How is it possible to bring about a real debate in Venezuela?

Chávez is afraid to debate as this lady is doing.
His ministers are the same.

The Venezuelan government and its media proclaim the opposition are mostly coup mongers (never mind Hugo Chávez is a declared coup monger) and want to topple the government (as Chávez and his followers tried to do in 1992). Chávez says the opposition wants a civil war. The state - which is supposed to represent all Venezuelans - does not allow the opposition to present its view on state media. In Venezuela state media means Chávez propaganda 24 hours a day. Chavismo claims it is the only way to confront the "international complot" against what it calls a revolution.

The current president of Venezuela and his ministers refuse to have an open debate with the opposition.

So far we have only had monologues for years.

How can we make debates happen? The Chavista government will do everything in its power to avoid it, as any other authoritarian government from extreme left or right does.

How do we break the stalemate? Chavismo will say they want debates on the streets between "the people", by which they mean they want to a farce where some of their hard-core followers make enough noise or threaten people. They do not want to have to stand in front of everybody and answer to specific questions in real time.

One of my ideas is to start a campaign throughout the whole country, specially in secondary cities and slums, to inform people how real debates take place in other countries and how Venezuela would benefit from having such debates.

Ps. we are still waiting for PSOE member Miguel Ángel Martínez, one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament, to answer to our questions. We will keep insisting as long as necessary.

EU functionary Martínez hasn't answered our email after he made quite some statements regarding democracy in Venezuela.

You can visit his page on the EU here.

Venezuela gegen die Wand III

Hier können Deutschsprachige ein interessantes Video der ARD über die Enteignungswelle in Venezuela sehen.

Es ist unglaublich, wie manche Venezolaner sich daran gewöhnen können. Dafür gibt es nur eine Erklärung: absolute Ignoranz, Mangel an Referenzpunkten und Abwesenheit offener Debatten. Ich hoffe, dass wir Venezolaner im Gegensatz zu den Kubanern nicht ganz aus dem Auge verlieren, dass die Normalität etwas anderes ist und dass es etwas viel besseres als unsere Vergangenheit und unsere Gegenwart geben kann - wenn wir es mit eigenen Händen und Köpfen tun.

Immer weniger Landsleute kennen etwas ausserhalb der Chavezkratie. Es liegt an uns, gegen den Geschichtsrevitionismus zu agieren, Informationen über die Realität ausser- und innerhalb Venezuelas kritisch zu diskutieren und freie Debatten überall zu fördern, insbesondere da, wo die Opposition zur Zeit kaum zu hören ist.

In Venezuela gibt es Gott sei dank kein Embargo. Das könnte sich nur Chávez wünschen.

Vielen Dank an Schoukri für dieses Video!

Another one bites the dust or "comme toujours" (French for "same shit")

Falling Star

Alberto Müller Rojas, one of the oldest high ranking chavistas and long-standing military honcho, has just announced he is going to retire because he is tired of seeing "more of the same in Venezuelan politics".

"Seldom does the president listen to me", the former military said. "I would say Chavez and I haven't talked in a year". There is something fundamentally wrong in a country when we hear this over and over again. In Venezuela everybody, specially the president himself, thinks that everything has to be dealt with directly between himself and the president. When all this is over, chavistas will say Chávez was prevented from listening and oppos will just say Chávez was not listening to people.

Müller added: "we are changing an internationalism for a nationalistic petite bourgeoisie (sic)". I reckon what Venezuelans have been doing is to replace a dysfunctional, corrupt democracy for a very corrupt autocracy. Venezuela's cargo cult has just grown stronger. The boliburguesía tends to be even flashier than the better off of other times, which is no minor feat.

I would agree with Müller in saying there is nothing fundamentally new in Venezuelan politics. Still, I disagree on important details. Müller remains an unrepentant extreme left-winger with little understanding of/for democracy, pluralism, open debate and competition of ideas. The ones in power have even less of that. Many within the opposition are in a similar situation, even if they may be less divisive.

New Star

At the same time the new Rising Star of Chavismo, Elías Jaua, says the PSUV has cut ties with their former partners, minor party Patria Para Todos (PPT). We were expecting this after Lara's governor, Henry Falcón, decided to leave the PSUV and join, one more time, PPT.

Jaua: his speciality is wearing red shirts.

So far I see very radical thugs in power, some minor thugs or simply miniautocrats in tiny dissident parties and a myriad of opposition parties - their name is legion - that are in reality no real parties but a bunch of cash-strapped organizations without development plans surrounding uncharismatic proto-caudillos with ties to Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia only.

I am not saying that I am not excited about the great perspectives ahead of us, I am rather cautious.

Updated mind map of Chavismo, to be continued...

Francisco de Miranda, the discoverer of Europe

Statue of Miranda in London

Statue of Miranda in Paris

Francisco de Miranda was born on the 28 of March of 1750. He travelled from Venezuela to the United States, from Cuba to Morocco, from Spain to Russia and left a series of wonderful diaries about what he saw and the people he met. He also wrote a lot about concrete measures for Venezuela's development.

He fought as an officer in North America, in Europe, where he became a general in the French Revolution and finally in Venezuela, where he led the independence movement for some time, until he was betrayed by Simón Bolívar, who would later become Venezuela's Semi God. Miranda would die in a Spanish prison in 1816.

I have written a little bit about Miranda here. If you want to rediscover Europe of the late XVIII century, you should get hold of Miranda's diaries.

Francisco de Miranda was one of the generals whose names are printed on the Arch de Triumph in Paris.

Apartheid alive and well in Venezuela

If today's apartheid in Venezuela is not really racial it is nevertheless fast reaching equally evil proportions, all historical considerations taken into account.  That is, today it would be nearly impossible to establish a segregationist racial regime whereas South Africa had really not much trouble in creating one.  Creative chavismo, at least in those matters, is showing the way on how a political apartheid can be established, in the XXI century, under the eyes of the world which at best mutters solid condemnations that make chavismo back-down slightly and provisionally in its march toward institutional political hate fulfillment.

Today I can point out to three highly representative items.

Trampling parliamentary immunity

I reported yesterday that representative Wilmer Azuaje was involved in a troubled incident.  In less than 24 hours the high court TSJ decided and the Nazional Assembly removed his parliamentary immunity.  Now compare this with the following:
  • Representative Iris Varela appears in videos physically attacking two people much more violently than Wilmer Azuaje allegedly did (and for which no substantial proof has been offered yet).  And yet she never had to worry about her parliamentary immunity revoked.
  • In all the proceedings today as far as we know Wilmer Azuaje never had a chance to speak and defend himself, be it at the TSJ, be it at the Nazional Assembly. He might be guilty as hell for all that we know but he should at least be given the opportunity to account for his actions.
  • Contrast the speed at which the TSJ decided with say, the innumerable complaints that have been residing without replies about such notorious cases like RCTV, Globovision, and other media people, just to select a particularly present situation.

 The crime of Azuaje is of course to have been exposing the corruption of the Chavez famiglia in Barinas state and to be currently leading in polls there.  The trap had been set long ago and chavismo needed only to fill in the blanks of the paper work, violating parliamentary procedure and the constitution along the way.  Azuaje might not be allowed to run for reelection, by the way.

Delayed justice is not justice

The second item is the condemnation of journalist Azocar in San Cristobal (incidentally one of the two victims of representative Iris Varela).  The affair is an obscure lottery advertisement contract.  In other words peanuts when compared tot he gazillions that minister and ex Miranda governor Diosdado Cabello has allegedly embezzled, for which he has been properly denounced and for which the state has not started any official investigation that we know of.  Fortunately for Azocar they could only give him a 2+ year sentence and since he almost served it as he was in jail through the whole trial he can walk out with certain prohibitions such as been forbidden to move out of state or travel outside the country.  And apparently he will not allowed to run for election.  Imagine that!  He was the shoo in candidate in Tachira state.

Are we starting to see a pattern here?

Not everyone is allowed to vote

The third evidence for the apartheid-ization of Venezuela comes from the pages of El Universal.

