Archive for February, 2005

Misiňn Bullshit by Teodoro Petkoff

February 28, 2005

I was going to write about this, but hey, Petkoff can say it so much better!


Misiňn Bullshit  by Teodoro Petkoff – Tal Cual



In a new episode of delirium tremens (even if we know the man does not drink, because in his case that becomes un aggravating circumstance, because everyone knows that if you are drunk “it does not count”), Chávez promised that his Government will build between this year and 2006 , 200 hundred thousand housing units. In other words, the goal is to build twice as many housing units than those that have been built in the previous six years. How much we wish that this would be true, but given the background, there are not many reasons for optimism. Between 1999 and August 2004, the Government of the human revolution, concerned about the status of the poor, with Chavez ashamed of having to live in La Casona, while millions of his fellow countrymen who are poor had to live in shacks, built a meager 100,569 houses, which gives you an average of 16,000 per year. That number, more than squalid, miserable, contrasts with what the Governments prior to Chavez accomplished. In the five years of CAP-2-Velasquez, a total of 313 thousand housing units were built by the Government: an average of 62,000 a year. In the Government of Caldera, the Government built 341,666: 68 thousand per year. Thus, these Governments that Chavez has launched thousand of insults against them, built in five years each, three times more housing units than Chavez has in his six years.


 


 


Perhaps nothing undresses more eloquently the marathon of bullshit that we have been forced to listen to during these six years, that the sorry failure of the housing policies of the”revolution.” Obviously, with bullshit you can’t even built shacks made of mud. Now, once again the promise rises again: 80 thousand houses this year and 120 thousand the next one. It would really be a miracle.

The same way it would have been a miracle that unemployment had dropped from the 19% that the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) registered for January 2004 to the 5% predicted by “Merlin Chavez” for December of last year. That was going to be the magic result of the Misiňn Vuelvan Caras. Well, the INE has just given out the unemployment numbers for January 2005: 15.3%, less than the same month a year earlier but the same as the average for all of 2004. The faces of the poor continue to be turned towards the pole of hopelessness and poverty.


 


Of course, it would have been impossible to have a different result. Each year some 400 thousand Venezuelans go into the labor markets. A productive system like ours, where both private and public investment are reduced to its lowest historical levels, does not have the capacity to absorb the hungry mass of young people that reaches working age. The economic policy of Chavismo “ni lava ni presta la batea” (neither washes nor lends the washbasin). If there is no investment, there will be no creation of new jobs-to say it with that expression, which is not used much today, but very graphical. If there is no investment to create jobs, unemployment can not go down. But since people have to live, the only option is to make do with the streets, informality and crime. That is, a social deterioration that does not cease and which can not be hidden.


 


The President says, referring to the prior 40 years of democracy that with poverty there could not be democracy. Said in 1999, it was a complete program for hope.. Six years later, it is simply pure bullshit.

The Carter Center at the center of controversies

February 28, 2005

Well, it used to be that the Carter Center would arrive in Venezuela and everyone would try to meet with them. It wasn’t that way this time as reported by Daniel in his blog. But it seems to have been worse than that. As reported by Descifrado today, the visit by Ms. McCoy did not go very well, she was shunned by many actors, including opposition parties (except Primero Justicia), Chavez own party MVR. But even worse, according to Descifrado, there was supposed to be a breakfast on Friday between the Carter Center and representatives of the media. Unfortunately for the CC Directors, only one Board member form one TV channels showed up at the meeting. Thus, the supervision of Venezuelan elections and attempts by the Carter Center to mediate in the Venezuelan crisis, end with a whimper, rather than with the bang they expected.


Meanwhile, another scandal was banging at the Carter family elsewhere, as wife Rosalynn is now being linked by the N.Y Post to the oil for food program and donations to Iraq, via her Foundation Friendship Force. I guess that is the problem with all these activities, you need money to run them and in searching for funding you are either careless or compromise your principles in order to get them. 


 

Letter from a pro-Government humorist to Zapata by Claudio Nazoa

February 28, 2005

This will be a night of translations, a few interesting articles that I thought I should bring to people’s attentions. Pedro Leon Zapata is an artist and cartoonist that has now published his daily cartoon for forty years, usually with political undertones. His friends have been celebrating his 40 year anniversary with tributes and testimonials to both his paintings and his cartoons. Today, humorist Claudio Nazoa paid his tribute with this piece in today’s El Nacional, in which he writes as a Chavista cartoonist paying tribute to Zapata. It is funny, but it is also very serious at the same time.


