Archive for April, 2005

More on Tascon’s list

April 24, 2005

The Tascon list continues to be in the news, don’t want to bore you to
death with it but it is getting very interesting from a legal point of
view and Tascon is contradicting the facts quite a bit:

-El Nacional has started with its own stories on people who were
affected by being on the list. Yesterday they ahd an article of a guy
who was named alternate judge, until they found out that he had signed
agaisnt Chavez and his nomination was revoked. What makes this case
interesting is that it all happened after Chavez said the list should be buried.

Today El Nacional continues with nine cases of people who were either
fired or not hired because they were on Tascon’s list. The most
intersting case is that of three lawyers who were fired, reportedly on
orders from Vice-President Rangel himself, from teh National Borders
Institute. They sued and lost but are appealing. What makes the case
most intersting is that teh judge that ruled against them said that
there was no crime involved in firing them because the had sigend
agaisnt Chavez! The lawyers also say that they were told that if they
withdrew their siganture they could continue working at their
positions. All four people at that institution who signed were fired
and one of them, a 72 year old man, did withdraw his signature.

-But perhaps the most interesting article in El Nacional today, is that
Enrique Naime, a former negoiator of the conditions for the recall vote
for teh opposition, said that Tascon obatined his list by moving into
the CNE twenty photocopy machines on January 13th. 2004, which were
placed in the public relations office, the secretary general’s office
and the auditorium, in order to copy the forms submitted by the
oppsoition with the names and id numbers of those that signed the
petition for a recall referendum agaisnt Hugo Chavez.

Accoridng to Naime, he talked to two CNE Directors and was told to talk
to the President of the CNE, now Judge of teh Supreme Court, who told
him that the Government ahd the right to do it. Naime says it took ten
days to copy all of the signatures and it was none other than Deputy
Luis (alias Adolph) Tascon, who supervised the whole process. Naime
says he has copies of the memo in which the CNE authorizes the copying
of the signatures. Somuch for accusing Sumate!

Tascon also says in today’s paper that he is proud of what he did.

Alek Boyd in today’s El Universal

April 24, 2005

Kudos to Alek Boyd of proveo and vcrisis for his interview with Roberto Giusti in today’s El Universal.
The main topic of the interview is the pecadillos of Eva Golinger, but
the real importance is how the volunteer work of a few bloggers has
managed to transcend the blogs as described by Daniel. Good job Alek!

Privileges and auctoritas at IBIC

April 21, 2005

I left science 14 years ago (Yes, three Governments ago!) because I did
not think the path that the Venezuelan Government was pushing science into made
much sense or had much future for me or for Venezuela. Things have gotten worse, much worse, as
this article by Jaime Requena, infamous for his Requena Files on the
left, tells us in this very good (and sad!) article, which appeared in
El Nacional yesterday.

and auctoritas at IBIC
by Jaime Requena

few days
ago in a newspaper interview, the Vice-Minister of Planning and
Development of
the Ministry of Science, architect Luis Marcano, delineated the public
that will serve as reference for the scientific research and technology
projects that will be carried out in the country, specially at IVIC.
to his evaluation, that institution does not fulfill a social function,
thus, one has the intuition, it must be reformed. Of special concern
for the high official are the
alarming “privileges” that the researches enjoy, which, one as the
intuition, must be
eliminated. Without any details, the Vice Minister turned into a state
suspicion not only what many have demonstrated are important and
contributions to knowledge, but also to the way and manner in which
knowledge is generated; what sociologists call the ethos of IVIC.

