Archive for December, 2005

The amazing “logic” of the leaders of the revolution

December 16, 2005

–Can’t find the link but Hugo Chavez toured the repairs of
the viaduct that I wrote about last week and used his characteristic revolutionary
logic. First he said that the media had blown the problem out of proportion,
later he said that the problem with the viaduct could not be solved.

–The Supreme Court suspended
the use of the Sicri, the credit database used by the finance sector to look at
credit histories and risk. The reason? The People’s Ombudsman is seeking to
have the Court declare illegal the decrees that created the use of this
database, because its existence endangers the rights to “confidentiality, privacy
and intimacy”. This is the same “People’s Ombudsman who has never said or done
anything about the Tascon, Maisanta and Santa Ines lists, which grossly and
massively violated those same rights in addition to others like the secrecy of their
vote, the right to dissent and have been discriminated because of their
political views.

–The President of the Supreme Court said that the right to
dissent has not been eliminated but you have to assume responsibilities for the
damage you cause referring to the case of union leader Carlos Ortega who was
sentences to 15 years in prison for leading the 2002 strike. Mora said that “the
oil strike (it was a general strike) was a rebellion, it was not a labor strike”.
However, said Mora: “He can appeal” Jeez, imagine when the President of the
Supreme Court has already sentenced you publicly, is there any chance that the decision
can be changed.

–The President of the Electoral Board said
Venezuela
has the most modern voting system in the world. But the Vice-President of that
same Board says
that with such a modern system we should have known the results faster. In
fact, we still don’t know the results and the data was not presented in the
same fashion as in the August regional elections where you could see the
results online ballot box by ballot box.

–The Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations said
that the Government will revise the invitations for international observers. According
to none other than the sister of the President of the Electoral Board, the Government
told both the EU and OAS that they disagree with the reports written by both
groups of observers. Said Rodriguez: “This country is not no man’s land where
any foreigner can come and do what they please” You are right Delsy, but they
were not any foreigners, they were the ones you invited, courted, wined and
dined to show what a wonderful, clean and transparent voting system you had.
But somehow, their criteria for clean, wonderful and transparent are much
stricter than those of your brother’s.

–And how about Venezuela’s
Ambassador in Spain
who
now
claims Sumate compiled and made the Tascon and Maisanta lists! Does he
know that it contains the Electoral Registry that the CNE has refused to give to
the opposition? Does he know it has cross references to whether the voter is
has participated in the “Misiones”. Does he know it classifies Venezuelans as “Patriots”
or not, where patriots are those who are not opposition? Does he know that it
is updated every time there is a new election for which Sumate has no access to
the data? To make matters even worse, he says that the list is not secret,
because anyone can buy it for about a Euro in the streets of Caracas. Does this
guy think people are stupid?

Devil wins Weblog Award, thank you all for voting

December 16, 2005

Have to go to work and I find that I did indeed win the Weblog Award
for 2005 for the best Latino, Caribbean and Sout American blog. I
really thank all of those that took interest and voted for me.
Initially I thought that Babalu or the Real Cuba
would win, these excellent blogs tell us about the plight of a country
which has had a perverse Government for almost 50 years and it is hard
to compete against such horror. But thanks to some friends found
through this three and a half years of writing Ed at Venezuelatoday and the people at Noticiero Digital, who told everyone to vote for me, I won, beating Alek of vcrisis,
another great blog about Venezuela. I am, of course, extremely pleased,
anything that turns eyes to what is happening to Venezuela is important
and gives me a special sense of accomplishment. Thank you to all of you and
perhaps it is best to thank you all with part of a song. Fortunately, you
will not have to hear me singing it, since I have a terrible voice:

Lend me
your ears and I’ll sing you a song,

And I’ll try not to sing out of key.

I get by with a little help from my friends,

I get high with a little help from my friends,

Going to try with a little help from my friends

The Trial by Teodoro Petkoff

December 15, 2005

It is Christmas, a time for joy and peace, I just came from a party at
my office that shows what a wonderful society we live in. All people are
nice, they like to have fun. But lurking in the background are all
these problems, most of them created by Chavez, that seem somehow
foreign to all of us. Revenge and hate have seldom been part of the
Venezuelan vocabulary, but Chavez has made them so. This is
unfortunate, there have been many chances for peace and reconciliation.
Unfortunately , I harbor no hope that the Chavez Government will take
advantage of this moment. as Petkoff suggests in this Editorial.

