by baldilocks

From Reuters:

Venezuelan activists are increasingly posting details of locations and lifestyles of leftist officials and their families, depicting them as thriving off corruption while the population struggles to eat in a devastating economic crisis.

The social media blitzes, targeting officials and their business partners, relatives and even lovers, are another weapon in a wave of huge protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government that began in April. Protesters are seeking early presidential elections, freedom for jailed activists, and humanitarian aid to alleviate chronic food and medicine shortages.

One Twitter account published photos purportedly showing the wife of Vice President Tareck El Aissami enjoying champagne and lounging on a pristine beach with her sisters. In another case, an alleged lover of a powerful Socialist Party official is shown on trips to the Middle East.

Venezuela’s opposition accuses officials of profiting from currency controls and a decade-long oil boom to fill their pockets. The opposition-led congress estimates that at least $11 billion have “disappeared” from state-run oil company PDVSA .

Monica Showalter:

Reuters doesn’t mention it, but this is the outcome of socialism, and not just a one-off event but the usual and inevitable outcome of socialism, which always leads to a protected class[.]

Daniel Ortega got caught shopping on Fifth Avenue buying $3,000 worth of designerluxury sunglasses. Romania first lady Elena Ceaucescu was caught with diamonds on the soles of her shoes. The Castros own billions in assets in Spain, Italy, Argentina, China. Two years ago, the late [Hugo Chavez’s] daughter, Maria Gabriela, was reported to be Venezuela’s richest woman with $4.2 billion in assets. (…)

As a blogger and writer under different venues, I have been reporting this stuff for years. The flashing dollar bill parties of the Chavistas. The Caribbean luxury vacations of the Chavistas. The Miami condo-buying. The trips to Disneyland. The Miami shopping trips. The dollar-bill flashing parties. The Chavista luxury yachts. The social whirl and real estate. These stories extend all the way back to 2004. Yet they never got all that much traction.

As I’ve opined before, most people cannot see the connection between cause and effect, but just to be on the safe side, the MSM would prefer to not only keep silent on information which would spur that connection—on this topic, especially–but also to use active means to distract attention away from the potential connection. Makes you wonder if even certain failed comedians are merely carrying out their orders. If true, the drastic methods indicate that the MSM may be scared.

The future nomenklatura must protect its interests, however. I don’t know if I want to see them become more desperate.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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  1. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, but most of it is extra-heavy crude oil.
  2. Under the rule of Hugo Chávez, oil accounted for 95% of the country’s total exports. As Chávez fired 20,000 PDVSA employees and replaced the government-owned oil company’s staff with chavistas while neglecting infrastructure , oil production has declined. Oil production has declined 100,000-200,000 barrels per day this year

  3. Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999. After declaring himself a Marxist in 2010, expropriating private property,  instituting currency controls, and demanding control of PDVSA’s joint ventures with foreign oil companies, the economy declined precipitously. The decline has continued and accelerated under Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s successor.

Inflation is estimated at 720% this year,

4. Cuban intelligence and military advisors train the Venezuelan security services and monitor dissent and alleged conspiracies against Maduro’s administration. Human rights violations include the imprisonment of dissidents, such as Leopoldo López, who was sentenced to 14 years in jail on charges of public instigation, vandalism, arson and criminal conspiracy.

During López’s trial, which was closed to the media and the public,

The court refused to admit all but one of 65 witnesses for the defense, while allowing the testimony of 108 witnesses for the government.

  1. As the country continues to fall apart and the regime cracks down on protestors, OAS chief Luis Almagro has called for a meeting to discuss Venezuela’s human rights violations of the Democratic Charter.

However, getting at least eighteen votes to sanction Venezuela may prove difficult. Several Caribbean countries that received Venezuelan oil are not willing to join in sanctioning, and Argentina’s current foreign minister and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff, Susana Malcorra, has allegedly pledged to support to Venezuela at the OAS in exchange for Venezuela’s vote at the UN for her nomination as UN Secretary General.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Lefties firmly believe the deceased Hugo Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically” because GDP went up, and fewer people were living below the poverty line by the time he died last year.

The numbers are there: GDP did go up, and yes, fewer people were listed as living below the poverty line. Whose numbers?