If the
ministerial admonition implies promoting the hiring of new talent and stopping
the loss of brains ; providing labs with equipment and consumption goods;
renovating the wounded and incomplete library; updating salaries at levels of misery; or
establishing a plan for the acquisition of essential goods, like vehicles or
housing using very soft loans like those the Banco Industrial gives the
military, then we welcome the pruning and let’s devote ourselves to rewrite the
Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (DRAE); to endure deficiencies would come to be a synonym to enjoying prerogatives.

if the admonition is directed at eliminating the fundamental characteristics of
the social contract of IVIC, which has been the search, without obstacles nor limitations,
of new knowledge that defy imagination; the free play of ideas without
discrimination for reasons of sex, age, convictions or social origin; or the
evaluation of personnel by his academic peers and on the basis of quantifiable
merits, strictly professional and intellectual, then let’s continue rewriting
the DRAE, because ethical values would be the same as privileges. We should also
then be prepared to write the obituary for science in Venezuela.

straighten out battered IVIC one would require a diagnosis, a plan and
leadership. The diagnose was already made through the dogmatic statements. As for
the plan of reorganization, it must be clandestine since nothing has been made
public, while the auctoritas of the
institutional leadership are open to question. Indeed, besides the legitimacy
of the Director who occupies the position-he was overwhelmingly rejected by his
colleagues during the consultation for his nomination-it is fitting to question
if he, together with his Sub Director, would be disposed to show the way to
the subordinates and immolate fertile scientific careers developed at the
institution during the last forty years.

As the
authorities of IVIC, they would be in charge of ordering the scientific
personnel under their charge, so that they stop researching on what they have
been doing and begin working on subjects chosen by the politburo, to provide
technical support to initiatives which are the object of presidential whim.
They would have to leave aside their studies about the quantum deformation of
Hamiltonian systems (sic) or the molecular structure of the head of the myosin
of the muscles of the tarantula (sic) to devote themselves to explore, elbow to
elbow with their subordinates how to prepare telita cheese for export,
primordial requirement of the Mama Carabobo Mision, the reevaluation of babandi, of
immediate necessity for the dysfunctional beneficiaries of the mission chief
General Cipriano Castro or fantasize about the new applications for malojillo
poultice, advanced party for the magic recipe book of the babalaos
(Santeria priests) of the Mision Orisha (a

Even if
the silence of the authorities of the institute about the lucubrations and
opinions of the Vice Minister indicate conformity, to set about the process of
transformation will provide them with the opportunity of showing their
commitment, giving an inescapable example. Regrettably, I fear very much that
so much party discipline and professional largesse, that could even reach
almost quasi heroic levels, will not carry to a happy ending the conversion of
what used to be the best research center south of the Rio Grande, into the
revolutionary Instituto Bolivariano de Investigaciones Cientificas.
I don’t see a future to explore the course of a science like the one the
Vice-Minister encourages: pseudo, given that it is new, parochial, because it
is endogenous, and populist, instead of social.

Two cynics come out of the woods again today

April 21, 2005

It was a day for the cynics to come out of the woods today:

(picture of Adolfo Tascon courtesy of Noticiero Digital, thanks Ed!)

1) Deputy Luis (alias Adolph) Tascon came out
and said that his infamous list was actually purchased for “thousands
of dollars” from an executive of ONG Sumate. This is actually quite
good, as it gives more material for the Prosecutor to investigate. For
example Tascon could explain to us why:

-He didn’t say anything about this before, as was his duty.

-Why he participated in acquiring what was clearly illegal property, as was his duty.

didn’t he denounce a “thousand dollar transaction” in a country where
it is illegal today to carry out such a transaction as well as being
illegal to hold “thousands of dollars”, as was his duty.

-Why he went ahead and posted it anyway and used it in the way he did, despite knowing its obscure and illegal origin.

immunity as a Deputy of the National Assembly should be removed, so
that all of these crimes committed by him and others can be
fully investigated.

2) The other cynic that showed his face was the People’s Ombudsman who said
that it was a defaming to accuse an “institution of human rights” like
the one he presides. It turns out that someone that worked in his
office accused him today of firing her for signing against Chavez. I
loved his “human righties” answer: “No, I fired her because, I could
and no law protected her!”. You have to love this guy. He would not
recognize a human right he ever saw one, he always argues law (if he is
not traveling), but he comes out to defend the indefensible.

