Dear John Q. Public

I represent the 97 % of the climate expert community which believes global warming is caused by humanity. Our knowledge is profound (most of us are highly educated) and we spent years looking at the ancient climate record and computers models we have made as large and complex as the largest computer could stand .

These models all agree that in 100 years we will see sea level rise 60 cm (we are pretty sure about this part), and the world’s temperature will rise a lot, but we can’t give you a good figure. Some of us are pretty sure we will see lots of drought, but also lots of giant hurricanes, and lots of rain, tornadoes, and Greenland ice bergs sailing by. And polar bears will die.
So it’s really important you follow our prescribed solutions, consider us climatologists as the doctors who offer you chemotherapy after we cut off your legs to cure you from that fever we are pretty sure you have. And please don’t listen to the other guys who are deceiving you and tell you to keep your legs. They are in denial of fever and medicine, and believe in creationism, if they keep this up we’ll just have them shot.
Thank you for your attention,
Dr Nein T. Ceven.


Dear Nicolás

I know your intestines knotted and your head spun around full circle when I decided to name you President. It could have been somebody else, but you were the only one I felt would be unable to make a decision without consulting with Raúl.

Photograph: The day I named you my heir 

But I didn´t realize that Raúl himself would be turned into an indecise old man because the communist cadres in Cuba would put up resistance, and refuse to accept Fidel´s Revolution had failed.

Photograph: Raul wearing a hat like yours 

Do you know who is to blame for the mess I left behind? Rafael Ramirez. That son of a gun kept telling me year after year oil production would go higher and higher, and we would have all the money we had to have. Fidel, Raul and I didn´t know that much about the oil business, and we believed him…we thought he could deliver the cash, and all we got was excuses.

Photograph: Rafael Ramirez bullshiting 

Now all you can do is clamp down on the people and hang on. You just keep getting rid of the communists, jail the troublemakers and encourage the others to leave. And have patience because this is going to take a little time. You have to wait for Fidel to die so Raul can straighten out his own people and then you can have the new version of Socialism of the 21st Century. When I was dying Raúl told me he decided he had to go the Chinese route all the way, because Chinese style market socialism and the alliances with multinationals sure seemed to work.

Signed: Your Eternal Leader

PS: Don´t forget to rub Bolivar´s finger bone on your forehead every morning.

Painting: Simón Bolivar before he died 

Written in Response to Dear Hugo


Bill Fisher´s Penguin

 This is a sad story, a story about the death of a poor penguin that was burned in southern Argentina.

Photograph: Penguin

This happened because my friend Bill Fisher, an extremely kind and big-hearted man, tried to help the penguin. At that time Bill and I lived in Argentina. Bill lived in the province of Chubut, in Patagonia. He used to walk the beach, which was usually deserted because the water was almost frozen, and a strong wind blew dragging much dust and sand. I had lived in the same place, but had been fortunate enough to ascend to the Argentinian Heaven, what they call Buenos Aires, and Bill and I visited only occasionally.

One day Bill was walking along the beach and found an oil covered penguin. This was the result of an extraordinary coincidence, because normally the oil spilling state oil company (YPF) did all of it in Caleta Cordoba, and hardly anyone went there precisely because it looked so ugly (however, sometimes the spilled oil was pushed  further away by sea currents).

Nor can we say that the beach where he visited was full of penguins. They came to visit from  the Antarctic during a portion of the year, but they went further north. So this particular  poor penguin was a rare individual. I think it was passing through on its way north  when he got into an oil spill floating offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. An alternate theory is that it decided to relax on the beach when it was covered with oil.

The fact is that Bill found the poor bird in poor condition. Bill, being the excellent guy that he was,  wrapped the penguin in a towel and took him home.

Bill was wonderful, a very practical engineer (I say was because I lost contact with him about 15 years ago). But he was not an expert in cleaning oiled birds. So….this is what he told me later, the story of what happened that day:

Bill took the penguin and put it in the tub, and proceeded to clean up the oil with a solvent liquid. I think he used gasoline or kerosene, I can´t  remember. This procedure  left the penguin clean but well soaked in a flammable liquid.

