Kindling, pretty much.

by baldilocks

Last day filling in for Fausta.

Still waiting for Former President Obama, actors Danny Glover and Sean Penn or director Oliver Stone to comment on the downfall of Venezuela. Breath not being held.

Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar, is disintegrating at an incredible pace under the country’s political and economic crisis that has left citizens broke, desperate and in many cases, homicidal. The depreciation accelerated this week, after a disputed vote electing an all-powerful “Constituent Assembly” filled with allies of President Nicolas Maduro, which the opposition and dozens of countries have called illegitimate.

Just two days ago, on August 2, we reported that one dollar would buy 14,100 bolivars, up from 11,280 the day before.

The next day, the bolivar slumped nearly 15 percent on the black market, to 17,000 to one US dollar. Today, it has crashed again, tumbling 16% to 20,142, and down almost 40% in just the past three days.

(…)

A kilo (two pounds) of rice, for instance, cost 17,000 bolivares. The crisis biting into Venezuela since 2014 came from a slide in the global prices for oil [sic]– exports of which account for 96 percent of its revenues.

The government has sought to monopolize dollars in the country through strict currency controls that have been in place for the past 14 years. Access to them have become restricted for the private sector, with the consequence that food, medicines and basic items — all imported — have become scarce.

According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in Venezuela is expected to soar above 700 percent this year. In June, Maduro tried to clamp down on the black market trade in dollars through auctions of greenbacks at the weekly fixed rate, known as Dicom. There is also another official rate, of 10 bolivars per dollar, reserved for food and medicine imports.

“Things are going up in price faster than salaries,” noted Zabala, who spends 10 percent of his income on diabetes treatment, when he can.

Meanwhile, Maduro who earlier this week was branded a “dictator” by the US State Department, has vowed that a new constitution the Constituent Assembly is tasked with writing will wean Venezuela off its oil dependency and restart industry, which is operating at only 30 percent of capacity. But Maduro, who links the “black dollar” with an “economic war” allegedly waged by the opposition in collaboration with the US, has not given details on what would be implemented. Instead, on Thursday Maduro promised that “speculators” setting their prices in line with “the terrorist criminal dollar in Miami” would go to jail.

(…)

Venezuela has to make major debt payments, with a $3.4 billion dollar-denominated payment for state oil company PDVSA looming in October. It is increasingly unclear if the company will make the payment.

But, remember folks: this isn’t the result of socialism, because true socialism has never really been tried yet!

(Thanks to Instapundit)

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.

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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.

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seo-6
Sculpture by Yeong-Deok Seo

by baldilocks

Even after seeing the process of how certain actions lead to certain results and seeing this simple reality present itself over and over again, there are still millions of people who are surprised at how far into the abyss Venezuela has fallen, with socialism acting as chauffeur. Washington Post:

Venezuela has become a failed state.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s latest projections, it has the world’s worst economic growth, worst inflation and ninth-worst unemployment rate right now. It also has the second-worst murder rate, and an infant mortality rate at public hospitals that’s gotten 100 times worse itself the past four years. And in case all that wasn’t bad enough, its currency, going by black market rates, has lost 99 percent of its value since the start of 2012. It’s what you call a complete social and economic collapse. And it has happened despite the fact that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves.

Never has a country that should have been so rich been so poor.

The author of the piece blames this on the fact that the country has become a kleptocracy—as if any socialist state isn’t a kleptocracy.

But Venezuela has gotten something worse than death. It has gotten hell. Its stores are empty, its hospitals don’t have essential medicines, and it can’t afford to keep the lights on.

And worse. Much worse.

Right now, I’m rereading The Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. The first few chapters detail the psychotic state that was Stalin’s USSR–specifically in regard to the planned famine in Ukraine. I’m reading it again to remind myself that, results like those in 20th century Europe don’t just spontaneously spring up, but are merely the end of a long chain of choices—governmental, economic, social, cultural, and spiritual—which a nation makes.

Sometimes, the chain of foolishness begins with a nation’s leader.

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 will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

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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An update on Venezuela by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz:

The country, well into Communism by now, continues its descent into chaos.

Nine senior government officials, including military officers, one diplomat and pro-government politicians, are in the most recent U.S. government’s list of active drug kingpins and terrorists, the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN).

Price controls wreck the economy. CNN reports how fist fights have broken out outside bakeries, and price controls lead to smuggling goods to be sold in Colombia, where the goods can be sold at (higher) market price.

The government’s talks with the opposition are falling apart. Caracas Gringo looks at the official opposition party, the MUD, and finds,

First, the handful MUD “representatives” participating in the farcical dialogue brokered by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil were exposed last week in Washington, DC as regime bootlickers who don’t represent anyone.

