After reading Miguel Octavio's post on the housing shortage in Venezuela (read it here
http://blogs.salon.com/0001330/2005/01/30.html#a2052) I have decided to write about a conversation I had with my Dad and a cousin of mine (he works at a architectural firm in Venezuela) when I was in Venezuela about this problem.
Some time ago he proposed a housing solution to the Chavez government, which could drastically reduce the housing crisis in a few years time and it would require minimal investment by the government. The plan was to have the government pay my cousin to distribute bamboo (an Asian species that currently grows in Venezuela) to the poor for them to farm and teach them to how to use it to build homes. Based on his estimates 1 hectare of bamboo could initially supply up to 5 homes after ~2-3 years. The poor, in particular in rural areas, could grow, then harvest, and sell the bamboo or even build homes (thus they now would have their own business). This proposal was laid out as a short term solution that was cheap for the government and have no cost for the poor since they would not need to purchase the bamboo (supplied for free along with housing plans) and the poor would be trained on how to construct the homes, and the bamboo requires from minimal to no care. From what I was told it is modeled after what many Asian countries do.
Sadly the proposal was rejected for one obvious reason, my cousin signed against Chavez in the petition drive for the Referendum, he also lost other contracts. Other reasons is that such a proposal would make the poor not have to rely on the government for housing, which is not in the interest of the government since socialist/communist states need there population to rely on the state. Also the government is not interested in fixing the social problems in the country, since we are now 6 years with Chavez and have mediocre results at best.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
After reading Miguel Octavio's post on the housing shortage in Venezuela (read it here
Posted by KA at 9:37 PM
Saturday, January 29, 2005
I would like to thank my cousins for providing me with these news paper clipings that they have been collecting since 1992. I have scans of a few news paper articles (in Spanish) from that day. One is an interview between Jose Vicente Rangel and Chavez. If interested you can email me (email@example.com) and I can send you the scanned articles.
About my forum, well I have a tentative date, location, and organization hosting it, but I will inform more about it on Thursday.
Posted by KA at 2:58 PM
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Below is a letter I wrote and plan to send to my Senators and my State Rep. in Washington. Please feel free to copy it, modify it, and use it. If you have suggestions for it please feel free to comment.
To the Honorable
My name is (your name here). I am writing to you to express my concern and to bring to your attention an increasing threat that I feel has been largely ignored by those in Washington and by the American public. The growing threat is to our economy in particular our energy sector, a growing anti-democratic movement, and support for terrorists in Venezuela.
Over the past 6 years it has become increasing obvious that the current government headed by Hugo Chavez has become increasing anti-democratic in nature. Chavez, along with his supporters, has consistently resorted to anti-American rhetoric and has threatened countless times to cut off United States oil supplies. In addition to this, there have been significant efforts to sell the Venezuelan subsidiary company in the US, CITGO. The sale of CITGO combined with the loss of sales of Venezuelan oil would have a significant impact on the US economy. This is due to CITGO’s specific refining capability for Venezuelan crude oil.
Chavez has also increasingly exhibited anti-democratic tendencies by dividing his country between supporters and opponents to his revolution. He has undertaken political persecutions; most notably against Maria Corina Machado, head of an NGO (SUMATE) responsible for coordinating an opposition signature drive to hold the August Referendum on Hugo Chavez. He has packed the courts and national electoral board with his supporters, refuses to hold clean and transparent elections, and has illegally expropriated private property. Also, Chavez has recently passed a new media gag law, and has prohibited anti-government demonstrations by the opposition (which constitutes about 70-80% of the population), all of which have been denounced and have raised concern among foreign governments as well as organizations such as Human Rights Watch.
Once Chavez took office 6 years ago he quickly forged an economic, political, and ideological alliance with Cuba. He was also the only foreign head of state to visit Saddam Hussein (where he praised Hussein, calling him his "brother"). He has criticized the war in Afghanistan and has yet to denounce terrorism, has praised Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as a true democrat, and often visits countries such as Libya and Iran engaging in anti-American rhetoric. Yet the most significant support for terrorism comes with the recent capture of Rodrigo Granda, the foreign Minister of the Colombian terrorist group FARC, who was sought by the Colombian government. Not only had Granda been living with his family in Venezuela, he was nationalized under his own name this past summer. Reports show that he was attending, along with other FARC members a Venezuelan government organized forum and was actively being protected by the Chavez government. This, along with the recent weapons purchase from Russia, is something that should start raising eyebrows in Washington.
