Archive for July, 2009

Contest: Most stupid law or regulation this week by the silly revolution

July 22, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

This is not a joke, a parody or is the Devil pulling your leg. This is a serious contest about trulu real stuff. I want you to vote on which of the following things is sillier:

1) The Government will regulate how new and used cars are sold. The whole thing is ludicrous, but Art. 7 takes the cake, it says:

Any person, individual or company, who sells or buys a car with up to two years of use, will have to pay the National Treasury a tax equivalent to three times the Manufacturers suggested price of the acar when it was acquired as a new vehicle.

Need I say anything more?

2) The new hot dog vendor regulation of th Libertador District of Caracas, led by former VP, Head of the Electoral Board Jorge Rodriguez will force hot dog vendors to move daily so that hot dog selling becomes (I guess) an equal opportunity system by which each vendor will be exposed to the same flow of clients as the other.

I wonder if the hot dog vendors that are very popular will begin Twitting tehir daily position so that their regular costumers can find them.

Tell me? Which do you find to be sillier, crazier, stupider. Use your own language to categorize both of these revolutionary imbecilities.

A tale of two oil companies

July 22, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

Two or three weeks ago, PDVSA came out with a zero coupon bond the so called Petrobono 2011. It sold it to locals who, eager for foreign currency, bid low for the bonds. The process was full of missteps and errors, PDVSA only placed US$ 1,4 billion out of the planned US$ 3 billion and had to go through a second round selling the bond mostly to local banks as a hedge against the devaluation of the swap exchange market. Even today, two weeks afterwards, the Petrobono 2011 trades in the grey market (The company has failed to register yet in the international markets) at 66% of its face value, an equivalent yield of 25.8% for the two year bond and way above the 18.75% of the PDVSA 2017 issue.

This week,  Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state oil company, a much smaller company than PDVSA, issued US$ 1.5 billion in a new 10 year bond at 99.6%, which gives a yield to maturity of 7.625% and by today that bond was at 103% of its value for a yield to maturity of 7.25%.

Two completely different paths for mighty PDVSA and much smaller Colombian counterpart, a reflection of the disparate ways the two companies are being run. It cost PDVSA, a company with higher oil reserves, revenues and earnings than Ecopetrol, a full 10% more to finance itself, expensive, even for the oil business.

The difference? While Ecopetrol has been given more independence and opened itself to private investment, PDVSA has done exactly the opposite. Ecopetrol placed 10% of its shares in the Colombian Stock Market as a way of forcing management to pay attention to the shareholders. At the same time, the company has opened fields to private investments and oil production is up. PDVSA on the other hand is being run as part of the Government, oil production is down and the company is being run inefficiently for the benefit of the Government and not the shareholders. (The people of Venezuela)

And while many think PDVSA does not deserve the large spread between its yield and that Ecopetrol (I think it’s exaggerated) it is the result of the lack of transparency and incompetent way in which the company is being run. Because while Ecopetrol issued the bond to have more money for growth, PDVSA just needed local currency to pay overdue bills, as it now produces oil, makes homes, owns supermarkets and imports food.

Even more ironic is the fact that while former PDVSA employees are banned and blacklisted by the Chavez Government, from working in the oil sector in Venezuela, at least three companies formed by these employees are actively participating in the expansion of the Colombian oil sector, servicing fields, exploring and producing oil.

It is in short, a very graphic glimpse of the difference in the two directions the two countries have been going in the last ten years. Ecopetrol chose the Petrobras model, PDVSA has been pushed into an impossible path of self-destruction. While hundreds of projects brought to market by Ecopetrol in the last ten years have found partners and investors, we await once again for PDVSA to close the first new project in the ten years of the Chavez era, but we suspect it will be delayed once again.

And any day that goes buy without PDVSA adding new production will eventually mean additional misery to the people of Venezuela, who could benefit from the additional investment, the lower financing costs and the closer supervision of their main asset: PDVSA.