 


Letter from a pro-Government humorist to Zapata by Claudio Nazoa


 


Sr. Zapata:


 


If this Government were from COPEI or AD, these testimonials on your 40th.anniversary of your cartoons would be well deserved.


 


Sr. Zapata, let’s agree that you paint and draw well, but that gives you no right to not recognize that this is also a pretty revolution.


 


Sr. Zapata, our Commander in Chief, our dear leader, our unique an unquestionable guide, our almost God, was right when he showed one of your drawing saying “Zapata, how much were you paid for this?”


 


Unfortunately Sr. Zapata, we have learned that you get paid by the daily El Nacional to criticize the Government. What a foolish thing to do! Do what we do, we also get paid, but only by the Government.


 


Do you remember Sr. Zapata when at the auditorium at Central University all of the humorists and intellectuals would criticize the people from AD and COPEI? Those were the good times Sr. Zapata! Particularly because the people from AD and COPEI would later hire us without asking why we were criticizing them; moreover, they were so dumb that they had no AD circles or COPEI circles, to go kick our butt after the events or to go around the city destroying murals, sculptures, historical monuments, religious images and any work of art of the kind that rich people like.


 


Do you remember Sr. Zapata, when we were all left-wing? In that I belive we continue to agree. We both continue to be left-wing, with the only difference being that I, being left-wing, back this rightwing Government that looks leftwing from abroad.


 


Sr. Zapata, you now paint us with frog faces pulling a rope (Pulling a rope means sucking up to someone in Spanish). Yes, you are right, let’s recognize we suck up to them and tell all. But we are part of the revolution! That is the difference Sr. Zapata, you have not realized that we are in a revolution and that those things that we did not like about the AD or COPEI people, are now considered good. Look around you.


 


Little kids no longer drink milk, but they drink gasoline at traffic lights so that you give them a tip; poverty is higher every day. The indians, like hungry automata, invade the cities. Corruption can be seen in the RV’s  of Government leaders and officials. Never have human rights been abused so much in the prisons and hospitals of Venezuela. To get an ID card or a passport is no longer like it was in the previous ominous 40 years. It is now impossible for everyone!


 


Sr. Zapata., wake up! What good is the love your friends claim they have for you? Come with us, join us in sucking up to the Government and we promise that we will give you plastic surgery, so that so that when you support what can’t be supported, not even a single wrinkle will be visible in your face.


 


Come on Mr. Zapata! Forget about poetry. You have to recognize that, as a man, you feel vindicated in that a true macho man, capable of giving any women what they deserve now is now our leader.


 


In closing, I have to confess I envy you Sr. Zapata, that extraordinary brain that during 40 years, while many of us lived off scholarships, donations, cultural attaches of embassies, heads of the Cultural Office, “consulting” to Ministries, cultural representations to any world Congress that was held, you, like now, worked night and day, to reveal that the king was naked.


 


The king has been naked for 46 years Sr. Zapata, but now we are accomplices and we are afraid to say it.

Random thoughts (and a picture!) over a very succesful post

February 27, 2005

Well, I must say I am absolutely amazed at the attention to my post Friday on the Tarek William Saab and how they faked the poster to take it look denser. Of course, it helped that a blog named littlegreenfootballs linked to it by saying “The revolution will be photoshopped”. You see littlegreenfootballs (lgf) is a well known blog which gets around 100,000 visitors a day, some of which saw the post and came over to see what this was all about (There were close to 6,000 visitors to the Devil yesterday). Interestingly enough, lgf did not reproduce the picture which I think was one key to the success of the post. I than the reader who sent it, all I did was use Photoshop to clearly prove the point.


Over the lifetime of this blog I have come to learn the meaning of “A picture is worth 10,000 words” or whatever number the true Chinese proverb uses. In October 2002, traffic to this blog started to pick up to what I then thought was an outstanding 200 visitors a day, when I began posting pictures of marches and demonstrations.


