will not be coming to inauguration.
http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/08/world/americas/venezuela-chavez/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Looks to me like it is all over midnight Thursday and the 30 day campaign begins.
-----------

IBD opins, among others regarding Chavez and the Cuban cancer treatments, that "it didn't have to happen this way."  The cancer may have been treatable at the Sirio-Libanese Hospital in Sao Paulo in Brazil.  (Chavez could have swallowed his socialist, anti-American pride and visited the Mayo clinic where other world leaders go.)
http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/010713-639640-castrocare-in-cuba-responsible-for-chavez-demise.htm
Hugo Chavez Hit By Cuba's Surgical Strike
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DougMacG
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« Reply #166 on: January 11, 2013, 12:00:25 PM »

Looking forward to our reports from Denny S.

"But in a telling sign of the severity of his illness, Mr. Chávez apparently sent no greeting to the crowds wishing him well. There was no message from him read to the tens of thousands of followers who attended the rally in front of the presidential palace. There was no video or recording from the once-omnipresent president, who has not been seen or heard from directly in a month.  There was not even any mention that Mr. Chávez might be watching the televised broadcast of the huge get-well rally held in his honor."  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/world/americas/a-celebration-that-accentuated-chavezs-absence.html

They had their celebration anyway - with a cardboard cutout of Chavez.

NY Times continued: "On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Chávez could be sworn in at a later date — but set no time limit." ...  "The opposition has called for a team of medical experts to go to Havana to evaluate his condition."

Venezuela does not have a President, the old term is over and the new term didn't start.  The constitution requires a new election in less than a month.  Both sides should get busy with their campaigns. 
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captainccs
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« Reply #167 on: January 14, 2013, 10:14:55 AM »

Received via email:


Good morning from Washington, D.C.  I have attached our latest BBO Report on Venezuela in which we take a look at the Venezuela Supreme Court's decision last week to interpret the Constitution to allow President Hugo Chavez to take the oath of office at a "later time and place" by being sworn in before the Supreme Court using the innovative new legal theory they introduced of "continuity."
 
I was fascinated to see that the Venezuelan Supreme Court reached all the way back to the one example in US history where a US Vice President was sworn in on foreign soil -- late and in Cuba, at that!
 
In 1852, Franklin Pierce had won the presidency and was sworn in on March 4, 1853, but his Vice President, Alabama Senator William R. King had developed tuberculosis (TB) and was in Cuba for the winter to get the warm air on his lungs to ease his symptoms.  TB was usually a death sentence in those days and he missed the presidential inauguration and in sympathy, his friends in Congress passed a law allowing him to be sworn in as Vice President from Cuba so that he might die with that title, and on March 24, 1853, 20 days late and on foreign soil, he took the oath of office.  Most ominously for Chavez, King returned to the US and died a few weeks later on April 18,1953.  Interestingly -- and confirming FDR Vice President John Nance Garner's comment that "the vice presidency is not worth a pitcher of warm spit" -- Pierce never filled the Vice President position for the rest of his term.
 
Of course, inaugurations took place later in the calendar in the 1800s, but Washington is all spiffed up and getting ready for Barack Obama's second inauguration on January 20.  In the spirit, I finally got to see Steven Spielberg's/Daniel Day Lewis's "Lincoln" at the movies.  Brilliant movie and you can see why it has 12 Academy Award nominations -- and why it is the first time Hollywood has voted for a Republican President in a long time!
                                                                                                                                                   
I am in D.C. because I, along with former US Ambassador to Venezuela Charles Shapiro, former Senior
Advisor to the White House Special Envoy for the Americas Eric Farnsworth, and Chris Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief of the Americas Quarterly, will be speaking about Venezuela and our predictions and prognosis for what will happen there at the Carnegie Endowment today at 11 here in Washington, D.C.  You can watch the session on C-Span on your TV or online here: http://www.as-coa.org/events/venezuelas-uncertain-future
 
As always, please don't hesitate to let me know if we can be of any assistance.

                                                                                                                     -Russ
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« Reply #168 on: January 15, 2013, 09:52:51 AM »

If the president is Hugo I can do without him for ever.  grin

Venezuelans wonder how long they can go without a president 

President Hugo Chávez is in power but incommunicado and the Supreme Court says he can stay that way indefinitely. But how long can Venezuela go on without a president?

BY JIM WYSS
JWYSS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

CARACAS -- Huddled in a doorway outside the pink and red presidential palace, Alexis León said he has faith that its tenant, ailing President Hugo Chávez, will be home soon.

Government officials insist that Chávez is alert and speaking to his family as he recovers from cancer surgery in Cuba. But in Caracas — where he hasn’t been seen or heard from in more than a month — there’s little to do but worry and wait.

“If he was my family member, I would also keep him from making any public appearances until he was completely recovered — anything for his health,” said León, 51, a theater professor. “He’ll be back; we just have to give him time.”

But many wonder how long Latin America’s fourth-largest economy can function with its leader in absentia and incommunicado.

On Monday, the coalition of opposition parties, known by its Spanish acronym MUD, released letters sent to the Organization of American States and the Mercosur trade group asking them to weigh in on what they see as a violation of the constitution that could “affect the stability of the region.” The coalition also asked to make its case before the permanent council of the OAS.

Despite Chávez’s frail health, the Supreme Court insists he is still in charge. That means that Vice President Nicolás Maduro does not have the power to appoint ambassadors or cabinet members or sign international treaties, legal experts said.

“How long do we have to wait for the president?” asked Miriam Berdugo de Montilla, an opposition lawmaker. “Who can tell us where the president is? What condition is he in? Where are they keeping him? Nobody really knows.”

The government says Chávez is in Havana being treated by an international team of experts for an undisclosed form of cancer that he’s been battling since at least June 2011. On Sunday, officials said he was alert and reacting “favorably” to treatment for a severe respiratory infection that has plagued his recovery.

But there are reasons for concern. Last week, Chávez purportedly sent a letter to congress asking for permission to miss his Jan. 10 inauguration. But the letter was signed by Maduro, not the president. And when tens of thousands of Chávez followers crammed downtown Caracas to mark his new six-year term, there were no recorded messages from Havana, as many were hoping.

“Imagine President Barack Obama not being touch, not even a picture or proof of life for 35 days,” Russ Dallen, a Caracas-based investor and journalist told a panel in Washington, D.C. on Monday. “It’s an amazing, amazing scenario.”

To complicate matters, the Supreme Court has turned down requests to send a medical team to Havana, and no doctors or independent observers have commented on his status. When a Brazilian diplomat visited earlier this month he called the president’s condition “grave,” but provided no details. Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Bolivia’s Evo Morales have also been recent visitors, but have remained mum about his condition.

The fact that the only people talking about the president’s health have a vested interest is suspicious, said Nelson Madrid, a 59-year-old music teacher who has lost confidence in the government reports.

“We need to hear from our president,” he said. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen we just have to hope it’s not bad.”

If Chávez were to die or step down, it should trigger new elections within 30 days. Before he traveled to Cuba, the president asked the nation to rally behind Vice President Maduro if he were sidelined by the illness. That would likely pit Maduro — a long time foreign minister — against Miranda Gov. Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chávez in October.

But none of the president’s followers have openly acknowledged life after Chávez. And the Supreme Court ruling presumes not only that he’s in charge but will return to be sworn in.

The opposition argues that Chávez’s absence on inauguration day required the president to be declared temporarily absent and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, also another Chávez loyalist, to take charge until the president returns.

“The most troublesome part is that the [Supreme Court] has, astonishingly, declared President Chávez is not absent and is in full control of his functions even though he’s been out of the country for more than a month and not even in condition to sign an official communiqué,” the MUD wrote to Mercosur, the influential trade group, which Venezuela joined in July.

For its part, the administration has called the Supreme Court decision a victory for democracy in a nation that overwhelmingly supported Chávez in the Oct. 7 presidential race.

The ruling has left the opposition with little room for legal maneuvering, but they have called for a peaceful march on Jan. 23 in defense of the constitution.

The government seems prepared for a showdown. Shortly after the protest was announced, Maduro called on security forces to be vigilant and shutdown opposition attempts to instigate violence.

“They’re trying to stain our politics and the victories this nation is conquering every day,” Maduro said of the protest.