Second, if these MUD characters engaged in the “dialogue” ever had any claim to being the official “representatives” of the “organized opposition,” it’s now clear that there isn’t any “organized opposition” and the MUD’s dirt bags only represent themselves.

The MUD has now announced they will no longer participate in the “talks”.

The government, however, is cracking down on protesters. Last week hundreds of students were arrested; of those, 155 were released. Eleven are being held on

charges including weapons offenses, criminal association and incitement to violate laws, as well as drug violations.

Reuters estimates that 160 people remain in jail from round-ups since February. They may remain there indefinitely held up on procedural delays, as Leopoldo López, leader of the Voluntad Popular (People’s Will) has been since turning himself in on February 28.

There’s more oppression to come: Yesterday National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello singled out 14 Venezuelans as conspirators. Cabello has been banned from entry into the U.S. from his participation in the 1992 coup.

Human Rights Watch’s report on the state of repression in Venezuela proves that

the government of Nicolás Maduro, which has been battling anti-government protests since February, routinely uses unlawful force against unarmed protesters, and even against bystanders or people just passing by demonstrations. Common practices include severe beatings, the indiscriminate use of bullets, rubber pellets, and teargas against civilians, and the shooting at close range with rubber bullets of people in custody. It also proves the continued and systematic mistreatment of detainees; in some cases, these abuses clearly qualify as torture.

American lefties would have you believe that the continuing struggle is a matter of pro-U.S. versus anti-U.S., left versus right, rich versus poor, socialism versus capitalism; Moisés Naím asserts the truth:

It is between those who defend a government that violates human rights as a state-sanctioned policy and those who are willing to sacrifice themselves to stop it.

What is at stake? Assemblywoman Maria Corina Machado spells it out:

it is not a matter of asking the regime to change its policies; it will not. Our struggle is for regime change by constitutional means, as soon as possible; and it is therefore essential to maintain peacefully public pressure in the streets.

A fellow Barquisimetan impeccably expressed it these days “it is not about improving the conditions of captivity , it is about living in freedom.”

Not only for Venezuela, but for the region.

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

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Back in the day, Milton Friedman said,

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

The U.S. federal government is not in charge of the Sahara, but the Venezuelan government is in charge of the country’s water supply.

Small wonder water is now in short supply, along with many other basic goods:
Caracas to begin four months of water rationing

Water use in Caracas will be rationed for at least four months due to drought, authorities said Tuesday, as Venezuela grapples with shortages of basic goods which have spurred massive anti-government protests.

One in every four goods including basic food, hygiene products, medicine and auto parts, however, have already become difficult to find, resulting in long, lengthy lines.

The irony is that Venezuela has the highest water resources and greatest hydroelectric capacity (except for Brazil) in South America. The country has a dry season and a rainy season, but what’s important is this:

Even when fully operating and unaffected by drought, water supply levels in the capital area are below international standards, capable of providing 340 liters per person per day, which is sufficient for household consumption but falls short of commercial and industrial demands.

The deterioration of Venezuela’s infrastructure is nothing new. Back in 2011, The Economist had an article about the disastrous results of Hugo Chavez’s nationalization program:

After opposition candidates were elected to many state governorships in 2008, the president re-centralised many public services, taking them out of the hands of the states. These included roads, ports and airports, all of which have experienced accelerated deterioration ever since.

faustaAs we in the U.S. are facing ever-increasing federal government intrusion into all aspects of the economy (including the proposed federal tolls on interstate highways), remember Milton’s immortal words.

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

faustaby Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Johns Hopkins economics professor Steve Hanke has been looking at the old misery index, that is, a simple sum of inflation, lending rates, and unemployment rates, minus year-on-year per capita GDP growth, and Venezuela’s on top:

When measured by the misery index, Venezuela holds the ignominious top spot, with an index value of 79. 4. But, that index value, as of 31 December 2013, under states the level of misery because it uses the official annual inflation rate of 56. 2%. In fact, I estimate that Venezuela’s annual implied inflation rate at the end of last year was 278%. That rate is almost five times higher than the official inflation rate. If the annual implied inflation rate of 278% is used to calculate Venezuela’s misery index, the index jumps from 79. 4 to 301, indicating that Venezuela is in much worse shape than suggested by the official data.