And now comes the ugly part. If you are a minor or have a weak stomach stop reading this.

At that time, in southern Argentina it  was very cold most of the time. Most apartments had heaters, but the gadgets were natural gas burners with an open flame, like this:

Photograph: Open flame heater used 
by Argentinians in their apartments

These heaters  were located at various points in  the residences. It seemed to me a silly system, but who was to tell the Argentinians  there were  better solutions (I know it´s hard to believe,  but they  are a very proud people).

Bill made sure the penguin looked very good, but he  still had to clean it a second time, because it was soaked in gasoline. And this is where things went wrong. Suddenly, at one point when Bill got distracted, the penguin jumped from the tub, and ran into the hallway, where unfortunately one of those natural gas burners with the open  flame was located.

Then the penguin began to shake to dry itself  (just like a dog does after a bath), a cloud of gasoline droplets jumped from the penguin and touched the burner flame. At that moment Bill was chasing the penguin and was about to grab it when the  gasoline touched the burner, and the  flame proceeded to jump through the air to the penguin, and then jumped  from poor Penguin to  Bill's hands, which were still wet with gasoline.

The next day I met Bill at the office. The poor man had a very sad face and both  his hands were heavily bandaged.

Photograph: Burnt hands

Bill told me very contrite that the penguin had been burned to a crisp, and the flames which  leaped toward him from the  burning penguin had also  burned his hands. He added that he was lucky because he could have burned down the apartment.  Also,  his wife was extremely upset. 

I have written about this because I have been  thinking about  the times when people or countries, try to help someone or remedy something, and the results are not what was expected.

Bill was (or is) a very good man, and   I don´t  think he deserved  having his hands and his apartment burnt  when  he tried  to try to help the poor penguin. But sometimes bad things happen when good people try to help others.

Photograph: Friendly soldier gives out candy 

Heavy Oil pipeline from Canada versus heavy oil tankers from Venezuela

I have been studying the issue of global warming by nearly a year. It is an issue that has a lot of science, and lots of politics.

Now I want to reveal something interesting I learned from all this:

Canada has giant heavy oil reserves. The oil is located in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and is so heavy it has to be mixed with other hydrocarbons and then brought to refineries in Canada and the U.S. using pipelines and train cars.  

Well. as  it turns out,  to increase production and reduce the cost of transporting the Canadian oil industry has proposed a pipeline crossing the border from Alberta to Texas, called Keystone XL Pipeline.

Photograph: Large Diameter Oil Pipeline 

Keystone XL requires a permit from  President Obama to cross the border between Canada and USA. But this is much more complicated because environmental advocacy organizations are e lobbying against the pipeline to make sure it doesn´t get built.

They say the Canadian heavy oil is very bad for the environment, because it emits a lot of CO2, and the CO2 causes global warming. Actually the bit about  the environmental damage caused by the heavy oil is true. That oil is pretty ugly, and I think eventually Canadians will have to reduce the CO2 emitted when they produce it and process it. This is feasible, but I will not get into the technical  topic at this time.

What if I want to mention is that today the U.S. imports heavy oil from Venezuela. And much of that oil is identical to Canadian heavy crude. The difference is that Venezuelan crude is carried by tanker to the  U.S. and Canadian crude oil is carried by pipeline.

Then I wonder why these environmental organizations focus so much and  protest against a pipeline from Canada, and never mention that  an identical oil is imported from Venezuela by tanker? Don´t they know that a heavy oil  spill in the sea is much worse than a pipeline spill on land? (And please don´t give me the baloney about the Oglalalla Aquifer, the  claim that  aquifer pollution potential from a pipeline leak is potentially  serious…. is bogus).

Photograph: Oil Tanker Spills Oil 

Who is funding these NGOs who pays the writers in the newspapers, and who pays the politicians who oppose the pipeline? Who knows if the government of Venezuela pays the lobby, and so keeps the USA depending on Venezuelan oil?