 


A picture is always more powerful than words. I can talk about the shenanigans of the new Supreme Court Justice in his last few days at the Electoral Board, or try to explain that Chavez announced today that the new interest rate for mortgages will be below 6%, in a country with 20% rates, but it is hard to beat the impact of a picture or a video showing unethical behavior. Maybe that was the problem with the recall vote; we just never managed to get a picture good enough to show people what was going on. I can explain, for example, that nothing was done in many places in Vargas after the 1999 flooding, but if I show you this picture of the Vargas town of Carmen de Uria two weeks ago, after the recent rains, it gives a more powerful statement that absolutely nothing was accomplished in some places. This is the place where Chavez said he would build parks, a spa and a beach.


 


 


 


The fact is we had some very damaging pictures. I spent about a month trying to get a copy of the video taped at a “phantom” center at the Universidad Bolivariana where supposedly the referendum data was interfered and processed. I saw the video and it had a picture of every single piece of equipment, model, brand name and even serial number. It would have been good stuff to have experts look at via the Internet and tell us what that equipment was good for.


 


But as with so many things with the opposition, despite continued promises that I would get it, nothing was ever done. Maybe it would have had a huge impact.


 


But the Tarek Photoshop post remains my top post, something I simply did not expect. I thought it was cute, but not as impacting as so many things that have happen here or happen regularly. Despite that, not only did lgl link to it, but also notiven, noticierodigital, americanthinker, hayekcenter, barcepundit, vcrisis, Daniel (of Course!), venezuelatoday (Could not miss it!),  old friend blogging friend secular blasphemy, blognorregis, publisupundit, raianr, chrismowder and last but not least Democracy Project. This last one actually had a post showing that the Chavez revolution is not alone at taking unethical advantage of Photoshop, but at the University of Wisconsin there was a similar attempt to manipulate pictures to obtain a benefit. In that case, the picture of a minority student was inserted into a crowd of cheering students at a football game to make the campus look more diverse. The picture was to be used on the cover of the new freshman application. .


 


The lessons for bloggers out there is think graphical! If you don’t make heavy use of pictures, drawings graphs, try to do it and see if it helps draw more visitors.


 


Ah yes, I am glad the post had so many visitors, but it also makes me just as happy to be mentioned in this post at rantburg, entitled “Carter up to no good in Venezuela”. You see, in the end I wish that as many people had read my article about the Carter Center report as they saw the photo shopped poster. But I guess, you can’t win them all!


 


(In fact, my Orchids section which is practically all pictures gets quite a few visits, so you may want to go see it, since I posted today pictures of four new flowers)

Flowering getting strong

February 27, 2005


Catlleya Gaskelliana Mimi x Aida  (Venezuela)                    Cattleya Intermedia (Brazil) Nice one!



Two huge Cattleya Lueddemaniana’s Arturo x Maruja Venezuelan species



Cattleya Luddemaniana Mariauxi x Ignacio Very good shape, first flowering

My baby food jar is not needed by Olga Krnjasky de Aguirrebetia

February 26, 2005

Olga Krnjasky de Aguirrebetia  whom I don’t know, wrote this very good and heartfelt article in today’s El Universal. The baby food jar (compota in Spanish) is references to a campaign to have people donate things to those that suffered from the recent Vargas tragedy.


My baby food jar is not needed by Olga Krnjasky de Aguirrebetia


 


Without preamble. My jar of baby food is not needed and I have the means to prove it. Because it was five years ago that a billion dollars was given to Corpovargas and of the 23 riverbeds only one was completed. Hello Clodosvaldo (The Comptroller)? That money is sufficient to buy many jars of baby food. Because I pay a VAT that nobody asks what it goes for. Then I ask it and I want to see an answer in Vargas, in jars of baby food and also in mattresses and blankets.


 


Because a debit tax is discounted from my money with which I fund everything the Government wants: from the bombs that they throw at me when I express my dissidence, to the witch doctors that surround the Commander with candles invoking the Obscure. From that there should be funds for tin cans.


 


Because there is too much money that purchases fingerprint grabbing machines so that all of the Rodrigo Granda’s of the regime can vote and so that Carter can endorse it, for a price. Because of the “tramparency” (Carrasquero’ famous word, trampa means trick in Spanish), the drinking water should come out of that.


