Archive for September, 2003

Intelligence Police raids Court

September 23, 2003

Venezuelan Intelligence police raided the First Administrative Circuit Court considered to be the most professional Court in Venezuela. The Court has been severely criticized by Chavez because it ruled that Cuban medical doctors should cease working in the country without passing the medical equivalency test. The issue is over the fact that the driver for the Court’s President was detained last week with a case folder in his car without authorization. The Justice has said he sent the driver to deliver the file. Amazing how much is made of this political case and we have yet to hear about any investigation of the eight people killed at the funeral of a gang violence victim last weekend.

California recall to proceed

September 23, 2003

As I predicted, the recall in California will proceed and the issue was resolved very quickly, unlikey the Venezuelan case. On ruling the Federal Appeals Court said:


“the State of California and its citizens will suffer material hardship by virtue of the enormous resources already invested in reliance on the election’s proceeding on the announced date”


That is what happens in a working Democracy with checks and balances and solid institutions, what is important remains important. Not like here…..The ACLU said it will not appeal.

The timeline for decisions on referenda in Venezuela in the last nine months

September 22, 2003

 


We Venezuelans are very involved with the day to day going ons of the politics of our country. But try to imagine you did not know anything about Venezuela and what has happened and someone told you the following timeline for our requests for referenda during the last year:


 


-January: Opposition gathers the required signatures for a consultative referendum as allowed by the country’s Constitution on any important issue. The issue: Do you agree with the President’s handling of the country?


Result: Supreme Court Rules that the Electoral Board can only make decisions with four votes out of the five members. Given that one of them is pro-Chavez this would be impossible.


 


-February: An alternate member of the electoral Board who had resigned announces that since his resignation was never accepted by the National Assembly he will rejoin the Board.


Result: Supreme Court rules that he can not occupy the position and that the Electoral Board can fulfill all its duties but organize elections until a new Board is selected by the National Assembly. (Note, the Court never said the consultative referendum was not legal)


 


-February: Opposition gathers over the 20% of signatures necessary for a recall referendum which can not be requested until August.


 


-August: The President-controlled National Assembly fails to name the new Electoral Board, the Supreme Court steps in and a Board is named.


 


-August: Opposition turns in the signatures for the recall referendum


 


-September: New Electoral Board rejects the more than there million signatures requesting the referendum. The arguments: Badly posed question, untimely gathering of signatures and organization that collected signatures has no legal status to do it.


 


-September: New Electoral Board drafts regulations which would imply the recall referendum may not take place for at least seven moths.


 


What’s next? Is this reasonable? Isn’t there a pattern here? Is the world so stupid? Are we so stupid? You be the judge

The timeline for decisions on referenda in Venezuela in the last nine months

September 22, 2003

 


We Venezuelans are very involved with the day to day going ons of the politics of our country. But try to imagine you did not know anything about Venezuela and what has happened and someone told you the following timeline for our requests for referenda during the last year:


 


-January: Opposition gathers the required signatures for a consultative referendum as allowed by the country’s Constitution on any important issue. The issue: Do you agree with the President’s handling of the country?


Result: Supreme Court Rules that the Electoral Board can only make decisions with four votes out of the five members. Given that one of them is pro-Chavez this would be impossible.


 


-February: An alternate member of the electoral Board who had resigned announces that since his resignation was never accepted by the National Assembly he will rejoin the Board.


Result: Supreme Court rules that he can not occupy the position and that the Electoral Board can fulfill all its duties but organize elections until a new Board is selected by the National Assembly. (Note, the Court never said the consultative referendum was not legal)


 


-February: Opposition gathers over the 20% of signatures necessary for a recall referendum which can not be requested until August.


 


-August: The President-controlled National Assembly fails to name the new Electoral Board, the Supreme Court steps in and a Board is named.


 


-August: Opposition turns in the signatures for the recall referendum


 


-September: New Electoral Board rejects the more than there million signatures requesting the referendum. The arguments: Badly posed question, untimely gathering of signatures and organization that collected signatures has no legal status to do it.


