Archive for December 8th, 2002

Government is a no show

December 8, 2002

Tonight, despite the crisis and the urgency, the representatives of the Governemnt did not show up at the Negotiation table.

Resignation or Destitution by John Salas

December 8, 2002

I received this by e-mail (In Spanish), I imagine I can translate it and post it, it may explain things to many in a brief story of what has happened here. It is written by John Salas, whom I don’t know.

Resignation or Destitution

The events of
Altamira demand a call to sanity. In this case, in this moment of our country’s history, sanity is the only thing that may extirpate the cancer which has eaten away the social body. It would be worthless to neither attempt to treat in isolation the symptoms of our sickness, or have long philosophical-medical discussions about our ills, nor ask ourselves if there is metastasis or how much.

Having diagnosed the illness, the scientific name of which is Hugo Chavez Frias, there is only one sane path: his immediate destitution. This, constitutionally, is called ignorance (Article 350) and the procedure includes reestablishing constitutional order (Article 331).

The calls for sanity and peace of Jose Vicente (The Vice-President), or the promises of a speedy investigation of Diosdado (The Minister of Interior and Justice), the great make to do of VTV (the Government’s TV station), can only be understood as the continuation, conscious or not, of an obscure strategy of lying, faking and a smoke screen designed to cover the worst evil, violent, shameful and emaciated assault of which Venezuelans have ever been the victims of.  

How long can we wait for an operation that Hill save us? How long do we have to wait for the medical equipment necessary, before the people have to do it on their own, with all the risk that it entails

The Venezuelan dilemma

Immediately alter the shameful events of April 11th. Cesar Gaviria (the Secretary General of the OAS) arrived like a hurricane to publicly back what he assumed was a typical banana republic coup d’ etat. Three days later, he went back to Washington, still backing the Government, but profoundly concerned for what he had heard and seen here.

Because what he had seen and heard indicated that the Constitutional Hugo Chávez was not clean and that his Government lacked democratic virtues. Eight months later, Gaviria could well be repentant that he did not investigate immediately, with more depth, the Venezuelan reality that he could glimmer in April when a weakened Chávez was still trying to recover of the events that cost him his job, even if briefly.

Because now the OAS Secretary is tangled in a frenetic effort to avoid a civil war in a bitterly divided country. And, because Chávez has utilized every minute in these months, shaking the Armed Forces to place only those more loyal in key positions, forming a civil army by means of recruiting and arming thousands of men whose only qualifications is the personal loyalty towards his person and giving Army and National Guard uniforms, supposedly so that they can do in civic protests what soldiers increasingly refuse to do; all of this besides bringing Cuban advisors to perform his strategic planning and training and accelerate his own agenda to achieve his total control over the institutions of the country.
Chavez has done all this in parallel to magisterially orchestrate an international public relations campaign to convince the world that April 11th. was the work of a sinister campaign by fascist and corrupt businessmen who do not tolerate that he established a Government truly for the people, and that all of the noise that was coming from the country was nothing more than their very well financed efforts to justify violent actions, past and future, against his Government.

Gaviria now knows the reality of things, but if he doesn’t act now, maybe it will be too late to prevent the bloodbath of a country where the opposition consists of a militant majority of citizens that materially forces those that want to lead them, that somehow they shorten the nightmare which Chavez has turned into, and that they reestablish the reason which they feel disappeared with his apparition in the national scene.

Alarm Signals

The alarm signals have been multiple and continuous since the first days of the regime. Chávez, operating in a vacuum created by the disappearance from the scene of the best known actors, hurriedly convoked 
for a National Constituent Assembly and substituted them with friendly operators and a complacent Indra (the company that automated voting), forging in this way an incredible majority of 93% of its members of the Assembly, despite receiving only half the votes.

From then on, it was a ride for the soldier-President, a period in which he had himself manufactured a tailor-made Constitution, had himself reelected under more than suspicious circumstances, blew away his political enemies from the majority of Governorships and Mayoralties, elected an overwhelming majority of his allies in the National Assembly and hand-picked from lowly judges to the Justices of the Supreme Court, he personally selected the Attorney General, Comptroller and People’s Defender, covered up the growing indications of massive corruption in his Government, fractured the Armed Forces and distracted them from the border problem, and all of this in an increasing climate of intolerance towards dissidence and the media, increasing crime and extreme difficulties for private enterprise, despite having huge oil income. 
In January of this year, the international organization Human Rights Watch, placed the Chavista regime under “special observation” considering it a potential threat to those rights, specially the freedom of speech, concerned specially for the concentration of power in the hands of the President.

