On the day you were born, and the day before...

To be honest, I still don’t know if I’m going to have children of my own. I have thought about it. I think I would be a good mom. Odd, that’s clear. But good. Either way, until that moment comes if it ever comes; you have been the closest thing to a son that I have ever had. You are not my kid, but in lieu of your mother I would have to take care of you. That’s why your parents decided to name me your godmother. Thankfully, you have great parents, and grandparents, and loads of people ready to give you everything you need in life. You won’t need much from me. Except for stories. I have many stories saved for you and someday I’ll tell you all. Most specially, someday I’ll tell you the story about the day you were born; and the day before.

Your mom looked nonetheless, radiant. She was packing the bags with your dad and they both looked radiant, and tense, and worried, and; well, panicked. We were not helping them packing their bags; we were at a protest instead, a few blocks away.

You’ll see; just the day you were born, the most famous, oldest, and most widely viewed TV Channel, called RCTV closed forever; at least in open signal. So we were protesting about it. I know what you are thinking, I know you are raising an eyebrow and wondering why we made such a big deal over a TV channel closure. I know you were born with Internet and ever since you were little you watched Cartoons on Youtube so you don’t care about TV much. But TV was still very important back then. Or maybe not so much. To be honest, RCTV was a very low quality TV channel, with a vulgar corny programming. We never watched it. The protest was about something more important than a TV channel, something that it was very important back then and it should be important still: it was about freedom. It was about the citizens standing against the president because a man in power can’t make a decision just because he wants to. No one is above the law. No one. And no one in power is allowed to restrict their rights to anyone else; including one’s right to be free. One’s right to watch a low quality TV channel. Even if the TV is low quality. And even if the channel says things against the regime.

So we were protesting – meaning your grandparents and myself – and in a very confusing situation, the police started dropping tear gas to us, and other things too. When it happened, your grandmother had already left the protest and come back home and I was hanging out with some friends. We realized we had nowhere to run and the situation became quite stressing, until we found a hotel door and refugee with another group in the lobby. We had planned to stay in the streets until midnight, when the closure of the channel really occurred. But we had to sit in a corner of a hotel lobby for an hour or more; until we stopped hearing detonations.

When we got out off the hotel, the protest was over. I did not have minutes to call your grandma and there were no bus or taxis available; so I walked with a friend throughout the highway (yes, the highway; pushing ourselves to the border while cars were sporadically passing by). As we walked, still scared; my friend asked me if I was going to the university the day after. I said no. Because you were coming…

We stayed up that night until RCTV broadcasted its last minutes: an image of the channel employees crying while the national anthem was played. “I hope my kid can born in a free country” – Your dad said, still in hopes that there was a backing down somehow.
Unfortunately, you were not born in a free country. But then, who does? I might have born in a country a bit more free than the one you were born years later; but at the end, all generations seem to be condemned to fight for rights they should already take for granted.

A few hours later we rushed to the clinic. Your mom had a scheduled cesarean because… I really don’t remember the medical details. It was a complicated road. There were many streets closed by protesters in our way to the clinic. We explained to each block point that you were coming to the world and they looked at your mom and let us pass. It wasn’t that bad, because we were at the end, supporting the protesters. It was more like an adventure. Like a story to tell you.

My sister got into the delivery room or the operating room or whatever and we waited for you; with the TV on. Told you, those days were the last days were TV was still important to us. I realized that there were two stories about the day you were born; one about an end and another about a beginning. At least that’s what I thought when I saw my friends protesting and making statements on TV. And many many many others like me. Many university students. I was in my last year and I waited all five years in the university to see what the TV screen was giving me while I was waiting for you. The university students were finally, and massively, standing against the government. That awful government that feel entitled to be above the law and everyone’ rights. I felt proud and contradicted. I wanted to be there. Don’t blame for it. I can assure you I wanted to be where I was as well.

We turned off the TV because someone let us know that you were here already. A nurse took you out in an incubator. You were crying. You looked cute for being a newborn. All newborns are ugly but you were not… the secret it’s in our genes, you know. My friends were calling me and texting me to tell me about all the protests out there. I was calling and texting them about your arrival. Your accidental and politically contextualized arrival. During that day, we had to sneak off to the waiting room to watch the protests on TV since my sis was breastfeeding you and she could not be disturbed with news about protests and street riots. You have seen the pictures of the day you were born and I know there are a lot of people in those pictures. But believe me when I tell you that we were expecting at least double than that; since we are a big family. Many could not make it, the protests, the streets blocked, the channel just closed, the student movement…

It’s been four years since that. You are much taller and annoying than then. You have an outrageous fixation for Spiderman. You always want to save the world, same as we wanted to do the day you were born. But we couldn’t. No one could. Still, I think that day a greater awareness of the gravity of our circumstances was settled. I’m sorry that we couldn’t do more, that we couldn’t deliver a greater country for you to be in.

But I still have hopes. I dream about the day when you read this letter. I dream that you be somewhere else different and that you will pass your existence fulfilling the desire for freedom that filled the place where you came; during those days. And most specially, in the morning of that May, 28th, 2007; when odd circumstances, casualty, luck and a lot of love brought you to the world

So, whenever you read this, wherever you are; happy birthday!

With love,

Your godmother.

PD: You can read more stories about those days here. That post was written almost in the moment, while this one comes from my memories four years later. So any inaccuracy (if any) is given to that.

I am so tired....

How many more times do we have to say, have to write that the chavista regime is a fascist one, that it is anti religious, antisemitic, anti basic human rights?  How long much do we have to tolerate those who do not tolerate us?

Last week the images of the "Divina Pastora" were shot at in diffrrent areas of Barquisimeto, followed by other symbols of the Catholic church. We start this week with a group of "organized homeless" trying to take over a Caracas synagogue.  This was not an empty building in search of usage: churches also are empty on week days.

These people know exactly what they are doing even if they might not know what a synagogue really is.  But they have heard the anti Jewish talk of the regime, the anti Catholic verborea of Chavez, the unacceptable recomedation of the "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" on the Venezuelan national state radio no less.

What does it take to make people understand, in particular the still existing Chavez apologists,  that when you let religious symbols being profanated as if nothing, then you are likely the next one in turn for profanation?

And do not come with the excuse that it might be people from the opposition that might have shot the Divina Pastora: if they did so it was because they knew it could be blamed on chavismo per Chavez disgraceful discourse.

And yours truly, the writer of this note, is a complete agnostic, for the record.  Yet he knows very well that agnostics also end up in concentration camps, as needed, behind the Jews, next to the Christians, left of the Muslims, ahead of the Atheist, a few steps away from the Buddhists.

Idiotic survey of the day

AVN, the propaganda news agency of the regime, published today a survey that would have us believe that Chavez is going to win next Sunday with 61% of the vote while any, ANY opposition candidate will get at most a 15%.  Apparently Chavez has been climbing since last January where he was only polling 58% to the 66% he gets now.  16% of the people consider themselves to be no-chavista to 51% who describe themselves as pro Chavez.  This represents a remarkable collapse of the anti Chavez vote who got 48% 7 months ago.  Even the US GOP did not collapse so fast in 1930....  there is at least one allegedly respectable news aggregator that picked up seriously that poll.

Seriously now, is this someone trying to reach a new sycophantic record or a way for chavismo to prepare us for anticipated elections with massive electoral fraud?

¡Ay Teodoro!

[Actualizado] Habiendo tantas veces comentado tus acertados análisis me vas a permitir que por una vez juzgue un editorial tuyo com pésimo.  Te uniste a Capriles Radonski en defender a PDVSA, en descalificar las sanciones gringas, en subscribir a la tesis de Chávez de la intromisión inaceptable del imperio.  Es verdad, pusieron todos, tu, Julio Montoya, Capriles y quien más una cantidad de vericuetos, de excusas, de enredos, pero al final le regalaron a Chávez tanto o más que le regalaron los gringos de pie de plomo.

Por lo menos en el caso tuyo y el de Montoya veo una explicacion: no pudieron resistirse a ese viejo reflejo de sus años izquierdistas de darle un puntapié de gratis a los gringos, que muchas puntapiés se merecen por cierto.  Pero no a costa de darle a Chávez mas flores gratis.  Capriles no tiene ni esa escusa, si te sirve de consuelo.

