Archive for September, 2005

Censorship, black widows and fascist Government officers

September 29, 2005

Vice Minister of Information and Communications on whether Walter
Martinez from the Dossier program in the Government’s TV station was
censored or not when his program was cancelled:

“We only asked that he rectify his conduct”

Of course, Martinez did not, so they cancelled this program. Clearly the
Minister has no clue what freedom of speech is. With Vice-Minister of
Information like that, freedom of speech is clearly non existent. You
can say what you want, but hey, you may be asked to rectify! Martinez’
crime? He said there was a lot of corruption, he had proof and talked
about fake Chavistas with red berets just to make a buck. Martinez still
says he supports the Government.

I always talk about the Chavez praying mantis effect of which Martinez
was a victim. There is also the black widow effect, as told by
journalist Claudio Nazoa in his weekly column in reference to Martinez’
case:

“Revolutions are like black widows, spiders that kill their mate after
they have used them to copulate. Those that persecute today, one day
will be persecuted. Those that suck up and squeal on others, tomorrow
will call us to tell us that they did not know about the things that
were happening.”

Couldn’t have said it better, in criollo “A cada cochino le llega su
Sabado”, all of you pro-Chavez Venezuelans reading this: Remember this,
because we will not forget!

Financial Times article on Venezuela

September 29, 2005

Venezuela speeds up state takeover of industries

By Andy Webb-Vidal in the Financial Times

Venezuela’s
government is accelerating plans to expropriate local agribusinesses
and extend state control over foreign oil and mining industries,
fulfilling President Hugo Chávez’s “revolutionary” economic agenda.

Hugo
de los Reyes Chávez, the governor of the province of Barinas and the
president’s father, issued a decree on Monday expropriating a flour
milling plant belonging to Polar, Venezuela’s largest food company and
the country’s biggest private-sector employer.

The announced
expropriation of some of Polar’s assets, apparently without the
prospect of financial compensation, heralds a new, more integrated
phase in the government’s land redistribution programme.

In
recent weeks dozens of rural estates have been “intervened” in by
officials from the national land institute, often accompanied by the
military.

It is not clear whether the Polar plant, if
confiscated, will be handed over to a workers’ co-operative, as has
been the case with other land expropriations, or whether the assets
will be transferred to new business groups.

Lorenzo Mendoza, president of Polar, said last night: “We consider
this decision to be unjust, disconcerting and unconstitutional.”

President Chávez says he will eliminate large landholdings as part of a
drive to introduce what he terms “socialism of the 21st century”. But
the move against agribusiness parallels a policy of extending
government control over heavy industry. Rafael Ramirez, the energy
minister, said this week that the government might take over oil fields
operated by multinationals if the companies failed to comply with a new
legal operating framework by the end of the year.

Oil companies
are required to sign transitory operating contracts ahead of converting
them into joint ventures with Petroleos de Venezuela, the state-owned
oil company, in which the state will hold a majority stake.

Patrick
Esteruelas, a Latin America analyst at Eurasia Group, said that while
local agribusinesses such as Polar were likely to see expropriation,
foreign oil and mining companies faced a different challenge.

“More
strategic companies are likely to face tighter terms but are not likely
to see their assets expropriated,” said Mr Esteruelas.

The
likelihood of greater state control is also surfacing in the mining
sector. Mr Chávez said last week that a gold mining region known as Las
Cristinas “belonged to the state”. His comments prompted a sharp
decline in the share price of Crystallex, a Canadian mining company
planning to build what would be Venezuela’s largest gold mining venture.

Polar and Chavez clash, Chavez plays dumb

September 28, 2005

Yesterday the Head of the Polar Group outright rejected the expropriation of its plant in Barinas state. Lorenzo Mendoza said
that the act was unfair, baffling and unconstitutional and he had no
plans to negotiate but simply defend the groups’ rights in the Courts.
He stated that as deterrmined by the National Assembly, the plant was
operational and the Government had gone back on the agreements that had
been reached.

Later, the cynical Minister of Agriculture, who had been part of the
agreements mentioned by Mendoza and had said the expropriation was an
“indepndent” act on the part of the Governor of Barinas stare, who
happens to be Chavez’ father, described the future plans for the plant,
proving that the action was in concert with the Central Government, no
matter what these liars try to say.