Is this idea crazy? I don´t think so. I looked into the links between the NGOs engaged in serious objections against the pipeline, and they can be linked in various ways  to pro Venezuelan wonks  such as Amy Goodman, Danny Glover, Mark Weisbrot and the other suspects who appear  to be feeding at the Chavista (now Madurista fascistoid)  through.

Below I give you some references if you want to research the topic, I included a USA government reference as well as a far left reference so you can see how goofy and extreme they can be. I also put in an article about the Russian moves to block shale gas in Europe via encouragement and financing of these leftist "green" NGO´s. 

If  you trace the people involved, you will see links to the extreme left and to Venezuela funded groups. You draw your own conclusions.


Why is natural gas more expensive in Europe?

Natural gas costs much more in Europe than in the United States. This is because European gas deposits have been almost consumed, with the exception of the Norwegian sites.

The United States consumes a huge amount, and it is self-sufficient (it imports natural gas from Canada, and exports to Mexico, but the cross border trade doesn´t alter the fact that US gas reserves are sufficient to satisfy the country´s demand).

The main reason why the price of gas in the U.S. is lower than in Europe, is the US ability to produce its natural gas from fractured shales. In the U.S. oil and gas companies have turned to this business with enthusiasm, and today employ hundreds of thousands of personnel drilling  gas wells, fracturing the shales, and building the infrastructure to ship the gas from the wells to the consumer.

Photograph: Drilling for gas in the USA 

The level of activity in the last 5 years has been enormous. Fractured shale production has increased from almost nothing to constitute more than   40% of national consumption. A lot of natural gas that was imported from other nations is   now shipping to other countries (including Spain).

The large increase in gas production in the U.S. has caused increased competition, and this competition has reduced prices. Today the U.S. consumer enjoys much lower prices.
Chart: Gas Prices in the USA, Europe, and Japan

This is not seen nearly as much in Europe, where the gas comes from large monopolistic producers. The   Russian state controlled giant gas producer Gazprom is the one with the most weight, and so far the Russians insist on selling  gas at a very high price (it´s  linked to oil prices).   European countries have no alternatives,   so  they swallow hard,  and pay.

But Europe has a   potential medium term alternative, it  has shale gas deposits that can be fractured and produced. The technology exists, they have educated people, they can be trained, and in 5 to 10 years Europe can   organize a huge industry to produce shale gas.  This  may allow them to  negotiate harder and slow down increases in future consumer prices.

Why doesn´t Europe produce its deposits? Because the European Union is very concerned about global warming, they don´t know how much shale gas they can produce, or simply because environmental NGOs in Europe have been able to halt the development of the industry (I also read a recent article which explains the Russians are stealthily financing campaigns against shale gas developments in Europe).
See the map showing where shales have been identified that can produce natural gas:

Areas containing shale natural gas (in blue)

Some countries have possibilities, and others not. Spain has some. But the UK, France, Germany, and other countries may have a lot. And as the European gas grid is interconnected, production within the European Union would benefit the community because it would allow them to negotiate more reasonable import prices.

 I am convinced that the alleged environmental damage is mostly   noise made by individuals who don´t  understand the  technology, or visualize  how  governments can regulate the gas  industry. Europeans can produce their gas. If they don´t it will be produced in other countries, Europeans will   import it, and will pay exorbitant prices.

As for my readers in Russia, I think they should consider the future. Russia will not be a country that supplies raw materials and weapons forever. Russia must be developed like other countries. Russia has  an educated and hardworking population, and this means that if  Russia breaks  free from the oligarchs and their friends it will be a greater nation.  
Photograph: Happy Russians (from BolshoiMoscow.com)

And those in other countries, it is better that they find out what  they have, and consume it with caution. Burning natural gas is the best method we have to reduce CO2 emissions when it´s developed alongside wind power. And while global warming isn´t as terrible as some imagine, it's something we do need   to consider.

Some references


Fidel Castro´s Homophobia

I remember when I was living in Cuba the regime was very homophobic. I don´t think Fidel´s homophobia was a secret. This wasn´t something we discussed in public, but we did discuss in private. Some thought it was fine because Christian and other social and religious traditions condemned it, others thought Fidel was being a bit dumb when he had the police check our homosexual tendencies by checking the tightness of our pant legs. I was a bit more selfish, I thought most homosexuals were male, and the more of them the better, because it left the young girls for the rest of us.