The government has just passed a new law to kill the decentralization of the country, dividing it all in small "consejos comunales" (kind of soviets like system) which will depend from unelected bureaucrats in Caracas rather than the dutifully elected local governors or mayors.  In other words, if your local consejo is not directed by red shirt folks you are going to get zilch, no matter how much taxes you pay (not that it makes any difference for those who pay taxes today).

Now these XXI century soviets are to be organized into a federal organization that will replace and take over many of the functions of the National Assembly, rending this one into a decorative item of the government at best, kind of a rubber stamp validation headquarters.  Yes, that is right, direct elections will be replaced by tiered indirect elections, Cuba style.  That does not worry me much in the sense that Chavez controls everything and I will be eventually expropriated from my home by the local consejo rather than a governmental fiat.  The end result is the same.

What is not the same is the cynicism deployed in organizing this new Federal Council.  See, the Universal note tells us that only the pro Chavez organizations of the Baruta district  received an invitation to the election of the Baruta delegates to the Miranda/local Consejo Federal.  Baruta is a Caracas district that votes 80% against Chavez and because of the secrecy in which the Consejo formation was held it will be represented by 100% pro Chavez fascist red shirts.

Of course Baruta townhall is going to battle this and the issue is not over, but that is not the point here.  What this tells us is to which extremes chavismo is willing to go to create a client base and use that dependency to control any opponent.


The way an apartheid state function is by creating permanent divisions with enough individuals willing to sell themselves to the system in order to get some material benefit, or simply power over their neighbors.  Color of skin is of course a very easy way to create such a division, but cheap political tricks and actual political discrimination can eventually yield to the same result.

One thing you need to understand is that even if the good burgers of Baruta were to decide to make a pact with Chavez, that would never make them full citizens again.  This also works in individual cases as it does not matter whether Wilmer Azuaje asks for forgiveness or persists in his accusations against the Chavez corrupt clan: he will always be the necessary victim to scare into submission the other representatives at the Nazional Assembly that could consider at some point to vote against Chavez.  I have in mind the PPT who is in trouble these days for accepting Lara's governor Falcon and whose representatives withdrew today from the sahemeful debate at the Nazional Assembly.

An Apartheid regime does not quite work like the Cuban one even if the end results will be the same.  An apartheid regime works in creating constantly a group of second class citizens.  When these second class citizens are dead or leave the country or ask for forgiveness they will only be "forgiven" or forgotten once the system found another group to hate because the system always need an internal enemy where to focus the hate of its right citizens.  Cuba could avoid the formalism of an apartheid like system because it was an island, because Fidel got full power very quickly and because the embargo policy of the US gave the regime a convenient hate figure to rally the dumb masses.  But Chavez is in the XXI century, Venezuela is not an island and the US is buying all of our oil, at least as long as its armies are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Thus the need for Chavez to segregate the country, to coalesce around him a group of bribed and/or hate filled folks to scare the rest of the population into submission.  That is why a political apartheid is developed.

And it has been working so far.  For example who remembers today that Chavez was elected largely through the electoral expertise of the MAS who directed his 1998 campaign?  When the MAS defected after 2002 it was so vilified that its followers either went into oblivion or joined PODEMOS.  Today PODEMOS which left Chavez in 2007 is suffering the same fate as the MAS.  I allow myself to wonder if the embers of the MAS were to ask Chavez forgiveness and entry in the PSUV if this one would not welcome them in a big show even if it would not give him or them much in return.

That apartheid/hate creation system also works on people that were never in bed with Chavez.  AD and COPEI nearly disappeared as they were the 1998 enemies, the people that needed to be dominated and brought to their rightful place (do you remember the promise to fry the heads of AD followers?).  You cannot count today the amount of local prominent chavistas redder than red who a decade ago where AD or COPEI, starting with Chavez own father.  If AD and COPEI are not dead it is due more to the incompetence of chavismo than any ability by them to fight back the verbal onslaught of Chavez.

Finally isolated cases of redemption occur to demonstrate that the beloved leader can be magnanimous at times if you are willing to grovel low enough.  Arias Cardenas, equal co-author of the 1992 coup where he was in charge of Zulia and succeeded as opposed to Chavez lame failure in Caracas, became worse than shit when in 2000 he dared to run against Chavez.  And today he is working for Chavez as a foreign policy errand boy where he shows his great limitations.  Amazingly he retains a weekly column at El Universal, a column that has evolved from constant criticism to abject sycophancy.....  The message is clear: if you dare to challenge you will be turned into a second class citizen from where there is never any real return anyway.  The best you can hope is that if your groveling is convincing enough you will be allowed to finish your life in ridicule.

It's enough

I wrote this post so many times. Four times to be exact. When I finally wrote the final draft, I was at the office and I can’t post from there. And then, when I came back home, ready to publish my final draft, I realize it was useless, because another event related to the post I had planned erupt; and I couldn’t leave it out. The truth is that, as I write this, at least two people have been detained for speaking in public against the president Chavez and its government. That’s something I have done at least 152 times – one for each entry of this blog – 153 times; counting this one. Of course, I’m not nearly as visible as the couple of victims I’m talking about.

One of them is Oswaldo Álvarez Paz. He’s just one of those guys that every Venezuelan knows who he is: long term committed politician; first governor of the powerful, oil filled Zulia State when I was a kid… No one ever imagine that he some day would be where he is: expecting possible a 16 year long sentence. He spoke on Globovision, the only opposition TV Channel that is left now, saying what everybody says: that Chavez has vinculums with FARC, and ETA and Narcos. He didn’t discover America in a glass of water, a Spain judge already said it and the news were across the globe. But he’s now accused of spreading false information and conspiracy; among other ridiculous political charges. Just because. He’s behind bars now, waiting for a trial.

The second is case is even more outrageous. Guillermo Zuloaga, the president of Globovision, spoke at the SIP (Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, Inter – American press Society). And his words, guess what, were also against the regime. If memory doesn’t fails, he said that Chavez might had legitimacy in his origins, because he was elected as president with a majority of votes; but ever since then he’s dedicated to rule only for some Venezuelans and not for all. He said other things, if you speak Spanish read what he said here, I’ll translate it later. He was later released by the court, but have many restrictions and charges against him. What it’s really outrageous about his case is that he made those statements outside Venezuela, in Aruba where the SIP meeting was held. Our justice system only answers for what happens in our territory and have no jurisdiction for what happens outside (If I’m not mistaken).

We have already a third case in the making. A deputee has been also detained under suspicious circumstances.

I don’t really know how to say. To write almost four different posts about the subject for then publishing neither of them, is enough signal that I can’t find the write words.

First I’m shocked. It’s obvious there is no such thing as “free speech” in Venezuela. Gustavo Azócar, a famous journalist, its in jail; Patricia Poleo – another journalist – its exiled. And like them, many others. The government has closed one opposition TV Channel and as many radio stations as he could. They launched several years ago, a law that really restricts free speech under the excuse of “non suitable content for kids”; among other things. The government owns at least 5 major TV Channels and the rest, except for Globo, are not government critics. We are all aware of that. But from there, to detain a politician or an entrepreneur just because they said something against the government; it’s a whole new level. It’s when you say “this is too much”.

This is when you say: It’s enough. Really, it’s enough.

Second, I’m afraid. When the whole “Zuloaga” issue was developing, the vice president of Globovision spoke with a CNN journalist about it. At the end of the interview, the CNN journalist farewell the woman (Globo- vicepresident) saying something like “We’ll be following Zuloaga’ case, so we’ll probably call you again; if of course, you don’t end up being imprisoned for what you just said here”. She raised an eyebrow. It was priceless.

What this reporter really meant is that it could be anyone. It could her. It could any of the politicians, PhD’s, community leaders, students; anyone who makes a public statement on TV or at an international meeting every day. And why not a blogger? It could be Daniel. Or Miguel. Or me. Because a blog it’s also public. And we are not speaking well of the government’ that’s for sure.

This is on a big extent, work of our infamous general prosecutor. I wrote about her not so long ago. And I still think the same of that woman: she scares the hell out of me. She’s capable to do anything, to show Chavez her true revolutionary character. She doesn’t hesitate like the rest; she doesn’t believe there is a limit. She just twists the law, find terrific charges and it’s done.

