Archive for July, 2004

When a corrupt Government and its party become the same

July 25, 2004

This is how unethical this Government is. This is a screen shot of the web page www.venezuela.gov.ve the official page of the Venezuelan Government. But what do you see? On top a banner about the battle of Santa Ines the rallying cry for Chavez’ campaign. Below you can download the working manual for Chavez’ campaign command Comando Maisanta and on the right you have a link to the Circulo Bolivarianos, strictly a party activity. This is clearly using Government resources for party activities which is forbidden by law, but the Government could care lessabout it. Government funds are being used for the obsene and advantageoius campaign that Chavez is carrying out. But in the en it will not matter, people are fed up with all of this corruption.


Two Brazilian species and a Brazilian hybrid

July 24, 2004


Two Brazilian Species. Top Left: Cattleya Labiata Amethistina, extremely delicate and fragrant, Right: Laelia Pururata Striata.



A beautiful Oncidium, it had no lable, it looks like Oncidium Lanceanum, but the lip is white in that species, so this muts be a hybrid.

European Union will not participate in observation of the vote

July 24, 2004

Can’t help but be concerned by this report that the European Union has not been invited to participate in the international observation for the recall re ferendum and will not participate because  “technical conditions are not there” No more details were given as to what these difficulties are, but ceratinly sound ominous without a clarification. .

European Union will not participate in observation of the vote

July 24, 2004

Can’t help but be concerned by this report that the European Union has not been invited to participate in the international observation for the recall re ferendum and will not participate because  “technical conditions are not there” No more details were given as to what these difficulties are, but ceratinly sound ominous without a clarification. .

Chávez, dear Brazilian friends, is an impostor

July 23, 2004

A group of Venezuelan intellectuals, including my friend Marco Negron, has responded to the letter from a group of Brazilian figures saying that they would back Chavez in the upcomng referendum. I could not resist translating it!


Chavez, Brazilian friends, is an impostor


           Through news agencies we have learned that a group of Brazilian intellectuals has signed a document the intention of which is to back Hugo Chávez, in the face of the recall referendum that will take place next August 15th. This document, according to that same information, is headed by the phrase “If I was Venezuelan I would vote for Hugo Chávez” and according to the mentioned press  report, one of the arguments used is “that the media has pretended to present as a tyrant a President that has been respectful of the Constitution and the laws”


Besides the sympathy that we feel for the fact that a group of Brazilians, some of them known internationally, state their public position with respect to a political event of our own, confirming our belief that the fate of our country is a matter of concern of all Latin Americans, we regret that such a positive interest is accompanied by an evident lack of information about who Hugo Chávez is in reality and about what has happened in Venezuela during his administration.


We could detail the innumerable abuses that the Government presided by Hugo Chávez has submitted all Venezuelans to, but we will highlight only two of them.


One of them has been Chávez’ dedication to divide Venezuela into two supposedly irreconcilable sides, blaming on those that oppose him the most obscure intentions and an anti democratic and “coupster” attitude, enemies of the achievements of a Bolivarian revolution that does not exist but in his own speeches. Such an attitude, was denounced many years ago in such a decisive way by Boris Pasternak when he said that humanity was not divided into two sides but only in bad literature, has made an enormous amount of damage to Venezuelan democracy, blocking the possibility of realizing one of the essential attributes of any democratic game, such as the equilibrium between the various sectors of society.


In fact, the process alone of  holding a recall referendum forced the Venezuelan opposition to overcome all shorts of obstacles and tricks imposed by an electoral board controlled by the Government, among which the most notorious one was the arbitrary disqualification of hundreds of thousands of signatures and the imposition of the requisite of “ratifying” the signature for more than one million Venezuelans thanks to the invention of what was called “assisted signatures”, an openly  lawless concept  that had to be accepted by the opposition despite a decision against it by the Electoral Hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, a decision that was not acknowledged by the Constitutional Hall of that same Court, assigning itself attributes that according to the immense majority of Venezuelan lawyers is in violation of the Constitution. And we say that it had to be accepted by the opposition because the judicial path was shutdown by virtue of the polarization of justice in the highest Court of the Republic.


