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NPR reports that the Venezuelan government has called in the military in response to the violence there, raising fears of civil war. The violence there is getting worse as opposition leaders are jailed, massive human rights violations are alleged, and the situation is the worst since the late President Chavez took power.

El Nuevo Herald, meanwhile, reports that Henrique Capriles, an opposition leader, accused the government of Nicolas Maduro of fomenting unrest.

"The government is doing everything possible to emerge from this crisis stronger," Capriles is quoted as saying. "They're saying a group of fascists is trying to burn down the country in order to cover up the great problems we're currently living."

Over the past few days, Maduro, who was Hugo Chávez's right hand man, has accused the United States and its allies of trying to destabilize the country.

Caracas Chronicles, an English-language blog that leans toward the opposition, writes that the protests started in San Cristobal, after government forces tamped down a student protest using a heavy hand.

Naturally, both sides are quick to blame the other for the escalating violence. The government says the opposition is simply a bunch of "fascists" who are trying to engineer a coup, aided and abetted by the US. There is a lot of suspicion of the US, given that they engineered coups in Latin America and Iran during the Cold War in the name of "stopping communism."

The Caracas Chronicles alleges the following human rights abuses by the Venezuelan government:

•The Media Blackout - From yanking a Colombian cable news channel off the air to taking an entire city offline, the government has made controlling the flow of information about the crisis a priority. This comes on the heels of the looming threat to newspapers all over the country, which we have documented extensively. President Maduro has already announced they will pull the plug on CNN En Español, an important source of independent information. Now their journos’ official credentials have been revoked. All told, the past two weeks have been dreadful for the right of Venezuelans to be informed. The result? Tons of rumors, tons of disinformation, tons of uncertainty.

 •Paramilitaries: Let’s call a spade a spade: colectivos are paramilitaries. It’s silly that chavistas are somehow trying to minimize the role of these government-sponsored groups that now roam freely in the streets of Venezuela, heavily armed, accountable to God-only-knows whom. They have been repeatedly lionized by the government. They are christened by Ministers as the main line of defense of the Revolution. They talk to the foreign press and gleefully display their weapons and their fire power. Chavista governors give them orders via Twitter. And numerous eyewitnesses tell stories of violence. True – they don’t always shoot live ammo. Sometimes their role is simply to intimidate. Regardless, they are real, and they are not going anywhere.

 •Human Rights Abuses - From the jailing of Leopoldo López to the alleged torture of student demonstrators, it seems clear that Venezuela crossed a rubicon in the past few days. This has been a PR disaster for the government, with everyone from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch to (gulp) Madonna weighing in. I don’t know if they care or not, but Maduro’s cast in international public opinion seems set for now. He is an abusive, mustachoed thug. Any lingering claim to the moral high-ground or to hemispheric leadership that the revolution may once have held on to died this month.

Amnesty International has an entire section on the violence and alleges that the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is an attempt to silence critics.

Al-Jazeera reports that Venezuela has turned certain areas of the country into free fire zones.

As protesters clashed once again with Venezuelan security forces in the “war zone” of western Tachira province, tensions were high Friday in Valencia, the Venezuelan city where a funeral was scheduled for a local beauty queen killed by a bullet this week while participating in a protest.
Independent sources have said it was plausible that the government is blacking out Internet service throughout the country in an effort to silence dissent. From the Al-Jazeera story:
Internet connectivity was gradually restored to San Cristobal on Friday morning after an outage of more than 30 hours that also affected smartphones.

Activists say the government has obstructed Internet access around the country over the past few weeks.

U.S.-based company Renesys, a top analyzer of global Internet traffic, confirmed that Venezuela was experiencing website blocking and service degradation across the country, but said it could not determine if CANTV, which handles about 90 percent of the country’s traffic, was intentionally decreasing bandwidth.

"I certainly don't know from our data if it is deliberate, although given the context, it seems plausible," Renesys researcher Doug Madory told The Associated Press.

The BBC reports that the government has revoked the visas of CNN journalists. They have also taken other news sites off the air.
President Nicolas Maduro had vowed to expel CNN unless it "rectified" its coverage of recent opposition marches.
Last week, the government removed Colombian TV news channel NTN24 from channels offered by Venezuelan cable operators.
On Thursday, during a live broadcast, Mr Maduro threatened to "take action" against CNN unless it ceased what he described as "hostile coverage" of events in Venezuela.

"Enough war propaganda, I won't accept war propaganda against Venezuela. If they don't rectify themselves, out of Venezuela, CNN, out," he said.

"They want to say to the world that there's a civil war in Venezuela."

Despite the government's angry denials, the fact that they have deployed the military and have created free fire zones strongly increases the likelihood of a civil war. We ourselves fought a civil war when the secession of the South created an existential threat to this country. If the opposition poses an existential threat to Venezuela, then let the government come public with hard evidence against the opposition that they are committing some form of high treason against the country.

