Archive for February 19th, 2005

The stupid arguments of a Venezuelan General

February 19, 2005

I will not comment much on the outrageous interview with the Head of Corpovargas, General Volta, in El Universal. The guy is so stupid, that in trying to blame the strike for not doing anything in Vargas, he actually pins the blame exactly where it belongs: Government inefficiency and incompetence. This General of the National Guard appears to want to deflect attention from corruption and says that it is the fault (for a change!) of the strike, except, uups! He makes the slight mistake of thinking the strike was in December 2001, and blames it. Then he mentions that the “new” Cabinet was named in April 2002 and he was never given the funds, because they did not exist!


Well, under Venezuela’s tough corruption laws, these are all acts of corruption. When the Assembly earmarks funds for something they can only be spent on that.  In fact, one Venezuelan President was impeached for exactly this. But whether is corruption or not, the fact remains that very little was done for Vargas at a time of huge resources from high oil prices. Moreover, this General has been head of Corpovargas since September 2001, but he has never said he did not have the funds or warned that the people in Vargas were in danger. But there were others saying it over and over, but General Volta was always quiet. Finally, I would like General Volta to explain to me why it is today, almost two weeks after the tragedy that he says for the first time the money never arrived? Was he afraid? Does he want to hold on to his job so badly? Does he have any dignity? Did he think he would not be responsible in the end? What does he have in his head?


 


Finally, General Volta complains about the lack of funding, but a representative from the German Government says that they have tried to give funds to the Venezuelan Government to help in Vargas, but they have been unable to (They are still interested!). Why didn’t he hustle for this money and the one approved by the National Assembly? Was he waiting for Chavez to call? Is he stupid, or simply incompetent? As usual, politics is more important than helping the people.

The Promised Land by Luis Pedro Espańa

February 19, 2005

Luis Pedro Espańa is a researcher from the Universidad Catolica in Caracas. He has spent all of his life studying poverty in Venezuela. I don’t think anyone has devoted more time than him to understanding and measuring poverty in this country. He keeps a low profile, once in a while writing an article in the papers. I wished he had a website with his studies to be able to read them in detail and reference them when necessary.  He wrote this article in today’s El Nacional. It speaks for itself.


The Promised Land by Luis Pedro Espańa


 


At the beginning of this Government, in the now far away year of 1999, part of the team of the then Minister of Cordiplan (today called Planning) met with the researchers of the Project to Study Poverty with the purpose of exchanging and discussing proposals for public policies. We prepared a presentation for them, which was listened to with attention and without any interruptions. At the end, when we thought we would initiate a productive debate with the new national planning authorities one of them dealt swiftly with us when he (dis)qualified us as “Nordian Neo-institutionalists”, and then, once unilaterally labeled, the meeting appeared to have ended.


 


We were ready to leave, after receiving our fist act of Governmental indifference, when another friend from the Government, I supposed out of courtesy, rushed to reveal the true plan against poverty that was being cooked at the Ministry. I have no space to relate to you the minutes of amazement that followed. But it was there that for the first time that we heard that you fight poverty by moving it.


 


I had heard my aunts about painting the houses in barrios so that they would look good from where they saw them (the Caracas La Guaira highway), because they thought one should improve the esthetics of the entrance to the capital; I had read about the practice by the Latin America right and about the prophylaxis of the “disappearance” of panhandlers; I was tired of explaining why birth control in poor women or the abusive practice of sterilization solves nothing because they attack only the consequences of poverty; I had listened to my elders with patience deducing “novel” theories derived from years of experience; but I had never heard that military convoys moving people, things and stuff, would distance the poor from poverty.


 


At that moment we were not able to find out if they were kidding or if it was really an episode of genuine ignorance by a group of revolutionaries that did not know who Pol Pot was, with his brutal displacements of the Cambodian population from the cities to the rural areas.


 


We soon cleared up any doubts we may have had. Soon after that, with the first flooding and mudslides of Vargas “our Pol Pot planners” reappeared, inventing great mobilizations to places such as the Orinoco-Apure axis. They were not screwing with us when they talked about moving poverty, it was serious, and they were pretending to take advantage of the tragedy to turn it into an opportunity to carry out what would be nothing more than a perverse plan.


 


Logically, the mobilization of the people ended under the sign of improvisation. Wherever there may have been some availability of housing, the displaced were persuaded to move there. Guri, Machiques, Merida and many other distant destinies were taken advantage of, to offer the option of a new life, of the Promised Land.


