Chavez secretly sends troops to the Colombian border

Chavez said: (my emphasis)
"Hemos desplegado unidades para defender nuestra soberanía en caso de una agresión. Unidades de defensa aérea, unidades aéreas, unidades de infantería, de operaciones especiales; en silencio porque no queremos agredir a nadie ni queremos causar alarma en las poblaciones"
"We have deployed units to defend our sovereignty in case of aggression.  Units of aerial defense, aerial units [?], infantry units, of special operations; silently because we do not want to attack anyone nor cause alarm in the population"
aarghhh, cough, cough, hahahahhahahahah....


[a relative found the author of this blog convulsing on the floor in what seemed an extraordinary attack of laughter.  The relative took the liberty to post this anyway hoping readers will be kind enough to understand]

Chavista "inhabilitaciones"

Thursday I was telling you that the latest TSJ ruling was probably a renewed attack against SUMATE. Well, it did not last long as already Iris Varela is calling for the head of Maria Corina Machado.  In a way this is quite an unremarkable incident but in other ways it is deeply telling of the pebbles that bang each other inside chavista brains.


First, the event by itself.  The lack of spontaneity in some chavista actions is truly remarkable: these people are becoming extremely predictable.  There is a whole bunch of "law suits" pending everywhere, without enough foundation to go to trial.  However these law suits do exist and can be brought to the forefront as political necessity demands.  This is one of the many advantages to have the judiciary power totally submitted to the executive one, as is the case in any totalitarian or wanna-be totalitarian regime as chavismo is.

Maria Corina Machado is one such case.  Although she has not done anything illegal in accepting NED funds for SUMATE, the electoral monitoring ONG, she has been prosecuted for a whole variety of reasons of dubious legality (1).  For example she was at Miraflores on April 12 2002, signing an entry form, which is customary in almost any building of Venezuela for security reasons.  And her signature was certainly not the only one.  Yet she has been one of the few people who was attacked for that on the pretext that this was enough evidence to accuse her of plotting to overthrow Chavez when she showed up after his extremely brief overthrow......

The fact of the matter here is that Maria Corina Machado has never held public office and thus has never had a chance to steal public money.  Henceforth she cannot be barred from running for office by a quick letter from Clodosvlado Ruffian, the country comptroller, which is the usual method for chavismo to ban annoying political opponents, the better since they do not even need to pocket the money to be banned from office, they just need to spend public funds in say, pothole repair instead of the original bridge repair for which the funds were originally set for.

To ban Ms. Machado from running you need her to go to trial and her to lose such trial.  Admittedly in certain "legal" circumstances if she is sent to preventive jail she could be "technically" banned from running for office as no judge would dare to contest such an illegal measure least they risk suffering an Afiuni.  I am not going to speculate on which argument Iris Varela and others will send Maria Corina to jail, it is useless, they will always find an excuse and international outcry will not have them back down if the political gain is big enough for them.  What is to question here is what political gain do they think they would get.

Ms. Machado is running for the safest seat for the opposition.  She will get at least 40% of the vote in her two head district (at least 80% if it were a single head district).  If there is one district in Venezuela where chavismo cannot cheat at all it is the Baruta one of Caracas.  If Ms. Machado were to be removed from the race, the opposition could place on the ballot a yellow dog and that one with the anger factor would get 85% of the vote.  Thus the objective is not at all to weaken the opposition result of September by trying to rob it of an "undecided" district!

No, the idea here is that chavismo needs to remove people like Machado from the contest because such people are doing exactly what chavismo is afraid they would be doing (and which I suggested as a strategy in previous electoral posts, read the 2010 elections tag).  Big political opposition stars are named in safe districts so that they can spare a lot of time to support opposition candidates in weaker districts, amen of mobilizing their own district electors for the list vote at state level.  One can name a few ones like that, starting with Mendoza in a safe set too but campaigning all over Miranda and apparently with good results so far.

Ms. Machado brings something important for the opposition: her media star status, her association with the successful SUMATE past actions is one way to drop the abstention within opposition potential voters.  Her role is not to gain votes from chavismo, she really cannot do that and thus such role is reserved to people like Mendoza.  Her role is to make sure as many opposition supporters as possible do go and vote on September 26.

SUMATE these days is reviving some helping the opposition organize the witnesses it needs at every voting station in Venezuela considering the more than likely electoral fraud that chavismo will try.  Thus it is AGAIN important for the regime to discredit SUMATE and such people even it if through people like Machado, its former head.

But I suspect that this time it will not work out because people are bored by all these constant attacks against SUMATE without anyone ever going to jail.  They also notice now that jailing political opponents does not decrease inflation, does not stop power outages, does not prevent food to rot in harbors, does not protect them from street crime, does not guarantee them a job, etc, etc....  Iris Valera should remember that not all people can be fooled all the time.  On her side, Ms. Machado is actually welcoming the attention.

To close this post, the other interesting aspect of this charade is to confirm once again that chavismo has lost any political creativity and can only resort to its old tricks, hence the sound of banging pebbles coming from their speeches....  Such as "inhabilitar" becoming a mere code word.

---------------------------------------------
1) Just in case someone gets confused and for the occasional nincompoop chavista that might still read this blog: there are new regulations at play or in the works to stop anyone from receiving anything from a foreign government, BUT they did not exist a few years ago and thus no one from SUMATE (or other ONG) can be sued retroactively for that.  Or else you would be willing to give up even the pretense of justice.

A revolutionary idea for Venezuelan politics!




Tell her what you have to offer







You know Venezuela has "issues" when you realise the idea I am about to propose would be a revolutionary thing in the country. It is just a very normal practice in democratic nations. The idea is simply to let the main Venezuelan newspapers and magazines present side by side the proposals of the main political parties.

In Venezuela we would be talking about Chavismo and the Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) as main parties (the MUD being a front of parties). The action is very simple: journalists ask Chavismo and the Mesa de la Unidad to write in 250 words (or whatever the length) what proposals they have if their deputies are elected to the National Assembly. Parties would have a deadline, they can submit the proposals at the same time if, as is often in Venezuela, someone is afraid the other could steal his/her "brilliant" idea. It is clear Chavista propaganda agencies will never want to give equal time or space to the opposition. In fact, those institutions do not give any space to the opposition. Still, the remaining press can set an example.

We have two months before election time and there is nothing of the kind. We could actually have that for every state: each side presents the ideas they want to bring forward at the National Assembly if elected.

In most of the political or general newspapers and magazines I have seen in the EU that is something people take for granted: let readers see at least once what each group has to offer, in their own words, beyond the usual constraints of ads.

I think the opposition should be pushing for this, but most likely they, like Chavismo, will just follow the usual game and traditions in Venezuela. I hope to be proven wrong.

Ps. Of course, you have to bear in mind that few Venezuelans read anything else than baseball news. Most Venezuelans don't read newspapers and less than 30% nationwide can watch anything that is political and not completely pro-Chávez.

Wayuu, an Arawak nation


The Wayuu (a.k.a. Guajiros) are a native American nation living mostly between Colombia and Venezuela in a very harsh area, the Guajira Peninsula. Many of them live on subsistence economy and smuggling. Their language belongs to the Arawak family, like the language of the Warekena and the Baniwa, like the extinct Tainos, but completely different to the Pemón, the Warao or Yanomamö languages. They are the most numerous native American group in Northern South America, accounting for about half a million people distributed in both countries. Their lot has been largely forgotten by the governments of the nations they are in. They have been deeply affected by the FARC/ENL and paramilitary terrorists and all the drug trade in the area.

A future Venezuela, working together with Colombia at least as closely as Germany and France do now, would have to give more attention to the sustainable development of this group while preserving their distinct identity.



I wrote more on the Wayuu here.

Most Wayuu live in complete destitution:




Here (Wayuu language with Spanish sub-titles) a Wayuu woman talking about their textile tradition (second half is just a corny speech by a criollo).

A good chuckle for you: the NED cannot fund SUMATE but Venezuela can fund political activities wherever it wants

Sometimes in Venezuela political reality is stranger than ideological fiction.


