Archive for November, 2002

Bizarro Bolivarian World: Parrallel Board of Directors for PDVSA

November 30, 2002

In one of the most bizarre episodes of the Chavez Goverment, a former Vice-President of Venezuela during the Chavez administration, the former President of the state oil company PDVSA during the April crisis, two of the Board members at that time, its current  Head of Security and others, were charged by local newspaper El Nacional yesterday (page E-1) of forming a parallel Board of Directors for the company and holding a shareholders meeting at which they made the following decisions:

-Hold a politcal trial of all of the Board members of PDVSA during the last twenty years.

-Remove the President of the company, Ali Rodriguez, a Chavez appointee and both the current Minister and Vice-Minister of Energy.

-Hold a new stockholder’s meeting to have the Board of Directors report to them on their administration.

While one of the former Directors of PDVSA denied that this ever took place (today’s El Nacional, page E-1), a fomer Director of the Ministry of Energy and Mines who was also named by the newspaper yesterday said today (same page) that the documents are real and while the parallel Board and shareholders meeting were proposed, they were never held.

To me that is like saying that I am indeed crazy, but not as much as you are accusing me of being.

Talks fail, general strike on

November 30, 2002

Despite last minute efforts by the Secretary General of the OAS Cesar Gaviria, the talks to stop the general strike scheduled for Monday broke down today. The Government blamed the more radical groups for the breakdown, however, we had been skeptical of any last minute resolution as the Government could not promise to hold the referendum after the ruling by the  Supreme Court two days ago.

US warns Government on elections, Gaviria offers wide ranging proposal

November 29, 2002

In a very terse statement the US Government appears to be sending a clear message to the Chavez administration that the electoral road can not be blocked the way it has been in the last few days:

“The United States reiterates its full support for the efforts of OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria to facilitate a peaceful, democratic, constitutional, and electoral solution to Venezuela’s ongoing political crisis. We note the strong statements of support for the Secretary General’s mission issued recently by OAS member states and the chairman of the OAS Permanent Council.

We express our concern about provocative and unnecessary actions that imperil the national dialogue process. We call on all parties to exercise responsibly their democratic rights and authority, and to refrain from actions that would violate the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

It is incumbent upon all parties to support Secretary General Gaviria, return to the dialogue table, and fashion a means by which the sovereign voice of the Venezuelan people can be heard through their votes

Clearly the Chavez administration is now losing the image war internationally as  its efforts to block the referendum have revealed the true nature of the Government.

Separately, Globovision is reporting that Secretary General of the OAS Cesar Gaviria has presented tonight to both the Government and the opposition a wide ranging proposal which includes withdrawal of the intervention of the Metropolitan police by the Government, election of the new Electoral Council, review of the electoral register and the cancellation of the indefinite general strike which had been planned for Monday. Why all of a sudden there is so much progress might simply be due to evidence that the strike would be extremely succesful.

November 29, 2002

Editorial in the Washington Post: Rescue Venezuela!!

November 29, 2002

Editorial in the Washington Post: Rescue Venezuela!!

November 29, 2002

Editorial in the Washington Post: Rescue Venezuela!!

November 29, 2002

Editorial in the Washington Post: Rescue Venezuela!!

Electoral Commission approves referendum, Supreme Court voids it

November 28, 2002

In what is already a controversial decision, the Venezuelan Electoral Commission approved the referendum for Feb. 2nd. late on Wednesday night by a vote of three to one, with one member abstaining. The member that abstained did so because he thought the signatures had not been checked sufficiently, the timetable was uncertain and it was uncertain whether there will be funds for it.

The decision is controversial because the Supreme Court had ruled that the electoral commission could only make decisons based on a qualified majority of four, but only three voted in favor of holding a referendum. The way it has been explained to me is as follows: On Nov. 17th. the Supreme Court ruled on two issues. One, it told the President that it had to expedite the approval of the Electoral Power Bill as it was, and could not send it back to the National Assembly, which was done. Within the same ruling, the Court said that based on the then valid Electoral Statute, it had to make all decisions based by the qualified majority of four. However, that statute is no longer valid since the Electoral Power Bill is now the law and it only requires a simply majority.