The trial by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

The trial and sentence of Carlos Ortega, because of a crime as indefinable
and undefined such as “civil rebellion” is simply a political trial. A
political conduct was tried and the sentences also carry a political meaning.
The field of justice is narrowly bounded by judicial coordinates and judges
must move within them. The political one has a margin which is much wider. The
trial of those that revolted on 4F (1992) and 27N (1992), which from a strictly
juidical point of view, should not have concluded and from the strictly
judicial point of view, if they had been followed up to the end, should have
concluded with a sentence for “military rebellion” from 25 to 30 years of
prison for their leaders. However, two years later, for political reasons,
having to do with the demands of a political juncture, the leaders of both rebellions,
as well as their followers, were all freed. Similarly, in the decade of the
60’s , the trials and sentences for armed rebellion were in the end treated
politically, from the perspective of a horizon of politically overcoming the trauma
that the country suffered at that time.

The sentencing of Ortega passes the football to the field of the
Government. It is the opportunity which it has to contribute so that the
country advances on the path to a political climate which is less conflictive.
Both the Government as well as the National Assembly, each of them separately
or together, has the opportunity to take the measures that can go from the
dismissal of the cases to a Law of Amnesty. Without any doubt the country would
welcome with approval acts that would tend towards the reconstruction of an
atmosphere of more tolerance and respect in national political life and to
reduce the levels of demential polarization that have exhausted the social
sectors of the country.

Opinion
polls about the values of Venezuelan society reveal that the first aspiration
of more than 90% of it, at all social and economic strata, is that of peace,
that of a quitter atmosphere, of less political conflict. It is a signal that
all political sectors should consider seriously, but above all, the Government,
whose capacity to act in this dircetion is much greater than that of all other
political actors. At the end of the day, those who get the most should be asked
the most.

A measure of amnesty that would free all political prisoners even corresponds,
to the best of Venezuelan traditions. Only the dictatorships pf Gomez and Perez
Jimenez produced perpetual prisoners, but even in the frequent civil wars of
our XIX Century, the mood of Venezuelans at the time manifested itself, among
other things, in the reduced prison sentences fulfilled for those that were defeated
in the battles

The total repudiation
that received, in their respective moments, the shooting executions of General
Matias Salazar by Guzman Blanco and Antonio Paredes by Cipriano Castro, is a
demonstration of how foreign to our idiosyncrasy is extreme retaliation,
revenge as a substrate for political confrontation. Carlos Ortega’s sentence,
even because of the evident disproportion of the sentence, opens an opportunity
for the Government that it should not allow to pass by.

Same news, different day

December 13, 2005


So is any
of this “new” news, or just the same stuff, just a different day:

Dialogue.-
The VP calls for dialogue, Chavez calls for dialogue of ideas, the Foreign Minister
calls for dialogue.

After the killings
on April 11th. 2002, didn’t these guys have a dialogue and the only
thing ever to come out of it was the “Truth Committee” which never met?

And wasn’t
there a negotiation table with the supervision of the OAS and nothing ever came
out of that?

And wasn’t
there a dialogue to agree on basic things that would be done by the Electoral
Board on August 11th. 2004 and as I recall none of this was done,
including the hot audits and the transmission only after the vote was completed?

So, who is
the dialogue with? Same guys, different Ministries!

Conspiracies
to destabilize Venezuela
.- The Deputies were
back
today. No bazookas this time around, it would look funny. But more
illegal tapes of personal conversation between people. Apparently, when you are
a Deputy in the Venezuelan revolution you can violate the law and people’s
rights and nothing happens. They weave a net
of conspiracies
by tying a Miami based
activist close to the exiled military, to a US Congresswoman who is mostly
known for her human rights work, but their intelligence is so good they can’t
even get the name of the Congress woman from the Democratic Party right. (Her
name is not Ileana Rosset it is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
From there they go to the CIA, OAS,
George Bush, the US
embassy, Globovision and whatever. Of course at the center of all this, is that
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen was going to destabilize Venezuela…

Her plan
is awful, maquiavelic, even mean; she is going to denounce the Chavez
Government for human richest violations! Just imagine! What gall! To use such a
low class strategy. As if human righst were important! How could she? Watch out Amnesty International and HRW, you
better switch fields.

Political
Prisoners
. Carlos Ortega, that oligarchic head of the confederation
of unions, is sentenced to 15 years in prison for leading a strike that Chavez
confessed in nationwide TV that he provoked in order to purge PDVSA. But who
cares, the revolution loves to punish so that others are afraid. There are many
political prisoners, but those sentenced to jail terms so far, are only three:

General Uson, a
soldier of humble origins who rose to General and served Chavez well in the Office
of the Budget and the Ministry of Finance, but on Aril 11th. he
could not stand idle in the face of the killings and resigned. (He had an
incredible vantage point over the killings from the top floor of the Ministry. He
saw who started it all, turned the perking lot of the Ministry into a makeshift
hospital and then resigned)

General
Alfonso Martinez
: The retired General of the National Guard, at the time
the highest ranking General of the NG, another man of very humble origins. In
his testimony in the National Assembly after April 2002, Martinez spoke expressing the highest
standards of respect for human rights I have ever heard any Venezuelan military
officer speak about in my life.

