Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Notes from the South Land 

I realize that those up north may be distracted by their repressive government sending a New York Times reporter to jail. I empathize - its hard not to be distracted by this. After all it is kind of fun watching one of the biggest cheerleaders of invading Iraq - Judith Miller - get to cool her heals in jail for a while. While she spent 2002 telling the whole world how big and ominous Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction program was she has been rather quite ever since upon invasion none of those WMDs ever turned up. But as someone mentioned, maybe she'll find them in her jail cell.

Anyways, there were some newsworthy items in Venezuela today so let me give a little roundup:

Maria Corina Machado will find out tommorrow if she will actually go to trail for various charges such as conspiracy against the Venezuelan government. If she does go to trail it could really put a crimp in her plans. According to Tal Cual she is actually considering a run for President in 2006 and has been asking her advisers what they think of the idea. It will be recalled she is the person who just by happenstance showed up in the Venezuelan presidential palace, Miraflores, when the coup was happening and who also got invited to the Oval Office of the White House by Bush. She seems to have a thing for presidential offices and has now decided she wants to be in one full time. Also according to Tal Cual she has polling data suggesting that she actually has a 12% approval rating which is higher than anyone else in the opposition has (Chavez is around 70% in the polls). I wonder if there is a law banning you from running for office while in prison.

On a happier note El Universal pointed out that autosales were up 94% in June 2005 as compared to June 2004. Half way through the year sales have totaled 97,000 units which by Venezuelan standards is excellent. So much for the middle class hurting under Chavez.

Another positive note on the economy was that the customs collections have exceeded their collection targets by 7% for the first half of the year according to the national tax authorities, SENIAT. Under SENIAT evasion of taxes, which was previously rampant, has been greatly reduced. Further, with the economy growing very rapidly imports are up which also increases the customs collections.

With all this positive news from Venezuela maybe some of the now hounded and repressed U.S. reporters will seek jobs here. Lord knows, the Venezuelan media could sure use some real reporters. Even Judith Miller would be an improvement. Marta Colomina better watch out.


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