This polarization, which tips the will of a good portion of the Justices of our highest Court towards the conveniences of the Executive branch, but can still be blocked by a minority of current Justices that are not willing to sell their consciences, has led the party of the President, MVR, with a precarious majority in the National Assembly, to approve by simple majority a new Supreme Court Law that allows for the naming of new Justices using a procedure controlled by the official party with the unequivocal intention of totally controlling the highest instance of Justice in Venezuela. That is the second abuse we want to detail here.


That Bill has not only been denounced as unconstitutional by important figures in Venezuela, but it led an international organization like Human Rights Watch to cite it as an example that the independence of powers in Venezuela is dramatically compromised.


This panorama that we Venezuelans are living at these moments develops in a scenario of human rights violations, political assassinations for which no guilty party has ever been found, the creation of official armed brigades that use fascist procedures to intimidate voters and demonstrators, the existence of political prisoners in Venezuelan jails, the abusive exercise of presidential power forcing all TV stations in the country  to broadcast his speeches to promote himself and his so-called Bolivarian revolution, the use of economic extortion against state Governors and mayors that do not back him, the destruction of the Venezuelan oil industry by the arbitrary firing of 18,000 professionals of the highest level, including the management team and the experts of its institute for technological development, the buying of votes giving out scholarships, donations and grants of all types, the intimidation of reporters, the uncontrolled corruption the main actors of which are friends of the regime and above all, like we mentioned at the beginning, the criminal division between Venezuelans.  All of this added to a general impoverishment, with private investment dropping to historical levels, with a poverty level without precedent and an unemployment level, 22%, which is the highest in Latin America.


Is this what illustrious Brazilians like those that signed the mentioned manifest would defend if they were Venezuelans? We don’t believe it. What we do believe is that Chávez, putting in practice his conditions as an actor and seductor, sells abroad an image which is completely divorced from the realities of his track record as the President of our country.


Chávez is not Lula, because Lula is a man respectful of institutions, a man that has proven himself in political fights, that has known victory and defeat and that at the end of the day, knows that Brazil is a country where institutions articulate a responsible historical track record. Chávez is the reverse of a president like Lula, Chávez, Brazilian friends is a bad joke in the Latin American political process.


We invite you to inform yourself better. Not everyone that sings revolution is a revolutionary. That, besides the fact that revolutions in this century can not be the rhetorical revolutions of the Latin American past, but serious efforts to overcome the bottlenecks for growth in our countries. And Chávez is over all an obstacle for the development of a more genuine democracy, one that would really carry the great majority to exercise its historical destiny.


The perverse condition of Chávez as the highest authority of a country that has been trying to develop civilized political habits since more than a half century ago is not an invention of the media. His distorting figure of the liberalizing political options that we Latin-American citizens anxiously search, is a sad Venezuelan reality


Chávez, Brazilian friends, is an impostor


 


Oscar Tenreiro, Simón Alberto Consalvi, Leonardo Azparren Giménez, Marco Negrón, Silvio Orta, Luís Carlos Palacios, Miriam Freilich, Elías Toro, Teodoro Petkoff, Mariela Stolk, Maruja Delfino, Guillermo Barrios, Henrique  Vera Hernández, Enrique Larrańaga, Josefina Flórez

Chávez, dear Brazilian friends, is an impostor

July 23, 2004

A group of Venezuelan intellectuals, including my friend Marco Negron, has responded to the letter from a group of Brazilian figures saying that they would back Chavez in the upcomng referendum. I could not resist translating it!


Chavez, Brazilian friends, is an impostor


           Through news agencies we have learned that a group of Brazilian intellectuals has signed a document the intention of which is to back Hugo Chávez, in the face of the recall referendum that will take place next August 15th. This document, according to that same information, is headed by the phrase “If I was Venezuelan I would vote for Hugo Chávez” and according to the mentioned press  report, one of the arguments used is “that the media has pretended to present as a tyrant a President that has been respectful of the Constitution and the laws”


Besides the sympathy that we feel for the fact that a group of Brazilians, some of them known internationally, state their public position with respect to a political event of our own, confirming our belief that the fate of our country is a matter of concern of all Latin Americans, we regret that such a positive interest is accompanied by an evident lack of information about who Hugo Chávez is in reality and about what has happened in Venezuela during his administration.