Since the government has imposed price controls on mostly everything, the inflation rate appears to be low, but so are the store shelves,

There’s one thing Venezuela has plenty of: guns. Olympian Gabby Franco describes how Venezuelan citizens are not allowed to own guns, but the country has the highest murder rate in our hemisphere,

John Hinderaker posts,

Now, socialist Venezuela is in a state of collapse, with rampant inflation and shortages of basic necessities, like food. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, probably millions, have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the government’s corrupt incompetence. The socialist government, now headed by Nicolas Maduro, has responded with a brutal crackdown in which dozens of anti-socialist Venezuelans have been murdered by government forces or paramilitary, pro-government gangs that–who could have guessed?–are heavily armed, despite the country’s “progressive” firearms laws.

In addition to the marauding gangs armed to the teeth, the country is armed. Russia is Venezuela’s largest supplier of weapons and armored vehicles, but China and Iran are involved, too.

Joseph Humire explains,

Using civilian militias to shoot students and beat protestors is only one tool in Maduro’s repressive apparatus. Other tools have come at the hands of one of Venezuela’s top benefactors — China. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, at least two Chinese-made military systems have recently been battle tested on the streets of Venezuela.

The first is the Norinco VN-4 armored personnel carrier that has been recently deployed by the Bolivarian National Guard to patrol Venezuelan neighborhoods and intimidate its residents. The VN-4 is a multi-role, light armored vehicle with a light machine gun mounted on top. Venezuela purchased 141 of these armored vehicles in 2012 for this type of contingency, and they are now rolling through the streets of Venezuela in the face of the protests. The other system is the Shaanxi Y-8C military transport aircraft, of which Venezuela purchased eight from China for $353 million back in 2011. These Y-8C aircraft were seen on the tarmac of several Venezuelan airports last month, made public through an array of photos posted on Twitter that claimed Cuban Special Forces were disembarking this Chinese-made aircraft.

. . .  on February 26th, a Russian Vishnya-class intelligence ship, the Viktor Leonov CCB-175, was identified in the Havana harbor, just hours from Venezuela. This spy ship arrived unannounced, fully equipped with electronic eavesdropping equipment and weaponry. That same day, several Russian-made surface-to-air missiles were relocated from the Venezuelan military industrial hub of Maracay, to the capital of Caracas. These particular missiles, the S-125 Pechora 2M, were sold to Venezuela by Russia in 2009, and delivered to the Bolivarian Republic as recently as a couple weeks before the mass mobilizations began.

These low altitude surface-to-air missiles are the same kind of anti-aircraft weapons that Vladimir Putin sold to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which limited the option of placing a “no-fly” zone over Syria as Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his people. The repositioning of the Pechora missiles to Caracas is an ominous indication that the repression in Venezuela will get much worse if the protests continue.

Cuba, China, Russia and Iran are involved in Venezuela’s dictatorial regime.

No wonder the country is #1 in the misery index.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics 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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by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Vice-president Joe Biden was in Chile for the presidential inauguration of Michelle Bachelet.

Bachelet previously served as President from 2006–2010, but could not serve two consecutive terms, so she ran, and won this second term. Bachelet has already proposed increasing corporate taxes and closing tax loopholes to sponsor a system of free college education, changes to the constitution, and more spending to address inequality. This does not bode well for the most successful country in South America if she steers the country away from its free-market economy.

Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico compose the Pacific Alliance, a trade block created in 2011 which aims to

  • Build, in a participatory and consensual manner, an area of deep economic integration and to move gradually toward the free circulation of goods, services, capital and persons.
  • Promote the larger growth, development and competitiveness of the Parties’ economies, aiming at achieving greater welfare, overcoming socio-economic inequality and achieving greater social inclusion of their inhabitants.
  • Become a platform for political articulation, and economic and trade integration, and project these strengths to the rest of the world, with a special emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.

Biden scheduled face-to-face meetings with each of the Pacific Alliance presidents, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Ollanta Humala of Peru, and Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, having already met with Bachelet.

Earlier during his visit, Biden had

called the unstable situation in Venezuela “alarming” and said the Caracas government lacked even basic respect for human rights.

The Pacific Alliance arose as a free-trade, pro-democracy answer to the pro-Communist, pro-Cuba UNASUR that was the brainchild of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Hugo’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, was scheduled to attend Bachelet’s inauguration, and had called an emergency meeting of UNASUR to take place in Chile, saying that the UNASUR heads of state are “welcome” to condemn the opposition’s violence.

Maduro had certainly made his agenda clear.

In anticipation of Maduro’s visit, several Chilean congressmen wore #SOSVenezuela buttons to the inaugural, showing their support for the protesters:

Maduro decided at the last minute to skip Chile altogether, and took a hike. He sent his Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua.

Brazil, the largest UNASUR country, demurred on taking a stance on Venezuela. Biden was not invited, and it’s a good thing he’s not perceived as being involved with any of the UNASUR doings.

