Archive for November 14th, 2007

Chavez threatens Spanish investments over spat with the King. Is this now part of a larger plan?

November 14, 2007


From IBD, thanks. M!

The world got a good glimpse today of the Chavez Venezuelans have come to know and not precisely love, when despite calls by the Spanish Foreign Minister to normalize relations
between the two countries and put an end the verbal spat that began at the
Summit in Chile, Chavez turned around, asked for an apology from the
King and made vindictive threats against Spanish companies in
Venezuela.

The style was nothing new to
Venezuelans who have been treated this way for the last nine years, as
Chavez decides people are guilty by association or his enemies because they do not
take a stand that agrees fully with his positions. He then looks for
revenge in the form of either Government intervention, discrimination,
illegal treatment of those he has declared enemies and/or direct
revenge upon the persons or entities involved. It is in fact, the
history and style of the last nine years, from the discriminatory
Tascon/Chavez list, to the vindictive attitude towards opposition
leaders, former friends like General Uson or the most recent example
of calling his savior and former buddy General Baduel, a right winger and a
traitor.

Chavez first arrived in
Venezuela from Chile rsaying that he had not heard the King of Spain telling him to
shut up, making us wonder if he heard any of what Zapatero told him
about respect, the right to dissent and democratic attitudes. At the
time, Chavez added that the whole incident made him wonder if the King
of Spain actually knew about the “coup” in 2002, when Chavez left
office until Baduel rescued him.

Yesterday, Chavez showed he was actually quite irked,
boasting, in nouveau rich style, that Spain’s investment in Venezuela
were not indispensable, a sad statement given the state of poverty in
which so many Venezuelans live, which would be aided by any investment
as the Venezuelan state is incapable of going at it alone, as has been
shown over and over in the country’s history. Last night Chávez went
even further naming two Spanish banks by name (Which coincidentally
made multi-million illegal contributions to Chavez’ 1998 Presidential
campaign) as not needed by the country. He even included a call to investigate the
death of Simon Bolivar, a theory proposed by fascist and anti-Semitic
Argentinean “revolutionary theorist” Norberto Ceresole, a deceased
advisor to Chavez who claimed the Mason’s had killed Venezuela’s
Liberator.

Then today Chavez went all out,
demanding an apology from the King of Spain and threatening to get
vindictive and as retribution, take back properties nationalized by
earlier Governments and “put an eye” on Spanish companies operating in Venezuela.
Said
Chavez: “…Spanish companies will have to “We don’t want to damage them,
but at this moment I am subjecting the political, social and economic
relations with Spain under a profound revision…This means that Spanish
companies will have to begin to account for themselves…I am going to
put an eye on them to see what it is they are doing here… “Whatever has
been privatized can be taken back, we can take it back,” Chavez told
Reuters. “If the government of Spain or the state of Spain … start to
generate a conflict, things are not going to go well” Chavez also
called Spanish Primer Minister Zapatero “a fool”.

While
Venezuelans have been directly exposed over and over to this type of
behavior, Chavez has only used it against mostly US companies and
politicians in the past or Latin American Presidents who are not
aligned with his thinking. President Fox and Garcia of Mexico and Peru
suffered from his attacks, while you know who was called the devil at
the UN, while US companies were nationalized without so far receiving
any compensation for the joint ventures in the Orinoco Oil belt.There is simply no rule of law, just Chavez´ wishes, that is why he threatens some sort of special watch over Spanish companies as if they have been exempt from regular supervision because of their origin and thus, implying Venezuelan companies have indeed been watched over carefully. This is nothing new, as steel company Sidor, owned by Argentina´s Ternium was spared nationalization because of Chavez´close friendship with that country´s President.

But
what sets this apart is that the Socialist Government of Zapatero in
Spain and the Bachelet Government in Chile had been quite friendly and supportive of
Chavez and his political project since they were inaugurated in office.
But this changes the direction 180 degrees. In Chile, because Chileans felt
insulted by Chavez’ style upon arrival and his later charges that Chile
has made no social or economic progress and Spaniards because they feel
insulted by Chávez’ charges against Aznar in Chile and now against
Zapatero and the King.

Chavez’ threat today even
led some to believe that his reaction now may be part of a preconceived
plan. At least twice this year Chávez has threatened to nationalize the
banking system if they did not help in the development of his economic
and political project. It was always thought that the biggest stumbling
block to this would be his good relations with Spain and the strong
presence of that country in Venezuela’s financial system with three
very important institutions present: Banco Santander, Banco Bilbao y
Vizcaya and Banco Exterior. With the recent spat, Chavez could simply
say he nationalized the whole system and there were reasons of state for
doing so and it was not directed explicitly at the Spaniards.

In
fact, Chavez’ rush to approve the proposed Constitutional Reform is
related to all this. Last January, the National Assembly approved an
Enabling Bill, which allowed Chávez to legislate by decree for 18
months, which expires next year in June. A prerequisite for this was to
remove and add to the Constitution those limitations to the autocrat’s
political and economic project. Thus, the reform had to precede the
Executive branch decreeing the new laws. It may be no coincidence that
today Chavez happened to mention that he would issue one hundred laws by decree after the new Constitution is approved.

In
fact, I hope I have time in the near future to write about the fact
that Chávez is being given carte blanche to legislate by decree on
economic matters, under the proposed reform of the Constitution.

Thus,
the whole spat with Spain and its King has a lot to do with
Constitutional Reform. Chavez is not even worrying about Dec. 2nd.
he is sure he will win and he is thinking ahead to what he will do when
he has the new Constitution approved and it appears that removing the
Spanish banks from the picture may be an important part of his plans
for the economic and social future of Venezuela.

God help us!
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