But the best performance award had to be given to Chavez himself,
who gave his assurances that the State would not tarmple the rights of
the Polar Group, as if an illegal intervention, followed by an
agreement which was violated within a week and an unheard of
expropriation by a Governor of the Polar plant was not trampling
enough. To make the performance even more cynical and threatical Chavez
told Mendoza that they could not break the links, that they could not
throw stones at each other, as if the man with the daily multiple
catapult was not Chavez himself. Chavez’ performance was so incredible,
that I watched it in disbelief wondering if this guy was manic
depressive or what. How can he posibly talk about links when it is his
Government that has acted in its best autocratic style, with total
disregard for the law and the use of military force? The Constitution,
the law and procedures established by it have been bypassed, using a
style calling for negotiations and acting like bullies trying to see
how far down they can push and abuse the other side.

The whole episode is certainly one of the most ominous and threatening
ones in recent Chavez autocratic history. Private property rights seem
to be defined at will by the President himself, without the
judicial power providing the required defense of the Constitution and
the people. The President of the Supreme Court was more concerned
yesterday with criticizing Human Rughts Watch, than with saying
anything about how the law in Venezuela is non-existent, how the rights
of Venezuelans, of all levels, are trampled daily and he stands there
like a mute-deaf-Chavez-puppet allowing the Bolivarian Constitution to
be trampled with, bypassed and ignored by the dictatorial designs of
the only authority he recognizes: Hugo Chavez.

The only saving grace is that Mendoza did not bidge, much like Azpurua
on Sunday. It is time to take a stand before we lose all rights, before
this fake democrats decide they are tired of acting. Who is next? You?

Law of the Jungle part III: Shoot the cops!

September 28, 2005

Well, the Law of the Jungle continued en force in Venezuela, this time in my own municipality.
The story is quite simple and this time there are videos to prove it. A
guy in a Motorcycle, wearing no helmet is stopped by the police of the
Chacao municipality. The guy has a gun which is not of police issue,
identifies himself as a metropolitan cop, but when he is going to be
arrested, escapes. He actually goes in a one way a street in the wrong
direction.

(On the right and left you see the armed “cops”,
brought in by Eduardo Semtei to rescue the cop that the Chacao police had detained. You
can see Semtei, the guy with the Lacoste shirt in the middle picture,
giving orders and you can hear him ordering his cops to shoot the
Chacao cops in the video)


The
local police (Polichacao) pursues him and captures him and they take
him to the headquarters of Polichacao. As they are booking him a
contingent of 60 cops from the metropolitan police shows up, well
armed, led by the Secretary General of the Metropolitan District, the
former infamous former Head of the CNE Eduardo Semtei. They attempt to
take the guy, who is supposed to be a cop by force, when the Chacao
cops refuse to Semtei i.e. heard on the video telling the metropolitan
cops to shoot! Fortunately, they had better sense and did not obey this
nuts commands. (All of this, from the time the cops arrived in
Polichacao was shown in video).

As Lopez told it, this could have created a tragedy and fortunately nothing else happened. Lopez said he would sue
Semtei. Lopez added that had nothing else happened and the cops not
arrived led by Semtei, the Metropolitan cop would have left with a fine
for not wearing a helmet and driving the wrong way in a one way street.

Lopez
also said that he was sure that if he had done something like that, the
Government would intervene his municipality and make a big scandal of
it. Instead, the Minister of Interior and Justice questions what
Polichacao did, for not releasing the cop when he showed the ID from
the Metropolitan Police. Of course, he fails to mention why he escaped,
why he was armed with a non-issue weapon and the fact that he was in
violation of the law for not wearing a helmet. But you see, this is the
law of the jungle, if you are with the Lion King, you do what you
please.

You can see parts of the viedo here.

Editorial of Brazil’s O Globo

September 28, 2005


Today’s Editorial of Brazilian newspaper O Globo

The price of a barrel of oil has increased more than four times in the
last six years and Venezuela (One of the largest oil exporters of the world), earned
billions of dollars more of what the most optimistic projections could have previewed,
Despite this, there has never been so many poor Venezuelans-more than half the population-
and in no other period of its history did poverty grow at such an accelerated rhythm.
This is demonstrated by studies by the United Nations for Development (PNUD)
and the Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas of the country itself.

Colonel Hugo Chavez assumed the Presidency in 1999 with the argument
that the existence of poverty in a rich country was inadmissible and with the
compromise of making a social revolution (Baptized later by him as the Bolivarian
Revolution), to end with poverty in record time. Chavez, as is well known, concentrated
himself more in obtaining more powers than his predecessors and the international
circumstances could hardly be more favorable. Then, what went wrong ?

It is clear that the Bolivarian revolution, a mixture of assistance, populist
rhetoric and certain notions of social justice, far from being the solution to the
problems of Venezuela,
is today the biggest obstacle to for production and the distribution of wealth.
The extra money that has come in, is being misspent in propaganda programs that
at the most guarantee the needy daily survival, from the hand to the mouth, but
do not alter his living conditions.

