Hugo Chavez is Venezula's president and is the latest South American socialist-tyrant sensation(I guess Bolivia's Evo Morales now takes that honor, but Chavez is still the champ). Claiming to have a popular mandate from his people, Chavez has demonized free trade, the United States, and George W. Bush (not that I think he's wrong about the latter), as well as having in general ruffled the feathers of the developed world. Meanwhile, it doesn't seem like he has done much for his people except buy off enough of them to continue getting elected.
This page exists to document Chavez's activities, and connect to analysis and reports of them. Items are posted below in descending chronological order.
2013-02-10: Absent Chavez devalues Venezuelan currency to aid gov't finances- `` Venezuela devalued its bolivar currency on Friday by 32 percent in a widely expected move that will shore up government finances after ailing President Hugo Chavez's blowout election-year spending in 2012 but will also spur galloping inflation.''
2013-01-10: Chávez, or at Least His Sash, Is Set for Venezuela Inauguration-
President Hugo Chávez's supporters have not ruled out swearing him in from his hospital in Havana. His detractors are calling for government investigators to go check his pulse themselves. The justices whom Mr. Chávez's allies have named to the Supreme Co...
2012-10-07: Hugo Chavez Wins Re-Election In Venezuela Presidential Vote-
It was Chavez's third re-election victory in nearly 14 years in office. The victory gives Chavez another six-year term to cement his legacy and press more forcefully for a transition to socialism in the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves...
2012-04-06: Sobbing Chavez Pleads for Life at Catholic Mass in Home State-
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wiped tears from his face as he pleaded for life in his fight against an undisclosed cancer at a Catholic mass in his home state of Barinas.Chavez, speaking yesterday at the mass held for his health and broadcast on state ...
2011-09-27: Chase offers $30K to delinquent homeowners- "Chase has not publicized the payouts and declined to discuss specifics. After repeated requests, a spokesperson would only confirm its existence as an invitation-only program."
2011-09-04: Revealing Gold Advice from Mauldin- Financial writer John Mauldin, who rarely mentions gold, gave an interesting "reveal" in his public newsletter today:
The question I am asked the most is some variant on "What do you think about gold?" So, let me deal with that question here, as it has b...
2011-07-23: Peru's Humala aims to calm investors over economy's direction- ``With a week to go before his inauguration Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala rushed through Cabinet appointments likely to reassure investors he wouldn't emulate Venezuelan peer Hugo Chavez when reforming the Latin American country's economy.''
2007-06-26: ConocoPhillips To Walk Away From Venezuela - "After months of talks and facing a deadline today, ConocoPhillips decided to exit the nation and its investment rather than agree to take below-market compensation and a minority stake in three oil-producing projects ... Five other Western oil companies face the decision of whether to accede to Venezuela's demands and turn over a controlling stake or walk away ... It is unclear how the other companies will respond, though industry observers have said ConocoPhillips's decision will increase the likelihood other U.S. companies may follow suit."
2007-06-02: Chavez can't shut down YouTube - (Spiegel article via ImmobilienBlasen). After unplugging all non-state-controlled TV (see below), RCTV for one has gone internet, via YouTube. (Check out the cartoon in this one). You know what to do, Hugo: time to unplug the internet...
2007-05-29: Venezuela protests TV clampdown by Chavez - Chavez shuts down media dissent. These two quotes make up my favorite part: "President Hugo Chavez's clampdown on opposition television stations widened Monday as police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting what they called an attack on free speech." and then ... "CNN broadcast a lie which linked President Chavez to violence and murder," [Information Minister] Lara said. Chavez? Violence? Nunca! (See also about dramaticially higher murder rate below).
2007-05-03: Chavez Threatens to Nationalize Banks, Steel - The downward spiral continues: "Private banks have to give priority to financing the industrial sectors of Venezuela at low cost," Chavez said. "If banks don't agree with this, it's better that they go, that they turn over the banks to me, that we nationalize them and get all the banks to work for the development of the country and not to speculate and produce huge profits."
2007-04-21: Airships to tackle Caracas crime - "The 15 metre (49 foot) long air ships are emblazoned with government slogans. Written in bright red are the words: "We watch over you for your security."