 


With the same speed that hopes were destroyed, due to the lack of jobs, hunger and opportunities, Vargas began receiving back the displaced. With the work of the citizens the mud and debris were cleaned up. Its inhabitants occupied the spaces the best they could and rehabilitated homes and clubs


 


It is not true that they were irresponsible like the Government’s arrogance pretends to tell us. The people of Vargas did their job; it was the authorities that did not do theirs. The private sector, the citizens and their families could rebuild their walls, repair roofs and even get rid of the mud and debris that blocked the access to their homes. But they could not channel the brooks and rivers; build the roads, the bridges, the services for the homes, the sewers and drinking water. They had no way of knowing how the topographical changes (If they were allowed to rebuild, it had to be because they could), the conditions of the land or the new riverbed, just to mention the obvious, implied some form of danger.


 


Even if the new tragedy was forewarned. even if the smallest sprinkle would make it look like everything was getting out of place, even then, the improvisation and carelessness, the authorities were not sensible to criticism.


 


Today Vargas is back to its drama, and given the incompetence and their inability to learn, the answer is exactly the same. Once again the Promised Land, the magic and deceiving offers: housing, jobs and opportunities. The paternalistic state presents itself in operating fashion and goes back and offers the same, the new towns, the Promised Land, housing without jobs, mobilizations to empty out disgraceful shelters, primitive development nucleii, and of course, a lot of loyalty for the hand that provides.


 


I hope that someone in the Government will reconsider, send back the Pol Pots to the universities they came from and decides to organize those from Vargas according to their interests and not to the businesses of those that govern them.

The Promised Land by Luis Pedro Espańa

February 19, 2005

Luis Pedro Espańa is a researcher from the Universidad Catolica in Caracas. He has spent all of his life studying poverty in Venezuela. I don’t think anyone has devoted more time than him to understanding and measuring poverty in this country. He keeps a low profile, once in a while writing an article in the papers. I wished he had a website with his studies to be able to read them in detail and reference them when necessary.  He wrote this article in today’s El Nacional. It speaks for itself.


The Promised Land by Luis Pedro Espańa


 


At the beginning of this Government, in the now far away year of 1999, part of the team of the then Minister of Cordiplan (today called Planning) met with the researchers of the Project to Study Poverty with the purpose of exchanging and discussing proposals for public policies. We prepared a presentation for them, which was listened to with attention and without any interruptions. At the end, when we thought we would initiate a productive debate with the new national planning authorities one of them dealt swiftly with us when he (dis)qualified us as “Nordian Neo-institutionalists”, and then, once unilaterally labeled, the meeting appeared to have ended.


 


We were ready to leave, after receiving our fist act of Governmental indifference, when another friend from the Government, I supposed out of courtesy, rushed to reveal the true plan against poverty that was being cooked at the Ministry. I have no space to relate to you the minutes of amazement that followed. But it was there that for the first time that we heard that you fight poverty by moving it.


 


I had heard my aunts about painting the houses in barrios so that they would look good from where they saw them (the Caracas La Guaira highway), because they thought one should improve the esthetics of the entrance to the capital; I had read about the practice by the Latin America right and about the prophylaxis of the “disappearance” of panhandlers; I was tired of explaining why birth control in poor women or the abusive practice of sterilization solves nothing because they attack only the consequences of poverty; I had listened to my elders with patience deducing “novel” theories derived from years of experience; but I had never heard that military convoys moving people, things and stuff, would distance the poor from poverty.


 


At that moment we were not able to find out if they were kidding or if it was really an episode of genuine ignorance by a group of revolutionaries that did not know who Pol Pot was, with his brutal displacements of the Cambodian population from the cities to the rural areas.


 


We soon cleared up any doubts we may have had. Soon after that, with the first flooding and mudslides of Vargas “our Pol Pot planners” reappeared, inventing great mobilizations to places such as the Orinoco-Apure axis. They were not screwing with us when they talked about moving poverty, it was serious, and they were pretending to take advantage of the tragedy to turn it into an opportunity to carry out what would be nothing more than a perverse plan.


 


Logically, the mobilization of the people ended under the sign of improvisation. Wherever there may have been some availability of housing, the displaced were persuaded to move there. Guri, Machiques, Merida and many other distant destinies were taken advantage of, to offer the option of a new life, of the Promised Land.


 


With the same speed that hopes were destroyed, due to the lack of jobs, hunger and opportunities, Vargas began receiving back the displaced. With the work of the citizens the mud and debris were cleaned up. Its inhabitants occupied the spaces the best they could and rehabilitated homes and clubs


 


It is not true that they were irresponsible like the Government’s arrogance pretends to tell us. The people of Vargas did their job; it was the authorities that did not do theirs. The private sector, the citizens and their families could rebuild their walls, repair roofs and even get rid of the mud and debris that blocked the access to their homes. But they could not channel the brooks and rivers; build the roads, the bridges, the services for the homes, the sewers and drinking water. They had no way of knowing how the topographical changes (If they were allowed to rebuild, it had to be because they could), the conditions of the land or the new riverbed, just to mention the obvious, implied some form of danger.


