Archive for January 31st, 2006

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the chief of injustice in Venezuela

January 31, 2006


This
morning in a TV program, the President of the Venezuelan Supreme Court (see report
in Tal Cual
) had the audacity of suggesting that the chanting that took
place the other day in the inaugural session of the Supreme Court for the year
2006, was nothing more than a case of euphoria, the people expressing their
happiness at “the opening of an electoral year”. (Yes, he said
electoral, the event had nothing to do with elections, but that is all these
people think about each day) He said that it was not only the judges that
chanted, but their families and the workers of the highest Court of the land. He
called the event intranscendental and just due to happiness.

I then ask
you Mr. Mora: If the High Court of the land should reflect non-partisanship and
independence, how come such a high percentage of those present expressed that
euphoria and happiness at the President’s presence, while barely 18% of the voters
managed to show up at the recent regional elections? Why weren’t Venezuelans showing
that same euphoria that day, staying home and exhibiting an apathy that has
clearly become a huge cause for concern within the Government?

And then you
contradict yourself and the way you have acted so far in the Supreme Court. You,
Mr. Mora said: “it is not good for judges to be allowed to be carried away by
their emotions that may put in doubt the autonomy of the Judicial Power”

Hello?
Didn’t you just contradict yourself there? Do you follow the same irrational
logic in your decisions? Maybe I now understand most of them Mr. Mora. You come out in defense of the Government regularly;
give opinions in cases that you may be involved, even before they are brought
to you and the Hall you preside has yet to rule against any of the positions of
the Chavez Government. Moreover, whenever an international human rights organization
criticizes the Chavez Government, you claim it is an intromission in the
country’s affairs. In that way, you are simply helping to violate those same
rights. Who are you defending then?

Yes
Justice Mora, justice in Venezuela is not doing very well, not only do most Justices
in the Court that you preside chant and jump in praise of that autocrat called
Hugo Chavez, but one Venezuelan is killed daily in the country’s jails and
after seven years of “cleaning up” the judicial system, close to 40% of the judicial
positions have yet to be filled permanently. While cases against opposition figures,
some of them basically irrelevant in the scale of what is going on in the
country, are prosecuted and persecuted relentlessly, murder, assassination and
corruption cases are not followed up in the most outrageous impunity this country
has even seen. Chavista murderers go free, tried by Judges that have been in
some cases, convicted
murderers themselves
. Judges who do not rule according to the Government’s
line of thinking are shamelessly and routinely removed within days of their
decisions. Civilians are tried by military Courts and the Court itself expanded
itself using an unprecedented interpretation of the Constitution. Additionally,
for the first time in Venezuela’s
history, a case tried by your Court, has been admitted for review under the
same arguments rejected before!

Some
Justice!

The truth
is that the grotesque and shameful spectacle that you and most of your
colleagues held in what should have been such a solemn occasion, simply shows
how servile you are to Hugo Chavez, how you have no independent criteria and
how your personal gain, profit and position is above your ethics and
principles.

Your
interview today was as disgusting as the show you presided over the other day
and simply proves that our Justice system is not in good hands. In fact, it is
in the worst of possible hands. You have become part of the autocracy. You no
longer protect the people or defend Justice; you have sold yourself in the name
of power and personal gain.

No idea is too discredited to be revived by Quico in CC

January 31, 2006

And everyone should read Quico’s piece on how no idea is too discredited to be revived by the revolution.Excellent reading, particularly for those that may have been born after 1980 and don’t have a historical memory of what happened then.

A quiz and an article about easy profits courtesy of the revolutionary Government

January 31, 2006


A couple of
months ago I
wrote a piece
on the Argentinean bond swaps the Venezuelan Government was
making, which I accompanied with an Editorial on the subject from Tal Cual. Basically,
in the name of “solidarity” the Venezuelan Government was buying Argentinean
bonds, only to later sell them at the official exchange rate to local banks
without any transparency. These banks then turned around, would sell the bonds
at a slightly lower US$ price in Wall Street; obtain dollars which are worth
much more in the “parallel exchange” market, making the banks a tidy profit.

Today. The
Financial Times has a
nice article by Andy Webb
on what a windfall this has become to “certain”
banks in the Venezuelan financial system. I thus have a quiz for my esteemed
readers, particularly those that support the Chavez Government, before I let your read Andy’s article:

1)
Why
would a “revolutionary” Government allow the banks to make the money, rather
than having the Venezuelan Government make it and thus make the “people”
richer.