¿O es que ustedes piensan que Chávez no puede sacudirse, e incluso aprovecharse de sus palabras?  El podría decir algo así de sencillo: "Escuchen a esos escuálidos ahora defendiendo PDVSA.  ¡Ven que la revolución me necesita para controlar esos escuálidos y obligarlos a amar la patria!"  O alguna necedad por el estilo que arrancara muchos vítores entre los necios.  ¡Allí quedaron sus razonamientos!

Lo que había que decir era: "Los Gringos no deben de condenar a PDVSA, es la obligación de ellos de condenar a los que mancillan nuestra hermosa PDVSA" y luego callarse.  ¿Que los gringos no pueden condenar a nadie sin un juicio?  ¿Y a quien le importa eso en Venezuela hoy en día, en plena campaña electoral?

¿Como es que nadie, ni siquiera tu, Teodoro, han pensado en algo parecido, sencillo, al grano en establecer que allí los culpables son Ramirez y Chávez?  Y de paso, al mismo tiempo decirle a los gringos que cada día son mas torpes con Chávez.  La portada del Tal Cual de hoy se perdió.

No puedo creer que esta semana le hayan regalado a Chávez el asunto ese de apoyar a asesinos y gobiernos forajidos.  ¿Con que credibilidad van a poder atacar a Chávez en el futuro sobre Irán, o Libia, o Siria si esta semana se atrevieron a decir que los negocios sucios de PDVSA son mas importantes que los desagradables regímenes asesinos ya que se trata de "soberanía nacional"?

El otro día en Globovision te vi muy optimista en eso de que para el 2012 vamos bien.  Pues perdona el abuso y permiteme decir que en los últimos tres meses e visto muy poco que sea alentador; y con esta pifia mas preocupado me estoy volviendo.


La Gente de Petroleo contesto hoy.  Eso si es una respuesta acertada.

The dangers of Twitter-politics: the day Capriles Radonski might have lost the primaries

One reason I am not writing much on primaries, yet, is that they are so far ahead (Venezuelan political time), the risks of implosion so elevated, that I do not feel compelled to pay much attention, yet. And today I was vindicated as Capriles Radonski, governor or Miranda, and far ahead in polls (if it were not for Leopoldo Lopez unable to run), has made a major faux-pas that may cost him the primary.

I mentioned yesterday how idiotic the sanctions were against PDVSA (no bite) and utter idiotic was the reply of the regime, including Chavez who made a fool of himself on Twitter (even less bite).  Well, Chavez can afford to make a fool of himself on Twitter because he does that on TV all the time, but Capriles cannot.  In this tweet which will hunt him for a while (at least in this blog) he supports the over-sized and over-idiotic answer of the regime tot he PDVSA sanctions. "Our support to our oil industry and a message of tranquility to all Venezuelans, there will be no effect on the countries income" as I refuse to use short talk on Twitter.

Now, even if this is clever at one level, deflecting a massive chavista attack on him for, oh, for a few days until they find another issue, it is so wrong on so many other fronts, in spite of the 100+ characters, that he will rue the day he wrote it.  Well, I think he wrote it anyway, it is "polished" in tweet script and sounds way more genuine than whatever "Chavez" tweets.

Capriles is not uninformed, he knows that the "sanctions" will cost little to Venezuela (at least way less than what corruption costs every day).  And yet, instead of limiting himself to state the obvious, he goes out of his way to support the regime's reply to the US, TWICE.  The whole story below.

At the bottom "Our energetic rejection tot he US imposed sanctions against our oil industry. Any [tweet longer] interference in our internal country matters is unacceptable".

Somebody must have called him soon because a few minutes later a more neutral tweet appeared, the one translated above.

A few more minutes and an initial attempt at fixing up things "our sovereignty requires a bigger economic independence, our country is more dependent than ever [tweet longer] the national production of food and other basic products has diminished dramatically, and imports grow as never before".  So now he is talking.....  But too late, El Nacional among others had picked on the governor's nasty tweets.

It is doubtless that Capriles wrote this on the spur of the moment, and Twitter is merciless on intemperate politicians, the more so when their Twitter readership is composed mostly of opposition decidedly anti Chavez primary electors which will have a hard time digesting that.  Today people like MCM, Paz and even LL must feel that they gained a point or two in polls.

Personally I think it is a major mistake because with this Capriles already betrays a certain arrogance of taking his voters for granted this early, that he feels he can tweet for chavistas, as if that many PDVSA workers were following Capriles...  It is fair to say that at least half of the primary voters next February are hard core anti Chavez and such utterance can make a big, big difference among them as they hold no loyalty to anyone inside the opposition, looking strictly for the guy better able to take Chavez out of office (I know, I am one of those).  When you read such nonsense then you start paying more attention to the other candidates.

Second, it betrays a deep lack of foreign policy knowledge.  Such a tweet could come back to haunt him if he ever becomes president as he will be considered from the start of his term a hot head in foreign policy, unreliable.  It is not that other countries are expecting the next Venezuelan president to be a foreign policy maven, but they certainly hope he will be better able than Chavez to hold his tongue on matters he knows nothign about.

And third, and possibly worse: lack of intellectual clarity.  You cannot trash Chavez on stuff and praise him on other stuff as if nothing.  If for political expediency you must praise some fo Chavez initiatives, you must do so in measured terms, on well chosen issues, not on those that will upset and confuse your potential electorate.

Bad, bad move Henrique!!!!!  Stop twitting so fast and stick to domestic issues where you excel----

PS: and this will be my first "official" primary watch post, with a new label.

¡Uuuuy! ¡Que miedo!

Hugo, primero, dile al que te hace los Tweets que tenga mas cuidado cuando los escribe. Dos, dile que Twitter no es para asuntos de estado como la guerra a los EEUU: te deja ver como un pendejo. Y tres, a ver si de una vez le cortas el petroleo a los gringos en vez de ridiculizarte, y ridiculizarnos, aun más. Si tu escribiste eso en verdad, lo que me atrevo a dudar por mi propio bien anímico, pues increíblemente creo que te estas volviendo aun más cobarde que cuando pusiste la torta en el museo militar.

La "intelligentsia" chavista: ¿idiotez o ignorancia?

Tuve algunos problemas de televisión y tuve que resetear mis canales favoritos en cable.  Por lo tanto, con paciencia, uno a uno, fui borrando la basura para guardar lo que es entretenido o informativo.  Eso significa que se fueron Telesur, VTV, ViVe, Tves, los canales deportivos argentinos y una que otra cosa mas como Venevision y Venevision +.  No es que nunca los vea: si la copa del mundo o Roland Garros vienen puedo reintroducir el canal apropiado, y para ver La Hojilla sé cual combinación con 8 hay que marcar.  Pero el asunto es que una cosa estar emocionalmente preparado para calarse la vulgaridad de Mario Silva por 10 minutos (mi record), otra cosa es que te aparezca mientras surfeas.....

Pues bien, como los logotipos no son obvios a veces, al resetear me pase unos minutos escuchando esos canales para estar seguro de quien iba a borrar.  Uno era Telesur donde un grupo de "intelligentsia" (usaron esa palabra, uno con acento cubanoide) nos explicaba lo que pasa en Madrid, en la Puerta del Sol.  Para ellos es el claro fin del capitalismo, la prueba que el mundo fue engañado con la ecuación capitalismo=democracia.  Se congraciaban que ya la revolución del Sol llegaba a otros países.  Poco les falto por agregar que esa si era una revolución y nada que ver con los fascistas de Bengasi y Damasco; y mas demócrata que Fidel, ¡nadie!.  Bueno, de repente lo agregaron pero para ese entonces ya había borrado a Telesur.  Lo que no explicaron en ese segmento es  por que el PP español le metió 2 millones de votos al PSOE en elecciones municipales.  Lo que no explicaron es por que desde el domingo ya la cobertura de la Puerta del Sol esta bajando en TVE.  ¿Sera que no lo vieron?  ¿No leen El Pais, periódico de centro izquierda (aunque estoy seguro que periódicos cercanos al IU también comentaron sobre eso, por lo menos un alguito)?