France24 quotes residents on the ground in one city as describing it as a "war zone."

In the city of San Cristobal, which some residents are describing as a “war zone,” many businesses remained closed as students and police faced off again. The government says it is taking “special measures” to restore order in Tachira.

“This is not a militarisation,” Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said on state TV from San Cristobal.

“We are here to work for the great majority of people in Tachira. ... Before we have dialogue, we must have order.” Maduro says he will not let his rivals turn Tachira into “a Benghazi,” referring to the violence-wracked Libyan city where the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi was waged.

But if the government and the opposition are serious about working for the people that they claim to be fighting for, then let them sit down and resolve this conflict diplomatically like Ukraine is doing. The alternative will be the civil war that Venezuela's government says is not going to happen
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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank for reporting this sad news Eternal Hope. I (9+ / 0-)

    used to do much consulting work in Venezuela for PDVSA and other energy companies. What a beautiful country, and people.

    I hope they get their democracy back with a minimum of violence.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 01:44:38 PM PST

    •  This comment says a lot. (12+ / 0-)

      much consulting work in Venezuela for PDVSA and other energy companies. What a beautiful country, and people.

      I hope they get their democracy back with a minimum of violence.

      They have a democracy.  It has elected leftist leadership over and over again for the past decade+.  They are not interested in our plutocratic version of democracy where the wealthy, including oil companies, buy elections.

      •  It's definitely more complicated than what... (11+ / 0-)

        our media would lead us to believe.

        Democracy Now! has a great interview and analysis of the Venezuelan unrest from yesterday.

        'Cuz freedom can't protect itself ~~ EFF ~ EPIC ~ ACLU

        by markthshark on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:07:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I understand your quickness to jump to (10+ / 0-)

        conclusions, but I believe you will discover you are wrong, if you bother to do even a minimal amount of actual research my archives.

        I was part of a group from MIT that popularized systems approaches to strategy and organizational learning. We were not pro-oil industry apologists, but quite the opposite. The global strategy directors of a couple of the world largest companies hired us in to help them explore methods of accelerated learning.

        I've had clients in probably at least 50 of the world's Fortune 500, as well as many government agencies, EPA, and other groups around the world. I founded two consulting firms based on simulation mathematics that was considered state of the art for accelerated learning, strategy, and organization learning.

        And, if you check my archives here over the last 10 years I believe you will be hard pressed to find anyone more progressive and liberal on most of the major issues than myself.  

        I do believe partially free markets can be powerful forces for economic growth when balanced by proper concerns for the environment and social safety nets, but I've regularly advocated for Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Governor Dean, and many others on the most progressive half of the Democratic Party.

        But, I'd be delighted to match my record and numbers of publications with you on just about any progressive area you'd like to choose for a test.  Choose an issue and we can round off  each of our number of rec'd posts, are well received comments to the nearest hundreds of posts and comments.

        Oh, wait I see you've published zero post here and have about hundred total comments to your history here. I have over 25,000 comments.  

        But, announce any opinion, on any progressive issue, you select and we can find out PDQ who is more liberal, progressive, left, Democratic, or any other criteria of evaluation you choose.  

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:23:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not all elected governments embrace democracy. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        Of course you know that.

        "Look around you boy"(Barry McGuire)

        For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

        by Maroon watch on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:14:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I believe you misunderstood my comment, perhaps (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        puakev, nextstep

        it was my fault that it was unclear. I recommended the post by Eternal Hope, as I rec almost all of Eternal Hopes posts.

        My understanding is that she wrote yesterday that the opposition leader had been unjustly arrested and the media was not covering this adequately. If a fascist government has unjustly, or illegally seized control of the government, I think this would be wrong, and was calling for "democracy to be restored."  

        Is there something wrong with this perception or expression?

        Sorry if you account is frozen. But, I you want to send me an email I will respond.

        I that you were attacking my credentials as a progressive liberal merely because an energy company had hired me to teach courses in systems thinking, organizational learning, and corporate strategy simulation to an oil company two and half decades ago.

        If that was the case, I would stand behind my admittedly snooty retort to your attack.

        However, if you thought I was supporting the overthrow of a Democratically elected government based on the fact I've published a lot then I would agree with your response.

        I wish I could find some place to actually talk to you so I could understand what is happening here.

        If I could ask my friends, not to freeze this guys account, if we just merely misunderstood one another. It doesn't really bother me to be called a fascist schill, if my comment was unclear. If I can find a way to have a conversation with him somewhere I bet we can resolved this quickly.  

