Archive for May 9th, 2004

The implausible story of the unarmed paramilitary captured right outside Caracas

May 9, 2004

Now, this story is very confusing so I will not comment too much on it, but my title tells you what I think right now:


-Last night, the Government captured a group of 55 Colombian paramilitary in a farm in El Hatillo, right outside Caracas. Since then, an additional group has been captured and the number reaches 71.


 


-The members of this paramilitary group were dressed in military fatigues but had no weapons.


 


-The Mayor of El Hatillo showed a video when a joint operation with the Metropolitan police detected the presence of the paramilitary group being transported in buses.


 


-The intelligence police said there was no participation by either the El Hatillo police or the Metropolitan police. They charged that these groups were related to the opposition.


 


-Chavez said the Government had given a “blow to the liver” of coupsters and terrorists, revived that they are planning to kill him and the US is involved. He also said the Governor of Zulia State Manuel Rosales is trying to kill him.


 


-The opposition Mayor of nearby Baruta said “this smells like a show and a ridiculous one at that”


 


-The intelligence police has requested that a bunch of “well-known” people be captured because they are associated with the case. This includes “some businessmen and some retired military officers”. He also said this group and the owner of the farm are related to the “Guarimba” plan which never materialized by which neighbors were going to shutdown streets two weeks ago. The Government claims this was an opposition plan, but so far, all that is known is that an e-mail circulated calling for this action.


 


-The “Democratic Block” an opposition Group that is not part of the Coordinadora Democrática (CD) and has dissented on removing Chavez via a referendum, has denied any relation to the paramilitary group captured.

The implausible story of the unarmed paramilitary captured right outside Caracas

May 9, 2004

Now, this story is very confusing so I will not comment too much on it, but my title tells you what I think right now:


-Last night, the Government captured a group of 55 Colombian paramilitary in a farm in El Hatillo, right outside Caracas. Since then, an additional group has been captured and the number reaches 71.


 


-The members of this paramilitary group were dressed in military fatigues but had no weapons.


 


-The Mayor of El Hatillo showed a video when a joint operation with the Metropolitan police detected the presence of the paramilitary group being transported in buses.


 


-The intelligence police said there was no participation by either the El Hatillo police or the Metropolitan police. They charged that these groups were related to the opposition.


 


-Chavez said the Government had given a “blow to the liver” of coupsters and terrorists, revived that they are planning to kill him and the US is involved. He also said the Governor of Zulia State Manuel Rosales is trying to kill him.


 


-The opposition Mayor of nearby Baruta said “this smells like a show and a ridiculous one at that”


 


-The intelligence police has requested that a bunch of “well-known” people be captured because they are associated with the case. This includes “some businessmen and some retired military officers”. He also said this group and the owner of the farm are related to the “Guarimba” plan which never materialized by which neighbors were going to shutdown streets two weeks ago. The Government claims this was an opposition plan, but so far, all that is known is that an e-mail circulated calling for this action.


 


-The “Democratic Block” an opposition Group that is not part of the Coordinadora Democrática (CD) and has dissented on removing Chavez via a referendum, has denied any relation to the paramilitary group captured.

The ten violations of the Constitution in the new TSJ bill

May 9, 2004

For the last two days, Constitutional expert Gerardo Blyde has being making the rounds of the media with his conclusions on the new Supreme Court (TSJ) Bill which was approved by the national Assembly and will soon go into effect if the Cabinet and the Court itself approved it. The most complete article is in yesterday’s El Nacional page A-4, which unfortunately is by subscription only and the price of the subscription has gone up significantly. Here is Blyde’s opinion of the ten violations incurred in this Bill:


-The new TSJ law should have been approved with a qualified majority. Art. 203 of the Constitution explicitly says that a qualified majority will apply to changes in any Organic bill like the TSJ Bill. The Bill was approved with a simple majority.


 


-The Constitution establishes in Art. 209 that any report on any proposed Bill has to be approved article by article. Articles were twice approved in blocks.


 


-The number of Justices is increased from 20 to 32. The current number of twenty was established by the Constituent Assembly after it approved the new Constitution. This is thus considered a “constituent act” according to Blyde, which implies that only a change in the Constitution can modify it.


 


-All position named by the national Assembly require a two thirds or qualified majority. The Constitution is silent on the majority required for the naming the Justices of the highest Court. To Blyde this implies that the qualified majority extends to the naming of the Justices.


 


-Art. 264 of the Constitution establishes that nominations to the Court have to be made via a Nomination Committee, chosen by the Judicial power, which will pre-select the candidates so that a second selection is made by the citizens power and then the National assembly will choose the Justices. In the new Bill Nomination Committee is chosen by the National assembly itself and will have Deputies in it. Additionally, it allows the citizens power to override the selections of the Nomination Committee and even consider new candidates.


