Archive for January 25th, 2005

If there is such a thing as blog etiquette…this is as close as it gets

January 25, 2005

I found this in website Metafilter in their new member section as guidelines to their blog, which is a collaborative blog that recently linked to this one. I guess I would only add to it, that nobody tries to dominate discussion by posting repeatedly to the point of overwhelming the comments section. This is the closest to “blog etiquette” that I have seen, that I like:


I give you the ability to do this because I trust you. I trust that
you’ll act in a civilized manner, that you’ll treat others with
opposing viewpoints with absolute respect, that you’ll contribute in a
positive way to the intelligent discussions that take place here
everyday.

I give you the benefit of the doubt, because I trust you, so all that
I ask is for you to honor that trust and promise to become a good
contributor.

Be respectful of others, bring your experiences and share them with
everyone. If you make a statement of fact, show supporting evidence
(hopefully as hyperlinks to other web resources). When everyone brings
intelligent, thoughtful commentary to a thread, MetaFilter is the best
it can possibly be. If you have a unique perspective on a topic, by
all means contribute. If you’d like to express an opposing viewpoint
in a respectful way, by all means contribute. If you’d like to add
supporting facts and statistics or stories from others you’ve found
elsewhere on the web, by all means contribute.

If there is such a thing as blog etiquette…this is as close as it gets

January 25, 2005

I found this in website Metafilter in their new member section as guidelines to their blog, which is a collaborative blog that recently linked to this one. I guess I would only add to it, that nobody tries to dominate discussion by posting repeatedly to the point of overwhelming the comments section. This is the closest to “blog etiquette” that I have seen, that I like:


I give you the ability to do this because I trust you. I trust that
you’ll act in a civilized manner, that you’ll treat others with
opposing viewpoints with absolute respect, that you’ll contribute in a
positive way to the intelligent discussions that take place here
everyday.

I give you the benefit of the doubt, because I trust you, so all that
I ask is for you to honor that trust and promise to become a good
contributor.

Be respectful of others, bring your experiences and share them with
everyone. If you make a statement of fact, show supporting evidence
(hopefully as hyperlinks to other web resources). When everyone brings
intelligent, thoughtful commentary to a thread, MetaFilter is the best
it can possibly be. If you have a unique perspective on a topic, by
all means contribute. If you’d like to express an opposing viewpoint
in a respectful way, by all means contribute. If you’d like to add
supporting facts and statistics or stories from others you’ve found
elsewhere on the web, by all means contribute.

Graffiti on a wall today in Caracas

January 25, 2005

A Chavez no le gusto el Rice de Condoleezza


(Chavez didn’t like Condoleezza’s Rice)

Graffiti on a wall today in Caracas

January 25, 2005

A Chavez no le gusto el Rice de Condoleezza


(Chavez didn’t like Condoleezza’s Rice)

Another sad day in a long string of such days for democracy in Venezuela

January 25, 2005

I was encouraged this afternoon when I read that the National Assembly was considering naming the Electoral Board. Encouraged because I think the Venezuelan Supreme Court step over the bounds in naming gain the new members of the Electoral Board (CNE). Two years ago, the Supreme Court acted due to the omission of the National Assembly in naming the Board. But how can anyone argue omission this time around when the Assembly had never tried until today to name the new members of that Board?


But it gets even worse. The Granda case has overshadowed the details of what has been done to this battered democracy by the Supreme Court. As way of background, there were two vacancies in the Board, that of the President of the CNE, the infamous Francisco Carrasquero, who is now part or the country’s highest Court. The second vacancy was that of principal member Ezequiel Zamora, who resigned over the way the recall vote was handled.


 


But the remarkable thing is that the Chavez controlled Court, decided to name the replacements to these vacancies and lo and behold, removed two of the alternate members of the Board arguing that they had political affiliations! If that argument were used, they could have never named Jorge Rodriguez as President, a man who defended the current Government at each step and instance on the way to the recall referendum and who on that fateful night of the vote cont did not allow neither the international observers nor the members of the CNE who were not pro-Chávez to have access to the counting of the votes. In fact, under that criteria not ONE of the mbers of the Board of the CNE, principals or alternates would have remained in the Board.


