What is expected to be the most spectacular meteor shower in the next thirty years has already begun. The Leonid meteor shower which should peak between Monday night and early next Tuesday according to space.com. Worth watching if you can stay up late.
Archive for November 14th, 2002
The city of Caracas was tense tonight as the General which commands Caracas sent an “urgent” call to all municipal police forces to jointly patrol the city. As of right now, municipal authorities are refusing to obey the order.
The cynicism of Chavez and his supporters can be shown by the events of today. Last night the Mayor of the Metropolitan area, Alfredo Peńa, was threatened by a mob led by Deputy Iris Varela who was heard clearly saying “Kill him, kill him” on a TV tape broadcast this morning. While I dont have a copy of the tape, here is a picture of Ms. Varela while this was happening, the bald man in the bottom right is Mayor Peńa.
Well, despite this Ms. Varela denies having threatened the Mayor saying “I have never used those terms, I am not an assasin like him”. Meanwhile, the President of the National Assembly William Lara said “I do not know about it..I refuse to believe that such a thing may have happened…”. To top it all off, a group of MVR Deputies, which includes Ms. Varela asked the Gaviria commission to condemn the violence of Mayor Peńa. This is the cyniscism that Venezuelans have witnessed for the last three and a half years and which now international observers, such as Cesar Gaviria, are beginning to understand and experience firsthand.
In an extremely important victory for the opposition, the Comision Nacional Electoral (CNE) approved the question posed in the referendum requested by more tha two million Venezuelans on Nov. 4th. The CNE considered that the question is clear and can be answered simply by a Yes or No vote as required. According to the CNE the question is not a recall question as it asks the President to voluntarily resign and thus is not binding.
The decision places the ball on the Government’s court, pressuring the Chavez administration to go along with the referendum or reveal its true undemocratic character. Its reaction will decide the dynamics in Venezuelan politics for weeks to come. Up to now, the Governmnet had always said that the referendum was not Constitutional, refusing to accept the possibility of having it take place.
(For those that like legalese here is the link to the legal opinion of the CNE’s lawyer)
This is the letter by the dissident military officers to Rep. Henry Hyde (courtesy of Antonio Guzman Blanco)
The Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Congress of the United States of America
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-1306
Dear Mr. Hyde,
At a time of extreme political conflict and anxiety for the future of our nation we, the undersigned, want to express our gratitude regarding the accurate and thorough briefing you have given the President of the United States, Mr. George W. Bush, as per your letter dated October 24th, 2002.
We avail ourselves of this opportunity to voice our profound concern about what seems to be the perception of the Secretary General of the OAS, Cesar Gaviria, regarding the current political situation in Venezuela where the opposition has carried out a three year campaign to prevent the President from destroying our complete system of democratic institutions and at this time a group of high ranking, active members of the armed forces have acted in support of the civic society in “civil disobedience” under the protection of Art. 350 of the constitution which specifically gives us that right. For your information we include the text.
In no uncertain terms, Mr. Gaviria has warned these democratically oriented opposition groups confronting the government of President Hugo Chavez, to abide by constitutionally sound methods and measures, in a struggle to achieve the changes we are demanding, thus misrepresenting the very essence of that struggle. Its objective is, precisely, to find a constitutionally valid mechanism or alternative, for returning to the path of peace, democracy and the rule of law, lost in the hands of Hugo Chavez, a President democratically elected and turned autocrat well on his way to imposing a totalitarian project rejected by a society bred in representative democracy, pluralism, human rights, and all the benefits that such a system guarantees.
The democratically oriented Venezuelan opposition is also acutely concerned about the negative image that has taken root in the international opinion. According to that trend, any opposition movement, regardless of the soundness of the reasons for the actions undertaken and the legitimate means and instruments being used, is being labeled as actions of coupsters and plotters. Such a self-defeating notion makes more difficult the task of retuning the country to a truly democratic form of government far it gives the inherent autocracy of Mr. Hugo Chavez.
In view of his many blunders and outright abuses, well known by the international community, as a sweetener for the US in the face of uncertainties of fundamental oil supplies due to the mounting crisis with Iraq and most probably with other Arab countries, Mr. Chavez is supposed to have guaranteed President Bush, reliable oil shipments to the United States for the next twenty years. Should that be the only concern of the United States government concerning the instability of the region, and the current conflicts within our borders, that concern is being used, by the ever present and active enemies of the American dream, against the very principles which define, worldwide, the democratic essence of the American nation as opposed to pure and simple business interests and greed. But please be advised that, Venezuela, whoever may be acting as its president, cannot and will not of its own accord, suspend shipments to its most reliable and traditional customer, the United States. Venezuela’s development and well being have depended and will depend in the future, precisely, in the continued sale of petroleum to the US. Furthermore, CITGO, perhaps one of the biggest and most profitable retailers of gasoline and lubricants in the United States, belongs one hundred percent to the state owned Petroleos de Venezuela, and CITGO depends very heavily on oil imports from Venezuela. As you can very well understand, Mr. Hyde, Chavez guarantee has no specific weight. It is only a decoy, and a very obvious one at that!
