Archive for March 24th, 2004

Extra! Ombudsman almost left me speechless

March 24, 2004

The People’s ombudsman almost left me speechless when he admitted today that there were excesses and cruel treatment on the part of military personnel during the protests on February 27th and the first few days of March.


That’s the good news; this guy said something negative about the Government for the first time in five years. It took 86 deaths in protests for him to say something. But then, he continues:


 


He recognized that there was excessive use of pellets, he criticized hitting people. Kicking them, however, civilians shot at the Guard (??) and one guard was hit by a bullet. He said these were isolated incidents a not a state policy and in Venezuela there is no line of cruel or inhuman treatment.


 


I see, one guard injured 14 opposition dead, seven missing, 8 tortured, 1750 injured and 450 detained in a few days….there is no pattern here, it is isolated, I hope I am not at the protest when there is one!

Extra! Ombudsman almost left me speechless

March 24, 2004

The People’s ombudsman almost left me speechless when he admitted today that there were excesses and cruel treatment on the part of military personnel during the protests on February 27th and the first few days of March.


That’s the good news; this guy said something negative about the Government for the first time in five years. It took 86 deaths in protests for him to say something. But then, he continues:


 


He recognized that there was excessive use of pellets, he criticized hitting people. Kicking them, however, civilians shot at the Guard (??) and one guard was hit by a bullet. He said these were isolated incidents a not a state policy and in Venezuela there is no line of cruel or inhuman treatment.


 


I see, one guard injured 14 opposition dead, seven missing, 8 tortured, 1750 injured and 450 detained in a few days….there is no pattern here, it is isolated, I hope I am not at the protest when there is one!

Venzuelan Diplomat resigns in protest

March 24, 2004

Venezuela’s former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Victor Rodriguez resigned today in protest over the violation of human rights and the loss of the rule of law in the country.


The Ambassador who had been part of the Foreign Service for thirty years said “we are losing the rule of law; we can not accept the violation and lack of respect for human rights. There is an enormous amount of concern because all fundamental rights are being violated, both civil and political rights of Venezuelans”


 


Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, immediately denied the resignation of the Ambassador, saying that Dr. Rodriguez is not an Ambassador and devotes himself to breeding cows in his farm in France.


We will keep you updated. By the way, the Foreign Minister did not reply to the charges about human rights violations, cows are more surreal.

Venzuelan Diplomat resigns in protest

March 24, 2004

Venezuela’s former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Victor Rodriguez resigned today in protest over the violation of human rights and the loss of the rule of law in the country.


The Ambassador who had been part of the Foreign Service for thirty years said “we are losing the rule of law; we can not accept the violation and lack of respect for human rights. There is an enormous amount of concern because all fundamental rights are being violated, both civil and political rights of Venezuelans”


 


Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, immediately denied the resignation of the Ambassador, saying that Dr. Rodriguez is not an Ambassador and devotes himself to breeding cows in his farm in France.


We will keep you updated. By the way, the Foreign Minister did not reply to the charges about human rights violations, cows are more surreal.

Primero Justicia denounces kidnapping and torture

March 24, 2004

Representatives from the Primero Justicia party went today to the Attorney General’s/Prosecutors office to denounce the kidnapping and torturing of three of its leaders. According to them, two of their leaders were kidnapped after the Mayor of Baruta, a municipality within Caracas, was ordered captured by the Prosecutors’ office. The two men were missing for two days and they were asked to reveal the whereabouts of Capriles as well as information about other leaders.


The men were kidnapped by eight men in a cab, who presumably belonged to the political police DISIP. Among the tortures used were the spraying strong insecticides inside their mouths, placing bags over their heads, hot pipes under the arms, they were hung from the ceiling; they were rolled inside a mattress and hit them with bats.


 


The two were released last night.