Miguel Vivanco, its Director for the Americas of Human Rights Watch, said prophetically in January that :”Chavez has changed the rules of the game, accumulating power in virtually unlimited way through a series of reforms and referenda. Our fear is that with tremendous concentration of power, in a crisis, especially if he had less popularity than now, he could perfectly abuse it against those that oppose his Government”

In June of this year ,as a result of a parallel investigation , Eduardo Bertoni, of the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights of the OAS, declared that “the lack of independence of the Judicial Power, limitations to freedom of speech , the deliberating state of the armed forces , the large degree of polarization of the population  and the crisis of credibility of the control institutions, represent a clear weakness of the fundamental pillars necessary for the existence of the rule of the law”

¿To the rescue?

Once he came back to the country two weeks ago, Gaviria proceeded immediately to tie the Government and the opposition by the neck and sit them at a “Table of Negotiation and Agreements”. In the four weeks that followed, he has been witness to a series of events that nobody in a civilized country would ever believe possible. The show began with an opposition march taking two million signatures asking for a referendum to ask the people if they wanted Chavez to resign, a march ambushed by Chavez’ violent “Bolivarian Circles” that injured dozens of protesters attempting to burn the notebooks with the signatures.

They later kidnapped the members of the Democratic Coordinating Committee meeting at the Metropolitan City causing three dates and dozens of injured. Later, and using this as an excuse they militarized Caracas, so that later they could use those soldiers to take the Metropolitan Police by assault.

Then came the crazy attempts by the Chavistas to block the referendum, acting in front of the Supreme Court, the National Assembly, the Attorney General, and even the National Electoral Council to create a chaos that would impede its celebration. Ending with Chavez’ declaration that not even if 90% of the people asked him he would leave.

Then came the unconstitutional removal and immoral of a Supreme Court Justice attempted by the National Assembly, the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators in Chuao and in various cities of the country, the plan to massacre the march towards PDVSA-La Campina on Thursday and finally, the new massacre in Altamira. And, all this accusing the opposition of terrorism and coupsters, just like a criminal does when he screams that the thief is going that way to confuse people an escape.

 Gaviria, perhaps with wisdom, insists in dialogue. I, perhaps clumsily, insist that you don’t have a dialogue with assassins, principally because I do not trust them, but also because we should not come down to that. Chavez, leave now, if not make him go. 

John Salas


Chavez’ wife on TV asking politicians to listen

December 8, 2002

Hugo Chavez’ wife (they are separated) is on TV right now telling politicians who were elected three years ago to open their windows and listen to the pot-banging going on right now outside. She says “Mr. President in the name of your daughter, listen to the people, Ministers, listen to the people, opposition be prudent, Cesar Gaviria, try to mediate, Venezuela is screaming for this mediation…..please, people of Venezuela, have faith, we can bring this country forward…This country can not crash because of one person.”

Sad day, Chavez clearly looking for a showdown

December 8, 2002

Haven’t blogged today, I left earliy to go to the very sad burial of the people shot Friday night. With little publicity, the burial had a sea of people, dressed in black with flags. It was eerie at times, so many people marching, so few sounds. The only sounds were either prayers, the National Anthem or the clapping sound of what has by now become the chant of the opposition: “not a step back”. Very sad, but very emotional to see so many people, particularly young ones spontaneously joining and walking from Meritocracy Square  in the Chuao area of Caracas to The Cemetery in the East, some 5 to 7 Kilometers away.

Meanwhile, Chavez is clearly looking for confrontation. He is calling this the final battle, saying his people have to take to the streets to defend the so-called revolution. Meanwhile, we demonstrate and protest pacifically and we get killed. Despite the video associating one of the killers to one of Chavez’ closest (and more violent!) partisans, he said in his nationwide speech that the assasin was a hired gun of the opposition. Moreover, Chavez claims the man entered the country after the first video. Well, that video had been shown many times before the shooting and original accusation. If the Governemnt had bothered to investigate the original case of the Mayor of the Libertador District unloading guns at 2 AM at PDVSA headquerters, they would have had a copy of the video before the shootings. The Government does not even investigate, but the President already is accusing. The night before the shootings, two men were also arrested in Plaza Altamira with guns, they had ID’s from Military intelligence, they were freed the next day. That is the anarchy we are living in.

At the negotiationg table, which finally met last night, the Government’s representatives (all but one), continued calling the strike a failure. Well, almost all of the country is out of gasoline by now. All refineries are shutdown and the country’s oil production is 50% and should be zero by tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Government claims it will reactivate PDVSA, the Government oil company, with retired and “new” workers. Good Luck!