Where was German Mundarain, the People’s Ombudsman on April 11th, 12th.
2002? Where was he when the human rights were violated in dozens of
marches, people getting killed and injured? Where was he when the
Tascon list was openly used to fire and abuse people? Where was he when
kids were violently kicked out of their homes by the National Guard?
When Jose Vilas was shot in the back by the National Guard? When
soldiers were burned and burned and burned alive in their cells?

Human Rights? Defamation? Give me a break, German!

Venezuela: A new laboratory for Marxism and Marxist experiments?

April 21, 2005

for the nature of the Chavez revolution should carefully read this link
and the three accompanying ones, where Marxist activities and proselytizing are
described in detail and in plain language. In the first link Chavez’s brother
and intellectual alter ego, his brother Adan, declares himself a Marxist and
calling to reclaim Marxism in the revolution in the same way they have
reclaimed the ideas of others (Did not know Zamora had any ideas!). He also
describes his brother’s recent intellectual “evolution”. Combine that with Chavez’
militarism and you get a clear picture of what type of ideological potpourri these
guys have, which bodes badly for Venezuela. At least Adan does not
go as far as his brother in calling the family poor. He is asked if he came
from a humble background, which he answers affirmatively and then proceeds to say
how his parents are both retired schoolteachers from Barinas. Two
schoolteachers salaries in Barinas in the 70′s placed the Chavez family
squarely in the middle class of Venezuelans and not the “poor” that
Chavez always claims.

The interview
also reveals how Chavez has always lied about why he joined the military. One
of those explanations (there are a few different ones) has always been that since he came from a poor family, he
could not attend the university. But his eldest brother Adan did! I guess he
came from the poor side of the brothers.

The other
three links show how Venezuela
has become a hotbed for the spread of the type of Marxist ideas that have
proven to fail everywhere. I particularly found the existence of a talk about “Workers’
control, Venepal shows the way” to be short of hilarious. The company is being
subsidized by the Government. It is already in trouble. What a farce! An what a tragedy for Venezuela!

Venezuela increases income tax on oil projects

April 20, 2005

I don’t know why I had missed this item, but Venezuela on Sunday announced
that it was increasing the income tax rate on all operating oil
projects from a 34% to a 50% rate effective when all companies are
notified. The increase will apply only to operating projects and not to
joint ventures such as Cerro Negro, Petrozuata, Sincor and Hamaca.

This will, of course, increase income for the country. It does create
two problems which in the end affect the credibility and attractiveness
of the country: First of all, all of these projects were planned when
the tax rate was 34%, which was ratified three years ago when the new
Hydracarbons Bill was approved with the majority of this Government.
Most of these are marginal fields which are very old and yes, they make
money today at high prices, but what if they do go down. The second
problem is that it is a very high rate. This is the income tax on the
earnings fo the companies, on top of the royalties. This implies that
there will be reduced inetrest in other such agreements and these
projects may not get loans form their home companies if they were
needed when prices go down if the rate of return is not adequate.

Don’t play dumb Isaias! by Teodoro Petkoff

April 20, 2005

Don’t play
dumb Isaias!
by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

Don’t you
think you have to ask that the parliamentary immunity of Adolfo Tascňn be

Isaias Rodriguez has sent us a short setter congratulating Tal Cual on its
fifth anniversary. In a few lines he tells us: “Let this opportunity be an
occasion to wish for the recovery of the vocation for social service that has
always distinguished Venezuelan journalism, forgotten, at times, for the mere
interest of selling a product to obtain gains, or confused by the political stardom
assumed by part of the media in the last few years.”

Taking advantage of the suggestion,
we also wish for the recovery of the social vocation that should distinguish
the General Prosecutor of the Nation, forgotten, in these years, for the mere
desire of placing the institution that is supposed to guarantee legality in the
acts of the Government and the State, at the service of the circumstantial political
interest of President Chavez, to guarantee the impunity of the crimes by the
Government and the State. What Isaias says about the media and his criteria about
that will be left for another opportunity, because after the public recognition
made by the President of the Republic of the continued and systematic perpetration
of a crime by his Government, which was the elaboration and public broadcasting
of the roguishly famous list of Adolfo Tascon and of the use that official
institutions have made of it to violate the law and the Constitution, trampling
the human rights guaranteed by the latter, the “bicha”.