Today the Venezuelan High Court, TSJ, emitted a ruling against SUMATE based all but solely in that SUMATE had no right to petition the High Court because it was a US agent. Signed by Carrasquero, the man that approved the 2004 recall election fraud and who was compensated by getting a plum 12 year TSJ job from where he can get his revenge on SUMATE who detailed all the misdeeds he did while he was the CNE president.  You can read the lines that Carrasquero wrote with total lack of self consciousness:
"una típica manifestación de la política intervencionista de una potencia extranjera", [la cual busca] "incidir en los asuntos internos del Estado venezolano, toda vez que la aportación de recursos, es sin duda, una de las modalidades a través de las cuales se sirven los distintos centros de poder (entre ellos otros estados), para el fomento de sus intereses, incluso, fuera de sus fronteras". [sic, yes, for those of you who can read Spanish]
"a typical manifestation of the interventionist policy of a foreign power [that seeks] influence the internal matters of the Venezuelan State since bringing in resources is without a doubt one of the ways through which different centers of power (among them other states) use to promote their interests, even outside of their borders"

Carrasquero certainly has no objection about the Venezuelan resources liberally spent in Bolivia and Ecuador and Nicaragua to sustain the regimes over there, with amounts of money that surpass by several orders of magnitude whatever the NED gave Venezuela.  OR has anyone forgotten, for example, the hundred of ambulances given to Bolivia a few weeks before Evo's reelection, when ambulances are in short supply in Venezuela?

But it got better, in the sentence handed down the TSJ makes it easier for the numerous proceedings against SUMATE to carry on, possibly with the aim of shutting it down by, arresting its leaders before September 26?  Maybe it is time to reactivate an old blog written to defend SUMATE at the height of the attack, 5 years ago.

At any rate, the amorality of people like Carrasquero keeps leaving us stunned, even after all these years.  Then again Carrasquero is one of those who would lose their job fast and end up on a judicial bench if chavismo were to be booted out of office (I personally count that a post Chavez de-chavistization like a denazification will be necessary and would include about a couple of hundred people at least, but maybe enough).  He is a mean amoral idiot but he is not stoopid.

"Overdose", One good opinion on the Colombia Venezuela spat, referring to Venezuelans

I cannot wait to get away of the silly Chavez bad show on breaking up with Colombia. But this is an international blog and thus one must follow news that supposedly interest more the overseas folks. Besides, so much nonsense has been written on the topic in so few days that it was for me quite a treat to find an article today in El Nacional that goes right to the point, at least as far as Venezuelans are concerned in this whole matter.  In all the modesty I can muster it makes quite a nice complement to what I wrote a few days ago :)

Sobredosis (overdose) by Beatriz de Majo El Nacional today.  Spanish original at the end.  Ms. de Majo is the Colombian expert for El Nacional

In the unfortunate episode we trek as to our relation with Colombia we must distinguish between the anecdotal and the substantial.

You cannot blame the media for highlighting the declaration of the President breaking up [with Colombia], flanked by such a questionable character like Maradona, or the nonsensical speech at the OAS of [ambassador]Chaderton. But the crux of this drama is far from there.

In the findings presented by the government of Uribe at the OAS were they to be true, there are sufficient grounds for us to be the ones to go ahead and bring [our] Government to account to the International Criminal Court, and to turn it in a serious plea to the Security Council which holds the penalties.

If evidence presented by Colombia is worthy, who would definitely be harmed by it, before Colombia it is the Venezuelan entity, including this and many generations to come [who would be harmed by it]. Amid the din of the elections, seasoned writers on political issues have come to blame Alvaro Uribe for giving Hugo Chavez an electoral breather with this move.

If the population of the Venezuelan voters was made up by a herd of donkeys unable to distinguish between one thing and another, then it could be [true].

Of course, for a moment breaking relations with Colombia downplays other national problems, which are electoral matters. But the metastasis of guerrilla violence, coupled with the kidnapping for ransom, the murders, the forced integration of young people to their ranks, and its association with drug trafficking, are also a subject to put on the table with the same strength as the high cost of living , poor health, food putrefaction.

And this message is primarily aimed at businessmen who deplore, rightly, not to do business with Colombia as a result of the break up. If we do not stop this contamination, were this guerilla to perpetuate this penetration on our soil, there will be no room left here for business among Venezuelans.

We cannot be short-sighted and do not understand that if the Bolivarian revolution has, in the words of Colombia, a protective environment for the terrorist insurgency, this is damaging to Venezuela in its essence of a free and peaceful nation. We are infected by the pus of terrorism and this drives away investment from our own and others. It generates space for criminals, guerrillas and drug traffickers within a human group that wants nothing else but to live in peace.

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En el episodio lamentable que transitamos en la relación con Colombia hay que distinguir entre lo anecdótico y lo sustantivo.

No puede culparse a la prensa por poner de relieve la declaratoria del Presidente de ruptura de relaciones flanqueado por un personaje tan cuestionado como Maradona, o el desatinado discurso de Chaderton en la OEA. Pero el meollo de este drama está lejos de estar allí.

En los hallazgos presentados por el gobierno de Uribe en la OEA, de ser ciertos, hay motivos suficientes para que seamos nosotros quienes nos adelantemos a llevar al Gobierno a rendir cuentas ante la Corte Penal Internacional, y a hacer de eso un serio alegato ante el Consejo de Seguridad que tiene en sus manos la imposición de sanciones.

De ser serias las evidencias presentadas por Colombia, a quien se estaría lesionado de manera definitiva, primero que a Colombia, es al conglomerado venezolano, incluidas esta y varias generaciones por venir. En medio del fragor de la lucha electoral, articulistas avezados en los temas políticos han llegado a culpar a Álvaro Uribe de darle aliento electoral a Hugo Chávez con este movimiento.

Si el pueblo de votantes venezolano estuviera constituido por una manada de asnos incapaces de distinguir entre una cosa y otra, podría ser así.

Claro que, momentáneamente, la ruptura de relaciones con Colombia le resta importancia a los otros problemas nacionales, que son materia electoral. Pero la metástasis de la violencia guerrillera, junto con el secuestro extorsivo, los asesinatos, la captura de jóvenes para sus filas, y su concomitancia con el narcotráfico, son también materia a poner sobre el tapete con la misma fuerza que la carestía de la vida, la precariedad de la salud, la putrefacción de alimentos.

Y este mensaje va en primer lugar dirigido a los empresarios que deploran, con razón, no poder hacer negocios con Colombia como consecuencia de la ruptura. Si nosotros no detenemos esta contaminación, de perpetuarse esta penetración guerrillera en nuestro suelo, no habrá espacio aquí para negocios entre los venezolanos tampoco.

No podemos ser cortos de visión como para no entender que si la revolución bolivariana ha provocado, como lo dice Colombia, un ambiente protector de la insurgencia terrorista, está dañando a Venezuela en su esencia de nación libre y pacífica. Nos inocula el pus del terrorismo y ahuyenta la inversión de propios y ajenos. Genera espacio para los criminales guerrilleros y narcotraficantes dentro de un conglomerado humano que no desea sino vivir en paz.

Venezuelan governors

post-secondary studies of state governors

red: military, coup monger
dark blue: law
cyan: "law" at the Santa María University
grey: education (Barinas: brother of Chávez)
dark brown: medicine
light brown: accounting
pink: psychology or sociology
light green: arts
yellow: economics
white: nothing
greenish blue: engineering







Venezuela's secondary school is one year less than in Europe but standards are on average well below that, specially in public schools. You have to take that into account to comprehend Venezuela. The military have had a stronger influence in Venezuela's politics than anywhere else in South America, the 1958-1998 period being just an interlude. But for the governor of Táchira, they only had military "studies".

Since 2008 Chávez has taken most competences from states and municipalities as a way to emasculate the opposition. Zulia, Carabobo, Táchira and Nueva Esparta have opposition governors. The rest are under total Chavista rule. As you see, a lot of Chavista governors come from the military caste. They are took part in the 1992 coups.

I differentiated between law and law at the Universidad Santa María because law at the private Universidad Santa María has a horrible reputation. The Amazonas governor is a native American. The Chávez governors of Yaracuy, Falcón, Trujillo, Guárico and Barinas who are not military coup mongers themselves came from families with military involved in coups against democratically elected governments or guerrilleros who fought against democratically elected governments.

Pudreval and the FARC

If we did not have Weil we would need to invent him....

Chavez: Were these pictures taken in Venezuela we would have seen backgrounds like this one

In a particularly ironic and cynic turn Weil has Chavez dismiss the documents shown by Colombia at the OAS a few days ago by acknowledging that there is so many containers rotting food in Venezuela that surely it should appear in the FARC camp pictures.

................

