Archive for September 8th, 2003

Good smoke signals come out of the CNE

September 8, 2003

 


Smoke was the only bad thing coming out of the CNE today, as the new Board was sending positive signals. Perhaps the best one was the strong statement y the CNE President on Chavez’ comments on the CNE from Havana. He said (page A-2 of El Nacional by subscription only): “The electoral power is independent and will not be below any other power or influenced by opinions even if they come from the President of the Republic. The decision we will make in the next few hours particularly on referenda, including the recall referenda for the President will be made in autonomous fashion.” Speaking directly to the President Carrasquero added: “Nobody has the power to morally condemn the CNE” in clear reference to Chavez saying in Havana that if the CNE approved the signatures in the current petition, it would be morally disqualified to organize any election.


 


Meanwhile, the CNE approved today, in unanimous fashion, the new internal regulations. This was a necessary step for the Electoral Board to make any decisions and the fact that it was unanimous was an excellent sign.


 


Meanwhile, President Hugo Chavez continued demonstrating that he does not understand democratic concepts, when he said in his Sunday address that he had called the President of the CNE to complain about the visit by the US Ambassador to Venezuela to that institution. Clearly, under the separation of powers, Chavez had no right to call the President of the CNE. Chavez called the visit a violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty and asked that the US Government cease its” interventionistic obsession”. Today Robert Noriega, the Subsecretary for the Western hemisphere defended the visit by the US Ambassador saying that” The US refuses to interfere with the internal affairs of Venezuela, but we are not disinterested spectators. Noriega added that Venezuela’s democracy is threatened.

Good smoke signals come out of the CNE

September 8, 2003

 


Smoke was the only bad thing coming out of the CNE today, as the new Board was sending positive signals. Perhaps the best one was the strong statement y the CNE President on Chavez’ comments on the CNE from Havana. He said (page A-2 of El Nacional by subscription only): “The electoral power is independent and will not be below any other power or influenced by opinions even if they come from the President of the Republic. The decision we will make in the next few hours particularly on referenda, including the recall referenda for the President will be made in autonomous fashion.” Speaking directly to the President Carrasquero added: “Nobody has the power to morally condemn the CNE” in clear reference to Chavez saying in Havana that if the CNE approved the signatures in the current petition, it would be morally disqualified to organize any election.


 


Meanwhile, the CNE approved today, in unanimous fashion, the new internal regulations. This was a necessary step for the Electoral Board to make any decisions and the fact that it was unanimous was an excellent sign.


 


Meanwhile, President Hugo Chavez continued demonstrating that he does not understand democratic concepts, when he said in his Sunday address that he had called the President of the CNE to complain about the visit by the US Ambassador to Venezuela to that institution. Clearly, under the separation of powers, Chavez had no right to call the President of the CNE. Chavez called the visit a violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty and asked that the US Government cease its” interventionistic obsession”. Today Robert Noriega, the Subsecretary for the Western hemisphere defended the visit by the US Ambassador saying that” The US refuses to interfere with the internal affairs of Venezuela, but we are not disinterested spectators. Noriega added that Venezuela’s democracy is threatened.

El Universal on the economy

September 8, 2003

 


Two articles with good, if depressing, content on the Venezuelan economy in local newspaper El Universal. First, in its front page editorial entitled “Special Interests” it says:


 


-In the last four years something very grave was added: the demential growth in internal public debt from 2.3 trillion bolivars in 1998 to 18.4 trillion bolivars today. This cocktail produces an amazing paradox: an economy that collapses by 18.9% in the first quarter, decimating thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of jobs and families, a drop in the lending portfolio of 35% in real terms, a growth in its expenses and late payments and an exchange control which serves as a financial “corral” and forcefully induces the growth in deposits. However, banks pays less for deposits, increases its public debt portfolio to 11.2 trillion bolivars against only 7.7 trillion in loans, but its earnings jump up 41% to 805 billion bolivars in the first half of the year while paying only 27 billion bolivars in taxes, and continues acquiring Government paper feeding the destructive machinery of a regime which will end in a maxi devaluation.


 


The numbers and concepts are reinforced inside in an interview with the vocal president of Banco Venezolano de Credito, Oscar Garcia Mendoza, who with his usual sharpness and humor says things like:


 


-To tell you the truth this is a Government that is a Robin Hood backwards, it takes from the poor to pay interest to the bankers and the rich, but it feels the brazenness need to say that it is a regimen for the needy”


 


-According to the Ministry of Finance last year interest payments on internal debt were 3.1 trillion bolivars, while expenditures in social security and health only reached 1.5 trillion bolivars.


 


-A perverse effect ahs been created, there ahs been complicity, camaraderie between the banking system and the Government to place internal debt in these amounts. The terrible thing is that the state does not invest those resources in recovering hospitals, new roads or improve the quality of life, it simply covers current expenditures, generates more corruption and initiates a demagogue policy to stay in power at any price”


 


-This Government is condemned to not pay or devalue.


 


-We visited the western part of the country and we verified that the pumps are idle; of thirteen ships six or seven are not working, the companies in the Orinoco belt says PDVSA is not providing them with sufficient chemicals for the mix and transport of the extra heavy crudes, wells are overproducing, and a member of the Central Bank Board says that income is not yet up moth normal levels.

Fire at Electoral Board an additional source of concern

September 8, 2003

The National Electoral Council has been at the center of attention for the last few months. On Thursday and Friday, inspections by the Attroney General’s office raised the ire of the opposition as two judges even attempted to take away some signatures from the consultative referendum which never took place (The judges have been denounced in the Supreme Court for exceeding their powers). On Friday, in an intriguing turn of events, the National Guard actually blocked the inspection attempt, while another Court did a visual inspection at the request of a Deputy from one of the parties which backs Hugo Chavez. Today, the tension continued or intensified as there was a fire at the building where the Electoral Board is, raising eyebrows among those that do not believe in coincidences (including me). Now, it may be  fortuitus, but you have to remember that most buildings here are made of brick and fires are much less common than in the US. Moreover, the clouds of smoke were huge and a couple of dozen members of Chavez’ “Bolivarian Circles” were there protesting from the moment the TV stations started broadcasting the fire. Reportedly, it was an electrical fire caused by a short-circuit, but the event makes everyone very uneasy. You can read the news about the fire here in English, or here and here in Spanish.

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