Wealth Redistribution Hugo Chavez Style

According to Guillermo Chochez, a former Panamanian Ambassador to OAS, Chavez has been dead for at least 7 days after he was disconnected from respirators. Chochez cites Venezuelan government sources, which he said he could not reveal because he gave his word as a journalist that he would not.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 5, 2013

According to all Socialists, Marxists and Communists, their ideology is better than others because what it was at its core is the proper redistribution of wealth. They explain that the rich must pay their share in taxes to support the poorest and that the government must be the sole giver and taker to promote social justice.

Hugo Chavez’ death is certainly not news now. But perhaps the news is the way he went about redistributing Venezuelan wealth to himself and his family. That’s right, if corporate Fascism is well-known by its goal of amassing power and stealing everything else later in back door, under the table, secret dealings, Marxists, Socialists and Communists are easily identified with hoarding resources for themselves.

As it turns out, Hugo Chavez’ death leaves Venezuela worse than it was back in 1999, when Chavez came into public light. The country is more divided than ever, and current vice-president Nicolas Maduro has deployed police and military to the streets as a preventive measure in case riots break out. But behind all the spectacle composed by social network reactions from friends and foes, people lose the opportunity to know another side of the Bolivarian Revolutionary’s way to do business.

Much like the Castro family in Cuba, the Chavez family managed to accumulate billions of dollars in cash that Chavez diverted while in power. According to Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), Hugo Chavez stole and redistributed about $2 billion from the country’s oil trade and has left it as an inheritance to his family. CJIA estimates that Venezuela’s former leader amassed a fortune just as oligarchs amass power and control through their monopoly oriented business model.

“The personal fortune of the Castro brothers has been estimated at a combined value of around $2 billion,” says Jerry Brewer, President of CJIA. “The Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has amassed a fortune of a similar scale since the arrival of Chávez to the presidency in 1999,” he added. His assessment is part of a complete report published by CJIA on its website.

Besides stealing $2 billion from the Venezuelan people, Chavez also made sure that his dear friend Fidel Castro and his family received a nice chunk from Venezuela’s oil sales. Brewer estimates that Castro’s loyalty cost Venezuelan’s around $5 billion per year, which includes oil shipments and other resources. That my friends is wealth redistribution Chavez style.

The CJIA President went even further to say that behind the transfer of Venezuelan funds to Cuba and other Chavez’ allies, there is an organized mafia composed by criminal groups which have defrauded Venezuela of about $100 billion in the last 12 years.

The $100 billion extracted by Chavez and his cabal of thugs from the pockets of the Venezuelan people is, however, a penny in the bucket compared to what Republicans and Democrats steal from the American people, for example, or how many millions of dollars in taxes are not paid by international corporations who close back room deals with governments to evade the payment of taxes.

Facebook recently got a tax exemption from the American government that amounts to $429 million. Other powerful political donors to both parties like Google, Apple and Microsoft are also allowed to send their profits abroad, which enables them to evade tax collection. Google alone cut its tax payments by $3.1 billion between 2007 and 2010. Meanwhile, Apple hides $1 billion a week in profits the company should pay taxes on. According to a U.S. Congressional memo, Microsoft uses subsidiaries in places like Bermuda, Singapore and Puerto Rico to save itself some $6.5 billion in taxes.

As it is abundantly clear, neither the Socialist nor the crony Capitalist wealth redistribution style is ‘just’ as supporters blindly believe them to be. While Chavez’ detractors celebrate in his death in abundance, his supporters are surely mourning his departure in equal or worse social and economic condition than they were before Chavez came into power.

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Venezuela devalues its currency by nearly half

AP | FEBRUARY 8, 2013

Venezuela’s government announced Friday that it is devaluing the country’s currency, a long-anticipated change expected to push up prices in the heavily import-reliant economy.

Officials said the fixed exchange rate is changing from 4.30 bolivars to the dollar to 6.30 bolivars to the dollar.

The devaluation had been widely expected by analysts in recent months, though experts had been unsure about whether the government would act while President Hugo Chavez remained out of sight in Cuba recovering from cancer surgery.

It was the first devaluation to be announced by Chavez’s government since 2010, and it brought down the official value of the bolivar by 46.5 percent against the dollar. By boosting the bolivar value of Venezuela’s dollar-denominated oil sales, the change is expected to help alleviate a difficult budget outlook for the government, which has turned increasingly to borrowing to meet its spending obligations.

Planning and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said the new rate will take effect Wednesday, after the two-day holiday of Carnival. He said the old rate would still be allowed for some transactions that already were approved by the state currency agency.

Venezuela’s government has had strict currency exchange controls since 2003 and maintains a fixed, government-set exchange rate. Under the controls, people and businesses must apply to a government currency agency to receive dollars at the official rate to import goods, pay for travel or cover other obligations.