Mas lejos estaba Calixto Ortega sobre las sanciones de EEUU a PDVSA.  No se lo que pasó allí, estaba de viaje a Caracas esta mañana y me la pase en el odontólogo esta tarde.  Lo que si oí fueron las palabras de Calixto, las palabras de otros en ViVe, y leí estupideces como las de AVN llamando a un balurdo patrioterismo cuando todos sabemos perfectamente que el cobarde de Chávez no va a dejar de mandarle un solo barrilito de petroleo a los EEUU con las necesidades financieras que tiene para su manguanga reeleccionista.  ¿De quien se están burlando esos gafos?  ¿Con que va a pagar el bolsa de Rafael Ramírez las 50,000 casas, si acaso, que harán antes de mediados del 2012?

Pero lejos de mi la idea de escribir en pura mofa sobre los inteligentototes del chavismo (serán vivos pero inteligentes no).  Lo que mas me preocupa cuando oigo como ven las sanciones de EEUU (leves, aparentemente) es que ellos no tienen ni la mas mínima noción, ni la menor intuición de que tal vez al asociarse con Irán ellos se metieron en los asuntos de Europa o Norteamérica.  Yo entendería ese verbo si fuese puro politiqueo, pura fachada, pura pinta, pura carnada electoral.  Pero no, escuchen bien y lean bien, muchos de ellos en verdad no tienen N.P.I. de que tal vez los gringos los consideren a ellos como interfiriendo en sus asuntos nacionales.

Para contestar al titulo de este articulo, estoy empezando a pensar que muchísimos de los que todavía son chavistas en la tele lo son por ignorancia Y estupidez.  Eso, o las conexiones neuronales de esa gente son diferentes de las del resto del mundo.  Ustedes escogerán.

PD: ah!  Y Venevision, NUNCA, ni en cadena.

Local elections in Spain

No, this post is not about the socialist rout in Spain earlier today, it is about how elections , local elections at that, are reported on the web. If you look at El Pais, the reference paper of Spain, their web page gives you a few hours after polls closed something like 99% of the results, depending on the region.  Not only that, you get most of the local details, the assembly composition, etc, etc.  And even better, you have a tag so you can download .xml data and make your own calculations.  As a reminder, in Venezuela we are still waiting for the complete results of the 2007 referendum, and the embassy votes are still not published because, well, Chavez lost too much there and we are not supposed to know about that.  Go to the web page and play around even if you have no idea where in the world Spain is.  And then wonder about the CNE trying to convince us to accept that it needs to buy new electoral machines that will link your fingerprint with your vote, killing once and for all the vote secret in Venezuela if we let the CNE get away with this.

Carta a los chavistas: su presidente y el apoyo a los asesinos Assad y Gaddafi

Con toda certeza pierdo tiempo escribiéndoles: los que yo quisiera que leyesen esta carta ya no ven más lejos que La Hojilla y Alo Presidente. Pero me parece necesario que en alguna parte esté escrito de una manera clara y precisa lo que significan las últimas posturas de su presidente. No quiero que tengan la excusa algún día de decir "No lo sabía" ya que no será solamente aquí que se dirán estas cosas. Mientras mas se dicen, menos escusas tendrán.

Su presidente no es el mío, nunca voté por él ni por sus compinches, ni siquiera en el referéndum de abril de 1999 donde fui una de las escasas voces de Venezuela que se atrevieron a contarse en el 10% del NO. No era que no se necesitaban cambios en Venezuela pero este servidor hace muchos años que entendió que las constituciones solo son tan buenas como la gente que las aplica. La historia ya me dio la razón, aun más ya que ustedes son los que más quieren cambiar una constitución que todavía podría limitar las fechorías que les quedan por hacer.

Hugo Chávez ya ha dejado de ser para mí el presidente de mi país. Se convirtió en el hampón que se adueño de Venezuela con el beneplácito de demasiadas alcahuetas. Pero éste no es el asunto que me preocupa hoy: ya me resigné al hecho que tendrán que ocurrir muchos más desastres antes de que ustedes por fin empiecen a pensar. El asunto que me hace escribirles hoy es que las consecuencias de las últimas acciones de Hugo Chávez me van a afectar aunque yo trate de esconderme, incluso si yo fuese a abandonar la patria. Pronto ser venezolano va a ser un pecado, obligándonos hasta en el exilio a pedir disculpas.

Si bien hasta ahora nos pudieren haber perdonado elegir a un payaso que arruinó al país, ahora no se nos puede perdonar que sigamos avalando al que se está convirtiendo a todas luces en un matón internacional. Para su consuelo también agrego en esta parte a la mayoría de la oposición y de la MUD que no se atreve a protestar con la energía deseada el apoyo que micomadantepresidente ofrece a Al Assad y a Gaddafi. Somos un país que está perdiendo el honor por pecados que podrían llegar a mancillar nuestra gesta heroica de la independencia. Pueblos heroicos no son arrastrados, nunca.

Este año ha sido calamitoso para la reputación de Hugo Chávez, y la de Venezuela. Primero empezó con el apoyo a Qaddafi cuando no le tembló la mano al mandar a su ejército a reprimir las protestas de Libia. El infame "no me consta" de Chávez volverá para alimentar nuestras pesadillas. Les recuerdo que en un principio hasta un periodista de TeleSur contradijo a la postura del régimen en cuanto a la violencia en las calles de Tripoli. Pero ya Telesur no parpadea cuando escribe que “Más de 8 mil 800 personas se han entregado a las autoridades por participar en revueltas violentas”.

Después llego la publicación de los análisis de las computadoras de las FARC. Por más que lo nieguen ustedes, el mundo entero acepta lo que se encontró como verdadero. Si es cierto que en Colombia la justicia prohibió el uso de esa información para juicios eso no le quita en absolutamente nada la validez de esas informaciones, por más que una alcahueta como Luisa Estela Morales Lamuño pretenda hacernos creer. Demasiado provecho le ha sacado el gobierno colombiano a esa información, tumbando redes y refugios de las FARC, para no confirmar que esa información era verdadera y legítima. Que la justicia, en un estado de derecho real, no permita el uso de pruebas en juicios porque no fueron adquiridas con orden legal es otro asunto, uno que ustedes no entienden, que les confunde, ya que los tribunales del régimen tienen bien establecida la práctica de acoger solo las pruebas que le sirven al régimen. Ya sabíamos la intensa complicidad que existía entre los próceres chavistas y los narcoterroristas de las FARC. Ese informe no solamente lo confirma mas expone un grado de complicidad que no tiene excusa y que será duramente juzgado en los países realmente democráticos que no pueden aceptar tales comportamientos.

Y ahora viene la defensa de Al Assad, que mandó a sus tanques a matar miles y miles de sunitas sirios, obstinados por el dominio eterno de una minoría religiosa. ¿No les da vergüenza apoyar a Al Assad? ¿No es Al Assad el prototipo del tirano que los "bolivarianos" deberían de condenar sin pensarlo? Y lo peor es que Hugo Chávez califica el episodio de la revuelta popular siria de conspiración fascista, demostrando que el pobre no sabe lo que es un fascista aunque lo vea en la cara, le hable por teléfono, observe sus acciones.

Vean un poco la realidad, abran sus ojos, déjense de tanta ignorancia auto impuesta. Los dos dictadores que han caído en el mundo árabe, por ahora, son los que se consideraban más de "derecha", más cercanos a los EEUU, más moderados en cuanto a su postura con Israel. La caída de estos dictadores se hizo en escasas semanas con escasas decenas de muertos, con el ejército al final apoyando al pueblo. Pero miren lo que pasa con los dos dictadores nacionalistas, de "izquierda", anti EEUU, anti Israel, amigos de Chávez: ya en cada país se cuentan por miles los muertos, los torturados, los asesinados vilmente por franco tiradores, los exiliados, con el ejército y mercenarios en la calle matando, persiguiendo, violando cualquier derecho humano que exista. Cierren los ojos y traten de pensarlo aunque sea un minuto: cuáles de los cuatro son los dos peores, los dos que tienen las manos mas manchadas de sangre: ¿Ben Ali? ¿Mubarak? ¿Gaddafi? ¿Al Assad? No se engañen, no escuchen a Chávez, piensen por su cuenta, por una vez en su vida.

Y ahora para terminar les voy a explicar porqué Hugo Chávez apoya a esos asesinatos. No es que él apoye a Gaddafi o Al Assad: cuando alguno de ellos este en una cárcel ni la hora le va a dar. Lo que Chávez apoya es el método de la represión porque él se prepara a usar los mismos métodos el día que le sea necesario porque él no es un demócrata y jamás aceptará entregar el poder por las buenas. Las masacres de Libia y Siria le vienen como anillo al dedo para Hugo porque así tiene la escusa para obligarlos a ustedes a escoger ya entre ser seres humanos o convertirse pronto en los matones que vendrán a mi casa para matarme el día que sea necesario.