For the moment, the constitutional debate has caused few international ripples. More than 20 international delegations were in Venezuela last week to mark Chávez’s new six-year term. And the Organization of American States and the U.S. State Department, among others, have said they respect the high court’s ruling.

But the longer the president is absent, the less tenable the situation will be, said Gregorio Gaterol, an opposition lawmaker.

“This Supreme Court sentence is a straightjacket for the opposition,” he said. “But over time, they’re going to get tied up in this decision also.”

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/14/v-fullstory/3182668/venezuelans-wonder-how-long-they.html
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« Reply #169 on: January 15, 2013, 11:56:56 AM »

The Council of the Americas hosted a roundtable discussion on Venezuela's choices as it faces a potential political transition.

Experts on the country discussed the uncertainty created by the potential transition, the prospects for change, the implications for Venezuela’s economy and how the U.S. and other countries will respond.

Participants included:
 •Charles Shapiro, President, Institute of the Americas, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela
 •Russell Dallen, President and Editor-in-Chief, Latin American Herald Tribune, Caracas
 •Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
 •Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
 
You can watch the High-Def C-Span feed, which they carried live, here:
 http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/FutureofVene

Or the Council of the Americas Website stream here
(skip the first 16 minutes, just the backs of the heads of the audience):
http://www.as-coa.org/events/venezuelas-uncertain-future

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« Reply #170 on: January 15, 2013, 01:44:10 PM »

Ambassador Charles Shapiro hit the bulls-eye when he said (in reply to Gustavo Coronel) that it must be the Venezuelans who solve their political issues. I agree entirely but people are not really interested in ideology, the interest is in making a living. As we say "redondear la arepa." The way to weaken the government is by dropping the price of oil but this hurts the people as much as it hurts the regime.

All in all I would give the panel high marks.

Denny Schlesinger

 
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« Reply #171 on: January 22, 2013, 10:52:13 AM »








Text Size
 













Summary
 


LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images
 
Posters of food prices in Caracas
 


Venezuela's worsening food shortages should be manageable through raising fixed prices on goods and decreasing the value of the country's currency, but these efforts will likely lead to more political pressure on the new government. Overall scarcity has reportedly reached its highest level in four years and comes at a time when President Hugo Chavez may be near death and uncertainty surrounds the next government. If the economy deteriorates, the public's support for the Venezuelan government is likely to do the same.
 


Analysis
 
According to the Venezuelan Central Bank, the overall scarcity index in Venezuela -- which relies on regular checks of store shelves to document when stores run out of basic goods, such as corn flour and cooking oil -- was reportedly 16.3 percent in December 2012. The actual scarcity index in December 2012 may have been as high as 20 percent, according to statements by the chief of Datanalysis, a reputable but opposition-oriented economic analysis firm. The average rate of scarcity between 2007 and 2012 was 14.2 percent. The worst scarcities were recorded in January 2008, when the scarcity index registered 24.7 percent. For comparison, during the period before Chavez's rule, from 1994 to 1999 the scarcity index averaged 4.34 percent.
 
Traffic disruptions may be responsible for some of the recent shortages. According to transportation groups, potholes in roads and other infrastructure deterioration have lengthened the amount of time it takes to transport goods to the degree that what had previously been one-day trips now take two or three. These traffic problems have been exacerbated by a decree in October that barred heavy trucking on holidays (including around the elections) and on weekends. The decree has been lifted, so this aspect may begin to improve. Public holidays may also have led to decreased production at state companies responsible for food products.
 
However, these logistical challenges are not likely to provide a full explanation for the shortages. For one thing, shortages have primarily affected the products that have the strongest price controls, like chicken, milk, sugar, flour and cooking oils. A few factors contribute to these shortages. First, stores may not be able to afford to sell at regulated prices if input costs experience inflationary pressure, which would increase costs for the store. Indeed, according to Venezuela's Central Bank, the price of agricultural products in Venezuela rose 35 percent in 2012, and farmers report that transportation and fertilizer costs have increased and can be difficult to secure. Rising input costs for price-controlled goods reduce profit margins, which could force producers to go out of business. Shortages caused by this process will prod the government to raise fixed prices once again, but continued inflationary pressure will shrink profit margins on goods even with the new price.
 
The second factor contributing to shortages is that people likely are moving goods out of the government-regulated market into black-market sales to get a better price. Though it is difficult to verify the degree to which this is occurring, the government has accused people of hoarding food to manipulate the market. Two such incidents have occurred in the past several days, including the seizure of 900 metric tons of powdered milk, announced by Venezuela's Bolivarian National Guard on Jan. 11. In an earlier case, Venezuelan officials arrested four employees of transportation and logistics firm TBC in the El Soco Industrial Zone in La Victoria, Aragua state, on charges of hoarding about 8,900 metric tons of refined sugar. TBC and PepsiCo Inc. protested the move, claiming that the sugar was legally imported in accordance with the processes of the central bank for the purpose of making soda. In total, the government claims to have confiscated 46 metric tons of foodstuffs in recent weeks that were stored for more than a week.
 






.
 

Scarcities are exacerbated by an active black market, particularly on Venezuela's border. The controlled prices in Venezuela are as low as one-third of the price of basic staples in Colombia. As a result, Colombians living along the border with Venezuela frequently travel over the border to buy cheaper -- and in many cases subsidized -- goods. This has long been true for gasoline, which is sold at far below the cost of production throughout Venezuela. It is also true for basic foodstuffs, and the additional demand cannot help but place additional strain on supplies. To the extent that Venezuelan producers are government-subsidized, this is also a drain on public resources. Nevertheless, cross-border purchases have a limited impact. The border of Venezuela and Colombia is lightly populated, and the bulk of the populations in both countries live farther into the interior. This distance and the difficulties associated with traveling in the Colombian countryside naturally limit the black- and gray-market exchanges between Colombia and Venezuela.
 
Perhaps the biggest challenges, and those most likely to affect Venezuela's economic stability in the long term, are issues associated with the country's import-export systems and the availability of hard currencies to the private sector. The application process for importing anything into Venezuela is inefficient, and companies frequently report delays in processing that disrupt commerce. In the final quarter of 2012, delays in licensing caused three bulk maritime shipments of wheat to sit at the dock in Puerto Cabello, resulting in wheat shortages, according to a report from Venezuelan newspaper El Universal. This is a case where, like in the hoarding instances mentioned above, the long-term storage of foodstuffs can flood the market once released. In some cases, food spoils because of these delays.
 
Imports are also limited by dollar availability, which is strictly controlled by the branch of the Venezuelan Central Bank that controls currency exchange. The central bank must be careful about its allocation of dollar reserves, since the bank is also responsible for financing a range of government activities, from transferring bulk funds to government slush funds like Fonden, or directly financing struggling state-owned industries.
 
Because the unofficial value of Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, has fallen to near 20 bolivares per U.S. dollar over the past two months and the central bank needs to hold the official exchange rate around 4-to-1, there is huge pressure on the central bank to devalue the official rate of the bolivar. Doing so would also relieve pressure on Venezuela's $29 billion in foreign exchange reserves, which would immediately cause inflation, forcing the Venezuelan population to accept a lower purchasing power for imports of consumable goods. This would surely have negative political consequences, but it would not be the first time Venezuela has had to devalue its currency. The government can be expected to react in other ways as well. Seizures of productive facilities cannot be ruled out, and the government may attempt to exert greater control over imports, as it has attempted to do previously.
 
Ultimately, as long as oil prices are high, Venezuela's macroeconomic picture will remain relatively stable. The political management of oil flows and the management of an increasingly state-dominated economy will be the test for a post-Chavez government. Changes such as exchange rate shifts that were made under Chavez's leadership may be more difficult without him present. From Vice President Nicolas Maduro's perspective, these difficult economic choices add to concerns about an erosion of support from the Venezuelan armed forces, government and populace. Chavez commanded the loyalty of all these groups, but a new government not led by the ailing Venezuelan president may lose public confidence if the economy continues to deteriorate.
 
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this report misstated the time frame for the rate of scarcity.
.