The economic threat, anti-democratic stance, and support for terrorism should be a significant source of concern for the United States. As a US citizen I can assure you that it is an increasing concern for me as I hope it now is for you. If you would like more information on Venezuela and the events taking place there please feel free to contact me. I greatly look forward to hearing from you.
Posted by KA at 6:04 PM
Monday, January 24, 2005
I am currently trying to organize a forum with a Colombian friend in which we will discuss the current crisis among our countries. Prior to the forum I hope to show the movie "Cual Revolucion" please go to (http://www.vcrisis.com/index.php?content=videos) to see it. We hope to bring together the Colombian and Venezulena community along with other latinos. As our forum comes together I will be posting more information, for those of you intrested in doing the same in your area/university I urge you to do the same.
Posted by KA at 10:24 PM
Sunday, January 23, 2005
This weekend I read an article in the economist (http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3594021) where they mention social security. As they mention, I don't think social security is in immediate danger but it is on that path. To follow up with my previous post I don't agree with the Bush plan partly for the same concerns the Democrat’s raise:
"if the contributions of the young are siphoned off into private accounts, there is no way to promise current levels of benefits to the old without actually making the deficit worse."
Plus I think Social Security should remain a form of conservative investment to guarantee everyone an equal return on there money for there retirement. Under the Bush plan some people may not have the investment skills therefore may end up losing money. Bush may want to create an “ownership society” and deepen personal independence, however in this case I think the government should play a role in protecting its citizens and for the larger benefit of society. If Bush were truly wanting to create personal independence, than why not eliminate social security altogether and leave it up to the individual to invest if he/she wants to and how much they want to.
As for the Democrats I have to say that they can not just criticize Bush's plan, as far as I know they don't have a plan for social security so at least Bush has one. So as a voter I essentially have to options
1. Bush plan, which may work
2. Democrat no plan, which will result in social security problems 15 or so years down the road
I personally would have to support the Bush plan despite its possible problems. So my suggestion to the Democrats propose a plan so we have an option. Criticizing is easy taking action is much harder.
Posted by KA at 10:13 PM
The tragic comedy that has been unfolding in Venezuela would be funny if it weren't so real, well it is kind of funny eventhough it is real. I am refering to comments made all day Sunday by the Chavez government. Please read Miguel Octavios post "Intermittent diplomacy Bolivarian style" on his blog, he took the time to sumarize the declarations made, I was a little lazy and had to do some work so I can graduate.
It's comments like these that really make you wonder what in the hell is going on: are they stupid, confused, emotionally unstable, or all of the above? (My guess all of the above but hey I'm not a psychologist). I bet Uribe and the Colombian government are laughing their butts off, I know I am, but at the same time I'm crying because of he what Venezuela has become under Chavez.
Posted by KA at 9:01 PM
Saturday, January 22, 2005
What is the difference between Chavistas and non-Chavista mentality (there are actually many)?
If Chavez says to jump off a bridge the Chavistas say "ok, which one" because "El Supremo" says to. Whereas non-Chavistas simply "no seas pendejo salta tu primero" F-you why don't you jump first.
Do you see what the problem is? We have a free mind and Chavez can't stand it. This is why Chavismo is doomed to fail, no decisons can take place with out Chavez making them and giving the ok. This is called micromanagement and it doesn't work! It was a problem pre-Chavez (COPEI and AD) presedencies, although decentralization was taking place in the 1990's. However under Chavez we have reversed course. Now all decisions, down to how many chickens Juanita gets in here little town in Amazonas are made in Mirafloress. Does this really sound like an efficiente way to govern a country? of course not, but Chavistas have there own logic and efficency.
Inefficiency is why Chavismo will fail one way or another.
Posted by KA at 11:50 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Here I will summarize three conversations that I had or was witness too.