Oliver Stone, Tariq Ali, Marc Weisbrot and Larry Rohter

Do yourself a favor and start your week with a chuckle by reading how Larry Rohter trounces Stone's movie South of the Border and its script writers, Mark Weisbrot in particular, the darling of English speaking chavista whose economic predictions about chavismo prowess have all fallen flatter than the ocean's horizon.  Once again, wasted propaganda money as the movie only preached to the choir, if that.  Funny how any serious attempt at a movie flattering Chavez epic must always resort to quite a few misinterpretations and outright lies.  Remember " The Revolution will not be on TV" or something like that about April 2002 who has disappeared from the radar now that it has been proven to be mostly a fake?  Fortunately the word, in addition of diligent bloggers, provide great journalists able to finish off such people.

Hat tip Alek.

Paranoia News and Views

Poor Chavez!  He had to cancel his trip to Cuba to commemorate who knows what act of Castro heroism (Castro doe shave acts of heroism compared to the lack of these in Chavez) because an attack from Colombia is imminent.  It is BBC mundo that tells us that, I suppose because they take Chavez words at their value.  They also tell us that Chavez will stop selling oil to the US if necessary ans that we will be eating stones if necessary, anything to save our dignity.  Well, the eating stones thing I got from a center right paper in Span, El Mundo, who loves to collects these cute sayings of Chavez.  Apparently El Mundo also understands Chavez as saying that the Colombia presented evidence is just like the one for justifying Iraq.  At least, if this is true, we can congratulate ourselves for the progress made by US intelligence services since now we have accurate map locations and plenty of videos and pictures, what was sorely lacking in Iraq.


But let's g back to reality.  The real reason why Chavez is suspending his trip to Cuba is that his recent actions are failing dismally to raise people patriotic spirit, be it the necrophiliac shows with Bolivar remains, or the breaking up of relations with Colombia.  I cannot vouch for the the whole country but from Caracas the news is that no one gives a shit, and I can vouch that in San Felipe folks are much more concerned about finding Harina P.A.N. than worrying about whether Colombian soldiers are about to crash into their homes.   though maybe I am misinformed and my eyes betrayed me and people are trying to stock up in case of war?

No, the reality is that Chavez screamed "wolf!" once too many and he is getting at best a blank stare from the people, though of course the usual sycophants are crawling over each other to proclaim their support to the beloved micomandantepresidente.  So Chavez needs to stay home and work more diligently at trying to make the situation more relevant to his sagging political fortunes.  He started by accusing the border governors of treason without any evidence, but demanding that evidence is presented to him.  We are sure that someone somewhere will find a picture of, say, Perez vivas shaking hands with a Colombian tourist in San Cristobal as the definite incriminating proof to arrest him and recover Tachira for chavismo.  People on Venezuela are in exile for less than that, ask Patricia Poleo for example.  Accusing Pablo Perez of Zulia is going to be easier because Chavez knows already that the invasion will be coming through Zulia with the governor waving, we presume, Colombian flags.  After all, Zulia did hesitate in 1830 between Venezuela and Colombia and in these days of necrophilia it is useful to remember such ghosts from our past.

But I need to apologize, I still cannot be serious enough.  Here I go again:
- The US through Colombia does not need to invade Venezuela to see the end of Chavez.  He is working hard at that himself and while he he does seances at the National Pantheon with Bolivar's bones, he is not taking any step to solve our economic crisis, or increase our oil production or export through simple measures such as diminishing our consumption by increasing the price of gas or electricity.

- Colombia know very well that Venezuela's army is in deep decomposition, mined by corruption and absolute lack of training.  This time around they did not bother sending a single extra soldier to the border, nor did Venezuela for that matter.  There is no will for war even if today suddenly Chavez is screaming bloody invasion.  Even his timing for that sucks, not having bothered before to seal the borders except for closing a few consulates.

-  And even if there were really any bellicose feeling in Colombia it would be at the level of aerial raids to bomb the camps.  but the time has not come yet because after the presentation at the OAS Colombia needs to wait a few weeks before the international conciliation and pacification effort fails in order to have a valid excuse to bomb Ivan Marquez, wherever it is he is hiding in Venezuela....
Folks, THERE IS NOT GOING TO BE ANY MILITARY ACTION FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.  PERIOD.  Colombia has no interest as the mere accusations is going to force at least a re-localization of the camps and thus temporary inactivity; and Venezuela is no shape whatsoever to tackle any action.

So why is Chavez today with such a war language?  The answer could be found in a tweet from ElCiudadano who wonders aloud what the latest number of pollster Seijas are, the pollster of the regime.  Apparently Chavez alternative strategies have not been working so far so he needs to stay at home and try something else such as saying that the representatives elected by the opposition will work to surrender Venezuela to Colombia.  He should not be upset about that, when you think of it, after all he wants the rebirth of the Gran Colombia, though he would prefer to be the one marching in triumph in the streets of Bogota........  Interestingly at a PSUV mass act today Chavez subconscious betrayed him as he asked the PSUV to work hard to make sure the opposition does not get close to the 50% seats, an admission that his numbers point that way, if you ask me, the amateur psychologist.

To give you a thrill there this 9 minutes video from Globovision where Chavez among many things accuses the US of all evil and rehabilitates Noriega, accusing the US of having killed thousands in Panama and never been able to prove anything against Noriega.  In addition of course of some of the stuff I wrote above.  Also, so that people cannot accuse me to be unfair, this meeting is the best attendance that Chaevz has managed recently.  Seems that his supporters are getting scared enough that attendance is up.

Die Opposition als Landesverräter



Hugo Chávez hat die Gouverneure der Opposition in den Bundesstaaten Táchira und Zulia schon wieder Landesverräter genannt. Er sagt, die Opposition unterstützt die Position der kolumbianischen Regierung im Zusammenhang mit der FARC und ENL Guerrilla und damit einen Angriff gegen Venezuela. Er hat seinen Vizepräsidenten, Elias Jaua, damit beauftragt, mögliche rechtliche Massnahmen gegen sie zu untersuchen (auf Deutsch den Richtern zu befehlen, einen Prozess gegen die Gouverneure einzuleiten).

Der ehemalige Putschist sagte:

"Die sogenannte venezolanische Opposition...die kontrarevolutionären Kräfte, die sollten nicht auf den Gedanken kommen, dass sie in Ruhe gelassen werden, wenn das Yankee-Imperium Venezuela angreift. Wir würden dann auch interne Massnahmen treffen, um die Souverenität, die Sicherheit und die Verteidigung des Landes gegen all die Lakaien und Landesverräter zu sichern, die wir hier in den Verwaltungen der Bundesstaaten, der Gemeinden, der NGOs und der Medien haben".

Und dieser Militär ist der Führer des Sozialismus des 21ten Jahrhunderts, der vom Consultant Heinz Dieterich so sehr gelobt wird.


Venezuela and FARC: a recent chronicle



Zulia state. Red spots represent municipalities where the major is pro-Chávez. Blue ones are the ones where the opposition tries to govern in spite of the military sabotage.
The yellow spot is the approximate location of one of the presumed FARC bases in Zulia.
















2008
  • January 2008: Chávez calls for giving "belligerent status" to the FARC and ENL guerrilla groups. The National Assembly (basically pro-Chávez) votes in favour of his proposal.
  • February 2008: Some Yukpa indians reject claims they may be supporting the FARC. They reject statements from also Yukpa but regime-critical deputy Javier Armado and former opposition major Di Martino stating there are groups within the community providing the FARC with state resources.
  • 11 March 2008: The Colombian army attacks FARC bases in Ecuador and kills some 20 terrorists, including FARC leader Raúl Reyes. The army seizes a couple of laptops with information that would link the Venezuelan government to the FARC movement. In the next months the Colombian government makes public a series of details from those laptops, information that suggest the Venezuelan government is actively supporting the FARC.
  • Chávez pays tribute to Raul Reyes (here and here).
  • 9 June 2008: Chávez urges the FARC to put down arms.
2009
  • 14 April 2009: Uribe meets Chávez.
  • 15 April 2009: Chávez again urges the FARC to put down arms.
  • June 2009: Betty Luzeta, a Chávez's deputy for Zulia, declares the FARC is not a terrorist force but "a group with a different ideological thought".
  • July 2009: Colombian troops on a raid discover in FARC camps Swedish weapons that had been previously sold to the Venezuelan army.
  • July 2009: Chávez "freezes" ties with Colombia.
  • August 2009: Chávez says the FARC stole those Swedish weapons in 1995.
  • October 2009: Venezuelan government "assigns" some territories to the Yukpa indians along the border. The ranchers, who had been illegally taking land in the region for decades, have to leave the area but the Yukpas do not seem to get much control over it.
2010
  • Spanish channel Cuatro shows in a programme about Chávez the influence of the guerrilla in Venezuela. One of the highlights is an encounter with the ENL in Apure and a brief conversation with Venezuelan soldiers who, very candidly, explain where the Colombia guerrilla groups are in the area.
  • July 2010: Colombia presents material to the Organization of American States (OAS) to back up its claims about FARC and ENL camps in Venezuelan territories. The Colombian government asks the OAS to send international observers to Venezuela as soon as possible. The OAS, led by Insulza, does nothing.
  • 23 July 2010: Cantankerous Chávez severes ties with Colombia. The Colombian government says it will go on putting forward details about guerrilla bases in Venezuela.
  • 25 July 2010: Chávez asks the FARC "not to give pretexts to the USA" and put down arms.
  • Insulza says he won't do anything unless Colombia presents a written petition and the Venezuelan government agrees. He says the conflict is "between Colombia and Venezuela".
El Tiempo is reporting further details about possible FARC-Venezuela connections. The Economist has an interesting article about the Uribe-Santos possible rift.