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« Reply #172 on: January 29, 2013, 01:40:38 PM »

Odd story:  Chavez allegedly released a statement to a international summit meeting in Chile yesterday.  Odd that he has not communicated to his own country yet and odd that the only person saying he is well and coming back and now providing and reading his alleged statement is the VP who would become President if Chavez ever gets inaugurated and has to step down.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/47b3b854-6973-11e2-9246-00144feab49a.html#axzz2JLEhWLdU

"Chávez calls for Latin American unity"
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« Reply #173 on: January 29, 2013, 05:38:15 PM »

Odd story:  Chavez allegedly released a statement to a international summit meeting in Chile yesterday.  Odd that he has not communicated to his own country yet and odd that the only person saying he is well and coming back and now providing and reading his alleged statement is the VP who would become President if Chavez ever gets inaugurated and has to step down.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/47b3b854-6973-11e2-9246-00144feab49a.html#axzz2JLEhWLdU

"Chávez calls for Latin American unity"

How do you say "Weekend at Hugo's" in Spanish?
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« Reply #174 on: February 03, 2013, 08:52:02 AM »

Venezuela Begins Its Controversial Economic Reforms
January 31, 2013 | 1130 GMT

Summary
 


With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez out of the country to receive medical treatment, Vice President Nicolas Maduro is leading the Venezuelan government's push to implement critical and overdue economic reforms. The government plans to address a number of challenges, including adjusting the currency exchange system, boosting the government's oil revenue and possibly even raising fuel prices, a maneuver that has led to massive unrest in the past. If mismanaged, the reforms could destabilize the country, but Caracas believes it must act now to keep the economy from deteriorating further.
 


Analysis
 
Uncertainty has surrounded Venezuela's leadership since Chavez arrived in Cuba on Dec. 11 for treatment after his cancer came back. Despite concerns that infighting among Chavez's inner circle might weaken the government in Chavez's absence, a team of ministers including National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Foreign Minister Elias Jaua appears to have overcome internal differences for now. A series of events in recent days and weeks has underlined the ministers' determination to deal with a number of economic problems that the government has long acknowledged but felt were not politically feasible to tackle until after the Oct. 7 elections.
 
Economic Troubles
 
Food shortages have hit the capital and a shortage in dollars has sent the parallel (gray market) exchange rate to new lows. The Venezuelan government's levels of subsidization, which were already high, grew steadily throughout 2012 as the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela campaigned for Chavez's reelection. These expenditures -- many of which are directly controlled by Venezuelan state energy company Petroleos de Venezuela -- have strained government resources, sending international borrowing up throughout the year. Although these fiscal expenditures reportedly declined in the wake of the October election, the government still has a serious cash flow problem despite high oil revenues.
 
The biggest immediate problem is pressure on the reserves at the Venezuelan Central Bank. The bank is struggling to meet demand for foreign currency while simultaneously transferring billions of dollars to the state's general fund. Changes made this week to laws regulating how Petroleos de Venezuela transfers windfall oil revenues to the government will see the Central Bank receive an additional $2.47 billion in 2013, and government officials are using that influx of cash to assure Venezuelans that dollars will soon become more available to facilitate the import of a range of basic consumer goods.
 
The move comes amid a national debate about the possible devaluation of the country's currency. The parallel market in Venezuela is selling dollars for 18-20 bolivars. The low value on the parallel market drives up demand for dollars at the cheaper official rate of 4.3 bolivars to the dollar and makes it imperative for the Central Bank to release only limited amounts of foreign currency to avoid draining its reserves. If the additional funds do not satisfy this demand, the government may have no choice in the near term but to devalue the bolivar.
 
Venezuelan Economy and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani has publicly opposed devaluation out of fears that it could increase inflation, the official rate of which decreased to around 20 percent in 2012 but has run as high as 30 percent in previous years. In addition to increasing the amount of revenue it hopes to pull from the energy sector, the government might require gold mining companies to sell gold to the government, according to reports from Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional on Jan. 28. On that same day, Ramirez announced the opening of three additional gold blocs for exploration.
 
Perhaps most startling is a report from the website Runrun.es, which frequently reports leaked information from the regime's inner circle, alleging that the government is concerned enough about the country's economic situation to seriously consider raising the domestic price of gasoline. With enormous pressure on Petroleos de Venezuela to subsidize government economic activities, it makes a great deal of financial sense to raise the price of gasoline. Petroleos de Venezuela has a limited ability to absorb the costs associated with a very low domestic price of gasoline, which is sold for around 2 U.S. cents per liter. While a reasonable option in financial terms, the move could pose serious political challenges.
 
The State Oil Company's Role
 
For better or worse, Petroleos de Venezuela plays a pivotal role in the Venezuelan economy. Since the early 20th century, when commercial exploitation of Venezuelan oil began, the oil sector has absorbed nearly all investment into the country. Likewise, government revenue has depended on the national oil company, which has over the past century experimented with a variety of ways to manage the resource. The belief that the country's oil wealth should be spread among its citizens is widespread in Venezuela. That sentiment has for decades driven populist policies, including austere price controls on refined petroleum fuels.
 
Some small adjustments to the price of gasoline have occurred over the years, most recently in 2000. The most significant attempt to raise the price of gasoline came in 1989, at the end of a decade of economic turmoil and at a point when the government could no longer afford to absorb the cost of subsidizing fuels. In one of his first acts as president, Carlos Andres Perez announced an austerity package created in partnership with the International Monetary Fund. The changes included drastic reductions in state subsidies on a range of goods, including transportation and most notably fuel. Further changes included currency devaluation and raising interest rates to 35 percent.
 
The changes were deemed necessary because, under the leadership of Perez's predecessor, Jaime Lusinchi, social spending policies had drained government coffers and eroded the oil industry's ability to subsidize the country. The elimination of fuel and other subsidies sparked riots that lasted several days, left several hundred people dead and injured thousands. Known as the "Caracazo," the Caracas riots of 1989 left a lasting impression on the Venezuelan public and continue to serve as a warning to Venezuelan politicians regarding the potential costs of unpopular economic choices.
 
The situation leading up to the 1989 reforms was not terribly different from the challenges facing the Venezuelan government today. In this context, any report that Venezuela's top leadership might seriously consider raising gasoline prices is notable. But today's politicians know how real the possibility of violence is. Consequently, if the government is indeed serious in considering these reforms, any major cuts in spending or changes in the subsidization of fuel and other basic goods will be done in a gradual and targeted manner.
 
Chavez is reportedly recovering, but his role in governing is unclear and likely limited. Still, the Maduro-led government will be able to use the ailing president, even in absentia, to minimize public opposition to these gradual changes. Venezuela is already dealing with significant food shortages and deteriorating infrastructure, and the risk of domestic unrest should not be underestimated. Some sort of leadership transition over the course of the next year still appears likely, and Maduro and his allies, in order to use Chavez's popularity to support the moves, will try to enact these economic reforms before Chavez is removed from the political stage.
 
The current changes under way demonstrate the Venezuelan government's belief that it can secure additional resources. Its options also include foreign direct investment or loans from friendly countries like China and Russia. Indeed, Caracas announced Jan. 30 that Russian oil firm Rosneft will invest $10 billion over eight years in Venezuela's Junin 6 oil block, where Rosneft will take the lead in a consortium, partnering with PDVSA. But relying on foreign direct investment and on the potential for future increases in oil and gold income is a long-term strategy. In the meantime, the government will likely be pushed to make changes to currency exchange rates and boosting revenue within the next several months.
.

Read more: Venezuela Begins Its Controversial Economic Reforms | Stratfor
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« Reply #175 on: February 05, 2013, 06:05:43 AM »

February 4 is the anniversary of the failed Chavista coup that left over 100 people dead. Yesterday, total apathy!

I was out running errands yesterday, February 4. Nobody gives a damn. Not about the coup, not about the revolution, not about Chavez, not about the opposition. Everyone is busy surviving. The revolutionary speeches blare from radios, I comment out loud that these were assassins. People smile and go about their business. The grocery store owner has time enough to say: “They will do anything to hang on to power” and turns to take care of the next customer.

Total apathy.


Nothing To Celebrate In Venezuela, Twenty One and Fourteen Years Later

http://devilsexcrement.com/2013/02/04/nothing-to-celebrate-in-venezuela-twenty-one-and-fourteen-years-later/

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« Reply #176 on: February 08, 2013, 04:16:30 PM »

I have yet to see these Bloomberg news confirmed in the local press.