 


Because the Board of the CNE donated five days of their salary that I also pay for and considering the service to the revolution of stealing our votes, those five days mean a number with a lot of zeroes after it. It is sufficient, more than for baby food, for tenderloin.


 


Because each trip of the “dollar sucker” costs an arm and a leg, that we have to pay for, you and me, and translating those kilometers into $$$ would be enough to rebuild the lost roads. Facing such waste, can my insignificant donation make a difference?


 


Because each pro-Government march moves thousands of buses, gives away thousands of t-shirts and pays million dollars in per diems. Me donating a jar of baby food?


 


Because if they gave the Chinese the manufacture of military uniforms in a gesture of solidarity with “The brothers of almond shaped eyes”, the same as that “one Bolivar for Asi”. Who can match so much generosity?


 


Because the revolution buys Russian weapons for two armies. Well, that indicates that our needs are covered and the next impertinent mudslide will simply be met with shots from the Kalashnikovs.


 


Because the revolution spends incalculable fortunes promoting throughout the universities of the world the achievements (??) of the revolution, distributing printed and translated material, because of which my humble collaboration can not be needed given such a bonanza for exports.


 


Because today, with the disaster repeating, I am not interested in knowing that the Army did a good job rescuing the victims when, if they had paid attention to the predictions and the warnings of the experts, they should have evacuated on time. I am not interested in how they run when there is a disaster but in what they are doing to prevent it. Because if they had done before what they had to and collected on the public works, then there would not have been a tragedy.


 


It seems as if nobody is noticing that we have spent six years of robbery and mud slides!


 


From bolivars to hope, from peace to future, from fraternal coexistence to votes.


 


Because the revolution screams unhinged “Repatriation of Rodrigo Granda now” and does not include in its scream the Venezuelans kidnapped by the guerrilla, the collection of bribes for protection at the border and the anxiety that our ranchers live in, which translates into higher prices, that you and I also pay and the dangerous risk of being useful to the country instead of being parasites of the payroll.


 


Because Vivas, Forero and Simonovis are in jail and those that stole our votes, nationality and assets, go free.


 


Because there is a perverse similarity between the irresponsibility of 99 of extending the time to vote in the Constituent referendum and the wasteful PerezJimenez –like (Dictator in the 50’s) carnival assembled with a Miss Venezuela choreographer to make it “shine” and maintain the charade of bread and circus for the people.  .


 


Because I heard Bernal (Mayor of part of Caracas) with incredulity taking advantage of the tragedy to make propaganda of the “Bolivarian efficiency” while his brooks exposed an unsustainable lie.


 


Because Chacao and Baruta (municipalities in Caracas under opposition Mayors) came out unscathed of the climatic crisis, because in them there was prevention.


 


Because I was stuck in my seat when Barreto (Mayor of Caracas), champion of divisions, disdain and indecency for those that oppose him, facing the new tragedy told us with uncommon  poetic accent “bring a baby bottle, the victims will preserve  it later as a remainder of the integration of all Venezuelans”


 


Because for five years I have been making payments with lots of sacrifices for the Vargas of my soul, to rebuild it and today, we go back to square one because the Bolivarian corruption and ineptitude allowed the rivers to take away my work, my money, my effort and, above all, my bet on the reconstruction.


 


Because I will not even discuss the absurdity of blaming the tragedy on Bush’s Government and the Kyoto Protocol, which is nothing but an insult to anyone’s intelligence.


 


Because if Alo Presidente is transmitted from Russia, Argentina and soon from India with immoral costs for the country, my baby food jar is unnecessary.


 


Because the new mudslides drowned without remedy my natural instinct to give a hand and give myself to others. I don’t know myself.


 


Maybe it just is that I just spoke to Manuel, a good man from Portugal who has the concession for the coffee shop of my building in Vargas, survivor of Carmen de Uria and who with a voice defeated with tiredness and the insurmountable loss told me with his characteristic accent”


 


Ms. Olga, we are all well, yes Luis, Gabriel and Mario too, but everything was lost again. I leave you now, I am going to get a colonel at Club Camuri because they want to come and loot …again.