 


-September: New Electoral Board drafts regulations which would imply the recall referendum may not take place for at least seven moths.


 


What’s next? Is this reasonable? Isn’t there a pattern here? Is the world so stupid? Are we so stupid? You be the judge

Who do you think is the criminal here?

September 22, 2003


A former worker of PDVSA, Wilmer Rangel, was taking pictures of an oil spill on Monday September 15th. 2003 in the company of his wife. They are both detained and freed four days later. They are released on the conditions that:


 


-They have to visit the Court every fifteen days.


-They are prohibited from being close to where the “crime” took place and from all oil industry facilities.


-They can not leave the country without express authorization from the Court.


 


Who is the criminal here?

Four bits of oil

September 20, 2003

-Venezuela has suspended supplying the Dominican Republic with oil under the San Jose accord. According to the Minister of Energy and Mines:  “We will not allow our oil to finance terrorism, as  is happening right here in Venezuela”. This all refers to the “plot” to overthrow Chavez by former President Carlos Andres Perrez with the collaboration of the President of the Dominican Republic, something for which we have seen no evidence. But I wonder if our esteemed Minister of Energy Ramirez has mush for a brain and forgot that we provide Cuba with 2.5% of the country’s daily oil production, financed at a 4% rate for fifteen years. Is he also going to cut that off? Or is he so stupid that he can not distinguish from any terrorism and what Fidel Castro does every day here, there and in his own country?


-The Venezuelan Government announced that it will not recognize the Iraqi representative at the upcoming OPEC meeting. All Arab countries will recognize it, which goes to show what I have always said: Why are we members of OPEC? We do not understand our partners, they are our competitors and they really limit the sovereignty of our country.


-The Minister of Energy and Mines announced that the oil field Tomoporo will be opened for bids from foreign companies to operate it. This field is the most promising discovered in decades and is expected to produce half a million barrels of oil a day by 2010. Clearly this “nationalistic” Government has the idea of running an oil industry under the “toll booth” concept in which the Government charges a tax and foreigners run the operation. How nationalistic, no?


-Oil production Figures: The Government says we are producing 3.2 million barrels of oil a day, above the OPEC quota of 2.95 barrels of oil per day. However, other sources say:


OPEC: 2.57 million barrels of oil a day.


International Energy Agency: 2.25 million barrels of oil a day.


Energy Information Administration: 2.35 millions of barrels of oil a day


Gente del Petroleo: 2.61 millions of barrels of oil a day


Interesting how those fired from the oil industry provide the most optimistic picture, no?

Four bits of oil

September 20, 2003

-Venezuela has suspended supplying the Dominican Republic with oil under the San Jose accord. According to the Minister of Energy and Mines:  “We will not allow our oil to finance terrorism, as  is happening right here in Venezuela”. This all refers to the “plot” to overthrow Chavez by former President Carlos Andres Perrez with the collaboration of the President of the Dominican Republic, something for which we have seen no evidence. But I wonder if our esteemed Minister of Energy Ramirez has mush for a brain and forgot that we provide Cuba with 2.5% of the country’s daily oil production, financed at a 4% rate for fifteen years. Is he also going to cut that off? Or is he so stupid that he can not distinguish from any terrorism and what Fidel Castro does every day here, there and in his own country?


-The Venezuelan Government announced that it will not recognize the Iraqi representative at the upcoming OPEC meeting. All Arab countries will recognize it, which goes to show what I have always said: Why are we members of OPEC? We do not understand our partners, they are our competitors and they really limit the sovereignty of our country.


-The Minister of Energy and Mines announced that the oil field Tomoporo will be opened for bids from foreign companies to operate it. This field is the most promising discovered in decades and is expected to produce half a million barrels of oil a day by 2010. Clearly this “nationalistic” Government has the idea of running an oil industry under the “toll booth” concept in which the Government charges a tax and foreigners run the operation. How nationalistic, no?


-Oil production Figures: The Government says we are producing 3.2 million barrels of oil a day, above the OPEC quota of 2.95 barrels of oil per day. However, other sources say:


OPEC: 2.57 million barrels of oil a day.


