Archive for April 7th, 2003

Marches and protest pictures by Carlos Ernesto Figuera

April 7, 2003

The way we all feel                                                         mourning flag

huge march                                               Marchers everywhere

Posters and graffiti by Carlos Ernesto Figuera

April 7, 2003

Chavez does not own Venezuela                            Chavez go to Cuba

The money belongs to the people     Chavez agenda: Pretty October, hairy November, very tough December

New pictures by Carlos Ernesto Figuera

April 7, 2003

Carlos Ernesto Figuera sent in a bunch of nice new pictures, the rest in Pictures

Historian on Chavez’ rural outlook and leftist intellectuals

April 7, 2003


Interesting interview in today’s El Nacional (page A-16) with Venezuelan historian Caroline de Oteysa. Oteysa was born in France but has been living in Venezuela for the last 25 years.


On Chavez’ rural fundamentalism: I associate Chavez’ preference for things rural with the process that Iran went through with the overthrow of the Shah, because of what it has to do with reacting in the face of modernization.  Chavez’ project is conservative to the bone, reactionary, the revolution is an ornament. As an example, that country had sparks of modernization with respect to women and then it was revoked in the name of religion, of tradition. Here the same is happening when the Minister of Higher Education refers to the fact that we should go back to chalk and blackboards. This return to ruralization is very close to fundamentalism, because of what it has to do with the confrontation between oriental and occidental cultures and between modernization and traditions.


On the left wing intellectuals and Venezuela: When you hear the arguments of the admirers of the chavista process in Europe or in the American left, you discover a perception that in Latin America you can’t be white and have a decent standard of living. That is a monopoly reserved to the middle class of developed countries.  I ask myself: Who are they to come and give speeches as to whether the middle class are oligarchs or trying to stage a coup? How can they interpret this way a country that has its intellectuals and university students protesting, academics signing communiqués in the press? But it is all reduced to saying that reporters are coupsters and fascists. I ask myself which honest intellectual from those countries accepts that reporters in their countries are qualified as fascists.


On intellectual arrogance by foreign intellectuals: I would like to hear what Ignacio Ramonet would say if Chirac said the things about reporters that Chávez has said or if he decided not to receive local reporters but said CNN was wonderful. …….It is not respectful to Venezuela to arrive without speaking its language, and then they install themselves at the pool of a five star hotel, they contact the embassy and they talk about the Venezuelan oligarchy. It is a colonialist outlook “Here I come, I interpret, I explain” without having the shame of even trying to find out. They demonstrate a great intellectual arrogance

Chavez, the recall referendum and the CNE

April 7, 2003


President Hugo Chavez challenged the opposition on his Sunday nationwide program saying that the opposition would have to gather the signatures required, once again, since the ones collected on Feb. 2nd. were “chimbas” a local word signifying, fake and of bad quality at the same time. Nothing can be further from the truth, the signatures gathered at the “Firmazo” have been checked against the voters’ registry and despite the claim by Government officials and they would be valid. In fact, Vice-President Rangel had argued in February that the signatures for the referendum could not be gathered until the date it could be held half-way through Chavez’ term. However, the Supreme Court said that the signatures had to be handed in after that day, but could be collected ahead of time. As usual, with his statements Chavez was overstepping the bounds of propriety by issuing opinions on issues which are not part of the Executive branch of power. Whether the signatures are valid o not should be a decision made by the National Electoral Commission (CNE). Chavez was his usual cocky self, saying he would whip the opposition for the eight time in a row, which contradicts what all polls are currently saying about it.