But PDVSA belongs to Ramirez and Chavez and has become Roja, Rojita and at the service of politics rather than at the promotion of the prosperity of all Venezuelans. Because while at times PDVSA has disbursed lots of funds for social programs, it is no longer doing that as it has become the source of petty cash for Chavez’ pet international projects, promoter extraordinaire of businesses that have nothing to do with its core oil business and which only benefit of the deep pockets and infrastructure of the company.

It is indeed the tale of two oil companies, the tale of two countries, the tale of two different strategies, only one of which will bring prosperity to its owners. But even more foolishly, the path taken by Ecopetrol is the only path of success ever taken by oil companies anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, PDVSA has been taken in an unproven path, led by inexperienced managers and technicians who improvise and invent at every step of the way, leading the company into its own self-destruction.

Barinas: Chavista chaotic Neocapitalism trumps XXIst. Century Socialism

July 21, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

Dramatic article about Barinas State in the New York Times. It shows Barinas is just Venezuela’s problems magnified and enhanced by the nepotism, inefficiency, crime and neo-capitalism of the Chavez family. Some highlights:

“An intensifying nationwide crime wave over the past decade has pushed the kidnapping rate in Venezuela past Colombia’s and Mexico’s, with about 2 abductions per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Interior Ministry.”

“This is what anarchy looks like, at least the type of anarchy where the family of Chávez accumulates wealth and power as the rest of us fear for our lives,”

“Politicians once loyal to the president who have broken with him and his family here contend that Mr. Chávez’s family has amassed wealth and landholdings through a series of deals carried out by front men.”

“In the meantime, while the family wraps itself in the rhetoric of socialism, we are descending into a neo-capitalist chaos where all that matters is money”

“A new soccer stadium, built under the supervision of Adelis Chávez’s at a cost of more than $50 million, is still unfinished two years after its first game in 2007″

and the grandfinale:

“More than a decade into the Chávez family’s rule in Barinas, the state remains Venezuela’s poorest, with average monthly household income of about $800″

According to Venezuela’s People’s Ombudsman soaring crime is just a “sensation” created by the media

July 19, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

One of the true innovations of the 2000 Bolivarian Constitution was the creation of the position of the People’s Ombudsman or Defensor del Pueblo. With its creation, the old office for the defense of human rights was taken out of the Prosecutor’s Office, given an independent status and the rank that human rights deserve in a modern and democratic society.

Unfortunately, it never delivered on the promise. The first person to occupy the position was German Mundarain, a mediocre and lowly character who spent his tenure at the position defending Hugo Chavez and ignoring the blatant violation of people’s  rights like the Chavez/Tascon list and even the flagrant murder of poor Venezuelans day after day.

Mundarain was thankfully not renewed in the position and nobody thought we could get someone as willing to please the Dictator and were a little (never have high expectations with the revolution!) encouraged that a younger person, Gabriela Ramirez, reputed to be a Diosdado soldier was named to the position. And while being with Diosdado should not be considered a positive recommendation, I did know that Ms. Ramirez was actually royally screwed when she was a candidate for Chavez, when the  PSUV gave her little funds for her campaign, just because of her closeness with “Pretty Eyes” Cabello.

But it was not to be. Ramirez has turned out to be a female version of Mundarain, at times more radical, but always coming out to defend the indefensible regime of Hugo Chavez and its antics and seldom expressing a word in the defense of the meek and weak.

But I must say I was astonished, with a regime that has lost its ability to amaze and surprise me anymore, when Ms. Ramirez came out with her rather novel, daring and silly theory about crime and homicides in Venezuela.

According to Ms. Ramirez, the person that is supposed to be defending the people and their rights, the problem is not that there is insecurity in Venezuela. Rather, this high level of improvised theorist of what is happening in Venezuela says, it is more of a “sensation” of insecurity, created by, you guessed it, the media, who hammers on the subject thus creating this generalized feeling that there is a problem that does not exist. Then, in the greater mind of this neo-fascist of human right defense, the solution is to attack the problem at its roots, forcing the media to stop promoting this “sensation” or “feeling” that murders have increased during the incredibly positive regime of Hugo Chavez, neo-Dictator.