The numbers came from the Venezuelan government.

The International Monetary Fund keeps a List of IMF Member Countries with Delays in Completion of Article IV Consultations or Mandatory Financial Stability Assessments Over 18 Months. As of the writing of this post, Venezuela hasn’t held an Article IV consultation with the IMF in 99 months.

Let me translate that into plain English: The Venezuelan government has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade.

It also stopped reporting a number of standard indicators several years ago:

Heavy government spending has fueled rampant inflation, which averaged an annual 22% during Mr. Chávez’s tenure. Its anticapitalist rhetoric and broad state intervention into the economy have led to a dearth of investment. Gross fixed capital formation declined to 18% of gross domestic product in 2011, from 24% in 1999, according to the World Bank. Net inflows of foreign direct investment stood at 2.9% of GDP during that same year, his first in office, nearly double the 1.7% in 2011. Capital flight from Venezuela intensified as Mr. Chávez pursued more interventionist policies, including capital controls and a fixed official exchange rate that — if you can get it — offers dollars at a quarter of the exchange rate that the greenback fetches in the black market. Stock market capitalization of companies listed on the Caracas Stock Exchange has gone from a paltry 7.6% of GDP in 1999 to a minuscule 1.6%.

Rather than pursue policies that might stimulate investment, the government’s response to shrinking productive capacity and high inflation has been price caps. The result? Shortages of food and other basic necessities, periodic electric brown- and blackouts, and far fewer jobs: the labor force participation rate has dropped from 52% to 46% in the Chávez era.

Does that sound like a “drastically improved” economy?

But let’s look at GDP some more, with the numbers that are available: Chavez made the Venezuelan economy increasingly dependent on oil exports. In 1999, oil accounted for 80% of all exports. Back then the Annual Average Domestic Crude Oil Price (AADCOP) was $16.56. By the time of his death last year, the number had risen to 95% at an AADCOP of $91.17. GDP had to go up, if only because all the eggs in that one basket got pricier; even then Chavez didn’t do all that well:

There was strong economic growth from 2004 to 2008 but GDP fell in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010. From the time Chávez took office in 1999 to 2011 Venezuela’s economy grew by an average of 2.8% per year. During this same period Latin America as a whole grew by 3.3% per year and Brazil grew by 3.4% per year.

While Venezuela’s oil production decreases, Cuba still receives 100,000 barrels of its oil per day.

How about reducing poverty?

According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America, the percentage of the population living under the poverty line in Venezuela fell from 49.4% in 1999 to 27.8% in 2010. That is a pretty good record but there were similar trends across Latin America. In the region as a whole poverty dropped from 43.8% in 1999 to 31.8% in 2010. A few countries, like Peru, Brazil and Panama, faired even better than Venezuela. Poverty rates in Peru dropped sharply from 54.7% in 2000 to 31.3% in 2010—all three have solidly capitalistic economies.

There are no verifiable data available on income distribution, but again, according to government numbers

The country now boasts the fairest income distribution in Latin America, as measured by the Gini coefficient index.

In 2011, Venezuela’s Gini coefficient fell to 0.39. By way of comparison, Brazil’s was 0.52, in itself a historic low.

So every Venezuelan now has a more equal slice of the cake. The trouble is, that cake has not been getting much bigger.

“Venezuela is the fifth largest economy in Latin America, but during the last decade, it’s been the worst performer in GDP per capita growth,” says Arturo Franco of the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

The Gini numbers do not include moneys kept by corrupt officials or “Tier II Kingpins” drug lord Cabinet members.

Venezuela ranks 181 out of 189 in the World Bank Economy Rankings.

Chavez’s true legacy is a ruined country with murder rates doubling or tripling over a decade, Communist control of all institutions and media, falling oil production, crumbling infrastructure, a moribund private sector (what little is left of it after the expropriations and nationalizations), soaring inflation, fleeing capital, power outages and food shortages, and now, electronic food rationing cards.

Drastically, yes. Improved, no.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on Latin American and US politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

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Olimometer 2.52

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There seems to be a lot of celebration on Twitter

and some snark

over the death of Hugo Chavez

President Hugo Chavez, the fiery populist who declared a socialist revolution in Venezuela, crusaded against U.S. influence and championed a leftist revival across Latin America, died Tuesday at age 58 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer.