Third, I’m embarrassed. First because it took me so long to speak on this blog about and I feel that it is my responsibility to do so. Second, because besides publishing this, I’m not doing anything else to stop this absolute madness. I haven’t even heard of any street protest, not even a comfortable cacerolazo, nothing yet. I’m ashamed of living in a country when these things can happen. And they are now in the media but soon, just like anything else that had happen under this revolution, it will be considered normal.

I wish I had smarter and stronger words to speak about this, to make a statement, to show my support and my solidarity to any actual or potential victim of this move. But the best I can come up with is that I’m embarrassed.

Fourth and last, I have hopes. I can’t explain why really but I don’t feel like other times, lying in my bed or complaining non sense with my boyfriend about the end of our world. I don’t feel defeated. I should but I just don’t. If the government is taking such extreme move; it must be for a reason. They are behaving like someone who is inside a very bad relationship, when instead of trying to save it, they start liking other people or treating the significant other worse, or showing non sense begs for attention. They seem desperate. And maybe the upcoming elections on September give us the answer. Maybe they won’t. But it is that possibility what keep us standing.

PS 1: I'm going to ask my readers a favor. Please consider that I don't do that very often. I think this situation is so serious that everyone should know it, no matter where in the world they are. So spread the news. If you have a blog, publish something this. If you don't, e-mail this post or some information to your contact. If you feel lazy about sending an email put something in your Twitter or in your Facebook status - it can be "People are going to jail in Venezuela just for speaking their minds" - Well, I can't come up with a good line... I trust you will. If Internet doesn't appeal to you, talk with the ones you know about it. To your family and co-workers. Make people aware that this is no socialist heaven.

PS 2: This can help you with the favor I'm asking. I'm giving you a short list of links of what other Venezuelan bloggers in English have said about this. This blog is for getting views, thoughts, feelings, personal anecdotes but not for accurate information. However, these links can give you that.
1. Daniel at "Venezuela news and views" has already four post on the topic. Read his post about Oswaldo's case and a conclusive piece "Chavez seeks open conflict"
2. Caracas Chronicles its also covering all. Their latest post titled "But... what did he say?" about Zuloaga, couldn't be more eloquent.
3. Check also Miguel at Devil's Excrement his post included borrowed cartoons that speak volumes.

PS 3: The brilliant image I used for this post was taken from this site: - No copyright infringement intended.

Chavez seeks open conflict

When it rains it pours.  As if the arrest of Alvarez Paz was not enough for a single week, Chavez added today the arrest of Globovision chair Guillermo Zuluoga AND in the latest development, the arrest of Representative Wilmer Azuaje because of some obscure incident in which he would have banged the table of a female bureaucrat at the division of motor vehicle.  As if you never wanted to do that yourself.....

That this is all planned is out of doubt as the Nazional Assembly has agreed ALREADY to hold a session to lift Azuaje's immunity. Apparently violating a few of the procedures to do such a momentous action.

On the hot grid spot analysis is required:

  • chavismo has decided to attack and silence an opposition that cannot be allowed to be critical as it is considering that the country is crumbling and that the government incompetence is making it easy for folks to criticize
  • the situation is made further more dramatic considering that polls reveal that Chavez Teflon seems to be scratching significantly
  • with such attacks who include the "enfant terrible" of chavismo who defected to start exposing the sudden wealth of the Chavez family it is clear that chavismo is feeling weak, in danger, in real threat to see its power crumble, as chavismo knows very well that without Chavez they are nothing
But why now and not, say, in June, a couple of months before the elections? Because:
What next?  Chavez and his sycophants are seeking confrontation, internal and probably external if necessary.  The objective here is to taunt the opposition into making some false move.  

If these arrests were not enough we learn for example that the Nazional Assembly has also asked today to investigate the primaries of the opposition because they are charging the primary participants for running into the election.  Admittedly, this is not very kosher but then again what other financing means are available?  Besides, is it not enough to point this to the gain favor against the opposition?  Amen of the supreme hypocrisy of pretending to ignore that the state finance all but any of the PSUV electoral activities.  This proposed investigation is a mere additional provocation because in the end it would focus more public opinion on the differences between opposition and PSUV internal processes, to the detriment of the PSUV where we all know that Chavez will decide most of the candidates anyway.

En Venezuela da verguenza no estar preso

That was my retweet from Milagros Socorro.  Tonight I could not agree more.

In Venezuela it is shameful not to be jailed.

Globovision main stockholder, Guillermo Zuloga, to go to jail any time soon

UPDATE!!!!!!!  Guillermo Zuloaga has been released with restrictions to his movements and actions.  Apparently the fast reactions including even one from re-elected Insulza have had an effect and cooler heads within chavismo have prevailed.  So Zuloaga will not be allowed to leave the country but  for the time being will be at home in Caracas.

Notice this: for such a decision it would have been enough to serve notice to Zuloaga in Paraguana airport and bar him from flying out to Bonaire.  That they arrested him and send a special plane to take him to Caracas courts can only mean that the original plan was to jail him.  I, for once, see this as proof that international opinion and prompt reaction can work on occasion.


The news is just breaking out: on his way to Bonaire for his Easter Week vacation with his familiy, the police at Paraguana airport detained Guillermo Zuloaga, main stock owner of opposition lone remaining network media voice, Globovision.

The reason is that chavismo did not like his declarations against the government in the last IAPA meeting in Aruba last week.  But the timing might be due to the just released IACHR communique that complained about the silencing of opponents by the state.  The names listed in that communique include Judge Afiuni, Alvarez Paz and Guillermo Zuloaga, today's victim of chavofascism.

One paragraph of that communique bears reprinting below:
As the Commission has already stated in its report Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela, the lack of independence and autonomy of the judiciary with respect to the political branches constitutes one of the weakest points of democracy in Venezuela, a situation that seriously hinders the free exercise of human rights in Venezuela. In the Commission’s judgment, it is this lack of independence that has allowed the use of the State’s punitive power in Venezuela to criminalize human rights defenders, judicialize peaceful social protest, and persecute political dissidents through the criminal system.
And one excerpt from another paragraph:
In this regard, it is extremely troubling that those make allegations or state opinions about the situation in the country are charged with such offenses as the instigation to commit a crime. The public statements made by many government officials supporting the detention of Álvarez Paz and calling for criminal proceedings to be brought against other individuals such as Guillermo Zuloaga, simply because they expressed their opinions in public forums, demonstrate a troubling consensus among the government authorities that it is legitimate to identify those who criticize the government with criminals.
Contrast this, if you can read Spanish, with the declarations of Saul Ortega and Roy Daza, two of the most prominent sycophants at the Nazional Assembly, as an off the dirt example.  NOTE: these people might have indeed expressed objectionable opinions in respect of the Venezuelan "legal" system.  But they go to jail on the spot, during the investigation process, before indictment, whereas all sorts of true and proven criminals hang freely in the streets of Caracas or even hold office in the government.  Or is Chavez not a criminal from his failed 1992 coup?

To be continued........

PS: courtesy of reader Virginia we have the exact words of Zuloaga here.  Please, someone enlighten us what sentence deserve the treatment he got today....

Venezuela: gegen die Wand 2


Venezuelas politische, wirtschaftliche und soziale Lage erschwert sich von Tag zu Tag und die Venezolaner sehen noch nicht ein, wie gefährlich es werden kann.

Gestern konnten wir in El nacional über einige der neuesten Umfragewerte von Datanálisis lesen. 1300 Menschen wurden Ende Februar befragt. Der Umfrage zufolge soll die Popularität des venezolanischen Militärführers und Präsidenten um 4% gesunken sein und nun "zwischen 40% und 50% liegen". Das ist immer noch sehr hoch, wenn man in Betracht zieht, dass Chávez schon seit 1999 an der Macht ist.

66% der Bevölkerung denkt, dass es schlecht mit Venezuela geht. Das heisst, dass zumindest 6% bis 16% der Venezolaner denken, dass es mit Venezuela schlecht geht und trotzdem den Caudillo unterstützen.