Last June the parallel exchange rate was around 9 per dollar. Today it is 20 per dollar. See: El Liberal Venezolano


Venezuela Devalues Bolivar by 32% Amid Shortage of Dollars

By Charlie Devereux & Jose Orozco - Feb 8, 2013 5:04 PM GMT-0430

Venezuela devalued its currency for the fifth time in nine years as ailing President Hugo Chavez seeks to narrow a widening fiscal gap and reduce a shortage of dollars in the economy.

The government will weaken the exchange rate by 32 percent to 6.3 bolivars per dollar, Finance Minister Jorge Giordani told reporters today in Caracas. Companies with operations in Venezuela, including Colgate-Palmolive Co., Avon Products Inc. and MercadoLibre Inc., fell on the announcement.

A spending spree that almost tripled the fiscal deficit last year helped Chavez, 58, win a third six-term term. The devaluation can help narrow the budget deficit by increasing the amount of bolivars the government receives from oil exports. Chavez ordered the move from Cuba, where he is recovering from a fourth cancer surgery, Giordani said.

“Any tackling of the massive economic distortions, even if far more is required, is positively viewed by markets,” Kathryn Rooney Vera, a strategist at Bulltick Capital Markets, said in an interview from Miami. “We expected more and more is indeed needed to correct fiscal imbalances and adjust economic distortions, but this is something and there may be more to come.”

Yields Fall

The yield on Venezuela’s dollar bonds maturing in 2027 fell 10 basis points, or 0.10 percentage points, to 8.70 percent at 4:43 p.m. local time. Venezuelan bonds have returned 39 percent over the past year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBIG index.

While a weaker currency may fuel annual inflation of 22 percent, it may ease shortages of goods ranging from toilet paper to cars.

In the black market, the bolivar is trading at 18.4 per dollar, according to Lechuga Verde, a website that tracks the rate. Venezuelans use the unregulated credit market because the central bank doesn’t supply enough dollars at the official rates to meet demand.

Venezuela’s fiscal gap widened to 11 percent of gross domestic product last year from 4 percent in 2011, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The government will keep the currency at 4.3 per dollar for certain imports that were ordered before Jan. 15, he said. The new exchange rate will begin operating Feb. 13, central bank President Nelson Merentes said.

The central bank-administered currency market known as Sitme that traded at 5.3 bolivars per dollar will be eliminated, Merentes said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net; Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-08/venezuela-devalues-currency-from-33-to-6-30-bolivars-per-dollar.html
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« Reply #177 on: February 08, 2013, 07:12:37 PM »

A currency doing worse than the US$ is in trouble.

How is inauguration going?  No news for almost a month?
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« Reply #178 on: February 14, 2013, 03:22:34 PM »

Still no public appearance of Hugo Chavez.  The updates come only from the VP.  Has anyone else heard from him?

Chavez undergoing "delicate" cancer treatment: Venezuela's vice president
Reuters

    Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro (C) and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello (R) stand next to a painting of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as they attend the commemoration of the 21st anniversary of Chavez's attempted cuop d'etat in Caracas February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge SilvaView Photo

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is undergoing "complex" alternative treatments more than two months after having cancer surgery in Cuba, his vice president said on Wednesday.

The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public since he went to Havana for the operation on December 11, his fourth surgery for cancer in 18 months.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro did not give details of the alternative treatments the president was receiving. Chavez has never said what type of cancer he is suffering from, and critics accuse the government of excessive secrecy over his condition.

"Today our commander is undergoing alternative treatments ... they are complex and difficult treatments that must, at some point, end the cycle of his illness," Maduro said in comments on state TV.

The government, which rejects allegations it has not been transparent about Chavez's health, says he has completed a difficult post-operative period and has started a "new phase" of his recuperation. It has not given details of this new phase.

Any new vote in South America's top oil exporter would probably pit Maduro, Chavez's heir apparent, against Henrique Capriles, the 40-year-old governor of Miranda state, who lost to Chavez in last October's presidential election.
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« Reply #179 on: February 14, 2013, 04:50:41 PM »

The "alternative treatment" is likely to be embalming so he doesn't stink up the place too badly!
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« Reply #180 on: February 15, 2013, 07:54:04 AM »

I was out and about the streets of Caracas for  good part of the day yesterday. If I hadn't read the news I would never have known that thing were that bad around here. There is a huge disconnect between the political activists and the ordinary people who just want to go about living their lives.

That is not to say things are "normal" [whatever normal might mean]. Recently there was a shortage of some of the drugs I use on  regular basis, metformin, the one controlling my type two diabetes, being a critical one. That does not mean I had run out of the drug. We know that with price controls shortages are the norm, not the exception, so we stockpile critical items: drugs, powdered milk, olive oil, rice, toilette paper. Some people stockpile frozen meat in industrial size freezers...

http://softwaretimes.com/files/el%20congelador.html

I could not get the slow release version, instead I was pleasantly surprise that the pharmacy bill came to only BsF 80.00 (US$3.65 at the parallel rate) for 50 days worth of metformin, 60 days worth of another drug and a jar of Tums (75 tablets). A closer look at the bill revealed:

Metformin (50 days): BsF.8.74 (US$0.40) -- about the price of 4 bananas
Allopurinol (60 days): BsF.13.52 (US$0.61) -- about the price of 3 heads of garlic
Tums (75 tablets): BsF.58.18 (US$2.65) -- probably more in line with US prices

I said above "pleasantly surprised" because the controlled release version of Metformin, which is not price regulated, would have cost closer to BsF. 200.00 (US$9.00), 23 times the price of the regulated drug.

This tinkering with prices kills any economy which is why socialist countries tend to suffer shortages. With us this is not a new Chavista phenomenon, it has been the norm ever since we had price controls.

Powdered milk, usually absent from grocery stores, is a case in point. Our cows don't seem to make enough milk and we import the powdered milk, not that you would know it from the tins which never mention any country other than Venezuela. The other day I saw a pile of 100 pound sacks of powdered milk from New Zealand in a delivery truck. I asked where they were delivering the milk. They replied that it was charcoal. It seems the sacks get recycled, good show! But the powdered milk is imported, nonetheless.

BTW, Miguel, the author of the following article, is safely in Miami. He used to work for the government a long time ago as head of one of our better research labs. He quit because politics was getting in the way but that was a long time before Chavez. I mention it only to show that the Chavez show is not all that different from our previous "demodesgracia" (demo disgrace), our pseudo democracy. It's mostly that there is a new set on "ins" and the old "ins" who are now "outs" are mad as hell.



Students Chain Themselves In Front Of Cuban Embassy In Caracas And Other Stories
by moctavio

Today there were protests by Venezuelan students in front of the Cuban Embassy in Caracas. The National Guard decided to repress and seven students were jailed (later freed). Some students went to where the others were being held, while twenty six of them chained themselves in front of the Cuban Embassy, where there is a sot of Mexican stand off at this time.



Meanwhile, the Government no longer knows how to explain the devaluation. Maduro says that it is a speculative attack by the private sector, in a country with draconian foreign exchange controls. Jaua says that the "people" were not benefiting from the "cheap" dollars. Giordani says that they have screwed up all along, that SITME was "genetically perverted", that Venezuelans have a "dollarized nymphomania" and he knows all about the tricks to get CADIVI dollars illegal but has done nothing about it. Merentes gives Globovision a rambling non-sensical interview. (As a former scientist, I loved (cringed?) at his statement that scientists never rule out anything. Really Nelson?)

Meanwhile, Jaua cancels his visit to Peru to go to Cuba in the middle of rumors that Chavez is back in intensive care, while Marquina (@Marquina04)  says "La razón de la falla respiratoria es sin duda las metástasis a nivel pulmonar e invasión del drenaje linfático" (The reason for the respiratory failure is without any doubt the metastasis at the lung level and invasion of the lymphatic fluid"

A normal day elsewhere in Venezuela. Historian Napoleon Pisani, a fellow blogger,  was killed in a robbery at a museum, while a former national water polo champion was killed in a robbery.

Something seems to be reaching boiling point in Caracas.

http://devilsexcrement.com/2013/02/14/students-chain-themselves-in-front-of-cuban-embassy-in-caracas-and-other-stories/
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« Reply #181 on: March 05, 2013, 03:59:45 PM »

Live signal from Globovision:

http://www.globovision.com/envivo.htm
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« Reply #182 on: March 05, 2013, 04:14:53 PM »

Live signal from Globovision:

http://www.globovision.com/envivo.htm

Yes!
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« Reply #183 on: March 05, 2013, 04:30:54 PM »

I can't rejoice about anyone being dead as glad as I am that Chavez is gone. It is eerily quiet in Caracas. When the announcement was first made I heard a couple of kids shouting the news, that's how I found out. But the kids were quickly silenced.

