Archive for October 17th, 2006

Not a stellar debut for the Caracas-Tuy train on the first day.

October 17, 2006
A picture named 1-Tuy.jpg

It was not a stellar debut for the Tuy Caracas train in its first day of operation as witnessed by the long lines in the picture. Unfortunately the 5 AM train left at 5:20 AM and the 5:20 AM train did not leave until 6:50 AM. At 9 AM the gate was closed and thousands in line were turned back so that wor could continue on the line and the stations. Official figures say that 17,000 people used the system both ways on its first day, but many were angered by the shutdown after such long lines, since they had to go to the bus terminal and get into their usual line. Many got to work late in Caracas.

Not exactly the best adverstising for a Government that has built very few public works and most, like the Tuy-Caracas train, had been planned and designed even before Chavez got to power. Hopefully the bugs will be ironed out, but I can still remember when the Caracas Metro was first inaugurated that most people were amazed at how efficient and well it worked. But hey! Those were the days of the terrible IVth. Republic so I must be violating some law by saying this.

The cynical attitude towards freedom of speech in the silly revolution

October 17, 2006


The recent
tale of IVIC,
persecuting
Physicist
Claudio Mendoza for writing an opinion article under his own name
and using his right to free speech, contrasts with another case, which Chavez
and his Government turned into a free speech issue, but was simply an academic
issue.


In 2002,
Felipe Perez (who later became Minister of Planning) was under contract at
IESA, Venezuela’s
premier business school. The way I remember it, he had been in a tenure track
position, but failed to have even close to an adequate level of productivity
while a Professor at IESA for three years. Thus, his contract was not renewed and
he was given a temporary contract until he found a job. Right about that time,
Perez made some statements to the effect that the Government should nationalize
the banking system or something like that and Perez’ contract was not renewed when
it came due.

The
Government made a big issue of this. It used all of its influence on the Board
of IESA, where the Government holds quite a number of positions and eventually
led to the resignations of a number of important figures at IESA, including its
President and the Dean of the Graduate School who felt the Government was
intervening on academic matters and they would not compromise their academic
integrity over the issue.

The
Government simply turned the whole thing into a freedom of speech issue, which
it was not, in contrast to Claudio Mendoza’s case, which it certainly is. The
whole thing was so ridiculous that Chavez in his Sunday Alo Presidente program
actually talked about it and here is what
he said
:

“On
November 15th. this economist made statements making a series of
criticisms about certain private sectors calling them to reflect, specially the
banking system. And I salute my friends the bankers, but we continue to call on
them. I join the call that Felipe Perez is making and IESA can not kick me out”.
Chavez criticized the decision against Perez and congratulated him saying he
wanted to talk to him personally. “I think we have to reivindicate people, I
think it is an abuse of IESA, where they speak of freedom to be critical, and
we should welcome it, but this a call to reflect on it.

As I said,
because Perez was pro-Chavez, IESA was pressured and forced into hiring him
back, forcing the resignation of many of that institutions authorities.

You can be
sure, that if anything, Chavez will celebrate Claudio’s firing from IVIC since I have
information that it was Chavez himself that was behind the letter Dr. Mendoza received.

That is
what cynicism and freedom of speech mean in the stupid revolution.

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