Ferner sagt die Studie, dass die Anzahl der Menschen, die in den Septemberwahlen für Regierungskandidaten stimmen wollen, genauso gross ist, wie die Anzahl der Menschen, die für Oppositionskandidaten sind.

Der Vorsitzende der Oppositionspartei Primero Justicia, Julio Borges, stellte Ende März einen Plan fürs Land vor, der als Kern die "soziale Marktwirtschaft" hat. Das ist nicht verwunderlich: Primero Justicia wird von der CDU unterstützt. Die soziale Marktwirtschaft ist etwas, was Deutschsprachige sehr gut kennen und womit viele Leute sich anfreunden können. Ich selbst finde viele positive Punkte dabei. Wie viele Venezolaner können aber etwas damit anfangen, wenn

  • ihr Bildungsniveau so niedrig ist?
  • die meisten Menschen denken, dass Venezuela ein reiches Land ist und dass man nur die Reichtümer anders verteilen muss?
  • keine Gruppe weiss, wie viel sie selbst geben müssen, um sozial verantwortlich zu sein?
  • Venezuela seit fast 100 Jahren vom Erdöl gelebt hat?
  • die meisten Venezolaner von der Opposition kaum erreichbar sind, kein Kabelfernsehen, oder Internetzugang haben und nur, wenn überhaupt Boulevardzeitungen lesen?
  • die meisten Oppositionsführer aus Caracas, Maracaibo und Valencia stammen, in diesen Städten bleiben und die Denkweise von 70% der Venezolaner kaum kennen?
  • die meisten Venezolaner niemals das Land verlassen haben und kaum wissen, wie schlecht Venezuela nun wirklich abschneidet, was Bildung, Gesundheit und vor allem Kriminalität betrifft?
  • die venezolanische Regierung bereit ist, sehr kurzfristige populistische Massnahmen zu treffen, um ihre Chancen für die Wahlen zu erhöhen, auch wenn diese Massnahmen mittelfristig sehr schädlich für die meisten sein werden?
  • die ganze Wahlkommission und die Justiz dem Caudillo völlig untertänig sind?
  • die Regierung alle Medien beherrscht (im Gegensatz zu was Chavez-Fans im Ausland sagen) und die ganze Zeit Propaganda gegen die Opposition führt?
Die Spannung wird weiter zunehmen. Die Opposition hat noch nicht gelernt, wie sie neue Gruppen erreicht. Die Regierung wird immer mehr Repression verwenden. Die Opposition, die Vereinigten Staaten, die Marsmännchen, alle anderen werden als Sündenbock benutzt werden. Die Regierung, die kaum Resourcen verwalten kann und trotz Petrodollars immer wieder in finanziellen Schwierigkeiten kommt, wird einfach mehr und mehr enteignen. Die Oppositionsführer werden über Privateigentum sprechen. Damit werden sie aber kaum andere Menschen erreichen, als die, die schon überzeugt sind: die anderen haben sehr wenig zu verlieren, ausser Zukunftsperspektiven, sie sie nicht für möglich halten. Die Opposition braucht andere Themen, die alle Menschen ansprechen, so dass sie sich alle vereinigen, um nicht mehr gegen die Wand zu laufen.

Google leaves china, to Brin's initiative it seems. He is no Rogge

Courtesy of a tweet from Miguel I see that the much talked about exit of Google from China might due in large part to one of his founders, Sergey Brin, who could not stomach to sponsor the censorship and repression he experienced as a very young kid when Russia was still the Soviet Empire.  So he left the Chinese promised millions to try his luck in Hong Kong and see how long it would last.

Congratulations to Mr. Brin for showing us that you can allow yourself to skip over a few millions when your principles are pushed too far.

There is a pro Chinese tyrants creep that still goes around, unscathed for all the censorship cuddling up he did to the Chinese authorities during the last Olympics, having no problem to sacrifice Tibetans along the way.  I am speaking of IOC chair, Jacques Rogge, who I already bitterly criticized in this blog during the Chinese Olympics (here and here).  The guy had no real problem with censorship.  See, after all, the fate of people like Chinese and Venezuelans are of no concern for these European aristocrats, or wanna be ones.  The rest of the world is really, when everything is said and done, in their secret heart, a whole bunch of uncouth natives who already get more than what they really deserve.  How else can one explain the attitude and willing accomplice role of scumbags like Rogge, who sold Chinese people for much less than what Brin's Google would have made had it chosen to accept Chinese terms?

Mr. Brin, you are to be congratulated heartily for such a principled stand.  And next time the International Olympics committee comes around to ask you for sponsorship money tell them that fine, AFTER Jacques Rogge public and painful mea culpa, and if possible, after he is replaced by a more principled person.  That should not be too difficult.

Oswaldo Alvarez Paz in jail

I did not want to write for a few days but this I cannot let pass.

Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, ex governor of Zulia, ex presidential candidate for Copei in 1993, was arrested tonight for expressing his opinions in Alo Ciudadano  a few weeks ago.  Exactly as it was the case for General Uson.

What did Oswaldo say exactly?  I happened to listen to the show that night.  He was a tad direct but he did not say anything that was not already collated in a myriad of press releases from all around the world, namely that Venezuela is a center of drug trafficking, that Human Rights are routinely violated, that the FARC is at home here and that Venezuela is not a democracy anymore.  I suppose that I should get ready too because he did not say anything that was not already said in this blog, or Miguel or Quico or Globovision or many an opposition politician or newspapers OpEd.

But why Oswaldo in particular?  Why pick him out of the lot of Chavez accusers?

I think it has to do with the army because Oswaldo Alvarez Paz as an ex governor of Zulia is fully aware that all the traffic that is taking place at the Colombian border, from helping the FARC to dealing with drugs cannot be done without the extensive complicity of large sectors of the Venezuelan armed forces. Alvarez Paz has been unambiguous about the betrayal to the the nation that the collusion with the FARC and narcotraffickers is, and as such he was amazingly charged with treason, among other charges, leading him to jail tonight.  We know what happened to Uson, to the unjust sentence he had to serve, which was declared a violation of Human Rights by the IACHR which demanded reparations from the Venezuelan state.  Uson is still waiting.

There are also other factors that probably had a part in this arrest although for me the hate of the corrupt Venezuelan Army, including Chavez, is the main mobile.  Alvarez Paz is the right in Venezuela.  As chavismo is impotent in controlling the country's economic collapse even a relatively irrelevant right today could be in office tomorrow, actively putting corrupt chavista officials in jail.  Alvarez Paz has retained significant name recognition from his 4th place in 1993 and if his ideas cannot bring him popular support today, who is to say in 6 months from now once the country is in the dark and hungry?

Chavismo is playing smartly up to a point, if we can accept that such undemocratic methods are acceptable.  By putting Oswaldo to jail it will force a reaction of the opposition coalition under formation.  If it supports Alvarez Paz it could be branded right wing, "ultra derecha" as they are fond to say these days.  If it does not it will lose a lot of support from people that cannot stomach such an injustice.  What will the Mesa de la Unidad do?  This might be its first real test to demonstrate its mettle if it wants to convince us that it can run a campaign, that it can stare down Chavez and force him to accept National Assembly control next year.

On the other hand the opposition might take as its own the accusations of Alvarez Paz and force Chavez to arrest them also, or at least close Globovision.  Then things would become really interesting.

I, for one, will be watching, and probably make a few decisions out of their response.


If you read Spanish you can read Alvarez Paz kind of strong declarations, pro Colombia and Pro US and Pro Market.  For example he has been reprinted in the site of Ballesteros an ex right wing military turned journalist, or his very own Movimiento Republicano which has a blog.  These days in Venezuela these type of opinions are simply forbidden and all is done to silence such voices as we saw tonight.

At any rate, another example of how democracy is dead in Venezuela, how freedom of information AND freedom of expression are gone.  In this vein I watched today the retransmission of a meeting in Aruba this week end of the Inter American Press Association, which condemned Cuba and Venezuela for their attacks to these freedoms.  Chavez government has always refused to meet with the IAPA, just as it refuses entry to IACHR and other such organizations.  But in Aruba it dare to send a few journalists form its media, in particular infamous Avila TV (should it not be called now Guaraira Repano TV?).  The poor arguments advanced by these folks were pathetic, although I wonder if a plural is justified as they used once again the tired 2002 coup excuse, where their calendar stopped even if Chavez has been destroying the country more effectively than Carmona would have ever done.  Needless to say that they were very easily blown off by the rest of the attendance who had no problem detecting the hacker nature of the pro Chavez envoys.

