I miss read thus miss reported that Rosales is running for President, in fact he has not announced it yet. However, he has stated that he may announce his candidacy soon. Even if he doesn't run he will have a say in the campaign.
Monday, April 24, 2006
A quick update for tonight.
Today the governor of Zulia, Manuel Rosales, announced that he will be running for president. So there you have it, Borges, Teodoro, and Rosales are running for president, just as was predicted. In addition, as some of us bloggers including myself suggested primaries may very likely be held by the NGO, Sumate. As I may have mentioned in an earlier post or in some of my comments in other blogs, Rosales made a very smart and mature call to the other candidates:
"Tiene que existir ese pacto de caballeros, no sólo con los que hemos mencionado (Teodoro Petkoff y Julio Borges) sino que hay que darle participación a William Ojeda y Roberto Smith y a quien aspire".
"There has to be a gentleman's pact, not just between the mentioned (Teodoro, and Borges), we have to include William Ojeda and Roberto Smith and others that aspire".
So far I like what these candidates are doing and saying, I think we finally have some very mature and smart leaders in the opposition. However, what is of the essence is that the candidates get together and come to an agreement of how they are going to tackle the primaries, Chavez, and a plan for Venezuela. Time will tell if the opposition can continue this positive momentum at the expense of the increasing implosion, and here, of Chavismo.
Posted by KA at 8:29 PM
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Once again the price of oil is over $70, acutally it is at a high of $75, so again it has grasped the headlines and people are voicing their frustration and anger. Most of this is directed towards oil companies as price gouging. It is understandable that people feel ripped off by the companies but there are other factors that are playing a much more influential role in price increase. World events (ie. Iran) play a big role compounded by calls by Chavez threatening to blow up oil fields are big factors (BTW these calls are pure politics). Remember, Venezuela and South America are now to small for Chavez, he wants to be a world leader, but more on this in another post.
Less published reasons
China is becoming a huge oil importer now, but the recent increase in gas prices, to $2.94 when I filled up today, is also because of new federal regulations have called for a change in gas formulation. In other words gas is no longer supplemented with MTBE and it was predicted by the federal govt. and the oil companies that a price spike would more than likely occur. Other issues at play are the multiple gasoline requirements, which prevents selling gasoline from one region of the US in another. In addition to no new refineries haveing been built in the US since 1976, this past summers hurricanes, and large amounts of money entering the futures market.
Politics and the consumer
Bush in his State of the Union address laid out his new energy plan calling for energy independence (a good but unlikely goal), ironically John Kerry during the 2004 presidential elections was calling for this same thing. Consumers like myself are less concerned about politics and passing the blame around than our politicians actually doing something about this. However, Washington being Washington it is politics and democrats like Senator Charles Schumer (NY) see blaming oil companies and price fixing as scoring political points for the democrats. Again a prime example of how politicians like to take a complex issue and trivialize it into something very simple.
It goes without saying that the political situation between Iran and the international community is having a large impact on oil prices. Knowing that the market is easily spooked by any potential shortfall in oil supply Chavez has taken it upon himself to try to drive up oil prices as much as he can. First, Venezuela is not producing the ~3.2 million b/d of oil as they claim, and Chavez has been unsuccessful at getting OPEC to cut supply to drive up prices and make up for Venezuela's budget shortfall. Secondly, Chavez has been campaigning hard for OPEC to recognize its tar fields as oil reserves which would make Venezuela with the largest reserves of oil in the world thus have a lot of power and say in the oil market, something other OPEC countries will likely not allow to happen, in particular Saudi Arabia. Because Chavez has been unable to get OPEC to recognize its tar fields as reserves or to cut supply he has resorted to a far more confrontational and dangerous way to move the oil markets. This method is to befriend Iran, the new international paria, by supporting its nuclear ambitions, holding high level government meetings, and seeking business venters. In addition, to Chavez claiming that oil will hit $100 and that if the "imperialists", USA, invade Venezuela he will blow up the oil fields. Like I said above Chavez doesn't want to be the leader of Venezuela or Latin America he wants to be the leader of the world and he is trying to do this with oil.
What does the US do?
Well there is little the US can do, especially when it comes to Iran and Venezuela. Instead our politicians should be laying out long term plans to decrease our dependence on oil and mandating an increase in car fuel efficiency, something they seem very reluctant to do. A short term remedy, although politically unpopular, is to publicly ask the American consumer to make a small sacrifice and try to use less energy, such as drive less and at slower speeds, use a fan instead of air conditioning, etc...
So to conclude this post I will simply say that we should expect oil to remain high for the foreseeable future, unless the oil futures markets decide that oil is no longer worth investing in.
Posted by KA at 11:47 PM
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Well it is official, Teodoro Petkoff has announced his candidacy for president, you can hear his announcement here.
His announcement comes only a couple of days after SUMATE announced it would be willing to hold primary elections on July 16th, was this planned? probably not but it does make for good timing. So now the big question is will Petkoff and Rosales go along with a primary? (Borges already has announced he is). Personally I think Petkoff and Rosales know that Venezuelans want a primary so it will likely be in their best interest to participate, if they don't participate things for the opposition as a whole may not look good. As for this bloggers support for Petkoff, well I am still torn I think he has some baggage for his guerilla past, but it is also what makes him a strong candidate to confront Chavez. At this point my main concern about Petkoff is if he can connect with the people (ie. does he have the verbal skills and charisma that the people can identify with).