But what should be perfectly clear is that none of us could say something about it in a public setting, criticize the government, or write about it anywhere.

Photograph: Cuban gays (GlobalPost.com). 

So now we read how the state of Colorado in the USA has legalized marihuana, and we continue to read and hear the eternal comment about yankee imperialism, and denying the people the right to ask for changes, or making such changes, “because the empire will gain an advantage”.

I don´t know where you sit, but I suggest you think about this:

Is it better for Cubans to be kept wearing a muzzle, or is it better FOR THE PEOPLE to let them write, talk, suggest changes, and even protest to have changes? What do you think will happen if the people are free to say and write they are sick and tired of Fidel´s ideas? Do you really think those ideas are sacred? Is it sort of like a religion for you to have to bow and scrape to an old man, when everybody knows his ideas were wrong, and his brother Raul is going to change things as soon as Fidel dies?

Photograph: Screen shot from "The Art of Making Ruins" 

Once you have given this a thought, I suggest you start writing your true opinions, and forget the yankee empire and the other ideas they used. Fidel´s ideas are all obsolete, this is the 21st century, and it´s time for Cuba to move forward in time.

Original debate is at

The Art of Making Ruins

Global warming doesn´t worry me

Last year I wrote that we should reverse global warming because it seemed that a cold world was better than a world in flames.

Photograph: Forest fire

However, I calmed down a lot after I started to review and study available information, especially how climate models work.  Now I think that global warming is not as serious as I thought.

I must admit I am not a climatologist. However, I know a little about dynamic models in general, and also studied oceanography. I don´t  doubt that the world has been warming, and it is possible temperatures will continue rising. I say it´s possible because as we  will see below, the world did warm up in the 20th Century, but  the surface temperature of the planet has not warmed in the last 12 years.

What I see, especially in Europe, is a panic avalanche. We humans have the tendency to be sheep in many ways. For example, in the Middle Ages it wasn´t difficult to convince a crowd of children and adolescents to join the Children's Crusade, most of whom ended up dead or enslaved. Don´t think that you are safe from this problem. For example,   in the twentieth century communist Pol Pot (the Cambodian communist)  convinced his followers to murder a million of his countrymen for the crime of being educated or belonging to the  middle class...

Photograph: Pol Pot´s Victim´s Museum

I don´t  think those who push us to be scared about global warming are like the Crusaders or the Cambodian communists, or think about killing anyone. They  appear to be good people.

It is easy to convince  people to go in a certain direction if you are only asking them to avoid burning oil and coal, tell them windmills are cute, and forget to tell them how the fine print is supposed to work.  Most people don´t think much about the fine print, don´t question the validity of this request, and do what the government suggests.

But because  I believe that reality is a lie and that those who have power tend to lie,  I searched  information about this topic to make sure what I heard from guys like Al Gore was true.

First, I read about the actual information we have, and this convinced me the world had been warming steadily since the peak reached in the ice age, about nineteen thousand years ago. However, I noticed the temperature record showed some funny ups and downs, and I couldn´t find any scientists who wrote a convincing explanation about these swings.

Second, I sought predictions of climate models considered valid by a large group of climate scientists. The most prestigious is used by the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change).

Third, I read the 2001 forecast (TAR "Third Assessment Report) which can be viewed at:

Fourth, I compared the prediction of this model with the "reality" at the beginning of 2013. Such "reality" I took from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the USA. The result is shown here:

Graph: Comparison of the IPCC model predictions in 2001 with real data

As you can see, the little graph shows the temperature has been increasing (pay attention to the scale, it´s what they call the anomaly, the world got warmer but it isn´t really that bad). 

But that IPCC  2001 forecast didn´t come near the temperatures we are experiencing today. Look where the arrow is pointing down, in 2013. This arrow shows that forecasts said the temperature would increase but this didn´t occur in any of the cases. And this despite the fact that the Chinese have increased their consumption of coal in huge quantities (the basic idea is that burning coal causes a lot of CO2 emissions and this causes a Green House Effect which in turn leads to more humidity in the air and makes things even worse).