We could detail the innumerable abuses that the Government presided by Hugo Chávez has submitted all Venezuelans to, but we will highlight only two of them.


One of them has been Chávez’ dedication to divide Venezuela into two supposedly irreconcilable sides, blaming on those that oppose him the most obscure intentions and an anti democratic and “coupster” attitude, enemies of the achievements of a Bolivarian revolution that does not exist but in his own speeches. Such an attitude, was denounced many years ago in such a decisive way by Boris Pasternak when he said that humanity was not divided into two sides but only in bad literature, has made an enormous amount of damage to Venezuelan democracy, blocking the possibility of realizing one of the essential attributes of any democratic game, such as the equilibrium between the various sectors of society.


In fact, the process alone of  holding a recall referendum forced the Venezuelan opposition to overcome all shorts of obstacles and tricks imposed by an electoral board controlled by the Government, among which the most notorious one was the arbitrary disqualification of hundreds of thousands of signatures and the imposition of the requisite of “ratifying” the signature for more than one million Venezuelans thanks to the invention of what was called “assisted signatures”, an openly  lawless concept  that had to be accepted by the opposition despite a decision against it by the Electoral Hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, a decision that was not acknowledged by the Constitutional Hall of that same Court, assigning itself attributes that according to the immense majority of Venezuelan lawyers is in violation of the Constitution. And we say that it had to be accepted by the opposition because the judicial path was shutdown by virtue of the polarization of justice in the highest Court of the Republic.


This polarization, which tips the will of a good portion of the Justices of our highest Court towards the conveniences of the Executive branch, but can still be blocked by a minority of current Justices that are not willing to sell their consciences, has led the party of the President, MVR, with a precarious majority in the National Assembly, to approve by simple majority a new Supreme Court Law that allows for the naming of new Justices using a procedure controlled by the official party with the unequivocal intention of totally controlling the highest instance of Justice in Venezuela. That is the second abuse we want to detail here.


That Bill has not only been denounced as unconstitutional by important figures in Venezuela, but it led an international organization like Human Rights Watch to cite it as an example that the independence of powers in Venezuela is dramatically compromised.


This panorama that we Venezuelans are living at these moments develops in a scenario of human rights violations, political assassinations for which no guilty party has ever been found, the creation of official armed brigades that use fascist procedures to intimidate voters and demonstrators, the existence of political prisoners in Venezuelan jails, the abusive exercise of presidential power forcing all TV stations in the country  to broadcast his speeches to promote himself and his so-called Bolivarian revolution, the use of economic extortion against state Governors and mayors that do not back him, the destruction of the Venezuelan oil industry by the arbitrary firing of 18,000 professionals of the highest level, including the management team and the experts of its institute for technological development, the buying of votes giving out scholarships, donations and grants of all types, the intimidation of reporters, the uncontrolled corruption the main actors of which are friends of the regime and above all, like we mentioned at the beginning, the criminal division between Venezuelans.  All of this added to a general impoverishment, with private investment dropping to historical levels, with a poverty level without precedent and an unemployment level, 22%, which is the highest in Latin America.


Is this what illustrious Brazilians like those that signed the mentioned manifest would defend if they were Venezuelans? We don’t believe it. What we do believe is that Chávez, putting in practice his conditions as an actor and seductor, sells abroad an image which is completely divorced from the realities of his track record as the President of our country.


Chávez is not Lula, because Lula is a man respectful of institutions, a man that has proven himself in political fights, that has known victory and defeat and that at the end of the day, knows that Brazil is a country where institutions articulate a responsible historical track record. Chávez is the reverse of a president like Lula, Chávez, Brazilian friends is a bad joke in the Latin American political process.