Chavez selected as his guru Fidel Castro and as compass the anachronic
example of Cuba,
not exactly a model of prosperity and democracy. As if the victory in the ballot
box was a blank check, he, speaking in the name of the Venezuelan people, uses the
executive power to coerce the judicial power, configure the legislative one in
his own image and similarity and intimidate the press

The result
is a country that preserves the institutions as façade, but where the will of
the President prevails over the Constitution. Not by chance, does the Venezuela
of Chávez live in crisis; with freedom threatened and the private sector
fearful and inhibited, even with the price of oil at these heights. It is a
scenario radically hostile to investors, who are horrified at the unexpected,
but that, in a global economy, are the guarantee for the continuous production
of wealth.

Venezuela is not made of paper by Lolita Aniyar de Castro

September 28, 2005

Lolita Aniyar de Castro is an academic criminologist who was elected as
Governor of Zulia state for the MAS (Movement towards Socialism) party
in 1993 to replace in Dic. 93 the Governor of that State who was running
for President. She wrote this article in today’s Tal Cual:

Venezuela is not made of paper

What are you making of Venezuela, you round President? Where are you
taking it? Tell me, because I voted for you. You no longer have that
emaciated face that we all saw on TV. At that moment, people like me, of
the anti authoritarian left, that had confronted all of the corruption
of the previous Governments, believed that you were a way out of so much
disenchantment.

We wanted a healthier democracy, moor horizontal, with more
participation. We can all make mistakes, if we know how to ask for
forgiveness.

I ask my country for forgiveness. I was away and had not seen your fist
hit the palm of your other hand. Sensitive like I am to symbols, I would
have known what waited for my country, compressed between those hands
that are hitting it without mercy, while you smile.

I also voted for the Constitution. I ask for forgiveness, I beg that you
all forgive me! I make public contrition, painful and shameful, of my
errors. It was blinding for my heart impregnated of teachings about
human rights, that text that recognized all the rights that I had fought
for in my academic and political life.

I ask for forgiveness to see if you learn to ask for it too, not when
you are on your knew and without power, but now that you have
accumulated all of the power in your pockets, even those human rights
that you proclaimed. I forgot (I am sorry!) what I always said in my
courses and wrote in my books that in fake democracies the Constitutions
is used for everything but it is seldom followed. That the law is
symbolic and even theatrical and it “does things with words”. That is,
that people believe more in what is said than what is done.

Then I saw you walk making political “S'”. First you said that you were
with the Third Way. Then you hung on to your uniformed fellow, the Said
Ceresole. Then it was the Sea of Happiness. Later the confusing theory
of the German-Mexican that recently visited us: or you go running to ask
Fidel each time you don’t know what to do. Is it that you don’t know
what to do with Venezuela?

What potpourri of Stalinist, mussolinist, communist, socialist,
cooperativist, peronist, miltarist theories have those that surrounded
you up to now introduced into the mixing bowl of your brain? You have
played marbles with Venezuela. You have wiped your buttocks with it.
Because you don’t tell the country what is that “XXIst. Century
socialism” that you are accepting today. (Tomorrow, who knows!)

Why don’t you explain? Return our self-esteem to us, which was one of
the most stimulating virtues of Venezuelans. We have a right to know
where we are going, those that voted for you and those that did not vote
for you. Of socialism we have read and seem many types, both in history
and in books. Some we like, others we don’t. But we have doubts about
you. Many doubts.

Of your coherence to govern, of course, not of your inclination to be
emperor. There you are very clear. And that is what strikes the hardest
this horizontal and democratic heart of mine.

Only known case of land distribution to the “poor” known to date

September 28, 2005

Chávez’ father in page A-14 of El Nacional today:

Q: In last Sunday’s march, protesters were asking for the expropriation of the land you and your sons own in Barinas State.

A: No, because the lands I have are owned by the State.

Ahhh, I see!

HRW blasts Chavez Government, is anyone listening?

September 28, 2005

It seems like yesterday when I was blasting Human Rights Watch in 2002 for criticizing the opposition for things that Chavez did routinely, right after the aftermath of Chavez departure in 2002. I really thought that Vivancos’ reports at the time were bad, except for their support of human rights organizations PROVEA and COFAVIC. The Chavez Government on the other hand paraded Vivancos and his report both locally and abroad to show what the bad guys in the opposition were doing. My own personal opinion is that Vivancos was watching things from afar at the time. He was naďve, but thankfully he came and stayed a while and got the true picture of what was going on.