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:34:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Go to Alternet (7+ / 0-)

          read Max Blumenthals post regarding the 'opposition leader' and the situation in Venezuela.Both it and the Democracy Now interview referrenced by MarkthShark disagree with your (and the Diarist's) assessment of the political state of play.Fortune 500 and big oil corporations in particular have been behind much of the unrest in Venezuela and Latin America since the Spanish-American war,so for over a century your former employers have meddled with other nations internal politics to impose juntas favorable to their exploitation of the labor and natural resources of this region.This in direct conflict with the democratic movements of the vast majority of the population,makes their and your support of opposition to democratically elected governments suspect.The 'opposition in Venezuela in particular wants nothing other than a return to oligarchy,the neo-fuedal systems of the prior century.
          Sorry I don't have links,but Alternet and Democracy Now are easy to find.

          'The tyranny of the ignoramuses is absolute and inescapable' A.Einstein

      •  You are apparently correct Ezekiel in Exile. I'm (0+ / 0-)

        sorry I misunderstood what was going on in Venezuela. My intention in that comment was just a very abstract and general support for democracy and non-violence.

        Others, downstream I've explained to me that this so called "populist opposition leader" is in fact a plant by others.

        But, I am not a corporate shill for the oil companies, or CIA, just temporarily confused. I identify as a progressive liberal. Now and always in my lifetime.

        I was trying to convert these entities over to the side of light and goodness, the two or three decades ago, when I taught classes there in what might be described as a kind of scientific humanism.  It apparently didn't work very well. I'll have to issue a recall.  

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:46:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  My comment above is apparently wrong, and I (0+ / 0-)

      have retracted it and apologized to Ezekiel, whose comment is no longer here. Sorry.

      I've apparently misunderstood what was going on here. Sorry for creating a distraction.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:41:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  More U. S. meddling. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anastasia Castro, corvo, bobatkinson

    It would be nice if the U. S., with its own fucked up politics, would put its own house in order before trying to manipulate other nations' politics to grab more power and money.

    This article provides some nice historical perspective on how U. S. imperialism interacts with what is happening in Venezuela:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/...

    •  Counterpunch is an anti-semitic site. (3+ / 3-)

      Don't take my word for it; read the hateful article by Alison Weir regarding alleged organ harvesting. And there is a whole laundry list here. If you're going to make such an assertion, back it up with something more credible.

      "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

      by Eternal Hope on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:26:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I expected that from you. (8+ / 0-)

        What a ridiculous claim.

        And what a ridiculous diary you posted backing that claim.

        Let's look at a list of regular Counterpunch posters, some of whom even bother to post on this site:

        Norman Solomon
        Chris Floyd
        Ralph Nader
        Norman Pollack
        Uri Avnery
        Ron Jacobs
        Harvey Wasserman

        The list could go on and on.

        Go look at the current list of writers on the site:

        counterpunch.org

        Either you've been duped or are disingenuous.

        Counterpunch is a Trotskyite site. It has been for years.  It's anti-Capitalist, anti-Imperialist and pro-Palestinian.  It publishes a variety of viewpoints, but none of them will contradict those three principles.

        I'm not a Trot.  I'm too anti-authoritarian for that brand of Left.  But you've fallen prey to some LIkudnik propaganda that bears no relationship to reality.

        •  Well: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep

          When they post crap like the Blood Libel and perpetuate the worst kind of stereotypes against Jews, then that outweighs the fact that they have some worthwhile writers, all of whom write elsewhere, btw. When they do that, it perpetuates the very forces of imperialism that they say they're against.

          "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

          by Eternal Hope on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:17:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your moral judgment must be superior... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo

            to all those writers, many of whom are Jewish.

            Quite impressive.

            Perhaps you should write a diary condemning Norman Solomon for daring to post on Counterpunch.

            Or maybe you and those who attack any posting of a cite to Counterpunch should back the fuck off.

            •  ooh, and Norman Solomon publishes diaries here. (0+ / 0-)

              oops!

              Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

              by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:37:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Some may have been born into Jewish families, but (0+ / 0-)

              do they still consider themselves Jews? Do they practice the religion in any way?

              Do they believe in any of  the tenants of that religion?

              Just askin'.

              It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

              by auapplemac on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:55:20 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Jewishness is both a religion and an ethnicity. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                poco

                One can have one without the other.

                Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

                by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:10:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  counterpunch does publish antisemites (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, cville townie

          but I'm not sure that translates as "counterpunch is an antisemitic site."

          Quite frankly, it isn't even terribly Trotskyite these days, as its infatuation with libertarians is, well, distressing.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:36:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  rec'd (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kefauver

        Solely to offset the abusive HR.

    •  How 'bout some progressive world view meddling. (0+ / 0-)

      We say "Hey don't shoot your people because they are unhappy and protesting. Also let some journalist do there job. " I think we can all support that.