However, it is all moot, as the Supreme Court has just ruled  that the decision is not valid……

After reading the Court’s argument and finishing Thanksgiving dinner (my wife is a US citizen) I am amazed, within my limited legal knowdlege, at what the decision says. Basically the Court says that the transient Electoral Statute takes precedence over the recently approved Electoral Power Bill, because the new CNE has not been elected. This seems illogical to me. If the new Bill regulates electoral matters, it does not matter who and how many people occupy the positions in the CNE. After all, the Electoral Power bill says that current members of the CNE continue being in their positions as long as a new CNE is not elected. Thus, we are trapped in a chicken and egg situation, under the new law, 2/3 of the National Assembly are required to name a new CNE, but neither group has more than 50% and they will not elect a new CNE under the current tensions.

Thus, we have reached a very clear point: Two million Venezuelans have legally asked for a refrendum asking people whether they want Chavez to resign. The Constitution says 1.2 million can do it, but the Chavez administration has used every trick in the book to stop it, including the mysterious change in vote by one of the CNE members. Where is democracy in this? How can even Chavez’ supporters who are in the CNE object to the referendum? The answer is simple, this administration does not believe in democracy and because of this, the country will go on unlimited general strike next Monday. And we will be called coupsters  and  undemocratic for it!!!!

Stratfor paints scary panorama for Venezuela

November 28, 2002

Stratfor is not always right about Venezuela but in its latest report it says things like:

“Internationally mediated efforts to broker a peaceful outcome to Venezuela’s political crisis appear doomed to end in failure very soon, because Chavez is signaling that he will reject any agreement that threatens his hold on power.

For instance, the Nov. 14 takeover of the Caracas Metropolitan Police (PMC) by army and National Guard troops had two tactical objectives.

The first was to neutralize the PMC as a fighting force by seizing its command and control center and by taking physical control of its automatic weapons. The PMC’s nearly 9,000 officers could not match loyalist soldiers in firepower, but numerically they represented a threat the regime had to neutralize.

The second objective was to pre-position loyalist troops at critical PMC installations that could serve as field command posts and firebases if an urban conflict erupts between pro- and anti-Chavez military units. Now that these loyalist troops have been deployed throughout the city — and might find it difficult to re-enter Fort Tiuna if conflict breaks out — the police stations they seized could become their new temporary barracks.

Sources in Caracas tell Stratfor that Chavez also wants to seize control of other municipal police forces in the greater Caracas area, and in key states like Aragua and Carabobo.

Sources say the regime also is backed by several hundred well-armed civilian militia members in Caracas, who reportedly have received tactical and political training from loyalist FAN officers and clandestine Cuban advisers. These sources believe that an undetermined number of Colombian rebels also have infiltrated Venezuelan urban areas and may be prepared to support the regime in an armed confrontation.

The harder Chavez pushes to provoke a coup attempt, the more likely it is that his radical supporters will instigate the violence they’re trying to draw out from the opposition. Some tacticians among the opposition clearly hope Chavez will go too far and delegitimize his government with violent actions. If he exceeds democratic norms, he could be deposed and replaced with a transition regime that would have little or no difficulty obtaining recognition from the Bush administration.

Sources very close to dissident military leaders say that a violent clash between loyalist and anti-Chavez military forces easily could last a week, with hundreds of dead and wounded soldiers and civilians on both sides and substantial property damage if heavy weapons are used”

Scary stuff, I put it here because not everyone has access to Stratfor and if it happens, people should not be fooled into believing what the Government says.

Vice-President calls US envoy

November 27, 2002

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel called Otto Reich, the US special envoy (or ex-envoy by now) for Latin America a “provocatour” saying Reich was either “irreponsable or a clown”. Reich’s crime? Simple, he said that he could not believe that Chavez was serious when he said that he would not resign even if 90% of the people voted against him in the proposed referendum. I am sure that Vice-President Rangel would have called any other Venezuelan President a clown if he had said what Chavez said. How times change, Rangel used to be the most critical reporter, accusing President and Governments of corruption, human rights violations and undemocratic ways, but now he supports Chavez’ every move with sharp words.

Speaking of clowns, President Chaves said today that, and I quote to make sure I am precise: “I have always looked for undersatnding between Venezuelans, even those that are against me”. Well, it is so incredible that he said that, that it actually seems like a joke. Nobody has created more hated among Venezuelans than Hugo Chavez, he has attacked everyone, dropped supporters and in general, has been the most divisionistic President of Venezuela in the last one hundred years. To me this statement simply shows that Chavez is just mentally unstable.

(You can find Otto Reich’s complete interview here)