Friday, June 03, 2005

Quick round up: Machado and inflation in Venezuela

Originally published here

Today hot air kept inflating the news, though there are already encouraging signs that we will come back soon to real topics of discussion.

Maria Corina Machado, super star?

Yes, she kept holding the news. After yesterday stupid declarations from chavista minister-S- that MCM was the presidential candidate that Bush wanted for 2006, MCM had to hit the air waves to deny it. The silliness of the officials claims can only be explained by how distraught is chavismo by the audience granted by Bush to MCM when not even Clinton did receive Chavez (though he would have probably received MCM).

Meanwhile, after having been supported publicly by Wolf at the Venezuelan national assembly yesterday, MCM will be able to pick up yet another award from Cass Ballenger. Republicans seem to love MCM, indeed.

But all was not roses for MCM. Milagros Socorro wrote a very strong criticism of MCM, though so far she is the only one in the opposition raising such criticism. This while MCM is touted as a role model in the fight against machismo, as a likely explanation of chavismo anger (Alo Ciudadano visitors tonight). I must discuss Ms. Socorro article as I am a long time admirer and this time I think she did not get it quite right.

Milagros Socorro premise is that George Bush is such an unsavory character that MCM visit is actually a big mistake. Maybe. But I will ask her who else could she go to? Chirac? Rodriguez Zapatero? Castro? Ms. Socorro says that any intellectual/artist of any significance has taken distance from Bush. True up to a point.

But this is a false debate. It would actually be good that all intellectuals of any significance separate from politics. Politics always end up corrupting genuine intellectuals who play the game close. It is irrelevant, in a sick way, what Bush does as a war lord: he is still the most powerful man on earth and an unavoidable stopover for anyone wanting to play the game. Did Ms. Socorro watch the very same day OAS brand new secretary Insulza visiting the White House and shaking hands with Bush, all smiles? Can ANYONE think for a second that socialist Insulza, sent into exile by Pinochet, would ever vote for Bush if he had the possibility? Would even befriend him?

In the world of politics many concessions must be made, many terrorists end up shaking hands with the powers that be and there are still many hands that even Bush will have to shake against his will. It is in this perspective that the MCM visit must be judged, not on ideals: MCM is no intellectual or artist, she is a politician, she plays the game outside of her likes or dislikes. And on her politics the criticism of Milagros Socorro as to whether her visit was a good move on the long run are more interesting.

At the very least, the final prediction of Socorro seems to be already happening. In a not surprising move the Venezuelan pseudo judiciary moved to rekindle MCM trial for high treason. While of course we are still waiting for the result of Danilo Anderson's murder. More psychotic chavista reaction.

Back to what really matters

Inflation jumped by 2.5% in May! Making it more difficult for the government to fulfill its already high goal of around 15% for 2005. But this is only half the story. That inflation takes place while we are still in a price control scheme of staple food stuff which seem to have driven this month increase! Items that the middle class buys are not controlled, and many are not measured in the inflationary scheme. For example the price of apartments in Caracas has jumped by 30% since the beginning of the year, already trashing any prediction for the year. In other words, if inflation was calculated as it should be, we would be expecting a 30-35 % overall buy the end of the year, trashing the pseudo 26% increase of the minimum wage. The workers keep getting poorer in the bolibanana republic while the rich importers benefit from yet again a overpriced currency scheme to try to control inflation by blocking job creation. They already did the mistake in 2000-2001 and obviously did not learn anything.

PDVSA hearings continue. Chavez won one round when he postponed discussions of his current problems by blaming older agreements. But of course, in a couple of weeks some new scandal will erupt in PDVSA and things again will look somber. With MCM and Posada Carriles gone, what will Chavez will come up this time to distract attention?


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