      Just because the leaders we elected to run our government deliver the message it doesn't mean it's not something progressives can't get behind.

      For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

      by Maroon watch on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:10:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So progressive to intervene in others' affairs. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, corvo, bobatkinson

        We've done such a nice job.   Vietnam.  Cambodia.  Laos.  Chile.  Nicaragua.  Lebanon.  Afghanistan.  Iraq.  Libya.  Honduras.

        Saintly 'Murca, spreadin' freedom and peace around the world through oppression and bombs.

        We should stay the fuck out of others' business until we eliminate the MIC disease in our own country.

  •  Has anybody else noticed it? (4+ / 0-)

    MSDNC and DK, both of which hardly pay attention to foreign affairs, have turned into Fox over the past week.

    Ukraine!  Ukraine!  Syria!  Syria!  Venezuela!  Venezuela!

    We can translate that into:

    War!  War!  War!

    Things suck domestically.  My guess is that they are about to get a lot worse.  So it's time for the old standby:

    War!  War!  War!

    Wouldn't it be nice if the US of fuckin' A would mind its own business for a while considering how screwed up its own house is?

    •  Um yeah whatever (10+ / 0-)

      The only thing I noticed is you being a dick.  People are dying and your answer is tough shit?

      From what I can tell I haven't read one single diary advocating for war or us entering in their country to engage in war.  

      Maybe some of us are interested because we care about more than our little bubble we live in.  Maybe some of us care because oh I don't know, maybe we have family and friends affected?  

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:20:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why Don't You Give Us A List Of Approved Topics (12+ / 0-)

      This is a blog that discusses events that happen in the world, and some of the opinions might not agree with yours.

      Deal with it.

      I find it galling that so many self-proclaimed "progressive" liberals make so many excuses for the Venezuelan government, and want everyone else to shut up and not talk about it. So many of the comments about this issue either deny the reality of the situation on the ground (56% inflation, one of the highest murder rates in the world, massive govt. censorship, etc.) or make excuse after excuse when the opposition is put in jail because they want to shut down protests, and citizens are shot & beaten when that doesn't work.

      Because even if the US wants Maduro gone, and even if the opposition is just another group of shitty politicians waiting to be shitty themselves, that doesn't exactly make the Venezuelan government "good" just because they sing from an ideological songbook that you agree with, or justify roving bike gangs putting head shots in beauty queens, and shutting down TV stations and blocking Twitter.

      •  How about letting people decide for themselves? (6+ / 0-)

        No other country in the world intervenes in the politics of others like the USA.  Is there a country in South or Central America that we have not tried to manipulate?  And we ALWAYS intervene on the side of fascist and neoliberal interests that serve US corporations and abuse and murder native populations.

        We should stay the fuck out of others' business.  Our own country is fucked up enough.  We have NOTHING to teach others about democracy or justice.  We should SHUT THE FUCK UP and clean up our own mess.

        •  If the gov is using snipers against student... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OrganicChemist

          ...protesters we should STFU because in the past we were wrong?

          For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

          by Maroon watch on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:03:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The past? Like last week? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo

            Have you read anything about how we're trying to stir it up in the Ukraine?  What business is that of ours?  Can you possibly be so naive as to think it's about "democracy" and "freedom?"  It's quite obvious it's typical international power politics with the Ukraine people as pawns.  Just as obvious, it's about money and more profits for the Capitalist masters of our government.  They'd love to get in on the Russian gas pipelines to the Europeans.

            Promoting violence while prosecuting a "War on Terror."  That's 'Murcan foreign policy in a nutshell.

        •  The USSR did a pretty good job. (0+ / 0-)

          It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

          by auapplemac on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:58:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  it is fascinating... (5+ / 0-)

      to see which 'news' is reported and how it's reported. No matter how many times people are burned by the media's lies, they still go all in for the next story line. It's got to be some kind of an addiction to hype. Third World Traveler has a great section on US interventions. I guess no one really reads anymore...behind the headlines.

      •  Things have been boiling in the Ukraine... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anastasia Castro, corvo, bobatkinson

        for months.

        The U. S. has been trying to destablize Venezuela for more than a decade.

        All of the sudden, it's big news.

        If you've been around for 60+ years, you can smell the bullshit from way off.

        What are they trying to distract us from?

        •  Venezuela doesn't need anyone's help ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maroon watch, auapplemac, kefauver

          ...  destabilize itself.

          The PSUV and its cronies are doing a great job of driving the whole country into the ground, all on their own.

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:22:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  All on their own? (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poco, corvo, 313to212, bobatkinson

            The CIA has been trying to dominate Venezuela for decades.  They stepped it up when Chavez was elected, but their coup failed.  Now that he's dead, they're trying the same old playbook.