Guilty until proven innocent and other innovations by the Constitutional Hall

March 24, 2004

After listening to lawyers give opinions and criticisms of yesterday’s decision by the Constitutional Hall of the Supreme Court, here is a summary of the conclusions, as well as I can understand them:


-You are guilty until proven innocent: The decision says that the “good faith” principle as it is called in Spanish legalese, does not apply for this particular case. The Court actually says that this and the presumption of innocence (Art. 49) do not apply to “acts of political participation” and that will of those that sign is subject to the “inquisitive competence “of the CNE


 


-Violates the Constitutional attributes of the Electoral Hall: Article 297 says ““The jurisdiction over electoral matters will be exercised by the Electoral Hall”.


 


-Violates the principle of no retroactivity: The Constitution say nothing can be retroactive (Art. 24) the Constitutional Hall says the change in the rules never took place, that it was in the original regulations which is absolutely false.


 


-Violates the equilibrium of the Court: It violates the equilibrium principle that all Halls have the same hierarchy.


 


-Violates the Constitution on its jurisdiction: The Constitutional hall only has jurisdiction to revise a final decision (Article 336)


 


You have to wonder if these guys are even lawyers or have read the Constitution!

The confusing world of Roger Capella, a life devoted to health and freedom

March 24, 2004

Minister of Health Roger Capella is once again trying to confuse us, but I will not let him do it, that is what the Devil is here for. So here is the complete explanation, by placing all of you in the right frame of reference to understand it:


Minister Capella may sound confusing, but he is not. It is not easy when you are a medical doctor and spend your whole life removing varicose veins from lady’s legs in an enterprise more akin to a fast food outlet than the medical profession. It is quite lucrative, but you know, one varicose vein looks exactly like the next one, so after a 145,323 legs at 50 bucks a pop, you sort of get frustrated, and you have little purpose in life. It is sooo boring.


 


Then you are in your fifties, you are a nobody and you meet this charismatic guy who is running for President and you think maybe he can name you Director to some regional health office where you’ll do nothing and collect the salary, while you can hire a nurse to do your job and keep collecting the $25 bucks or is it $50? I forgot. You know beans about politics or health care, but it’s like one step towards retirement and you can make more money.


 


Then one day you realize that somehow all those competent people that run the Ministry are resigning, you don’t understand it well, and why would they abandon the process, this beautiful revolution? Everything is so cool in the revolution, people say hello to you, they invite you to parties and sometimes they even ask for your opinion. And you love the 18 year old Scotch. Of course, I try to keep quiet, since I know little about what they are asking. The best part however, is that you don’t have to stare at ugly varicose legs and see the blood and all that.


 


One day you hop on your car because they called you from Caracas, you hope the meeting will be brief, maybe catch a meal at one of those good Caracas Restaurants, before going back. You get to the Ministry; you are flabbergasted; they want me to be Vice-Minister! Imagine, you will have a car, move to Caracas and you will be important. Thanks God there is a Minister, you won’t have to talk to the press about things you know little about, like hospitals or healthcare, they will never ask about varicose veins anyway, which is all you really remember from med school. You don’t care about them; it’s just a way to make a living.


 


Finally, one fateful and horrendous day, you are having fun, banquet at the Palace and the charismatic guy, who no longer seems like he knows what he is doing, he approaches you and tells you the Minister is leaving, you think the dream is over, you will leave with her, when the President tells you that you are “it”. Like you are the man, the new Minister! Before you can say no, the President turns around and you are “it”, the brand new Minister of Health. Thanks God you have Directors to do the job, since you know little about healthcare. You just hope reporters will not ask too many questions.


 


Jesus! Here they come again to confuse me, the stupid Director of that Hospital fired a bunch of people for signing against the President and everyone wants to ask questions about why. Then you tell the reporters that if these people worked for the CIA they would be fired, they are terrorists. CIA? Oh shit! I said NASA, not CIA. I don’t even remember what NASA does. I am sure the gringos would fire them anyway.


 


I wake up early in the morning, the VP is calling asking me why the Hell I said such a stupid thing. He tells me I have to fire them, but not admit that I did it. I actually have to deny it. If we all say that, JV tells me, then it will become the truth. Happens all the time. Just watch, the VP says.