Impression

My impression is that most Venezuelan soldiers are just powerless. Their bosses, though, are very much ideologically close to and eager to tolerate and probably support the FARC.

Insulza is head of the OAS primarily thanks to Hugo Chávez. The Venezuelan military regime already said it will not accept international observers unless they can also visit the US bases in Colombia. Insulza is a joke. He has already said he won't do anything about the requests from Venezuelans to investigate human right abuses by the Venezuelan government because "those are internal affairs". Now he says he won't do anything because those are "bilateral affairs". What on Earth is Insulza getting money for? Probably to give the opening speeches at banquets of the OAS, a.k.a. the Club of American presidents.




"Gracias, Chávez, por apoyarme"

¿Unas razones para la "intromisión" de Colombia en los asuntos de Venezuela?

Sobre la ruptura de las relaciones con Colombia despues de la sesión de la OEA este jueves me han fascinado los distintos comentarios,  sean los insensatos y violentos por parte de Cilia Flores, presidenta de la Asamblea Nazional de Venezuela, o de algún otro insensato comeflor, que se pierde en tecnicismos de que si los procedimientos de la OEA no fueron seguidos, de que si era la misma vieja historia repetida. Y se me ocurrió que casi todo el mundo no ve el bosque detrás del árbol. Lo que ocurrió ayer en Washington fue Colombia notificándole al mundo que una tragedia se está gestando en Venezuela y que no están dispuestos a asumir el costo solos.

Empecemos por tres puntos básicos.

Ningún país sabe mejor lo que pasa en Venezuela que Colombia. Las estimaciones de los colombianos que viven en Venezuela van de un par de millones a 5 o más. Digamos que aceptamos una estimación razonable de 3 millones de ciudadanos colombianos que se establecieron en Venezuela pero que mantienen frecuentes contactos con sus familiares y amigos. Podemos decir que esas 3 millones de personas son más que suficientes para llevar a Colombia una información clara y razonable sobre la realidad con la que tienen que lidiar en Venezuela. ¿Cómo puede usted explicar que la imagen de Chávez es tan negativa en Colombia y que los números del rating de Uribe están elevados debido en parte a su imagen de un sistema de gobierno opuesto al de Chávez?

¿Si la situación empeora en Venezuela que otro país sufrirá la peor parte? Colombia! ¿Dónde irán a parar los millones de colombianos que sienten que no hay más futuro en Venezuela? Para Colombia! Y cuando las cosas se pongan realmente difíciles y cientos de miles de refugiados venezolanos comienzan a dejar Venezuela, ¿donde van a ir a pie? Para Guyana? Balseros a Trinidad o Aruba? ¿Para Brasil, después de un largo viaje por la Gran Sabana y las junglas de la Amazonia? No, van a ir a Colombia, tanto más cuanto el Zulia, Mérida y Táchira están en la frontera con Colombia y que entre ellos representan el área más densamente poblada de Venezuela después del eje Caracas-Valencia.

Los colombianos saben muy bien que la situación es cada vez peor en Venezuela y que cuanto más tiempo permanece Chávez en el cargo más alto el riesgo de un colapso económico. Y el dicho colapso económico no podrá ser enfrentado adecuadamente porque el gobierno esta absolutamente atrapado en una espiral de malandrismo e ideología y por lo tanto no habrá otro resultado que no sea violencia, disturbios y represión. Para los colombianos esto es una simple cuestión de fecha, con el peligro real de que por motivos internos Venezuela pueda decidirse a patrocinar más campamentos de las FARC terroristas para causar problemas en Colombia como una medida de distracción de los problemas internos de Venezuela. ¿O cree usted por un segundo que Chávez verá con benevolencia una próspera Colombia, mientras que su gente hace cola en Mercales, incluso en la Cuadra de Bolívar?

Así, Colombia se enfrenta a la perspectiva de que millones regresen a Colombia, a lo que uno podría agregar unos dos millones de venezolanos (unos cientos de miles solamente con los hijos bi-nacionales). No solamente Colombia no está preparada para hacer frente a tal avalancha de refugiados, pero pueden traer todo tipo de indeseables en una quinta columna entrenada en los campamentos de las FARC, desde la actividad terrorista al narco-negocio con el fin de reactivar el negocio local y disminuir los éxitos iniciales de Uribe contra el narcotráfico y la guerrilla. Para Colombia no es cuestión de que si se cumplirá la profecía, sino cuándo y qué se puede hacer para minimizar la embestida.

Lo que nos lleva a la tercera realidad básica para Colombia. Fuera de los EE.UU.  Colombia está sola en esto. El gobierno de Uribe se ha estado quejando por años sobre el apoyo de Chávez a las FARC y nada ha ocurrido en América Latina. Incluso magros esfuerzos fueron saboteados discretamente por la diplomacia de Brasil, que entre otras cosas, crea la UNASUR para imponer la influencia de Brasil en la región contra los EE.UU. e incluso México, como una forma de aislar dentro de América del Sur a cualquier rival potencial como Colombia. Eso que UNASUR está fallando en el arranque no resta un ápice al sentimiento de los colombianos en el saber que cuando la vaina se ponga fea en Venezuela ellos se quedaran solos para recoger los vidrios rotos, y también pagar por ello solos. Sin duda no serán las empresas brasileñas que se enriquecieron a expensas de la degradación del comercio entre Colombia Venezuela las que ayudaran a pagar los campamentos de refugiados dentro de Colombia.

Una vez que entienda estas realidades usted puede armar el rompecabezas sobre los acontecimientos de ayer. Por ejemplo, algunos embajadores lamentaron que el enviado de Colombia, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, se entrometiese en los asuntos internos de Venezuela en vez de limitarse a sus denuncias. Lo que no entendieron es que Hoyos no estaba hablando con ellos, él estaba hablando directamente al pueblo venezolano, en términos casi coloquiales, o emocionales a veces, a sabiendas de que su discurso se repetiría dentro de Venezuela. El mensaje fue: "¡miren lo que Chávez está haciendo! ¡lo que vas a pagar por esto si no hacemos algo al respecto! ¡pobre de ustedes! ¡tenemos tanta pena!" No como una amenaza sino como un apoyo de Colombia, y agregó que Colombia no estaba buscando ninguna sanción, no estaba más que tratando de ayudar. Muy poco diplomático para los aburridos embajadores de la OEA, pero ese era el objetivo ya que Colombia demostrando una vez más lo inutil en que  la OEA se ha convertido bajo su actual secretario Insulza. Colombia no tiene ninguna ilusión acerca de la OEA o la UNASUR, y ha decidido jugárselas por su cuenta, con el apoyo de los EE.UU. y pronto el de Europa, Canadá y posiblemente también de Chile y Perú una vez que este último haya realizado su próximas elecciones presidenciales. Sin embargo, como un altavoz la OEA todavía puede ser de alguna utilidad, como Hoyos lo demostró ayer.

