Time’s Up, Minister Osorio

Remember this? The headline ran on June 7th in Ultimas Noticias. Major General Carlos Osorio, Minister for Food, pledged solemnly that the food availability crisis would have ended by…today. We’ll be expecting your resignation by the end of the day, Felix. Right? RIGHT!?

It’s the Catatonia, Stupid

These days, if you’re looking for reasons to be alarmed about Venezuela you’re spoilt for choice. But if I had to pick one, just one signal that’s freaking me the hell out right now, it has to be the government’s dogged refusal to issue larger denomination bank notes. Lots has been written about the insanity…

Caracas Chronicles Reboot: What comes next

Dear Readers, As Juan said earlier, Caracas Chronicles is at a crossroads. For the past 13 years – count ’em, 13! – this blog has slugged through Venezuelan reality on an all-volunteer, zero-revenue basis. We’ve tried all kinds of formats and styles, built up a bit of a brand and nurtured an amazing reader community. Considering we did it all on…

Prannation: Barlovento Edition

Daniel Pardo’s reporting on the “Zonas de Paz” in Barlovento for the Beeb is really amazing – even if you think you know this story, you’ll learn as you read. A taste, “En Venezuela el que está en la cárcel es porque es idiota”. Cuando arrestaron a uno de ellos hace unos meses, cuentan, sobornaron al juez…

Caracazo en Gotas: San Felix Edition

Rumors of widespread looting in San Felix, in Bolivar State, spread through Social Media today, suggesting a complete breakdown in order in the city. Correo del Caroni’s report makes it all sound quite serious: one person died, four food shops were looted – three of which were totally cleared out – and sixty people were…

Love Labour’s Loss

I’d heard that Britain’s Labour Party, in full-on PTSD mode after its unexpected electoral shillacking at the hand of Cameron’s conservatives, was flirting with electing an out-and-out leftie nutter as leader. But did you know that Jeremy Corbyn is also a fully paid up member of the Bolivarian Solidarity movement? I’m serious as a heart attack!…

When Inflation Stops Working

Normal people tend to think of Inflation as a byproduct: the unwanted consequence of shop-owners’ greed (if you’re a chavista) or of government cluelessness (if you’re in the opposition.) Economists, by contrast, tend to think of it as a tax: just one of many ways the government puts its hand in your pocket, takes some of…

The State’s Wild Mood Swings

Yesterday witnessed another “tiny war” (didn’t we use to call those guerrillas?) in Caracas as the state sent a partly militarized mixed Police/National Guard force to re-establish order over another area that had quietly slipped into total lawlessness: the Misión Vivienda III development in Montalbán, in southwestern Caracas. It’s a bit like having a state…

Repent! Repent! Grid Parity is Nigh!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been hearing dire warnings that unless Venezuela got its act together, it could just plain miss the short critical window of opportunity for monetizing its vast oil resources. “Other” technologies would inevitably catch up and make oil as irrelevant to the future as Whale Blubber was to our…

Tarjeta Única, and Four Documents Nobody Has Seen

Last night, MUD Secretary General Chuo Torrealba announced the opposition coalition has agreed to go to December 6th elections with a “Tarjeta Única”: a single spot on the ballot box, rather than different parties in the coalition each running their own party symbols around a single candidate. That’s good news. Then he announced the MUD…

905 Error. Rights Not Found.

The extraordinary ongoing battle for control of the Cota 905 shantytown shows the full extent of the Animalfarmification of the Venezuelan state. In Animal Farm, Orwell brilliantly shows the slow, gradual mutation of the revolutionary elite into an oppressive governing caste entirely indistinguishable from the one it overthrew. As the book closes, the pig-led socialist…

Pablo Pérez’s Turn

The outbreak of arbitrary elections disqualifications continues, as the Venezuelan government goes all in on that old democratic dictum: if you can’t beat ’em, ban ’em. Now it’s former Zulia State governor Pablo Pérez, disqualified from office for TEN YEARS on some flimsy excuse. It’s the third high-profile disqualification this week. It’s enough to give you…

Seeing ourselves in PEMEX’s mirror

Pity Mexico’s oil sector reformers. After a bitter, hard-fought, multi-decade campaign to open the oil sector to foreign investment, they put together a landmark auction…and the thing flops.  The Mexican government had hoped that its first-ever auction of shallow-water exploration blocks in the Gulf of Mexico would successfully launch the modernisation of its energy industry.…

“It’s way too dangerous here, I’m going back to Gaza…”

The AP has a great report by Hannah Dreier (in Spanish here) on Palestinian medical students who get to Caracas, scope the place out, and make a b-line for Maiquetía to get back home. Initially, the aspiring doctors were delighted to receive the scholarships named for Arafat, the late chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Many…