No se engañen. Cuando Chávez defiende a Gaddafi y Al Assad lo que él hace en verdad es justificar la represión y la dictadura que él está preparando. Les está diciendo que eso es lo que van a tener que hacer, apoyar al ejército y la milicia el día que él los lance a la calle a anular un resultado electoral, a reprimir una protesta de trabajadores que reclaman sus derechos.

Tal vez ustedes tengan sus razones para apoyar al régimen pero tienen que saber que ustedes están apoyando a un régimen asesino que ya ha demostrado su talante en su abierto apoyo a la FARC y su financiamiento al régimen castrista, el único país de las Américas donde mueren presos políticos en las cárceles, donde la gente no puede opinar, pero tampoco viajar o comer si no se arrodilla frente al régimen primero. Puede ser que por algún concepto anticuado "revolucionario" de "solidaridad" latinoamericana ustedes hasta ahora se hicieron los locos. Pero con el apoyo a Gaddafi y a Al Assad las cosas cambian. Ustedes ya no tendrán más escusas: Chávez se los está despepitando claramente, diáfanamente.

Solo los verdaderos fascistas usan la escusa "no lo sabia". Ustedes no lo podrán hacer.

So predictable: Hugo Chávez supports dictator al-Assad, again

It is really so predictable...military strongman Hugo Chávez said on Friday, after having talked to al-Assad, that the Syrian government is the victim of a fascist onslaught.

"I have talked for some minutes to the Syrian president, our brother Bashar. Syria is victim of fascist attack. MayGodHelpSyria"

That was what he said on his twitter account.

Here you can read the latest from Al Jazeera about how the troops following Chávez's brother are murdering civilians.

When will Chávez do an Al-Assad against Venezuelans?

Peaceful demostrations

The end of the world is tomorrow

Updated:  In view of some of the comments I could not pass on this little pic (hat tip Scott).-------------

Yours truly has found himself amazed to learn so late that tomorrow is the end of the world.  He needed to use Doonesbury to learn about it, and also to refute it on the spot: Matthew 24:36 says "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (KJ). Amazingly the preacher that launched that dozy already predicted a rapture about 20 years ago for which we are still waiting for.  We learned that he has a degree in B.S. engineering which in his case can only refer to the solid emissions of cows's mates.

However, besides the date thing, he might be right about one country as the end of its world started in February 2, 1999 when an absolute bullshitter took charge.  Since that date we have seen horrendous crime, expanding misery and even rapture as many of its citizens took flight to leave the joint.

Die Zeit über Chávez

Und die Show geht weiter...

Jetzt habe ich wenig Zeit. Dies muss aber los: Ihr müsst diesen Artikel über Chávez und die Chávez-Show unbedingt lesen.

Später werde ich meinen Senf dazu geben


Und hier habt Ihr meine Kommentare:

  • Der Autor hat gut dargestellt, wie gespalten die venezolanische Gesellschaft ist, wie zwei parallele Universen entstehen, wie die Staatsmedien und die Medien der Opposition so aufeinanderprallen oder eher wie sie die Gesellschaft auseinander machen.
  • Der Autor konnte auch sehr gut beschreiben, wie es Chávez gelingt, immer wieder Hoffnungen bei bestimmten zu wecken, ohne dass die allermeisten Projekte jemals in Erfüllung gehen.
  • Der Autor erzählt viele interessante Details über den Zerfall der Gesellschaft, über das Ausmaß der Kriminalität.

Und dennoch gibt es einige Ungenauigkeiten.
  • Chávez hat die Erdölgesellschaft PDVSA gar nicht verstaatlicht. Sie wurde schon 1976 verstaatlicht (die Prozedur fing an etwas früher). Was Chávez getan hat ist folgendes: er hat eine Reihe von Lieferanten enteignet - was zu sehr grossen Kosten geführt hat - und ganze Konzessionen für Erdölfelder rückgängig gemacht. Er hat aber auch sehr kurioserweise andere Konzessionen an ausländische - selbst angloamerikanische - Firmen gegeben, die viel ungünstiger für Venezuela sind als was andere frühere Regierungen gemacht haben.
  • Es stimmt schon, dass die früheren Regierungen jede Menge Geld verschwendet haben - man streitet sich darüber, ob es sich um 1 Marschallplan, 2, 10 oder 30 waren. Die Chávez-Regierung hat aber bis dato aufgrund viel höherer Erdölpreise viel mehr Geld bekommen als die Regierungen davor. Venezuelas Divisen kommen zu 92% aus dem Erdöl. Siehe dies:
  • Der Autor gibt den falschen Eindruck, wenn er vor allem zwei arme Chávez-Anhänger interviewt und dann zwei ultrareiche Menschen, die Chávez nicht mögen. Die allermeisten Venezolaner sind arm. In den 2010-Wahlen hatten die alternativen Parteien schon 52% der Stimmen (auch wenn sie wegen verfassungswidrigen Gerrymandering in der Nationalversammlung noch in der Minderheit sind. Selbst in Caracas kann man sehen, dass viele Arme gegen Chávez sind. Wenn der Autor gut sucht, wird er auch sehr gut feststellen können, dass es sehr reiche Menschen gibt, die für Chávez sind. Die nennt man Boliburguesía.
  • Der Autor scheint nicht zu wissen, dass es kostenfreie Bildung und soziale Programme in Venezuela seit vielen Jahrzehnten gab. Ihre Effektivität hing aber immer von den Erdöleinnahmen ab. Einige Programme sind jetzt gut, viele sind aber viel schlechter als Sozialprogramme der Vergangenheit trotz viel höherer Erdöleinnahmen. Zum Beispiel: die "bolivarischen" Universitäten haben eine miserablen
  • Der Autor erwähnt nicht, dass Menschen ausserhalb Caracas und Valencia und ohne Kabel- bzw Internetverbindung, also 70% der Bevölkerung, keine regierungskritische Fernsehsender empfangen können. Sie lesen dazu eher wenig, so dass kritische Zeitungen sie kaum erreichen. Alle Radio- und Fernsehsender müssen aber stundenlang die Cadenas aussenden, wo Chávez oder einer seiner Minister redet und redet.
  • Die steigende Nachfrage treibt die Preise zwar in die Höhe. Das ist aber nicht der einzige Faktor. Das Angebot stockt seit langem. Viele Unternehmer haben Angst vor weiteren Enteignungen. Viele haben die Nase voll von den Tausenden "Gewerkschaften", die nun viel Geld verlangen, um jeden Bau zu "genehmigen". In Wirklichkeit handelt es sich um Mafia-Bands, die von der Regierung toleriert werden.

Mein Dank an Schoukri

Corruption in Venezuela: the untouchables

Tal Cual publishes a list of ten regime figures that are widely rumored to have made obscene profits from their jobs in public administration, arguably giving public a new meaning. I have no time to translate it right now but will give you the executive summary.  There is the link and the list of those who are, for the time being, the most conspicuous corrupt thugs of the chavista regime:
  • Diosdado Cabello whose fortune woudl include at least 21 million in a Swiss account
  •  Jose Vicente Rangel Avalos who left a trail of nepotism and unpaid bills when he left Petare town hall
  • Rafael Isea who when he was in the government specialized in junk bond trading at the expense of the national treasury, nobody knowing where the "difference" went.
  • Jhonny Yanez Rangel who was linked, deeply, with all the crowd around the cash luggage seized in Buenos Aires.
  • Antonio Rodriguez San Juan, also an ex governor and also linked tot he "maletin" crowd as the one above.  Both have been receiving "paybacks" for several million dollars for approving state contracts.
  • Francico Rangel Gomez, yet another military as all but one of the above who has still to account for the 15 million paid by Crystallex, in addition of buying a Bolivar State plane with leather covered seats when the state had already perfectly functioning and adequate planes at his disposition.
  • Juan Barreto, the ex mayor of Caracas at large, financed all sorts of hanger on from the public coffers, including body guards for all sorts of people without any relationship with Caracas mayoral office, as well as financing all sorts of paramilitary groups.  Never mind the constant overpriced purchases authorized by the mayor's office.
  • Giancarlo di Martino who as a mayor of Maracaibo did all sorts of activities like the ones of Barreto.
  • Jose Vicente Rangel, ex foreign minister, ex vice president, ex defense minister, father of the above similarly named, who used his connections to promote the fortunes of a few people like his close associate Pedro Torres Ciliberto, noted banker now on the run for fraud.  Big, big fraud...
  • Ricardo Fernandez Berruecos, the former Mercal king, one of the most sudden and colossal recent fortunes, recent as of 2003.  More or less associated with all of the above including Chavez brothers.  So far he is the only one of the lot that is facing an investigation and trial.
There you have it, the ten (or 9?) untouchables, the worse cases of corruption, of notorious exposure and yet of total lack of investigation in spite of all the documented accusations made against them.

