Archive for March 6th, 2003

Moises Naim in the NYT

March 6, 2003

Reading my brother’s blog I am reminded that I also wanted to provide a link to the excellent article in the NYT by Moises Naim on Venezuela called “Hugo Chavez and the limits of Democracy”. I particularly point to the following paragraph which is what I have been pointing out all along since I started my blog:


“It is a measure of Venezuela’s toxic political climate that even though the constitution allows for early elections, and even though President Chávez has promised that he will abide by this provision, the great majority of Venezuelans don’t believe him. They are convinced that in August, when the constitution contemplates a referendum on the president, the government will resort to delaying tactics and dirty tricks. With international attention elsewhere, Mr. Chávez will use his power to forestall an election and ignore the constitution.


Venezuela’s citizens have been heroically peaceful and civil in their quest. All they ask is that they be given a chance to vote. The world should do its best to ensure that they have that opportunity.”


To those that tell me today that why should I doubt that there will be a referendum in August, I remind them, there can be no elections today in Venezuela due to a decision on a technicality by the Chavez controlled Supreme Court. This blocks recall referenda on 30 Deputies, 10 Governors and dozens of Mayors, all Chavez supporters. Why would it be any different four months from now? We recall just four of those Deputies and Chavez’ project to expand the Supreme Court by ten Justices does not pass. Convenient, no?

Terrorism, Venezuela and Colombia

March 6, 2003

 


Up to now, I have not written much about links between the Venezuelan Government and terrorist groups. Much has been said about possible links between Chavez and the Colombian FARC or other Latin American terrorist groups. Or the charges against the Chavez Government by a former pilot of the Presidential plane that he was present when a million dollars was sent to Osama Bin Laden. But I have never seen much proof of this and thus, I have believed there is sufficiently going on locally, which is clear and transparent, that I do not have to resort to talking about inferences or evidence about which I know little about. Hugo Chavez has always been sympathetic to terrorist causes, but that does not make him a collaborator until proven so. In fact, he has publicly expressed this sympathy for terrorist groups and was initially non-committal when the World Trade Center was attacked. He was also the first Head of State to visit Saddam Hussein in Iraq eight years after the Kuwaiti invasion. (In fact, he once told the international press:” How was I supposed to know that no Head of State had visited Baghdad since the war, if I had known it, I would not have done it!”). Chavez did write a very supportive letter to Venezuelan terrorist Carlos “The Jackal” not long after his inauguration.


 


            But I can not ignore the events of the last two weeks and, in particular, the aggressiveness of the Colombian Government towards Hugo Chavez and Venezuela. Or the statements by US Gen. James Hill that Latin America may be becoming an attractive spot for terrorist groups to relocate, as reported in the Financial Times. (No link, I have no subscription and the article is now two days old).


 


            Last weekend, Colombian police reportedly told the Venezuelan Army (note the subtlety, the Army, not the Government, nor the police) about a truck carrying one thousand kilos of explosives towards Colombia, supposedly to blow up a bridge in the highway that joins the two countries. Now, you have to understand that the Venezuelan Government blames the opposition for everything, calling them terrorists. But in this case, those detained have not been referred to as terrorists by any Venezuelan Government official yet, as if two thousand pounds of explosives was simply candy. But Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was quite explicit and certainly not very diplomatic when he said that “he was ready to bring back terrorists that attack Colombia, whether they are in Venezuela or somewhere else”. Uribe insisted that terrorists are planning their attacks and hiding in Venezuela and he went even further saying that “the Venezuelan Government through actions or omissions has converted Venezuelan territory in safe haven for irregular groups”.


            All of this has met with swift criticism from various local sources. Former intelligence Head Eliezer Otaiza said that this is a preconceived plan to link the Venezuelan Government to terrorism, saying that as many as 13 foreign intelligence groups are operating within the Venezuelan borders to create a confrontation with Colombia (Otaiza has no official position in the Venezuelan Government right now). And Venezuelan Foreign Minsiter Chaderton said today there is a “massive” conspiracy against the Venezuelan Government, including in the conspiracy the letter written by US representatives asking Secretary of State Powell to invoke the Interamerican Democratic Charter of the OAS. Meanwhile, Gen. Manuel Rosendo, who only a year ago was a close Chavez loyalist, said today that Venezuelan policy towards terrorism suppresses the military defense of the country and he questions that the Army has done so little or said so little about the terrorists attacks on or from Venezuelan soil. Thus, something is clearly up. It is hard to believe that US and Colombian criticism is part of a conspiracy, least of all when three large bombs exploded in Venezuela in the last two weeks and the huge truckload of explosives was found within our territory. I don’t believe in coincidences and there are too many floating in the air on this issue.


 


 

Tale of two Pinochio’s

March 6, 2003

Two of the biggest liars in Venezuela Minister of Interior and Justice Rincon, who announced Chavez’ resignation last April and Hugo Chavez, contradicted themselves in public statemnets. Chavez said last Sunday in his nationwide program that they had videos of the bombers of the Spanish and Colombian Embassies. Well, he should have informed his Minsiter of the Inetrior about this as he said he knew absolutely nothing about it. Great, he is the man in charge of security and all police forces…..


Chavez continued his Pinochio act today when he said the country was producing 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, He closed by saying that he will not leave the Presidency until 2021, 18 years from now, which has no Constitutional basis, but you know, HE is the law after all.

How can the media be soooo bad?

March 6, 2003

Amazing how bad some news outlets can be about headlines. In this link, there is a news story about Venezuela’s February 5.5% inflation which is the highest monthly number since 7.1% in June 1996, but somehow it got twisted around to 7.1% in February 2003, nice headlining. Never seen anything that bad in any blog, no? 

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