I guess this lady may have been too young (or care?) to know that in 1998 when Hugo Chavez became President there were around 8,000 murders a year in Venezuela and that number is currently at around 14,000, after topping 16,000 in 2004. (Some believe the lowering of the number is simply fudging). Thus, she should worry about reality, because 8,000 were unacceptable then as much as 14,000 are today, particularly because the deaths occur largely among the poor, the ones that have the least capability to defend themselves.

But homicides and kidnappings have become the rule of the day and gone beyond anything imaginable and much more than a simple “sensation” created by the media. In the last six months a client of mine was kidnapped while driving his 1990 Malibu (The kidnappers were not fooled, they knew exactly who he was) and a person I know and respect quite a bit, was kidnapped and remains in the hands of the kidnappers almost three months after he was taken away.

But these are the ways of the revolution, they improvise and invent concepts right and left even if they have no clue about what they are talking about, which leads to people like Ramirez defending human rights, the other Ramirez as head of PDVSA  or Merentes in the Central Bank or, yes,  Chavez in the Presidency.

And the whole thing is so depressing that I have to end by translating Laureano Marquez’ take on the subject which he entitled “Sensational” , quoting Kant in that “Patience is the strength of the weak, while impatience is the weakness of the strong”. The article was not as difficult to translate but for the last sentence, which refers to the TV show Sabado Sensacional which used to fill six to eight hours of entertainment every Saturday in Venezuela.

Sensational by Laureano Marquez in Tal Cual

It has been said this week in Venezuela that this is not a country without security, but it is a country in which we live a “sensation” of insecurity. Everyone has attacked the author of the phrase, without realizing that the postulate is a transcendental concept that even is philosophically impeccable. To me, this stuff takes us back to Kant, the German philosopher, who understood the concept of sensation as “the effect over the representative faculty, as far as we are affected by it”

Who can assure the more than 59 people that died last week in Caracas that they are truly dead? Do we have the capacity of involve ourselves in spiritual inights? Probably, Kant and his Ombudsman would say that “the object”, the lead bullet, produced over “the representative faculty” of the victim the “sensation” of dying. The only difference with other vitals sensations is that this will be a lasting and definitive sensation, but that takes nothing away from it.

Probably the relatives have the sensation that they buried him and the morgues the sensation that they collapsed…I will go even further; Do you, dear reader ever have a feeling that we only have a sensation of Government, that this shit can not be happening?

Have you ever thought when oil prices go up beyond one hundred dollars and you keep contemplating the same poverty, that what we have here is a sensation of wealth? When you hear the corresponding Minister saying that he is going to end with the workers and that he will lessen their working conditions imposed by the –employee-Government, that what we have here is a sensation of socialism? Don’t you have the sensation that here what they are doing is ripping off the money shamelessly? With what happened in Curiepe don’t you get the feeling that people are getting pissed and that the “people’ have the sensation that they are being screwed and that is why they are going to shut down radio stations so that people do not have the sensation that they have sensations? To me, by now, I have no doubt; Venezuela is a country, which is:

Sensational! (like the TV show)

OAS turns a blind eye to violations by left by Glenn Garvin

July 19, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

The Miami Herald tells it like it is on the OAS

OAS turns a blind eye to violations by left by Glenn Garvin

There’s been no formal announcement yet, but I think Woody Allen must be remaking Bananas, his old comedy about Latin American politics. Really: When Argentine president Cristina Fernandez tells the Organization of American States that the miliary coup in Honduras amounted to ”kidnapping the democratic restoration in Latin America,” how could it be anything but a punch line? And the joke — a very sad and expensive one — is the OAS.

