Hugo Chavez and the Wrecking of Venezuela

May 16, 2010

Venezuelans are starting to fall out of love with their president. Will they be allowed to vote him out of power?
May 13th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

WITH his bellicose bombast, theatrical gestures and dodgy jokes, Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president for the past 11 years, has turned himself into one of the world’s most recognisable and controversial rulers. His fans salute him as a saviour for the downtrodden of the planet, a man who is leading a grass roots revolution against American imperialism and its local sepoys. But to many others, including this newspaper, he has come to embody a new, post-cold-war model of authoritarian rule which combines a democratic mandate, populist socialism and anti-Americanism, as well as resource nationalism and carefully calibrated repression.

This model has proved surprisingly successful across the world. Versions are to be found in countries as disparate and distinct as Iran, Russia, Zimbabwe and Sudan. In one way or another, these regimes claim to have created a viable alternative to liberal democracy.

In Mr Chávez’s case, that claim has been backed up above all by oil. On the one hand, he has deployed oil revenues abroad to gain allies, and to sustain the Castro brothers in power in Cuba. On the other, having kicked out Western multinationals, he has signed investment deals with state-owned oil companies. Last month China agreed to lend Venezuela $20 billion, mainly for oil development. Mr Chávez has armed his revolution with Russian jets, tanks and rifles (albeit bought on tick). Meanwhile, a Spanish judge accuses his government of sheltering members of ETA, the Basque terrorist group. Intercepted e-mails from leaders of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas suggest that they have received help, and possibly arms, through Venezuela. Of course Venezuela’s government denies such claims. So just how much of a menace is Mr Chávez, and what, if anything, can be done about him?

Venezuela’s dark age
Certainly his threats against Colombia—which include a total trade embargo if Juan Manuel Santos, a former defence minister, wins this month’s presidential election—and the evidence of his veiled support for the FARC are troubling. They are a constant, if so far manageable, source of regional tension. And his efforts to build a block based on self-proclaimed “revolutions”, anti-Americanism and managed trade in the heart of democratic Latin America have served to undermine the very cause of regional integration that he claims to champion. But rhetoric aside, his influence in the region peaked a couple of years ago. He lost one ally, albeit in regrettable circumstances, when Honduras’s president, Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown last year. Several others are on the defensive.

Much more important is the damage Mr Chávez is doing to his own country. His “21st-century socialism” is a precarious construction. The brief fall in the oil price of 2008-09 was enough to sink Venezuela’s economy into stagflation—even as the rest of Latin America is enjoying vigorous economic recovery. Venezuelans are suffering declining real wages, persistent shortages of staple goods (meat is the latest to become scarce) and daily power cuts.

The blackouts are in part the result of drought. But they are also the most dramatic sign that the bill for a decade of mismanagement of the economy and of public services is now falling due (see article). There are plenty of other ugly portents. In one of the world’s biggest oil exporters hard currency is running short: to buy a dollar in the tolerated parallel market now requires almost twice as much local currency as the official exchange rate (and three times more than the privileged rate for “essential imports”). Investors rate the country’s debt as the riskiest of anywhere. Crime and corruption are flourishing.

The coming choice between Chávez and democracy
Awkwardly for Mr Chávez, all this is happening when he faces a legislative election in September, the prelude to a vital presidential ballot in December 2012. That points to the contradiction at the heart of his project. He sees his revolution as permanent and irreversible. But he derives his legitimacy from the ballot box. He has been elected three times, and won four referendums. He has hollowed out Venezuela’s democracy, subjugating the courts, bullying the media and intimidating opponents. But he has been unable, or unwilling, to disregard or repress opposition to the same degree as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or even Russia’s Vladimir Putin, let alone the Castro brothers in Cuba.

Public opinion still matters in Venezuela. Remarkably, opinion polls show that two Venezuelans out of five still support Mr Chávez (higher than the proportion of the British electors who voted for the Conservative Party, the senior partner in the country’s new coalition government). That is tribute to his skill in convincing the poor that he is their champion, to the opposition’s mistakes, to years of record oil prices and to the ruthlessness with which he ransacks the economy for the short-term benefit of his supporters. It means he is unlikely to fade away. But provided that the opposition comes up with a plausible alternative, it is not fanciful to imagine that in 2012 Venezuela will face a stark choice: Mr Chávez or democracy.