            When has the U. S. EVER left a Western Hemisphere Leftist government alone?

            •  Or do you mean, people like ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... this guy or that guy whose deeply corrupt roots were suddenly discovered, strangely enough, after they refused to step aside for Maduro's friends?

              Or may be, you mean the ruthless crackdown on top level corruption like this guy. Now, we known why PDVSA is in such a deep hole. 18,000 bolivars was a lot of money at at the time. Like $300 ?

              Oh, and it's bad form to HR someone just because he/she pisses you off writing things you don't like :-)

              I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

              by Farugia on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:46:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Why did the black market for US dollars (7+ / 0-)

            explode when Chavez died? What economic reason would there be for that?

            It's clearly political. The oligarchy attacked the country through it's currency; there's a long history of that. That's why currency controls exist in the first place.

            •  Chavez' death has nothing to do with that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kefauver, nextstep

              The barely controlled slide of Venezuelan currency into irrelevance far predates his death or for that matter his arrival at Miraflores.

              What's happening is what happens every time a country tries to have it both ways and maintain a peg while printing money as if it didn't have a peg. It's not some imperialistic economic theory. It's basic accounting, adding and subtracting.

              For the Bolivar, the real coup de grace was closing the permuta back in 2010. Breaking the thermometer has never cured a fever. From there, it meant that VEF would become completely unmoored from reality and it was the signal to run for the exits for those who could, aka people with the right connections in the boligarchy.

              When even marxist economists like Jaques Sapir, not a Wall Street hack by any mean, tell you to let the currency float and stop printing money, it means you really don't have a choice.

              Here's a translation in English of his latest paper on Venezuela.

              http://russeurope.hypotheses.org/...

              I just wished it was a translation in Spanish, 'cause it's in Caracas they need to read it.

              I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

              by Farugia on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:19:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Then why didn't the black market spike back when (0+ / 0-)

                currency controls were first introduced? That was IIRC 2004.

                http://www.acting-man.com/...

                Instead, it happened when Chavez died. Why the 10 year lag?

                •  Sorry, I'm running out of hands. (0+ / 0-)

                  I cannot give you a triple face palm.

                  I really wish I could, because reading another of your replies, I think I start to understand where you are coming from.

                  You're attempting to make this seem like soley (sic) an economic issue. It's not; it's intensely political. Yes, people are getting rich off of the black market, but the reason the black market value of the dollar is so high is because of speculation driven by organized money.

                  Then you take notice that the exchange rate didn't spike in private transactions after CADIVI was introduced.

                  It turns out there's a good reason for that, which was purely economic.

                  CADIVI was NOT an exchange rate control mechanism. CADIVI was the chavistas essentially saying:

                  Provided you are willing to jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops, we promise to sell you dollars at a fixed, arbitrary rate, and we will do that regardless of economic reality until the end of times or until we run out of dollars, whichever comes first.
                  As long CADIVI had dollars to sell and access to them was not too restricted by the bureaucratic hoops, there was no reason for the street exchange rate to diverge noticeably from the official rate. There were all the fewer reasons for the official and street rates to diverge that for a time, the system freely allowed quasi-monetary transactions through things like the CANTV trade.

                  Why would anyone someone offer to buy dollars at a much higher cost on the street if you can get the same dollars from CADIVI at the official rate, assuming you can take the pain to file a few forms and wait a few weeks for them to be processed ?

                  Basic economics predict that any difference for dollars on the street vs official would be constrained to a very modest convenience premium, for transactions that have to go through quickly for one reason or another.  And that's indeed what happened.

                  But basic economics also predict it works only until the system runs out of dollars to sell. And that's exactly what happened a couple of years later, when CADIVI started to run out of dollars and had to ration them. Then the street rate starts to diverge from the official rate, because it's no longer governed by a convenience premium but by outright scarcity.

                  I know you are convinced that it's "intensely political" and that evildoers are hard at work to undermine la revolución bolivariana and its great leaders. But for some strange reason, the evildoers in question seem to be extremely predictable and their action to obey very, very basic economic rules.

                  That should be a hint that it doesn't have much to do with politics and mostly to do with the staggering economic incompetence of chavism.

                  I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

                  by Farugia on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 04:37:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  CADIVI was introduced in 2003 (0+ / 0-)

                    Also, yes, it is a currency control mechanism. Try again.

                    •  No, it's not (0+ / 0-)

                      Calling CADIVI a currency control mechanism doesn't make it so.

                      It's not a currency control mechanism. It's an economic aberration by political fiat, that sells dollars for 20 cents to favored interests on the back of Venezuelans and in the face of economic reality.

                      A currency control mechanism is what the People's Bank of China uses to control the yuan-dollar parity, by careful management of its monetary mass and through direct interventions on the markets in long-term instruments to sterilize the influx of dollar-denominated assets in its economy, not by proclaiming that the yuan shall be worth 0.16 dollar and expecting everybody to somehow agree.