In fact, turn the clock back five more years and the same happened at that time with PROVEA and COFAVIC. Chavez used to quote these NGO’s reports, hail them for their work, and say that these were the true patriots. Until they began criticizing him…In fact, the only moment I ever doubted my non-support for Chavez was precisely when he praised these organizations that I admired so much.


 


Well, today HRW is the same for the Chávez administration, Vivancos is a CIA operative, paid by who knows who, a representative somehow of the US, as if he had no track record in defending human rights. The Chávez administration wants nothing to do with him, as Vivancos dared to come to Caracas and call the Venezuelan judicial system “so weak” that it justifies for the OAS to invoke the Interamerican Charter over the issue.


 


Vivancos in his speech yesterday cited not only the lack of judicial responsibility, but also pointed out the threats to freedom of speech via legislative measures like the Content law, the reform of the Penal code that has led to actions without precedent, the persecution of human rights fighters as well as the disregard by the Venezuelan State for the precautionary measures of the Interamerican human rights commission.


 


But to my amazement, I wonder where all those people that called for better treatment of those that staged the 1992 coup in Venezuelan jails are today? They were not only well treated, but they were pardoned, paid their military pensions and many were even hired by the Caldera Government to run social programs. Where are these fighters for human rights today when the Venezuelan judicial system is a travesty? When ONG’s are persecuted for the simple fact that they try to defend voter rights? When women are trampled on the streets by Robocop looking fascist National Guards? When the number of people killed in confrontations with police is up five fold? When homicides are p three fold? When innocent civilians are shot death in the streets while they are protesting against the Government? When Chavista groups armed to their teeth kidnap and intimidate international reporters? When TV stations and radio stations are intimidated by Government officials or supporters? Where are you people? Do you simply have a double standard?


 


I will never forget my visit to Argentina many years ago, right after the last military dictatorship. I met a bunch of what were then to me kids, that were going to attend a course I gave at the time. They told me about their university class. How they were all persecuted for being academics. I asked how many there were, fourteen was the answer. And only five had actually survived. I asked them how this could be. They said nobody cared, whether in Argentina or abroad, they were just abstract numbers. Life simply went on And things did not happen overnight there. This was at the end. We can not let the same happen here. Hopefully Vivancos, PROVEA and COFAVIC will continue fighting and letting the word out. But will you?


 


Do not let Venezuela follow the path of Argentina or Cuba, do something!

Chavista law of the jungle reaches National Assembly

September 27, 2005

This is a picture of opposition Deputy Pastor Heydra after he was attacked by his friendly neighbor at the National Assembly, MVR Deputy Ibrahim Velasquez yesterday. Velasquez took Heydra by surprise and hit him drawing blood. Said Velasquez: “I wanted to teach him to be a man, he keeps accusing me of being corrupt, humilliating me”. I guess it is simply a Chavista style, the Law of the Jungle, use force whenever you feel like it, no civilized form of interaction allowed. Way to go Ibrahim!.


Yesterday’s Editorial of La Folha de Sao Paulo

September 27, 2005

Chavez and Poverty


For those that support the social policies of the Government of Hugo Chavez, the recent report by the economic commission for Latin America (CEPAL) should serve as an alert. The document makes it clear that that the policies pursued by him have not contributed to the reduction of poverty and inequalities.


Elaborated on the basis of data from 2004-the fifth year of Chavez’ Government-the study shows that the Chavista administartion was responsible for a marked step backwards: of a list of 17 countries in the region, Venezuela came in the next to last place, ahead only of Argentina, with respect to combating extreme poverty. From 2000 to 2004, the report points to a drop of 64% in the index that measures the reduction of poverty. The National Institute for Statistics, the official entity of the Venezuelan Government, recognizes that poverty grew from 42.8% in the first half of 1999 to 53% at the end of 2004.


It happens to be a terrible performance when you take into account that the country is undergoing one of the best economic circumstances of its history. The fifth oil exporter in the world, Venezuela grew last year by 17.4%.


In the face of matters of this nature, there is nothing like placing the sadly famous Bolivarian revolution on check. The urgency for the distribution of income was always the most visible flag of the Government-and it was in the name of it that the Venezuelan President ran over such precepts as the independence and equilibrium of powers.


In six years in power, Chávez appears to have been more efficient in the creation of factoids for a parcel of the left, than in obtaining results. When social indicators do not respond to the favorable economic context and the large intervention by the State, one is forced to recognize that the excesses of the Chavista regime, beyond being indefensible, are not very efficient in their objectives.

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