 


I go out and tell reporters that they misunderstood what I said; your words were taken out of context and tell them that it is those that conspire than cant keep their jobs. Shoot! The VP calls again so you go out, wow! Look how many reporters are here now! I tell them I am a nice guy, they go away, I am not sure what all I said, and this is very confusing.


 


I go to Maracaibo two days later and that stupid gringo named Shapiro says on the radio that at NASA, or was it the CIA? they would not fire anybody for political reasons. They fire their baseball managers all the time, I am a Mets fan, I know. They expect me to believe this. Glad I am here now, in Maracaibo, nobody knows about what I said in Caracas. It was private anyway.


 


Oh boy! First thing they ask is about the stupid firings again. How did they find out? This is very confusing, I tell them I will not retract, the terrorists, the violent and the conspirators will indeed be fired. I better switch topics. I start telling them about our good Cuban friends, the Doctors that came to fill the space the stupid Venezuelan Doctors did not want to occupy. I tell them the problem is that there are no General practitioners in Venezuela, so we need to train them. I tell them we need Doctors with mystique. Maybe a Graduate program for GP’s, that sounds good, no?. God, I hope they don’t know about my varicose past. Maybe I should just resign, this is getting more confusing everyday.

The confusing world of Roger Capella, a life devoted to health and freedom

March 24, 2004

Minister of Health Roger Capella is once again trying to confuse us, but I will not let him do it, that is what the Devil is here for. So here is the complete explanation, by placing all of you in the right frame of reference to understand it:


Minister Capella may sound confusing, but he is not. It is not easy when you are a medical doctor and spend your whole life removing varicose veins from lady’s legs in an enterprise more akin to a fast food outlet than the medical profession. It is quite lucrative, but you know, one varicose vein looks exactly like the next one, so after a 145,323 legs at 50 bucks a pop, you sort of get frustrated, and you have little purpose in life. It is sooo boring.


 


Then you are in your fifties, you are a nobody and you meet this charismatic guy who is running for President and you think maybe he can name you Director to some regional health office where you’ll do nothing and collect the salary, while you can hire a nurse to do your job and keep collecting the $25 bucks or is it $50? I forgot. You know beans about politics or health care, but it’s like one step towards retirement and you can make more money.


 


Then one day you realize that somehow all those competent people that run the Ministry are resigning, you don’t understand it well, and why would they abandon the process, this beautiful revolution? Everything is so cool in the revolution, people say hello to you, they invite you to parties and sometimes they even ask for your opinion. And you love the 18 year old Scotch. Of course, I try to keep quiet, since I know little about what they are asking. The best part however, is that you don’t have to stare at ugly varicose legs and see the blood and all that.


 


One day you hop on your car because they called you from Caracas, you hope the meeting will be brief, maybe catch a meal at one of those good Caracas Restaurants, before going back. You get to the Ministry; you are flabbergasted; they want me to be Vice-Minister! Imagine, you will have a car, move to Caracas and you will be important. Thanks God there is a Minister, you won’t have to talk to the press about things you know little about, like hospitals or healthcare, they will never ask about varicose veins anyway, which is all you really remember from med school. You don’t care about them; it’s just a way to make a living.


 


Finally, one fateful and horrendous day, you are having fun, banquet at the Palace and the charismatic guy, who no longer seems like he knows what he is doing, he approaches you and tells you the Minister is leaving, you think the dream is over, you will leave with her, when the President tells you that you are “it”. Like you are the man, the new Minister! Before you can say no, the President turns around and you are “it”, the brand new Minister of Health. Thanks God you have Directors to do the job, since you know little about healthcare. You just hope reporters will not ask too many questions.


 


Jesus! Here they come again to confuse me, the stupid Director of that Hospital fired a bunch of people for signing against the President and everyone wants to ask questions about why. Then you tell the reporters that if these people worked for the CIA they would be fired, they are terrorists. CIA? Oh shit! I said NASA, not CIA. I don’t even remember what NASA does. I am sure the gringos would fire them anyway.