One my way back from Margarita island on the ferry I had the great fortune to have an English couple (form London) sit next to me. After about 30 into the trip I decided to take up a conversation with the young woman (~25 yrs) who I later found out is a political science major. Our conversation began with small talk about how she liked Venezuela and how her trip was going (it was her first time traveling outside of England). She was enjoying her stay for the most part visiting Caracas, Barquisimeto, Margarita, Puerto La Cruz, and then Angel Falls. Her main complaints with Venezuela were that the services at hotels are terrible (this is very true and Venezuelans know this quite well), Venezuela is dirty, trash is every where (Venezuelans don't like to use the trash can).
After about 10 min of talking she asked me if I had seen the film "The revolution will not be televised", for these of you unaware this is government propaganda and has been proven to miss lead the viewer by leaving out information and distorting other info. (if interested please see the film "X-Ray of a lie"). I responded by saying that "no, but I had heard about it". She seemed quite excited about having seen it at first but quickly stated that she was disappointed that it had left the fact that Chavez led a coup in 1992. She did suggest that she was shocked that the film and other leftist media don't portray the Venezuelan crisis truthfully from what she had seen thus far.
As we continued talking she was shocked at how the government is disregarding private property with the land reform and invasions. She was also amazed that government officials were sanctioning thefts out of hunger. (if the people are hungry than there is something the government is not doing right and to say (publicly) stealing is ok, is inexcusable, where and how do you draw that line then). The most shocking comment to me came when here husband/boyfriend leaned over and said "remember it's now January" referring to the new law in which if you criticize Chavez or his government you may be punished with prison time. She also mentioned various times that she felt a lot of tension among the people and in particular a sense of hostility towards them, she felt it was because they were foreigners and might think they were American. I must admit she seemed very well informed about the current state of Venezuela, more than a typical tourist.
We discussed other topics such as G. W. Bush, Europe, and the war in Iraq, however it was the topic of Chavez that pleased me the most. At least one person (who appeared to be a leftist she reads the guardian) has seen the reality of Venezulea and seen Chavez for what he is a dictator and terrorist. Someone should tell Chavez he is losing his propaganda war.
This conversation I had with the maid at our house who lives in a poor barrio of Caracas, she does not like Chavez. But I asked here what it is like where she lives, do the people really support him, etc..
There is support for Chavez, although this comes in essentially two ways. The first is the expectation that he is going to give them something and the second is resentment and hatred for the opposition (no specific reason, its just hate, installed by Chavez and his rhetoric). She did say that the program Barrio Adentro does work to some degree. She did say that she does not discuss politics where she lives since it could get her into trouble either people wanting to discuss the beautiful revolution or that they may verbally harass and assault her.
It is the hatred and resentment that these people have towards the opposition that I find so disturbing. Especially since this hatred didn't exist before Chavez.
Conversation 3 this is my favorite
The day before I left Venezuela I spent the day with my cousins shopping in Chacao and Sabana Grande (in Caracas). It was here that I finally understood the Chavista mentality (at least when it comes to the poor people).
While looking for some jewelry to buy for my sister as a Christmas gift, a woman was looking at a ring, I will refer to her as (Chavista):
Chavista: how much is that ring?
Jeweler: it's $25,000 bolivares (Bs) (about $12 US)
Chavista: [yelling] $30,000 Bs!
Chavista: [yelling as she walks away] a pair of shoes don't even cost that much! That's a rip off!
Note to reader a pair of shoes cost at least $50,000 Bs and tennis shoes start around $100,000 Bs
Shoe vendor next to jeweler: Lady I don't know what shoes you are talking about because not even sandals are that cheap.
Chavista: [yelling] This place is a rip off I hope Chavez shut all of your businesses down.
Shoe vendor: If you don't like it here then go back to Petare (this is considered a low income area of Caracas and a Chavez strong hold).
Posted by KA at 8:27 PM
Saturday, January 15, 2005
David Goncalves El Universal Sunday 26 December 2004
This is a summary of his predictions for 2005 (apparently David Goncalves predicted many occurrences for 2004). I always take predictions with a grain of salt but this one from many that I read has the highest probability of occurring. One can only hope David is right.
- " " indicates what I took from the article and ( ) indicates my comments.