En el fondo los asuntos internos venezolanos han dejado de ser sólo la situación en Venezuela y los campamentos de las FARC son sólo uno de los aspectos en los que las erróneas políticas de Chávez están empezando a afectar a Colombia. Uribe y Santos lo saben muy bien y es por eso que no se preocupan por la ruptura de relaciones. Después de todo, para todos los efectos prácticos, las relaciones entre Venezuela y Colombia estaban en un punto muerto, la embajadora de Colombia en Caracas, quejándose de que no tenía acceso a cualquier oficial en el gobierno. Su retiro rápido el miércoles, antes de la presentación Hoyos, fue un indice seguro de que Colombia sospechaba que la única respuesta de Chávez podría ser la oficial de ruptura entre los dos países, confirmando la práctica.

La paradoja aquí es que Uribe, jugando un papel tan obvio de chico malo, de hecho le limpia la pizarra a Santos. Éste entrará en funciones con una situación aclarada con Venezuela. seguramente una mala y negativa situación, pero clara, para la cual que no hay otra opción que mejorarse cuando sea posible. Como un regalo adicional es Uribe quien sirvió una notificación oficial al resto de las Américas que Venezuela se estaba convirtiendo en un problema de todos y que si las medidas no se podían o no se querían tomar era entonces necesario por lo menos poner en cuarentena alrededor de  Chávez hasta que este se desactive, sin mayor problemas si es posible. A nadie le gusta que le sirvan una notificación oficial, aunque el anuncio esté perfectamente justificado.

Me atrevería a añadir que la reacción bastante mansa de Chávez ayer, limitandose a romper con Colombia, y dejando que sus varios Cilia Flores se hagan cargo de los insultos y las vulgaridades es una muestra que Chávez esta tomando la medida de su creciente aislamiento. Tuvo que romper con Colombia, porque era la única manera de evitar una inspección internacional que sabía lo dejaría muy mal parado. Pero él no fue a la guerra, hizo saber que ninguna otra medida drástica se tomaría porque él sabe que está solo con Cuba, Nicaragua y Bolivia y estos no son suficientes para permitirle hacer más.

Por lo tanto ahora estamos oficialmente en un punto muerto, con servicios consulares, probablemente funcionando al menos hasta que Santos se hace cargo en un par de semanas. Para los propósitos prácticos, no cambia nada, ya que un lector nos dejo un comentario en un escrito reciente que ya en el comercio con Colombia Ecuador había igualado el actual comercio con Venezuela. Lo único que sabemos con certeza es que el comercio con Colombia no va a aumentar, que los colombianos dejaran de venir a Venezuela a excepción de los simpatizantes de las FARC y que Chávez recibió una fuerte bofetada ayer, si bien la mayoría no lo sepa todavía .

¿Y cómo nos afecta esto en cas? Desde luego, no ayuda a la oposición. Esta en la difícil posición de tener que elegir entre Uribe y Chávez, pero con un Chávez debilitado aquí, con sus Pudrevales y la corrupción y los escándalos de ineficiencia, mientras que Uribe tiene el 70% + y se sabe por todos aquí;  la dicotomía es mucho más fácil de superar ahora que un año o dos atrás. Lo mejor que puede hacer la MUD es pasar por alto la ruptura y volver lo antes posible a los Pudrevales diversos del régimen. Sólo el verdadero núcleo duro chavista, el que se traga el burro y el mecate, va a creer que Chávez es inocente: la mayoría de los venezolanos saben o sienten de que Chávez está ocultando algo y por lo tanto no será capaz de utilizar la tarjeta del nacionalismo burdo esta vez. Tampoco lo está tratando, por cierto, al menos por ahora, lo que le vamos a reconocer.

Some are more equal than others


Deputies per 100 000 persons











Venezuela's constitution states very clearly electoral representation should reflect the proportion of the population voting for each group. This is not the case in other countries but in Venezuela the law is clear...the only problem is that the Electoral Commission is just a puppet organisation completely surrogate to the military government.

Here you see how many deputies represent 100 000 inhabitants per state in Venezuela. As you can see, the vote of a citizen in Delta Amacuro is worth several times more than the one in Zulia. The situation is much worse than that. As I wrote in a previous post, the continuous gerrymandering that Lucena and the other CNE employees carry out has lead to a situation where in Carabobo 55% of voters supporting the opposition would lead to 1 out of 7 deputies.

Well, that is how it is and much worse (as the paper ballots often just do not reflect real votes, etc). We have to live with that. The opposition must take very intelligent decisions about where to spread its message now and where to keep an eye on the actas.







Deputies per state (+3 for native Americans)






Why Colombia did get so personal yesterday at the OAS?

I have been fascinated by the different comments coming from everywhere, be it the insensate and violent ones from Cilia Flores, chair of the Venezuelan Nazional Assembly, or be they from some insensate "come flores" who wallow on technicalities that the OAS procedures were not kosher and that it was the same old story anyway.  And it occurred to me that pretty much everyone is missing the forest for the tree.  What happened yesterday in Washington was Colombia serving notice to the world that a tragedy is brewing in Venezuela and that they are not willing to shoulder the cost alone.

Let's start by three basics here.

No country knows better what happens in Venezuela than Colombia.  Estimates of Colombians living in Venezuela range from a couple of millions to 5 or more.  Let's say that we accept a reasonable estimate of 3 million Colombian citizens settled in Venezuela but still with frequent contacts with the folks at home.  We can say that this 3 million people are more than enough to bring crisp an reasonable information home about the reality they have to deal with in Venezuela.  How else can you explain that the image of Chavez is so negative inside Colombia and that Uribe numbers are inflated in part due to his image as a non Chavez system of governance?

If the situation gets worse in Venezuela which country will suffer the brunt of it?  Colombia!  Where will go the millions of Colombians that feel there is no future anymore in Venezuela?  To Colombia!  And when things get really bad and hundred of thousand of Venezuelan refugees start leaving Venezuela where will they go on foot?  To Guyana?  Rafting to Trinidad or Aruba? To Brazil after a trek through the Guayana highlands?  No, they will go to Colombia, the more so that Zulia, Merida and Tachira are on the border with Colombia and that among them they represent the most densely settled area of Venezuela after the Caracas-Valencia axis.

Colombians know very well that the situation is getting worse and worse in Venezuela and that the longer Chavez stays in office the more the risk of an economic collapse.  With such an economic collapse that cannot be dealt with properly because the  government is absolutely trapped in an ideological cum thuggery spiral there is no outcome but violence, civil unrest and repression.  For Colombians it is now a simple question of calendar, with the real danger that for internal reasons Venezuela may decide to sponsor further FARC terrorist camps to cause trouble in Colombia as a distracting measure from Venezuelan home troubles.  Or do you believe for a second that Chavez will look benevolently on a prosperous Colombia while his people stand in line at Mercals, even in the house of Bolivar?

Thus Colombia is faced with the prospect of millions of Colombian returning, to which a million or two Venezuelans could be added (a few hundred thousand just through bi-national families).  Not only Colombia is not ready to face such an flood of refugees, but they can bring along all sort of 5th column undesirables trained in the FARC camps in everything from terrorist activity to narco-business so as to revive the local one and counter any advances Uribe did against drug traffic and guerilla.  For Colombia it is not anymore a matter of if, but a matter of when and what could be done to minimize the onslaught.

Which brings us to the third basic reality for Colombia.  Outside of the US  of A Colombia is all alone in this.  Uribe administration has been complaining for years about the support of Chavez to the FARC and nothing has happened in Latin America.  Even meager efforts were silently sabotaged by Brazil diplomacy who among other things created UNASUR to impose the influence of Brazil in the region against the US and even Mexico, as a good way to isolate within South America any potential rival such as Colombia.  That UNASUR is failing does not detract an iota to the feeling among Colombians in the know that when shit happens in Venezuela they will be left alone to take care of the collateral damage, and probably pay for it alone too as certainly it will not be the Brazilian companies that got rich at the expense of the break down of the Colombia Venezuela trade that will chip in much for the refugees camp inside Colombia.

Once you understand these realities you can put the pieces together about the events yesterday.  For example some ambassadors bemoaned that the Colombian envoy, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, meddled in Venezuelan inner affairs instead of limiting himself to the business at hand.  What they missed is that Hoyos was not talking to them, he was talking directly to the Venezuelan people, in near colloquial or emotional terms at times, knowing full well that his speech would be repeated inside Venezuela.  The message was: "look at what Chavez is doing!  You are going to pay for this if you do not do something about it!  Poor you!  We feel your pain!"  Not as a threat but as a support from Colombia, adding that Colombia was not seeking any sanction, was merely trying to help.  Very undiplomatic for the stiff necks of the OAS but that was the objective since Colombia has tested once again how useless the OAS has become under its current secretary Insulza.  Colombia harbors no illusion about the OAS or UNASUR and has decided to strike on its own, with the support for the US and soon the one from Europe, Canada and possibly Chile and Peru once this last one goes though its next presidential elections.  However as a loud speaker the OAS can still be of some use, as Hoyos showed yesterday.

