Archive for February 2nd, 2009

Venezuela under Chávez: When fear and intimidation rule…

February 2, 2009

Where in the world can the President of a country have a whim on Saturday night that disrupts people’s life and have it implemented within hours in violation of the law?

This is exactly what happened in Venezuela this weekend, as Hugo Chavez gave a speech after playing softball last Saturday and in the middle of it decided to pat himself on the back and declare today a National Holiday in honor of the great job he thinks he has done ver the last ten years.

Never mind that he did not have the power to do it. Never mind that he disrupted plans and schedules.  Never mind that he caused damages to produce and shipments and delayed  bank transfers and payments. Never mind that Venezuela is poorer tonight because of his stupid whim.

But despite the fact that it was illegal, as the decision to make today a National Holiday was not published in the official gazette in advance as required by law, the Government used all of its power and instilled fear on people to insure that they did not go to work today.

Because when you threaten everyone all the time, reminding people that the revolution is armed, it certainly comes in handy when you want something obeyed, even if it is illegal and stupid.

And today it worked. First, the Government immediately began saying it would fine any company that did not abide by the autocrat’s whims. This, despite the fact that there was no legality to back the fines. Second, the Government had the Banking association issue a press release that the banks would follow. Of course banks followed, for most of them the only business model is receive Government deposits in exchange for commissions they pay out. And they think they will live happily ever after.

And then today, the Government used both fear and force. Fear because even parking lots that open on holidays were closed. The same with bakeries, restaurants, stores, twenty four hour drugstores all of which are open all but one or two days of the year , but today they were closed.

And then,  just to make sure, the police and the National Guard were sent out to shut down those that dare to open. As if on a National Holiday you were supposed to shut down completely. That is not what the law says or does. If you work, you have to be paid more, as simple as that. It is up to you to evaluate the costs and decide. Factories and the like shutdown, it is just too expensive. But when perishables are involved, or deliveries, or transactions that need to be completed, you go ahead and just do it.

Instead, a Government that has total disregard for efficiency and costs, somehow stupidly associating costs and efficiency with profit, created the fear that it has been cultivating and storing for years.

And it worked…

Because as the TV showed National Guards shutting down businesses, those that are regularly open on similar days and had opened in the morning, began to shut down just in case. By evening very little was open.

So, Caracas felt almost like a State of Siege day, no cars, no people, all commerce shut down. Few, if any, restaurants to go to.

The people are afraid. The years of intimidation have worked. The abuse of power by the Government is a daily affair. Everyone is afraid of the autocrat and his Government. Very few protest.

Caracas was proof of this today. Fear and intimidation rule. Democracy, whatever is left of it, loses.

Saturday it was a despicable attack on the Venezuelan Jewish community and its religion and culture. Today it was a direct attack on the rights of all hard working Venezuelans, tomorrow is anybody’s guess.

Sad, very sad. But get ready for it, unless you want to fight.

The dissolution of law and order in Venezuela

February 2, 2009

The constant disregard for the law and the promotion of the revolution, whatever that may be, is beginning to take its toll in Venezuela. In many cases, while groups ask that the law be followed, the Government ignores it or forgets about it if in doing so, it will promote the revolution.

The problem is that these days, it is the Government that is in both sides of the conflict or the controversy and there is a significant breakdown in the established order which threatens to get out of hand as it did last week in Barcelona in Anzoategui State.

The conflict began when MMC, the company that assembles Mitsubishi cars in Venezuela, decided to terminate its outsourcing contract with a  company called Induservis at the end of 2008. This was a legal and valid decision by MMC and why it did it should be of no concern or importance to anyone outside the company.

Except that as the rule of law has broken down, pro-Chávez unions have learned that they are on the side of strength and they decided that they would not accept the decision by MMC and would go beyond it: they began demanding that MMC directly hire all of the 135 Induservis workers.

The company obviously refused, as it just wanted to switch which company provided the maintenance services, not add to its payroll at a time when the auto industry in Venezuela faces a sharp drop in production and sales.

When it refused to hire them, then the union of workers of MMC backed the take over of the company’s installations by the 135 Induservis workers, holding regular MMC workers hostages inside the facility and threatening not to leave until the MMC hired them all.

MMC went to Court and asked for three separate injunctions, demanding that the authorities act and remove the workers who had taken over the company and the release of the workers who were inside.

A judge granted the injunction and when the Judge went to the MMC installations with the police of Anzoategui State the workers turned violent against the police and the owners of the plant and in the ensuing scuffle with the police, two of the workers were shot dead by the police.

Now, just as a refresher, Anzoategui State has been run by Chavismo for the last ten years and its current Governor Tarek William Saab is a staunch Chavista supporter, but it was his police that killed the workers.

Nothing has been resolved. the plant remains under the control of the workers who demand to be hired, the judge’s orders have not been implemented, fifty cops have been suspended and there seems to be no way to resolve the conflict.

Now all of the auto unions are threteneing with a strike, everyone is blaming the other side and no cars are being built. And has been the case in most of similar cases, nobody dares intervene to resolve it. Maybe they are trying to figure out first on which side of the conflict Hugo chavez stands, before acting.

Of course, today they are all celebrating how we got here during the last ten years.

Black Humor: Top ten cynical reasons why people should vote Yes in the upcoming referendum

February 2, 2009
  1. Because only Chavez guarantees that the crime problem will not be solved and Venezuela will be able to hold the record for most homicides per 100,000 inhabitants and only the poor are affected by this.
  2. Because only with Chavez will Venezuela continue spending billions of dollars in military weapons which will one day allow us to invade any country we want.
  3. Because only with Chavez will public services get worse and I love eating by candle light and the smell of garbage.
  4. Because only Chavez insures that few people will their own house and if I don’t have one, why should anyone else?
  5. Because only under Chavez will we be able to prove whether Venezuela can have 100% inflation per year.
  6. Because Chavez is the only guarantee that a few Venezuelans will become multi-millionaires thanks to rampant corruption and a new wealthy Chavista oligarchy will replace (has replaced?) the old one.
  7. Because only under Chavez will my whole family be able to find jobs in Government-owned companies doing little and with no discipline.
  8. Because only Chavez will make the rich poor.
  9. Because only Chavez will keep sending billions of dollars in gifts to other countries in Latin America, most richer than Venezuela.
  10. Because only under Chavez will the public hospital system finally collapse and all Government workers will get private insurance and be able to use private clinics.

And all of it will be done with love…Vote SI

Chavez celebrates himself by declaring tomorrow a National holiday

February 2, 2009

And to celebrate what a great guy he is and what a wonderful job he has done in the last ten years, Hugo Chavez decided today to make tomorrow a holiday, the anniversary of when he first assumed the Presidency. Of course, he hopes to pick up a votes along the way.

I think there is no better way to celebrate his autocracy…maybe it should be permanent, Hugo Chavez Day, or the Autocrat´s Day, or Abuse of Power Day, or Look Ma! I can do anything I want Day…

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