Archive for January 12th, 2006

Opposition Candidates I: The year of Teodoro by Eduardo Mayobre

January 12, 2006

This article begins a new feature of The
Devils’ Excrement. I will invite anyone to write articles for my blog either
pro- or against any of the opposition candidates who are supposedly running or
considering running at this time. There will be no specific rules, other that the
articles should have good grammar, not be too long and respectful of everyone. I
will try to mix them in so that it does not become overwhelmingly a discussion around
a single name. At this time, the following are the candidates that are being
mentioned: Julio Borges, William Ojeda, Roberto Smith, Manuel Rosales, Teodoro
Petkoff and Oswaldo Alvarez Paz. I will create a new category eventually with the
articles published.

I had planned to do this later, when the candidates
had finally announced, but various people have been asking about the subject
and someone today made a very anti-Petkoff comment that was too short for me to

The first article is one written by
Eduardo Mayobre a former Vice-Minister of Finance who I have translated before
and I find is quite erudite and writes well. On Tuesday he wrote this article
promoting Teodoro Petkoff as the best candidate for the opposition.

Let the discussion begin!

The year of Teodoro by Eduardo Mayobre

2006 is a year for presidential elections

There is already one candidate that
pretends being that “ad aeternum”: the current President. We need one that opposes
him and is capable of defeating him. There are many people looking for him and
some aspiring to be him. Each person wants to have one made to his or her own measure.
However, it happens to be necessary that the opposition candidate be a single
one. The appropriate person exists and has even been mentioned a few times. It
happens to be Teodoro Petkoff, who is widely known.

Petkoff fills all of the requirements to
represent the 75% to 80% of Venezuelans that the last 4th. of December did not
vote for the officialdom. His disadvantage is that he lacks a political party. A
paradoxical situation if you consider that Teodoro has been all of his life a
party man and even founded one that awoke hope and managed to become important.
The parties of certain scope, on the other ahnd, lack a presentable candidate.

Because of this, at least in theory, an alliance
between parties and the Director of Tal Cual would seem obvious and other
organizations of the so called civil society and other forces with political influence
could also be part of it.

If such an alliance could be finalized,
the year 2006 will be the year of Teodoro, in which his dream to reach the
presidency of the republic could become a reality and begin the transformations
that could drive Venezuela
simultaneously to prosperity and justice. It is true that there are some leaders
of political parties that aspire to conduct the destiny of the country, without
any credentials other than their youth and ambition. But they would not damage
a national opposition candidacy, even if they persist in their adventure.

At the most, they would fulfill the role
that was played by the old conservative German Borregales in the first
elections of our democracy and in the best of cases the one that was played, as
an illusion for the future, by Teodoro himself some years later.

The other disadvantage of Teodoro is that
he is blond. You now notice it less because his hair has grayed with the years.
But he is not a blond from the oligarchy, like the one Florentino mentions, but
the son of refugees, which had to abandon their country because they were
educated and progressive.

That in itself could be an advantage.

Because with so many ethnic presidents and
candidates (including Evo Morales who copied from Petkoff his party’s name,
MAS) an ethnic origin like being Bulgarian, exotic for Latin-Americans, would represent
a healthy pluralism. For the powerful with money (old money, the new one is in
the forts) the problem is not that he is blond but that he has never allowed himself
to be controlled or seduced by the plutocrats; and that he has always been a
defender of those that have nothing.

Teodoro Petkoff is at the same time a
cultured man with political experience, a rare combination. About his culture
we can mention his books about Czechoslovakia,
Socialism for Venezuela
and his most recent, Two Lefts. As for experience, we can not forget that he
has confronted difficult situations, like the fight against the dictatorship of
Marcos Perez Jimenez, like being a member of the communist party and leaving it
without renouncing his ideals, like being in jail and escaping from the military
hospital and the San Carlos fort, like being a member of the guerillas and
accepting peace and the defeat, and last and not least difficult, like being Minister
of Rafael Caldera. In those multiple and diverse experiences he has demonstrated
being a man who does not do crazy things, not even when he embarks in enterprises
which are not that sane. .

Today Petkoff is a man who is fair minded and sensible, with a great ability
for political analysis, as he shows daily in his newspaper. A dialectician would
say that he is a mediated social democrat, in the sense that he has reached
that position thru or via his incursions in the communist and liberal extremes.
He knows all political positions and because of that, he could be the best
mediator among them and bring peace to the country. He is not only a man of the
center, but a centered man, which is what this country needs, ripped by
uncentered extreme positions.

Nevertheless, he has never stopped being
a man of the left with his sensitivity for the problems of workers, for exclusion
and poverty.

All of these political virtues, as they
used to say in the old days, embellish his personality.

Political parties do not count with anyone
with the same qualities that can gather 80% of the population that does not find
it fitting to vote nor see Alo Presidente. They have some leaders that could benefit
form a Petkoff Government, necessarily one of transition, to educate themselves
or acquire the charisma that they lack today. The alternative is to wait for 2030
and enter the ring after the Government of Nicolas Maduro or one of his mates.

That is why, if they are sensible, they have
no other option than to back the candidacy of Teodoro Petkoff, who is still
thinking about the possibility, as they say, or lending his name. But that he
would not think about it twice if he had the full backing of the political and
civil society.

