Archive for November 1st, 2005

Skeletons, freedom, Venezuelan democracy or Venezuelan autocracy?

November 1, 2005

In the so called Venezuelan democracy these days you are not even allowed to use any form of protest that may have a chance of being successful. As reported here earlier, a group called “Cambio” plastered Caracas a few weeks ago with paper skeletons, which the Government tried to say were poisonous, as a way of classifying the protesters as some form of terrorists. Alexandra Belandia Ruiz Pineda at some point was the spokesperson for the group, which cost her some harassment by the investigative police which called her to testify about this protest. (By the way, there is an interview with her in yesterday’s El Universal)

Then on Sunday Hugo Chavez bothered to talk against the celebration of Halloween as not part of our heritage. Some laughed at this, but I didn’t it was simply a way of attempting to disqualify this form of protest, by turning it into something anti-Venezuelan. Well, this reached the ridiculous level that the intelligence police detained seven young activists of the Primero Justicia party for “promoting hate”, using “illegal campaign material” and the Vice-Minister of Justice says these activist “may be connected” to that other placement of skeletons, as if that was a crime.

And then the Prosecutor’s office, the same one that can not figure out hundreds of murders and injuries says that these charges should go in the same case file as that of the previous skeletons, which so far nobody has managed to tell us what is the crime that that is being investigated unless it is Government stupidity.

But of course it isn’t. A Government that has all of the resources at its services, where the separation between party and state is no longer visible, uses the intelligence police to intimidate and stop a clever way of raising doubts about the Government and its abilities. This is typical autocratic behavior; stop the opposition form even attempting to gain any on you and if it does, simply squash it. We saw it two years ago when pot banging became such a popular and powerful way of protesting against the Government that it was criminalized and since has disappeared as a form of protest.

Of course, the skeletons may backfire if they become too common. This is what the Primero Justicia activists had in mind when they began using them as a form of pretest and in some sense their protest went beyond their plans. But will others dare use the same form of protest?

Of course, this does not even include asking questions such as whether the role of the political police or the Prosecutor’s office in defining what is legal or illegal campaign material. Thus, adding to the overwhelming advantages of financing and power that the Government has, we now have to add the fact that they can use any police body to block, spin and mutilate any form of electoral campaign or protest, while the Electoral Board fails to stop the President for making use of his beloved “cadenas” to unfairly campaign for his party’s candidates.

Of course, Chavez will later boast of Venezuelan being a full democracy, where everyone can do and say whatever they want and where races are decided on the ballot box. Of course, we know they are decided in the Electoral Registry, the voting machines, the redistricting, the intimidation of the opposition and the absurd rulings of a servile Supreme Court, the balot boxes being almost incidental to the process.

For myself, I am ordering a gross of paper skeletons by mail, which I plan to shamelessly flaunt at electoral events, in front of the police and the National Guard. I am still not sure if I will use the Primero Justicia model below on your left or the one with the two scary figures below on the right. And I am not talking about the kids in the picture

Postmorten of the Court’s decision

November 1, 2005

Yes, I went away for a few days taking advantage that Monday was a
holiday for certain parts of the Venezuelan economy. It was
just as well, probably as I was leaving the Supreme Court made its
ridiculous ruling which is really not worth commenting on as it was
simply a way of looking for an excuse to rule in favor of the morochas
using absurd argument. You want absurd:

–The decision only talked about candidacies, not how the vote is
applied to determine winners, so it concluded that the Constitution
does not talk about the proportional representation of minorities or
majorities. Huh?

–One Chavista group argued that no relationship could be proven between UVE and Chavez party MVR. Huh?

–Statements made by the President of the Electoral Board saying the
morochas were illegal but he could not do anything about it, were not
part of the arguments.

–The People’s Ombudsman argued that because AD fielded “morochas” for
the upcoming elections it was tacitly accepting the concept. Huh? He
also stated that what is not forbidden is not allowed and the morochas
were not forbidden by law. Using that logic, few things are actually
forbidden in Venezuela.

–But perhaps the highlights fo the day were the hugs between Lian Ron
and the Attorney General and the latter and the People’s Ombudsman
going to the Chavista celebration and even dancing in it.

And in the joy of the moment, the President of the National Assembly
tried to tell us how wonderful it will be not to limit terms for
anyone, suggesting that in the Constitutional reform if Chavismo gets 66%
of the Deputies, everyone will be eligible for unlimited reelection,
not only Chavez, but also great leaders, like the former bank robber
turned Mayor, or the crooks and hoods who run some of the states today.
Oh well!

In the end, it would appear if the Court admitting the case was just a
distraction. It will be a tall order to stop the Chavistas from getting
66% of the Deputies of the National Assembly. Ony low abstention on the
part of the opposition combined with a hig one on the part of the
Chavistas will make it happen, the latter will happen, but it is
difficult to envision the former.

A letter from a New Tribes missionary

November 1, 2005

Matt wrote this in the comments, I thought it was worth making it a post:

I grew up in Venezuela, my parents worked with New Tribes
Mission. I also went back under NTM and worked for 18 year in Venezuela
with the Ye’cwana. I grew up playing soccer, hunting and fishing with
them. I speak their language and know their customes. As do my wife
and children, (Three of them born in Venezuela)
I was disapointed in your lack of information on the mission. I have
lived in Tamatama since 1964 and know ALL the Indians, Piaroa, Yanomamo
& Ye’cwana. I’ve played soccer with all and the big division amonst
the tribes
is political. Don’t blame missions.
Also the Ye’cwana have not tried to oust the mission. The tribe as a
whole is very supportive. Look at Ayacucho last Friday.
The Guardia Nacional have had a presence in Tamatama since 1980. I live
two houses from the comando for years. If I was mining why didn’t they
know? The GN always used my boat motor to patrol the Orinoco river as
they don’t have one. They were in my house lots.
In Parima also where the mission has worked for years among the
Yanomamo the Ergesito have had a comando for about 13 years. Can we as
a nation (Venezuela) not trust our Fuerzas Armadas to pick out groups
that are a threat to our nation? So what is this about illegal planes?
We as a mission flew GN in and out of the Jungle.
I have liked you blogging but felt you were under informed in this area.

Note: I did not claim to “know” about the issue, I just told what I
knew about it and I thought it should be the natives, not Chavez, that
should say whether they like or not the New Tribes near them.I also
said that Chavez should not (did not) have the power for such a
decision. Additionally, it is interesting than in the end, nothing has
happened, the Governor of Amazonas did not issue the decree and Chavez
has done nothing either, for the simple reason that he had no legal
instrument to do so. In fact, the tribes defended the New Tribes and
some Venezuelan missionaries started asking: Am I going to be kicked
out of my own country? Comments and posts that will enlighten us on the
subject are welcome (pro or agaisnt)