An organization that can, with a straight face, expel Honduras as a threat to democracy barely a month after inviting Cuba (50 years without elections and still counting) to join, has lost any claim to serious consideration, much less the funding of American taxpayers.

Founded in 1948, the OAS is an artifact of the Cold War, originally intended to resist Soviet mischief in Latin America. How much it really accomplished in that regard, and at what cost, are open to debate. But what isn’t arguable is that for the past 30 years, the OAS has devolved into a pack of circus clowns who perform political somersaults for the amusement of the region’s leftists — all on the nickel of U.S. taxpayers, who put up more than 60 percent of the OAS budget.

The OAS double standard on democracy dates at least to the late 1970s, when it worked to oust Nicaragua’s anti-communist Somoza dynasty while breathing not a word about Omar Torrijos, the vicious left-wing military dictator just over the hill in Panama.

But in the past decade, the organization has outdone itself. If the OAS were a sports team, its official mascot would be a pipe cleaner, its motto Capable of bending around any corner.

The rule of law? That’s very important for a centrist government in Honduras — so much so that the OAS has appointed itself the ultimate arbiter of the country’s constitution, overruling the Honduran supreme court. Not so much in Venezuela, where leftist strongman Hugo Chávez sent mobs to Caracas city hall to keep a victorious opposition candidate from taking office after he won election last year.

The sanctity of elections? Absolutely crucial in Honduras, where the OAS insists that Chávez’s sock-puppet Manuel Zelaya be returned to power to serve out the final six months of his term even though practically every political force in the country opposes him. But much less so for Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista party was so obvious in its theft of 40 mayoral elections last fall that even the ordinarily sympathetic European Union cut off aid.

Toppling elected governments? That’s an authoritarian affront to the hemisphere if it’s done by the army in Honduras and participatory democracy when it happens at the hands of leftist mobs in Ecuador, where Jamil Mahuad was forced out in 2000. (Pssst! Don’t tell the OAS, but the Ecuadoran army helped, too!) Or in Bolivia, where two presidents in two years were driven from office by machete-wielding gangs loyal to cocaine socialist Evo Morales — who, in an amazing coincidence, was elected president right afterward.

Literally nothing — not even captured documents showing that he was supplying money, oil and weapons (including anti-aircraft missiles) to Marxist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia — can prod the OAS into breathing a word against Chávez and his left-wing cronies.

The organization’s left-eye-blindness reached terminal levels in the wake of last month’s coup, when the OAS ignored Chávez’s ranting threats to invade, then blandly cited ”the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states” as its justification for expelling Honduras and threatening the broke little country with economic sanctions. As Woody Allen said in Bananas, “It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”

The Bolivarian Diaspora

July 18, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

Somehow I missed this article “The Bolivarian Brain Drain” in Newsweek at the beginning of the month. It details how the revolution is forcing the best and the brightest of the country to emigrate and more do not leave simply because they can’t.

Sadly this is all true, Venezuelans did not use to emigrate, they would always come back, but now:

And now after a decade of the so-called Bolivarian revolution, tens of thousands of disillusioned Venezuelan professionals have had enough. Artists, lawyers, physicians, managers and engineers are leaving the country by droves, while those already abroad are scrapping plans to return. The wealthiest among them are buying condos in Miami and Panama City. Cashiered oil engineers are working rigs in the North Sea and sifting the tar sands of western Canada. Those of European descent have applied for passports from their native lands. Academic scholarships are lifeboats. An estimated million Venezuelans have moved abroad in the decade since Chávez took power.”