    Luisa Estela Morales Lamuño, TSJ president, morally corrupt to the core

    The president of the Venezuelan high court of justice, TSJ, has already appeared in these pages were we noted that as a judge she had been already fired from her jobs.  As a discredited person in the "legal" profession she only made it up tot he top because she attached her fate to Hugo Chavez and write for him whatever sentence his regime needed.  Well, this week she gave her ample evidence to back these assertions from yours truly (and pretty much anyone else with half a brain).

    First, visiting Cuba, she declares that the Cuban model of Justice is a valid one for Venezuela, and that in fact Venezuela can use that expertise to avoid some of the problems that the Cuban judicial system has had.  I am not making that up, I am giving you the link for the official news agency of the regime.  Her exact words, if we are to believe AVN:
    “Pensamos que el asunto judicial no se refiere estrictamente a las doctrinas jurídicas sino que tiene una necesaria conexión con las realidades de los pueblos. Para nosotros Cuba es una referencia necesaria de cómo la legislación avanza a medida que avanza un proceso de inclusión e igualdad popular” We think that justice matters does not strictly refers to judicial doctrines but that it must have a connection with the reality of the nations. For us Cuba is a necessary reference on how a legislation advances as a process of inclusion and popular equality advances.

    "En Venezuela vamos adelante en la medida en que nuestras leyes sean la expresión más viva del querer y el pensar de nuestro pueblo" In Venezuela we are looking ahead in the measure that our laws are the liveliest expression of the likes and thoughts of our people.

    I am not, of course, going to dwell into the obvious, namely of the repressive nature of the Cuban regime whose legal system keeps thousands in jail, has killed a further few thousands and forces an even more thousands of thousands into exile. Just for considering such a regime as a model Luisa should be impeached presto.  What is more important is the revelation of her frame of mind where a "popular" judicial system is a valid one, where the sentence is handed down as to the wishes of the majority and not on precedent, rational thinking, fairness and other such values that the woman has long abandoned.  In Luisa's world we are close to public lynching as justified retribution since it is rooted in the "likes" of "el pueblo".

    But this was not all.  As the famous Makled case is starting to develop, and as the regime cannot avoid some pretense of trial, Luisa Estela Morales Lamuño, head of the TSJ, has named as the corresponding judge no one else but her son in law.

    Domingo Arteaga Perez seems to be quite the judge that these bolivarian revolutionary times require.  Besides coming from the back-corner of Yaracuy legal system (and I know by experience that it was already at the bottom of the Venezuelan system a few years ago) he used his stage there to befriend Luisa's family and bang a daughter.  We are told that within a month of his nomination to the Falcon district, by his mother in law, he was already purchasing a luxurious villa (he could have pretended to rent something for a few months, for appearances, but nooo, he needed right then and there accommodations according to his new "status").

    But of course, Arteaga Perez has the most important credential required to try such a complex and dangerous case for the regime: he will abide by whatever the regime says since his family has too much to lose if there were to be any problem.  The real judge will probably be Luisa herself since she cannot preside an ordinary trial as of her function.  And we can be assured that regime will have a team of its  "best and brightest" to do all the work of Arteaga Perez whose real function will be to report to Luisa as needed.  Mafia style.

    So there you have it, not only yet another proof of the absolute lack of justice in Venezuela but also proof that it is going to get even worse, Cuba style, where judicial decisions are drafted in ministries and sent to be stamped by the local "courts".

    Update.  digging a little bit more on Arteaga Perez I found quite a curriculum at Descifrado,  leaving very little doubt that the guy is a creep, willing to accept even a demotion of his high rank in Falcon to judge Makled (for which he will cash handsomely, I am sure).

    This blue bird calling...

    Follow me at @julia84Caracas. I'm tweeting more often now, and I'm starting to enjoy it almost as much as blogging. Only trouble, or warning more likely is that I might be an English- language blogger at The End of Venezuela as I know it, but I'm a bilingual (and more often than not... Spanglish) Tweeter. - This is the End, do not click anywhere

    The family cake (A story on the cooking oil' shortage)

    Our "family cake" is famous. We inherited the recipe from my grandmother and we haven't done a different cake ever since. This cake has been my constant companion for endless birthdays and meetings. When I first went to lunch at my boyfriend' house, I brought the "family cake" and I'm sure this had a lot to do with me being accepted as part of his family. There is something different and truly special about this cake, about its soft texture and its sweet (but not so sweet) taste.

    Like all good cakes, it has a "key ingredient". We don't keep our recipe as a "family secret" but we won't reveal the "key ingredient" until everyone has tasted the cake. We have a reason for it: as soon as we reveal it, everyone puts ugly faces exclaiming how gross and weird it is to use that for a cake. Most don't believe us, they think we still keep a secret, and hence, never try what we do at home.

    The key ingredient is (drums roll, please): cooking oil. That's right, cooking oil. No, we don't "fry" the cake as someone once dared to suggest (he was weird, not us). We simply use cooking oil (vegetable oil) instead of butter. And it might be not like that where you are,- I have seen many online cake recipes using cooking oil- but here, a cake without butter simply strike many housewives and cookers. That's why, strange as it sounds, the recipe has remained exclusive for all this year; as my family tradition. A tradition which now could be questioned.

    With a serious cooking (vegetable) oil shortage and with my nephew' birthday coming soon; the cake has been a worrisome topic at home. My sister tried making a cake using butter and it tasted weird. Like bad- weird. Perhaps she did something wrong or more likely, we are simply not used to cakes made with butter. Let's face it: for us butter and cake don't go in the same sentence. Those cakes are heavier and look way too yellow. The second possibility is to buy one; but that's an insult to my "cake Masters" (self given title, that's for sure) family.

    While we search, supermarket after supermarket, popular markets and convenient stores for a bottle of cooking oil (we need even less than that for one cake); my nephew plays around the house wearing a weird blue-red outfit. He screams: "Don't worry, I'm going up there to save you!" - then he raise his arms and makes the fumiest sound ever. For him there are no shortages, or crisis, or revolution. For him there is just a world as big as our home, filled with "people in danger" (actually, toys in danger) which he must save.

    He's clueless (and he should be clueless) about all those things we adults worry about; the things - we hope - he will know by asking us for old stories or by reading them in history books.

    And he probably won't even care whether his cake is the usual "family cake" or not; as long as it has a Spider-man figure and four little candles on top.

    PS: The image was taken from here. No copyright infringement intended

    Stars falling already. And others falling soon?

    Too despondent about Venezuela's current degradation to write about it there is fortunately foreign matters to keep us entertained.

    Dominique Strauss-Khan, FMI president, bright star of the French Socialist party and someone for whom I could have possibly voted next year fell from grace this week end.  I do not need to go over the sordid aspects of the affair as most readers of this blog have already read on it.  But since French readership is low I thought that I would let you know how the scandal is playing in France.

    First, considering it was the front runner, the only socialist all but certain to beat Sarkozy, it goes without saying that the socialist party which has been accumulating quite a few electoral victories lately has entered into a funk from which it might never come back on time.  See, any winner of the coming socialist primaries will be tainted because the case will be made that s/he only got the nod by default.

    Second, it is a humiliation for all French, from right to left.  After all, French are so concerned with "La Grandeur" that it was perfectly normal to see Sarkozy promoting a dangerous political rival to the IMF presidency.  For the French, almost any French, even a political enemy is better leading an international institution than, say, a Brit or a Kraut or some Spaghetti eater (North American leading are OK when it is about military matters, we have learned our lesson).