While the temptation is to celebrate the potential for positive change in Venezuela such celebration might be premature:

Let’s not forget that there were plenty of people in the military and supports of Chavez who were enriched by the largess he distributed to his supporters. None of these people are likely going to be anxious to give the easy life up, particularly to an angry but unarmed populace.

Additionally his long illness means there was plenty of time to replace him when ill if the generals were interested in doing so.

They did not.

I suspect change will not come to Venezuela without a lot of bloodshed, we should hope and work for the best but we should not delude ourselves that changes are going to come easy or fast.

As for those celebrating his death Chavez was a horrible man who did horrible things but as a Christianity has rules and this tweet expresses properly the attitude a realistic Christian should have concerning his death

Given the choice of Chavez in Hell suffering for eternity or a deathbed repentance getting him into purgatory and eventually heaven I will hope for the latter every single time because every soul Satan gets is a defeat for us all.

I only hope the artificial hell inflicted on his former country will eventually end.

Update just a reminder:

2216 GMT: VENEZUELA DEPLOYS ITS ARMY AND POLICE

You don’t deploy the army and police after the death of a leader by cancer unless you are afraid of the people.

Fausta blogs about a story that hasn’t generated a lot of press:

On Aug. 22, 2010, at Iran’s suggestion, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosted senior leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in a secret summit at military intelligence headquarters at the Fuerte Tiuna compound in southern Caracas. Among those present were Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah, who is on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists; Hamas’s “supreme leader,” Khaled Meshal; and Hezbollah’s “chief of operations,” whose identity is a closely guarded secret.

The idea for this summit sprang from a meeting between Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Ahmad Mousavi, and his Venezuelan counterpart, Imad Saab Saab, at the Venezuelan embassy in Damascus on May 10, 2010. According to the report received by Venezuela’s foreign minister, the two envoys were discussing a meeting between their presidents and Hezbollah’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, when the Iranian suggested that the three meet Chavez in Caracas. That these infamous criminals left their traditional havens demonstrates their confidence in Chavez and their determination to cultivate a terror network on America’s doorstep.

Yeah I remember the big headlines all about this last august and the discussions on all the channels about what we should be doing about this. What? You mean we didn’t have posts all about this all over the place? How about that!

Well we shouldn’t be worried, after all it’s not like their trying to cross the Mexican border or something.

Apparently the rules about trading with nations that support terror are a bit more flexible than they should be:

While you were busy getting ready for Christmas,U.S. Approved Business With Blacklisted Nations

Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has granted special licenses allowing American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found.

Including Iran?

Yes, including Iran.

Not a good idea:

I share Fausta’s opinion on the wisdom of this, over on the left Firedoglake also objects:

Well, I see our foreign policy has really learned it’s lessons…and that lesson is how much of this profit goes to the Caymans?

Alas Attaturk being a person of the left draws the wrong conclusion:

It’s almost as though all that posturing about how evil some state is, is just posturing.

Yeah after all there is no reason to believe that we have anything to worry about with Iran is there?

Among the two most alarming revelations is the already completed sale and delivery, to Venezuela by Russia, of nearly 2,000 advanced, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles capable of hitting aircraft as high as 19,000 feet. Equally and perhaps more alarming is an October agreement between Iran and Venezuela. The agreement establishes a joint ground-to-ground missile base on Venezuelan soil and calls for the sharing of missile technology and the training of technicians and officers. In addition, Venezuela may use the missiles as it chooses for “national needs” and in case of “emergency.” Several types of missiles will be deployed, giving Venezuela the ability to strike targets throughout South and Central America and throughout the U.S.

Well how bad can medium range missiles be in the hands of a guy like Chavez?

Medium-range ground-to-ground missiles based in Venezuela are another matter entirely. Armed only with conventional explosive warheads, there would be little motivation for Venezuela or Iran to use them, as even under Barack Obama, massive retaliation would be at least possible. The equation is swung more in favor of use with biological or chemical warheads. But with nuclear warheads, use becomes even more likely. What is almost certain is that nuclear warheads would allow substantial blackmail capability, giving Iran and Venezuela a free hand not only in South and Central America, but in the Middle East as well. And all that is apparently keeping Iran from producing such warheads is a computer virus.

