Saturday, September 5, 2009

No more Chavez Pictures

Pictures from El UNIVERSAL - Venezuela.
Vdebate reporter

Washington in from of the OAS - US
Paris - France

Toronto - Canada

Barcelona - Spain

Madrid Spain

Sidney - Australia
Tenerife - Spain
Barquisimeto - Venezuela

Merida Venezuela

Puerto Ordaz - Venezuela

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Sunday, July 5, 2009




The public’s attention generally focuses on the circumstantial, while analysis of the transcendental or structural is avoided or postponed.
One of those transcendental problems is the gradual destruction of human capital in Venezuela. In Newsweek Web this week, Mac Margolis analyzes the exodus of Venezuelans during the decade of the Chávez administration.
This analyst tells of the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have gone to live abroad owing to the policies of a government that believes that the country is its own private property and has radically polarized the population, commenting that this mass of emigrants is made up particularly of artists, lawyers, doctors, managers, and engineers.
He maintains that this exodus has not only split up families, but that it will also affect the country’s future. He points out that, in Chávez’s Venezuela, talent is one of the main exports and warns that this goes against the tide of the repatriation policies being implemented by many developing countries today to recover their economies and consolidate their democracies.
This situation is somewhat reminiscent of Fidel Castro’s Cuba at the start of his communist revolution, when the best of the country’s middle class emigrated. That Cuban exodus was crucial for transforming Miami from a geriatric tourism area to the prosperous cultural and business center with considerable influence in the entire Latin American region that it is today. That mass emigration of professionals and prosperous, qualified manpower was a decisive factor that contributed to Cuba becoming one of the most backward countries in Latin America, on a par with Haiti.
Why has Venezuela, which until the 90s attracted immigrants, become a country of emigrants that is losing valuable human resources that are fundamental for building its future? The short answer is Hugo Chávez! A longer answer is provided by this analyst of Hugo Chávez’s policies.
One of the first brain drains occurred with the expulsion of more than 20,000 professionals from PDVSA. This wrecked the state-owned oil company, which has now become corrupt and efficient.
Another has been triggered by the high level of politicization of government agencies and state-owned companies, which has resulted in anyone who is against Chávez’s project being denied job opportunities and the chance to take part in the country’s development. Then there is the government’s anti-private enterprise policy, which has drastically reduced the productive apparatus and, consequently, the sources of jobs that do not depend on having a party card. Today, it is practically compulsory to run candidates to jobs in the growing number of state-owned companies through the filter of the Tascón List.
Other factors that have contributed to this mass exodus are the government’s harassment of free thought and free creativity that is scaring off intellectuals and researchers; the capital depletion of health centers that is making doctors and other health professionals go elsewhere; the threat to private property, which makes people fear that they will be left with nothing after years of hard work; and the appalling crime levels and impunity that have prompted families to leave the country for fear of their lives.
In short, this is a spurious government that steals from the nation’s youth the possibility of having a future in their own country and deprives Venezuela of the talent it needs in order to develop.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rise of Chávez Sends Venezuelans to Florida

January 23, 2008
Rise of Chávez Sends Venezuelans to Florida

WESTON, Fla. — In December 2002, Ariel Dunaevschi, then the owner of a furniture business in Caracas, Venezuela, was on vacation in New York with his family when opponents of President Hugo Chávez called a crippling labor strike hoping to bring the government to its knees.

As the protest wore on, paralyzing the country’s oil industry and devastating the economy, the Dunaevschis saw a very uncertain future for Venezuela and arrived at a painful decision: they would be better off staying in the United States.
They flew to Florida and rented a house here in Weston, a suburb west of Fort Lauderdale that has become so popular with Venezuelan immigrants, it is known as Westonzuela.

“I had a business in Venezuela, I had shops in Caracas, everything was working perfectly,” Mr. Dunaevschi, 39, said. “I left everything.” He added, “I began here from zero.”

The Dunaevschis are part of a wave of Venezuelans, mostly from the middle and upper classes, who have fled to the United States as Mr. Chávez has tightened his grip on the country’s political institutions, imposing his socialist vision and threatening to assert greater state control over many parts of the economy.
While many have been able to establish legal residency and obtain a green card, either through business or marriage, others have remained here illegally.
The surge is an example of how the political and social realities of Latin America are immediately reflected on the streets of South Florida, a dynamic that has come to define this region in the past half century.

Many Venezuelans have been able to transfer some of their wealth as they have settled in America. For two years, Mr. Dunaevschi flew to Caracas every few months carrying empty suitcases, which he filled with the family’s essential belongings and carted back to Miami.

In Caracas, he laid off the family’s employees, sold his cars, furniture and properties and eventually closed his business. Meanwhile, in Miami, he opened a new furniture company and settled into his new American life.

According to census data, the Venezuelan community in the United States has grown more than 94 percent this decade, from 91,507 in 2000, the year after Mr. Chávez took office, to 177,866 in 2006. Much of that rise has occurred in South Florida, making the Venezuelan community one of the fastest growing Latino subpopulations in the region this decade. In many ways, the Venezuelan influx is reminiscent of the Cuban migration spurred by Fidel Castro’s overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and his imposition of a socialist state.