 


Even if the new tragedy was forewarned. even if the smallest sprinkle would make it look like everything was getting out of place, even then, the improvisation and carelessness, the authorities were not sensible to criticism.


 


Today Vargas is back to its drama, and given the incompetence and their inability to learn, the answer is exactly the same. Once again the Promised Land, the magic and deceiving offers: housing, jobs and opportunities. The paternalistic state presents itself in operating fashion and goes back and offers the same, the new towns, the Promised Land, housing without jobs, mobilizations to empty out disgraceful shelters, primitive development nucleii, and of course, a lot of loyalty for the hand that provides.


 


I hope that someone in the Government will reconsider, send back the Pol Pots to the universities they came from and decides to organize those from Vargas according to their interests and not to the businesses of those that govern them.

Venezuela’s Prosecutor’s self-portrait

February 19, 2005

And you got to love Teodoro Petkoff’s comment in yesterday’s Tal Cual about Attorney General/Prosecutor Isaias Rodriguez. Rodriguez gave an interview in local paper Ultimas Noticias, which Petkoff blasts out of the water.


Isaias Rodriguez does his own self-portrait by Teodoro Petkoff


 


Today Ultimas Noticias publishes a long interview with Isaias Rodriguez. It is difficult to imagine the affable and discreet labor lawyer which we met in Maracay, whose ghoulish poems do not deny a real poetic sensibility, is the same person that involuntarily makes a cruel spoken self-portrait of himself in the popular tabloid.


 


The reporter asks, with respect to a comment by Isaias about newspaper articles that would violate the presumption of innocence: In the case of the Guevara brothers, doesn’t the presumption of innocence apply? Isaias: “Yes, it does”. Questioned again: “Then, why wasn’t the same observation made when they published articles about the Guevara brothers? Reply: “We have no doubt about that the Guevara brothers are really the material authors of this homicide. That has been absolutely proven”. I don’t want to think that Isaias found his law degree in a box of detergent, but that this is simply a new revolutionary doctrine: It is not a judge who will decide about the guilt or innocence, but the Prosecutor’s office itself.


 


This office accuses and sentences. Wonderful (Cojonudo for the Spanish speaking audience). The reporter asks, with respect to the doubts about the honorability of murdered Prosecutor Danilo Anderson:


 


“Have you ever had doubts?” Reply: “The Danilo that I met is a Danilo about whom I have no elements for doubting his honorability, but the investigation is what will determine for me if I can doubt or not his honorability”. They see their faces, but never their hearts. There is one I knew, but maybe there may have been another one that I did not know. If the investigation discovers one different from the one I knew, then, and only then, I will see if I can doubt, even if in this case, in contrasts with that of the Guevara’s, I will presume innocence. His crowning statement:”If I was in her skin (reporter Tamoa Calzadilla, who was pressured to reveal her sources), I would say who gave me the forged document. We have no doubts Isaias, no doubts; you are a true “revolutionary”

Former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice blasts charges against her

February 19, 2005

I have never been a big fan of Cecilia Sosa, the former member of the Venezuelan Supreme Court; I think she stretched the Constitution too far as a member of that Court. But you have to admire her statements as she left the Prosecutor’s office after being charged with writing the infamous decree by Carmona “The Brief” in April 2002 and going to the Presidential Palace on April 12th. 2002.


Among other things Sosa said:


 


“If there is someone that has said that went to Miraflores that day, it is me…I went to Miraflores to do what Chavez’ Ministers did not do. Not even the Justices of the Supreme Court did it that day, because even Ministers dyed their hair so that they would not be recognized and on the other hand, it was perfectly clear that I was absolutely against Carmona becoming President, for reasons that I told him in his face, I did no send the message with anyone, I went like a any citizen to defend institutionality.


 


Separately (Can’t find the link) Sosa said that the Prosecutor should bring charges against the former Chief of Staff Lucas Rincon and all the members of the military high command, since it was them that appeared on TV and said Chavez had resigned, creating all of the events that followed that day.

Sentence against reporter ratified by Venezuelan appeals Court

February 19, 2005

With the expediency that characterizes this Government when it is a matter of going against its enemies, reporter Ibeyise Pacheco’s appeal was rejected by the higher Court and the sentence against her for defamation was ratified. The reporter will have to serve nine months in jail for defamation against a member of the military, unless the Supreme Court gives a different opinion.


Curious how no charges have not been brought against anyone for corruption in six years, how over a hundred cases of political murder remain  with anyone being accused, but political cases against the opposition and reporters are quickly brought to trial and as in this case, receive a sentence and even and appeal, in a short time.

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