                      I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

                      by Farugia on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 08:15:14 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Thank you on focusing on the part of my post (0+ / 0-)

                        that didn't really matter. You causal explanation of what happened in the economy makes no sense. You have failed to explain why the black market price of dollars exploded after Chavez's death.

                        Just because you don't think they're effective currency controls doesn't make them not currency controls. And I agree, the Chinese method is superior. Sadly, the Bolivarians do not have the same control of Venezuela's financial system that the CCP does, so that's not an option for them. Chavez's plan to get control of the Bank of Venezuela was defeated when his constitutional referendum was shot down. If it had gone through, the country probably wouldn't be in the mess it's in.

                        •  Oh gawd... (0+ / 0-)
                          And I agree, the Chinese method is superior. Sadly, the Bolivarians do not have the same control of Venezuela's financial system that the CCP does, so that's not an option for them. Chavez's plan to get control of the Bank of Venezuela was defeated when his constitutional referendum was shot down. If it had gone through, the country probably wouldn't be in the mess it's in.
                          No. Again.

                          The point is that the People's Bank of China manages the yuan-dollar parity through market operations and careful management of its monetary mass, NOT by exerting tight control on the Chinese financial sector and telling them what the parity should be. The PBOC doesn't even try to do to tell anyone what the parity should be.

                          And there's a very simple reason for that:

                          The People's Bank of China exerts very little control on the Chinese financial sector.
                          The large commercial banks are states within the state and essentially take no order from anyone, not the PBOC, not the State Council, nor the Central Committee of the CPC. Any system-wide decision is reached through a lot of haggling and give-and-take negotiations. And the rest of the banking sector is largely informal and operates entirely outside of banking regulations through vehicles like so-called WMP.

                          Even that chavista wet-dream, the so-called "closed capital account" that China supposedly maintains, is largely a fiction. It's completely shot with holes and is circumvented left and right, days in, nights out, for instance, for industrial trade, through round-trip transactions and supplier/client credit facilities.

                          I know that in your world view, for every problem, it's all a matter of the leadership exerting sufficient control and getting their order faithfully executed. But this is not how the world works. And even such avowed authoritarians as the People's Republic of China know that.

                          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

                          by Farugia on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:12:24 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You're conflating two issues (0+ / 0-)

                            One is control of the financial sector in terms of what gets loaned to who. You're right, the Chinese don't do. That's not a good thing, though! Look at the growth of the shadow banking sector in that country.

                            The other is controlling the exchange rate, through, as you yourself said, "managing it's monetary mass." As I said though, the Chinese can do that because the CCP has direct control of the PBoC. They have the authority to direct it's monetary mass. The Bank of Venezuela remains independent of the elected government because Chavez's constitutional reform package of 2007 was shot down.

                            You're also playing semantic games. No, the PBoC doesn't tell anyone how much the Yuan should be worth. They do, however, decide what it should be at, and then takes steps to ensure it's at that level. Those are steps that the Bolivarians cannot currently take, given the country's political structure.

                            And you continue to ignore the main point: why did the market for dollars explode, not two years after CADIVI's introduction, but almost a decade later, exactly when Bolivarianism was at its weakest point? So far you've offered no reason except for the Invisible Hand deciding to remove the Mandate of Heaven from the Chavistas.

                          •  Has it escaped to you that the official rate... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... went through multiple devaluations to try to reconnect it to the market rate?

                            There was relatively little divergence until mid-2010 because the official rate was effectively readjusted to follow the market rate.

                            05/02/2003 VEF (1000) / USD = 1.6
                            01/01/2008  VEF / USD = 2.15 (and 1 for 1000 redenomination of VEF)
                            08/01/2010  VEF / USD = 4.3 / 2.6 (select purchases)
                            04/01/2011  VEF / USD = 4.3 (all transactions)
                            13/02/2013  VEF / USD = 6.3
                            22/01/2014  VEF / USD = 11.36 ??? (auction called off)

                            Then, in mid-May 2010, the market VEF/USD parity went above 8 and instead of following what the market was telling him, Chávez decided to completely ignore reality, to drive the permuta underground and to stick to the fiction of VEF / USD = 4.3.

                            After that, it's just a matter of time for the market to reorganize itself underground, which came in full force around late 2011. And when that happens, a country that operates with such a disconnect between official and real rates can kiss its currency goodbye, because the divergence itself becomes a very powerful incentive for capital flight and for arbitrage between real and official rates.