But just
think, had Lt. Hugo Chavez been treated with the same vengeance and hate by the
political system he claims to hate so much after his bloody coup in 1992, in
which over 200 innocent people were killed, and given 15 years in jail, he
would be coming out of jail in two years.

Rule of
Law? Democracy?Independent Judiciary?


Yeah!
Yeah

Free markets, corruption and the revolution team up to help you get a passport

December 13, 2005

How about this ad in Mercado Libre (The Latin American Ebay)!

For years, even before the Tascon list,
there were intermediaries that would “help you” get a passport for a
price. The price obviously went up after the Tascon list and this year
the Government announced with great fanfare that a new “high tech”
online system
would be in place to get your Venezuelan passport: You would download a
form online, submit it and then on a certain day you would show up, pay
fees, stamp your fingerprints and sign it and you would have your brand
new passport. Everything would be efficient and corruption would be
wiped out (Not very egalitarian either, in a country with low Internet
penetration).

Except that…

–The system did not work well for the first few days.
–Once
it started working, you had to get up early enough (3 AM, 4AM) to get
one of the limited forms available, if available at all, as Anamar told us.

Thus, getting the form was next to impossible and once again, no passport.

But
now, thanks to the benefits of free markets, corruption and modern
technology, you have this, an online auction for one of the limited
forms (With even a Buy it now feature!):

Yes! You can either participate in the auction
for a form to get a passport with an initial price of Bs. 85,000 or simply “Pay it now”! for ”only”
Bs. 100,000, you can and I quote:


“This
is your opportunity… leave it on our hands… we will get the form for
you legally (??) through the system… for only Bs. 85,000.

We are very responsible law professionals…(oxymoron?)

Consider
that the request forms are only available on Monday and Tuesday and are
subject to the availability or not of the online system .

You
will fill a form with your data that you will have to send me via
e-mail, data that we will use in the “preparation” of the form.

We
are not responsible for wrong data, that is why you fill it out,
similarly we only verify data such as Name, Last name, ID number, birth
date and sex, because the system already has them, if there were errors
we will let you know.

Make your offer if you are interested and ask all of the questions you want.

We accept five requests for each day (Monday and Tuesday), that is, 10 per week.

100% responsible (bold not mine!)

I
have gotten the appointment for public servants, their partners, to
complete sections graduating from high school and their teachers
without any problems, with experience since the online system began.”

(You
can pay with Visa, MasterCard or Mercadopago (like Paypal). The people offering the
service have provided a good service to 124 of 125 clients and are
amply recommended!)

Imagine that, the corruption of the
revolution allows free market practices to thrive. Does Closdobaldo
know about this? Does he care? Unfortunately, this takes away business
from the poorer “analog” intermediaries to professional (oligarchs by
definition) digital intermediaries, who have the contacts and the
Internet access. So much for helping the less well to do!

The pretty revolution never ceases to amaze us!

(Thanks to Milagros in Megaresistencia for the tip)

Are these the words of leaders of a democracy?

December 12, 2005


-Nicolas
Maduro
, President of the National Assembly: “The new National Assembly will
legislate so that President Chavez can govern until the year 2030”

My take:
Hey! Why not eternal President? Or King?
Or Emperor?

-Juan
Barreto
, Mayor of the Metropolitan area of Caracas: “People don’t want so much voting to
elect representatives, people want Chavez and power for the people…people
don’t want anymore of the representative democracy…”

My take: I
think we should have an election on that, but hey! What do I know!

-Nicolas Maduro,
President of the National Assembly: “Voting should be a social duty, let’s give
it an obligatory character so that citizens don’t evade their responsibilities
due to manipulations”


My take
:
What if even then people don’t vote? Will they be jailed? Or will they just
make a new list?

-Francisco
Ameliach
, former President of the National Assembly and reelected Deputy for a
new term: “We can’t do anything about those that did not vote, but we can do
something about the members of MVR who did not go and vote”

My take:
He should ask the Head of the Electoral Board (CNE), Jorge Rodriguez, to give him
that confidential list, he has done it before and they can screw their own people
illegally.

-Clodosbaldo
Russian
, Head of one of the “independent” powers, the Comptroller’s Office
that is supposed to keep the Government in check, honest and efficient: “It
makes no sense for the opposition to participate in the 2006 (Presidential)
elections. After the errors made made in repeated occasions by the leaders of
that sector, they have no possibility of victory…”

My take: I
guess with a guy like that overseeing corruption, it will be rampant as long as
he is there and he must like his job a lot to defend it so strongly. But he definitely
is as independent-minded as he is democratic-minded.

-Vice-President
Range
l
: “We should sanction the parties that withdrew from the election
because they made the Government spend money on them…who responds for this
damage to the state? There has to be some form of sanction.

