Archive for October, 2002

Dr. Pepper’s Justice by Jaime Requena (Not a soft-drink article)

October 25, 2002

From Today’s El Nacional an article by Jaime Requena

Dr. Pepper’s Justice

On October 17th. President Chavez announced from the city of Oxford that he had designated Dr. William Pepper, Director of the International Human Rights Seminar of that University as Head of his commission to study the events in April. To that effect, the American lawyer was invited to start his work with a visit to the country starting next November 5th. There are abundant reasons to think that Dr. Pepper is not the ideal person to carry out an independent and impartial investigation of those crimes, which Venezuelan society has been clamoring for. They have nothing to do with his ideological conceptions or his academic credentials. The objection has to do with the objectivity that Dr. Pepper has shown in those matters relating to the analisis of the actions of the Government of Hugo Chavez Frias and the imprudence of namingm someone, for such a delicate position, without consultation or approval of other more interested in knowning the truth.

Last week, many, among those the writer of these lines, saw our efforts to raise our voice of protest in front of the academic community of Oxford for the nomination of Hugo Chavez Frias as a speaker on human rights simply bypassed. The moderators of the forum led by Dr. Pepper, rejected our electronic messages of protest and in a gesture that says very little about their proclaimed respect for freedom of speech, they made all possible efforts to block public access to their electronic forum, filtering only those that showed backing for the official initiative.

This is given as background as a live example of the impartiality that, we are sure, will dominate the conduct of Dr. Pepper. However, as if this small story were not sufficient, I invite the readers to look at the rest of said statement, justifying the invitation of President Chavez to speak at Oxford, which is an apology for the law of the funnel and an ode to the epic statistics of those that have seen the light in the command of the revolution. It forgives Chavez for his coup on February 4th. 1992 on the basis of a legitimate right that assisted him to rebel militarily, from the moment he was convinced that public institutions were rotten by corruption. Today, when a large part of the population covets an equal sentiment, not only about the Presidency and those that surround it, but about the new public powers and thousands of other things, Dr. Pepper condenms as coupsters the civic protests of the opposition and qualifies them as insignificant, when he compares them with the magnitude of the attendance to the mass acts convoked by the Government, a matter which he appears to be the only one to see. Much like our President, in his virtual Sunday program, Dr. Pepper ends blaming the local media for broadcasting the social, economic and political malaise, which should not exist, since according to him, the levels of indebtness and the standard of living have never been better.

Since this is the way things are, it is obvious that Dr. Pepper, having already taken sides, would never be able to issue a just and impartial judgement about the actions and conduct of the Chief of State. And that, in my opinion, disqualifies him from judging who was responsible for each of the visceral massacres of the month of April.

Finally, with that designation our Chief of State ends recognizing that neither the legislators nor justice work. As a Venezuelan, I am interested in learning the reasons that could assist the members of the Supreme Court to allow Dr. Pepper to act as their replacement.


More officers join dissent, protest grows

October 24, 2002

More officers joined the peaceful protest agaisnt the Hugo Chavez Government asking for a referendum. Tonight the second in command of the National Guard joined the group together with a few dozen high ranking officers from all forces. The crowds continue to grow and the dissenters appear to be gaining momentum. It is clear that the Chavez administration has decided to ignore what is happening in the hope that it will wither away. While this strategy may appear to be the correct one, at this time it is just not working and the weekend should work in the dissenting officers’ favor. 

Response to the International Human Rights Seminar of Oxford University

October 24, 2002

While I did not want to prepare a proper response to the statement made by the International Human Rights Seminar of Oxford University, Antonio Guzman-Blanco and Anibal Romero have taken the painstaking task of replying in detail to the statement. The response is included within the Requena Files and shows the poor knowledge of said Seminar about Venezuelan issues and the huge mistake in judgement that represented the invitation of Hugo Chavez to speak at a reputable Seminar on Human Rights. Once again I challenge the IHRS to deny recieving any donation or contribution from the Venezuelan Government or any Government institution. 

Response to the Human Rights Seminar (IHRS) statement of Oxford University

October 24, 2002


Reference is made to the International Human Rights Seminar (“IHRS”) statement dated Monday,

14th October, 2002 which was issued in preparation for the visit of President Hugo Chavez Frias

on Thursday, 17th October 2002 to the University of Oxford.


The IHRS statement begins as follows:




Crowds grow in Caracas and other cities.