The fact of the matter is that the Venezuelan inner affairs have ceased to be only Venezuelan affairs and that the FARC camps are only one of the aspects in which Chavez erroneous policies are starting to affect Colombia.  Uribe and Santos know that very well and that is why they do not care about the break up of relations.  After all, for all practical purposes, relations between Venezuela and Colombia were at a standstill, the Colombian ambassador to Caracas complaining that it had no access to anyone in the government.  Her prompt recall, before Hoyos presentation, was a sure sign that Colombia knew that the only reply from Chavez could be the official break up between the two countries, sanctioning the practical one.

The paradox here is that Uribe by playing such a coarse bad guy role is in fact cleaning up the slate for Santos.  This one will take office with a situation cleared up with Venezuela.  Bad and negative situation for sure, but a clear one for which there is no other way but up.  As a bonus point it is Uribe who served official notice to the rest of the Americas that Venezuela was becoming everyone's problem and that if measures could not or would not be taken it was necessary at least to quarantine safely Chavez until he defuses himself, without much trouble if possible.  Nobody likes to be served notice, even if the notice is perfectly justified.

I would venture to add that the rather meek reaction of Chavez yesterday, limiting himself to break up with Colombia, and letting his Cilia Flores like take charge of the insults and vulgarities is a witness of Chavez taking the measure of his growing isolation.  He had to break up with Colombia because it was the only way he could avoid an international inspection that he knew would leave him very weak.  But he did not go to war, let it know that no further action would be taken because he knew that he is alone on that one as Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia are not enough to allow him to do more.

Thus now we are in an official standstill, consular services probably operating at least until Santos takes charge in a couple of weeks.  For all practical purposes it does not change anything since as a reader told us in a recent post comment that already Ecuador trade with Colombia had caught up with the current trade with Venezuela.  The only thing we know for sure is that trade with Colombia is not going to increase, that Colombians will stop coming to Venezuela except for the FARC sympathizers and that Chavez took a major slap in the face yesterday, even if most do not realize it yet.

And how does this play at home?  Certainly it does not help the opposition much.  This one is in the difficult position of having to chose between Uribe and Chavez, but with a much weakened Chavez at home, with Pudreval and other corruption and inefficiency scandals, when the 70% + ratings of Uribe are known by all here, the dichotomy is much easier to overcome than a year or two ago.  The best thing to do is to ignore the break up and go back ASAP to the diverse Pudrevals of the regime.  Only the truly hard core chavista KoolAid drinkers will believe that Chavez is innocent: most Venezuelans know or sense that Chavez is hiding something and thus he will not be able to use the nationalistic card this time.  Nor is he trying, by the way, at least up to now, let's grant him that.

Colombia says



We saw yesterday how the military ruler of Venezuela decided to break relations with Colombia after the Colombian government submitted to the Organization of American States evidence of FARC havens in Venezuelan territory.

Here you can see a satellite map and some interesting pictures of what the Colombia government says are FARC bases in Venezuelan territory.

My bet: those bases will be moving from there now. Nobody will be able to get in fast enough as the Venezuelan military keeps a grid on many areas in Venezuela. There is enough time to clean it up.

I am preparing a longish post on the border region that may be of some interest.

The mythic Tourmalet

Today's break with Colombia really leaves me ice cold.  But what happened at the Tour de France stage today did run chills through my spine and I ONLY saw the picture sequence (I am at work, no broadband to watch the tour).

Schleck and Contador
Of course since Contador is Spaniard El Pais had to carry the picture set, including a picture of Sarkozy following the Tour stage, not wanting to miss the commemoration of the 100th anniversary that the epic Tourmalet pass was added to the Tour.  Briefly, Contador and Schleck have played an epic battle alone ahead of the pack and if Schleck won (out of courtesy by Contador) it remains that Contador is by far the favorite for the Bordeaux stage and thus the favorite to win the Tour unless some major catastrophe happens.  Watch the photo gallery of El Pais and tell me if that does not do something to you!  Images 7 and 8 did me in....

Chavez breaks with Colombia for reasons of "dignity"

Now, the not surprising announcement might have carried some seriousness had it been pronounced without the presence of noted narco Maradona. I mean, please... if you are talking about "dignity" be dignified!!!!



So, receiving Argentina failed technician at the World Cup, famous football player and famous ex (?) drug addict Maradona, Chavez replied to the accusations by Colombia that there are at least 87 camps inside Venezuela that are or were safe haven fr FARC and ELN guerrilla.  The video is from Globovision, as a rebroadcast of whatever VTV signal is since they are the only ones allowed near Chavez.  Observe, for fun, even if you do not understand Spanish, the Chavez show.

Now, I am not expert on how to detect terrorist bases though I have heard with my own ears Chavez supporting the FARC (you know, the "now you see, now you don't" game).  So I tend to believe that for Colombia to accuse Chavez today at the OAS means that at least half of what they showed is verifiable.

Regardless of what is true, the response is not to cut relations with Colombia.  That way Chavez falls in the trap set by Uribe, reusing any international commission to visit the alleged sites to verify that the Colombian accusations are baseless.  And thus, to international opinion admitting that he has something to hide.  What  exactly does Chavez has to hide?  Who cares, he needs to hide it!  Maradona playing the role of the court jester in all of this........

A new low in chavista diplomacy has been reached.  Oh well....

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Links for more:

The BBC reports that some diplomats at the OAS were sorry that the Colombian delegate did not limit himself to the evidence and instead could not resist from criticism of Venezuelan internal matters.  I mean, they are risible and worthy of criticism, but I agree, that was not the time to do so.  They also observed that Chaderton, the Venezuelan OAS ambassador also preferred to criticize Uribe rather than offer any serious reply.

Tal Cual notes the lack of arguments of Chavez, limiting himself to attack Uribe ad suggest that he might be preparing a last minute aggression to Venezuela...

El Clarin of Argentina stresses that Maradona was next to Chavez....

"putrefactor" - rottenificator

Proposed Monument to the Putrefactor

UPDATE

This is added as a consequence of the comment I left. to open the thread, about what Oliver Stone thinks of such a monument for Chavez.

Thanks to a diligent reader Google maps, this breaker of privacy lists the address of Oliver Stone. From my reader that shall remain anonymous:
Oliver W Stone
1654 Mandeville Canyon Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90049-2524

Google Maps shows the neighborhood with a lot of tennis courts- a good
indication of affluence- and also swimming pools. I then looked up the
appraised value of the property: over $6 million, so it sounds like a
fit.

I have not located an e-mail for him.
As I replied to my reader, if you feel like mailing Oliver Stone a print out of this blog post, no insult, no adjective, with my mail address and an invitation to debate with me if he cares, I would be truly thankful.

Note: this is more worthy than what you think.  another reader sends me the links of the debate between Leopoldo Lopez and Oliver Stone at the Huffington post.  I post his mail below fro your enjoyment.

Please see this fascinating exchange that continues to unfold between Oliver Stone and a leading Venezuelan opposition leader.

In the latest column, Venezuelan activist Leopoldo Lopez issued a "friendly challenge" to Stone and invited him to "come live here for several months" in order to witness Venezuela's problems first hand.   The column is here:  <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leopoldo-lopez/an-invitation-to-oliver-s_b_655996.html>

The column was written in response to an Oliver Stone opinion piece, titled "Responding to Leopoldo Lopez <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/oliver-stone/responding-to-leopoldo-lp_b_652925.html> ."   In the piece, Stone argued that criticism of Chavez was misleading and politically motivated.

Lopez had initiated the exchange in a Huffington Post column titled, "Why Oliver Stone is Wrong About Venezuela <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leopoldo-lopez/why-oliver-stone-is-wrong_b_648212.html> ."

Lopez suggested that Stone "rent an apartment in an ordinary neighborhood.   Drive your own car, use taxis or public transportation. Don't use a bodyguard.  Don't rely on privileges that the average Venezuelan wouldn't have access to.  If it is possible, live as though you have no relationship with President Chavez."

Lopez added, "After that, we can have an honest conversation about what is happening in my country, and what we can do to give people the opportunities they deserve."