What can I add? First, I think global warming is real, but it's not something to worry about more than unemployment, corruption, the possibility of a global epidemic, or that the oceans are filthy and  running out of fish. It is a problem, but it´s not the worst problem.

Second, the scientific community deserves our support so they can improve their climate models and get a lot more data. This way they can predict with a little more confidence what will happen in the future. It is better to invest in these models instead of subsidizing investment in solar power plants, which are very beautiful until you see the electric bill and realize they didn´t cut back CO2 emissions as much as is touted.

Note: Below I placed some miscellaneous links where you can access climate data. I´ve also added  some climate blogs to my blog list. These blogs are a mixture, some tend to want you to panic, and some tend to want you to worry less about global warming. 


How to become the president of a LARGE Corporation

How do you get to be president of a large company? There are several methods, however,  in most cases the president of the company  won´t know how to run it.

Photograph: Typical company president  

Surprised?? It turns out that large companies are so huge that it is impossible to know what goes on inside them.  For example, at Enron it was possible to have crooks in almost all key positions, honest managers could not stop them and the company went bankrupt. They took several of them to jail, but that didn´t  help the shareholders nor the  workers. Everything was  lost.

Enron was an extreme case, because they broke the law quite often. But we can mention cases of companies that just seem to have been poorly run businesses, for example Sacyr Vallehermoso, BP, VW,   and Nokia. These companies have very sad records.

Now we will see  what happens in big business to allow  these people to take their positions. There are four methods to become president of a large company:

Method 1. Family relationship with the previous president. Being the son / daughter or brother is better. There are many examples of this kind of president. Sometimes, in spite of  having a good education, they lead the company into bankruptcy. A few do it well, but this happens when they take over a small or medium size company. For example, Rupert Murdoch inherited control of a midsize company and grew it  tremendously. But they say that his son  will have many problems if he does inherit his post.

Method 2. Having an excellent relationship with the former president. Usually these people have spent all their time kissing the buttocks of the president who recommended them to take over the job. They tend to be mediocre to good. They are famous for their loyalty. They are associated with disastrous decisions but they have managed to hide them. It helps that other managers are afraid of them  because they think they are favorites of the president and if they say something it  is going to get them in trouble. Often nobody knows these guys  have skeletons hidden everywhere until it is too late. BP had a president like this and his career  ended in a disaster.

Photograph: Fire (Forbes.com)

Method 3. Be recommended or nominated by a major political figure. This works very well to be president of a state controlled enterprise. They tend not to know much about the business, but because they linked to  the government, they can do well. Because  many state enterprises don´t have profits, no one notices these guys are fools.  However, they are often fatal in the long term. An example is the president of PDVSA, the Venezuelan oil company. As you probably know, this president is doing a really bad job. 

Photographs: Venezuela´s President with PDVSA´s President,
 plus examples of their handywork (composite from Reportero24.com)

Method 4. They are recommended by a company that specializes in the search of  presidents. They range from  good to terrible. The interview process is quite overwhelming, and the winner is more or less good (but not necessarily the best). However, they often have problems because they don´t  know anyone inside the company. And sometimes they don´t know the business, which makes me wonder why these executive search companies exist. Hewlett Packard recruited a president from another company and things went really bad until she left.

From my point of view,  they should have a fifth method, which may improve the performance  large company presidents.  The best solution is to choose candidates within the company. This means you have to be employed and have been working there for a while before you can be considered.

And I would try something radical:  the new president would be elected by a vote among coworkers, who get  to see who wins. This would be similar to what they do in the Vatican to elect the Pope.

The ones who vote can be those with more experience and / or some level of responsibility. They can review  the candidate´s personnel file, watch Powerpoint presentations detailing their business strategy, and discuss who would be the top individuals to be considered in the final vote rounds. 

Photograph: Cardinals reviewing  the candidates  before voting.

Then they can take a series of secret votes (secret voting  is important to avoid the future president´s revenge if they voted the wrong way).