Francisco Carrasquero: A hoodlum Justice in our Supreme Court

February 26, 2005

In my own warped and simple minded brain, I have this vision of who I think should be in the Venezuelan Supreme Court. First of all, the person, he or she, should be someone with a long career as a lawyer, long and brilliant, someone that even those that have been on the other side of the judicial fence, express their admiration and even awe of them.


The second thing I would expect would be that the person is known as a man/woman of integrity. Ethical beyond reproach, no skeletons in the closet, not even the slightest suggestion of one. Such high ethical principles that after years of practice as a lawyer or in the bench, nobody can even dare accuse the person of anything even bordering on the improper.


 


Too much to ask? Not really. One would think that in a country of 24 million people one should be able to find a dozen or so people. Give them lifetime security so that they are freed from any partisan preferences and let them rule from the Supreme Court, so that everyone will obey the laws and follow the Constitution.


 


I may be naďve, but in many countries, the behavior of Justices and those named to the Court is followed closely and any deviation from the honest and legal behavior expected from such a high position is punished.


 


Thus, the nomination of the former Head of the National Electoral Council (CNE) to be a Justice would not have even been considered in any other country but Venezuela. Francisco Carrasquero presided over the CNE with mediocrity. He was partisan to the end, bending to the whims of the Hugo Chavez at each step, both in the petition to gather the signatures and the recall vote. He was the man that in the wee hours of August 16th. announced to the world a result that to this day is being questioned. There had been no audit as agreed; even the other Directors of the Electoral Board were not allowed in the room where the votes were being totaled. It was a typical political operation in the middle of the night and the gray and obscure Carrasquero presided over it.


 


His partisan behavior earned him a position in the Supreme Court, which his credentials as a lawyer did not qualify him for. But he did the Government’s dirty work. He deserved it; he earned it, he got it.


 


But it is now becoming clear that the former Head of the CNE was so unethical, that he not only hired family members right and left, but ran the CNE like a corrupt warlord running his castle. Mind you, this is not my opinion, this I not my anti-Chavez posture getting the best of me. This is the truth as expressed yesterday by the new Head of the Electoral Board, when he announced that he will void 1,086 personnel movements approved by the former President of the CNE after he was named to the Supreme Court. No, I did not make a mistake, it is indeed a four digit number one, zero, eight and six. One thousand and eighty six people in an institution of 2200..


 


You see Mr. Carrasquero who has the ethics of gangster, was named to the Supreme Court on December 13th. , but stayed in his post at the CNE until January 17th. where he simply acted like the gangster he is. He approved hiring 354 new people and gave salary increases or named to other positions some 732 members of the staff of the CNE. Now, this was no small matter. The CNE has 2200 employees so Mr. Carrasquero increased personnel by 16% and without having the funds promoted 30% of them. This without consulting anyone! Way to go Francisco!


 


But see this is nothing new. Before this took place, Mr. Carrasquero had named two of his brothers Edwin and Enrique, to important positions in the CNE, one to a regional office and the second one as Head of Personnel of the CNE! In this position the CNE hired nephews and nieces of Carrasquero, his wife and even his bodyguards.


 


Let’s look at some of them as detailed by Tal Cual.


 


-Sor Elena Luzardo was executive secretary of the CNE since October 2003. She is the sister of Julio Luzardo who also started working there in 2003. They are the niece and nephew of Edgar Luzardo. All three are relatives of Carrasquero wife.


 


-Then, there is Jesus Duran who started working at the CNE in 2003, he is a cousin of Andreina Fuenmayor who also works there and Karelys Fuenmayor, also staff of the CNE. The two sisters are nieces of Carrasquero; their second last name is Carrasquero.


 


-Then, there is Soraya Gonzalez a lawyer for the CNE who is the niece of Nestor Perez, Carrasquero’s bodyguard and childhood friend. Oh! Nestor’s daughter Ana Karina also has worked at the CNE since 2003.


 


-Then there is Carlos Martinez, son of Altury Tavarez who was Carrasquero’s assistant. We also have Ana Carrasquero his niece. Ramiro Finol, Carrasquero’s neighbor.


 


Oh! I forgot, the CNE’s regulations do not allow any two relatives working there up to the fourth level of cosanguinity.