Leopoldo Lopez is one of the leading voices of the Venezuelan political opposition.  As the National Coordinator of Voluntad Popular, Lopez is the architect of a powerful new movement that promises to unite Venezuelans behind an alternative vision of democracy, free enterprise and social change.
You know, I will never tire to says that readers are what makes the worth of a blog, truly!  Thanks guys!

Teaching how to fish in Venezuela: an alternative to Chavismo

Please, read this beautiful report of one of the projects the government of Miranda, led by the opposition, is working on.

I am sending this to several politicians and journalists worldwide. The military regime is trying to attack every single project carried out by the opposition, even if that means the military regime destroys solutions for the poor. The world needs to be watchful so that Chavismo stops attacking others and lets them work for Venezuela.


Hat off to Brigitte

An Uribe Santos spat behind the latest citation of Venezuela to the OAS?

UPDATED.  Do not count me in those who think the latest initiative of Uribe in bringing Venezuela to account for its harboring of FARC terrorists inside its borders is the sure sign of a rift between Uribe and his protege president elect Santos.  The OAS session to deal with the accusations will be held next Thursday and one would think that sparks will fly.  But thinking that this is the main show would also be a mistake.

Today Colombia marked in grand pomp its own bicentennial, in a much better prepared way, more meaningful than whatever Chavez did on the run last April 19.  Since there has to be a military parade, Colombia did one, dignified, complete, of a victorious and proud army, not the circus of the corrupted army that Venezuela now has.  In addition the event was Colombia wide, with concerts everywhere and other cultural and historical activities, not like in Venezuela where everything was limited to a quick repainting of a few streets and an over-dimensioned and over-ridicule parade.

If I bring this to collation it is because both Uribe and Santos are the creators of that mood in Colombia, where investments boom, where the world economic crisis is now a memory, now that trust in a better future has come.  Thinking that the extraordinary work that these two men have done could be undone on a mere FARC-Venezuela caprice is ridiculous.  Uribe started the process but when Santos finally became his minister, he is the one that directed "operacion jaque" and the end of Reyes in Ecuador.  Tuesday's Uribe speech included an additional parting attack on Chavez even if his name was not mentioned.  What was mentioned was that Colombia and Venezuela are now on such distant economic systems that the implication is that any meaningful rapprochement is illusory at best.

I suspect that this was the objective of Uribe all along, to bring down to earth Santos's followers still in the euphoria of his magnificent electoral win.  This is not about an Uribe being pissed that his Medvedev would not work out as planned.  To begin with in a presidential system there is no room for any Medvedev like character: when Uribe leaves the Casa de Nariño in a couple of weeks he is simply going to be gone.  Period.  Santos will be in charge and any power Uribe has could only come because Santos gives it to him or because Uribe manages to wrestle control of Congress.  No way around.

I do not like conspiracy theories but I am willing to consider that the whole spat of recent days was probably planned a long time ago, when Santos was still a candidate.  Uribe could not have offered for successor a strong man like Santos without seeing eye to eye with him on the basics.  And a successful team like they did implies enough complicity that by now they probably do not need to talk to understand what the other one really thinks, each allowing "their people" and journalists run mad with the ball.  The usual feeding frenzy that accompanies changes in the crown....

To understand better you must need to understand what are Colombia's real priorities.  These are economic: an FTA with the US, and FTA with whomever they can, and an economic growth of at least 5% average for at least a decade.  This, and only this will finally once and for all kill the FARC and ELN narco-guerillas.  In front of such ambitious programs what does the commerce with Venezuela mean?  The more so that Venezuela is promised to sink further and further the longer Chavez remains in office.  Heck!  Trade with Ecuador could even overtake current trade with Venezuela if Santos makes peace with Correa!  I think that people still give too much credit to Chavez power.  True, he has the power to be a major annoyance but for all practical purpose he really is not anymore a threat to Colombia, certainly less of a threat himself than that of the FARC he protects.

So why is Uribe reviving the issue of FARC chiefs ensconced inside Venezuela, something that we have known for a decade now!!!

I think that Uribe is deliberately trying to look like the bad guy, the one that wants war with Chavez, the one that sabotaged an eventual visit of Chavez for Santos inauguration.  And Santos plays along, pretending that this is the beginning of a rift between them.

Uribe does not risk much: his place in history is secure and whatever he does these days will be quickly  forgotten by the Colombian people.  But he gets a lot of what is missing from his rule.  Santos, a hawk if any, will be perceived as a dove.  His first visit to the U.S. will advance the so much desired FTA as truly no one will have excuses now that Uribe is gone and that the U.S. needs all the friends it can get this side of the world.

Santos gets the perfect excuse not to have to receive Chavez, someone he surely loathes deeply and with whom he probably is tempted to wash his hands after greeting him.  And yet he looks good since he invited Chavez until Uribe sabotaged the visit!  Since the dispute with Venezuela can only be solved if Chavez stops supporting the FARC, something that will not happen in the conceivable future, Santos gets to blame Uribe for the impasse for at least a few months, probably for more than a year if he manages things well.  This allows for Santos to preserve his grand coalition for at least half of his term since managing the difficult relationship with Venezuela left by Uribe will be a priority and thus a unifying force now that the government cannot count anymore on a strong FARC as a scarecrow.  As for the people at the Colombo-Venezuelan border, well, Santos will be able now to tell them that he tried but Uribe screwed it so that they should be patient for a while until he can solve the situation.  And this assuming that this electorate were to be anti Santos, something dubious since he showed some of his strongest margins of victory in border states!

I do not know whether I am right, but if I am then Uribe is in fact giving a fabulous present for Santos to start!

This is not to say that the OAS show of Thursday will be a masquerade: it will be real!  But do not expect the OAS to condemn Venezuela, not even Uribe in his wildest dreams hopes for such a just measure.  No, this is the start of the diplomatic official downfall of Venezuela.  What will be interesting is to see what countries do, which side they go with.  A few months ago no one would have dared to side openly against Venezuela, if anything to avoid the verbal abuse coming from Chavez.  But now that Colombia dares it will be much easier for many countries to do so, the more so that already Chile arrives with a grievance after its senators were insulted by chavismo.  Surprises are not to be ruled out as Peru, Panama, the US, Canada and even an island or two in the Caribbean could express vocally their displeasure with Venezuela.  The key moment here is how much will Brazil will come to the bat to defend Venezuela.  It will, but the key here is with what conviction.  You may even expect a more muted Argentina than usual as the current corruption scandal of the parallel embassy in Caracas is causing many a head ache for the Kirchners.

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Update.

It is becoming interesting.  On one hand the Uribe government announces that it is not seeking sanctions against Venezuela, merely that the OAS help solve the situation (monitoring Venezuela?  forcing Chavez to cooperate in removing FARC camps inside our borders? Dream on!)

And on the other hand, the Ecuador ambassador to the OAS resigned because his government wanted him to stop the convocation to the Thursday meeting.  He was quickly replaced in the chair by the Salvador ambassador who had no problem in calling for the reunion.

What to make of this?

First, the Colombian attitude is probably strategic, understanding that there is no mood to condemn Venezuela, justifiably because the story is old an there is no new reason to push it forward again.  However, this could also mean that having put pressure on the OAS by releasing some of that pressure Colombia might expect more support, if anything out of gratitude by avoiding a big unpleasant confrontation that no one wants, maybe including Chavez.

Second, at least in Salvador and Ecuador in spite of leftist rhetoric there are still serious diplomats.  Something missing for already a few years in Venezuela where diplomats are expected to be mere mouthpieces of Chavez idiocy du jour.

Diego Arria explains how he will take Chavez to the Hague

In a very extensive interview (sorry, it is in Spanish) Diego Arria explains himself, what motivates him and how he thinks he can take Chavez to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.  A long but possible road in his own words.  He certainly seems motivated and Chavez (or some within chavismo) must start to wonder if it was worth while bringing Arria out of his retirement by seizing illegally La Carolina.

Working hazards in Venezuela, besides chavista government agencies

Working in Yaracuy is not without risks.  Although now the crime rate per capita has nothing to envy from other areas of the country, it is also the coastal area state reputed to having the largest variety of snakes (the abundant rain in the Sierra de Aroa and Sorte, I have been told).  Here at work, near some fallow land, we routinely kill mapanares and assorted cuaimas.  But today it was a first, in a storage room not even 100 feet from my desk we killed this coral snake, about 40 cm long.  Now, from Wikipedia I cannot tell for sure if it is a dangerous type of Coral, the most lethal species in Venezuela.  But when you go to a storage area and start moving stuff around and see yourself in front of that the reflex is "kill" even though that unfortunate snake might be good for you as your local predator of vermin (it specializes among other things in snake and lizard eggs).