All the evidence is that Venezuelans, including many chavistas, are democrats and want to remain so. But Mr Chávez is pushing on regardless with his revolution, nationalising ever more businesses, expropriating private properties and selectively locking up or harassing his opponents. So the question increasingly being asked in Caracas is whether Mr Chávez’s rule will end peacefully or not.

The answer will lie largely with Venezuelans themselves. But outsiders, especially in Latin America, can play their part, by urging that the opposition receive guarantees that it can take part both this year and in 2012 on equal terms. That goes particularly for democratic Brazil, whose president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has embraced Mr Chávez far more than is desirable for his own country’s long-term interest. Mr da Silva has helped entrench prosperity, freedom and democracy in Brazil. He should hope the same happens for Venezuela. Mr Chávez, unfortunately, is not the man to bring that about.


Aeroplane Voyage in the Morrow.

March 31, 2010

Yep. Going to the Home of Heros apparently…




The reason I am embarking upon this adventure to the big ol’ Colorado is simply put, to bury my brother. As many of you, who are my close friends, know, my brother died about a month ago on March 2nd.

The whole story of that day is really not too long so what the heck, I’ll tell it. Basically my brother had some mental issues and had been complaining (most recently) that he had severe stomach pains and other similar ailments. For the most part we went along with him, took him to the hospital close to 10 times since new years; although I think in the back of my head, I never believed there was anything wrong with my brother. He had complained of ridiculous things in the past such as a chip in his head and that someone had been driving his car all over creation. As you can see, there was not a whole lot of concrete evidence to back up any of his complaints in the past and this time was no different.


That day, March 3rd, is certainly a day that I’ll never forget. My mom had been calling my brother a few times that day and had not heard back from him so we were in the area and decided to drop by for a visit to see how he was doing. So we parked and went up to his room and knocked a few times with no answer so we knocked louder and pounded on the door, all the time my mom becoming more and more worried that something was wrong, as was I.


So because we had no response to our knocking, we went down to the managers office and asked if we could have the key to get in since my brother had a history of mental instability. She went with us and knocked on the door again just in case he had been sleeping. What happened next is burned into my memory as vividly as if it happened just yesterday. The manager opened the door, walked in and motioned for my mom to stand back as she looked down at the floor and walked back out. My mom sensing that something was very wrong, pushed past her and ran into the apartment to see my brother lying on the floor, dead. I walked in and saw my brother laying there purple and blue and just couldn’t look away. I can safely say that seeing my brother there with the life drained out of him, was by far the worst thing that has ever happened to me. He looked so peaceful laying in his typical fashion with his arm out on his side.


I had read authors descriptions in books of how one reacts to seeing a dead body and feeling that chill run up your spine, but had never experienced it. I can testify that that chill certainly does exist. It can be described best as, yes I know it’s cliche, but as a chill. First my legs felt cold then shaky and my knees felt like they couldn’t hold me up. I started shaking and my voice cracked something fierce.

As my mother screamed and cried out, my mind couldn’t help itself but think, “what now? What do I do? What is happening? Who is that on the floor? Who do I call? Where is my brother??” I called 911 as I was helping get my mom out of the room so she wouldn’t have to see my dead brother lying there. I called my dad and my sister and got them over there as soon as possible. The rest is really the normal thing you’d imagine happening. We cried for a few hours, gradually got to the point where we could walk and drive my mom home.


I realize that most of you reading this will think to yourself, “this guy is totally just fishing for sympathy!” and you would be wrong. I needed to write this as part of my coping. I have an incredible ability to compartmentalize things in my life. I can be strong and I can pretend nothing bothers me but on the inside I’m raging at myself that I could be so heartless. My God, my BROTHER just died! How Could you not be depressed? Why don’t you cry at all?? Writing this has given me an arena to express my thoughts and feelings whilst being protected by the comforting, albeit thin shield of the internet. I just needed to say how I feel. That is all


Anyway, I’m leaving tomorrow at 8am to fly to my moms home state. We will be staying with relatives and having many many people come up to us, offering there condolences. I appreciate that they care enough to offer their sympathies but honestly, I can’t stand it. I don’t know how to react to it.