While those controls have restricted the amounts of dollars available at the official rate, an illegal black market has flourished and the value of the bolivar has recently been eroding. In black market street trading, dollars have recently been selling for more than four times the official exchange rate of 4.30 bolivars to the dollar.

The announcement came after the country’s Central Bank said annual inflation rose to 22.2 percent in January, up from 20.1 percent at the end of 2012.

The oil-exporting country, a member of OPEC, has consistently had Latin America’s highest officially acknowledged inflation rates in recent years. Spiraling prices have come amid worsening shortages of some staple foods, such as cornmeal, chicken and sugar.

Seeking to confront such shortages, the government last week announced plans to have the state oil company turn over more of its earnings in dollars to the Central Bank while reducing the amount injected into a fund used for various government programs and public works projects.

It was the fifth time that Chavez’s government has devalued the currency since establishing the currency exchange controls a decade ago in an attempt to combat capital flight.

Giordani said at a news conference that the government also decided to do away with a second-tier rate that has hovered around 5.30 bolivars to the dollar, through a bond market administered by the Central Bank. That rate had been granted to some businesses that hadn’t been able to obtain dollars at the official rate.

Central Bank President Nelson Merentes called that bond trading system, known by the acronym Sitme, “imperfect.”

“It doesn’t make much sense to keep a system that seeks the country’s debt to feed it,” Merentes said.

The government’s announcement drew strong criticism from opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who said that the government’s heavy spending was to blame for the situation and that officials were trying to slip the change past the public at the start of a long holiday weekend.

“They spent the money on campaigning, corruption, gifts abroad!” Capriles said in one of several messages on his Twitter account.

Capriles criticized Vice President Nicolas Maduro’s handling of the situation. Maduro, who was named by Chavez as his preferred successor before undergoing cancer surgery Dec. 11, has taken on more responsibilities and a higher profile during the president’s nearly two-month absence.

“They give Mr. Maduro a little more time in charge and he finishes with the country,” Capriles said. “Look at the inflation in January, and now the devaluation.”

 

Venezuelan Vice President delivers State of the Nation speech while Chavez remains in Cuba

By IAN JAMES and VIVIAN SEQUERA | AP | JANUARY 16, 2012

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro took the place of ailing President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday by delivering a short speech and turning in a state-of-the-nation report amid legal debate about his legitimacy.

Maduro submitted the report in writing from Chavez’s government while the president remained in Cuba undergoing treatment after his fourth cancer-related surgery. Opposition politicians argued that the annual speech should have been postponed because the president is supposed to deliver it, and about a dozen walked out in protest.

Maduro announced during the speech, a day after visiting with Chavez in Cuba, that the president designated former vice president Elias Jaua as the new foreign minister. Maduro had kept the foreign minister’s post after his appointment as vice president in October.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said the naming of Jaua as foreign minister should be reviewed because it was unclear under what authority the vice president was acting when such powers belong to the president alone.

Only a portion of the opposition’s representatives walked out of the National Assembly session.

Reflecting critics’ charges of heavy Cuban influence in the political events unfolding in Venezuela, one of the legislators who left, Maria Corina Machado said: “The government of Venezuela today is in Cuba, and that’s in violation of the constitution.”

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez dismissed the opposition’s allegations that the government was acting illegally by going ahead with the special legislative session.

“There’s no constitutional controversy,” Ramirez told reporters, calling the politicians who walked out “the most extremist sector of the far right.”

It was the second time in less than a week that Maduro has presided over an event that would normally have been led by Chavez. Maduro says Chavez remains in charge as president, though it remains unclear when the president might be well enough to address Venezuelans or return home.

FULL ARTICLE →

Venezuela tries to keep it together without Chavez

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 7, 2012

Venezuela’s acting President, Nicolás Maduro, returned to his country Thursday after visiting Cuba, where Hugo Chavez was admitted last month to have surgery. Maduro continued the government’s official policy of not revealing details about Chavez’ health status while affirming that the nation is united behind the so-called Chavismo.

After five days in Havana, Maduro avoided talking about Chavez’ health when he appeared in public at a coffee factory but said that Venezuela is experiencing tough days. The vice-president said that now more than ever Venezuelan’s are together, which he labeled as a response to the information published in recent weeks about divisions within the Venezuelan government due to the prolonged absence of their president. Some media and many social network accounts even announced that Chavez had died. The Mail Online published an article citing that Chavez is alive just because he is connected to life support machines.

“We are united more than ever, Maduro said. We’ve sworn before Commander Chavez that we will be united with the largest loyalty in history,” Maduro asserted in the presence of the President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, with whom Maduro maintains a tense relationship, and the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Rafael Ramirez, another member of the executive leadership reluctant to Maduro. The vice-president also ensured people that the President will return to the country “sooner rather than later”.