    And third, something that will be paid dearly by the US.  The tasteless treatment of Strauss-Kahn by the New York Police is not taken well by any one in France where the presumption of innocence (innocent until proven guilty as they say in the US) makes that no matter how horrendous the crime is the putative guilty party is shielded from cameras as much as possible until at the very least a formal indictment is issued.  That some New York Prosecutor is taking such a godsend opportunity to advance his political career by parading a dishelved Strauss-Kahn, allowing the police to drag him hand cuffed without the minimal decency of at least straightening up his jacket, is an image that French people are not going to forgive and forget, even if the man is found guilty.  If my US readers were shocked about the unwillingness of Europe to send back to the US Polanski, well, you mays start forgetting about such cases in the future as Europe is going to be less and less willing to extradite anyone to the US anymore.

    True, yours truly who lived long enough in the US to have learned that the treatment of Strauss-Kahn is OK in a country which genuinely believes in second chances (evangelical preachers scandals for example), but this is not known across the Atlantic where US justice is often considered outright barbaric, the more so when death penalty is involved.  I am certainly not defending Strauss-Kahn who seems to have a questionable sexual past, but the US might end up losing more than the French on this story.

    At least there is a piece of better news: the International Court is getting ready to indict Qaddafi. As we can be pretty sure that the indictment will be coming we can be surprised at the reactions of some that thin k it would hamper a peaceful exit tot he Libyan crisis.  Newsflash: there is no possible peaceful exit to the Libyan crisis by now.  The West needs to toughen it up and do what needs to be done.  It is a little bit like that silly concept that Osama should have been sent to trial: this is not about justice anymore, this is about politics and survival of the West.

    Of course this is going to be very unsettling for Chavez.  He could well end up someday handcuffed Strauss-Kahn style, or bombed out of some lair Qaddafi style.  But the guy does not seem to get the point.  Amazingly after all these weeks he is sticking to his thesis that Saudi Arabia and the US are paying sharpshooters who are responsible of all the deaths in Libya and Syria.  Apparently the Izarra report that Chavez mentions does not include the huge street protests.  For Chavez it is just a plan by the CIA to destabilize all, including anytime soon Venezuela.  Himself?  Being guilty of something?  I suppose that it is kind of a warning tot he Venezuelan opposition, that if we keep our street protests as we do soon he will unleash his Cuban mercenaries on us.

    By the way, let's comment for a second on Chavez using for his international news a report of highly incompetent and biased Izarra instead of a more professional report that one would expect from, say, the foreign ministry...  Really, the Chavez administration is looking more and more everyday like an "anything goes"....  If Chavez must rely for his information on Izarra-Rizarra and his band of sycophantic "journalists" then he is in more trouble than what I thought.

    Venezuela and the origin of life on Earth

    Nature mentions a study about how early multicellular organisms 
    may have learnt to breathe in the air: by evolving next to certain 
    cyanobacteria as those found in Los Roques right now. Los Roques
    is a group of Venezuelan islands at 11°51′27″N 66°45′27″W

    According to the authors, the lacoons there may represent a similar
    environment to the one that existed during the Ediacaran: very low
    oxygen levels but with bacteria that would produce oxygen..
    The area is usually extremely salty. Almost no animal can survive
    there. Still, during the day those bacteria expel oxygen as waste and
    this oxygen goes just to the upper milimeter of the bacteria mats. 

    Insect larvae use that oxygen now. Scientists think such bacteria could 
    have produced a sort of oasis for primitive animals, which would 
    otherwise not have been able to find enough oxygen for their systems.

    Read it here and here!

    Spot the difference: cunaguaro versus ocelot

    They look very much alike, but the margay -in Spanish cunaguaro or gato tigre- is smaller and the spots are a little bit different.

    This is a cunaguaro:

    and this is an ocelot:

    A cunaguaro:

    An ocelot:

    Beautiful creatures, aren't they?

    Painful memories (Comments on FARC- Chavez connection)

    - Note: this should had been published last Friday... but Blogspot was out of service for more than 24 hours and then a busy weekend followed. The image was taken from here, it shows my president with FARC' secretary Iván Márquez -

    Altamira’ story is one story hard to tell; the links and protesters motivations didn’t made much sense, and their fight mechanisms even less. It all started in October, when a group of military decided to declare themselves in “Civil disobedience”. Everyone I knew celebrated the move, presented to the country on live TV. The “disobedient” members from the army gathered in Altamira square for about two months, conducting daily speeches and protests asking for Mr Chavez’ resignation.

    A clock was installed, right next to a Virgin Mary altar that still remains if I’m not mistaken. I never quite understood why the high military command were acting like civilians. With their obvious lack of politics experience there was no much to expect. I know I’m touching a delicate ground, but it seems to me that this “civil explosion” end up benefiting Chavez, since the army was easily purged to guarantee that only loyal will stay in it; while the ones who did oppose Chavez were switching microphones in Altamira. Since then, I think it is really hard if not impossible to find anyone inside the army against the regime. With a country as militarized as mine, to my disdain, we have no choice but to have the army on our side if we want a change. So, looking now at the upcoming presidential elections (to be held next year), you can imagine where that left us.

    But Altamira’ story is not only a story about huge political lost and costs; it’s also a story about violence and political intolerance, about the lost of three human lives.

    I was sitting at home, watching the dissident military speeches from Altamira live on TV. Then we started to hear some screams and the TV images gave us back the look of people running and hiding. It was obvious that someone was shooting against the crowd. Three people died that night and many others were wounded. In particular I remember seeing a young guy holding a light purple sweater with a red spark. He was in the waiting room of a clinic, and explain to the cameras that the sweater belonged to his girlfriend, who was in intensive care.

    Soon, the government found the shooter. A red haired simple guy, with Portuguese origins and a strange look in his eyes. The official version is that this guy, apparently crazy, on his own, decided to perpetuate the massacre. Just like those horrible killings in the first world where a dis-adapted, strange fellow is responsible.

    Just recently, files from Raul Reyes’ laptop confirm a close collaboration between my government and the FARC to pursue state terrorism acts and to purgue counter revolutionaries. Experts suggests that due those e-mails found in Reyes’ laptop and the modus operandi of Altamira’ massacre; that FARC might be behind it. I don’t know if it’s pure speculation or a carefully thought conclusion that has now spread in the media like dust.

    "Subsequently, on December, 2002, at the Altamira neighborhood of Caracas, three opposition members that were taking part in a rally die, and others are wounded.

    The IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies in London) suggests that for the “modus operandi” and context, it could have been FARC’ members work."
    (Read it all here, in Spanish)

    Either way, a laptop lost in the jungle, a terrorist group’ propriety that shouldn’t have anything to do with us; has find its way to bring us back painful memories.

    PS: Venezuelan bloggers have worked intensely to bring out everything about Chavez - FARC connection, since data from Raul' laptop was released. Check my links below for their compilation and their analysis.

    PS 2: The New York Times published a direct and disturbing piece on the topic yesterday. Read it here

    Latin America integration, Europe and the US

    The vast majority of Latin Americans speak Spanish or Portuguese. We have basically the same religions and very common history and traditions. Still, we are very divided. Try to pass a border between any Latin American country and see how much waste time goes there. Try to see how much smuggling is part of life all across our borders.

    One of the main reasons for this division has been caudillismo: national interests, specially those of the military castes and the local caudillos, have trumped it all. Then there are ideologies or pseudo-ideologies. Chávez claims, for instance, to be a promotor of Latin American integration, but if anything, he has been one of the main factors for division: he wants it his way, which is mostly based on resentment and his curious mixed of military obsessions and ideology, with a lot of show and zero policies for sustainable development. You don't become more independent just by changing your clients and destroying further your own industry. Cuba has also been another obstacle for unity: Latin American countries have remained divided in their approach towards the island. As the United States has taken a very blind and silly approach towards Cuba, many Latin American countries have taken a similarly stupid approach and decided to be silent about the Cuban dictatorship - out of a false sense of solidarity. In this sense, Latin American countries have reacted towards the Castro clan as African countries did towards Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

    Still, I wonder: would the US and the EU be interested in Latin America becoming a cohesive union, something even more cohesive than the EU?

    Let's see:

    1. would they be able to sell as many weapons to a Latin American Union as they do now to the different military forces throughout Latin America?
    2. would they have the same clout regarding trade agreements, specially when it comes to subsidies and import tarifs?
    3. would they have the same weight when pretending to be interested in a "War on Drugs" while paying for more and more cocaine?
    4. would their security firms and defence machineries earn as much if the War on Drug is suddenly solved?
     One day, we will have to discuss how to promote real integration in Latin America.
     Tenemos que hacerlo. We will have to discuss things like: what is actually Latin America? Is there a common identity that should trump anything else for its own sake or is Latin Americanness a useful practicality? What common grounds do we have with the rest of the world and how can we help to produce a fairer international community?