We invite you to inform yourself better. Not everyone that sings revolution is a revolutionary. That, besides the fact that revolutions in this century can not be the rhetorical revolutions of the Latin American past, but serious efforts to overcome the bottlenecks for growth in our countries. And Chávez is over all an obstacle for the development of a more genuine democracy, one that would really carry the great majority to exercise its historical destiny.


The perverse condition of Chávez as the highest authority of a country that has been trying to develop civilized political habits since more than a half century ago is not an invention of the media. His distorting figure of the liberalizing political options that we Latin-American citizens anxiously search, is a sad Venezuelan reality


Chávez, Brazilian friends, is an impostor


 


Oscar Tenreiro, Simón Alberto Consalvi, Leonardo Azparren Giménez, Marco Negrón, Silvio Orta, Luís Carlos Palacios, Miriam Freilich, Elías Toro, Teodoro Petkoff, Mariela Stolk, Maruja Delfino, Guillermo Barrios, Henrique  Vera Hernández, Enrique Larrańaga, Josefina Flórez

żCual Revolucion? becomes a bestseller

July 23, 2004


Last Wednesday, CNE Director Jorge Rodriguez sent a “request” to Globovisión asking that the documentary żCuál Revolución? (Which revolution?) not be shown because it violated the rules for campaigning established by the CNE. The problem was that the documentary is a documentary about Chávez and his Government which in no way promotes people to vote one way or the other.


 


The day after Director Rodriguez made his request, that one time strong and staunch defender of free speech and now Vice-President, José Vicente Rangel, actually came out and said that he agreed with the request, because it was not censorship. Well, it was, and everyone perceived it that way and the scandal actually helped propel the somewhat obscure documentary into center stage and by now it has become a bestseller thanks to the Government’s actions. In fact, much to the consternation of the Chavistas, free markets went immediately into action and by today street sellers are peddling the video in all formats VCD, VHS or even DVD.


 


The video had actually been shown earlier by two other TV stations, going almost unnoticed until the CNE sent its letter. The Head of the TV station refused to follow the directive from the CNE. The next day the CNE Director stated: “I did not say they could not show it, I asked the media not to show it until we had a chance to evaluate it”. But the text of the letter was unequivocal: “I would like to request that the material not be shown”. But perhaps, it is best to translate parts of Teodoro Petkoff’s Editorial in yesterday’s Tal Cual:


 


From the text of the “request” it is not clear if it represents and order to the TV stations or merely an exhortation, similar to that that the same Director has made to the President so that he stops violating the regulation of the CNE about electoral publicity and advertising. But in any case, we would be facing an evident extra limitation on the part of the CNE Director and the CNE itself. Whether it was a prohibition or merely an exhortation, the truth is that Director Rodriguez and/ or the Electoral Board have assumed the role of opinion censors, in clear violation of the law.”


 


“The CNE can not censor the content of public opinion. To “request” that the documentary not be transmitted is equivalent to the CNE abrogating itself the responsibility of censoring the content of opinion articlse in the written press or the content of political opinions in TV and radio programs or the content of books about the current political situation”


 


 


It could not have been said better than this. Meanwhile, thousands of Venezuelans are going around today searching for, talking about, borrowing and sharing their copy of żCuál Revolución? to find out what all the unnecessary fuss was all about.


 

żCual Revolucion? becomes a bestseller

July 23, 2004


Last Wednesday, CNE Director Jorge Rodriguez sent a “request” to Globovisión asking that the documentary żCuál Revolución? (Which revolution?) not be shown because it violated the rules for campaigning established by the CNE. The problem was that the documentary is a documentary about Chávez and his Government which in no way promotes people to vote one way or the other.


 


The day after Director Rodriguez made his request, that one time strong and staunch defender of free speech and now Vice-President, José Vicente Rangel, actually came out and said that he agreed with the request, because it was not censorship. Well, it was, and everyone perceived it that way and the scandal actually helped propel the somewhat obscure documentary into center stage and by now it has become a bestseller thanks to the Government’s actions. In fact, much to the consternation of the Chavistas, free markets went immediately into action and by today street sellers are peddling the video in all formats VCD, VHS or even DVD.


