ESPACIO PUBLICITARIO
CARACAS, Wednesday September 25, 2013 | Update
 
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How bad can it get?

MICHAEL ROWAN |  EL UNIVERSAL
Wednesday September 25, 2013  03:08 PM
Not too far in the future Venezuelans will look back on these days with nostalgia. If Venezuela was an airplane, impending crash signals would be lighting up like a Christmas tree in the cockpit, while back in the cabin, passengers might be ordering a second cocktail to blank out the worrisome bumps they feel. But when the plane crashes, it takes everyone aboard on a trip to hell that they didn't know they paid for. Here's a look at the cockpit signals:

Oil production has been falling while the much-touted natural gas resources are not being produced at all. Agricultural and manufacturing production is virtually gone. The wealth creation capacity of the nation has been disemboweled. This has caused massive importation of goods with no dollars to pay for them, driving the currency to 42/$ in Cucuta and emptying miles of store shelves, protected from view only by electricity blackouts. Printing more devalued currency has driven the implied annual inflation rate to 249.3% according to the economist Steve Hanke, not the 35.2% officials propagate, which is still the highest in the Americas.

As if the slide toward hyperinflation were not enough, Venezuela's streets are plagued by one of the highest murder, kidnapping, and extortion rates in the world, which are under-reported and rarely investigated, no less prosecuted. Corruption romps merrily through fields of cocaine, government procurement contracts, and money laundering. A 660% profit can be made by selling dollars in Cucuta. The newly super-rich and well-connected Boligarchs pop up in the same places where children go hungry and the poor get poorer. This is a revolution, all right, but not the one that was advertised.

There is no internal solution: the insiders have all the power and money, which they're holding onto tightly. And there is no external solution: international institutions -including the court for Human Rights- have all been expelled or replaced by the regime in charge. As Venezuela approaches the chaos of Syria, these terrible days may be remembered fondly as the last cocktail before the air crash. Last one out -don't worry about turning off the lights. They're already out.

michaelrowan22@gmail.com


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Is protest over?

That political protest in Venezuela has lost momentum seems pretty obvious: people are no longer building barricades to block off streets near Plaza Francia in Altamira (eastern Caracas), an anti-government stronghold; no new images have been shown of brave and dashing protesters with bandanna-covered faces clashing with the National Guard in San Cristóbal, in the western state of Táchira; and those who dreamed of a horde of "Gochos" (Tachirans) descending  in an avalanche to stir up revolt in Caracas have been left with no option but to wake up to reality.

 
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