 


Thus, you can see that Carrasquero has no clue about why nepotism is not ethical and loaded the CNE with relatives and friends during his tenure there and after he was ready to leave.


 


Will Carrasquero be removed from the highest Court of the land? Of course not, it has already become the lowest Court of the land. What would be considered normal behavior in any other country would never happen here. In fact, rumor has it that he will write the opinion of the majority in the case of the reversal of the decision of the Constitutional Hall in 2003, which said that there as no coup in April 2002, but a power vacuum. This is remarkable jurisprudence; it is the reversal of a decision made by the Supreme Court itself!


 


Article 273 of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, written, passed and approved by Chavez and his comrades, created the “Moral Republican Council” to consider cases like this. They should, but I am sure they wouldn’t, as that Council is composed by three of the sorriest characters of the revolution: The People’s Ombudsman, the Attorney General and the Comptroller. All beyond reproach about their absolute loyalty and dependence from almighty Hugo Chavez. Thus, Venezuela’s Supreme Court will continue to have the presence of this unethical, incompetent and unprincipled man. Please don’t ever forget that this is the same man that rushed to announce on the night of August 16th. that the No vote had won handily. Why? There was no need to do it. But he had to and was rewarded for it.


 


Carrasquero, a true hoodlum in our own Supreme Court!

Francisco Carrasquero: A hoodlum Justice in our Supreme Court

February 26, 2005

In my own warped and simple minded brain, I have this vision of who I think should be in the Venezuelan Supreme Court. First of all, the person, he or she, should be someone with a long career as a lawyer, long and brilliant, someone that even those that have been on the other side of the judicial fence, express their admiration and even awe of them.


The second thing I would expect would be that the person is known as a man/woman of integrity. Ethical beyond reproach, no skeletons in the closet, not even the slightest suggestion of one. Such high ethical principles that after years of practice as a lawyer or in the bench, nobody can even dare accuse the person of anything even bordering on the improper.


 


Too much to ask? Not really. One would think that in a country of 24 million people one should be able to find a dozen or so people. Give them lifetime security so that they are freed from any partisan preferences and let them rule from the Supreme Court, so that everyone will obey the laws and follow the Constitution.


 


I may be naďve, but in many countries, the behavior of Justices and those named to the Court is followed closely and any deviation from the honest and legal behavior expected from such a high position is punished.


 


Thus, the nomination of the former Head of the National Electoral Council (CNE) to be a Justice would not have even been considered in any other country but Venezuela. Francisco Carrasquero presided over the CNE with mediocrity. He was partisan to the end, bending to the whims of the Hugo Chavez at each step, both in the petition to gather the signatures and the recall vote. He was the man that in the wee hours of August 16th. announced to the world a result that to this day is being questioned. There had been no audit as agreed; even the other Directors of the Electoral Board were not allowed in the room where the votes were being totaled. It was a typical political operation in the middle of the night and the gray and obscure Carrasquero presided over it.


 


His partisan behavior earned him a position in the Supreme Court, which his credentials as a lawyer did not qualify him for. But he did the Government’s dirty work. He deserved it; he earned it, he got it.


 


But it is now becoming clear that the former Head of the CNE was so unethical, that he not only hired family members right and left, but ran the CNE like a corrupt warlord running his castle. Mind you, this is not my opinion, this I not my anti-Chavez posture getting the best of me. This is the truth as expressed yesterday by the new Head of the Electoral Board, when he announced that he will void 1,086 personnel movements approved by the former President of the CNE after he was named to the Supreme Court. No, I did not make a mistake, it is indeed a four digit number one, zero, eight and six. One thousand and eighty six people in an institution of 2200..


 


You see Mr. Carrasquero who has the ethics of gangster, was named to the Supreme Court on December 13th. , but stayed in his post at the CNE until January 17th. where he simply acted like the gangster he is. He approved hiring 354 new people and gave salary increases or named to other positions some 732 members of the staff of the CNE. Now, this was no small matter. The CNE has 2200 employees so Mr. Carrasquero increased personnel by 16% and without having the funds promoted 30% of them. This without consulting anyone! Way to go Francisco!


 


But see this is nothing new. Before this took place, Mr. Carrasquero had named two of his brothers Edwin and Enrique, to important positions in the CNE, one to a regional office and the second one as Head of Personnel of the CNE! In this position the CNE hired nephews and nieces of Carrasquero, his wife and even his bodyguards.