 


In fact, when the Court named the Electoral Board in August 2003, its President suggested that it was a balanced Board, with two pro-Chavez Directors and two anti-Chavez Directors and an impartial (ha!) President to maintain equilibrium. Well, this time around the Court did not even try to maintain appearances naming two obviously pro-Chavez members who now hold a despicable four to one majority to guarantee that electoral results fit the expectations of the Government.


 


Thus, it seemed very encouraging this morning when a discussion began to have the Assembly assume its democratic responsibility, engage in democratic debate, name a Board that would be agreeable to all parts and remove the perversion that the current CNE represents.


 


But it was not to be. In that classic Stalinist fashion that they have accustomed us to, the Chavez-led majority in the National Assembly simply refused even to consider the issue, not only allowing the Court to overstep its bounds, but giving up its Constitutional independence and mandate. Thus, the Chavista Deputies accept and admit their servile role in this Government, relegating their power to the wishes of the autocrat and refusing to allow a democratic exchange. It is once again a sad day for democracy in Venezuela, but we seemed to have had too many of those sad days in the last year anyway.

Chavez’ inconsistent policies

January 25, 2005

Lost in all the shuffle and noise of the grand Granda conflict are two very significants  aspects of the crisis that I think are worth mentioning, because they have not been noted in general and deserve to be noted:


–Terrorism and the FARC: Despite all of the charges and countercharges, accusations and cries, the truth is that to this day and moment the Chavez Government has not explicitly come out against terrorism, or that it is distancing itself from the FARC or other subversive Colombian groups or that it will go after any known terrorist in Venezuela. In fact, the opposite is exactly the case. Yesterday, at Chavez’ pro-sovereignty rally, thousands of posters, paid by the Government itself, expressed their sympathy for captured terrorist Rodrigo Granda, the Foreign Minister and international fund raiser for the FARC. Similarly, the Vice President dismissed the information supplied by Colombia as useless, rather than given it the serious attention and careful investigation it deserves.


 


This is in fact not new. From day one of his Government Chavez has had an extremely ambivalent relationship with the FARC and other guerrilla groups. The day of his inauguration in 1999, Chavez left some people speechless by essentially saying that his Government equally recognized the FARC and the Colombian Government, to the astonishment of Colombian president Pastrana who was present in the audience.


 


Chavez’ reaction to the September 11th. attack was similarly ambiguous. While his supporters, led by Lina Ron, burned that day the American flag at Bolivar square in downtown Caracas, Chavez maintained a surprising silence for almost two days, finally condemning the attacks, but never saying a word about the protests by his supporters. Reportedly, the delay by Chavez in making a statement and its mildness was considered too “soft” by the US Government, forcing Chavez to issue a new statement a few days later with much stronger wording.


 


Thus, to this day and to the world, the Chavez administration has defended itself from the accusations of FARC members living in Venezuela, but has yet to clearly state what is its position with respect to the FARC and the fight against terrorism.


 


–Economic Boycott: It is perhaps ironic and remarkable that Chavez, faced with the Granda crisis, should resort to threats of economic sanctions against Colombia rather than simply threatening with breaking diplomatic relations with our neighbor. Ironic, because an economic boycott is at its root a capitalist tool, which would otherwise be severely criticized by the same Chavez Government if used by anyone else. Remarkable, because for decades, leftist groups throughout Latin America, including Chavez and his supporters, and the world have severely criticized the economic blockade of Cuba by the United States.


 


It is thus inconsistent and a reflection of Chavez’ bully nature that he has now resorted in his usual inconsistent fashion, to the same methods that he has so sharply criticized in the past. Trade with Colombia benefits that country more than Venezuela today. In the last six years, many multinational companies have moved their regional headquarters and manufacturing centers to that country, Colombia has a much stronger manufacturing base and oil related products are smuggled regularly through the border to take advantage of the heavily subsidized petroleum based products in Venezuela. (Gasoline is 20 US$ cents a gallon at the official exchange rate in Venezuela)


 


There was no need to use or threaten to use the economic weapon, more so by the man who is supposed to care so much about the “people” of Latin America and uses any opportunity to call for some sort of unified Latin American economic and political zone. Even if Colombia benefits more from trade between the two countries, the border between the two countries has a thriving economic activity thanks to the exchange across the border. Shutting it down, would only hurt the same poor people that Chavez always says he cares so much about.