I wonder if that IAPA condemnation, demanding an OAS visit,  was not also the reason for the timing of Alvarez Paz arrest today as a defiant Chavez is getting ready to break with a world where his only friends are folks like Lukashit and Ahmadinejerk.  Now that he will not be welcomed anymore in European capitals........

 PS: read the AP account of Alvarez troubles as published in CBS and wonder about how come that at this point the AP almost seems like taking the side of Chavez in the last two paragraphs.  Talk of unfortunate wording....  How come we never know who writes such communiques?

PS2: Is this also part of the revenge that Chavez wants to inflict on Zulia which has been refusing his rule?  Doe she think that by exiling first Rosales and now jailing Alvarez he will gain the hearts of Zulianos?

We are a miserable country and we deserve what we get

UPDATE: This morning the government claimed it was all under control courtesy of the wonderful equipment, organization, people, etc, etc...  tonight the mountain is still burning.  They do not even have the decency to shut up for a few hours....
I cannot describe my mood tonight as I learn that my beloved mountain, Caracas Avila National Park is going up in flames.  Not only that, but the part actually burning in part, so far, is one that had not burnt in a century or more, carrying vestiges of the rain forest before the Spaniards moved in, not that Native Americans did not burn woodland on their own.

That the Avila should burn should not surprise anyone as the government of Chavez has been remiss with the care of all of Venezuela's National Parks and natural areas, be them the Upper Caroni basin where the military does business tolerating illegal garimpeiro strip mining which is increasing the mercury levels of the Guri dam to letting the National Parks near Caracas and Valencia be invaded by squatters.

Oh, but Chavez is great at changing the names of National Parks!  The Avila now supposedly wears the Native name of Guaraira Repano which no one for sure knows exactly what it means or what Natives used it and for what. But someone within chavismo decided that the words described the park or the mountain or something and that was all what it took.  Just as the hour was arbitrarily advanced by thirty minutes while the government stubbornly refuses to consider retrograding 30 minutes which could save quite a lot of the electricity that the Guri is producing.

But ask how many Forest rangers exist in Venezuela? (1) What are their working conditions?  Are they well paid?  Is there a stern park policy considering how dry the weather has been?   How come people were allowed in considering the risk?  Because make no mistake, that fire was set on purpose, be it from some witchcraft voodoo practitioners who love to do rituals in the park to some disgruntled opposition nut case trying to make Chavez look bad, as if he needed that extra blame.

El Universal coincidentally carries today an article on the National Guard Helicopter unit that tries desperately to throw water on burning forests, help fireman and rescue them when necessary.  It is not an easy job and although the officer interviewed does not say it, you sense that the unit is not large enough, not supplied enough but that it does its best, this cannot be denied.  You read that article and you have a sense of foreboding, that those people cannot cope with the magnitude of the disaster that the country is becoming this year.  And sure enough, a few hours after I read the article confirmation came.

And what was Chavez doing this afternoon as someone was setting the park aflame?  He was like Nero, holding his stupid and silly Alo Presidente in a 'bolivarian' computer center of La Vega where standing up he held hostage for hours a whole bunch of chavistas sitting down at each computer dutifully open at some official governmental page.  As Nero he rhapsodized over how Henri Falcon betrayed him, as to whom would rescue the PPT from its sure demise, stating shamelessly that the high crime in Venezuela was due to a Colombian policy, and other idiocies of a desperate man who cannot find enough scape goats to account for the destruction he brought himself upon us.

When I think at all the money this narcissistic idiot has wasted outside of Venezuela, amen of all the corruption money lost inside, and I think at all that could have done to protect such a vulnerable park for a tiny fraction of the wasted money, I just want to cry.

But we are a miserable country where we only think about today, about what we can get from free from the state, where we are easily amused by Chavez antics and actually like the guy for his screwing up things and insulting people instead of fixing up what he was elected to do for in 1998.  After eleven years of messing up the country there are still scores of people who do not see him for the egotistical buffoon he is or who do not care about the shape the country is as long as they get their week end beer and some action.

And so goes up in flame my Avila, the most visible mark of yet another lost decade, realizing that I am already too old to see it reborn, if Chavez ever even considers spending money in its reforestation when he could instead buy votes with free bags of food or reforest Cuba if Raul were to ask him for it.

The picture above is from Jose Ceballos as borrowed from El Universal.

1) this week end I read that we are woefully deficient in the numbers of policemen that cities like Caracas should have.  Another reason why crime is so high.  If Chavez does not care about protecting the life of people, do you think he is going to care at having the staff to protect National Parks?

PS: I probably will be too depressed to blog for a few days, I am even considering not going to Caracas for a while as the burnt area is in direct view of my home there. But you have three posts to comment on for only this Sunday.   Cheer me up, will you, if possible.

NYT consecration for El Chiguïre Bipolar!

Well, El Chiguïre Bipolar made it to a full fledged article on the NYT as a perfect excuse for Simon Romero to discuss talk of Internet censorship.  Not to toot-toot my horn, but this blog was one of the first pages to link to the rodent.  Not that it helped them in anyway, they need no one's help, but to underline that this writer knows a good thing when he sees one  :-)

And while you are there do not miss their take on Chavez announced own blog....

An annoying bicentennial? 19 de Abril de 1810

Starting last year and through 2011 most Latin American country will celebrate or commemorate a series of events that lead to the proclamation of independence from Spain.  The coincidence is simple to account for: Napoleon had invaded Spain and under the pretext of supporting the legitimate dynasty of Spain the elite of the time used this excuse to exert first a provisional autonomy that quickly became a declaration of Independence.

Emparan summoned back to the Cabildo
Venezuela was no exception, and in fact the clearest text book case, as on April 19 1810 the Caracas Cabildo forced the Spanish Capitan General to resign and leave the colony.  A year was enough to reach the official Independence proclamation on July 5th 1811.  And thus we have two national holidays to mark our Independence. 

One would think that the bombastic government of Chavez would take the opportunity to appropriate the two celebrations.  After all, such a centennial milestone is reached, well, once every hundred years only.  But no, nothing significantly out of the ordinary is planned.  No major festival is under organization, and we are at barely 30 days of the April date.  No literary competition has been offered that would attract the best pens or keyboards.  We do not know of any major gathering of LatinAmerican head of states in Caracas next month.

How come?

One explanation could be that chavismo knows that a major celebration without at least all of the "Bolivarian" presidents in Caracas does not make any sense (1).  On April 19 Raul Castro cannot replace Alvaro Uribe and Alan Garcia.  Even Chavez for all his histrionic talent could not paper over such an historical nonsense.  In his defense one could argue that July 5 2011 will be a better date to justify the visit of dignitaries form around the world, never mind that by then he could theoretically paper over recent international unpleasantness which solutions have been dodging him, such as the IACHR report or the connection with the FARC and ETA and narcotraffickers.  Not very good timing to celebrate your Independence as you created a Dependence to such unsavory groups....

But there is another much better explanation: April 19 was a uniquely civilian affair.  True, it only concerned the economic and religious powers of the time with the directed "spontaneous" support of the Caracas free class of creoles with some material interests.  But there was no army, no military coup, no nothing of the sort as the Spanish colonial "security" limited itself to make sure that order remained in the streets during this civilian transition.  Some within chavismo would like probably to transform April 19 into a coup, albeit civilian if we must.  Or at least apply to it the term Revolucion as the mysterious hands at work in Wikipedia tell us.  But even such adjective cannot be properly applied as Don Vicente Emparan was a questioned representative of dubious legality since Spain at the time was in chaos.  The Creole elite that participated in the April event was not breaking with Spain, it was serving Spain notice that relations were suspended until it put its house in order and that a legitimate authority could resume.

True, there was some hypocrisy in it as some knew that such a first baby step had to be taken to start on the road to Independence, but the fact of the matter is that it was a civilian event at least in part justified in such troubled times.