Chavez has already completed the
most important part of the investigation.

What he said is condensed in a
judicial aphorism which nobody can object: “When people confess, you need no
proof”. Chavez confessed that the McCarthyst list of Adolfo Tascon exists and
recognized that it had been used to deny work or fire Venezuelan citizens, as
well as to deny or make it difficult, to the point of humiliation, any
transaction with any official institution which any citizen attempted to make, in
legitimate use of his constitutional rights.

Will you reach, Isaias, the
Rangelian cynicism of saying that they were “exaggerations” of the opposition and
that there was no crime? This is now beyond doubt, because Chavez even
described the modus operandi. There was a crime. Its intellectual author
confessed. By the way Isaias that if he had not done it, you, not even if drunk,
would have thought of ordering an investigation about a crime that was public
and well known. That’s not the way you are. You don’t even dare to not laugh at
a single joke by him. You are scared of Chavez. But you have been liberated
Isaias, I the Supreme, admitted the crime. You have nothing to fear now.

It is now your turn to accuse the material
authors of the crime. I am not going to ask, because I know you will not go
there, even in the most daring of your deliriums, to investigate the intellectual
authorship. To charge the material authors you don’t even need the courage of Fermín
Toro. You have to start by asking Chavez to give you the letters that he claims
to have received in which the tasconian abuses were exposed to yhim. Using those,
you will have the name of the institutions and officials that committed the
crimes. You have to find out, Iasias, something which is not difficult, how was
it that Tascon obtained the lists for the consultative and recall referenda. At
the CNE, they can probably tell you. We are not going to demand, Isaias, that it
was your duty as Prosecutor, by just way of “notitia criminis”, that you were
obligated to investigate how during months, a Deputy of the Republic maintained
a webpage open so that all the little kings of the regimen could consult it. What
would be the point? But now, you can’t play dumb, Isaias. Don’t you think you have
to request the removal of the parliamentary immunity of Adolfo Tascon, to request
that he be tried? The matter is not just simply to “bury” the McCarthyst list.
Of course, that is not a bad thing, but the crimes committed in its name, can
not be buried. That is why you were named: to prevent that the Government bury
its own crimes.

Manipulated Democracy

April 20, 2005

I have been holding off on commenting on the internal
elections of Chavez’ MVR party, after all, holding elections of his party is
more democratic than anything the opposition has done in the last few months
for its supporters. And if truly democratic and fair, one has to praise Chavez
and his MVR because if there is something this country needs is a huge dose of
democracy, no matter where it comes from.

Having said that, the process has not been as free or
as democratic as desired. Other parties
in Chavez’ coalition like PPT and Podemos were only allowed to field candidates
according to a predetermined quota. Who decided on the quota? MVR authorities,
of course. This, of course, is a distortion of the process as it does not give
individuals the right to field their candidacies. We could call it manipulated democracy.

Similar complaints have been raised in many parts of
the country. Basically, MVR authorities closely controlled who could run, in
some sense limiting the extent of the democratic process. But, once again,
people did vote and participated in electing some of the candidates which is definitely
a step forward in this beleaguered country.

But the ugly face of the process did flare up yesterday,
when the celebration of the anniversary of the country’s independence, which
was organized, led and composed of Chavistas, was interrupted
by a violent protest
by other Chavistas. Their basic complaint was that only
those chosen by the Mayor of the Libertador District himself, Freddy Bernal,
were allowed to be candidates in the process.

The speaker at the ceremony was none other than “mystic”
General Baduell, which meant that
Bolivar square was full of National Guards. Despite this, the protest got to be
so strong that the General had to actually cut short his speech.