    FARC-Terroristen, Kolumbien, Venezuela und Deutschland

    Raul Reyes
    Am 1.3.2008 tötete die kolumbianische Armee den Guerrilla-Führer Raúl Reyes auf ecuadorischen Boden. Die Armee konnte beim Angriff mehrere Laptops beschlagnehmen. Interpol stellen dann fest, dass die vorhandenen Gebraucherdateien nicht nach dem Angriff verändert wurden (siehe hier).

    Ein britischer Think Tank, das IISS, hat vor kurzem ein Buch über die Informationen veröffentlicht und dazu eine Menge Dateien mit den Emails von Raul Reyes zur Verfügung gestellt.

    Soweit ich sehen kann, sieht die vorhandene Information sehr überzeugend aus. Hier eine Email des Guerrilleros aus dem Jahr 2001:

    "Die Bundestagsfraktion der PDS hat die kommunistische Partei Venezuelas kontaktiert, um ihnen mitzuteilen, dass sie sich Sorgen darüber machen, dass Europarlamentarier einen Gesetzentwurf in Umlauf gebracht haben, um die FARC-Vertretungen aus diesen Ländern wegen des Falls der 3 Gefangenen [deutsche Geiseln der FARC] auszuweisen. Die Namen der befreundeten deutschen Abgeordneten sind: WOLFGANG GEHRCKE UND HARRY GRUENBERG, die folgende Telefonnummer..."

    Wolfgang Gehrcke

    Dies ist nichts. Warte mal, bis wir andere Punkte kommentieren.

    Venetiola-Syria: asinus asinum fricat

    Assad et Hugo Chávez in propaganda officialis gubernationis Venetiolae anno 2007

    Iura humana in Syria

    If you have a mobile in Venezuela now

    If you are living in Venezuela and you have a mobile, you get every week, whether you like it or not, messsages from the government. Those messages are mostly to promote the interests of the military caste or just propaganda.

    Here Liz sends me just one of the  latest messages she got. As you may know by now, housing is a big problem in Venezuela. Since Chávez is in power, construction levels have collapsed. There are more than 2 million houses we miss now. As we have elections next year, the caudillo is promising we will get the houses we did not get in the last 13 years. He is promising 2 million houses for the next two years, which, considering the speed in which houses were built in the last years, would be a miracle. And Liz and millions of other Venezuelans get to read this: "From Saturday 7 May and for one month the Great Mission Housing. To live living! (sic) www.mvh.gob.ve From: Ministry for the Popular (sic) Power for Housing".

    Take into account something most foreign visitors fail to report: Internet coverage nationwide is around 30% and less than 30% of Venezuelans can, theoretically, watch TV that is critical to the regime. Most private channels, which Chávez's apologists classify as "oppo", focus on baseball and soap operas since RCTV had to close down. Most Venezuelans don't read. Mobile phones definitely matter. And here the military caste tells you, using your mobile, that you have a chance in the housing lottery.

    Porn at Al Qaeda

    So they found a cache of porn in the stuff taken away from the Osama lair....

    One really does not know what to make of that.  We could chose the Chavez route and say that all of that is work of the CIA to tarnish the image of Osama, just as they want to tarnish his image with the Reyes computers (one has to marvel at the amount of time, resources and personnel that the CIA would need to have to type thousands of coherent pages just to tarnish someone's image...)

    One could say that Osama was simply "documenting" the sex exploitation of the West.

    One could also blame it on a bored guard locked up in Podunk, Pakistan.

    Or one could more realistically blame it on psychopathic minds that have lost basic notions of good or evil and see no contradiction in using porn while they kill for it.  After all, we only need to look at the story of some notorious born again preachers or devoted catholic deacons whose private lives differentiated quite a lot from their preaching to understand that the line between sinning and psychopathy might be thinner than what we would like it to be...

    A word about Syria and the sad state of the world

    Although I did spend some time writing about Libya, this blog has been mostly silent about Syria.  I apologize for being remiss on that and from not condemning earlier the sad Assad regime.  But Syria is a little bit different because to tribal politics we must add religious diatribe as the regime is basically a union of religious minorities that impose their rule on the Sunni majority.  And that spells quite another kind of trouble than what we saw in Tunisia, and Libya.... 

    Thus, not being as knowledgeable on Syria, and not having observed the type of close association between Chavez and Assad as we saw with Ahmadnejerk and the butcher of Tripoli, there was less incentive, and time, to ponder on Syria, though in many respects it is uglier than in Lybia.

    But there comes a time when we must write down our outrage, the more so when we read stuff like:

    - the business creeps that rule over Syria and that are unambiguously declaring that they will keep their ill acquired fortune at the price of any suffering against the people.  They go as far as threatening the stability of Israel, implying that if it were not for them Israel would have been swept of something.  Yes, the same people who spend fortunes in anti Israel propaganda to sustain their rule.

    - that actually there is still a debate, although in death throes, about Syria occupying a seat in the UN human rights commission.  I mean, there are people that because of diplomatic protocols still discuss such a preposterous thing?

    You know something, after reading these two NYT articles, I am 100% on the side of the Syrian Sunnis.  The Christians and Alawites that bound together for "business" had it coming....  At this point Israel is not going to be worse off whichever side wins, and in fact, having a few kind words for the Sunnis of Syria might be a good thing to do for Israel, because they already know that people like Makhlouf will sell Israel short at the first opportunity. 

    And of course, we must also underline that the privileged liaison of Chavez with the Assad clan was as usual yet another liaison with a thuggy business like practice group  at the expenses of "el pueblo" or whatever you call the pauperized Sunni majority of Syria.

    It was a sick world that allowed such folks to prosper for so long.

    No Samba for Chavez this time around

    I do not want to be mean, but the sudden "old knee injury" of Chavez has a perfect timing.  That is, he can bail out of any summit, any press meeting, any cadena even if he wishes so.  Then again after having been exposed as to give 300 million USD to a terrorist association, you may want to keep a low profile for a while.  And if that means postponing once again your first official meeting with Dilma Roussef, who has seen everyone but you already, well, so be it.  She might as well start her second round of Samba dancing with the other guys.

    I have the suspicion that the FARC linkage of Venezuela and Ecuador is just starting its aftershocks, no matter how much the ladies protest.

    Es geht voran in Venezuela

    Ich denke an dieses Lied: "keine Atempause, Geschichte wird gemacht, es geht voran....vergessen macht frei".

    Stromausfälle werden schon wieder häufiger. Man hat keinen Strom in Yaracuy, in Carabobo, auf Margarita, in den Llanos, im ganzen Land.

    Die Regierung ist schon froh, dass die meisten Menschen nicht mehr an Pudreval denken. 

    Die Regierung bietet den Leuten nun eine Art Lotto, damit sie vielleicht ein Haus endlich mal erwerben können. Die Regierung verspricht, nun wird man wirklich-wirklich Sozialwohnungn bauen. In den nächsten 7 Jahren wird man bis zu 2 Millionen Wohnungen bauen, auch wenn man in den letzten 13 Jahren weniger als ein paar Tausende Wohnungen gebaut hat, viel weniger, als was andere Regierungen mit einem Bruchteil der Petrodollars gebaut haben. Aber nun geht's schon.

    Und die NY Times erzählt uns über ein neues Buch, das weitere Informationen aus den Reyes-Laptops darstellt. Demnach sollen selbst die FARC-Terroristen sich über die Duplizität der Chávez-Regierung beschwert haben: die Venezolaner halfen ihnen manchmal und manchmal halfen sie ihren Feinden. 

    Ich fand es schon heftig, dass selbst Kriminelle wie die FARC-Guerrilleros den berüchtigten Rodríguez Chacín als Schurke bezeichnen.

    Es geht voran in Venezuela.