I had given the order to try to avoid killing snakes whenever possible besides the mapanares easily recognizable by the local and more dangerous in fact than a coral who would have great difficulty in biting you due to its small size.  The mapanare can get you through your pants if necessary and can be as big as 6 feet whereas the coral would need to bite you on your ear lobe or the skin flap between your fingers, your nostril or something thin like that.

Still, the idea that coral snake could be crawling next to my desk....  Though I should not be surprised: two weeks ago at home I had to push outside with my broom a small tarantula.  It was small maybe but already big enough to make a mess if I had tried to squish it roach like.  Not to mention that by the time my sandal had landed on its spot she could have jumped away and land on my feet, for example...  Rats are less of a problem: my terrier has taken good care of three of them this year.

A truly unneeded grave digging brings new lows in sycophancy

This exhumation will clear up the real causes of the death of the BsF [Venezuela currency, Bolivar Fuerte]
Tal Cual's Weil nails it again.  Last week we subjected to the horror of Bolivar's grave profanation.  All decided of course to create a major scandal to distract the public opinion of a scandal that should have caused the resignation of the government: the loss of at the very least 120,000 tons of food imported for the humble people of Venezuela.

You just need to visit the pages of El Universal today to convince yourself once and for all that the rotten food scandal is so big, affecting the govenremt so much tha they have entered in deep denial and are resorting to moving around Bolivar's bone in the vain hope that people will forget about "Pudreval" as PDVAL is now called. (1)

There you will read Navarro, ex education minister, ex university minister, constant failure wherever he has been placed and one of the most assiduous supporters of Chavez, never missing a cadena or political rally if he can manage it, to the point that one wonders if he even knows where his working desk is.
"Para nosotros, la exhumación es más importante que la olla podrida de los alimentos descompuestos (...) ¿Qué más importante que asegurarse que los restos sean preservados para siempre? ¡Es sumamente importante!" For us the exhumation is more important that the rotten media manipulation of the decomposed food stuff (...) What could be more important than making sure that the remains are preserved forever?  It is extremely important!
Of course Chavez, Navarro and others try to distract us from Pudreval.  When you do the math as Andres Rojas Jimenez did yesterday in EL Nacional, PDVAL would have lost 5.9 billion dollars.  That is, about 3% of Venezuela's oil income in 2008 and 2009, and assuming that the numbers offered by PDVSA are to be trusted.  But managing the country like PDVSA did with PDVAL, losing a 1% here or a 3% there is why Venezuela is under such deep shit today.  The very vaunted Bolivar Fuerte launched in 2007 at 2.15 to the dollar is now floating in the illegal market at around 8.5 to the dollar.  And with an inflation expected at the 40% level, it will probably hit 10 at the end of the year.

Indeed, we need to do the real exhumation, the ones that would explain where has all the money gone, the money we supposedly received in the biggest oil boom of our history, under the wasteful watch of Chavez.

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1) When the food distribution scheme of Mercal started faltering Chavez announce the creation of PDVAL which in theory would be the producing arm of Mercal.  As PDVAL name indicates it was a subsidiary of PDVSA, the state oil monopoly.  As expected PDVAL drowned in a sea of incompetence and corruption which brought us at least 150,000 of rotten food in Venezuela.  If according to FAO figure you accept that 1 person consumes at least 7 Kg of food a month (there is water and cooking added, remember) then these 150,000 tons would have fed 21 million Venezuelans for a month, roughly 75% of the people of Venezuela.  And if you wish to account only for the 10 million that are close or at poverty level you could have fed them for at least two full months.

No wonder the Venezuelan wit calls PDVAL Pudreval, a pun that means roughly rottenVAL.

Venezuela's military regime refuses international observers

The military regime through its puppet National Electoral Committee refuses (here and here) international observers for the crucial September elections. It had previously said "we have had like X elections with international observers, there is nothing to fear". "We have the best electoral system on Earth", "the system has been certified by the Carter Centre" (apparently for eternity). The military regime knows all international organizations have a better understanding now of what is going on within the CNE and in Venezuela in general and they would be more careful than in 2004 and 2006.

At the same time, current president of the Venezuelan parliament, Cilia Flores, and other big PSUV honchos accuse the opposition of planning a coup. Opposition politician Octavio Paz was put in jail for saying less than that in spite of actually having more grounds to express that (see also UNODC report on drugs).

Chavismo will very likely invite as farce observers people like Chávez fan in Belgium, Sfia Bouarfa, a supporter of the Cuban dictatorship who seems to blaim anything on the US Americans.

The military regime simply refuses to accept international observers who don't love Hugo Chávez.

On the video below you can see how one of Chávez's governors, Tarek Saab, tears to pieces the paper ballot because it did not show his choice. The paper ballot is supposed to be the "big proof" the system works. This happened to Chávez's dad and to former minister Aristóbulo Istúriz. This happened to many oppos as well but they were detained for doing what Sir Tarek did. Some people are more equal to others and only pro-Chávez are people. As Esdata has repeatedly documented, numberssimply do not add up.



The "most modern system on Earth" is much slower than any manual system I know of.

Chavismo will also forget about adding publishing votes of Venezuelans abroad, following the attitude it has taken since 2007. That is because Nicolas Maduro, the Chávez minister of Foreign Affairs, wants to say most Venezuelans abroad support the regime and the regime cannot massage votes as easily abroad. In 2008 and 2009 over 85% of Venezuelans abroad voted against the military regime - we have the documentation to prove it - and yet Maduro said over 50% of Venezuelan voters abroad actually signed a petition in support of the government. One day, Mr Maduro is going to have to explain this.

More information on elections here (including the report of an EU observer)

Tour de France and silly land distribution schemes

Since Direct TV cut me off from the French TV world signal I have to rely on a trip to Caracas to watch some of the Tour this year.  And it is as magnificent as ever, the filming crew becoming better if possible.

For some strange reason this year I am more obsessed in trying to find a pothole, any pot hole, along the hundred of miles of road.  Living in Venezuela where you have now major potholes regularly in the middle of our main highway, the ARC, I just cannot understand why the French do not have a few here and there....

Also, what is the story with all those clean roads, garbage-less, trimmed grass?  And how do they have so many chateaux, of all sizes, of even questionable interest, so well kept when here we do not even bother in keeping up one of Bolivar's homes?  The lack of graffiti on every wall, the lack of iron bars on most windows also do bother me....


Seriously now.  I think that someone should show Chavez significant footage of the Tour de France so he can see by himself the reality of the French country side, with extraordinarily well kept fields, producing fields, everywhere, separated by neatly kept patches of wooden area, wooden areas that do not go up in flames whenever there is a slight drought.

Someone should tell Chavez that all of these fields are private property, inheritance to someone.  They should tell Chavez that the French Revolution was at least a revolution in the country side when the lands of the Church and Aristocracy were seized by the state and sold cheaply, as a property, to the masses of peasants that transformed France into an agricultural power to this day, only matched in efficiency or production by the US or the Dutch.  And probably unmatched in the overall quality of its farm products (and I am not talking only of wine and cheese here).

Someone should tell Chavez that instead of saying nonsense about the future of La Güaira he should instead have a hard look at the countryside of Venezuela today where he will find only increasing wasteland, burnt land, abandoned land, sub-productive land, crime, garbage, blackmail, ransom, potholes, potholes everywhere, an incredible amount of potholes that require anyone that still dares to work the country side to own a 4X4 vehicle or a small truck....

Someone should tell Chavez that France with half the land of Venezuela and way more than the double of its population feeds well its people and millions outside its borders.  Someone should tell Chavez that French food is rarely if ever found in thousand of rotting containers abandoned who knows where...

Someone should tell Chavez that actually the French government subsidizes some sectors so that they do not produce as much as they could.  Someone should tell Chavez that no French government reached power promising the end of private agrarian property.  That no French government ever seized productive small farms like La Carolina.  Instead, all French government, including the socialist ones, tried to find ways to help productive farms to improve their efficiency, productivity, variety of crops, etc...

And someone should tell Chavez that this is why France can organize magnificent road trips for world class bikers while the hoi polloi can wait for them on the side of the roads, having well furnished picnic baskets, seating under the shade of an old tree, or their umbrella, next to their car or motor home unconcerned that some thugs will come to rob, rape, maim, kill them.