 


The video had actually been shown earlier by two other TV stations, going almost unnoticed until the CNE sent its letter. The Head of the TV station refused to follow the directive from the CNE. The next day the CNE Director stated: “I did not say they could not show it, I asked the media not to show it until we had a chance to evaluate it”. But the text of the letter was unequivocal: “I would like to request that the material not be shown”. But perhaps, it is best to translate parts of Teodoro Petkoff’s Editorial in yesterday’s Tal Cual:


 


From the text of the “request” it is not clear if it represents and order to the TV stations or merely an exhortation, similar to that that the same Director has made to the President so that he stops violating the regulation of the CNE about electoral publicity and advertising. But in any case, we would be facing an evident extra limitation on the part of the CNE Director and the CNE itself. Whether it was a prohibition or merely an exhortation, the truth is that Director Rodriguez and/ or the Electoral Board have assumed the role of opinion censors, in clear violation of the law.”


 


“The CNE can not censor the content of public opinion. To “request” that the documentary not be transmitted is equivalent to the CNE abrogating itself the responsibility of censoring the content of opinion articlse in the written press or the content of political opinions in TV and radio programs or the content of books about the current political situation”


 


 


It could not have been said better than this. Meanwhile, thousands of Venezuelans are going around today searching for, talking about, borrowing and sharing their copy of żCuál Revolución? to find out what all the unnecessary fuss was all about.


 

Si, Si, Si

July 22, 2004

 




Forget my fingerprint!

July 22, 2004

Based on some e-mails I have received, some people do not understand what the role of the fingerprint machines will be in the upcoming referendum, so they don’t quite understand what the fuss is all about when some people object to their use in the upcoming vote.


Contrary to what many people may believe, these machines will not be used to compare their fingerprint with that registered in the national identification system; such a database simply does not exist in digital form. What the machines are intended for, is simply to obtain the fingerprint from the voter and compare it to that of every single person that has voted before him or her that day. Thus, using this truly brute force method, the CNE is assured that the person voting has not voted before and there will be no use of national ID cards that are stolen; correspond to dead people or non-voters.


 


The biggest problem with the fingerprint system is that they are notorious for their problems in obtaining the data, depending on age, weight and type of skin. Some systems have taken a while to work properly and are usually tested for months before their implementation. In contrast, the system to be used in Venezuela was purchased less than a month ago and there will be little time or opportunity to test it.


 


During last weekend’s trial of the voting machines, some polling booths also had the fingerprint systems. While the results obtained with the voting machines (see story below) were quiet satisfactory, the same could not be said of the fingerprint system. The voting machines worked quiet well, the average for the trial was 34 seconds per voter and 0.6% of the machines failed, but they failed when the power was purposely shut off to see if they would act properly when power was restored and they came back on. This seems quiet adequate, even if they were not tested under conditions of high demand like there will be on August 15th.


 


The same could not be said of the fingerprint machines. The average time per voter in those centers was over 4 minutes! (4 minutes and 20 seconds to be exact!). This is simply unacceptable and would imply that on the day of the elections, if such a bottleneck existed, it would be impossible for all Venezuelans that plan to participate to cast their vote. Moreover, it is unclear if the system will slow down if it has to compare the fingerprint of the voter to a few million voters that preceded him or her during the day. 


 


The use of the fingerprint machines will thus create a possible bottleneck that would certainly create havoc on August 15th. if not properly tested before. The voter would register first, then it will have to go to the fingerprint machine, but would not be able to proceed until the system has compared the fingerrint to those that came before. Only after the computers have done this, will the voter be given the green light to proceed to the voting machine, which has proven to be quite effective and efficient in my personal opinion. Thus, the objection being raised about their use, which I certainly share. In fact, unless the CNE organizes another test, with fairly intensive use of the fingerprint machines, I think they should just forget about it and wait until the next election to use them as they were meant to be used: As a ratification of the identity of the person voting, not as brute force technique to prevent people from voting more than once.

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