 


Let’s look at some of them as detailed by Tal Cual.


 


-Sor Elena Luzardo was executive secretary of the CNE since October 2003. She is the sister of Julio Luzardo who also started working there in 2003. They are the niece and nephew of Edgar Luzardo. All three are relatives of Carrasquero wife.


 


-Then, there is Jesus Duran who started working at the CNE in 2003, he is a cousin of Andreina Fuenmayor who also works there and Karelys Fuenmayor, also staff of the CNE. The two sisters are nieces of Carrasquero; their second last name is Carrasquero.


 


-Then, there is Soraya Gonzalez a lawyer for the CNE who is the niece of Nestor Perez, Carrasquero’s bodyguard and childhood friend. Oh! Nestor’s daughter Ana Karina also has worked at the CNE since 2003.


 


-Then there is Carlos Martinez, son of Altury Tavarez who was Carrasquero’s assistant. We also have Ana Carrasquero his niece. Ramiro Finol, Carrasquero’s neighbor.


 


Oh! I forgot, the CNE’s regulations do not allow any two relatives working there up to the fourth level of cosanguinity.


 


Thus, you can see that Carrasquero has no clue about why nepotism is not ethical and loaded the CNE with relatives and friends during his tenure there and after he was ready to leave.


 


Will Carrasquero be removed from the highest Court of the land? Of course not, it has already become the lowest Court of the land. What would be considered normal behavior in any other country would never happen here. In fact, rumor has it that he will write the opinion of the majority in the case of the reversal of the decision of the Constitutional Hall in 2003, which said that there as no coup in April 2002, but a power vacuum. This is remarkable jurisprudence; it is the reversal of a decision made by the Supreme Court itself!


 


Article 273 of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, written, passed and approved by Chavez and his comrades, created the “Moral Republican Council” to consider cases like this. They should, but I am sure they wouldn’t, as that Council is composed by three of the sorriest characters of the revolution: The People’s Ombudsman, the Attorney General and the Comptroller. All beyond reproach about their absolute loyalty and dependence from almighty Hugo Chavez. Thus, Venezuela’s Supreme Court will continue to have the presence of this unethical, incompetent and unprincipled man. Please don’t ever forget that this is the same man that rushed to announce on the night of August 16th. that the No vote had won handily. Why? There was no need to do it. But he had to and was rewarded for it.


 


Carrasquero, a true hoodlum in our own Supreme Court!

In Brief: Getting rid of opponents, as any autocrat should!

February 26, 2005

–A Judge has prohibited eight Presidents of commercial banks, two ex-Presidents of the Central Bank and two former officials of the Bank Superintendence from leaving the country. They are being charged for usury in the case of indexed loans.


–A Judge ordered the capture of former President Carlos Andres Perez for activating the Plan Avila in 1989 leading to the death of 200 people. Of course, the 2002 “coup” occurred because Chávez activated the Plan Avila which led to more than 20 dead and hundreds injured, but if Chavez ordered he must have had a good reason to do it in his heart. After all, this is a pretty revolution.


 


–The Minister of Information Andres Izarra sent the foreign press to hell, because they did not respond to his lobbying efforts. He also said he would start the “ideological” battle by funding alternate media. Jeez, I wonder if I could get some funding, this is definitely alternate media. But I guess I inform, I don’t lobby, so I probably don’t qualify.


 


–Since opposition leaders Henrique Salas Romer and Salas Feo did not go to the Presidential Palace in April 2002 and can’t be charged for that, the Governor of Carabobo State “Burping” Acosta Carles, will charge them with corruption and make them ineligible to run for any office.


 


–The Attorney General “disqualified” Councilman Carlos Herrera accusing him of blocking and trying to hide those responsible for killing Anderson. Rodriguez, who is in charge of upholding the law in Venezuela, called Herrera “demential and mediocre”. The interesting thing is that Rodriguez said three months ago when Anderson was killed that the case would be solved within days, accusing the opposition. It was Herrera who revealed that there was a lot of money in Anderson’s apartment and there had been a group of lawyers blackmailing people, which turned the investigations towards a completely new direction which has been confirmed by all witnesses. 