- "Chavez will leave office one year before his presidency is over he will be tried in an international court of law".
- "Chavez will be linked to guerilla forces (FARC?) but what makes it different this time are the actions and decisions he makes in the next few months" (which likely includes the current freezing of commerce with Colombia).
- "The trying in an internatinal court will be promoted by the USA, Colombia, and Spain" (I find Spain a little strange since it now has a very liberal govt., however it is here that many dictators have/are being tried)
- "Chavez will not care that he is being tried, but it is this that will remove him" (he is arrogant so this seems logical)
- "Bush will finally openly criticize Chavez, it is not that Bush is interested in Venezuela, he just doesn't want another world leader that is not him. In addition, Bush will realize that Chavez is more dangerous than he thought".
- "Many people in Venezuela what to have the seat of power, between 2004-2005 many people will have that seat too: ' Jose Vicente Rangel for a short time, the military, and people comprising a government junta' This will result in short term chaos over the presidency".
- "Chavez should go to prison, however will leave Venezuela to Cuba where he will live for a short time then leave to a another country". (I can't imagine which 3rd country Bolivia? Ecuador? Middle East?)
- "After five years to solidify power and the revolution everything will fall apart over a five month". (Without Chavez, Chavismo doesn't exist, at least not in the current populist repressive form and still having around ~20-30% approval.)
- In the second trimester the economy undergoes a crisis, primarily a banking crisis, cases of corruption will come to light, the people will turn to the streets demanding there rights, many people will not be payed in the 'Misiones' because the government won't have money to pay them. The government will only have money to invest in weapons to prepare for a war that will never happen, and to fulfill the accords with Iran, China, and Russia. The grand 'guillotine' will be the 'Misiones'." (The banking crisis is likely due to the high level of debt they must hold. About the Misiones everyone I have talked to has said the same thing, that they will be the 'cajita feliz' for Chavez. This is because he has promised so much and doesn't have the funds, administrative know-how to fulfill them, throw in high levels of corruption and you have a big old mess and some very unhappy people. What new misiones has Chavez announced how about there success, he has pretty much ignored them as far as I can tell ).
- "The leaving of Chavez will not cause his supporters to take to the streets as they did in 2002 this is because this support will take a different form and will decrease".
-"Chavez has apparently been preparing a woman to take over his power 'possibly Maripili Hernández'. The reason for this is Chavez doesn't trust Jose Vicente Rangel". ( I have never heard of this person, personally)
- "The removal of Chavez will not cause massive killings (due to riots etc..) but will result in persecutions, jail, and attempted killings".
- "The opposition will remain without a leader but will have many potential 'gerentes' leaders that may win future elections. Salas Romer may be one of those names that obtains the presidency". (I think this is good for the opposition we have to get rid of this caudillo mentality. We need lots of people working together and not one person dictating every decision).
- "There will be a political purification in which the old political parities will have to change names, as a result a new political opposition will emerge".
- "As for the political parties that support Chavez they will remain but will also undergo a purification and reorganization. People like William Lara, Jose Vielma Mora, and especially Diosadado Cabello will do a good job in government. As for the current governor of Miranda, he will do a good job and have a with high popularity. This popularity will eventually take him to run for president".
- In summary David Goncalves says that all future politicians will have to respect the ideas of president Chavez, because they are ideas that began with Simon Bolivar". (I do think Chavismo and the opposition can eventually work together for the good of the people and country, however, this will not be possible while Chavez and some of his supporters are in power).
Although this is only a prediction it seemed to be the most realistic and plausible, especially after the events of this week. One can only hope that this prediction will come true. Time will only tell.
Posted by KA at 8:19 PM
Friday, January 14, 2005
Well today the president of Venezuela announced he is freezing all comercial ties with Colombia. This is after one of the leaders of the terrorist group FARC was sequestered in Caracas (capital of Venezuela) and then handed over to Colombian authorities. Rodrigo Granda of the FARC had not only been living (at least temporarily) in Venezuela but he also was naturalized under his own name in the Venezuela this past summer. He was also present at a pro-Chavez forum in December, to me all this makes it quite obvious that the Venezuelan government not only harbors terrorists but actively supports them.