And how about these draconian statements:

The number of papers published by Venezuelans in international scientific journals fell from 958 to 831, a 15 percent drop in just the last three years…An estimated 9,000 Venezuelan scientists are currently living in the U.S. – compared to 6,000 employed in Venezuela…Up until 2003, researchers at the company’s Center for Technological research and Development generated 20 to 30 patents a year. Last year it produced none, even though its staff has doubled.

and then the obvious conclusion:

“For the nations of the Bolivarian Revolution, this means some dark days are likely to be ahead. Even the wealthiest nations could ill afford to lose their best and brightest

While Curiepe’s drums were calling for war, the Venezuelan Government censored them

July 16, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

If the recent aggressiveness by the Chavez administration reflects the fear by the Dictator that his popularity may be dropping like a stone, the recent protests and riots in Curiepe, must be sending shivers down Chavez’ spine. Because Curiepe’s uprising can’t just be shoved under the rug like the Government tried to do by having the official media ignore the riots, no more than it can blame the events on some mastermind plot by opposition sabotageurs like the Major of that city tried to do.

You see, Curiepe is pro-Chavez territory, Mayor Liliana Gonzalez won last November with 2,059 votes  (48.48%) versus 1,414 (33.29%)  for her closest opponent who was indeed for the opposition. But the drums of Curiepe began crying for war yesterday over the defenestration of their local police and despite the attempt to surprise the city’s population with the National Guard raid on the police headquarters in the early hours of the morning, the people came out en force. And they were outraged once the National Guard began spraying tear gas, getting everyone out into the streets, including eighty and ninety year old women. And this man in his Che Guevara t-shirt being gassed below looks little like part of the opposition as the Curiepe Mayor would like you to believe

che

and if the pictures below are pictures of the opposition “destabilizing” the Government, then Chavez, Ramirez, Diosdado and the other cohorts of the revolution are really out of touch:

dos

Because the Government did not blow it once, but twice in dealing with this confrontation. The first one was to think that out of town and heavily armed National Guardsmen would be welcomed into Curiepe to remove the local police, composed of townies, out of their headquarters, just because Chavez and his Government wanted to limit the power of police of the State of Miranda, now that the people made the mistake of electing an opposition Governor.

Because this is the typical useless plan and fight that the Chavez Government engages in that takes up a lot of its time to obtain a political victory, but yields little, if any, benefit to the people, whether they support the revolution or not.

It all started with the defeat of pretty eyes Cabello to the Governorship of Miranda State last November. Clearly, while numbers were indicating Cabello would lose due to his low popularity, Cabello somehow thought that mobilizing and paying voters (and who knows what else!) would somehow give him the victory despite his lag in the polls. But it was not to be and Cabello scrambled to move money out of the Governorship before handing over power and decided to reduce the power of the State police, knows as Polimiranda.

On November 28th. 2008, the day before the new Governor was sworn in, thousands of weapons were removed from local policemen and ever since then, there has been a constant bickering over jurisdiction between the National Guard and the local police. The Government has sent in National Guardsmen in three towns, to remove the local police and replace it with out of town guardsmen. The moves, which have no legal basis, have been resisted by the population as they realize that no matter how bad Polimiranda may be, at least they are there for them when it comes to stopping crime and defending the people in the town. In contrast, the people view the National gaurd as their out of town repressive enemies, ready to act against them if orders from their superior says so.

And when the Guardsmen came in and removed the police from their headquarters, with the backing of the Chavista Mayor, the people were mad and the drums began calling for war against the invasion. And when tear gas was used, the population was incensed as women are children were out in the streets defending what little quality of life they could have with the thought that Polimiranda was there for them.

And while this was being shown on the traditional media, the Government sponsored media, VTV, Telesur, ABN, simply ignored the riots for over half a day. Thus, even those who are pro-Chavez had to go and watch (God forbid!) Globovision or Venevision, because their leader was censoring the repression of Curiepe. And this attempt at censorship was simply too close to Chavez and his cronies expressing their outrage  over censorship in Honduras.

And as a tense calm spreads over Curiepe, the reality is that the people are upset. And having the Head of the National Guard come on TV to say that the Curiepe operation was “impeccable” is not precisely what the people of Curiepe wanted to hear. And to deny the existence of injuries simply shows how insensitive the “people’s” Government has become. Somehow the needs of the Honduran people seem to be more important to the Dictator than their own.