                            Now, if you want to stick to your CT that something special happened around 2012, you can. Your connection to reality seems rather ... interesting anyway. Even chavista officials admit things started to go really wrong in 2010. But, at least, you should acknowledge that the real VEF/USD parity already went through a 1 for 5 devaluation in 7 years, between mid 2003 and mid 2010, from 1.6 VEF/USD to more than 8 VEF/USD at the market rate.

                            When a currency goes through this kind of debasement, it loses all credibility, nothing can be done to restore its standing as a reliable store of value and its slide into oblivion is just a matter of time, with the real VEF/USD parity going at more than 80 as of the latest news. And, typically, and it is the case for VEF, it happens in an exponential fashion, which is why people believe to see inflection points where there aren't any (see pareidolia). It's simply that the rate from one day becomes the reference for the rate on the next day with a more or less constant multiplicative loss applied (do the math, and you'll see what the curve looks like, an exponential curve).

                            Now, if you don't mind, having better things to do, I'm going to leave this conversation where it is and leave you to your own very fascinating worldview.

                            It's been a pleasure.

                            I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

                            by Farugia on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:48:55 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes I know they devalued, see my chart above (0+ / 0-)

                            The devaluations are clearly reflected there. And yes, the speculation set off a self-reinforcing cycle. The oligarchs who started the whole thing off have probably made a killing. But that doesn't change what this is: big money attacking the government through currency speculation. You can keep plugging your ears and shouting "CT! CT!" as loud as you like, but it doesn't change the timeline of events: the explosion of the value of the dollar started at the tail end of 2012, and really took off once Chavez died.

                            There's no structural reason why the US dollar is over 80 times the value of the bolivar. You cannot point to a single one that doesn't boil down to: "the bolivar is worthless because the market says its worthless", which is tautological.

                  •  To add on: (0+ / 0-)

                    Your explanation and mine aren't any different (apart from you getting the dates wrong.) The difference: you blame "CADIVI running out of dollars"on some mysterious, unseen force (the Invisible Hand of god?), while I correctly attribute it to speculation in the black market driving up the price of dollars. That incentivized people who got CADIVI funds to sell them instead of using them to import, or, if they still did import, to bump up the price of their goods to make an obscene profit.

                    You're reifying the self-interested actions of an economic elite and treating it as if it was natural law. In other words: you're an orthodox student of economics. But here, what you're erasing is a planned, political attack on a social movement that's transformed the lives of millions in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.

              •  I read the paper (0+ / 0-)

                Two points:

                1) Overall he is very positive about the Venezuelan economy and the performance of the government.

                2) He misidentifies the start of when the official and black market rate started to diverge. As my chart shows, it started in late 2012 right before the October elections and really took off once Chavez died in March.

                If they eliminated currency controls, the sabatoge of the oligarchy would become more severe, not less.

                •  Two points (0+ / 0-)
                  1) Overall he is very positive about the Venezuelan economy and the performance of the government.
                  If you can't make the difference between high praises and diplomatic courtesy, it's time to remove your rose-tinted glasses and swap them for reading glasses.

                  Sapir is telling them politely but firmly " You fucked it all up ".

                  2) He misidentifies the start of when the official and black market rate started to diverge. As my chart shows, it started in late 2012 right before the October elections and really took off once Chavez died in March.
                  No, the official and street rates started to diverge for good in 2010, after Chávez freaked out and broke the permuta thermometer that was keeping the government somewhat honest.

                  FYI, Sapir wrote this summary report after an official mission, three months ago, for the Venezuelan government, with full access to all officials. He knows what he's talking about.

                  I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

                  by Farugia on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 05:01:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I've posted my evidence, which you've ignored (0+ / 0-)

                    You are flat out wrong. The divergence started in the run-up to Chavez's last election, but only started to really explode after he died and Maduro took power.

                    So much for dealing in facts, I guess?

                    Additionally, there are plenty of economists who disagree with Sapir, who completely ignores the possibility of capital flight. Here's an alternate view. This isn't the black/white issue you're trying to make it out to be.

                    Clearly, the system needs to be improved. But eliminating currency controls is bad policy, especially when you have people actively trying to sabotage the economy.

      •  Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or w (0+ / 0-)

        Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless your own reason and your own common sense agree."

        Gautama Buddha
        (quotation is a paraphrase of the original) (Stolen from Third World Traveler by me)

        Then I would add, question your own reason and "common sense".

        The most telling sign is that all media is blocked by the government in Venezuela. This speaks volumes to me.

        For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

        by Maroon watch on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:59:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tired Right Wing propaganda. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, protectspice, Anastasia Castro

          Media is always owned by somebody.  We've sure learned that in this country.  And media always have an agenda.

          The press that owes its readership to the people of Venezuela are telling one story.

          The press that's owned by the old Venezuelan oligarchy--with more money from the CIA--tell another.

          After 60 years, I've learned to expect my own country to promote oligarchy and violence.  Nothing could be better for world peace and justice than for the U. S. to disappear for a generation or two.

