Sunday, January 29, 2006

Venezuela through the years

The list below are just some of the most significant public works, projects that have taken place in Venezuela since the 1950's:

Marcos Perez Jimenez (9 year dictatorship)

Elected then changed the constitution and became dictator (sound familiar?)

Infrastructure:
Major Ave.
Andrés Bello, Nueva Granada, Sucre, Victoria, Prolongación de la avenida Bolívar, San Martín, Urdaneta, Páez, Fuerzas Armadas, México, Paseo Los Ilustres, Av. Los  Próceres, etc.

Highways
Ciudad vacacional Los Caracas
Caracas-La Guaira (tunnels and bridges)
Las Tejerias - Valencia
Panamericana (Caracas - Las Tejerias)

"Maiquetia airport"
Port of La Guaira
"La Carlota"

Public housing
"23 Enero"
"Torres del Silencio"

Hospitals
Clinico, Cental Barquisimeto, San Cristobal, Maracaibo, Militar de Caracas

Channel 5 (state Tv), Canalization of rio Guiare, "Cable Car Avila Macuto, Hotel Humboldt", "Cable car Merida".

Romulo Betancourt (5 years)
Highways:
Coche - Las Tejerias
del Este
Barinitas Merida
major roads to the interior of the country

Parque del Este
"Bridge of Lake Maracaibo" (built in 40 months)
bridge over Caroni

Land reform

Zulia University
OPEC is created

Guarico and Macagua dams

Ferrominera was founded to exploit iron in Cerro Bolivar
CADAFE - bring electricity to the interior of the country

Raul Leoni (5 years)
Combated guerrils and fought off a Cuban invasion sent by Fidel Castro

Orinoco bridge
La Planicie tunnels
Oriente University
Lisandro Alvarado University
Education budget exceded military budget (first time in history)
"Guri - Hydroelectric plant"
Alcasea - Aluminum plant

Rafael Caldera (5 years)
"Poliedro de Caracas" - Stadium
Cota mil highway
Dos Cerritos dam
aquaduct Tocuyo, Quibor, Barquisimeto

Carlos Andres Perez (5 years)
Nationlization of oil industry (creation of PDVSA)
creation and recuperation of national parks and beaches
creation of 6 national parks
National Alfabetization plan "Acude"
creation of educational scholarships - to attend international schools
Planting of forests for the paper industry

Luis Herrera Campins (5 years)
"Metro of Caracas "(line 1)
"Teresa Carreño cultural center"
Hospitals - Barquisimeto, Maracaibo, Puerto La Cruz, San Cristobal, Guaiparo

Jaime Lusinshi (5 years)
Metro of Caracas (line 2)

Carlos Andres Perez (4 years)
Caracazo
military coup Feb 4, 20002,
military coup Nov 27, 2002
Macro-economic packet
impeached
Metro of Caracas (line 3)

Ramón Velásquez 1 year
none

Rafael Caldera (5 years)
oil reached $6.5 per barrel
national bank crisis
Social Security reform

Other public works from 1950-1999
University of Oriente, Simon Bolivar, among the other 280 public and private universities created in Venezuela
Electrification of Venezuela
Highway to Brazil
Childrens Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art - Caracas
thousands of paved roads and highways

Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias 7 years
National strike 1 1/2 months
"Coup" April 11, 2002
350 Billion dollars in oil income
Bolivarian University (under funded)
Mercal supermarkets (subsidized food)
"popular hospitals" - Barrio Adentro staffed by cuban medical students - other public hospitals are under funded
"mass" literacy campaign - Mision Robinson - literacy rate already at ~95%, 5% illiterate to high school diploma in 2 months

Vargas floods 1999 and 2004 no to little state investment
"Major highway collapses"
public housing construction at all time low

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I can spell! or can I?

Mission Robinson is a nationwide literacy program with the intent of venezuela being 100% literate sometime soon. Now I have absolutely no problem with this mission although the method by which they are doing it lacks transparency (in its finances), people graduate with a "high school" diploma after 2 months when they were totally illiterate before, etc....

Well I think many in the government should be enrolled in this Mission including "Chavez".

The picture below is an advertisement in the Caracas subway that says "we unite our efforts for your security". The problem is that "esfuersos" (effort) is misspelled, it should be "esfuerzos".

Now I shouldn't make fun of other peoples spelling since, well, mine is pretty bad. But then again I don't lead a country and my God I at least would have sent my advertisement through a proof reader before the printing press.

Just a little chuckle at the expense of the revolution.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Potential Candidates

Shortly after the Dec 4th National Assembly elections I wrote about what I felt were the crucial steps to build an opposition political front against Chavez for the presidential elections this year. Now I would like to turn my thoughts on candidates and what qualities would make the strongest candidate.