Better yet, I applaud Biden’s attention to the Pacific Alliance presidents. That is the kind of organization the hemisphere needs.

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

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Olimometer 2.52

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by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Embedded image permalink

“He who tires, loses.”

Venezuela is at a crossroads.

For over two weeks, the people have been protesting against the government. What started as a students’ protest has spread throughout the country – even the beauty queens are protesting. Why?

The protests accompany inflation officially at 56% (but likely much, much higher); the third-highest murder rate of any country in the world; and, according to an official index, scarce supplies of one out of four staple items needed in every home, such as cooking oil, corn flour, and toilet paper.

Nationalization and expropriation of private businesses, price controls, huge corruption, government printing money to finance itself (including having to pay bond yields higher than all 55 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg) are all part and parcel of a ruined economy. The scarce benefits that may have accrued under Chavez are being eaten away fast by the crisis.

One of the causes for the rampant criminality is due to the multiple times when, urging his “Bolivarian Revolution,” Hugo Chavez  encouraged the poor to steal while he created a favored class, instead of directing his regime towards the rule of law. Chavez armed gangs that repressed opposition demonstrations (and, make no mistake, they’re on the attack now). He named to his cabinet men who were designated as “Tier II Kingpins”  by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. To worsen things, as part of his “war of all the peoples”, Chavez forged close ties with Iran and Hezbollah.

Add to how socialism has destroyed Venezuela, the regime’s suppression of the media:

  • international networks have been blocked from cable and satellite TV,
  • TV and radio stations had their licenses revoked,
  • newspapers are denied the hard currency they need to buy paper,
  • news websites are taken down,
  • the government blocked Twitter images and digital walkie-talkie apps like Zello.
  • president Maduro calls CNN “fascists”, throws them out of the country, and them changes his mind, allowing them to stay if they toe the line,
  • all while the government continues to assert that Venezuela is a free democracy.

YouTube, Twitter and other social media carry the opposition’s message as the international media has ignored until this week the Venezuela story. Worryingly,

influential news outlets have started describing students protests in the country as the domain of “conservative” kids (here’s looking at you BBC). To those who discovered Venezuela only a couple of weeks ago, and are bent on projecting racial and cultural prejudices on the situation, let me just leave with this little factoid to ponder on: chavismo has never won a general election in Venezuelan universities. Ever. Since 1998. In other words, where the voting is manual (rather than with Smartmatic / official electoral body), chavismo is yet to win one election, of either authorities or students bodies in universities across Venezuela.

Much to their credit, CNN en Español sent correspondent Fernando del Rincón to interview retired Brigadier General Ángel Vivas, who had armed and barricaded himself in his home when the National Guard came to seize him for denouncing that Cuba’s giving the orders to the military.

There’s even a photo claiming to show Cuban General Leopoldo Cinta dictating his orders to the Venezuelan army.

Senator Marco Rubio explained Cuba’s influence on Venezuelan affairs:

Like its Cuban overlords, the Venezuelan regime’s human rights violations are egregious:

the human rights abuses taking place every day with government oversight. In the past 14 days, Venezuelan protesters, comprised mostly of students and the middle class, have been shot; tear-gassed, beaten and arrested by National Police. Fifteen people have died as a result of the protests, seven of them were shot in the head. In addition, two local human rights organizations, Provea and the Venezuelan Penal Forum, have also called for investigations on the ongoing torture of detainees.

Here are two tragic (and very graphic) stories that haven’t made their way into American headlines: Geraldine Moreno, a student, died this past Saturday after troops shot numerous plastic bullets at her eyes. Juan Manuel Carrasco, 21, y Jorge Luis León, 25 – two male students detained in the city of Valencia – were allegedly raped with long guns by military troops and handcuffed for 48 hours. There is has been no word of an official investigation, and the two are only being helped by an NGO, Venezuelan Penal Forum.

Today there’s a women’s demonstration taking place. Tomorrow the Organization of American States will be meeting on Venezuela – I doubt they will denounce the regime’s abuses. Jimmy Carter wants to go to Venezuela, Next week Carnival celebrations are scheduled but the opposition has already said no to the Carnival.

Venezuela’s regime has no ace-in-the-hole monetary allies; there are signs that some of the military may side with the protestors. Yet, things will have to get a lot worse before they get better.

Venezuela’s opposition, in order to be effective, must continue its struggle. Their motto, so far, is “He who tires, loses.” As Jay Nordlinger said,

The Castros and the Chávezes and the Maduros and their apologists never tire — ever. Their opponents must not either, if they can possibly help it.

Let this be their anthem, then:

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