          •  You should go live elsewhere for awhile... (0+ / 0-)

            ...nothing makes the US look better then to see what the rest of the world has to offer.

            For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

            by Maroon watch on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 01:17:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  One of the reasons we keep falling for (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice, bobatkinson

        the same story line is because we're Americans and as such addicted to violence as a solution to any- and everything.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:40:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You forgot thailand. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ezekiel in Exile, bobatkinson

      Venezuela, Ukraine, and Thailand are all in the throws of right wing anti-democratic "protests".  Their only demand is the overthrow of the democratically elected government so that they, the economically well off, can regain power and put the poor back in their place.

      If the "protestors" wanted power back it would be simple.  Enfranchise the poor and actually suggest policies that will help them.  Instead, they are following the Egyptian method.  In which all western media acted as a propaganda outlet to criminalize the democratic system and when the violent coup happened, silence all criticism with regurgitated talking points from the anti-democratic forces.

      It sickens me that, on foreign policy, A huge percentage of democrats (and even people on this site) will automatically choose the side of oppression.  That some individuals, knowing better, will actively create smears on institutions that provide voices for the oppressed just so that others are kept from the truth.

      These people, like the individual who wrote this diary, are against people power.  They are only here to spout out right wing talking points and smear people power by saying that the colectivos are violent paramilitaries.  

      Venezuela has a much better electoral system then the US.  The fact is that in the regional elections during 2012,  the united socialist party won 20 governorships of the 23 states.  Which was up 2 wins from the 2008 elections.  

      The sore losers which the right wing thugs like Rick Santorum and this diarist love want to overthrow the will of the people.  The people have every right to call on their government to protect them as well as a right to protect themselves from these lying piece of shit thugs which compromise the "opposition".

      •  Check out Cass Sunstein. (2+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Anastasia Castro, protectspice
        Hidden by:
        kefauver

        One of the best pals of this President, going back to Harvard Law School, is a big advocate for manipulation of public opinion in this country.

        Anyone who doesn't realize that many posters on sites like this are paid by interested parties, ranging from the government to corporations to contractors like Stratfor is a fool.

        These shills always annoy me, but when they're out playing the "Let's go to war!!!" game on "Democratic" websites, I'll call them on it.

      •  Thailand is an exception. (0+ / 0-)

        Both the red shirts and the yellow shirts are friendly to Western corporate interests, so it's no skin off our betters' noses which side wins that one.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:42:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  now, now! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      protectspice

      much of this site was pushing for war in Syria (and before that, Libya) long ago. :-)

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:39:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So things in Venezuela are Fine? (0+ / 0-)

      "Don't mind the mess here in Venezuela. We're doing just fine. Nothing to see here."

      Yeah, there's definitely nothing newsworthy going on there right now. (Rolls eyes)

      BTW, who's calling for war with Venezuela?

      I'm a "right-wing freak show," or at least that's what one nobody on DKOS seems to think.

      by kefauver on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 01:26:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's sad is, I believe,.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farugia

    ...the government is trapped and can only act in a way that crushes the protesters. Iran and Cuba is present (I saw a picture of a Cuban plane with soldiers off loading that was posted on a Twitter feed) and I believe they will follow their advise and crush them. The economics also have them hemmed in. Some Venezuelans believe this is the end of democracy for awhile. They have no voice.

    For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

    by Maroon watch on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:30:52 PM PST

    •  The country has been run incompetently... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Farugia, Alex Budarin

      Just because someone is "leftist" doesn't mean they have a clue what they are doing.  And especially when the people calling the shots put ideology over facts and reason you can run into trouble-- whether that ideology is left or right.  

      The country under Chavez and now his successor has basically been run into the ground.  So, now the economy is poor?  What a surprise!  

      And that's now an excuse for it to be the end of democracy?  Hmmm...

    •  The government has been running the country (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OrganicChemist, Farugia, Alex Budarin

      for over 15 years. If they are trapped, they trapped themselves.

    •  oh jesus... (0+ / 0-)

      You have been listening to the twitter news network for idiots.  Do you really believe this idiotic stupid mother f'ing idiot story that cuba and iran are sending in troops?  Are you crazy?!?  

      This is what the opposition has been doing.  Making huge lies so fools will swallow them.  Looking at this photo album showing how the opposition lies. http://imgur.com/...

      •  No I haven't been following twitter just... (0+ / 0-)

        ...looking for info anywhere and am confident not much I see or read is to be believed but suspect there may be a grain of truth in any of it. Including your link. But what does Venezuela expect when they shut down all media not run by them? That alone gives more weight to the opposition's statements. I'd be crazy not to take that into account.

        For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

        by Maroon watch on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 12:37:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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