Where does a military regime bent on rewriting history fit with the Bicentennial of Civilian Power?  Nowhere and thus it ignores it.

I was a kid when I found in some boxes left behind at a house we had moved to a comic book edited for the "sequicentenario" of the Independence feat, the 150th anniversary.  I barely knew how to read at the time and in all truth this was my first reading in Spanish (I was already reading Tintin in French, being a precocious reader).  It also was my first reading in history, the start of a life passion even if by then I had no idea what the word history really meant.  I do not know what happened to these boxes later, probably thrown away by the incoming tenant of that part of the house (we lived in temporary digs set for a total of three families).  But I still remember to this day that commemorating comic book, likely edited for school distribution in preparation for the celebration.  For the first time I was told who Vicente Emparan was, what el Cura Madariaga did, and what Simon Bolivar would do later.  I still have cloudy images of the drawings which included our blooming national tree, Araguaney, and other such symbols that I did not understand then.  There were two kids narrating the comic book, the images switching between them reading and commenting and simple recreation of the scenes narrated.  The boy was black with a stripped white and blue shirt and the creole girl had long dark auburn hair with a black band holding it.

I cannot say that I understood in truth what Emparan was,  nor the general meaning of the story, but it certainly was riveting to read, impressive enough for me to still have memories today. In a way it does not really matter because what I retained from this book was a civilian epic without any particular message, something that could not be replicated today with he current regime, I am willing to bet anything on that.  After all it was narrated by elementary school kids of the time, you know, not little Cuban pioneritos that some 'bolivarian schools' try to copy.  It was the great decade of Venezuela when democracy was built and when the first wave of alphabetization took place.  This by itself was message enough.

If Chavez remains in office we know which is the holiday he really wants to celebrate.  After all his mantra has always been "hasta el 2021", until 2021.  Why?  It will be the decisive Independence battle, the Carabobo bicentennial and there is one thing that Chavez can relate to, it is a bloody battle field.

1) The Bolivarian countries are those who owe their independence to the wars of Simon Bolivar, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia to which Panama was added later since it broke from Spain originally inside the Gran Colombia.

Venezuela's colours: the royal grandmother

The Royal Gramma - in Spanish abuela real - is a Caribbean fish commonly found in Venezuela's coasts, in the Antilles and in the Bahamas.

Bolivarian Martyrs and other bananas from the Bolivarian republic


The National Assembly under Hugo's control decided to create a new order, as if they did not have enough: the Order of Revolutionary Martyrs. This new medal will be awarded to people (i.e. chavistas) who have made an "outstanding contribution to the construction and defence of socialism in all fields". This was announced when a group of chavista deputies placed a flower arrangement at a monument to guerrilla fighter José Manuel Saher, a man who fought against the democratic governments of the sixties.

The deputies declared they did it also in honour of the fights carried out by native Americans - never mind the government haven't given pemones or yekwanas, guaraos or karinas the lands they demand- and in honour of all those who suffered under the dictatorships of Juan Vicente Gómez and Pérez Jiménez - never mind Hugo is becoming more and more like the former one and he has openly and repeatedly expressed admiration for the latter.


The first link of this post is a video where Hugo is giving a new award, the Medalla del Libertador, to Aleksandr Lukashenko. The Belarussian dictator says "what has been done for Belarus today here (he does not say what in this clip) one has ever given our country such a present...and I want to promise you, dear Hugo -yeah, he calls Hugo Hugo too! - and I also give my promise to the whole Venezuelan people, that we will correspond to this big present of the Venezuelan nation. I promise you here, on Venezuelan soil...that we will do anything you tell us for your country, for the defence of your sovereignity and for the maintenance of the security and independence [of the nation]".

I have a wee hunch.

Health Care in Venezuela: even the private sector lags

Chavista propaganda would like us to believe that health care in Venezuela is the best.  Well, it is not and we know that from nay sources, from the number of "barrio adentro" modules that are closed to the pitiful condition of public hospitals which are of public knowledge.  But today I got some even more worrisome news: even private medicine in Venezuela is decaying fast so even if you have money and heath insurance, well, you have few choices.

My twitter brought me though Decifrado this link from America Economia which lists the 20 bests health centers in Latin America, from private clinics to public hospitals and teaching universities.  Venezuela has only one clinic ranked, Clinica Metropolitana, which readers should remember from the travails that yours truly endured there.  In a way I am happy because this conforms to me that my appreciation of Clinica Metropolitana as a top institution in spite of all the miseries faced to operate in a country ruled by incompetence.  But look at the table some more and you will start wondering....  

  • For example Colombia has 5 institutions, Venezuela only one.
  • Clinica Metropolitana is one of the smallest in bed numbers: 136, while just in Chile, with 3 ranked institutes, counts more than 1100 beds.
  • Two public hospitals do make it tot he ranking, one in Medellin and one in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Tiny Costa Rica also gets the number 5 slot with a private clinic....

It is to be noted that Clinica Metropoliana ranked dead last  that the item "patient security" which is an index that deals with ethics, to confidentiality and transparency, from reception at the ER to information.  I can understand that personally since the clinic is simply overwhelmed by the amount of people who try to check in and as such personalized patient following cannot be good.  Unfortunately for Metropolitana, it was one of the biggest index to establish the general ranking.

How can we explain that Venezuela with so much oil energy and such vaunted health plans can only manage to have a small private hospital to make it to the top 20?  And an hospital already built in 1970.

The date is the secret: Clinica Metropolitana is in fact one of the last major health center built in Caracas (I think that only the complex at La Trinidad follows, though several smaller clinics have opened).  Under Chavez no major private health center has been opened, or even public ones for that matter as the only thing to note is the Children Cardio Center which is not very big to begin with.

People are not going to invest in private heath center, even though the market exists as can be seen by the overcrowding of the places that make them look like public hospitals!  Why that lack of investment?

  • The chavista government has not helped private institutions to invest to try to compensate at least in part the deficit of the public sector.  It is not for the state to build these of course, but at least to give tax credits, credits, prepared medical personnel t staff these centers, etc, etc...  All what chavismo has done is to graduate under par medics in Cuba that none of these centers would hire even for bed pan duty.
  • The government has instead relied on private health insurance for many of its employees who do not attend the public sector.  The concentration of government investment in primary care exclusively for electoral purposes has for result the crowding of private facilities, killing competition and need to invest since they are minting as it is.
  • The constant threats of Chavez to nationalize everything, coupled to the real time observation of the continuous overall degradation of the public health sector makes the owners of private clinics and hospitals know full well that when the situation of the public sector becomes catastrophic Chavez will simply nationalize the private sector facilities to replace the ruined hospitals he is unable to fix adequately.  Why invest for Chavez to enjoy the results?
The fact f the matter is that for some honorable exceptions (for propaganda purposes?) Chavez personnel has been unable in 11 years to build a true comprehensive health care, amen of keeping up the one which already existed for all of its faults.  And yet for ideological reasons he has not been able to sit down with the private sector to try to allow this one to pick up the slack so at least all those who can afford it could go to private institutions and free public resources.  The paradox now is that under a socialist revolution we are everyday told of families of humble resources who go into final destitution to try to save a loved ne because the local public hospital is, well, worthless.  How often at work we have had to chip in to help buy this or that for someone surgery or treatment....

Ad that my friends is the reality of the Venezuelan heath care system, confirmed strangely through this page of America Economia where only one relatively small Venezuelan institution manages to figure...  True, some public hospitals have newer equipments, have been restored, etc...  but what matters the most, access, seems not to have improved since 1998 while access to private health care has degraded.

Let's hear it for Cuba and the Damas de Blanco

Today the Cuban Security forces, already well known for the excellent medical care they provide hunger strikers to make sure they painfully know they are near death have decided to beat up a small march of pacific women dressed in white, including the mother of one of these noble hunger strikers.  Cowardly, as it is becoming the norm in Venezuela, they launched first public employees protesting the interference of the US in Cuban matters and ended up in brutal repression.  All was very spontaneous, of course, people coming to harass the Damas de Blanco carrying walky talkies to make sure the world knew of the odious International Intervention though a bunch of aging women.