2)
Why
is there so little transparency to this? When I wrote that piece in November
the numbers were fuzzy and still remain fuzzy. How much of the bonds that Venezuela has
purchased have been sold in this fashion? By whom? At what price?

3)
How
are the banks that benefit from this chosen?

4)
Who
decides who gets the bonds? How much does he charge for favoring you?

5)
Does
Chavez know about this and if he doesn’t, who in Government has convinced him
in the name of solidarity to do these transactions to enrich the banks and whoever
collects the tidy commissions?

Read on
about how the rich (and the “bolibourgeois”) get richer in the name of and in the same bed with “the
revolution” in Venezuela:

Venezuelan banks enjoy treasuries
windfall
by Andy Webb-Vidal



A select group of Venezuelan banks is
profiting from opaque government treasury operations involving hundreds of
millions of dollars of Latin American sovereign bonds under a financial
programme fostered by President Hugo Chávez. Backed by record oil revenues, Venezuela has
bought $1.6bn in Argentine debt during the past year – mostly
dollar-denominated Boden bonds maturing in 2012. They were purchased in
auctions that were eschewed, in some cases, by big investment banks, such as
Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, because the yields offered were considered too
low.

Venezuela, which has been the largest buyer
of Argentine sovereign debt since the country defaulted on itsforeign debt in
2001, has said it is ready to buy up to $2.4bn worth of Argentine bonds.


It has also bought $25m of
Ecuadorean debt and finance minister Nelson Merentes recently said he was
looking at buying Brazilian and Chinese bonds.


Investment banks Morgan
Stanley and Deutsche Bank are reportedly advising on the bond transactions.


Mr Chávez justifies his
virtual “hedge fund” as a benevolent concept that will allow Latin American
nations such as Argentina to “liberate’’ themselves from an international
financial system that, he asserts, is manipulated by the US.


Last year, Venezuela transferred all of its foreign
reserves that were held in US Treasuries or that were on deposit at US banks,
about $20bn in total, to the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.


Venezuela
’s bond purchases have helped Argentina
increase its foreign reserves. President Nestor Kirchner’s government last
month paid off its outstanding $9.5bn debt to the International Monetary Fund,
in part thanks to the cash injection from Mr Chávez.


“Whilst the [bond]
purchases are good news for the Argentine government, the benefits for Venezuela are less clear,” said Vitali
Meschoulam, emerging markets strategist at HSBC Securities in New York.


The Financial Times has
learned that significant profits deriving from the bond transactions are being
accumulated by a few private banks, rather than by the Chávez government.


In late November, Mr
Merentes announced that some of the bonds had been liquidated, leaving a profit
of $40m. Mr Merentes said last month that $600m worth of the Boden 12 bonds had
been sold, without elaborating on the method.


Most of the bonds were
sold directly – instead of in an auction – to two local banks, Banco Occidental
de Descuento and Fondo Común, according to two people familiar with the deal
and a senior official at a financial regulatory authority. The banks have since
re-sold the bonds into the open market.


Mr Merentes didn’t respond
to several requests for comment during the past week. Victor Vargas, president
of Banco Occidental de Descuento, and Victor Gil, president of Fondo Común,
also didn’t return messages seeking comment.


But though the chosen
banks are likely to have profited from increases in prices of Argentine bonds,
they have benefited more significantly from Venezuela’s foreign exchange
controls, in place since 2003, and a flourishing but tolerated parallel market.


Venezuela
’s treasury sold the Boden 12 bonds
to the banks at the official exchange rate of 2,150 bolívars to the dollar.
But, according to the people familiar with the transactions, the banks re-sold
the bonds at the parallel market dollar rate, which trades at about 2,600
bolívars.


On a re-sale of $100m
worth of bonds, the banks would gain bolivar profits equivalent to about $17m
at the informal market rate, or $21m at the official rate.


Following alleged
complaints from banks that were excluded from the operations, in recent weeks
the finance ministry has also begun selling directly to them some of the bonds
that it still holds, in $40m-$50m tranches every two weeks.


Orlando Ochoa, an
independent economist, said that a lack of transparency has become the hallmark
of the Chávez government’s financial administration.


‘’The ministry of finance
is allocating windfall gains in Argentine bond operations to selected domestic
banks, without bidding rounds and without financial reasons to privilege
them,’’ Mr Ochoa said.

Pam Chito strikes again

January 31, 2006

“Autonomy of the Supreme Court Guaranteed”

“Uh Ah Chavez no se va”

Pam Chito from Notitarde strikes again!

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