To start off with, I would like to confess that I'm not particularly aquatinted with any one candidate or their particular stance on issues, in part because I reside outside of Venezuela and also because none have really been vocal or campaigned by putting forth their particular plan for Venezuela (that is if they have one).

I will start off with mentioning some candidates that have thrown their name into the ring and others that people mention. I will also briefly mention why I think they should not run and why they may not be good candidates.

Maria Cornia Machado head of SUMATE - yes people suggest that she should run, personally I think this would be stupid (I think she knows this to). If she were to run she wouldn't be a strong candidate and would be quickly tied to Washingon D.C. plus it would totally discredit SUMATE.

Roberto Smith Ran unsuccessfully for gov. for the state of Vargas, also was minister of transportation under Perez. My family that lived in Vargas were never impressed with the guy, and I don't think he has the charisma or is cunning enough to run against Chavez. Plus he is to much of a no name amongst the population.

Julilo Borges Member of Primero Justicia, probably a smart guy but doesn't seem to have the charisma or is cunning enough to run against Chavez. Plus Primero Justica appears to be a little discredited amongst the people (slight PR problem).

The two candidates (or potential ones at least) seem to be Teodoro Petkoff and Manuel Rosales. My discussion on both will be centered on what qualities I think they will bring to the table and not on their past or details of their persona.

Petkoff
From my understanding many people don't like Petkoff because of his past as a communist and a guerilla fighter, although he did abandon those movements long ago. So why might he be a good candidate? Well he is a leftist! so it will be very difficult for Chavez to accuse him of being a puppet of Washington, he also has the understanding that there are two types of left. Coincidentally is the title of his recent book "Las Dos Izquierdas". If the candidates were Chavez vs. Petkoff it would essentially be a campaign of bad left vs. good left (you chose which is bad and good).

Now if memory serves me correctly the latest poll showed 30% of the population aligned with Chavez, 20% for the opposition, and 50% fell in the Ni-Ni. Petkoff seems to fall within that Ni-Ni group since he has been critical of the opposition as well as Chavez showing that he fully understands the feeling 50% of the population have with both Chavez and many in the opposition.

"Miguel recently posted" an article by Eduardo Mayobre suggesting this is the year of Teodoro. He also states that "His disadvantage is that he lacks a political party." Personally I find this to be a great strength for the simple reason that he can't be tied to or be seen as endorsing any one political group or ideology of the opposition. Moreover, he could easily build a coalition between the various political groups by providing opposition political parties positions if he were to be president.

Rosales
Unfortunately I know very little about this person, except that he is governor of Zulia and he was the last to call his party to pull out of the national assembly elections on Dec. 4th. On this day his decision to ask the CNE to at least postpone the elections was a smart move, I'm sure he knew that the CNE wouldn't, but it also showed a level of maturity that is lacking from the opposition.

Some strengths that he may have over Petkoff is that he doesn't have the communist/ guerrilla background and he may have a level of charisma and ability to resonate with the population that Petkoff lacks.

Whatever ends up happening, it is paramount that primaries are held, and who better to be in charge but SUMATE. Even if a leftist former communist like Petkoff wins the primary at least we will know that he is the person most favored out of all the other candidates. But if any candidate is a true leader they would lead by calling for primaries, this simple call would receive a fair amount of respect from my part but also address what so many of us in the opposition have been asking for.

I would like to conclude by saying that regardless of who wins any potential primary they will have my full support and vote, even if they may not be my favorite. Plus how much worse can anyone of these candidates be from Chavez?

Monday, January 09, 2006

16 billion dollars!

This is how much the Chavez has given away to 35 countries, this includes:

buying Argentine debt, building a refinery in Brazil, Uruguay, building roads in Jamaica, subsidizing fuel oil in the US, building homes in Cuba, etc...

We can also add the approximately 6 billion on military weapons:
ships (from Izar), planes (super tucanos from Brazil), guns (AK-47's from Russia), and submarines (from Spain)

For a more full account of the spending please "click here"

I won't even comment on the corruption that is taking place, including the minister of Informations brand new "Hummer" houses in Miami and posh areas of Caracas by public servants that can not afford such luxuries on their official salary. I guess being rich is bad!

So now I ask you, why all this investment in other countries when the infrastructure is crumbling, no new industries are being built, public housing construction is below any previous administration, etc....

BTW 16 billion dollars is estimated to be enough to build 45 highways from Caracas to La Guaira, like the one that Venezuelans can no longer use because one of it's bridges is collapsing.

But in the words of Harry Belafont "Viva la Revolucion!"