I think it would work. What we need to do is infiltrate and gain control of a giant company to prove it.  I want to be the candidate and you can vote for me.


The Tunnel with Ten Thousand Corpses

Just after the Soviet Union fell,   a Russian I met in Moscow told me a story about a tunnel  in which the Red Army had buried the bodies of ten thousand German soldiers.

 The tunnel is located between the island of Sakhalin and the Asian continent. This island is located at the east end of the Russian Federation, in the Pacific Ocean, north of Japan. 
Sakhalin Island location

The strait between the island and the mainland is 10 km wide, and the sea freezes in winter. The ice makes transportation between the island and the mainland  quite difficult, and this led Stalin´s  government to begin construction of a railway tunnel under the sea.

So how come was this Russian telling me this story? In the early 90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation announced that it wanted to develop offshore oil fields located east of the island of Sakhalin. Without going into the details, to transport oil and gas from the island is quite difficult because the sea freezes in winter. This led me to have a casual discussion with Russian friends in Moscow who were engineers at a prestigious institute. During that conversation, one of the Russians mentioned:

"One option would be to use the tunnel dug by the Germans."

I asked which tunnel and  which Germans, and he explained:

"After the Second World War Stalin wanted to build a tunnel between the island and the mainland. The project had a workforce of more than twenty thousand German prisoners who dug the tunnel in inhumane conditions. When the Korean War started and the Americans were coming to the Chinese border after their successful landing at Inchon, Stalin believed that after attacking the Chinese the Americans would continue and  invade the Soviet Union,  beginning with Vladivostok. He didn´t  want the Red Army  fighting with the Americans while holding  thousands of German prisoners in the region, and gave orders to kill them all. 

As they were in a hurry,  those who had to carry out the orders put the Germans in the tunnel and blew up the entrance.  Later,  we wanted to use the tunnel to install an oil  pipeline but Soviet  authorities wouldn´t  let us mention their existence. Officially no one dug that tunnel. It´s something we couldn´t  mention because the Soviet Union would lose its reputation because it had killed over ten thousand German prisoners and to make matters worse, those men had been buried alive. "

I suggested that the issue was sensitive, and we shouldn´t  talk about it anymore. Later I recommended the company to try to make a deal with the Russians to develop the fields and send the oil and gas from Sakhalin to Khabarovsk and China. But management refused to consider my plan.

I wanted to go ahead with the project, because that could possibly bring up  the possible use of the tunnel, and would reveal what had happened. Imagine the uproar if we had really found and been able  to open that  tunnel and found the bodies. That place can be a similar scene to the Katyn forest where the Soviets killed more than ten thousand Polish citizens in the early days of World War II.

Photograph: Katyn Massacre monument , Poland

Since I have not returned to Russia, and I think I can´t  back after revealing Vladimir Putin´s  real identity, I'm writing this to get it off my chest. If you are in Russia do what you want with the information. I don´t  like the idea of ​​seeing Russians trying to recreate the image of Joseph Stalin as a great Soviet hero without realizing that the man was a  very bad murderer.

Communism tends to create great myths, the result of state propaganda and the  support of fans everywhere sustains it. Many of these myths are lies, and help to hide the truth. And this truth can be horrible.


The Revolting Chairs in Caracas

This week President Nicolás Maduro named Ricardo Menéndez his brand new Minister of  Planning. Ricardo has a Masters and Doctorate in Urban Planning. Comrade Menéndez will plan Venezuela´s budget an economy under President Maduro´s  guidance. Or will he? It seems Chavista ranks are having serious doubts about Maduro´s ability to lead the country.  

 Photograph: Nicolas Maduro (from Runrunes)

The new planner in chief   has been a member of the Bolivarian Leadership since 2009, when he became Science and Technology Minister. He also worked as the President of the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities in 2010 and 2011.  From that job he moved to become the Minister of Industries.  Earlier this year he became Minister of Higher Education, a thankless job made very difficult by the strikes and demonstrations  by student bodies across the nation.

