Archive for February 18th, 2003

Can Chavez respect the Declaration against violence and for peace and democracy?

February 18, 2003

After reading the declaration against violence and for peace and democracy, I can only wonder what they will do with Hugo Chavez in order for the Government to fulfill its part. The declaration signed today by both the Government and the opposition contains eight articles. Let’s see which Hugo Chavez violated last Sunday in his usual Sunday address:

 1) We reject verbal intemperance, recrimination, injuring language and any rhetoric that in any way may contribute to stimulate confrontation. We propose a language of mutual respect, tolerance and of consideration for the ideas of others… Wow! He did not respect a single one of these. Actually this appears to define the anti-Chavez

2) In general we ask for respect for the Constitution and the laws of the Republic. Not even close, on Sunday he asked judges to jail PDVSA people for sabotaging the company, no formal charge has been brought against any of them. He also said if private companies did not want to sell their products and shut down, he would have the military and the people take them over. All of these are simply illegal.

3) We reject categorically all manifestations of violence or intolerance, as well as expressions that may mean offense as a means of discussing political differences. ….We will place all our efforts in creating conditions to strengthen and consolidating a climate of peace and tolerance…. Has Chavez seen this? After all, he is Mr. Intolerance and Mr. Offense.

4) All attitudes should cease that directly or indirectly promote aggression, threats, persecution or violence…. Chavez violates this one every single Sunday

5) We ask the church…..political parties and similar organizations to promote actions and send messages to promote democratic values and the principle of peace, tolerance and coexistence….. If this includes the President as part of his political party, then he violates it everytime he speaks.

6) The parts ratify their total respect to the validity of the rights granted by the Constitution for freedom of speech and information….This is exactly the opposite of the “muzzle” Bill being promoted by the Government to control the media and their actions in the last few weeks against TV stations.

 7) And 8) express the wish to maintain communication between the parts and work towards reaching agreements so they can’t be violated.

Thus I ask, what will happen this Sunday when Hugo Chávez in his Sunday program violates 1) though 6) as he customarily does? Has he read this? Can he even try or attempt not to violate them? I simply doubt it………what then? The only way he may respect the agreement is simply to shut up!

Fundamentalist Exchange Controls

February 18, 2003

As if there was any doubt to the nature of the exchange control system that will be imposed in Venezuela, the Head of the Exchange Control Office Colonel Hernadez Behrens held a press conference where Venezuelans were lectured repeatedly. Among other things, he announced that travelers would be given one thousand dollars per trip up to three times a year. In his own words, the Colonel said that in this maner people will travel for only reasonable periods of time of four or five days. No explanation was given why people could not go on a single long three a year, except that “in the previous controls whole families travelled to obtain more dollars (???)”. The explanation was followed by a lecture to Venezuelans who know “Holland, Paris, Miami and New York” to get to know their country and visit it. (I did not quite understand why he mentioned first Holland and then a bunch of cities!). He then added, in any case, we will not give out dollars for travelling until there is sufficient money for it……Maybe women should wear veils over their faces when they make requests in the exchange control office…..

Confusion over identity of Venezuelan man arrested at Gatwick airport

February 18, 2003

Last week, a Venezuelan man was detained at Gatwick airport with a live grendae in his suitcase. Venezuelan police said today that the man was carrying a fake national ID card as the local identification office said the number and the name of the man detained do not coincide with their records. Reportedly the number was a 1978 number issued in 1990 and was handed out by an official fired for corruption.  To make the matter even more confusing, the man’s family said his capture was in error as they don’t consider him the type to be carrying such an artifact, but he left when he was 20 (he is now 37) to teach Islam and they haven’t heard from him since about two and a half years ago. However, the man boarded the British Airways plane in Caracas and gave a local address to British authorities. Neighbors said that the house has been empty for a while. Sounds strange overall, maybe he is not even that person.

Should we cheer?

February 18, 2003

Today, Secretary General of the OAS, Cesar Gaviria announced that an agreement had been reached in which both sides in the negotiating table and will sign a declaration agaisnt violence and in favor of peace and democracy. Given President Chavez’ aggressive statements this weekend agaisnt practically everyone, it amkes me wonder what this all means and whether I should cheer or not. I think I will wait to see what the the agreement says and what Chavez does before I get enthused……

Is Chavez campaigning?

February 18, 2003

Yesterday political analyst and oil expert Alberto Quiroz Corradi said that he would not be surprised if Chavez decided all of a sudden to have general elections. I did not think much of it, but today former Chavez co-conspirator in the 92 coup, Francisco Arias Cardenas, said exactly the same thing, making me wonder if something may be up. Arias Cardenas, who ran against Chavez in the 2000 campaign, said that during the last week Chavez appeared to be campaigning and that based on his knowledge of Chavez’ personality, he thinks that Chavez may surprise the opposition by having the National Assembly approve a Constitutional amendment to force general elections within two months. The idea would be that the opposition, who has serious differences among its members, will have no time to react and organize and would field three or four candidates. In such a field Chavez would have a chance. While it sounds interesting, I think even this may simply be too late to save Chavez. My feeling is that even in  a field of four or five Chavez may lose. The reason is simple, while the opposition is highly motivated and would go vote, I get the feeling the Chavistas will not do the same. Thus, I would expect less than 40% abstention for the opoosition and 50% plus for Chavez’ supporters, which would defeat Chavez even in a large field of candidates.