2007-03-02: Venezuela's Chavez proposes South American 'Gas OPEC' - I'll let a quote from the article do the talking: "Some natural gas experts described the idea Friday as far-fetched and toothless. To begin with, none of the three countries exports natural gas outside of South America, which stymies their ability to influence world gas markets. Venezuela doesn't export any gas at all."
2007-01-31: Chavez Given Vast Executive Power - You can't really top this. Chavez is looking to end term limits as well. Nothing makes a healthy socialist society like an omnipotent overlord-for-life, eh?
2007-01-08: Chavez: Will nationalize telecoms, power - This appears to be a cheesy attempt to deal with the aforementioned inflation problem. Perhaps it will succeed in eliminating inflation (on paper) inasmuch as it eliminates prices. But eliminating prices is usually a very bad idea. In sum: the Zimbabwization of Venezuela is proceeding apace.
2007-01-03: Chavez Policies Fuel Venezuelan Shortages, Driving Up Inflation - What do you get when you close off your economy except for massive oil revenues, then impose strict controls and nationalization, and keep the show running based on heavy use of patronage? That's right, raging inflation (around 17% now)! Way to go Chavez. As he holds to price caps, producers will go broke, leading to either more nationalization or civil unrest. Chavez is finding that all that oil money is useless unless there's a private economy to spend it on!
2006-12-03: Chavez keeps lid on boom in murders - Venezuelans see 67% rate jump since 1999 - "Analysts say Chavez is able to ignore the issue by governing through a system of extensive handouts that eases the purchase of basic goods but does little to ensure public order. ... Crime analysts say part of the problem is that the government and its allies have politicized police forces throughout the country, marginalizing officers viewed as disagreeing with Chavez's 'Bolivarian Revolution,' which uses militaristic and nationalistic rhetoric in an attempt to reconfigure society with vague socialist ideals."
2006-10-09: Mass Venezuelan opposition rally - "Tens of thousands of people have marched through the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in support of the main opposition candidate, Manuel Rosales." — so much for the myth of unified popular support for Chavez.
2005-12-02: Chavez provides discounted heating oil to United States' relatively-rich poor, amounting cuts of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, this money will not go to help Venezuela's own actually-poor poor. Why did Chavez do this? politics, of course. Apparently it matters more than the welfare of his own people.
2005-12-02: In this message to the CafeAtlanta listserv, an actual missionary to Venezuala, Boake Moore, smacks down a clueless (north) American regurgitating pro-Chavez propaganda The truth hurts (but sadly, mostly for Venezuela's poor).
2005-08-01: Data: falling oil production in Venezuela. Production seems to be on a gradual downward trend under Chavez, which is continuous since 2000. It is now about 22% lower than its peak at that time.
2005-03-31: Poverty figures undermine Chávez's success claims - Reporting on data from Venezuela's own National Institute of Statistics, I need only quote the article: "The figures ... show that poverty in Venezuela rose from 43 percent to 54 percent of the population during Chávez's first four years in office. And extreme poverty -- the percentage of the population that lives on less than $1 a day -- grew from 17 percent to 25 percent during the same period...". Here's another article by Oppenheimer.
Update, Jan 2007: In subsequent coverage I've seen references to a dramatically improving rate of poverty in Venezeula over the whole Chavez rein; my suspicion is that whoever allowed the bad (real) data to get out was canned and the government reports were airbrushed. In fact, they could have easily "solved" the poverty problem by simply including welfare support in calculations of people's income. This would fit with Chavez's mindset: the national income is identical with the individual's income—begging the question of what income at all is left when the oil runs out.
2005-12-02: Marketplace feature on Venezuela's nationalization of the oil industry.
CITGO is the United States corporate arm of Venezuela's national petrolium company, obviously, controlled by Chavez. We should boycott CITGO, as revenue from this company is Chavez's main source of power. I know I already am.
We should not accept preferential financing or "gifts" of oil from Chavez. If we want to help our own poor heat their homes, we can do it with domestic welfare. In fact, congress should have responded to Chavez's gesture (read: political maneuver) by passing legislation to do the same thing domestically. This would have both shown compassion for our poor as well as Venezuela's, and acted as a setback for Chavez politically. In addition, artifically cheap oil simply furthers our dependence on the commodity--the last thing we need right now!