And as the Government dismisses Curiepe, it also minimizes the problems in Guayana or today’s very succesful strike in the country’s universities. But the people are not dumb, they understand the implications of shutting down the radio stations for their ability to be informed, the same way they resent Zelaya’s jet setting in PDVSA’s jets and the “new”  limits over Government officials pay which sets an upper bound of US$ 95,000 for the salary of a revolutionary Deputy, Minister or Justice.

And as even aporrea.org seems to maintain a surprising silence over Curiepe. Chavismo should learn from history and heed the war cry of Curiepe’s drums. Because they are not being played for San Juan, following tradition, they are being played as a protest and in the defense of the people who only six months ago, believed that Hugo Chavez was best for their future, but today are willing to go and fight his emissaries, even if their only weapons are the drums and their outrage.

And both of them may be signaling that the people want attention and demand that Chavez stay home and worry about their problems and not those of far away lands which are difficult for the average Venezuelan to even imagine.

The promotion of hate and discrimination by the not so democratic Government of Venezuela

July 14, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

oligarchy

While idiotic cheerleaders of Chavez and his empty revolution scream democracy in every corner, the actions and words of Chavez and his cronies, promote exactly the opposite of the democratic values that any civilized and free society should have.

Today it was the turn of the all powerful Minister of Energy and Mines and President of PDVSA, rabid fanatic Rafael Ramirez, who begins by confusing who is the oligarch now in this country. It is him that pushes the strings, allows the corruption, flies in jets at whim, hires family members and goes shopping in “ta barato” trips abroad. So HE is the oligarchy now, so he can talk about the opposition, but the oligarchy now is in part led by him and it even has a popular name: The Bolibourgeois.

That is the new oligarchy. The one that controls the bilions in Venezuela and pay themselves millions to boot. The one that can get you jailed either if you are viewed as an enemy, or if you are a friend that does not want to obey orders from the top. The new political Mafia that has taken politics in Venezuela to the realm of white collar crime and bandits. The ones that are slowly allowing this new class to take over the country without effort, just contacts and commissions, no real business or abilities behind them.

But beyond the misconceptions of the Minister about oligarchies, are his words. His words that are not only discriminatory, but which establish hate as a valid political position in Venezuela. No democracy can function like that. A democratic society is supposed to follow the laws, promote respect and human rights of all kinds, not hate and fanaticism as Ramirez clearly does.

His words leave no room for interpretation, PDVSA and PSUV are one, and:

“PDVSA is not only red, very red,  but moreover PDVSA is with Chavez…the oligarchy has to fear us, because we hate the oligarchy..PDVSA will be here at the forefront of the revolution under the leadership of Commander Chavez. That is a reality and it is important that we assume it”

Need I say more? These are not the words of the Minister of any democratic country whose Constitution claims to defend equality and the defense of human rights. These are the words of a political bully, a hatchet man for the Dictator, a fanatic who believes the end justifies the means.

This is not new, this was the man that fired 90% of the scientists and engineers of Venezuela’s premier oil research and development center INTEVEP and still celebrates doing it. By firing them and blacklisting them at the same time, he drove them abroad, the largest contingent to Canada, where they now work for the competition. Some strategy, no? And anyone that argues that Venezuela does not need them is simply a fool, as Ramirez has doubled the number of workers at PDVSA, but production keeps dropping and investment is down to nothing.

But for Ramirez such as concepts as a more efficient PDVSA for the good of Venezuelans are not important, what matters is to insure and guarantee the permanent presence of Hugo Chavez in power, no matter what the cost. If it requires allowing corruption (Remember Maletagate?) so be it. If it requires destroying the country’s oil technology, so be it. If it requires firing more people, who cares?