 


-Alternate Justices will not be named for twelve years as established by Art. 264 of the Constitution but for two years.


 


-The Constitution establishes in Art. 336 that it is the exclusive role of the Constitutional hall of the National Assembly to exert control over the acts of the National Assembly which relate to the Constitution. However, the National Assembly introduces the ability of the Assembly to void the naming of a Justice by simple majority.


 


-The Constitution states that a Justice can only be removed with a qualified majority of the National Assembly when a Justice commits what is considered a “grave fault”. The new Bill gives the citizens power the ability to suspend a Justice until the assembly determines that he should be removed.


 


-The Constitution states explicitly that only the president and the Deputies of the national Assembly would need the approval of the Assembly to allow a trial of any of them to decide on their removal. The new Bill extends this approval to military officials, the Vice-President, the Justices and the members of the citizens’ power.


 


-Only the Constitutional Hall can act on its own to rule on a violation of the Constitution because its decision does not necessarily have an interested party but defend the rights of everyone, which goes beyond a party bringing suit. The new Bill allows all Halls to act in this way.

The ten violations of the Constitution in the new TSJ bill

May 9, 2004

For the last two days, Constitutional expert Gerardo Blyde has being making the rounds of the media with his conclusions on the new Supreme Court (TSJ) Bill which was approved by the national Assembly and will soon go into effect if the Cabinet and the Court itself approved it. The most complete article is in yesterday’s El Nacional page A-4, which unfortunately is by subscription only and the price of the subscription has gone up significantly. Here is Blyde’s opinion of the ten violations incurred in this Bill:


-The new TSJ law should have been approved with a qualified majority. Art. 203 of the Constitution explicitly says that a qualified majority will apply to changes in any Organic bill like the TSJ Bill. The Bill was approved with a simple majority.


 


-The Constitution establishes in Art. 209 that any report on any proposed Bill has to be approved article by article. Articles were twice approved in blocks.


 


-The number of Justices is increased from 20 to 32. The current number of twenty was established by the Constituent Assembly after it approved the new Constitution. This is thus considered a “constituent act” according to Blyde, which implies that only a change in the Constitution can modify it.


 


-All position named by the national Assembly require a two thirds or qualified majority. The Constitution is silent on the majority required for the naming the Justices of the highest Court. To Blyde this implies that the qualified majority extends to the naming of the Justices.


 


-Art. 264 of the Constitution establishes that nominations to the Court have to be made via a Nomination Committee, chosen by the Judicial power, which will pre-select the candidates so that a second selection is made by the citizens power and then the National assembly will choose the Justices. In the new Bill Nomination Committee is chosen by the National assembly itself and will have Deputies in it. Additionally, it allows the citizens power to override the selections of the Nomination Committee and even consider new candidates.


 


-Alternate Justices will not be named for twelve years as established by Art. 264 of the Constitution but for two years.


 


-The Constitution establishes in Art. 336 that it is the exclusive role of the Constitutional hall of the National Assembly to exert control over the acts of the National Assembly which relate to the Constitution. However, the National Assembly introduces the ability of the Assembly to void the naming of a Justice by simple majority.


 


-The Constitution states that a Justice can only be removed with a qualified majority of the National Assembly when a Justice commits what is considered a “grave fault”. The new Bill gives the citizens power the ability to suspend a Justice until the assembly determines that he should be removed.


 


-The Constitution states explicitly that only the president and the Deputies of the national Assembly would need the approval of the Assembly to allow a trial of any of them to decide on their removal. The new Bill extends this approval to military officials, the Vice-President, the Justices and the members of the citizens’ power.


 


-Only the Constitutional Hall can act on its own to rule on a violation of the Constitution because its decision does not necessarily have an interested party but defend the rights of everyone, which goes beyond a party bringing suit. The new Bill allows all Halls to act in this way.

Interesting article on how technology will increase oil reserves

May 9, 2004

I found this article about how technology will increase oil reserves to be very interesting.

Interesting article on how technology will increase oil reserves

May 9, 2004

I found this article about how technology will increase oil reserves to be very interesting.

Opposition candidate trounces Chavismo candidate at UCV elections

May 9, 2004

I did forget to mention that the opposition’s candidate for President of Central University (UCV) Antonio Paris received 80% of the vote in the two-way run-off against a pro-Chavez candidate. Both Professors and students vote with the students vote weighing less than that of the Professors. Amazingly enough only five years ago UCV was considered to be a left-wing University. I wonder how Chavez’ left-wing supporters from Europe and the US explain this sudden shift.