Back to Colombia, President (dictator) Chavez will restore comercial ties if Uribe gives an apology. I really hope he doesn't, what should he apologize for? Its not like Chavez was going to hand Rodrigo Granda over.
Posted by KA at 3:42 PM
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Some interesting quotes from the VP (Jose Vicente Rangel) while I was in visiting Venezuela
What would you like to give the city of Caracas for Christmas? "Un basurero" A trash can
- This is because the city of Caracas (excluding the areas controlled by the opposition) are disgusting with trash and even human excrement - yes you read right. At least some Chavista areas are finally cleaning up a little, but don't forget that propaganda that goes with a clean street (see picture below) just so you know who is maintain your clean street "El Supermo" of course.
"Por fin estamos viendo chavistas en el este de Caracas" We are finally seeing chavistas in the east of Caracas (the escualido areas)
- Well of course you are since they are buying many high priced properties in the area including Prados del Este and Alto Prado just to name a few. I might add the prices are well beyond what they can afford based on their salary (I wonder where they get the money?) Oh and lets not forget the hypocricy since if they were with the people, as they claim, and hated the escualidos in the Este so much they surely wouldn't be living there. They would actually be living in Catia or Petare.
"Minetras Chavez tenga la misma idologio que yo, estare con el" - While Chavez has the same ideology as me, I will be with him
-So what is JVR ideology - communism, dictatorship, and terrorism, what an ideology, sounds like Cuban democracy to me.
Posted by KA at 9:39 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Today a read a piece published in the financial times (http://news.ft.com/cms/s/e388bce2-6347-11d9-bec2-00000e2511c8.html) and commented by A.M. Mora y Leon from the American Thinker (http://www.americanthinker.com/comments.php?comments_id=1407). about Rafael AlemÃ¡n, head of the commission in the Cojedes province wearing a shirt with Che Guevara on it. Well during my visit to Venezuela the governor of Anzoategui state (of course a Chavez lackie) was on the television station for the east region of Venezuela. Every time I saw him on television (a total of 5 times in a one week period) he also had a shirt with Che on it.
Moreover all public employees from what I saw, in Chavez controlled areas (now almost all of Venezuela), wear red shirts, some say pro-Chavez slogans (see picture below). Not only this but everyone I saw on Channel 8 (Venezolana de television) the government TV station wore red as well. Since red is not only Chavismos favorite color but also the favorite color of most communist and dictatorships it makes you wonder where Chavez is heading (oh and don't forget the posters that litter Venezuela now showing the "peoples man").
Posted by KA at 6:45 PM
Monday, January 10, 2005
I was horrified to see a public employee wearing such a blatant from of governement propaganda. The man was among about 10 other people in Sabana Grande in Caraces in the Municipal district of El Libertador, of course controlled by one of Chavezes lackies. So I ask those Americans or Europeans that support Chavez how would you feel if your public service employees wore pro-Bush T-shirts? For those of you that have not been to Venezuela since Chavez has come to power, you should be aware that all public employees "must?" wear red (the official Chavez color). I will comment on this more in a later post.
Posted by KA at 10:41 PM
Todays events with the Venezuelan government police (DISIP) raiding various ex-PDVSA executive houses continues to show the political persecution of the Chavez regime. About 2 or 3 weeks ago the Venezuelan government issued a detention order against many of the former executives, one of which is my great-aunt. Fortunately she is safe however her husband and children may not be. This is most evident by harassment our family was subjected to last week. My aunts sister in law received a phone call last week from apparently the bank (Banco Mercantil) during this phone call the woman from the bank asked to speak to my aunt. She was told she was not there (since this is not her residence). The woman from the bank preceded to say that it was important since they had noticed that her credit card had received an unusual amount of activity, and that she needed to speak to her and ask to be given a number where my great aunt can be contacted. My great-aunts sister in law then responded by saying she isn't there and doesn't know where she is.
This may seem harmless phone call from the bank but considering she has a detention order against her. Plus if it were really the bank, and her credit card did have over activity, and they were concerned they would simply inactivate the card. Also they wouldn't be calling a non-blood relative that has never lived with my great-aunt.
Posted by KA at 9:39 PM