But the most surprising aspect was that the same Government
that has been so critical of the manipulation of information by the private TV
channels, the same person, now Minister of Information, who resigned from a
private TV channel in April 2002 in protest for the blackout of Chavista
protest by that channel, chose to simply hide what was happening. The ceremony was
actually being transmitted live by the official TV channel. But if you watched
it, you could not tell anything anomalous was taking place. No images of the protests
were shown, the microphones were carefully manipulated so that the sounds of
the protests could not be heard, and most images became simply close-ups of the
speakers, so that the surroundings could not be seen. Only if you watched
carefully did you notice that Baduell cut short his speech, which was confirmed
today by the press.

The explanation by Minister of Information Izarra was
typical of this carefully manipulated democracy. Said Izarra: “This was not a
news program, …we were transmitting an official act. It is the policy of the
Ministry, it was the instruction given”. Yes Andres, you can justify anything,
when you are the one guilty of manipulation. Excuses are the easiest thing to
come up with.

Thus, even the attempts to make this country look more
democratic by one hand of Chavismo appear to be quickly destroyed by the other
hand. The truth is, the protests are not covered by any of the “official” sources
today either. But we are sure Minister Izarra certainly has an explanation for
how this “news” sources were not covering the “news” yesterday either. Could it
be that the Minister instructed them not cover it? Or did the Minister have other reasons for this additional manipulation?

The Pope Blog

April 19, 2005

Where else can you learn about the election of the Pope and the new Pope himself? Obviously, go to : The Pope Blog , a sign of the times!

The amazing cynicism of the People’s Ombudsman about Tascon’s list

April 19, 2005

You really have to admire the ability of the People’s Ombudsman
keep a straight face
when referring to Tascon´s fascist list. He says

“I am convinced that those lists were used and pointed
to publicly, people from the opposition pointed out that the Government used
them to intimidate those that those that did not share ideas and from the
Government it was also pointed out that the opposition, in the private sector
and in the municipalities and Governorships …to threaten and persecute the
people that identified themselves with the Government”

First of all, the list only contained those that
signed against Chavez, so what is he saying that the opposition fired people
that did not sign? Now, that would really be hard to prove. And then comes the
cynical part:

“Investigations advanced by his office have not been
able to find proof of the use of this instrument to fire people…from a legal
point of view there is no evidence”

Well, maybe he can’t read and understand what Tal Cual has been carrying, with ID numbers
and names. Or the fact that in institutions like FOGADE close to 200 people who
had signed against Chávez were fired and replaced by an equivalent number of
people none of which had signed. But
the real problem is that people have gone to his office to complain about being
fired or denied a passport or a national ID card and they were turned away by officials from the Peoples’ Ombudsman
office. The reason? They were too busy with more important cases! In fact, at
the time, these cases were in the newspapers, where some of those that felt
affected went to denounce what was going on.

But this is the same cynical People’s Ombudsman who
comes out and accuses the US of intervening in Venezuelan affairs (does he have
proof?) or of participating in the April 2002 coup (does he have proof?) or
never showed his face when citizens were repressed by Government troops (and
some were killed or injured, but he just does not care). Mr Mundarain is simply
a cynic who enjoys the trappings of his diminished office, an office that is
new in Venezuelan legislation, but under Mundarain it has done little to
protect Venezuelans, becoming a farce of the much ballyhooed Moral Council
introduced by the new Bolivarian Constitution. In fact, Mr. Mundarain has spent
one third of his time traveling to “learn” about similar offices in the world,
or promote himself to preside the international organizations that group them.

But when it comes time to defend the Government, this
sad figure of the
is quick to show up, defend the Government and condemn the opposition or
whatever Chavez wants.

In one or two weeks when
proof will be provided in detail to hhis office by groups that are gathering
such evidence right now, he will either say nothing or find a legal argument
why the evidence can not be used. He simply does not understand that his office
is supposed to defend the people, both legally and morally. But to defend
morality, you have to have morals and ethics. To defend democratic principles,
you have to be a democrat. To defend human rights, you have to believe in them.
Once more, Mr. Mundarain shows he understands none of these principles. He has


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