Long and positive day at the Remate (final push)

May 9, 2004

It has been a long day. I worked for a few hours as a volunteer at the Sumate center in Caracas transcribing the information coming from all parts of the country. What Sumate organized was a simulation of the ratification process that will take place at the end of the month under the umbrella name o the “Remate” (Final Push). People could go to the same center that will be in place during those three days and find out what happened to their signature so they can be ready.


While this was going on, Sumate was gathering attendance figures by calling the centers and learning how many people had shown up to inquire about their status and how many of those had valid signatures, how many were rejected and how many will have to go at the end of the month to fix theirs.


 


By now, Sumate has a very complete database of those that are willing to go vote, work and do whatever is necessary to oust Chavez. They know who signed the petition for the consultative referendum that never took place. They know who signed the second one to request Chavez recall, which was not accepted. They know who signed the third one during the Reafirmazo last November. And they know who went today to learn about their signature. They can actually look at the overlap of this database and today people were asked if they wanted to volunteer even more information about themselves.  I will stop at that and let Sumate tell you what they are doing and plan to do in the next few days.


 


For now, Enrique Mendoza announced that before all of the numbers were in, a total of 950,000 people had shown up today to check on the status of their signature. This is an impressive number when you consider the many ways available to check that status of your signature via the Internet, cellphones (Venezuela has a high penetration of cellphones of 8 million users in a population of 24 million. You can actually send an SMS message with your ID number, send it and in minutes get back your status) as well as going to CNE and Sumate centers or simply calling on the phone. This number which will certainly exceed one million should worry the Chavistas.


 


After spending the day transcribing the information, I saw the fraud committed by the CNE firsthand. I saw many things but let me give you a couple of examples. I saw at least three polling centers with over 500 total signatures where ALL the signatures were disqualified. Please understand, they are not subject to ratification, they are not under observation, they do not count at all and those that signed have no way of defending their rights.


 


Now, if you really believe that the CNE’s objective is to promote democracy and participation, under what criteria, technical, statistical or political can you really convince yourself that a process you set up is fair if ALL signatures were eliminated at one place? Not one person in those neighborhoods had their signature count. Some democracy, no? It reminds of the old question: If a Professor gives out an exam and everyone flunks, are the students bad or is the teacher to blame?


 


I also saw centers (usually rural) where 90% of the signatures were placed under observation. Obviously those manning the polls filled in the data.


 


To close on a positive note, since I am wiped out by now after spending hours sitting in front of a terminal transcribing data and making sure I did it right, I saw many centers where today, 60-70% of those that participated in the Reafirmazo showed up. These are, in my opinion fantastic numbers, given the fact that only those that have problems had the motivation to go.


 


Thus, the only question is at this time where the final trick against us is going to come from. At least I know they are going to have to work very hard to be successful at it!

You be the judge: Soldier changes his story…and changes it again.

May 9, 2004

And now we are further confused by Jesus Barroso’s second version and….third version on what happened to the burnt soldiers. Curiously, he showed up with a military prosecutor to give his testimony in the civilian prosecutor’s office. Nobody knows what version he gave there, but the one he gave leaving the prosecutor’s office is different than the one he gave on the Government’s TV channel today. Obviously, I don’t know which of the three versions is correct.


But I do know that two soldiers are dead after Chavez had said they only had slight burns. That the other six soldiers have mysteriously disappeared and not even the National Assembly has been able to find them. I also know that all of the soldiers on active duty that night were coincidentally on leave the day the Committee from the National Assembly went to interview the witnesses. I also know that the second soldier, a twenty year old man undergoing a skin graft operation died suddenly of cardiac arrest after appearing to be recovering very well. Finally, Barroso’s first version was quite similar to all of the evidence found by the firefighters, as well as the one given in a video by last soldier to die.


 


You be the judge.

You be the judge: Soldier changes his story…and changes it again.

May 9, 2004

And now we are further confused by Jesus Barroso’s second version and….third version on what happened to the burnt soldiers. Curiously, he showed up with a military prosecutor to give his testimony in the civilian prosecutor’s office. Nobody knows what version he gave there, but the one he gave leaving the prosecutor’s office is different than the one he gave on the Government’s TV channel today. Obviously, I don’t know which of the three versions is correct.


But I do know that two soldiers are dead after Chavez had said they only had slight burns. That the other six soldiers have mysteriously disappeared and not even the National Assembly has been able to find them. I also know that all of the soldiers on active duty that night were coincidentally on leave the day the Committee from the National Assembly went to interview the witnesses. I also know that the second soldier, a twenty year old man undergoing a skin graft operation died suddenly of cardiac arrest after appearing to be recovering very well. Finally, Barroso’s first version was quite similar to all of the evidence found by the firefighters, as well as the one given in a video by last soldier to die.


 


You be the judge.

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