 


I wake up early in the morning, the VP is calling asking me why the Hell I said such a stupid thing. He tells me I have to fire them, but not admit that I did it. I actually have to deny it. If we all say that, JV tells me, then it will become the truth. Happens all the time. Just watch, the VP says.


 


I go out and tell reporters that they misunderstood what I said; your words were taken out of context and tell them that it is those that conspire than cant keep their jobs. Shoot! The VP calls again so you go out, wow! Look how many reporters are here now! I tell them I am a nice guy, they go away, I am not sure what all I said, and this is very confusing.


 


I go to Maracaibo two days later and that stupid gringo named Shapiro says on the radio that at NASA, or was it the CIA? they would not fire anybody for political reasons. They fire their baseball managers all the time, I am a Mets fan, I know. They expect me to believe this. Glad I am here now, in Maracaibo, nobody knows about what I said in Caracas. It was private anyway.


 


Oh boy! First thing they ask is about the stupid firings again. How did they find out? This is very confusing, I tell them I will not retract, the terrorists, the violent and the conspirators will indeed be fired. I better switch topics. I start telling them about our good Cuban friends, the Doctors that came to fill the space the stupid Venezuelan Doctors did not want to occupy. I tell them the problem is that there are no General practitioners in Venezuela, so we need to train them. I tell them we need Doctors with mystique. Maybe a Graduate program for GP’s, that sounds good, no?. God, I hope they don’t know about my varicose past. Maybe I should just resign, this is getting more confusing everyday.

Another case of torture and repression from today’s Tal Cual

March 24, 2004

Hugo Chavez said in his next to last Sunday program that he wanted proof and names of the repression and torture. Since then, Tal Cual has been carrying a daily piece with the description of what someone went through. Some of them, I have seen elsewhere, but today they present the case of David Meneses, which I had not seen. What is remarkable is the similarity of the way people were terrorized and torture in the same fashion in various places around the country. Clearly, these techniques have been carefully been taught and implemented as suggested by Liliana Ortega of COFAVIC in her press conference last week. Here are some of the descriptions by Tal Cual:


When David Meneses observed the assault rifle that was pointing directly at him last March 1st., he understood in practice that theory that talks about the division in our country. No matter how eloquent it may be, the mouth of a politician is not as explicit as an assault rifle.


 


The protest against Hugo Chávez had taken over the Perimeter Ave. of San Antonio de Los Altos (a city 20 Km. from Caracas). It was 5:30 PM and David was ready to go to the drugstore where he works. On the way, he met a friend and they began talking about the ills of the country. Minutes later, their talk was interrupted by the violent apparition of the National Guard.


 


“The military arrived shooting their rifles, while people threw themselves on the ground. I ran so they would not grab me, however they trapped me and about seven guards started hitting me, kicking, hitting me with their rifles and sticks”, he remembers


 


“They threw me on the floor, face down, pointed the rifle at me and threatened to assassinate me”


 


The soldier that did that to me went away, placed his knee on the floor and warned me” Close your eyes that I am going to kill you” With my chest on the asphalt and the arms extended, I heard how one of the guards mates that had the weapon recommended the other one that he not press the trigger to avoid problems.


 


“Later, he told me to put a helmet on me before shooting at me, and he did it. Another military lifted me and the one that had the rifle took out a pistol that shoots pellets and fired twice, hurting my legs”


 


Another military sprayed itching powder on him and hit him on the back of his neck, while lying on the street. He was moved. They put him in a National Guard truck with six others. ‘A soldier told me to get out and I told him to please not him me anymore, nevertheless, once I got out they started hitting me again”


 


The soldier hitting him only stops when another one approaches and tells him: Leave him alone”. That same Guard “told me to take my pants off and another Guard said: are you going to rape him right here? And he made it clear he just wanted to hit me directly. Then he grabbed a wooden stick and broke it on my back. “Damn you broke it, he told me” and he got out one made of iron. I asked him not to hit me, that he was going to kill me and the aggressor said” Turn around or I will brake your head with this’


 


The soldier was not true to his word. According to the doctors five millimeters to the side and David would have had his skull broken. “They insulted me, told me I was a squalid and swearing that nobody would ever overthrow Chavez”


 


Later they took us away.