Since it is lent I think that it should not be difficult for the readers of this blog to sign a petition which started today and already got 15,000 people.  The Castro do not give a damn but they care.  Do your bit by signing HERE.

The joke: Venezuela's charade of a democracy

Hugo of Sabaneta keeps taking away powers from any form of elected government that is not under his control. As Venezuelans rejected his proposals in the 2007 referendum to create parallel regional governments and to introduce the figure of special "vicepresidents" (i.e. viceroyals) to regions, Hugo decided to push through said proposals anyway by using special powers given to him by his Assembly.

Now Hugo created a Federal Council to have a better control over the states. Although most municipalities have mayors that are pro-regime, around 45% of Venezuelans live in municipalities with opposition governments (never mind those goverments have less and less to do by the day).

Elías Jua, vicepresident and one of the key figures of the regime, has just announced what mayors are going to represent each state in this new Federal Council.

You can see the municipalities of those mayors in the map I created here: the winner takes it all and all those representatives are absolutely loyal to the former coup monger. The reddish areas have chavista mayors, the blueish have oppo mayors and the yellowish "discidence mayors". The green spots represent the mayors now in that council. They are all in the reddish regions. They will manage a lot of the moneys Hugo decides to give back to the states. The oppo mayors will have to beg to them.

In the following months you will see how chavismo will use any legal and illegal measure to prevent the opposition from gaining many deputies in the National Assembly, how it will bring electoral fraud to new levels of sophistication and how it will, eventually, emasculate the National Assembly to prevent the opposition from gaining any power there.

The Carter Centre, mostly IT illiterate, thought fraud was when you had soldiers pointing at you with an AK47s, telling you how to vote. They did not see that in Venezuela, so they thought things were kosher and they keep being as they were in 2004. Things are a wee bit more sophisticated than that, as the Smart Machines and the weird paper trails have shown.

I wonder if the EU is again going to send EU observers who will only follow the election from their hotel rooms or if the Venezuelan regime will simply invite those "EU observers" that love to have pictures of theirs taken with the comandante. Vamos a ver.

And Internet censorship starts in earnest in Venezuela

Chavez words threatening Noticiero Digital did have their effect fast.

Self Censorship

Noticias 24, the other big forum decided on its own to stop comments in some of its posts, at least those of a political nature.  Self censorship at its best!  ND has not stopped yet though they decided to reply to the government mentioning that a comment section is an impossible thing to moderate with a site of such traffic.

Legal eagles

The attorney general, infamous Luisa Ortega who already a few months ago within a few hours of Chavez wish offered a proposal to regulate freedom of expression reiterated today her wish to muzzle the Venezuelan people.  This time around, remembering her ridicule then as her proposal went nowhere, she asked the Nazional Assembly to legislate.  For good measure she also said that she sent a certain Linda Montero to investigate Noticiero Digital.

The usual sycophants

The Venezuelan Communist Party was quick to offer its support to control Internet.  Imagine that!

Aristobulo Isturiz chimed in saying that Internet Web pages should be subjected tot he same rules than broadcast media.  You know, those rules that allow the government to close any media they do not like.

And to make sure we got the point Chavez received today in great fanfare the last communist fossil of Europe, Belarus Lukashenko.

I am sure I can find more fascinating links but you get the point.

Filho de puta: Teodoro Petkoff breaks with Lula over his support to Cuban murderers

I cannot stress enough the importance of this mini-editorial of Teodoro Petkoff, Tal Cual editor, published today in Tal Cual. He has been a long time admirer of Brazil's president Lula da Silva. But the words of this one justifying the murders of political prisoner in Cuba were too much, and outranked any good that Lula might have done.  We must welcome such a break up because it is a sign of things to come as the complacent left cannot remain complacent any longer in front of such a blinding reality. My feelings, exactly. Below the translation AND the original Spanish for those who cannot access Tal Cual

Filho de puta / Son of bitch [whore sense of course]

When Lula won Brazil's election a best seller was published with the title of Filho do Brasil which means Son of Brazil.  More recently, based on this book, a movie was produced with the same title and the same theme: the career of the Nordeste kid who from extreme poverty made it to the president's office, through years of hard and devoted struggle, in particular under military dictatorships.

But when this chronicler hears him today, philosophizing over the Cuban "justice" ad over the Cuban political prisoners, what one wants to say is, in all truth, that he is a filho de puta.  I do not give a damn that he had a great presidential tenure, that his popularity is enormous, that he has combined the macroeconomic good sense of Cardoso with his own social concerns, to improve significantly the fate of the poorest of his co-citizens.

I do not give a rat's ass that he belongs to this modern left, very different of this pseudo leftist fraud that Chacumbele [Chavez] has set up here.

What [Lula] has said about the political prisoners of Cuba, comparing them to common delinquents in Brazilian jails is an unforgivable infamy that makes me lose all the respect that I had for him.  One might agree or not with the extreme action of a hunger strike but what you cannot do, and Lula did, is to trash the immense spirit of sacrifice of those who, in front of a dictatorship like the Cuban one, all but use suicide to make their rights heard.  Because a hunger strike in Cuba is to face a real death threat.  It is like doing a hunger strike in front of Hitler.  If Lula does not have the moral and political courage to demand a civilized and human behavior to the Cuban government which would be the right thing to do, the decent thing to do, and what a left which respects itself would do, is to have at the very least the decency to shut up.
Filho de puta

Cuando Lula ganó las elecciones en Brasil apareció un gran éxito de librería con el título O Filho do Brasil, lo cual quiere decir El hijo de Brasil. Más recientemente, y con base en ese libro, se produjo una película con el mismo título y el mismo tema: la carrera del chamo nordestino, que desde la miseria llegó a la presidencia de su país, a través de años de lucha dura y sacrificada, sobre todo durante el tiempo de las dictaduras militares.

Pero cuando este minicronista lo oye hoy, filosofando sobre la "justicia" cubana y sobre los presos políticos cubanos, lo que provoca decirle es que, en verdad, es un filho de puta. Me importa un rábano que haya hecho una gran presidencia, que su popularidad sea enorme, que haya combinado la sensatez macroeconómica de Cardoso con su propia sensibilidad social, para mejorar significativamente la suerte de sus compatriotas más pobres.

Me importa un pepino que forme parte de una izquierda moderna, muy diferente a esta estafa, dizque izquierdista, que ha montado Chacumbele aquí.

Lo que ha dicho sobre los presos políticos de Cuba, comparándolos con los delincuentes comunes, presos en las cárceles brasileñas, es una canallada imperdonable, que me hace perderle todo el respeto que le tuve. Se puede compartir o no el recurso extremo de la huelga de hambre, pero lo que no se puede hacer ­y Lula lo hizo­ es basurear el inmenso espíritu de sacrificio de quienes, frente a una dictadura como la cubana, prácticamente recurren al suicidio para hacer valer sus derechos. Porque huelga de hambre en Cuba es arrostrar el peligro real de muerte. Es como haberle hecho una huelga de hambre a Hitler. Si Lula no tiene el coraje moral y político de reclamarle un comportamiento civilizado y humano al gobierno cubano, que sería lo apropiado, lo decente y lo de una izquierda que se respeta a si misma, podría tener, al menos la vergüenza de quedarse callado.

In Colombia the post Uribe period starts, with a big thanks to Chavez

Colombia voted for its new Congress yesterday.  According to El Tiempo special page it looks like the right has an outright majority in the Senate and that with semi right parties it will be holding quite a comfortable lead.  The more so that the potential opposition will be chopped up between the Liberales, Verdes and Polo Democatico.  The only parties that would try eventually, with great care, to reconcile Colombia with Chavez, Polo Democratico and Liberal, apparently will not reach 25% of the vote together.

In other words, Chavez has no real friends in Colombia and the right wing can thank him very much for giving it an outright majority and making sure that the next president is going to be either Santos or Sanin.  Next June South America will have two vocal right wing presidents at international summits while Brazil elections take place and the Kirchner keep sinking. With the imminent return of Honduras to the OAS and the presence of Panama and Costa Rica, Chavez might want to start skipping International Summits.