Photograph: Menendez shows off his planning skills 
(Correo del Orinoco)

Menendez´s  performance as Science and Technology Minister was heavily criticized by a Chavista-controlled National Assembly Commission in 2011, which called it “negligent”. In those days the National Assembly was led by Soto Rojas, an old communist guerrilla known to have close ties to Chávez and the Castro brothers.   Therefore, I have no reason to doubt Menéndez was negligent. And this doesn´t bode very well for whatever he does to try to pull Venezuela out of its current economic and social mess.

Photograph: Bolivarian Guard  "controls"
 protest at La Isabelica (Taringa.net)

The Planning Minister job was previously held by Jorge Giordani.  Giordani was fired from his post a week ago and proceeded to publish a letter in which he criticized President Maduro mercilessly. Imagine the man´s lack of respect for the Supreme Leader when he  accuses Maduro of  “a  lack of understanding of economic fact”.

To top it off Giordani claims “It is painful and alarming to see a presidency that does not convey leadership”  and adds  Maduro is  “destroying the work of institutions such as the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank”.

So what are we to make out of the “revolting” chairs in Caracas? It seems to me the regime is facing  the mother of internal crises. They have a communist faction pushing in one direction (Giordani, and other communists are in this group?). The other, what we may call fascist faction seems to include a motley crew….Rafael Ramirez, Diosdado Cabello and the Cubans are probably together forming  an odd arrangement of corrupt, pro-Cuban, and revisionist capitalist roaders. The opposition, which has  support from over 50 % of the population but lacks weapons and organization, sits outside the regime´s inner circles watching warily as Chavista factions line up for a dirty war.

In a recent interview on CNN, Dieterich said “the people´s dissatisfaction will force Maduro out of power, it won´t be the opposition, the people will force Maduro out”. What Dieterich didn´t describe in detail was the means “the people” could use to force Maduro out of power.  I don´t think the Cubans will let Maduro walk out of the Presidential palace voluntarily. They have put too much into Maduro, and this means violent opposition by Chavista ranks will be met by an even more violent response. This is why I mean by a dirty war. These guys are getting set up for an internal struggle which may mirror what happened in Argentina in the 1970´s, when the military dictatorship defeated the communist resistance movement.

Does this mean we may see “communist versus communist” dirty war? No. It has to be perfectly clear that Raul Castro is no longer a communist. Raul Castro is an old fascist dictator who fakes being communist. When the time comes, the Cubans will not hesitate to get rid of Venezuelan communists to make sure Venezuela returns to a semblance of normalcy with a more or less functioning economy. And this may have been the reason why Juancho Montoya was shot at La Candelaria on February 12th.

Photograph: Colectivo leader Juancho Montoya  complaining 
about Chavista corruption in a  video  made in his hideout 
 in 23 de Enero, Caracas (Reportero24)

Remember,  Maduro is Raul Castro´s puppet. The Cubans are in Venezuela up to their necks, and they have a lot at stake preserving Maduro in the presidency. And the Cubans know a lot about repression. So the key to Venezuela isn´t really in Caracas, the opposition, the protests, Maduro, or his supposed sidekick Cabello. The key is what happens in Havana.

And what do we know about Havana? Fidel Castro is dying of throat cancer, his influence is waning.

Photograph: Fidel Castro with Raul and 
Chavez in better days (The Guardian)  

This leaves Raul and his backers in charge. And Raul wants to copy the Chinese. Raul is a capitalist roader, and also wants to preserve the dictatorship. He also wants to control Venezuela so he can keep squeezing Venezuela´s oil fields. But for Venezuela to get squeezed and yield the cash flow Castro needs, it can´t be run by people like Maduro, Cabello, Menéndez or the others. The Cubans need a productive Venezuela, and that´s not going to happen with Maduro in charge.

 I suspect we will see the Venezuelan regime undergo drastic changes. Maduro may be kept as nominal head, but Raul Castro (or his designated viceroy) will have the last word. The Venezuelans will have to decide whether they live in a Cuban colony ruled by a fascist dictatorship in Havana, whether they want to fight, or whether they want to emigrate.  

Photograph: Cuban refugees arriving
 in the USA, now it´s the Venezuelans´turn 

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