Archive for January 14th, 2003

An interesting comment from slashdot

January 14, 2003

From slashdot a comment that I find quite interesting:

Well, the world looks pretty grim all over today.

Instapundit linked this Venezuelan weblog. My favorite part is the pictures of demonstrators. I feel bad for these people, who are in a really bad situation. Still, while when I look at pictures of Iranian student protesters I’m astounded by their courage, here I can’t help but notice the pretty women, warm weather (I’m freezing my ass off here…) and the overall cheerfulness. Compared to the rage and fury you see on the faces of the professional protesters in the US, their smiles and warmth are striking.

Also funny is the page where pictures of anti-Chavez crowds are printed in the Cuban news as pro-Chavez marches.

It’s true, our marches are cheerful, full of women, young and old, people are mad, but they seem to have a conviction that they will win in the end. There is no hate, just outrage at the thought that we got to where we are because of a single person, Hugo Chavez. And he is right, the weather in Caracas is perfect all year round, that’s part of what we all love here, boring perfect weather.

The impact of the general strike close to home

January 14, 2003

From my brother the Tyromaniac the impact and reality of the general strike hits very close to home:

It’s official: I’m unemployed. It is the first time in my life, or at least the first time since 1981 (when I was 19) that I do not have something to do and a stable income… I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I could go back to being a researcher in Math. I could try to do consulting, or I could just try to get another job (preferably outside Venezuela)… It’s going to be tough, but I guess the first thing is not to despair. I would dedicate a couple of weeks to talking with people to see what options they see for me… I’ll keep you posted…

Grasping at straws?

January 14, 2003

I may just be grasping at straws, but Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel who has been one of the most cynical personalities in the Chavez Government when it comes to violence or the interpretation of events, had his press office issue a press release (also unusual) that contained these thoughts:

 “The unqualifiable agression to Dr. Eduardo well as the attack on the church in Maracaibo…as well as the innumerable pot-banging events agaisnt Government members..conform a climate of irrationality and define an unaceptable dinamic of violence that venezuelans have to reject”      

“Venezuelans have to coincide that in the current circumstances we have to unequivocally repudiate violence, coming from whatever side it comes, whomever their authors are and no matter of which political side they come from”

“Omission and silence in the face of violence is as dangerous as incurring in it directly” Finally, it praises local newspaper El Nacional (highly criticized by Chavez himself) which says in today’s editorial: “The other (side) is as respectable as yours, no matter what they may think..We have to defend tolerance with tolerance. Respect for the other person is respect for yourself”

This is a change in tone, I may be grasping at straws….but…..

More on Chavez’ Saturday meeting

January 14, 2003

More detailes have leaked on the meeting that Hugo Chavez held on Saturday with some members of the opposition and the church. Reportedly the meeting took place at Fuerte Tiuna, not at the Presidential Palace. There were four people, two bishops and Eduardo Fernandez, a Social Christian, former Presidential candidate and President of COPEI. The other atendee was former Presidential candiadte for the socialist party, Teodoro Petkoff, who was also Minister of Planning in the Caldera administration and is the Editor of Tal Cual, an afternoon newspaper. There are different versions of the meeting, Fernandez says that Chavez was “willing to listen to alternatives”. One of the priests, however, said that ” Chavez insisted he will not go for elections”. Thus, it is not clear whether there might be some light at the end of the tunnel at this time, but it is something, no?

Military confiscate the weapons of the Metropolitan Police

January 14, 2003

This morning at 3 AM army and National Guards forces confiscated the weapons of the Metropolitan Police, including those used mantain public order. The confiscation includes taking even bullets. Now, conisder this, the Metropolitan Police is in charge of the security in all of Caracas, every weekend there are 40-50 deaths in Caracas, how many do you think there will be this weekend? Curiously, the Government had began returning the Metropolitan Police as decided by the Supreme Court and last Friday the first meeting of the “National Council for citizen Security” had taken place and both sides had hailed it as an important milestone. The Supreme Court said in a decision on DEcember 16th. that the Government could coordinate police action but had no authority to intervene the Metropolitan Police like it did in November. It’s hard to understand what the Government is looking for.

Everyone got gassed today, negotiations take a break

January 14, 2003


Today, chavistas got tear gas in Maracaibo without a bullet being fired by the chavistas, essentially a first. This is excessive use of force since the march was peaceful and is a repressive act. In Caracas leaders of COPEI were presenting a flower arrangement to Simon Bolivar at the square that bears his name when they were attacked by a group of pro-Chavez supporters. The National Guard had to use tear gas, one of the leaders of COPEI was injured and the flower arrangement was destroyed by the President’s supporters. Meanwhile in the State of Barinas, where Chavez is from, and the Governor of which is Chavez’ father, the State Legislature elected its leadership for the year and the opposition won, even in his own state Chavez is losing now.


I get discouraged by the pace of the negotiations being brokered between the Democratic Coordinator and the Government by OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria. The tension is so high, the violence so frequent that I feel a sense of urgency before we may destroy the country and each other. So, I get home, wait for Gaviria’s nightly report and he says tonight the negotiations are “off” until Thursday. There is a good reason, the inauguration of President Gutierrez in Ecuador, but somehow it feels we can not wait another day. Hopefully, the Group of Friends proposed by the U.S. and Brazil will meet there and they will put the pressure on everyone to solve the crisis. Somehow it seems negotiations is the only way out, Gaviria has seemed more optimistic lately, but maybe I am trying to read too much into it. Another sign that something may be happening was an interview tonight by COPEI’s Eduardo Fernandez, who said that Hugo Chavez, whom he had never met, invited him and some Bishops to the Presidential Palace on Saturday to ask him what they though about the current crisis and how to solve it. I certainly hope something is up!