International Energy Agency: 2.25 million barrels of oil a day.


Energy Information Administration: 2.35 millions of barrels of oil a day


Gente del Petroleo: 2.61 millions of barrels of oil a day


Interesting how those fired from the oil industry provide the most optimistic picture, no?

Letter on Cuba by Vaclac Havel, Arpad Goncz and Lech Walesa

September 20, 2003

Thanks to Scott’s Burtonterrace I read the letter/opinion in the Washington Post also in the UK’s Daily Telegraph as linked by the Instapundit also, which is written by Vaclav Havel, Former President of the Czech Republic, Arpad Göncz, Former President of Hungary, Lech Walesa, Former President of Poland, I wonder if someone will disqualify them as rightwingers for writing this:


Earlier this year, Fidel Castro’s regime imprisoned 75 representatives of the Cuban opposition. More than 40 co-ordinators of the Varela project – which draws on the current Cuban constitution and calls for the holding of a referendum on the freedom of speech and assembly, the release of political prisoners, free enterprise and free elections – and more than 20 journalists, together with other representatives of various pro-democracy movements, were sentenced in mock trials to prison terms ranging from six to 28 years, merely for daring to express an opinion other than the official one.

Yet the voice of free-thinking Cubans is growing louder, and that is precisely what Castro and his government are justifiably worried about. Despite the omnipresent secret police and government propaganda, thousands of Cubans have already demonstrated their courage by signing project Varela. The regime’s response to project Varela, and similar initiatives, is at best disregard and at worst persecution.

The latest wave of confrontations, accompanied by anti-European diatribes from the Cuban political leadership, is an expression of weakness and desperation. The regime is running short of breath, just as the party rulers in the Iron Curtain countries did at the end of the 1980s.

Internal opposition is growing in strength; even the police raids in March failed to bring it to its knees. The times are changing, the revolution is ageing with its leaders, the regime is nervous. Castro knows only too well that there will come a day when his revolution will perish with himself.

No one knows exactly what will happen then, but it is clear in Brussels, Washington, Mexico, among the exiles as well as Cuban residents themselves, that freedom, democracy and prosperity in Cuba depend on support for Cuban dissidents, and that such support will increase the chances of Cuba’s peaceful transition to democracy.

Today, it is the responsibility of the democratic world to support representatives of the Cuban opposition, irrespective of how long the Cuban Stalinists manage to cling to power. The Cuban opposition must enjoy the same international support as political dissidents did in divided Europe.

It cannot be claimed that the American embargo of Cuba has brought about the desired result. Neither can this be said of the European policy, which has so far been considerably more forthcoming towards the Cuban regime.

It is time to put aside transatlantic disputes about the embargo of Cuba and to concentrate on direct support for Cuban dissidents, prisoners of conscience and their families.

Europe ought to make it unambiguously clear that Castro is a dictator, and that for democratic countries a dictatorship cannot become a partner until it commences a process of political liberalisation.

At the same time, European countries should establish a “Cuban Democracy Fund” to support the emergence of a civil society in Cuba. Such a fund would be ready for instant use in the case of political changes on the island.

Europe’s peaceful transitions from dictatorship to democracy, first in Spain and later in the East, have been an inspiration for the Cuban opposition, so Europe should not hesitate now. Its own history obliges it to act.

Opposition presents draft for regulations

September 19, 2003

By preparing such a ludicrous draft of the proposed regulation for the recall referendum, the CNE has lost a lot of credibility and the draft, which contained numerours violations of the law has been deemed “useless” by the opposition. The democratic coordinator presented today a very simple set of regulations with fifteen articles which it wants to become the starting point of the new discussion in the CNE next Tuesday. This puts the CNE on the spot and may help discard most of the previous proposal.

Daniel shows Chavez’ economic failure

September 19, 2003

Daniel of Danielnews has prepared a power point presentation with the main economic numbers of the Chavez era, demonstarting the failure of his policies in a very simple and straightforward way. .

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