October 23, 2002

Crowds were present in Altamira Square and other cities in Venezuela even as no new military officers joined those that declared themselves in civil disobedience. Many rumors around the city. The crowd tonight was much larger than last night. The first picture is that of the obelisk in the center of the square while the second one is a side view of the square showing people as far as one could see. Hard to predict what may happen, but I was surprised at the way it gained strength today.

Sergio Ramirez on Chavez, Lula and Latin America

October 23, 2002

Sergio Ramirez, who was Vice-President of the Sandinista Government in Nicaragua, who wrtote the very interesting book Adios Muchachos, had these very interesting things to say in yesterday’s local newspaper El Nacional:

 “I have given many opinions about Chavez. I think he had his moment, his first moments, and very important ones for the history of Venezuela. But the society is divided. And that to me is a failure. A million people here, another million there. And for a country to be divided, in strictly democratic terms does not matter. That can be resolved at the time of elections. But around some goals that are called revolutionary, of profound changes in society, it is not easy to resolve.


To me it looks that there lies the great mystery and the great challenge for politicians: to be able to carry out profound changes with a consensus. Someone, from the left, may tell me that that is impossible, because there will always exist concrete interests that will oppose it. But I believe that in these societies you will never do anything more without a consensus. That is what Lula is doing in Brazil. To me that is important

The other thing that seems important is that an elected officer, like Lula, should know that he will be in power for only five years and not his whole life. Maybe ten years, but no more. But those that prepare themselves to always be in that position would fail beforehand. There are no Government officials forever in Latin America”

Well said, I hope all our politicians read it.


Participatory Democracy: National Assembly changes electoral law, what next?

October 23, 2002

At a time that Venezuelans are clamoring for a referendum (which can be called by the National Assembly at any time). The week after the Vice-President (not the President, who refused to sign it, which was requested by the opposition)signed the declaration of principles with the OAS, which includes a dialogue to solve the political crisis of Venezuela, the National Assembly with the vote of only Chavez’ MVR party approved yesterday modifications to the Electoral Law. If approved by the President and the Cabinet, this will become the law. What is the problem?. Well, only that according to the Venezuelan Constitution, article 298, there can be no changes to the law between the day of an election and the previous six months. This means there can be no elections for the next six months. Will they also change in in six months and so on and so forth?

Curiously, only a year and a half ago, when he was still popular, Hugo Chavez refused to sign the so-called Declaration of Quebec, because he did not believe in “representative” democracy, but something more primitive called “participatory” democracy in which people have the right to have everything decided by referenda. How times change, no?

Eighty seven officers declared themselves in civil disobedience

October 22, 2002


A total of eighty seven officers ended up declaring themselves in Civil Disobedience not recognizing Hugo Chavez as President and any of their superiors. The military officers invoked article 350 of the new Venezuelan Constitution which says:

Artículo 350. El pueblo de Venezuela, fiel a su tradición republicana, a su lucha por la independencia, la paz y la libertad, desconocerá cualquier régimen, legislación o autoridad que contraríe los valores, principios y garantías democráticas o menoscabe los derechos humanos.

Article 350. The people of Venezuela, faithful to their republican tradition, to their fight for independence, will refuse to recognize any regime, legislation or authority which contradicts their democratic values and principles or reduces human rights.

The military officers called on the rest of the Armed Forces to join them. They said they will not leave until Hugo Chavez resigns, called Chavez a Dictator who refuses to follow the will of the people as expressed by the marches of Oct. 10. and the general strike of Oct. 21st, calling for a referendum or elections.

The three pictures above, taken by yours truly, show when the officers were giving their speeches as well as a general view of the couple of thousand people that gathered at the Altamira Square, which the officers called, “liberated” territory.

The media was cautious with the news, giving it reduced coverage. The Democratic coordinating committee which groups the opposition distanced itself from the action. My initial impression was that something else was going to happen as the first couple of hours appeared to be quite carefully staged, with officers joining the announcement at carefully staged intervals.  At this time, 1:28 AM Caracas (and EST) the crowd is still going strong, but the crowd seems to want “more” and it appears as if nothing else will take place.


Fifteen Generals declare themselves in Civil Desobedience

October 22, 2002

The highest ranking General in the venezuelan Armed Forces has just declared himself in Civil Desobedience according to Article 350 of the Constitution accompanied by 14 other active Generals. He has asked people to go to “Freedom” Square in Caracas, which he called liberated territory. Heavy stuff. Stay tuned….

Doonsbury has a blog, hope people get it

October 21, 2002

Doonesbury now has one of the characters doing his own blog. Hope Venezuelans who read mine will realize now that a blog is not something the two Octavio brothers do, but something more widespread.