I want to be on the record by saying that I have no contact with Petkoff and I
have no inhibitions to advance his name, because the matter is so evident that
it is the same to mention it before or after. 

The other possibilities that have presented themselves would mean playing the
loser. And neither Venezuela
nor the opposition can afford that luxury.

Summing up, 2006 will be the year of Petkoff or
the year of Chavez. To imagine other alternatives is to pedal in the air.

Dear Council for the kids by Teodoro Petkoff

January 12, 2006

This is today’s Editorial by Teodoro Petkoff on the case of the President’s daughter and the order to remove the supposedly offensive article from the Internet, which I consider to be a very serious attempt to curtail freedom of speech. The decision by the Copuncil for Kids is even more coercive than I had thought originally, it actually orders Laureano Marquez to not even mention the case as well as ordering Tal Cual from removing the article from the Internet. Remarkable that this Council can have so much power to censor a newspaper and a reporter/writer/humorist. To me, this is extremely bothersome, something this important should be decided by a high Court, not by a bunch of handpicked bureaucrats who as far as I know do very little day after day.(Have you ever heard of them? I dd not even know their new name) I also find it interesting that Petkoff does not see himself as the objective of the “procedure”, given that he is likely to be a candidate for President in December.

Council for the kids
by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

As our
readers already know, the National Council for the rights of kids and adolescents
(CNDNA) has “notified” Laureano Marquez and the Director of Tal Cual of its
decision to initiate an “administrative procedure” against us for the violation
of the Honor, Reputation, Own Image, Private Life and Family Intimacy of the
girl ROSINÉS CHÁVEZ RODRÍGUEZ (…) for the action of the article entitled Dear Rosines,
of the column Serious Humor, published in the Tal Cual daily on November 25th.
2005, according to what it is stated in the document of “notification”. On top
of that and while the mentioned “administrative procedure” moves forward, it “ORDERS”
Laureano Marquez “to not make or publish any type of comments, editorials,
publications and/or public acts that directly or indirectly, may act in detriment
that Teodoro Petkoff or whomever is in charge of being Director of Tal Cual, to
“not publish or divulge in any communications media, radio, TV, printed press
and/or digital (Internet), the article published on November 25th. 2005,
in pages 1 (cover) and 2, or any other one that ahs any relation with the girl ROSINÉS
CHÁVEZ RODRÍGUEZ” (To the quoted text, we place next to them the proverbial SIC,
RE-SIC Y RECONTRA-SIC, to signify that of that writing, punctuation and capital
letters, Tal Cual has no responsibility over them.)

First of
all, it is appropriate to point out that in the cited article by Laureano
Marquez you will not find anything that attempts against the honor, reputation,
own image private life or intimate family life of anyone. At the same time, the CNDNA does not point to
even a single line of text by Laureano Marquez that may be considered as a demonstration
of the supposed offense. It accuses (and condemns at once, by the way) without
any proof. In his customary humoristic tone, Laureano, basing himself in the
public comment by the President about the concerns of his daughter for the
twisted neck of the horse in the country’s Coat of Arms, makes funny
reflections about the topic, with some affectionate references to the girl. In
fact, Laureano ends sending her the same blessings that he wishes for his own
daughter. Those lines could not be nicer. Thus, there is no offense and least
of all, one that would be so despicable such as attempting against the
attributes of privacy, honor, and the personal dignity that all human beings
have and more so if it happens to be a girl or a boy.

The citations that appear sometimes in the media-never offensive, by the way-to
the youngest daughter of the President derive precisely of the circumstance
that it is him that has made of her a sort of pleasurable public reference, frequently
citing in his interventions her witticism and mischief. In fact, her ineffable
turtle is felt as their own by many kids in the country. In the time of Raul
Leoni, it was common the media references to the travails of his then youngest
son, Alvarito. Jose Vicente Rangel himself used to refers in his writings to
the going ons of his grandson Tato. The
truth is that it has always been a likeable recourse that sweetens a little bit
the natural hardness of political life. That is perceived in a clear manner
precisely in the article by Laureano.

Thus, if the action by the CNDNA had any pertinent (which it does not), it should
begin by the absurd request that the President abstain from mentioning her
daughter in his speeches.

would have referred to that girl if the circumstance that his own father, who
happens to the President, mediated for it to happen and made her famous. In
fact, once we saw a sign at a political rally in Cumana where you could read, in a show of flatter:’
Chavez until 2021 and afterwards…Rosines”. Nevertheless, Hugo Chavez has all of
the rights to speak of his family and to demand that he does not do it would be
a true misstep.

But it also would be a misstep to threaten penal sanctions to whomever touches in a
tangential mode the name of the girl, which is what has been habitually been

All of this would not pass from being a trivial episode, not exempt of being ridiculous,
if the supposed defense of the interest of the young girl did not hide a
restrictive conception about the exercise of freedom of speech and an attempt to
limit it with a complex maneuver. Unless it is nothing but a simple act of
sucking up to the President.

Besides this, have the people of the CNDNA thought about how counterproductive
it will be to the ends that they claim to follow, to make such an unjustifiable
public scandal about a matter that eventually could place the girl Rosinés
Chávez Rodríguez, in the center of a judicial dispute in which she has no art or


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