My take:
What about those that spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy fingerprint
capturing machines that are useless and were only used to violate the rights of
the people? Or the voting machines that did what they were not supposed to do
and were thus faulty? Or spent all that money in voting machines and eight days
later we still don’t have final results, but the people in Chile knew last
night their complete results with paper ballots? Shouldn’t they also be
sanctioned?

Many
Government Officials
: Opposition parties are now illegal because they did not
participate in the election.

My take:
That is not what the law says, the law says two five year periods without getting
you enough votes, forces you to get the petition to become legal again. I know, who cares about the law in this Government…


Primero Justicia’s take:
Make us illegal, we will get the signatures anyway. “We are not scared”

Chavista witness blasts the CNE, Chavez and democracy

December 11, 2005

The CNE credibility is so low, than even pro-Chavez witnesses to the audit today
did not like the procedures followed and are even organizing a protest:


Alexis
Briceńo, a witness for pro-Chavez party Mobare 200 4-F, expressed his mistrust
in the audit that the CNE is doing on 1% of the ballot boxes which were
counted manually last Sunday.

Briceńo
asked “how can there be an audit here when the boxes were chosen at 1 PM
on the 4th. of December. They first picked the boxes and then they did the audit”,
he said.


The
officialist witness said the correct thing is to select the boxes once the
polls have closed. He also added that you “do a complete audit, box by
box, one by one, and that is what we are all asking for” after
explaining that they only gave him two boxes to check Circuit 1 that
comprises 23 de Enero and Catia.


He
admitted that he doubts the results in that circuit, because on the exit
poll they got that Milky Bravo had a 12% advantage over Desirée Santos
Amaral, who was later proclaimed as the winning Deputy.


William
Lara came out saying the day of the election, about 10 PM that according to
official projections Desirée Santos Amaral had 120 thousand votes. How can she
have 120 thousand votes when there were 120 thousand voters only? Thus,
everyone voted for her? And now there are only sixty thousand.


He
added: “Go to the barrio and ask if they have ever seen Desiree, they never
have”. He plans to contest the results.

He
complained that “the Caudillo (Chavez) of the revolution made his UVE (the
twin party) and left us outside of it. It can not be possible that we got rid
of Alfaro Ucero to have a caudillo of the revolution. We can not do this,
neither vote according to what he imposes us, because now we don’t have
representation in the National Assembly.


We
ourselves are doing the audit, four maybe one or two opposition parties, then,
what type of democracy is this, he asked.

He
said he had information that only Primero Justicia had witnesses in today’s
audit, but he recognized that he had not personally seen them. He asked all
opposition parties to come here to open all of the boxes, not those chosen by
the CNE.

He invited the oppsoition for a protest next Friday.

My only comment is: Alexis! What do you think we have been talking about since the recall vote?

How the revolution throws money away in silly propaganda

December 11, 2005

And you have to love how the revolution wastes money, rather than using
it for the people they claim to love so much, as seen in this picture I
took this afternoon in Avenida Solano in Sabana Grande of this poster,
paid and sponsored by the Chavista Mayor of Libertador District Freddy
Bernal (Top right): “Bush and his puppies. Latin America needs to be
respected!”

Since neither Bush nor Fox (Who leads a country in Latin America
anyway) will drive thru this avenue anytime soon, why doesn’t he send
them a telegram? (A letter would be cheaper)

The New York Times on Iraqi elections irregularities

December 11, 2005


Top headline in the NYT online Sunday, December 11th. 2005
:

Commission Finds Irregularities in Iraqi Voter Registration

BAGHDAD, Iraq,
Dec. 11 – With just four days to go until parliamentary elections, the
Iraqi electoral commission said today that it had found irregularities
in voter registration in the volatile northern oil city of Kirkuk.

They must be kidding me, no? Irregularities in ONE city? I can
give them a whole country. Maybe even a few hundred cities, or a few hundred
thousand names. How about the Maisanta software? Except that Quico says
he knows him, I would be starting to believe that NTT reporter Forero does not
exist, has never been to Venezuela and has no clue about our elections.
Is this the same paper that said five days ago that the Venezuelan election was clean and
never reported on the OAS and EU observers sharp criticism of the vote?

Four species

December 11, 2005

Every week I think that I will not have much to show in another week,
but there are always surprises. This week four species. Flowering should
be really good next year, it is cooler than usual in Caracas (16 C last night), if its
lasts a while, blooming should be spectacular next year.

Two Cattleya Gaskellianas (Venezuela) this week, in the left is a
very large and fragrant purple one, on the right is a Cattleya
Gaskelliana alba, given to me by my great aunt many years ago.

Two uncommon species: On the left Schomburgkia Thomsoniana alba from
Jamaica, on teh right is a Cyrropetalum that had no label, there are so
many varieties of them that it is hard to classify them.

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