Once again, all of us, firmly engaged in opposing the autocratic government of Hugo Chavez, appreciate deeply and very sincerely, your letter to President George W. Bush and, your accurate and precise perceptions reflected in the text. And…should you investigate further into the matter of this regime and its ties with forces attached to the extreme and very radical leftist movements within our borders and abroad, you’ll find the connection with Castro’s revolution and his most dedicated and desperate efforts to consolidate it in the subcontinent as a whole before his death.
Mr. Representative, expressing our gratitude, we avail ourselves of the opportunity to reiterate our esteem and consideration.
G/D Enrique Medina Gómez V/A Héctor Ramírez Pérez
G/B Pedro Pereira Olivares G/B Carlos Alfonso Martínez
G/B Néstor González González
Rep. Henry Hyde sent the following letter to Georgr Bush, asking the President of the US to support to the democratic opposition
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Bush:
At the present time in Venezuela the leadership of all the pro-democracy elements of the society including the genuinely democratic political parties, the labor unions, business associations, and religious institutions have been gathered for two days in coalition with a group of active duty military officers of flag rank demanding that President Hugo Chavez resign and that new, free and open elections be held. Most of the Venezuelan media is overwhelmingly supportive of this endeavor, even though it has received little attention here.
This broad prodemocratic coalition seeks to rescue Venezuela from the grip of a president who, though democratically elected in December 1998, has since his inauguration done three things that have gravely harmed Venezuelan political democracy and which have threatened the well-being and security of people in neighboring democratic countries as well as to the United States.
The public record is clear that President Chavez has done the following:
1. Violated the constitution of Venezuela in force 1999, his first year in office, in two fundamental ways: by having the Constituent Assembly, which had the sole legal function of writing a new constitution, usurp the powers of both the elected National Congress and the existing Supreme Court; further Chavez packed the Constituent Assembly with his supporters who, though winning only 42% of the votes, were mysteriously allocated 93% of the seats. The Clinton Administration remained silent about this.
2. Forged public alliances with state sponsors of terrorism including Cuba, Iraq, and Iran, and provided since October 2000 subsidized oil to Cuba, enabling the Castro regime to obtain more than US $2 billion which it could use to support terrorism.
3. Supported terrorist organizations attacking nearby fragile democracies including the FARC in Colombia and radical anti-democratic groups seeking to destabilize Bolivia and Ecuador. This included clandestine support for Colonel Gutierrez and pro-Castro radicals who briefly overthrew the democratic government of Ecuador in January 2000. Colonel Gutierrez is now a leading candidate for the presidency in Ecuador and would likely follow in the pro-Castro path of Chavez.
The Clinton Administration remained unconscionably silent about the antidemocratic actions of President Chavez. This is the time for the Bush administration to set the factual and historical record straight: the current regime of President Chavez is illegitimate because it is based upon the systematic violation of the Venezuelan constitution in force in 1999. The Bush administration should also declare itself in sympathy with the pro-democratic civil-military coalition in Venezuela which seeks to restore democracy and should do so at once.
It is noteworthy that the prodemocratic civil-military coalition in Venezuela has made the case that under Article 305 of the current Chavez constitution, the military actions of “legitimate disobedience” and the political association and assembly of parties, labor unions, business associations and other groups of Venezuelan civil society calling for the immediate resignation of Chavez is totally constitutional and proper.
In neighboring Brazil, there is a presidential runoff election that will be held on Sunday, October 27, 2002. At present, the leading candidate is Mr. Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who is a pro-Castro radical who for electoral purposes has posed as a moderate. Recently, many of my colleagues in the Congress wrote you a letter in which they expressed their concerns about the ten-year long association of Mr. Lula da Silva with Latin American, European, and Middle Eastern terrorist organizations in a forum which he convened and organized in silent partnership with Castro. They also expressed their concern about Mr. Lula da Silva’s recent statements indicating an interest in reviving Brazil’s nuclear weapons program which from 1965-1994 not only wasted enormous resources that could have helped the poor, but also succeeded in designing a 30 kiloton nuclear bomb which could be quickly tested if the program were revived.
There is a real prospect that Castro, Chavez, and Lula da Siva could constitute an axis of evil in the Americas which might soon have nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles (which Brazil had developed ended in 1990). This is the time to support the prodemocratic coalition in Venezuela and to help the people of Brazil understand the truth about Chavez so that they do not make a similar mistake and elect another pro-Castro radical who will neither help the poor, nor help their economy, nor live at peace with democratic neighbors.
Very truly yours
Henry J. Hyde
An article in the Miami Herald describes well what has happened to the Government’s intelligence police under Chavez. While it may seem funny at first glance, it becomes tragic when one realizes that this is just one example of what Chavez has done to the Government structure in Venezuela.
Very good article in Adorama about when does a digital camera becomes as good as a 35 mm camera. More importantly, the article is not qualitative but actually quantitative, for those like me that are scientifically inclined. Additionally, there is a very good discussion as to how pixels in a digital cameras work and why there are artifacts. The discussion includes the Foveon technology that I have posted on before. The conclusion is that digital cameras are already as good as a 35 mm film camera, but those that are that good are very expensive. You can actually see the correlation between resolution and price. There is a very good link to a japanese website that compares pictures taken with the top of the line Canon EOS digital cameras where one can see that the quantative results correlate with the quality of the pictures.