Archive for July 20th, 2005

The shortage that wasn’t. Or is it?

July 20, 2005

Sometimes you have to wonder about these guys in the Chavez Government. look at today’s headline: “Minister denies meat shortage”
Given that my wife could not find meat last week at the store and the
market where I shop had no meat Saturday and Sunday, I delve deeper
into the article: Says the Minister “This perception has been created
because some supermarkets have refused to acquire meat for fear of
being closed, because they do not abide by the regulated price of the
product”. The Minister also explained that there is plenty of meat at
Government supermarkets.

So, there is no shortage, but because the price is controlled, the meat
is not available at some supermarkets, because it is illegal to sell it
above the regulated price. Isn’t that what a shortage is, the
unavailability of products for whatever reason?

Moreover, the Minister boasts that there is plenty of meat in
Government supermarkets. Of course there is. It is imported with
officials dollars, it pays no customs duty, it is sold at non-profit
markets, where all the transportation and labor is provided, free of
charge, by the military. No wonder there is meat at those markets at
regulated prices!

Oh! I forgot, there is no charge for the value added tax at Government
supermarkets either. This is against the law, but hey! This is a
revolution, they do whatever they want, wherever they want and whenever
they want. There is no shoratge of that!

Threats and intimidation are the rule of the day in this regime.

July 20, 2005

While some fools still claim and say Venezuela is a democracy, the truth
is certainly much different. If not, ask reporter Roberto Giusti, one of the
harshest critics of the Government, who not only manages to get at the
Government directly, but through his interviews always gets a reaction out of
the Government, like last Sunday’s interview with Cardinal Castillo Lara.

Giusti also has a TV program in TV station Globovision called Primera Pagina, very early in the
morning and during his program, the National Anthem has to be played, as required by
law. Well, apparently Giusti is not too happy or maybe not yet accustomed to
the new name of Venezuela as
defined by the 2000 Constitution, so he says every morning “The National
anthem of the Republic of Venezuela”, instead of saying explicitly the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela.


Well, this omission appears to irk the Government so much that the General
Secretary of National Defense Council, General Melvin Lopez Hidalgo, sent a letter to the President of
Globovision in which the illustrious General says that Giusti’s
“attitude” can be “appreciated to be an act of provocation against
public authorities”. General Hidalgo adds: “it is a fault or
infraction to insult or disrespect patriotic symbols, specifically the National
Anthem”…”the denomination of Republic of Venezuela used by reporter
Giusti could constitute a violation of constitutional dispositions, since the
current Constitution identifies the Venezuelan state as the Bolivarian Republic
of Venezuela”

Jeez, I certainly wish that General Hidalgo would apply the same
strict precepts to
all of the violations of the Constitution made daily by the Chavez
Government.
With regards to human rights, for example. In fact, recently when
somebody said that a new law being considered by the
National Assembly violated the Constitution, a Deputy from Chavez’ MVR
answered
that they were going to approve it anyway because “they felt like it”.
In fact,
only yesterday, the Chavez backed majority in the National Assembly
approved
the change in the Central Bank’s law that takes away the responsibility
of
managing the international reserves from the Central Bank to the
Government.
This, despite the fact that article 310 of the Constitution says
explicitly
that the Venezuelan Central Bank “will administer international
reserves”
or will not (Art. 320) “validate or finance public policies which lead
to
a deficit”. But this does not bother General Melvin (Am I insulting him
because I left out his last name?), because his boss wants it that way.

But of course, General Hidalgo could care less about violations of the
Constitution, what he really wants to do is to threaten and intimidate
Mr.
Giusti, accusing him of insult or disrespect by omission, which would
certainly create a precedent in Venezuela. After all, Giusti did not
call Venezuela anything but what the country
has been called for the last forty years or so. How can that be an insult? He
did not add anything which could be considered an insult, after all, the term
Bolivarian so far seems to be more of a negative, given the lack of results of
the revolution. Umm, I wonder if I can’t call our President Hugo eirther. Is that disrespectful too?

But this
is what autocratic Government’s are all about. Threaten, intimidate and
discriminate are the rule of the day in order to corner and dimisnih the opposition. While the Government is spending millions
in setting up and buying equipment for creating broadcaster Telesur, it denies
foreign currency to private broadcasters that need to buy new equipment or
newspapers that need to import newsprint. To naive foreigners who have never
lived under an autocratic dictatorship, this may seem like part of daily life,
but to those that are old enough to remember the last dicator, or those that have seen
the autocratic Governments in other countries in Latin America, this are simply
the daily steps towards tighter and tighter control via threats and intimidation
and are certainly not the hallmarks of a democratic society.

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