Venezuela on a collision course

September 24, 2002

Two weeks ago the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez came back from Johannesburg and on his way back stopped at Havana, Cuba in what was then called a”technical stop” which turned out to be a nine hour meeting with Fidel Castro. Since then the President has been extremely aggresive indicating that he obviously cooked up a plan at that meeting which is now being executed. It si unclear what type of confrontation Chavez is looking for, what is clear is that if he wins this round, I may not be able to continue writing freely in this blog. Here are the things Chavez has done since he came back ten days ago:


-Attacked the private banking sector calling it a “wonderful” idea for people to remove their deposits from private banks and taking them to Government owned banks.


-Attacked the media calling the “garbage:”, saying the media has no ethics.


-Issued a decree declaring certain areas of Caracas around military bases, security areas. This was done the day before an authorize demonstartion was to take place in teh city enar a military base. A peaceful, legal demonstartion was violently repressed by the National Guard using tear gas and small pellets. The demonstartion was composed mostly of middle aged women.


-The Government’s attorney announced that it had drafted a decree expropriating any companies that join a general strike that is being called. by the private sector and worker’s unions,for the beginning of October.


Thus, the country is on a collision course. It is clear (to me at least) that if the military takes sides, that side will win the confrontation. What is not clear is if the President will get rid of all the military that oppose him before the showdown takes place.


 

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