 


Amazingly enough, these two issues have barely been mentioned by the laconic and almost invisible Venezuelan political opposition. It is at times like this when opposition politicians may stake a claim to some leadership by exposing the true face of the Bolivarian revolution and its autocratic leader.

Chavez’ inconsistent policies

January 25, 2005

Lost in all the shuffle and noise of the grand Granda conflict are two very significants  aspects of the crisis that I think are worth mentioning, because they have not been noted in general and deserve to be noted:


–Terrorism and the FARC: Despite all of the charges and countercharges, accusations and cries, the truth is that to this day and moment the Chavez Government has not explicitly come out against terrorism, or that it is distancing itself from the FARC or other subversive Colombian groups or that it will go after any known terrorist in Venezuela. In fact, the opposite is exactly the case. Yesterday, at Chavez’ pro-sovereignty rally, thousands of posters, paid by the Government itself, expressed their sympathy for captured terrorist Rodrigo Granda, the Foreign Minister and international fund raiser for the FARC. Similarly, the Vice President dismissed the information supplied by Colombia as useless, rather than given it the serious attention and careful investigation it deserves.


 


This is in fact not new. From day one of his Government Chavez has had an extremely ambivalent relationship with the FARC and other guerrilla groups. The day of his inauguration in 1999, Chavez left some people speechless by essentially saying that his Government equally recognized the FARC and the Colombian Government, to the astonishment of Colombian president Pastrana who was present in the audience.


 


Chavez’ reaction to the September 11th. attack was similarly ambiguous. While his supporters, led by Lina Ron, burned that day the American flag at Bolivar square in downtown Caracas, Chavez maintained a surprising silence for almost two days, finally condemning the attacks, but never saying a word about the protests by his supporters. Reportedly, the delay by Chavez in making a statement and its mildness was considered too “soft” by the US Government, forcing Chavez to issue a new statement a few days later with much stronger wording.


 


Thus, to this day and to the world, the Chavez administration has defended itself from the accusations of FARC members living in Venezuela, but has yet to clearly state what is its position with respect to the FARC and the fight against terrorism.


 


–Economic Boycott: It is perhaps ironic and remarkable that Chavez, faced with the Granda crisis, should resort to threats of economic sanctions against Colombia rather than simply threatening with breaking diplomatic relations with our neighbor. Ironic, because an economic boycott is at its root a capitalist tool, which would otherwise be severely criticized by the same Chavez Government if used by anyone else. Remarkable, because for decades, leftist groups throughout Latin America, including Chavez and his supporters, and the world have severely criticized the economic blockade of Cuba by the United States.


 


It is thus inconsistent and a reflection of Chavez’ bully nature that he has now resorted in his usual inconsistent fashion, to the same methods that he has so sharply criticized in the past. Trade with Colombia benefits that country more than Venezuela today. In the last six years, many multinational companies have moved their regional headquarters and manufacturing centers to that country, Colombia has a much stronger manufacturing base and oil related products are smuggled regularly through the border to take advantage of the heavily subsidized petroleum based products in Venezuela. (Gasoline is 20 US$ cents a gallon at the official exchange rate in Venezuela)


 


There was no need to use or threaten to use the economic weapon, more so by the man who is supposed to care so much about the “people” of Latin America and uses any opportunity to call for some sort of unified Latin American economic and political zone. Even if Colombia benefits more from trade between the two countries, the border between the two countries has a thriving economic activity thanks to the exchange across the border. Shutting it down, would only hurt the same poor people that Chavez always says he cares so much about.


 


Amazingly enough, these two issues have barely been mentioned by the laconic and almost invisible Venezuelan political opposition. It is at times like this when opposition politicians may stake a claim to some leadership by exposing the true face of the Bolivarian revolution and its autocratic leader.

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