Archive for November, 2002

vcrisis: Good site on what is happening in Venezuela

November 27, 2002

Another good site for news of Venezuela’s political crisis is, I have added the link to the resistance links on the left. The site is in English and is completely devoted to providing information about Venezuela and the truth of what is going on. Good job, good information!!

This picture is taken from vcrisis, as the Chinese say, a picture is worth one thousand words:


Supreme Court approves trial of Minister of Defense

November 27, 2002

The Venezuelan Supreme Court today granted an injunction requested by General Rommel Fuenmayor (Only in Venezuela is a General named Rommel) to stop the “investigative council” against the General. According to the Venezuelan Constitution, a high officer may only be tried after the Supreme Court has judged that there are merits to the trial. More importantly, the Supreme Court ruled that the Minsiter of Defense can be tried for disobeying the Highest Court and authorized the Attorney General to start such a trial. Fuenamyor’s lawyers said they will now accuse the Minister of abuse of power.

These are the same charges that the Head of the Chiefs of Staff denounced when he resigned on Oct. 10th. citing violations to the Human Rights of the military officers. I am still waiting for Human Rights Watch to speak out about this, but I am sure they will not say anything. They only care about the rights of the Government in their ignorance about teh Venezuelan situation, they think the opposition is like Pinochet and Chavez is like Allende, while we all know is the other way around.

Correction on when a referendum may take place

November 26, 2002

So that there is no confusion, Antonio Guzman-Blanco put a comment in his original reply to the Oxford Human Rights Seminar correcting his understanding of when a recall referendum may take place. I think it deserves better visbility to make sure the information is correct, since the objective of this blog is to provide as accurate information as we can possibly obtain. Note that Antonio is not a lawyer, his information was from what he considered a good source. (What a contrast to the Chavez Government, we even recognize it when we are wrong, no?). This is the clarification:

Subsequent to my reply to the International Human Rights Seminar, it came to my attention that I was in error when I stated that the earliest possible date for a recall referendun was 10th January 2004 and not 19th August 2003. I was also mistaken when I stated that a decision by the Venezuelan Supreme Court established that Hugo Chavez’ Presidential term commenced on 10th January 2001. In fact, the Venezuelan Supreme Court issued not one, but two decisions, dated 5th April 2001 and 16th May 2001 respectively, both of which state that his Presidential term commenced on 19th August 2000 and will end on 10th January 2007. Although the decisions do not specify which date corresponds to the “mid-term” for the purpose of convening a recall referendum, it appears that 19th August 2003 is probably correct.

I apologize for the confusion that my previous statement may have caused.

Antonio Guzmán-Blanco

Hugo Chavez only believes in himself

November 25, 2002

When Hugo Chavez says that he will not resign even if the opposition gets 90% of the vote in the referendum asking him to voluntarily resign, I cant help but think what a cynical pathological liar he is. Hugo Chavez’ only true belief is Hugo Chavez, he has gone back on almost everything he ever said he believed in, when he was a candidate or very popular. To me this sentence yesterday by our President is remarrkable because people seem to have forgotten about the Quebec Declaration. In April of 2001, the leaders of the American Continent met in Quebec, mostly to talk about setting a timetable for a free trade zone in the Americas called ALCA. Since Hugo Chavez could say little about whether ALCA was good or bad, he chose instead to put a sour note on the meeting by refusing to sign the declaration on the grounds that he did not believe in a representative democracy (the term used in it) but in a participatory democracy. Just so that it is clear I am not putting words in his mouth here is a quote about the event (incident?):

“The choice of Venezuela is not accidental. Alone among summit participants, Mr. Chavez refused to agree to parts of the final declaration, including passages that referred to “representative democracy.” He has sought to implement what he calls “participatory democracy” in Venezuela, downgrading the status of the legislature and making extensive use of popular consultations and referendums”

Of course, that was then, when it was convenient for him to disagree, be different. What is clear is that he does not care, he only cares about Hugo Chavez. To talk about participatory democracy was just a pose, like many others in Chavez’ life. Like when he said that he attempted a coup in 1992 to stop what was going on, while he had sworn a decade earlier to overthrow the Government. Or when he said that if in two years after being elected there were abandoned kids in the streets, he would resign. In fact, I have a video right here in this weblog where he says (twice!) that he would resign if people asked him to? Could it be any clearer than this? Chavez simply loves Hugo Chavez, as long as the people say they love him they rule, but if they don’t he knows better.

Wireless and Wi-Fi: The way to go

November 24, 2002

Just read two interesting articles on the last issue of of Fortune magazine. The firts one was about WI-Fi networks (IEEE 802.11 standard) and how companies are installing them and loving them. They are easy to use, increase efficiency and the are actually cheaper!. In the same issue there was an article about how Sony is coming up with products that are really ahead of their time and guess what, they all have wireless capabilities!!. Add to that that I think that wireless is going to be the way to cover the last mile and its a full package. (I know that Nicholas Negroponte already said that, but I came up with it independently!)

Interesting interview with the Governor of Aragua State

November 24, 2002

Anyone interested in the Venezuelan political crisis should read today’s interview with Didalco Bolivar in page D-1 of El Nacional. Governor Bolivar is a supporter of the President from what is called the “MAS-oficialista” or Podemos, a splinter group from Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) who kept supporting Chavez after MAS withdrew their support of the President. Bolivar essentially urges the President to allow the refeendum or elections, to use reason and not violence and says he refuses to accept any discussion about the Government interferring with municipal or state police forces.