Because in the end Ramirez’ trip was not even about the oligarchy. It was not about Chavez. It was about the fact that Ramirez wants the pro-Chavez union to win in the upcoming elections. Otherwise, he refuses to negotiate with the union that represents the “oligarchy”, i.e. not Chavez, if you are to believe such an oxymoronic concept. Only a feeble and fascist mind like Ramirez can believe such BS. In  fact, the members of Slate 9, a pro-Chavez slate to the oil workers union told Ramirez so in no uncertain terms: “You are the enemy we have to beat…we are with the revolution, but you are causing a lot of damage to the industry and its workers… we will not allow your intromission in labor matters.”

Is it clear who is the oligarch now? Is it clear who is against democracy in Venezuela? It is clear who is helping destroy the country and its principles?

After ten years of destruction and discrimination, people are getting fed up with this mediocre and hate promoting leadership. But they continue to act as if they will be there forever.

Note added: I missed the following phrase: “Worker that is not part of a socialist committee is suspect of conspiring against the revolution”

Two more double standards at work: Chavez’ brother and the not so innocent OAS

July 13, 2009

Double standards seem to be the rule of the day in this cynical world of Venezuelan and Latin American politics. Today we suffered through two cases, one new, one old, where the double standards of the robolution and its new found friend the OAS and its Secretary General are simply too sickening to pass up and note:

i) Those “poor” Telesur reporters: And while we are being bombarded by repotrts of the mistreatment of the Telesur reporters in Honduras (who just happened to be driving cars that had been reported stolen), I learn of the fact that Chavez’ brother, the Governor of Barinas State Adan Chavez, had New York Times reporter Scott Dalton kicked out of the political event presided by him, because Dalton was “suspected” of being a CIA spy or something like that.

Meanwhile, the outcry over Honduras detaining and kicking out the Telesur reporters does not cease, but Chavez was shown to be behind the effort to violate Honduras laws and promote the referendum to hold a Constituent Assembly in Honduras.

The difference between the two? Telesur is the very overt TV station of the Chavez revolution and its role in transmitting what is happening in Honduras has been very political from day one. While the OAS and the Venezuelan Reporters Association condemn what happened in Honduras, no mention is being made of what the Presidents’  fascist brother ordered done last week. Where is Izarra when it does not affect his personal and/or political interests?

ii) The not so innocent OAS: And the cynical and not so innocent OAS Secretary General Insulza turns out to have played a much more controversial and relevant role on the Zelaya referendum. Not only did the Supreme Court of Honduras rule the referendum illegal, but it turns out that the Congress of Honduras asked the OAS to withdraw the observers from the illegal vote and the motion approved by that body  expressed its surprise that the OAS would take part in such an illegal act and explicitly ordered to “express its profound indignation on the participation of the OAS in this illegal event and ask for the withdrawal of the observation mission”.

So much for Insulza’s claim that it is difficult to “interfere” with the internal affairs of a member country. In fact, via Daniel, in this note from Chavez YVKE Mundial radio station, none other than the Director for Electoral events of the OAS, Raul Alconada, tells Telesur (who else?) that everything is ready for the illegal referendum under the hostile (to the Honduras independent powers) supervision of the OAS. And while Alconada talks about the “State”, he should have said the “President” because the State, as represented by its Congress, asked that the OAS withdraw it mission and the OAS had to know that the Honduran Supreme Court declared the act illegal.

Thus, Mr. Insulza not only had a double standard on the case, but consistently helped  Zalaya on his goal to change the Honduran Constitution, despite the repeated calls to the OAS to stay away and noting the illegal nature of the referendum proposed by Zelaya.

Thus, Mr. Insulza claims on the Ledezma case his inability to interfere with internal affairs of a country, but on the other hand participates actively and aggressively in Zelaya’s attempt to undermine the rule of law in his country. And once Zelaya is removed, Insulza moves swiftly and strongly to condemn Zelaya’s ouster in a manner that was not used in in similar cases in Bolivia and Ecuador, while ignoring Hugo Chavez’ abuses of political and human rights in Venezuela.

A true double standard in both cases, which shows the ability of Insulza and Chavez’ cronies to be cynical and totally biased under similar circumstances.