Chavez should keep in mind that in politics one never knows for who one is really working.

Misery (written a few weeks ago)

Life is miserable. Not my life, but life in general, as a whole. Even through we try to keep standing, with our heads up; even through we try to be the best in our jobs and return home to comfort our families and our couple, even when we smile and have good moments and joke. I see movies of people having personal struggles, or issues and I realize that I have a perfect life. I have a loving family who would do anything for me, I have a perfect boyfriend for me, I have loyal friends, a career, a full time incredible job, a couple of hobbies; not a lot of money but enough to keep decent standards sometimes. And yet, life is miserable.

That line comes as one breathtaking truth every time I enter a mall and its lights are half on: only the necessary ones for you to walk through the hallways. The rest are of: the lights of the shelves are off; the lights of some areas of the parking line are off.

Whenever I enter a place from the subway to a shop to realize that there is no air conditioner on; where you used to need a sweater, people are now sweating and you can read it in their eyes: the heat is a reminder of how miserable our lives have suddenly become.

Whenever feel guilty every time I turn on the TV or plug any other equipment, or charge my laptop; it is miserable or avoid turning on the lights even at night; because if your electricity bill arrives and you have no lower your watts consume, you will be fined and even have your service cut for 24 hours; you realize that life is miserable.

Life is miserable if the streets look darker than usual in one of the most dangerous cities of the world.

Life is miserable at least twice a week and during this week it was miserable five days of it; because we didn’t have running water and our tank, as a result, is now empty. We were getting used to run every time we noticed we had running water, to take a bath and wash the dishes and, if we were lucky; our clothes.

Now my mom is telling us that we might have to use our clothes more than once and take more baths using pots and saving every drop of water that we can. Tell that to someone like me, a girl like any other, accustomed to the comforts of a middle class life and with very high hygiene standards.

My sister just went out to buy as many bottles of water she can find, big or small because we don’t know when we are going to have current water again.

My days are now hot and dry, and dirty too. Uncomfortable, sad, always asking me how much I can take.

I can’t scream, I can’t complain. There is nothing we can do about it. We are in the middle of dry season and no proper investments were made to go through this season without lacking basic resources.

We are here fighting hard to keep our living standards, but our living standards seem now distant to me. My bathroom looks now like an ornament because nothing of it works without water. And the TV, DVD, lights, microwave, and washing machine are also ornaments because even if we have electricity, we are warned to not use them much. My whole house looks like a reminder of another age, where resources were abundant and we did not have to worry about it. We could have the luxury of worrying about anything else.

You know, today is my second anniversary. I’m remembering my first anniversary and I’m carrying a smile. I was worried about looking beautiful and nothing else. Now I’m filling some pots to take a bath, I feel ashamed because I can’t take a complete bath in the shower to go to my anniversary lunch. Before going to lunch, my boyfriend and I must stop at some supermarket to buy as many water as we can and bring them back home, even if this bothers our initial budget for having a lunch at a good restaurant.

I feel ashamed, sad, and over all miserable; when I should be smiling because I’m going to celebrate the joy of spending two years with the greatest person I have ever met. But no life is perfect if you are missing some drops: some drops of water, some drops of dignity, some drops of respect, some drops of freedom.

No smile is complete, if is surrounded by misery.

And now toward the end of free Internet in Venezuela

Today Chavez officially launched his crusade against freedom of Internet.  In another heated speech at the PSUV congress where he goes to make sure they toe the line he said:
"Eso no puede ser así, que transmitan lo que les da le gana, envenenando la mente de mucha gente"
This cannot be, that they transmit whatever they feel like it, poisoning the minds of many people.

Note: "transmitan" in Spanish has many translations, from broadcast to send electricity through cables. In a way it is revealing that Chavez uses "transmitan" for the Web instead of "escriban", write, which would have been the correct word to use. It shows that he really does not quite understand Internet and that it sees it just as another broadcasting system that he should be able to control as he controls the rest, directly or through self censorship.  Or perhaps he is getting very concerned that with Youtube and live podcasts the situation will soon be unmanageable?

Reuters picks it up and also picks it up that Chavez said that German chancellor Merkel also wants more Internet control.  This is misleading, and idiotic, for Reuters to report because for those who know German history well they know that Germany by law must control any Nazi speech wherever this one happens, something that either the advisers of Chavez do not know or do not understand, or both.

But Chavez will use any excuse, any justification to advance any new control policy he needs.  The target here are pages such as Noticiero Digital which was expressly mentioned.  I hate to admit it but quite a few pages of Noticiero Digital are yellow journalism at best and it serves more as a cathartic joint for the opposition than actual news.  I, for one, consult Noticiero Digital rarely, only when a reader asks me an opinion about a given article or when a colleague publishes something in there.  You will notice that I link to it adding in parenthesis "extreme forum".  Not to diminish it, every web page serves a purpose and people have the right to visit Noticiero or this page as they wish and as their taste directs them.

But this latest outburst of Chavez is also reflective of many things.  First, the anti democratic nature of the regime, their really thin, and thinning skin.  Their frustration at not being able to control what people write, already expressed when he ordered his PSUV minions to invade Twitter to little success so far, as far as I can tell.  It reflects their own failure at influencing or at least penetrating Internet as no chavista has been able to write a blog as enduring and as successful as this one, which is not by any means the best blog around nor the most read (though respected enough to scare away trolls).  Even Venezuelanalysis, the most sophisticated effort of chavismo in English could not hide its propaganda nature and was trashed by the Washington Post a few days ago where in the web version of an editorial a link to Venezuelanalysis is included.  In other words, it reflects the frustration of chavismo who cannot pass its message in spite of the huge means it disposes and thus is left with no other option than silencing the competition.

Chavez words were not accidental, they are a new policy announcement.  Soon you can expect legislation, lawsuits or a sabotage or hacking war against Noticiero Digital and Noticias 24, but also against blogs like this one.  Having read Chavez words today I am sure that either this page or Miguel, or Quico or Marta Colmenares and more will soon be excoriated (all listed on the right side).  I am certain that there is already detailed reports at Miraflores about opposition web sites and that priorities are being established.  After all we have already been routinely threatened by professional PSF, in comments, by mail or, e.g., at Oil Wars, another blog unable to police its comment into decency and which was thus used to threaten people through folks that we know are into some governmental payroll.  Fortunately that blog is near death but there are other blogs in Spanish or even Aporrea like page which have already mentioned this blog.

But of course I will continue, even if I must do a Yoani Sanchez solution and go into international hotels to avoid Internet Censorship.  And to make sure that the government has real good reasons to get mad at me, here:

  • Chavez is a tyrant that has not yet reached his full potential. (heard that Sean Penn?)
  • Diosdado Cabello is a major thief of the regime probably having stolen directly or though fronts half a billion dollars.
  • Danilo Anderson has been killed by the regime, probably under the orders of Jose Vicente Rangel or at least somebody of that level.
  • The corruption of the armed force is epochal.
  • The regime has given the country to Cuba and we will never get back a penny of the billions of dollars that were sent over there to prop up an agonizing regime.
  • Lula da Silva has been in business with the regime, not necessarily for his own aim but to deliberately screw up the Venezuelan people and use Venezuela to support his hero Fidel and do all the dirty jobs he did not want to do.  He has abetted the corruption that has come with the Brazilian contracts and thus has contributed to the moral decay of Venezuela.
  • There is probably in my count at least a hundred murders/kidnappings that can be directly traced to political causes favoring the regime.  As such Chavez is also a murderer in addition to the people he had killed in 1992.
  • Chavez has been financing the FARC.

And more, whenever it pleases the regime to want more accusations that can be supported from my side, or form any citizen in Venezuela if we had a judicial system that worked.

I wonder if chavismo is aware of the virulence of right and left wing web sites in the US and how Bush and Obama keep cruising and putting up with the inanities that have been thrown at them.....  but then again for all their faults and alleged "extremism" Bush and Obama were/are democrats all along....  they knew their truth and did not feel like having to impose it the way Chavez is trying to impose his truth.  But people that cannot tolerate criticism to their truth are those that doubt their very own truth.