Well it’s not like Iranians are actually fighting us on the ground or something….oops:

Coalition and Afghan special operations teams have captured a Taliban commander who doubles as an Iranian Qods Force operative and helped ship weapons from Iran into Afghanistan.

The Taliban/Qods Force operative, who was not named, was detained during a Dec. 18 raid in the Zhari district in Kandahar province, the International Security Assistance Force reported in a press release. ISAF and Afghan forces are currently working to secure Zhari and the neighboring districts of Panjwai and Arghandab from the Taliban.

Nah all that axis of evil stuff is just hooey, why look at how peaceful North Korea is?

North Korea threatened Thursday to launch a “sacred” nuclear war against South Korea if it attacks, as Seoul staged military exercises that have raised already high tensions on the peninsula.

The remarks seemed aimed at revving patriotic spirit on the eve of the 19th anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il’s appointment as the supreme military commander.

Defense chief Kim Yong Chun said North Korea is “fully prepared to launch a sacred war” — and would use its nuclear capabilities — if attacked and warned the South against intruding even the smallest amount on its territory, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Yup nothing but peaceful folk there, as that noted war mongering extremist (per Morning Joe) Victor Davis Hanson said:

The present strategy in Korea? Who knows? But I think a prosperous South Korea is between the rock of hoping for the relatively nonviolent implosion of the failed state of North Korea in some sort of East German fashion, and the hard place of a communist thugocracy in the bunker lashing out in “we will take you down with us” fashion.

Yup no sign of evil there. After all they oppose the most oppressive homophobic force known to man, the US Military.

May our friends on the left always have the privilege of never finding out just how wrong they are the hard way.

They attack anything that facilitates the uncensored passing of information among people they rule:

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has announced that he now considers Twitter messages and social networking as terrorist threats. He is quoted in this Spanish-language news report as calling for more state control over the internet.

via who else but Glenn.

Meanwhile on the China Google front my favorite Free Speech Diva continues to speak up concerning China. And she describers her dream speech on the subject:

My dream speech would be about how the Internet poses a challenge to all governments and most companies (except those companies like Google whose business is built around that challenge). I would call on all governments to work together with citizens, companies and each other to build a globally interconnected, free and open network that enhances the lives of everybody on the planet, enables commerce and innovation by big and small players alike, makes everybody richer and freer, and improves all governments’ relations with their citizens by making government more transparent, efficient, and thus more credible and legitimate.

I would quote Benjamin Franklin, who wrote in 1759: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The speech would remind us all that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that American democracy was built on this assumption. The Internet empowers governments and law enforcement agencies as well as citizens, upstart candidates, and dissidents.

Somebody ought to write a book about that. If you care about free speech then you should be reading Rebecca MacKinnon.

Sean Penn
could not be reached for comment.

… on his blog tonight lgf officially jumps the shark.

Just for fun lets take a look at how long it’s been since Charles hit Hugo Chavez. The last hit is April of this year. Ol’ Hugo hasn’t done one odd thing since then, no sir.

Now lets do the same search for Sarah Palin. Take a look at the hits (to be fair there are some defenses there too) but make the comparison.

Nope Charles hasn’t changed, not one bit and we on the right are just delusional to say so.

I predict that not only will Charles become a darling of the left, but he will at some time before or when her books comes out he will be invited on MSNBC to talk about the “White Supremacist” connection to the governor. I personally would be shocked if MSNBC doesn’t pick this up sometime before the week is out.

Take care Charles. Good luck convincing your new friends that Israel is worth defending, Afghanistan is a war worth fighting, the Mohammad Cartoons are worth printing and Iran shouldn’t have the bomb.

I would have thrown in the religion of peace stuff too but for some reason you haven’t used that term since April 6th. In fact you used the term only 3 times this year so far. In 2008 it was 36 times. In 2007 it was 165 times.

Has radical Islam become proportionately less violent, have they decided to treat women better or stop killing gays or are not preaching holy war or the death of people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Or is there another reason? Rather than speculate as others have, I’m asking directly.

WHY?