What is important is that Governor Bolivar is saying these things. Up to now he had been a staunch supporter of Chavez and his Government and this clearly sounds like he is trying to separate himself from the Government’s actions (past and future). Combined with the little known fact that three Podemos Deputies (needed for a majority in any vote) did not attend National Assembly sessions this week, the message is quite important and significant.

Why Chavez is afraid of the referendum

November 24, 2002

Primero Justicia Deputy Carlos Ocariz made a list of the  attempts by Chavez and his partisans to boycott the possibility of a referendum as evidence that he is afraid of having it:

-Chavez’ MVR tried to block the process of signature collection destroying eight tents where the referendum drive was being held, removing the referendum form from newspaperes where it was distributed for free and destroying them.

-MVR’ bolivarian circles tried to destroy the signatures on the way to the National Electoral Commission.

-MVR has denounced the “illegality” of the signatures without presenting any evidence.

-A member of MVR was copying national identification numbers during the process of checking out the validity of the signatures, when caught he actually swallowed the piece of paper.

-The resignations of two members of Chavez’ MVR were accepted by the National Assembly as a way of making the CNE  inoperable with too few members. The resignations had taken place long ago, but no action was taken at the time.

-Chavez asked the Supreme Court to declare the new electoral power law unconstitutional and attempted to modified 41 articles of the bill, returning it to the National Assembly which was not legal.

-A former member of the CNE, who had taken other positions in Government since then and had actually been hired as a consultant by the CNE, attempted to occupy her position once more.

-The National Assembly named a new member of the CNE. Naming one member without two thirds majority is not within the power of the Assembly. the Assembly may replace all members at once only after a public call for candidates and two thirds majority.

-The Government asked the Supreme Justice to declare the referendum question illegal.

This is what Chavez and his MVR consider “fair play” and the “democratic system”.

New Superconductors

November 23, 2002

Can’t help but going back to my former scientific research  field as it was reported a few days ago that a Plutonium compund at 18.5 K (about -255 Centigrades). This is exciting because is a new class of compounds and a fairly high temperature for “classical” superconductivity and thsu there is likely to be others that are maybe at even higher temperatures. At the beginning of the year another new class of compounds was found to superconduct at 38 K (-235 C) in a very simple Magnesium Boron compound. Glad my former friends and colleagues are living exciting times in superconductivity.

Tough times ahead or easy ride?

November 23, 2002

My brother asks why I have barely talked about the indefinite General Strike called for December 2nd. The reason is simple, I believe Dec. 2nd. is a long way away and many things may happen before then, for better or for worse. Thus my brief mention two days ago that the Government had gained a repreive by having the strike postponed for one week.

The truth is that the combination of the Gaviria mediated dialogue with the submission of 2 million signatures to request the referendum has put the Government in a very tough position. By sitting down to talk, it is being exposed in front of international opinion for what we knew they are, a double-talking, cynical administration capable of twisting the truth and the law to remarkable extremes. Moreover, it has also shown the divisions in the line of power, it was clear that most of the members of the Government’s negotiation team had no idea about the planned intervention of the Metropolitan police. Aditionally, it is also clear that while they would like to look for an alternative electoral solution, they are not allowed to even begin talking about it. Thus, time is working against the administration. If the Electoral Commission (CNE) rules the referendum valid and there is no interference with the CNE this week, the strike would be called off and all efforts will be focused on the referendum. Such is the beauty of the threat for the strike, if the referendum request is blocked, the strike will be a resounding success, if not it will be cancelled. At the same time, by postponing the strike a week, the opposition has shown to Gaviria it is willing to given in a little, while the Chavez administration has not yielded on anything. On the contrary, it has interfered with the negotiations with its actions.

Separately there is the issue of the Supreme Court ruling on the injunction requested by Caracas’ opposition mayors against the intervention of the Metropolitan police.  If the Court were to rule that there is no evidence of illegality in the intervention, this will simply fuel the will of the for a time well in the future or rule in favor of the opposition, dealing a sharp setback to the radicals in the Chavez administartion and his ability to govern.

There is an additional option, the possibility that, as usual, Chavez will do something that will confront even more, leading the country closer to the boiling point.

Clearly, tensions will ease dramatically if the referendum is allowed to proceed this week, as it should. It is not a recall referendum, it asks that the President voluntarily resign, thus it can’t possible collide with the Constitution as a Chavez resignation is a perfectly legal act.  What is most interesting is that an electoral solution could not be negotiated anyway as the request of a specific referendum by 2 million people can not be changed at will by either party. Only a  negotiation leading first to the resignation of the President would make the referendum request unnecessary.

Curious interpretation of how justice works

November 23, 2002

Lost in all the noise of the Venezuelan conflict, were the words of Hugo Chavez’ brother Adan Chavez who presides the National Institute for Land. The statements appears in today’s El Nacional (page E-10, the paper has gone to this weird format that does not allow direct link to stories) and shows the degree of ignorance or perversity as to how the justice system works, anywhere.

Mr. Chavez says that he will ask the National Assembly to include in the new Land bill those articles declared unconstitutional by the Venezuelan Supreme Court this week. Says Mr. Chavez: “The Parliament as an autonomous institution has the right to do it”, adding “these articles (the two declared unconstitutional by the Court) have nothing unconstitutional about them, on the contrary, what they seek is to provide order and bring justice to Venezuela’s farm areas” and he continues ” with all the respect that the Supreme Court deserves….I have to say they made a mistake again and with legal technicisms have justified the unjsutifiable”.

Such are the ways of the Chavez revolution, they are always right no matter what happens, and the Supreme Court, which they named, is just an institution that interprets, but they can change the interpretation at will, because they are the revolution.