Archive for July 10th, 2003

Laughing at democracy

July 10, 2003

In another dictatorial act in the Chavez-controlled National Assembly, the President of the Assembly Francisco Ameliach removed Deputy Guillermo Palacios from the Finance Committe of the National Assembly and appointed close Chavez supporter Nicolas Maduro. Palacios belongs to a small party that supported Chavez,  Polo Patriotico, but has been dissenting with the Government particularly on isuses of new debt. According to the regulations, in order to remove Palacios, the full Assembly had to vote on the issue, but given the flimsy majority the Government has in the Assembly, they decided to skirt the issue. Pro-Chavez Deputies justified the move as an internal decision, which it is not, while the President of the Finance Committee said it quite clearly: Palacios was removed because: ” he was not acting in agreement with the commitment that we have to defend the process of change led by President Hugo Chavez Frias”. So much for democracy, rules, laws and dissent. The dictatorial spirit of Stalin lives on in Venezuela!”

Many injured in oil camp clash

July 10, 2003

Barely had I finished writing last night on the dangers of the confrontation at the oil camps in Western Venezuela, that reports arrived that there were as many as 27 people injured in clashes with the National Guard. Violence erupted when Chavistas attempted to force fired oil workers from their homes. The workers began defending themselves agaisnt the invasion forcing the National Guard to intervene. Later the National Guard moved oil workers from a Square in Cabimas where only a block away Chavista groups were allowed to stay without intervention. I worry about the possible escalation of violence that these confrontations may have.

No agreement on Electoral Board

July 10, 2003

Despite indications that at today’s session the National Assembly would name the Electoral Commission, no agreement was reached at the end. Essentially, the two groups don’t agree on the names. It looks like the Supreme Court will name them if the Assembly does not move fast. Anything may happen in that case.

Oil fields tense

July 10, 2003

A very tense and potentially explosive situation is taking place at the oil camps in the oil field in Zulia and Falcon states. Essentially, fired PDVSA workers who live in PDVSA housing are fighting in the Courts to be able to stay in their houses until their suits against PDVSA have been decided. Some lower Courts have ordered the workers to leave, only to be reversed by other Courts, either Labor ones or ruling that kicking them out would violate the children rights. Despite this, the National Guard and PDVSA have maintained constant pressure on the residents. In one camp, the National Guard surrounded the camp and was not even allowing people back into it. To compound the matter, two nights ago buses of Chavez’ supporters began arriving at one camp and were actually allowed in by the National Guard. In the end, the National Guard arrested 17 oil workers and none of the chavistas, after using tear gas on the workers.

This is to me potentially very explosive. People are being threatened with being kicked out of their homes, while others are being promised jobs and housing that they are unlikely to get anyway. In the end, the two sides could have a tragic confrontation. Is this what the Government is looking for in order to avoid the referendum?