 

The Final Carter Report and my critique on the panel that looked at the statistical evidence of fruad

February 26, 2005

Being a masochist, I have read most of the final Carter Center report on Venezuela and the recall referendum. I will not go through the agony of commenting on all of the things I disagree with, but I did find it a little too self-serving.


However, there is one part that I definitely have to talk about, because I have devoted lots of time to it in my personal life and in this blog: Chapter 13, in which the report talks about an “independent” panel on the allegations of statistical evidence for fraud. (pages 127-134).


 


First on the Panel. There were four people in the panel who had the background that qualified them to be on it. However, the report says that they were “independent” experts who had not been involved in the Venezuelan recall referendum. I disagree. Prof. Jonathan Taylor was used as a consultant by the Carter Center the week after the recall vote and his work was subject to criticism by the Venezuelan scientific community, which led him change his work and his conclusions. So, I would take exception to his presence in the panel as an “independent”.


 


In fact, it appears to me that by “independent” the Carter Center seemed to imply that none of them were Venezuelan. A truly “independent” panel should not have included anyone that was involved, worked on or published on the subject of the Venezuela recall in the days following the vote. This would have disqualified both Prof. Rubin and Prof. Taylor.


 


Now, as a scientist I find the whole procedure absurd anyway. Scientific ideas need to be discussed and debated, the most useful panel would have been one of independents in which all of those that did some work on the subject are invited to defend, discuss and debate their work and that of others.


 


The Carter Center has four conclusions. The first one agrees with the work of two of the “independent” panelists, but disagrees with the work of Jimenez and Valladares discussed in my section rrStudies and included in the discussion. Once again, Taylor’s work is quoted but no mention is ever made of why Jimenez is wrong.


 


The second conclusion refers to the work of Hausmann and Rigobon. The conclusion is that there are “other” reasons why these results were obtained, which have not been tested.


 


The third one refers to another conclusion by Hausmann and Rigobon and it is said that “the panel has attempted to replicate” the results and concluded that the anomaly is small. Maybe this should have been a reason to have someone like Rigobon on the panel. After all, many people have been unable to replicate Taylor’s work, but that does not mean that either side is right or wrong.


 


Finally, the panel concludes that there is insufficient evidence that Benford’s law applies to election results. Now, here I must ask: How many undergraduates does it take to screw this particular light bulb?


 


First of all, the data for the Yes vote in the recall does follow Benford’s Law. Second, the data from the 200 Venezuelan Presidential election also follows Benford’s law. So, why didn’t the independent panel hire a couple of undergraduates to reproduce the work of Pericci and Mykoss on the recall vote and the Venezuelan Presidential elections, instead of using data from Chicago or the results for the Valladares’s model? Now, that seems too involved and convoluted to me! In fact, I think the Carter Center should have looked at the last three or four Presidential elections and referenda in Venezuela. By doing that simple study, which can probably be done on a weekend by a couple of undergraduates, then instead of saying that there is “insufficient” evidence, they could have reached a very solid conclusion and would not have to use the word “insufficient”.


 


In fact, if you look at the first graph that Mykoss has here, you would be hard pressed to say that the result of the 2000 Presidential election does not follow Benford’s law and that was an election in Venezuela, not Chicago! The same could be said of Pericci and Torres, how do you explain that the Si follows Benford’s law, but the No does not?


 


In fact, in my old days as a Professor and Researcher, if this were the conclusions of a lab report by a student or a paper submitted to me as a referee, I would have given them a very low grade or rejected the paper. More likely, I would have sent them back to start all over again from the beginning, telling them that their procedures for setting up the panel were not scientific and it was biased. I would have also suggested that they needed to do a lot more work to support their conclusions, before their lab report or paper is completed.


 


Finally, I can only express my amazement that no mention is made of the Exit poll studies that question the results of the recall vote. In fact, the term Exit poll is never mentioned in the text! While there can be errors in the techniques used to make these polls, the study by Sanso and Prado has some really strong conclusions, which would be difficult to explain away even if the exit poll techniques were far from perfect. In fact, since it is never mentioned, I can only wonder if it was simply set aside for the reason that they could not explain it away…


 


As we say in Spanish “Piensa mal y Acertaras”

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