The Washington Post and Ledezma: Double Standards in Latin America

July 13, 2009

(Este post en español aquí)

Double Standards in latin America by Jackson Diehl

As the Obama administration and a host of Latin American governments campaigned to reverse the coup in Honduras, another democratically elected Latin leader embarked on a lonely effort to draw attention to the double standard that has lately governed violations of political and human rights in the region.


Venezuelan Antonio Ledezma is no gadfly or dissident; as the mayor of Caracas, he received almost as many votes in last November’s election (700,000) as Manuel Zelaya (915,000) did when he won the presidency of Honduras in 2005. Yet while the Organization of American States has been united in demanding Zelaya’s return to his post, and in suspending Honduras for violating the Inter-American Democratic Charter, it has studiously ignored the case of Ledezma — who, since his election, has been illegally driven from his office by a mob, stripped of most of his powers and budget, and subjected to criminal investigation by the regime of Hugo Chávez.


So on July 3, as OAS ministers were gathering in Washington to act on Honduras, Ledezma launched a hunger strike in the OAS offices in Caracas. His aims were pretty straightforward: to force Chávez to turn over funds needed to pay thousands of municipal employees and to compel OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to investigate Chávez’s massive violations of the democracy charter.


Insulza, a Chilean socialist who is counting on Chávez’s support to win a second term in office, embodies the double standard. He has been theatrical — and ineffectual — in his attempts to manage the Honduran crisis; a week ago he joined a foolish, Chávez-sponsored attempt to force Zelaya’s return to the country. Undertaken against the advice of every government in the Americas, save those allied with Chávez, the airborne caper produced violent clashes at the Tegucigalpa airport and led to the sidelining of Insulza’s diplomacy in favor of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias’s.


While championing Zelaya — whose attempt to illegally rewrite the constitution united Honduras’s Congress and Supreme Court against him — Insulza refused to interest himself in the case of Ledezma and other elected Venezuelan mayors and state governors who have been subjected to power-stripping and criminal prosecution by Chávez. The OAS “cannot be involved in issues of internal order of member states,” said a statement Insulza issued after a June meeting in Washington with Ledezma — a declaration he quickly contradicted once the pro-Chávez Zelaya was deposed.


Ledezma’s hunger strike eventually shamed Insulza into making a phone call in which he promised to meet with the Venezuelan mayors and governors in Washington, and to investigate their charges that Chávez had violated the democracy charter. But Insulza later repeated that “it is very difficult to determine how a country should organize itself internally.”


Such willful disregard of political repression was the prevailing policy among OAS members before the Honduran coup — including the Obama administration. Though Chávez launched his latest and most virulent campaign against elected opposition leaders and independent media shortly after Obama’s inauguration, the administration for months refused to publicly respond; instead, it agreed on a new exchange on ambassadors with Venezuela and repeatedly announced its hope to “work with” the caudillo.

Last week it finally began to look as though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the administration had changed their approach. Immediately after meeting with Zelaya, Clinton granted an interview to the Venezuelan television network Globovision, which Chávez has vowed to shut down because of its critical reporting. In it she reiterated the administration’s desire to “lower the temperature” with Chávez but spoke out against persecution of the media and “the arbitrary use and abuse of power that would lead to political prisoners being confined.” Globovision’s owner is one of the numerous opposition leaders now under criminal investigation.


In testimony to Congress the next day, the State Department’s incoming assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Arturo Valenzuela, said that following the Honduras crisis, “it should be clear that the collective response of the hemisphere in support of democracy should not be limited to taking action simply when elected leaders are removed from office by force.” Does that mean the United States now will also push Insulza and the OAS to judge what is happening in Venezuela — and in Nicaragua, Ecuador and other states where freedom of the press and free elections have been under sustained attack? The administration’s high-profile effort to defend a hostile Honduran president has provided an opportunity to take the offensive against the hemisphere’s most dangerous anti-democratic actors.

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