<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> E-Mail From Maracaibo


02 JUN 2007

“Hi Chuck,

“I am sure you have been following the events taking place in Venezuela these past weeks in regard to the shutting down of Radio Caracas and the threats against the last remaining anti-Chavez TV station Globalvision. The people are very angry about the loss of free speech which is taking place here...

“I just wanted to give you an update from inside Maracaibo. We are returning to the US in 3 weeks and can't wait to get out of this ticking time bomb. Tension between the Opposition and the Chavistas is rising rapidly. The people have become more hateful and aggressive. They feel sickened and hopeless about the state of their country and abandoned by the international community. The Chavistas have become more aggressive and Chavez is telling them not to let anyone stop his socialist agenda. They have taken to the streets to fight the protesters they get braver and stronger every day.

“Many people are trying to sell their investment property such as vacation homes or apartments because Chavez announced that if you have more than one house,"we will take one and give it to a poor family without a home". Rental property for the foreign workers is very hard to find since everyone is selling to avoid losing property to the government. The people are buying cars to invest in instead since they appreciate in value here and no mention of confiscating cars has been made. One Chevrolet dealer in Maracaibo told my friend he is selling 3000 vehicles a month and still has waiting lists. There are so many cars on the road now the streets are congested with angry, aggressive drivers and traffic is very chaotic and dangerous. I have been involved in 4 wrecks in the past 2 years here, thankfully not major ones. In the US I was only involved in 2 wrecks in 30 years.

“There are price controls on about 35% of the food supply so those items have almost totally disappeared from the shelves and are now being sold on the black market for 2 or 3 times the price, usually by government officials who have confiscated the goods on the grounds they are damaged. Beef, Chicken, eggs, sugar, milk, cooking oil, etc are very hard to find and go fast when they do appear. Chavez has created a crisis with the food supply and has warned that he will take over the grocery stores because of the crisis. He is also threatening to take over the banks. He has control of the phone system now since he took over CANTv and in Caracas he took the electric company. He has taken over several private hospitals and clinics and run the doctors out. He is advocating that any workers who think the company they work for is not being run correctly, demand to see the financial records of the company and if they see fit, physically take over the company and throw out the owners/managers. He has created a class of people consisting of the poor who think the rest of the country has been stealing from them, and thugs who just want to steal instead of work for a living, that are terrorizing the country. Those are his followers. Hundreds of them are buying property in Miami with the money Chavez gives them! Look out Miami.

“Democracy is dying a painful death here and it is sad to witness. I predict that within 18 months the whole country will either be in riots and street violence or the people will have given up and Communism will rule. The new name of Venezuela is The Socialist Republic of Venezuela. How long until it is The Communist Republic of Venezuela?

“I know some South Americans, Brazilians and Argentinians that work for Petroleum Service companies and are expats here. They have children born in Venezuela and are having problems getting visas to get out of the country because all children born in Venezuela now belong to the state. The state is supposedly listed as the father on the birth certificates now and all parents must get permission from the state to take their children out of the country.

“Chevron and Shell have relocated the majority of their employees out of the Country and are keeping the least amount of people they can to oversee operations here. The expat community in Maracaibo is very small. There are only a few expat children at EBV now, maybe 8-10 in all 13 grades. This is a good time to be getting out.

“Best Regards to you and your family,”
(Name Withheld)