Anyway, I need to get some sleep before tomorrow. Goodnight everyone



Spring Break Son!

March 27, 2010

Yea buddy! It’s here! So thankfully I have a sweet class schedule at the moment which essentially means I have… 11 days for spring break! My class on thursday, that’s right… CLASS singular… is metalsmithing which means I get to play around in a metal shop for three hours every tuesday and thursday night which is really quite a lot of fun so I consider it a break from school. Anyway I have decided that I will read Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.”

This is one of the greatest books Hemingway wrote and since I read it once in 10th grade and hated it, I have decided that I will read it again and read deeper into it, more than just getting it out of the way for class.

Also, I’m pretty sure I have A.D.D…. I get bored writing whatever I’m writing and move on to other topics without much of a transition. Which I find that many of you readers enjoy due to the huge number of views on my last post.

I’m not sure if this stupid site is like blocking all of your comments or what… because there’s like 150 billion “spam comments” I’ve gotten so maybe the site just decides to not let me enjoy your comments… who knows… So on another note, I shaved and I do look pretty fly if I don’t say so myself. I trimmed down the sideburns and cut back the strange beard thingy on my chin. Also lost the ‘stache.

On a separate note, my niece Brandy had her baby the other day… maybe a month ago? Kid’s name is Brandon…. strange dontcha think? Anyway he’s a cute little fella. Looks a TON like his daddy but still gives the impression that he’s in fact, not from his mothers uterus but from a distant galaxy….




He also has the funniest facial expressions I’ve ever seen on a baby




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New Reviews! That’s right, it’s shoes this time…

March 26, 2010

So I just got me some brand spankin’ new Chrome Kursk kicks!

I recently discovered Chrome and all their cool stuff they make right here in the Yay Area and am duly impressed by both their quality and their culture. They seem like the kind of people you’d want to hang out with.

Anyway, the review:

I got them about two weeks ago now (I know… I’m a procrastinator) and I’ve worn them just about every day since they arrived. They are pretty stinking comfortable just off the bat. I have wide feet so that was kind of an issue with them… and most shoes in general. I found that they were quite narrow but they were remarkably comfortable nonetheless. They have great support and I found that they have a very sturdy sole. Even when pedaling super hard, I could hardly tell that I was standing on the pointy thing on my pedals. The grommets on the front work well and look tight to boot and the padded tongue? Wow! Not to mention these shoes come with a reflective strip on the heel to further aid rider safety.

All in all, I would rate these an 8 out of 10. They have some great features and are comfortable, but for my wide feet they didn’t work out so hot.



Contacting Me

March 9, 2010

Click here to send me an email! If that doesn’t work, My email is Jonnylovespaintbal@mac.com


New song updates:

February 21, 2010

So I’ve heard a few new songs these past days that I think everyone should listen to. And In fact, I have included the Pop-out links to listen to them for free, Just click on the title!

“Resistance” by Muse

This once rather sounds like a Christmas carol at times during the chorus but I think it sounds cool! It reminds me of that other song about some sort of inane liberal fight against the persecution of the Christian majority or some such nonsense…

“Beautiful Thieves” by A.F.I.

This also has a catchy chorus but not great in the understandability and deep, thought-provoking departments… Well other than the brain pain you’ll get trying to figure it out… The music video is quite well produced. Not Oscar-worthy by any means but it was cool.


That’s about it for now. Certainly there is a lack of well-produced, quality music being made nowadays, but if and or when I hear more cool jams I’ll hook it up! Check back for more cool tuneage!!


Do the D. A. N. C. E.

January 25, 2010

Sooooo I came across this song… no I lie. My friend Emily showed it to me the other day. I just like taking credit for good ideas =D Kind of like Michael Scott. Wow I know too much about the office…. Anyway. Here’s the video….


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