    Venezuela Asked Colombian Rebels to Kill Opposition Figures, Analysis Shows

    It is not me saying this, it is the New York Times under the pen of Simon Romero.  Remember the famous computers of Raul Reyes (and others taken since)?
    The documents are part of a 240-page book on the rebel group, “The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of Raúl Reyes,” to be published Tuesday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. While some of the documents have been quoted and cited previously, the release of a CD accompanying the book will be the first time such a large number of the documents have been made public since they were first seized.
    And this one for the annals of Paranoia:

    Venezuela’s government viewed the FARC as “an ally that would keep U.S. and Colombian military strength in the region tied down in counterinsurgency, helping to reduce perceived threats against Venezuela,” the book said.
    And this one for the annals of deadbeats united:
    Such betrayals [to the FARC], as well as unfulfilled promises of large sums of money, generated considerable tension among the rebels over their relationship with Mr. Chávez.
    And to close, this one on whose worse, the FARC of the chavista thugs hiring them:
    A member of the FARC’s secretariat, [...] Mono Jojoy, once called Mr. Chávez a “deceitful and divisive president who lacked the resolve to organize himself politically and militarily.” In [another] example, Mono Jojoy, who was killed in a bombing raid last year, had harsh words for Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, a former Venezuelan naval officer who has served as a top liaison between Mr. Chávez and the FARC, calling him “the worst kind of bandit.”

    Sorry for the chavistas who deny the validity of the FARC computer files, but stuff like that cannot be made up.

    Inflation in Venezuela, mediocre media and military regime

    The picture

    I am often shocked by two things: the shameless way in which the Chávez regime and its useful idiots portray Venezuela's situation and the mediocrity of Venezuela's media - specially the TV - to show a proper response particularly for those who have no reference.

    On one side you have Chávez's government and its useful idiots abroad, who lie through their teeth about the state of the economy, about development, about the whole world. They pick the parameters that suit to their propaganda in a way I that makes Soviet media or Fox News a model for good journalism.

    On the other side you have "journalists" from Globovisión and similar channels who were selected to be news moderators because of their looks or because of their connections or the jokes, but who have no idea about economics or politics. They preach to the choir and they simply cannot put things in perspective for the average Venezuelan.  

    Charts, give me a chart

    Just one example: you will hardly see any charts on Venezuelan TV or in most newspapers. It seems journalists consider Venezuelans are too stupid to understand a chart, never mind we have to plot charts at school. It is true the average Venezuelan has a very low education level, but he is not stupid and he can usually read charts. If you show the data in context he can get the picture. Unfortunately, there is a lot of data circulating around in Venezuela but hardly any information in context for those who, like most people, are not specialists.

    Inflation: the Bolivarian-banana myth
    Now the Minister of the Popular Power (sic) for Trade, Edmée Betancourt, said "during the IV Republic -that's the way the military regime calls the democratic period between 1958 and 1998- inflation was close to 50%. Now, in this Bolivarian government, inflation is around 24%".

    First of all: inflation in Venezuela was indeed higher between 1988 and 1998 than between 1999 and now. Still, if you want to say "the IV Republic" you will have to do an average from 1958 to 1998. Apparently Chavistas are unable to calculate the average of something. You can indeed compare the 13 years of this military regime with the 13 previous years. There you will see indeed that inflation was higher in those 13 years and that was due to the Caldera term. Still: that is not the complete picture. Inflation is often not just a national issue but it also has to do with how a country responds to outside influences.

    Inflation was higher during the second Caldera term, shortly before Chávez came to power. This is no surprise: Caldera carried out similar policies to the ones taken now, even if he did not go to the extremes and oil prices were very very low. Still, inflation was then and before lower than in many other Latin American countries.

    In the eighties and nineties Venezuela had lower inflation rates than many Latin American countries. Venezuela has had the highest inflation rate of the Americas since Chávez is in power.

    In the first chart here you have a logarithmic view of inflation for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela since 1980. You see how Venezuela was, comparatively speaking, better off in the eighties and nineties than the other countries. Inflation was high, very high and yet it was much higher elsewhere. I had  to use a logarithmic scale because inflation in Brazil and other countries was really, really high.

    In the second picture you have the inflation data on a normal scale since 1999.

    Venezuela is the sick patient of America and that in spite of enjoying the biggest and longest oil boom it has ever had.

    Mapping Latin Americans' heads of states' heads

    Obviously, you can have a university degree or two and still be completely incapable. You can be without one and be absolutely up for many jobs. Still, I find this map very telling: it is about what Latin American presidents studied after school. 

    Bolivia's president came from a very poor background in South America's poorest country and only visited a basic school. Uruguay's and Nicaragua's presidents studied law but left prematurely as they went to fight with the guerrilla. The president of Paraguay studied to be a Catholic priest and also to become the literal "father" of a nation (two children are linked to him so far). The countries you see in the map in pink have heads of state who did law. Those in brown and red studied politics and literature respectively. The one in blue studied engineering. The ones in yellow have presidents who studied economics. Lastly, the ones in green have heads of state who have a purely military background. Raúl basically learnt to fight with his brother. Venezuela's president went to the usual Military Academy for those who do not want to study much and he then abandoned a "postgraduate study" in political science" at the USB. I simply cannot understand how he was allowed to start it or even finish secondary school if he can say something like this: "mankind is 20 centuries old".

    The Maklediad

    An Epic Poem it ain't....

    In fact it has the potential to make Venezuela reach yet new lows of ridicule.  After all, what can we expect from a story that started in 2003 with some sleazy "businessman" that decided to help chavismo for high profit and who in a couple of years became one of the richest families of Venezuela.  From knick-knack store to airlines in 3 years, surely a laundry management book has to be written with such a title.  Politics and personal ambitions followed: one of the brothers wanted to be mayor of Valencia and some inner chavista jealousy resulted in a raid at the family farm where a convenient stash of drug was found.  Two brothers ended up in jail (trial awaiting?) and the third one, Walid, was on the run until carelessly he fell into the hands of Colombian police as close from the Venezuelan border as possible.  So cliche an ending that it brings tears of "pena  ajena".

    From Bogota Walid sung and sung and yet we only heard melodies, not lyrics.  For all the evidences he threatened us with, enough to make the regime fall we were told, he was not willing (able?) to give at least one to show us he meant business.  But it still was enough to send all the Venezuelan establishment, from both sides, in a frenzy.  Chavismo certainly has reasons to feel guilty but the opposition looks to me that it was played like a fiddle by our chubby bad boy Walid.  Commissions and letters were sent to Colombia begging Santos to release Walid to the US because in Venezuela his evidence would be useless.  No one demanding that Walid published at least one of his evidences...........  Still, it played in the hands of the Makled tribe while, amazingly, distracting away the flames from chavismo as some in the opposition looked, well, too pro US for the chavista hoi poloi.

    Do not get me wrong, I am sure that just with what is known already a decent judicial system has enough to build a case against the Makleds.  After all, their rise to riches was suspicious from the start; we folks that have to work with Puerto Cabello hade heard plenty of stories of the Makeld dealings there, wondering already how come a "socialist" regime gave so many capitalist advantages to a single group; and the airline grab; and the near monopoly on some of state owned Pequiven chemical trading with suspicious stuff that can be used in drug processing; etc...

    Truly, if chavismo wanted to inquire it does not need the blackmailing evidence that Walid claims to have.  Just perusing a few recent ledgers should already be enough to put a few people in the slammer.

    And so Santos played beautifully, milking Chavez of all what it could in exchange of Walid, including the director of the FARC information office, strangely become a Swede, caught and sent to Bogota unceremoniously as he made a stop by in Caracas, pissing off the Swedes that should have known better.  Santos played everyone, chavismo, the idiotic opposition that he did not let visit Makled in jail, Makled himself who I am sure preferred to go to Venezuelan rather than the US where his Noriega fate like was a given.  At least in Venezuela he has a chance some day to get out of jail or at least to have his brother released after some adequate bargaining (evidence? Turco and Caicos account? you name it!).

    Makled arrived this morning in Venezuela.  I can hardly care less for what comes next.  After all, if we were a serious country the Pudreval scandal would have been enough to force the resignation of even Chavez; but here all the main culprits of that disaster are still in office, as if nothing, now wasting happily money on housing that will never be built.  If Walid really has hard evidence he is going to use in the best way with the thugs in charge in Caracas: money it hard with the regime.  Blackmail, is what's for dinner.

    If you think that there will be a real trial, I suggest that you do not hold your breath waiting for it, at least not until 2013.  Instead expect a guilty plea, a deal, and some general somewhere as a scapegoat for the hundreds of criminals in office that made Venezuela a narco state.