Back in 2004 I said that Chavez would die of natural causes while still in office. I got that right.

Now the fun begins, can Chavismo survive without the charismatic leader? It's not a question of politics but one of immense wealth from oil, from drugs, from kickbacks.
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« Reply #184 on: March 05, 2013, 06:52:14 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2013/03/05/breaking-hugo-chavez-is-dead/

Breaking: Hugo Chavez is dead; Update: Democratic rep mourns; Update: So does Jimmy Carter
posted at 5:21 pm on March 5, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Well, that’s that: Chavez’s lieutenants have been insisting for months that the Venezuelan president would be making a full recovery from his cancer-related operations and that Venezuelans had no cause for alarm — but they’ve been getting notably less vociferous about the whole thing recently, and that charade is officially over. The Associated Press is reporting that the longtime socialist-Marxist leader died on Tuesday afternoon:

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, surrounded by other government officials, announced the death in a national television broadcast. He said Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. local time. …

Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June 2011 to remove what he said was a baseball-size tumor from his pelvic region, and the cancer returned repeatedly over the next 18 months despite more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He kept secret key details of his illness, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors. …

Two months after his last re-election in October, Chavez returned to Cuba again for cancer surgery, blowing a kiss to his country as he boarded the plane. He was never seen again in public. …

After a 10-week absence marked by opposition protests over the lack of information about the president’s health and growing unease among the president’s “Chavista” supporters, the government released photographs of Chavez on Feb. 15 and three days later announced that the president had returned to Venezuela to be treated at a military hospital in Caracas.
Update: So, what’s next for Venezuela now that their corrupt, destructive, America-hating, socialist leader is no more? Either Vice President Nicolas Maduro or National Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello will become interim president for thirty days while the country engineers a special election — and without Chavez to figurehead his “Chavismo” movement, the outcome isn’t necessarily a sure thing.

[A]lthough his cronies and their Cuban handlers are maneuvering to hold on to power, a Chavista succession is neither stable nor sustainable. With more audacious leadership among Venezuela’s democrats and intelligent solidarity from abroad, Chávez’s legacy might be buried with him.

The foundations of Chavismo are being shaken by an impending socioeconomic meltdown, a faltering oil sector, bitter in-fighting in his own movement, complicity with drug-trafficking and terrorism, rampant street crime, the inept performance by Chávez’s anointed successor, and growing popular rejection of Cuban interference, corrupt institutions, and rigged elections. Beset by these challenges and with Chávez no longer at the top of the ballot, the regime will use every advantage to engineer a victory in a special election to choose a new president.
Update (AP): Speaking of Maduro, he’s a low-rent anti-American populist crank from the same mold as his former boss. If you thought that Chavez shoving off might make way for detente between the U.S. and Venezuela, think again:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was infected with cancer by “imperialist” enemies, his No. 2 alleged on Tuesday, adding that the socialist leader was suffering his hardest moments since an operation three months ago…

“We have no doubt that commander Chavez was attacked with this illness,” Maduro said, repeating a charge first made by Chavez himself that the cancer was an attack by “imperialist” foes in the United States in league with domestic enemies.

“The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health,” Maduro said, comparing it with allegations that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, may have been poisoned by Israeli agents.
Read this old Hitchens piece from 2010 about seeing Chavez’s crankery up close. Even his lackey Sean Penn couldn’t break through the wall of paranoia, which included skepticism about the moon landing.

Update (AP): The main plot right now is Chavez’s death and the subplot is creepily affectionate reminiscences from some of his fellow travelers on the left. (John Sexton notes on Twitter that Chavez ultimately proved too tyrannical even for Noam Chomsky.) Soon, though, as the shock of the news about his demise recedes, those two will reverse positions. Here’s your early leader for useful idiot of the day. He’s a congressman, of course:

Jose E. Serrano ✔ @RepJoseSerrano 
Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.


Update (AP): No surprise here:

George Galloway @georgegalloway 
Farewell Comandante Hugo Chavez champion of the poor the oppressed everywhere. Modern day Spartacus. Rest in Peace.

Update (AP): David Frum points to this piece from a few years ago estimating that the Man of the People had amassed a private fortune of $2 billion.

Update (AP): Michael Moynihan’s acidic obit at Newsweek is the one you’ll want to read. As he reminds us, there was no monster Chavez wasn’t willing to hug in the name of anti-American camaraderie. He was a proud supporter of Saddam, Mugabe, Qaddafi, and of course Bashar Assad, not because they overlapped much philosophically beyond authoritarianism but because they were all antagonists of the United States. That was Chavez’s core shtick — anti-colonialist vaudeville at the expense of the west’s superpower.

Update (AP): You outdid yourself on this one, Jimbo. I want to say “unbelievable,” but no, it’s quite believable.

Statement From Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on the Death of Hugo Chavez

Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías. We met Hugo Chávez when he was campaigning for president in 1998 and The Carter Center was invited to observe elections for the first time in Venezuela. We returned often, for the 2000 elections, and then to facilitate dialogue during the political conflict of 2002-2004. We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized. Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.

President Chávez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment. During his 14-year tenure, Chávez joined other leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to create new forms of integration. Venezuelan poverty rates were cut in half, and millions received identification documents for the first time allowing them to participate more effectively in their country’s economic and political life.

At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing. We hope that as Venezuelans mourn the passing of President Chávez and recall his positive legacies — especially the gains made for the poor and vulnerable — the political leaders will move the country forward by building a new consensus that ensures equal opportunities for all Venezuelans to participate in every aspect of national life.
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« Reply #185 on: March 10, 2013, 10:22:53 PM »

Venezuela's Capriles joins race, tussles with Chavez heir
By Andrew Cawthorne and Marianna Parraga | Reuters – 43 mins ago

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's opposition leader vowed on Sunday to fight late Hugo Chavez's preferred successor for the presidency next month and the pair quickly locked horns in an angry war of words.

Henrique Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor, will face election favorite and acting President Nicolas Maduro. The pair must register their candidacies for the April 14 vote on Monday.

The election will decide whether Chavez's self-styled socialist and nationalist revolution will live on in the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves.

"I am going to fight," Capriles said at a news conference. "Nicolas, I am not going to give you a free pass. You will have to beat me with votes."

Former Vice President Maduro, 50, a husky one-time bus driver and union leader turned politician who echoes Chavez's anti-imperialist rhetoric, is expected to win comfortably, according to two recent polls.

Maduro pushed for a snap election to cash in on a wave of empathy triggered by Chavez's death Tuesday at age 58 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was sworn in as acting president on Friday to the fury of Capriles.

"You have used the body of the president for political campaigning," Capriles said of Maduro on Saturday, triggering an angry rebuke.

Maduro accused Capriles of sowing hate.

"You wretched loser!" Maduro said of Capriles in a televised speech. "You have shown your true face - that of a fascist."

Capriles, the centrist Miranda state governor who often wears a baseball cap and tennis shoes, lost to Chavez in October. But he won 44 percent of the vote - the strongest showing by the opposition against Chavez.

Capriles has accused the government and Supreme Court of fraud for letting Maduro campaign without stepping down.

Opposition supporters were trying to raise their spirits despite the odds.

"There's no reason to think that the opposition is condemned to defeat," Teodoro Petkoff, an anti-government newspaper editor, said on his Sunday talk show.

MADURO RAILS AGAINST CAPRILES, IMPERIALISM

Maduro has vowed to carry on where Chavez left off and ratify his policy platform. He acknowledged he has big shoes to fill.

"I am not Chavez - speaking strictly in terms of the intelligence, charisma, historical force, leadership capacity and spiritual grandeur of our comandante," he told a crowd on Saturday.

Chavez was immensely popular among Venezuela's poor for funneling vast oil wealth into social programs and handouts.

The heavy government spending and currency devaluations have contributed to annual inflation of more than 20 percent, hurting consumers.

"Maduro's success will depend on if he can fix the economy and its distortions," said a former high-level official in the Chavez government who declined to be named. "If he does that, he could emerge as a strong leader instead of one who is an heir."

