Archive for March 17th, 2003

Attorney General mum, his office will appeal

March 17, 2003

Venezuela’s Attorney General showed once again his class, or lack thereof, when after the Appeals Court dealt his office and the Government a severe defeat, which questions the independence of judicial decisions, he failed to appear publicly to explain himself. Instead, he had a prosecutor from his office announce that his office will ask for an injunction on the decision by the Court, in the belief that the Appeals Curt exceeded its powers. Obviously, the Attorney General would have had to approve such a decision. What is not said or mentioned by the same office, is anything about the “manifest incompentence” of the judge to hear the case or the charges that the oil executives were actually denied their right to due process or a defense by the Court’s decision. Bear in mind that this was not simply a decision by a Court that was overturned by the Appeals Court. This was a decision by a Court, at the direct request of the Attorney General, to detain some very important opposition and union leaders on suspect charges. Thus, having their rights violated like that or using improper Courts to attempt to jail opponents, certainly smells like a political vendetta and appears to have nothing to do with justice.


Lula will not meet Venezuela’s Vice-President

March 17, 2003

Interesting, Venezuela’s Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel leaves saying he will meet with the Presidents of four South American countries to explain what is happening in Venezuela. The visit includes Brazil. Well, today the Brazilian Foriegn Minsitry announces that there will be no meeting between Lula and Rangel,saying “it was never confirmed”. This happens days after Brazilian ex-President Cardoso says in an interview that the Brazilian Government has to stop Hugo Chavez from imposing an “absolutist” on Venezuela. Interesting…..

Hugo Chavez’ curious silence on a possible attack on Iraq

March 17, 2003


Hugo Chavez is an opinionated big mouth, whose Cabinet contains a number of equally irresponsible Ministers who can not only give extremely cynical opinions, but can defend any subject as long as it favors their rule and control over Venezuela. It is thus quite surprising that after months of the US pressing the UN for an invasion of Iraq, the Chavez administration and none of his Ministers or high officials has actually said much about the possibility of a US attack on Iraq, much less condem it. The question is not simply an academic one; after all, Hugo Chávez remains the only Head of State to visit Saddam Hussein in Baghdad since the 1991 Desert Storm operation. Thus, we wonder what explains the silence and ponder some possible explanations.


First of all, since Chavez and his Government have shown so little sympathy for the US Government, it can’t be that they do not want to offend US sensibilities in any form. More like it, it is the sensibilities of their partners within OPEC that they are trying not to step on. After all, most members of OPEC have strong, non-democratic Governments that get nervous by the presence of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and would prefer a weaker and less independent ruler. Moreover, some members of OPEC may have interests in picking up some of the pieces of a post-invasion Iraq. The leading country may be Iran, who may consider annexing those geographical areas that are dominated by the Shiites in what is today Iraqi territory. On the other hand, the Kuwaitis have been nervous about Saddam ever since he invaded that country in the summer of 1990. Finally, there is Saudi Arabia, one of those countries that Chavez considers to be “friendly” to his administration. The House of Saud has never been comfortable with Saddam Hussein and is increasingly nervous to countries that may support underground movements that may threaten its stability (Even if most of the Sept. 11th. terrorists came from Saudi Arabia and were largely financed by wealthy Saudis)


Clearly, there appears to be little that Venezuela can gain from the upcoming conflict. On the contrary, a swift and quick war will likely make oil prices tumble, a trend which might actually last quite a while if Iraqi oil comes slowly on line after the war. Given the current production problems with PDVSA since the strike, this would have an extremely negative impact on the country’s finances. A second problem may be that once the US manages to get Iraq under control, it may focus more on the Venezuelan political crisis, after all, if Iraq has anything to do with oil how can Venezuela be ignored for long?


Given all this, the Chavez’ administration silence is all the more remarkable, unless their take is that an Iraqi conflict will actually drag on for a while, making oil prices go higher. While unlikely, Chavez intelligence and advice is not exactly the best in the world anyway given the quality of the advisers (except for the Cubans) that surround him. Thus, it appears as if Chavez administration is simply steering clear of the conflict as a way of simply pleasing everyone, its OPEC partners and its US enemies. Amazingly, for an uncoordinated bunch of radicals, Chavez’ MVR has held the official line quite well. Even more amazing, and a tribute to a quality we did not know he had, even the President has been able to shut his mouth up in order to comply with the official position the Government appears to have decided to follow.


Pictures by Carlos Ernesto Figuera

March 17, 2003

Picture taken minutes before the deaths, Carlos Ernesto left right before the shooting, but went back teh next day to take pictures of the somber faces (right) of the people during a mass honouring the dead.

People listen intenly to the mass honoring those assasined the day before in Plaza Altamira. The mood was very somber indeed

People with Chavez’ masks on during the December megamarch. It was indeed a huge march

One forgets the impact of the huge crowd during our marches.

Carlos Ernesto Figuera has some pictures that are complementary to mine and he has begun to send them in. While I get organized, I will post them here before I put some in the main page. Thanks!

Fantastic Cattleya Schilleriana

March 17, 2003

Juan Ramon send in this picture of his fantastic Cattleya Schilleriana which bloomed today for the first time. The flowe r is as big as mine below, but note how flat and dark the petals are. The lip may not be spectacular, but we can always cross mine with his, no?

Chavez laughs, but not so funny

March 17, 2003

President Hugo Chavez in his Sunday nationwide address said that he goes around the city in a motorcycle, with a long-haired wig and with dark glasses. Laughing, he said that he has been at Plaza Altamira at night and has heard the jokes that people make about him. Afternoon newspaper Tal Cual  took him to task in its daily mini-Editorial (page 2), suggesting that the President shuold not laugh much and that rather than going to Altamira Square, maybe he should go visit barrios and hospitals in his escapades, where rather than laughing he would likely start crying. The newspaper also wonders whether this means the threats on his life are now over.

Appeals Court says Detention orders illegal

March 17, 2003

An appeals Court has just ruled that the judge who ordered the detention of the leaders of the oil union and civil association was “manifestly incompetent” to issue that ordered as requested by one of them. This implies that all six have had their detention orders revoked.

Note added: The Appeals Court also said that the decision by the judges violated the right to a defense, the right to due process and the natural judge for an accusation like this one. It is interesting that the lawyers had previously said that the case was distributed to the judge in irregular fashion and beyond the hour of the day when such distributions are made. Moreover, the  judge sneaked out of the Courtroom that day, without wanting to meet with the press. My question is: How come when all these irregularities take place neither the Attorney General or the Peoples’ Ombusdman say much?. Actually, I know the answer, the Attorney General was part of all this and the People’s Ombusdam does not give a damm.

Two Dendrobium species

March 17, 2003

Den. Tangerinum                                              Den. Aulhirum