 


“They threw us on the ground and hit us again. A soldier pointed the rifle and screamed” Don’t run that we are going to shoot you. They placed us against the wall and they hit us with their wooden sticks in the back of our legs”


 


‘The officer told us they  would let us go, but then a Guard arrived who supposedly had been hit by a marble on the chest and said ‘These damn assholes are going to pay” And they hit us again.


 


They stole his wallet, watch and cell phone.

Another case of torture and repression from today’s Tal Cual

March 24, 2004

Hugo Chavez said in his next to last Sunday program that he wanted proof and names of the repression and torture. Since then, Tal Cual has been carrying a daily piece with the description of what someone went through. Some of them, I have seen elsewhere, but today they present the case of David Meneses, which I had not seen. What is remarkable is the similarity of the way people were terrorized and torture in the same fashion in various places around the country. Clearly, these techniques have been carefully been taught and implemented as suggested by Liliana Ortega of COFAVIC in her press conference last week. Here are some of the descriptions by Tal Cual:


When David Meneses observed the assault rifle that was pointing directly at him last March 1st., he understood in practice that theory that talks about the division in our country. No matter how eloquent it may be, the mouth of a politician is not as explicit as an assault rifle.


 


The protest against Hugo Chávez had taken over the Perimeter Ave. of San Antonio de Los Altos (a city 20 Km. from Caracas). It was 5:30 PM and David was ready to go to the drugstore where he works. On the way, he met a friend and they began talking about the ills of the country. Minutes later, their talk was interrupted by the violent apparition of the National Guard.


 


“The military arrived shooting their rifles, while people threw themselves on the ground. I ran so they would not grab me, however they trapped me and about seven guards started hitting me, kicking, hitting me with their rifles and sticks”, he remembers


 


“They threw me on the floor, face down, pointed the rifle at me and threatened to assassinate me”


 


The soldier that did that to me went away, placed his knee on the floor and warned me” Close your eyes that I am going to kill you” With my chest on the asphalt and the arms extended, I heard how one of the guards mates that had the weapon recommended the other one that he not press the trigger to avoid problems.


 


“Later, he told me to put a helmet on me before shooting at me, and he did it. Another military lifted me and the one that had the rifle took out a pistol that shoots pellets and fired twice, hurting my legs”


 


Another military sprayed itching powder on him and hit him on the back of his neck, while lying on the street. He was moved. They put him in a National Guard truck with six others. ‘A soldier told me to get out and I told him to please not him me anymore, nevertheless, once I got out they started hitting me again”


 


The soldier hitting him only stops when another one approaches and tells him: Leave him alone”. That same Guard “told me to take my pants off and another Guard said: are you going to rape him right here? And he made it clear he just wanted to hit me directly. Then he grabbed a wooden stick and broke it on my back. “Damn you broke it, he told me” and he got out one made of iron. I asked him not to hit me, that he was going to kill me and the aggressor said” Turn around or I will brake your head with this’


 


The soldier was not true to his word. According to the doctors five millimeters to the side and David would have had his skull broken. “They insulted me, told me I was a squalid and swearing that nobody would ever overthrow Chavez”


 


Later they took us away.


 


“They threw us on the ground and hit us again. A soldier pointed the rifle and screamed” Don’t run that we are going to shoot you. They placed us against the wall and they hit us with their wooden sticks in the back of our legs”


 


‘The officer told us they  would let us go, but then a Guard arrived who supposedly had been hit by a marble on the chest and said ‘These damn assholes are going to pay” And they hit us again.


 


They stole his wallet, watch and cell phone.

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