Cheap labor “a la criolla”

Clímax magazine, one of Venezuela’s new crop of online media outlets, has an excellent story on how Venezuela has become a haven for cheap labor. Now, if you read The Economist and other rankings, you might think that Caracas is the most expensive city in the Americas. In fact, that’s what the headlines read a…

Desmadre

Venezuela has always been corrupt – at least ever since I’ve been around. But it seems as if corruption has exploded in the last year, or two. If we are to go by the outlandish stories one hears, then whatever you might have thought about corruption a few years ago is now peanuts. One of…

A disaster in Brasilia?

If you scan the vanilla-red webpages of Venezuela’s “hegemonized” media, you might learn that Nicolás Maduro went to a Mercosur summit in Brasilia today. Speeches were given, documents signed, and nothing major came out of it. Good thing we have the foreign media to give us the scoop. Apparently, Maduro, in a hissy fit, skipped…

Santa Bárbara

It’s 6:30 PM, and it’s already pitch dark in Maracaibo, courtesy of Hugo Chávez’s tantrum that led to a change in the time zone a few years back. I’m having dinner with an old high school friend at the shore of the lake. The warm, humid July breeze brings with it a mixture of dust and nostalgia. We’re…

Economists as detectives

While I was in Caracas, I spoke to economist Asdrúbal Oliveros about what it’s like to be an economist in a country with, essentially, no economy to speak of. I wrote my latest Transitions piece about our talk. The sirloin: In order to come up with his numbers, Oliveros relies on a web of contacts…

F-Rod and Hausmann at it again

The weekend negotiations between Greece and her creditors was quite the spectacle. One of the many lessons we can draw from it is that it’s really hard to be a left-wing populist when you’re presiding over a bankrupt economy. Sooner or later, you have to face reality. Speaking of Maduro … when will Venezuela have to face…

“You’re on your own,” says Japan

The Japan Times is reporting that exports to Venezuela will no longer be covered by insurance underwritten by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance. Basically, the country has become too insecure to be insured. This means that any Japanese company exporting to Venezuela will have to cover the risk of not getting paid for their shipments…

Sobremesa Chronicles

Upon my arrival in Caracas, I expected to hear lots of stories about Leopoldo, or about scarcity, or about the lack of freedom in the press. Instead, the latest gossip revolved around a party. The teenage son of a big-time chavista boligarch threw an unforgettable bash in a Caracas Country Club house last Friday: one thousand…

A grim goodbye

I left Venezuela yesterday after spending ten days there. I have tons of things I want to write about once I get my thoughts in order, but one particular thing stuck with me. It happened to be the last thing I saw of our country. As I was taking off from a barren, deserted Maiquetía…

Thirteen conversations about one thing

Being back in Caracas after many months provides a plethora of opportunities for blogging. And while there is much to say about the big issues, curiously I’ve had numerous conversations about … lightbulbs. The country’s acute scarcity is everywhere, but it’s hard to see if there is no light. And light is definitely missing. Lightbulbs are on…

Things they don’t teach you about in Stanford

There is an interesting piece in the Business Section of the [increasingly indispensable] Wall Street Journal focused on PDVSA President Eulogio del Pino. I wouldn’t call it a profile per se – Del Pino did not make himself available to friend-of-the-blog Kejal Vyas, so he hovers over the story like a ghost. But the story claims del Pino…

I am Tibi, hear me roar

Tibisay Lucena, the head of Venezuela’s National Elections Council, has been called many things before: a die-hard chavista; a machiavellian tool of the revolution; a sensible technician; a lover of fine London restaurants (ask me about that later). But one thing she had never been called before was “feminist icon.” After today, that may change. Today,…