I expect things to move very fast in Venezuela for both the opposition and the Chavez government, all trying to get their house in order and pawns in place for the Dec 4th presidential elections. So expect a dizzying amount of news and disinformation over the next 7-8 months.
Posted by KA at 10:40 PM
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Regular readers of my blog know that I love The Economist. My love affair with it is simply because their articles are not simplistic, they don't paint things as black and white, or as good or bad. In addition, they obviously do their research and leave the reader to make their own conclusion. In short they provide you with the various view points and information and allow the reader (you and I) to draw our own conclusions. Such journalism is hard to come by since most, if not all, is simply a soap box for the writer to express their view point while ignoring or distorting the side that they disagree with, or it is simply sound bits with no substance or little context on the events being reported.
Here is an excerpt from an article that puts into perspective populism in Latin America. I highly recommend reading the whole article:
"Populism is full of contradictions. It is above all anti-elitist, but creates new elites. It claims to favour ordinary people against oligarchs. But as Messrs Dornbusch and Edwards pointed out, “at the end of every populist experiment real wages are lower than they were at the beginning.” Populism brought mass politics to Latin America, but its relationship to democracy is ambivalent. Populists crusade against corruption, but often engender more."
Can this be any clearer or close to reality to what is going on in Venezuela?
Posted by KA at 1:26 PM
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Today is April 11th, the same day that saw the removal/resignation of Chavez in 2004. A lot of misinformation and propaganda has been disseminated, mainly by the Venezuelan government in particular their sponsored and distributed film "The revolution will not be Televised".
You can read more about this film by clicking here and here.
For those of you who are interested in reading an account of what happened I highly recommend reading this piece (Click here to read it) by Francisco Toro. It is probably the best English written account that is unbiased and truthful about the events that day.
I also highly recommend the book "El Acertijo de Abril" for those of you spanish readers. It provides some very interesting inside information on the opposition and the Chavez government, as well as the days events from a Chavez supporter and anti-chavez activist perspective.
The night of April 11th in Fort Tiuna where Chavez resigned, as were were told by the minister of Defense Lucas Rincon later that night.
For those of you interested I urge you visit this site that has a collection of pictures and short video clips from the 11th of April 2002
Posted by KA at 11:06 AM
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Whenever I take to the highway near my small town I am treated to slogans about how guns save lives, all sponsored by a branch of the National Riffle Association (NRA). Now don't get me wrong I understand that some people like to hunt and some like the security, in particular when you live in the country. But gun control, in my opinion, is a must when dealing with areas of large population. Well no where is gun control and security in more need than in Venezuela, since during the past couple of weeks crime has taken center stage.
The most recent and disgusting incident was the discovery that the Foddoul brothers, of Venezuelan-Canadian background, ages 17, 13, and 12 and their driver were found killed. I need not elaborate on this heartless and disgusting act.
Last week a prominent italian born businessman Filippo Sindoni, 74 was found killed. From what I have read Sindoni was a decent and hard working man that invested most of his money in his home town of Maracay in the state of Aragua, Venezuela. Personally can you think of a better way to support your local city and people than by investing it all in your local area.
There is also a less note worthy incident but none the less it shows the level of insecurity in venezuela. The spanish actress Antonia San Juan was robbed by two armed men when they intercepted her vehicle, while on here way from the airport to her Caracas hotel.
It was the killing of the Foddoul brothers that has caused demonstrations around Caracas, but how does the Chavez government respond? By calling the National Guard to repress the demonstrators. Sadly the victums keep on mounting with the killing of a member of the press, Jorge Aguirre, who was going to take pictures of the demonstrations. Not only this but the government media agency (like the FCC in the US) is threatening to close the news channel Globovision for 72 hours for covering the demonstrations.
To paraphrase the words of the mayor of Baruta, Henrique Capriles (PJ-Primero Justica), the Armed Forces received three rusian helicopter for a hypothetical asimetric war with the United States, but in Venezuela in the past 6 years 100,000 people have been killed due to insecurity. So where is the true war?
So how does the Venezuelan government plan to respond to this problem? Well train a 2 million strong civilian reserve army equipped with military weapons and give the old metropolitan police guns to "community watch groups". Sounds great right! Lets give more people guns when the Venezuelan institutions are so corrupt and rotton to the core that the people who are supposed to be protecting us, the police, are the ones who are killing us.
Unfortunately these are the cases that make headlines since they are either children or well off individuals. Regardless, it goes to shows that in Venezuela rich and poor are suffering from the lack of security and a functional judicial system. But what are the roots of the problem? poverty, unemployment, and lack of hope for a better future, all things the Chavez government has failed to improve.
So do guns save lives? Well maybe if you live in the country and are being robbed, it might save yours, but the Sindoni, Foddoul, Aguirre, and thousands of other families will likely never agree with this statement and for good reason.
Posted by KA at 9:06 PM