Maduro's first official meeting on Saturday was with officials from China, whom Chavez courted to provide an alternative to investment that traditionally came from the United States.

He has adopted his mentor's touch for the theatrical, accusing imperialists, often a Chavez euphemism for the United States, of killing the charismatic but divisive leader by infecting him with cancer.

Emotional tributes were paid at a religious service at the military academy housing Chavez's casket on Sunday. Several million people have visited his coffin so far and his remains will be moved on Friday to a museum where a tomb is being built to show his embalmed corpse.

He may be moved later to another site next to the remains of his hero: 19th century liberator Simon Bolivar.

Chavez scared investors with nationalizations and railed against the wealthy. In heavily polarized Venezuela some well-to-do citizens toasted his death with champagne.

If elected, Capriles says he would copy Brazil's "modern left" model of economic and social policies.

Given the state resources at Maduro's disposal and the limited time for campaigning, Capriles faces an uphill battle.

"If the opposition runs, they'll lose. If they don't run, they lose even more!" tweeted Andres Izarra, who served as information minister under Chavez.

The opposition rank-and-file is heavily demoralized after losing last year's presidential race and getting hammered in gubernatorial elections in December, stoking internal party divisions.

"There's no doubt that it's an uphill race for Capriles," local political analyst Luis Vicente Leon said. "The trouble is that given the race is so close to Chavez's death, emotions get inflamed and the candidate probably continues to be Chavez rather than Maduro."

(With reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez, Simon Gardner, Terry Wade, Pablo Garibian, Deisy Buitrago, Mario Naranjo and Enrique Andres Pretel; Editing by Stacey Joyce and Cynthia Osterman)

http://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-opposition-leader-joins-presidential-race-004657986.html
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« Reply #186 on: March 11, 2013, 08:50:51 AM »

Capriles Accepts Challenge Against Nicolas In Venezuela’s Election
March 11, 2013

A forceful Henrique Capriles went on TV last night and accepted the challenge to run against Venezuela’s interim President Nicolas Maduro, in a speech that quickly proved what I suggested on Saturday: Politics is back in Venezuela now that Chavez is absent.

Capriles was extraordinary in a very strong speech, which was carefully thought out. At all times, Capriles was very respectful of Hugo Chavez and fairly dismissive of Nicolas Maduro, whom he referred to as Nicolas or “Nicolas, chico” all the time. In one of his best lines, Capriles said, “Nicolas is not Chavez and you all know it, even Chavez complained about those that surrounded him and those are the people that want to govern you”

He noted that the Government and Nicolas had been lying to the people and he was very inclusive, saying he was not running for himself or to get power, but because he wanted Venezuela to do better. He offered a Government for all.

On the lying, he suggested that Chavez had been dead a while, asking how come all of the t-shirt and flags were ready for the funeral and support for Nicolas.

He blasted the Minister of Defense, not only for his illegal support of Nicola’s candidacy, but also he told him he was a disgrace, finishing next to last in his military class.

He had very unkind words for the Head of the Electoral Board, who wore a revolutionary arm band at Chavez’ funeral an asked her for respect, not for him, but for the Venezuelans who are not Chavistas and for the law.

By being forceful and confrontational, Capriles was not only re-energizing the voters, was clearly choosing a different campaign strategy than the one against Chavez. He knew then he had to be respectful of Chavez and he is ever more respectful now, but now he is completely critical of Nicolas and his cohorts. Capriles also seems to recognize that politics changed in Venezuela when Hugo Chavez passed away on March 5th.

And that this is the case was proven immediately, when Nicolas could not wait and had to respond to Capriles within the hour, something Chavez would have never done. Nicolas came and tried to blast Capriles, but his speech was too forced. And in a clear sign that Chavismo is worried about participation in the upcoming election, Nicolas announced that on the same day there will be a referendum to change the Constitution so that Chavez can be buried in the Panteon Nacional immediately. This was clearly a ploy to have the Chavista rank and file more involved in the upcoming election, but Capriles and the opposition can simply bypass the issue by backing the referendum and saying that if the people want it, it should be done.

But more importantly, Nicolas’ speech demonstrated what a weak candidate and poor politician he is. The campaign is too short for Capriles to overcome the abuse of power of Chavismo and the sympathy vote, but it seems as if Capriles had given the whole thing a lot of thought. And in the opening moments of the campaign, score one for the challenger.

http://devilsexcrement.com/2013/03/11/capriles-accepts-challenge-against-nicolas-in-venezuelas-election/


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« Reply #187 on: March 11, 2013, 11:40:34 AM »

Looks like Capriles is off to good start.  No pressure, but what Venezuela does in the next 30 days may determine their future for the rest of our lifetimes.
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« Reply #188 on: April 02, 2013, 09:32:25 AM »

Looking forward to our first-hand reports.  This story is sickening.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20130330/DA5BL3VG1.html

Chavez's legacy gains religious glow in Venezuela
 Email this Story

Mar 30, 4:58 PM (ET)

By JACK CHANG

(AP)In this March 8, 2013 file photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro stands in front of a portrait of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez...

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Holding a Bible in her arms at the start of Holy Week, seamstress Maria Munoz waited patiently to visit the tomb of the man she considers another savior of humanity.

The 64-year-old said she had already turned her humble one-bedroom house into a shrine devoted to the late President Hugo Chavez, complete with busts, photos and coffee mugs bearing his image. Now, she said, her brother-in-law was looking for a larger house to display six boxes' worth of Chavez relics that her family has collected throughout his political career.

"He saved us from so many politicians who came before him," Munoz said as tears welled in her eyes. "He saved us from everything."

Chavez's die-hard followers considered him a living legend on a par with independence-era hero Simon Bolivar well before his March 5 death from cancer. In the mere three weeks since, however, Chavez has ascended to divine status in this deeply Catholic country as the government and Chavistas build a religious mythology around him ahead of April 14 elections to pick a new leader.

(AP) In this July 4, 2011 file photo, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez kisses a crucifix as he...

Chavez's hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, has led the way, repeatedly calling the late president "the redeemer Christ of the Americas" and describing Chavistas, including himself, as "apostles."

Maduro went even further after Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis earlier this month. Maduro said Chavez had advised Jesus Christ in heaven that it was time for a South American pope.

That comes as Maduro's government loops ads on state TV comparing Chavez to sainted heroes such as Bolivar and puts up countless banners around the capital emblazoned with Chavez's image and the message "From his hands sprouts the rain of life."

"President Chavez is in heaven," Maduro told a March 16 rally in the poor Caracas neighborhood of Catia. "I don't have any doubt that if any man who walked this earth did what was needed so that Christ the redeemer would give him a seat at his side, it was our redeemer liberator of the 21st century, the comandante Hugo Chavez."

Chavistas such as Munoz have filled Venezuela with murals, posters and other artwork showing Chavez in holy poses surrounded by crosses, rosary beads and other religious symbolism.

(AP) In this March 5, 2013 file photo, candles, placed by mourner demonstrators, burn in front of...

One poster on sale in downtown Caracas depicts Chavez holding a shining gold cross in his hands beside a quote from the Book of Joshua: "Comrade, be not afraid. Neither be dismayed, for I Will be with you each instant." The original scripture says "Lord thy God," and not "I," will accompany humanity each instant.

The late leader had encouraged such treatment as he built an elaborate cult of personality and mythologized his own rise to power, said Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, a University of Georgia media studies scholar who hails from Venezuela.

She said Chavez's successors are clearly hoping that pumping up that mythology can boost Maduro's presidential campaign, which has been based almost entirely on promises to continue Chavez's legacy. The opposition candidate, Gov. Henrique Capriles, counters that Maduro isn't Chavez, and highlights the problems that Chavez left behind such as soaring crime and inflation.

"They're fast-tracking the mythification," Acosta-Alzuru said of the government. "Sometimes I feel that Venezuelan politics has become a big church. Sometimes I feel it has become a big mausoleum."

Teacher Geraldine Escalona said she believed Chavez had served a divine purpose during his 58 years on earth, including launching free housing and education programs and pushing the cause of Latin American unity.

(AP) In this March 8, 2013 file photo, supporters of Nicolas Maduro watch on a giant screen...

"God used him for this, for unifying our country and Latin America," the 22-year-old said. "I saw him as a kind of God."