Manuel Corao, director of one of several Venezuelan newspapers published in South Florida, said the main reason for the migration was a fear that Mr. Chávez would significantly alter the quality of life for the middle and upper classes.

“The principle reason is fear of change of daily life, the loss of private property, loss of independence from the government, fear of the loss of constitutional rights and individual liberties,” said Mr. Corao, who relocated permanently from Venezuela in 1996 and runs Venezuela al Dia, a thrice-monthly tabloid with offices in Doral, a Miami suburb where Venezuelans have settled.

Like many of the Cubans who came to South Florida in the early Castro years, most Venezuelans who arrived during the first few years of the Chávez administration probably did not expect to stay long.

“They didn’t think Chávez would last long, so a lot of Venezuelans are moving their families nearby, and the nearest place in the states is Miami,” said Thomas D. Boswell, professor of geography at the University of Miami.

Sinking their roots into the South Florida soil, Venezuelans have shifted their money into American banks, married and divorced, opened businesses, become active in local politics, and seen their children graduate from American schools.
Mr. Dunaevschi’s decision to keep his family in the United States was made easier because his wife, from whom he is getting divorced, was an American citizen. “I could work,” he said. “But for a lot of people without papers, it’s more complicated.”

Like many Venezuelans who have recently come to South Florida, Mr. Dunaevschi underwent a significant change in his standard of living. Faced with a much higher cost of living, he abandoned some of the luxuries he enjoyed in Venezuela, like a domestic staff and chauffeur.

“Life was very good there,” he said. But like many Venezuelans here, he cannot imagine returning as long as Mr. Chávez is in power, a sentiment that echoes the resolve of many Cuban exiles not to return to Cuba until Mr. Castro dies.

“I won’t consider it, as long as there’s that guy there,” Mr. Dunaevschi said.
Even the defeat of Mr. Chávez’s constitutional overhaul in December, which would have allowed him to remain in office indefinitely, did not seem to offer the deeply cynical exile community much new hope. In the meantime, Venezuelan exiles go on with their new lives here.

There are now at least five newspapers and magazines that feature news about Venezuela and the Venezuelan community in South Florida. Venezuelans have started restaurants and bakeries, business groups, political organizations working on both American and Venezuelan issues, and even a medical center for low-income Venezuelans.

“We untied the boat in Venezuela and now we’re here,” said Ernesto Ackerman, who runs a medical supplies business in Miami. “We’ve tied knots in this port.”
Mr. Ackerman is also president of Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens, a group that is trying to encourage Venezuelan participation in local politics. He and other community leaders say they are inspired by the example of the Cubans, who have come to dominate South Florida politics, but they acknowledge that the Venezuelans are still in their political infancy here.

Venezuelans are outnumbered in South Florida by Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Mexicans, Nicaraguans and Dominicans, according to data from the 2006 census, but Venezuelan leaders here believe their population may have vaulted to fourth place on that list, upwards of 100,000, taking into account those who have overstayed tourist visas.

The growing Venezuelan population has been a windfall for Miami banks, as many Venezuelans bring their money here. Ken Thomas, a banking analyst in Miami, said the amount of that capital flight was unclear, although he said it was “clearly in the billions.”

“One of the interesting things about South Florida is that when Latin America is doing well, we do well,” said Israel Kreps, who handles public relations for Mercantil Commercebank, a Venezuelan-owned bank based in Coral Gables. “When Latin American is doing badly, we do well.”

For many Venezuelans, the move has come at an emotional price. In return for the relative political and economic security of the United States, they have suffered the cultural dislocation and homesickness familiar to immigrants everywhere.
One place they have sought camaraderie is El Arepazo, a small cafeteria-style Venezuelan restaurant attached to a Citgo gas station in Doral.

“It’s become a place of celebrations and protests,” said Carlos Nuñez, 46, a Venezuelan who moved to Miami in 2000 and now owns a company that sells heavy construction machinery. “We celebrate the failures of Chávez and bemoan the successes of Chávez.”

On a recent Thursday night, several dozen people — mainly men, mainly Venezuelans — had gathered at El Arepazo for a weekly dominos session. The matches were lively, the players raucous. They heckled each other and the news broadcasts on El Arepazo’s seven television screens, which were showing Venezuelan soap operas and news footage of Mr. Chávez celebrating with two Colombian women, whose release from Colombian rebels he had negotiated.

Daniel Garcia, 34, an events promoter in Miami, stood off to one side watching the games. Mr. Garcia moved to Miami from Venezuela in 1996 to take a summer job distributing a friend’s entertainment magazine. But he ended up staying longer than he expected, and once Mr. Chávez came to power in 1998, he decided to make his relocation permanent. “There was no question I wasn’t going back,” he said. “No way.” Mr. Garcia is now married and has a child. He said places like El Arepazo kept him and other Venezuelans connected and helped numb the longing for home.
“For a while you may forget about Chávez, forget about Miami, you’re drinking your beer, you’re insulting everybody, you’re having fun,” he said. “It’s a way to forget about everything