“We have one single transition and it has been going on for at least six years and President Hugo Chavez is the commander of the Bolivarian revolution,” Maduro said in a ceremony in a nationalized company. “Today we have an economy in transition to socialism,” Maduro said in his first official act after traveling to Cuba last December 29 December.

Meanwhile, Cabello has endorsed the “revolutionary unity” as a top priority after the reelection of Chavez. The President of the National Assembly has warned the opposition that it will have to “wait for 2000 years” before they can cause fractures within the ‘chavismo’. “We have no doubt, we will not let any effort be wasted. Everyday there will be more revolution. Do not let yourselves be manipulated by rumors from the opposition,” he said.

On the state of Chavez, Maduro has merely reiterated its willingness to continue as head of government, which has been report number 26 on the president’s health. “President Hugo Chavez is leading the country, he is the first worker. Chavez is a man of the people who became the first soldier and worker of the Fatherland”, he said. “We arrived in Havana after visiting President Chavez taking him all the love of the Venezuelan people,” he said while being flanked by the full cabinet. Maduro has asserted that Chavez is “aware” of the situation and has again praised his “fighting spirit”. Maduro traveled to Havana with the State Attorney General, Cilia Flores, and other members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

On 12 December, Chavez underwent a “complex” surgery, which lasted six hours, where an international medical team extirpated a tumor in the same area in which another tumor had been removed. Since the last operation, Chavez has not appeared in public, nor has the government released any image or recording.

Back in June 2011, when he was diagnosed with cancer in the pelvic area, the president of Venezuela, underwent three surgeries – not counting the last one -, four cycles of chemotherapy and six of radiotherapy. Throughout 2012, Chavez faced sharp criticism from the opposition for having medical treatment in Cuba and in Venezuela as well as his prolonged absences from the country. The secrecy surrounding his cancer treatment triggered speculation about the true state of health of the president too.

Chavez won the presidential elections on October 7, earning his fourth consecutive term. However, the cancer predictably came back and is now threatening continuity in the Palace of Miraflores, so he asked his supporters to support the Vice-president, Nicolas Maduro, as his successor, in case “something happens”.

The deadline for Chavez to return to office is January 10, the day that he will have to be sworn in as president. Should this act not materialize if he is not able to make the trip back to occupy office, new elections will have to take place within 60 days. Although this scenario is denied by the Venezuelan government, Chavez’ health is very delicate.

The Venezuelan president’s situation is difficult, after undergoing a fourth operation for cancer relapse, as stated by the Uruguayan Senator Lucia Topolansky, wife of President Jose Mujica. The situation of the president of Venezuela is “complex” and the situation in general “rather unpredictable,” said the lawmaker to Unoticias.

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Will the ‘Revolution’ continue in Venezuela?

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 10, 2012

The long time Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez feels that his time as chief of the government is coming to an end, so he has officially named Vice-president and Foreign Minister, Nicolas Maduro, as the man who should occupy his post.

Hugo Chavez seems to have assumed that the cancer he suffers from will not allow him to complete or even the fourth six-year term to which he was elected on 7 October. Given this situation, Chavez addressed Venezuelans on Saturday to anoint Vice President Maduro as his successor. Minutes earlier, Chavez had announced that he would be subjected to a fourth surgery to treat a cancer that was diagnosed back in June 2011.

Chavez explained the situation of his illness: “Due to the presence of some symptoms my medical team decided to run new tests. Unfortunately, the tests revealed the presence of cancer cells in the same area affected before. So, it is absolutely necessary to submit a new surgery. ”

If the president does not survive the operation, the Venezuelan Constitution states that the vice president should take over the presidency until new elections are due. Under this assumption, Chavez said: “Nicolas Maduro not only should end the period, as mandated by the Constitution, but it is my firm opinion that he has the skills to be re-elected in the following presidential elections”.

It is the first time that Chavez openly discussed the possibility of his death and ordered his followers what to do in case he dies during or after the surgery. “I ask all the support of the people and of all streams, civil, military, under these circumstances. All support, first for the revolutionary government at this juncture and the support and unity to the decisions that have to be taken. Today we have a country, make no mistake. ”

Since being diagnosed with cancer last year, Chavez had refused to reveal the severity of their disease and the organs of the body that have been affected by it. So far, Chavez has undergone three operations, two of them to remove two separate malignancies, and received radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions. This Friday he returned to Venezuela after spending nine days in Cuba, where he received an alternative therapy called “hyperbaric oxygenation”.

After the fourth re-election of Chavez, Nicolas Maduro has become the strong man of the Revolution. In Venezuela, he has been Foreign Minister since 2006 and has been in charge of the presidency during Chavez’s most recent trip. Maduro was a bus driver and union leader and is recognized as loyal and friendly.

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