Such rhetoric has upset some religious leaders and drawn the reproach of Venezuela's top Roman Catholic official, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, on the eve of the Easter holidays.

"One can't equate any hero or human leader or authority with Jesus Christ," Urosa warned. "We can't equate the supernatural and religious sphere with the natural, earthly and sociopolitical."

Chavez, in his days, crossed paths frequently with Venezuela's church, which sometimes accused the socialist leader of becoming increasingly authoritarian. Chavez described Christ as a socialist, and he strongly criticized Cardinal Urosa, saying he misled the Vatican with warnings that Venezuela was drifting toward dictatorship.

Emerging this week from a church on the outskirts of Caracas, Lizbeth Colmenares slammed politicians from both sides for using derogatory language in the campaign, particularly during Holy Week.

(AP) In this March 5, 2012 file photo, a mural imitating the religious painting The Last Supper covers a wall of a popular housing complex, showing from left to right, Fidel Castro, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, Jesus Christ, Simon Bolivar, Venezuelan rebel fighters Alexis Gonzalez and Fabricio Ojeda and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela...

"They are not following the words of Christ," said Colmenares, a 67-year old retiree who was holding palm fronds woven into the shape of the Holy Cross. "They should be more humble and they shouldn't be attacking each other that way."

Of course, politics and religion have long mixed in Latin America, starting with the Spanish conquest of the New World, which Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes famously said was carried out "between sword and cross."

In the 20th century, Argentine first lady Eva Peron helped start a leftist Latin American pantheon after her untimely death in 1952. She's since become a veritable saint for millions in her homeland, with pictures of her angelic face still commonly displayed in homes and government offices. Like Chavez, Peron was worshipped as a protector of the poor as well as a political fighter.

Chavez tied his own legacy to Bolivar, incessantly invoking his name and delivering hundreds of speeches with Bolivar's stern portrait looming over his shoulder. Chavez renamed the whole country "The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" and ordered a giant mausoleum built to house Bolivar's bones.

A short animated spot shown repeatedly on state TV this month makes clear that Chavez has already become a political saint for millions. It shows Chavez, after death, walking the western Venezuelan plains of his childhood before coming across Peron, Bolivar, the martyred Chilean President Salvador Allende and Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, among others.

(AP) In this March 19, 2013 file photo, kiss marks left by supporters of Venezuela's former...

"We know that in Argentina we have a Peronism that is very much alive," said Acosta-Alzuru. "And there are other examples in Latin America where a leader, a caudillo, tries to be everything for the country. What Maduro and Chavez's followers are doing is trying to keep Chavez alive."

Some Chavez supporters waiting to visit his tomb on a hill overlooking Caracas said their comandante is with them in spirit - and for that reason they planned to vote for Maduro, confident that Chavez was guiding his hand.

Reaching the marble tomb means first walking through an exhibit celebrating Chavez's life and military career, with photos and text exalting a seemingly inevitable rise to immortality.

"He's still alive," said 52-year-old nurse Gisela Averdano. "He hasn't died. For me, he will always continue."
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« Reply #189 on: April 04, 2013, 10:18:21 AM »

It's a Circus.

You have to wonder if humans are all that rational after all. If they were, religions would be all dead.


Tales From Maduro’s Mind: Chavez’ Little Bird Apparition
April 2, 2013



You can’t make this corny, stupid, silly stuff up. Interim President Maduro says that this morning he went to a small chapel made out of wood (Where? Made out of wood. Really Nicolas? He was also alone, praying, sure Nicolas, we believe you) and a little bird came in and chirped at him (Maduro repeats the sounds and everything) and he whistled back the same pretty chirp. And then comes the jump into the mystical, it was Chavez, he felt the spirit, blessing the campaign, yada yada yada…

Really, hard to make this stuff up. Hard to even think of saying such things.

Chigüire Bipolar gives up making jokes, says it is really hard to make things up after Maduro saying this.

http://devilsexcrement.com/2013/04/02/tales-from-maduros-mind-chavez-little-bird-apparition/

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« Reply #190 on: April 06, 2013, 05:35:11 PM »

No comment necessary but it does make life more difficult...

Wall Street Journal: 
Venezuela Raids Local Brokerage of Oppenheimer
By Kejal Vyas

CARACAS — Venezuelan authorities late Thursday raided the home and office of what they say is a local representative of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., the brokerage subsidiary of Oppenheimer Holdings Inc., OPY -1.19% for allegedly violating foreign-exchange regulations.

Venezuela's national intelligence agency, or Sebin, seized documents from Caracas brokerage Brisbane, Mendes de Leon, Pettus & Asociados that it says point to alleged buying and selling of dollars, according to a statement Friday from the Attorney General's office. Such activity would be prohibited in the South American country unless done through the government. The statement identified the company as a local representative of Oppenheimer & Co.

New York-based Oppenheimer did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The move comes as interim President Nicolas Maduro increases his calls for combating currency speculation in Venezuela, where a shortage of hard currency filtering through government channels has led to a spike in dollar demand on the black market. In recent speeches, Mr. Maduro has talked of cracking down on the illegal trade, which he says is run by "bourgeois" opponents engaged in economic sabotage against the ruling socialist party.

Authorities also "seized dollars, euros and firearms" from the house of brokerage owner John Gayle Pettus, the statement said. Calls to the office of Brisbane, Mendes de Leon, Pettus & Asociados and to employees went unanswered Friday, and they couldn't be reached for comment.

The Venezuelan government said it began a probe into the local brokerage on March 23 after it was notified of alleged "irregularities" at the company. The Attorney General's office said it found evidence allegedly linked to dollar exchanges at the site.

An Information Ministry statement earlier Friday indicated that Mr. Pettus, a Venezuelan citizen, had been detained, but it wasn't immediately clear if he was still being held or facing any charges.

Mr. Pettus couldn't be reached for comment. Spokesmen at the Information Ministry, as well as the Interior and Justice Ministry, said they had no further comment.

The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority lists Mr. Pettus as a broker registered with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.'s Venezuela office since 1993. A 2012 edition of Standard & Poor's directory shows Oppenheimer as the only U.S. broker listed with a Venezuelan affiliate.

Russ Dallen, a managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets, who was a partner at Mr. Pettus' brokerage until 2007, said he received calls from employees informing him of the raid Thursday afternoon.

Many economists blame the leftist regime's currency controls, implemented by the late president Hugo Chavez in 2003 to prevent capital flight, for the lack of dollars in the economy which has led to a sharp depreciation of the bolivar on the black market. The government has set a fixed exchange rate of 6.3 Venezuela bolivar per dollar, but dollars are traded at nearly 23 bolivar on the black market.

A scarcity of dollars has also led to widespread shortages of food and consumer goods, as companies in this import-heavy economy complain they lack access to the dollars they need to purchase products from abroad.

In 2010, Venezuela's government cracked down on a large parallel currency market and imprisoned several brokerage directors for allegedly violating currency controls. Four former directors of Econoinvest Casa de Bolsa CA, which was once Venezuela's biggest brokerage firm, were released in December after spending more than two years in prison. The directors have said they never violated exchange laws. Their trial is continuing.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324600704578404920108132756.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #191 on: April 06, 2013, 05:43:16 PM »

Today has been a god damn circus! The government must have pressed thousands of CDs with political music and they keep playing it over and over again. Getting the election over is going to be a big relief. The central theme is that Chavez lives and will never die, "Viva Chavez." They seem to have only corpses to adore: Bolivar, Che, Chavez. People voting for these corpses, do they think corpses can govern? Madness!

Denny Schlesinger
 
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« Reply #192 on: April 07, 2013, 06:29:35 PM »

The winners are the guys selling T-shirts, caps, flags and banners, they must have sold hundreds of thousands by the number of people I saw wearing them.

Last night the political music went on until quite late. Today it started at around 11 in the morning but they quit by 6 PM. What a relief. Hearing the same broken record over and over again is truly a PITA!

Around noon I left the house to walk to the produce market (open Tuesday to Sunday). I saw a fair number of Chavistas in "getting out the vote" mode but only a few were activists. I saw about six or eight Caprilistas (you recognize them by the T-shirts and caps) walking toward an opposition march. Instead of going home by the same route, I decided to take the Metro back. Where i got off I was met by a river if Caprilistas! It was the closest I have been to a political march in my 74 years of existence.

