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Caracas, Tuesday May 17 , 2005  
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What's Up, What's Down
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Here is what's up: poverty, disease, inflation, prices, unemployment, government debt, government spending, the minimum wage, the informal economy, state expropriations of private property, state enterprises, taxes on foreign oil companies, official corruption, crime, murders, drug trafficking, money-laundering, government controls, executive power, presidential edicts, suspension of judges who don't toe the executive line, pointless national assembly meetings, legal investigations with no results, nationalism, socialism, populism, revisionist history of Bolivar, government food stores, politicized missions for the poor, Cuban doctors, Cuban security and intelligence agents, Fidel's strategy to radicalize Latin America, currency and exchange controls, the military, Russian rifles, fighter jets, Bolivarian circles, two million military reserves, military men in civilian posts, official enemies lists, mysterious electronic election counting machines, prosecutions of enemies of the revolution, government ties to terrorists, Islamic Jihad, Mao's revolution, Khomeini's revolution, Carlos the Jackal, Muammar Qadafi, gringo-hating, evil conspiracies by George W. Bush, media censorship, suppression of independent voices in the society, government  global propaganda, presidential trips abroad, secret oil deals, threats of war and invasion and assassination, threats to cut off the US oil supply, threats to expel US oil companies, the world price of a barrel of oil, civil silence, suppression, fear, and the president's poll ratings.

Here's what's down: the non-oil economy, exports, productivity, manufacturing, the private sector, treaties, contracts, PDVSA production, private investment, free trade, globalization, the middle class population, family income, sanitation, the quality of infrastructure, national research in science and technology, respect for knowledge, human rights, freedom of the press, private schools, private property rights, civil society, traditional institutions, transparent elections, opposition political parties, democracy, debate, skepticism, reason, responsibility, accountability, liberty, tolerance, and genuine laughter. 

Rowan's column is published every Tuesday.

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