And it was that Commission that Chávez and his MVR parties were fighting hard for. Under the Constitution, the members of the commission have to be approved by a two thirds majority of the National Assembly, which nobody holds. Chavez’ party has been demanding that should be able to pick three of the five members of the CNE, while the opposition argues that it should be two members chosen by each side and the fifth member somebody considered to be neutral. Chávez has reportedly ordered his MVR not to accept this which would delay the process. If the two sides do not reach an agreement, it would be the Supreme Court that would choose the members of the CNE. Since Chavez appointed the Court, he would have a very strong influence on the outcome. Thus, we come to the question that all Venezuelans are asking themselves: will Chavez allow the recall referendum to take place? While Chavez has insisted all along that this referendum was the only electoral solution possible, we have always had doubts that it will ever take place. Using legal maneuvering and controlling the CNE, Chavez and his cronies may delay, fight, distort and complicate the process sufficiently to their advantage. Clearly this appears to be their strategy going forward. .

April 7, 2003


This headline is the biggest oxymoron since Chavez was invited at Oxford to give a seminar on Human Rights:


“Rangel will propose a great unity movement in Venezuela


Now, Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel has come to be known as the great cynic and now he pretends to call for unity? He is so disliked that in a recent nationwide poll by Mediopsa he was chosen by 19% of the people as the Government personality most disliked by those polled. This was not only the highest level of rejection of any Government official, but the one that came in second place (Iris Varela) had 11%, demonstrating the negative perception people have of the Vice-President.


Now, if one reads further, it turns out that Mr. Rangel will propose this unity movement to back the Venezuelan Armed Forces. Well, my guess is that the level of reaction within the Armed Forces against Rangel will be even higher than with the people. Rangel has become well known for his cynical statements to the press, insulting the opposition and justifying whatever needs to be justified. He was also the one that spent all of Decemebr saying everything in Venezuela was normal, but now they talk about the sabotage, the ”oil coup” and all those horrible things that they denied then. I think the only unity Rangel will get would be around his departure from the office.

Wishy washy press reports

April 7, 2003

Trying to figure out if this paper wants to make sure it gets the story right, look at the evolving headlines:

April 1: Arabs find shine in Saddam’s fading star

April 5: Arab media accept Iraq is crumbling

April 7: Defeats dismay Arab media

I particularly found this quotes surprising:

“Why is he letting the Arabs down now,” a Lebanese caller asked a phone-in programme, “when his forces fought so bravely in the south of the country?” or

But other Arab papers adopt a more realistic line, with al-Watan in Saudi Arabia declaring that “the Americans have taken the airport and the Iraqis have retreated into Baghdad”. and

The information war is intensifying,” said al-Sharq in Qatar. In Jordan, al-Rai asked “where the real truth lies amid the confusion and contradiction of the news reports?” Nevertheless, on its front page the paper’s main headline read: “Iraq retakes Saddam airport.”

Seems like the paper and the writers are just hedging their bets as if they did not know who is telling the truth. Or maybe they simply don’t want to offend their Arab readers. Who knows?

I guess bloggers are simply more opinionated like The Bleat:

Passed the TV this morning, and heard an Arabic-accented voice passionately denouncing the war. He was Western in appearance, telegenic, articulate, and he described the Iraq War as a “catastrophe” for the entire Arab world. I stuck around to see what he meant – catastrophic in the sense that another series of illusions were being destroyed before their very eyes? Allah will help them! But Allah has declined the invitation. The Americans will never fight a ground war! But there they are, on the ground, more methodical and efficient than one could have ever imagined, and they are losing one soldier for every 1000 Iraqis they kill. The combination of training, technology, dedication and lethality is worse than the Arab world could have possibly imagined – and the soldiers’ primary motivation is getting the job done well so everyone can go home. Imagine what they would do if they were truly, deeply pissed.

The lesson of Mogadishu: don’t draw any lessons from Mogadishu.

The guest, it turned out, was the ambassador from Syria, a nation whose bootheel has been pressed against the Lebanese jugular for how many years now?

The horrors of war, the horrors of Hussein’s rule

April 7, 2003

The ambivalence of the horrors of war, is compensanted by seeing the horror of torture or the horrors of chemical weapons which reminds us that this is the same Dictator that gassed a whole Kurdish town with chemicals, killing everyone and giving rise to the infamous name “Chemical Ali”.

Anyone know what this is?

April 7, 2003

Took this pretty picture a while back, anyone have any idea what that pattern in the sky is?