Seeing so many opposition people marching changed my mood for the better.  The Chavistas have been very good at  capturing their political base. Chavez was what we call a chameleon, changing his coloring to fit the mood. Over the past three or four years they dropped the public "like Cuba" stance which never did sit well with most Venezuelan. Instead they created an image of a loving Chavez - a  "Corazón de mi pueblo" image. I was quite surprised when a few week ago our concierge declared for Chavez (a change of heart?) saying that the Chavistas were protecting the working classes. The concierge has been with us for over 20 years and I don't ever recall having any serious labor related problem with her. Still, the Chavistas won her over.

There can be no doubt that the Chavistas have a solid following and politically they have outmaneuvered the opposition by a wide margin. Seeing so many opposition marching today tells me that we are truly divided, maybe close to a 50-50 split. What worries me more is the economic situation, specially the exchange controls.

Denny Schlesinger
 
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« Reply #193 on: April 07, 2013, 08:49:14 PM »

#LaAvenidaBolivarSeQuedóPequeña is the first in the WORLDWIDE trending topic list. WOW / es el primero en la lista de treding topics MUNDIAL

#LaAvenidaBolivarSeQuedóPequeña

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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #194 on: April 10, 2013, 04:25:50 PM »

An email to our marina manager:

Quote
Good Afternoon Carlos,
Regarding the marina cats.  We use approx. 8 kilos a week of cat food.   Omar has been buying two 3 Kilo bags.  Dellisa (Black girl feeding the cats) has been supplementing the cat food out of her personal stock (she has 2 cats).
Would you please ask Omar to buy 8 kilos of cat food a week.  Omar will need to buy 4 kilos twice a week.
Regarding Monday (Day after election), we are concerned that there may be businesses closed or problems with traffic.  Would you please ask Omar to buy double the cat food on this Friday so that we don't have a problem on Monday.     So this Friday we will need 8 kilos (Friday's regular 4 kilos and Monday's -4 kilos).  So on Monday- he will not need to buy food.  He will buy cat food again- 4 Kilos on Friday.   
 
Thanks for your attention to this matter.
 
Diana
Zephyrus
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #195 on: April 12, 2013, 03:34:54 PM »

Good luck Denny S. !

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/11/3339119/venezuelas-chance-to-move-forward.html

The Miami Herald | EDITORIAL
Venezuela’s chance to move forward

Sunday’s election in Venezuela promises to open a tumultuous new chapter in the history of that South American country. For the first time in 15 years, Hugo Chávez’s name is not on the ballot, but his presence is everywhere. This election is all about him and the legacy of a decade-and-a-half of misrule.

Under normal circumstances, in any democratic country, the electorate would be ripe for a change after 15 years of upheaval that have brought misery for many and created an exodus among those who could leave, many settling in South Florida.

Chronic power outages, food shortages, devaluations, rampant crime, corrupt government aided by communist Cuba — this is the legacy of Hugo Chávez.

For Venezuelans, the choice is clear: They can move forward, restoring the democracy that Venezuela once was, or they can watch their country continue to deteriorate under a Chávez apprentice like the official candidate, Nicolás Maduro, the hand-picked political heir and current vice president.

Not surprisingly, the betting is that Mr. Maduro will win, and for that the candidate can thank his late mentor. Over the course of prolonged tenure, Mr. Chávez created a political machine that sharply curtailed the possibility that the official presidential candidate could lose.

The way Mr. Chávez won election three times and consolidated his grip on Venezuela is no secret. He controlled all the levers of political power, including the council that makes the electoral rules, counts the votes and settles disputes. He used the government’s money and power to promote his candidacy in a way that no opposition political figure could possibly match.

He stifled the independent news media and systematically dismantled the independent institutions that could restrain his power, including the judiciary.

A onetime paratrooper and frustrated coup-plotter, Mr. Chávez stacked the military leadership with loyalists and carefully watched over the ranks to ensure that no one would try to topple him from power by force of arms, as he once tried to overthrow a democratic government in 1992.

Finally, he made sure to woo the country’s large underclass by inducements such as free housing and by lavishing political attention on them, though he failed to create a path to prosperity for anyone except his political cronies, who got rich off government contracts.

All of this poses a virtually insurmountable challenge for Henrique Capriles Radonski, an opposition governor and leader of the political front arrayed against the forces of the government. Hundreds of thousands have shown up at his rallies, attesting to the underlying hunger for change.

Clearly, the playing field is slanted in favor of the Maduro ticket. In an implicit admission of potential ballot chicanery, the government has pointedly rejected any role for international election observers, such as the OAS.

But even if he wins, success promises to be short-lived.

The 50-year-old former bus driver and union leader does not possess Mr. Chávez’s rhetorical gifts, wit or political skills. His limited ability will be put to the test as the economy continues to deteriorate and Venezuelans of all stripes become more restless.

Under this scenario, the political situation could degenerate swiftly. The United States and other democratic countries in the region should stand ready to denounce government abuses and support the advocates of democracy as Venezuela enters a dangerous period.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #196 on: April 12, 2013, 06:07:03 PM »


"Under this scenario, the political situation could degenerate swiftly. The United States and other democratic countries in the region should stand ready to denounce government abuses and support the advocates of democracy as Venezuela enters a dangerous period."

Good luck with that.  Remember what Baraq and Hillary did to Honduras.  (Use the search function here and you will find it)
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captainccs
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« Reply #197 on: April 14, 2013, 10:35:47 AM »

Sunny with just a hint of haze. It's 11:00 local time and I'm taking off for a walk to my voting station. I'll report any news on my return.

The feeling here is that abstention will decide the vote. If you don't vote the other guy wins. There is the belief among the opposition that Maduro cannot get out the vote. During the week I heard on the Metro a woman with a loud voice say: "lo que viene no sirve" (what is coming is no good). From other things she said it was clear that she was a Chavez devotee. If for her Maduro is as useless as Capriles, why bother voting? On the other side, in my building a lady is organizing transport for senior citizens to get them to vote.

If the vote is close the chavistas will steal it. Let's hope the difference is large enough that they cannot steal it.

There existed a very powerful economic group in Venezuela set up by an immigrant from the Canary Islands. Mendoza started out with a hardware store which he built into a construction supply empire including cement, ceramics, paint (Sherwin Williams),  construction materials and even a mortgage bank. In addition the group made paper and paper products, and his daughter set up a foundation to treat bones for young invalids (Ortopédico Infantil), and even an art gallery. Grupo Mendoza was one of the most successful Venezuelan conglomerates ever. The old man never groomed a successor. His managers lived in constant political infighting. I know a lot of this from personal experience. Several of their companies were my clients while I was with IBM and later when I was an independent management consultant. These positions gave me access at the highest levels (excluding Mendoza himself). I got a chance to meet Mendoza personally when a painting sold by my mother in one of their auctions had a bad ending. But that is a story for another day. Today's story is that on his death, the Grupo Mendoza disintegrated quickly because there was no capable successor to carry on.

Chavez picked Maduro to be his vice-president because Maduro was the least threatening person he could find, a veritable lap-dog. I though there would be more infighting among Chavistas for the presidency. Some said that the president of the National Assembly should have been legally the presidential candidate. Diosdado Cabello is not all that popular in Chavista circles and he lost the gubernatorial election for Miranda State to Capriles.

Time to go. Talk to you guys later.

Denny  Schlesinger
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« Reply #198 on: April 14, 2013, 03:50:40 PM »

I got home at 3:30 after a 4 and a half hour walk from Los Caobos to Altamira and back. I talked to a lot of people, no queues anywhere. Voting was quick. Capta-huella (finger print analyzer) was used only once not twice as last time. There seemed to be no delaying tactics by the government. Opposition people were very optimistic. I ran into some youth that I would not have thought were anti-Chavez.

A Maduro truck is going by my house this minute, totally illegal.

Let’s see how they steal the vote this time.

Another report:

Tour of Caracas On Voting Day: No Lines, Some Abuses
April 14, 2013

Update 1:47PM: I am told by reliable people that at 1 PM the percentage of voters that had cast their vote was running 10% behind the same number in October.

http://devilsexcrement.com/2013/04/14/tour-of-caracas-on-voting-day-no-lines-some-abuses/
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #199 on: April 14, 2013, 05:22:38 PM »

Good luck Denny.  The free world could really use a win right now.
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