Archive for January 15th, 2006

Star witness in Anderson case escapes

January 15, 2006

Giovanny Vasquez, the super witness in the Danilo Anderson assasination, has reportedly escaped from the Headquarters of Military Intelligence (DIM). Vasquez, had been shown to be a cronic liar, had both Colombian and Venezuelan nationality (even voted!), claimed to be a medical doctor which he was not, had been arrested in both countries and was the only witness and “proof” that involved those currently in jail for the being behind the Anderson assasination. He was at the DIM for his protection.

I have always said Military Intelligence is as oxymoronic as you can get..

Vargas is a simile by Michael Penfold

January 15, 2006

Michael Penfold is a Prof. at IESA in Caracas and the brother of a good friend. He
wrote this very good article in Friday’s El Nacional, saying basically that the
more things change in Venezuela,
the more they stay the same. But they have never been worse. (For a graphical summary of the road problems mentioned by Michael in the article, our friendly ghost blogger Jorge Arena has a good album of infrastructure problems around Venezuela in the last few months)

Vargas is a simile by Michael Penfold

Writing about Vargas has probably become a common place.

Since the announcement of the closing of the viaduct, it is a sorrow
shared at all social events, an obligatory comment to remember that the
solitude, the barbary and the administrative negligence are not a remote
possibility, but something palpable, that the references to Zimbabwe or Nigeria
are not only an allusion to explain what happens when states collapse and begin
to function in order to plunder resources, but also a political and
geographical reference that each day is more precise to understand what is
happening in Venezuela.

The closing of the viaduct is not a statistical number.

It is not a number that may be the subject of endless
discussions about whether its value is high or lower, such as those about
unemployment, growth or oil production. The collapse of the viaduct is
something tangible. As real as the fall of the Twin towers in New York.
The vehicles can not drive over a fragile and hopeless structure, the citizens
of La Guaira more isolated than ever: Vargas is an island that each time is
farther away from the mainland.

That is why Vargas is the best metaphor to explain the drama
of Venezuela’s
contemporary history and also a simile that exemplifies the failures of this

It has been seven years in which Chavismo has exercised power without shame, so
as to come now and blame the closing of the viaduct to the forty years of
“Puntofijismo”Seven years in which viable and executable solutions could have
been developed.

But Chavismo has always preferred the permanent management of the crisis,
facing them with Bolivarian heroics, to say they solved the problem and really
leave us with the ashes. It is the triumph of heroic politics over policies as
a matter of government. For them the excitement is to face collapse, instead of
preventing it.

But it is also true that it would be very superficial to exhaust the
topic of Vargas in the hands of the Chavistas. Vargas is a tragedy provoked by
the current Government because they represent what made Chavez reached power.
The situation in Vargas is more of the same, but more concentrated.

The church has summarized it very well by saying that the
collapse of the viaduct is the product of a political culture that values
improvisation. And it was precisely that culture which allowed Chavez to ascend
to the presidency. Vargas was an invention by Accion Democratica that decided
at the end of the nineties to create a State that was physically not viable in
order to have access to federal money.

The creation of Vargas was so illogical, that the Governor
controls an extension which is exactly the same one that is managed by the
Mayor of La Guaira. As a consequence of this administrative absurdity, the
Governments spend more time fighting between them for the control of the funds,
than discussing the political policies for the reconstruction of the State.

After the
mudslides, the Chavista solution was more of the same; the creation of a unique
authority that would share power with the Governor and the Mayor. The result
was more conflict. Meanwhile, for the remainder of the municipalities of the
metropolitan area, the problems of Vargas, its reconstruction after the
mudslides and the access to the air cargo and port services through the
viaduct, were something distant that did not concern them. It was in this
manner that we handed ourselves over to randomness, in the hope that nothing
would happen. It was this way that the Chavez government opted for the same
solution as the previous Governments: warm bandages in the hope that the
collapse would occur later, that by divine intervention such a tragedy would
not happen to them.

But the most humiliating part was to see how, despite the magnitude of
the oil income, the Government has preferred to use the extraordinary resources
to conquer international loyalties, finance dependency policies to buy votes
through the misiones and invest in public works whose social purpose is never
very clear. It has forgotten that a fundamental aspect for the development of a
country is maintenance and the expansion of the road infrastructure of the

The Western highway collapsed months ago and continues to
exhibit severe problems.

Instead of
expanding it and renovating it, we continue to assume the traditional policy of
repairing the patches. While the highway towards the East advances slowly, the
road to Puerto La Cruz is a true guillotine filled with holes and permanent
cracks. The La Cabrera tunnel continues to pose severe risks in the road to Valencia
and its collapse would be less damaging that the situation created by the La
Guaira viaduct. It has been seven years in which the government has not given
answers to very elementary problems, matters that we have been carrying for
more than a decade, problems that Chavez promised to fix in 1998 and that he
chose to replace with the revolutionary rhetoric and by a condescending attitude
towards corruption.

Chavez now can not speak only about statistics and celebrate that we
have recovered from the oil strike and hide the most elementary things. That is
how Carlos Andres Perez used to speak without realizing the political and social
implosion that was coming. How does it matter if GDP grew more than one digit
if we can not get to Maiquetia airport? How does it matter if unemployment is
more or less, if the people of Vargas will have to face in the next few months
a social debacle of incalculable proportions?

Vargas is a simile: Vargas is like
us, it is Chavez, it is like AD, it is the country.

Chavez ready to shoot the corrupt. Do we have enough bullets?

January 15, 2006

Hugo Chavez today:

“If I could shoot somebody this will be the case”, in reference to the accusation by the Editor of Ultimas Noticias of corruption in the military, when three billion bolivars slated for a sugar complex “dissapeared” in the State where Chavez was born.

Where should I start? For example, if he had said that everytime there was an accusation like that, he would be saying it almost daily. Can he remember bolivar 2000 for example, where phantom checks were found all over the place? How about the US$ 3 billion “missing” when his current Minister of Finance first held the position? Or the former Vice-Minister caught with US$ 40,000 in cash in the US? How about all of the active and former military buying property here and abroad? How about the bond transactions? Or the CADIVI corruption? Does he remember the 46 cases of corruption that his Head of the intelligence police denounced twelve months after Hugo took over and led to his resignation because nothing was ever done? It is simply endless…I just don’t think there would be enough bullets anyway.

In fact, I know a former Minister of Chavez who denounced the corruption of hisVice Minister directly to Chavez. The guy was removed, only to resurface three months later as Vice-Minsiter of Energy.

Sure Hugo, we believe you, you are serious about fighting corruption, sure…But at least, shoot them AFTER they have been found guilty, not before. it would look bad.

In Spanish this is called a bravuconada, sort of like a bunch of BS. But we are used to it anyway.

The slow pace of the revolution

January 15, 2006

Above a picture taken yesterday of the tower that burnt in Parque Central in October 2004. In November of that year Chavez said it would take twelve months to fix it. But this is not so bad only two months late so far, but on November 14th. 2004, the Vice-President said the Government would announce in 40 days a plan to fight poverty, I wonder if it is the one that Chavez announced yesterday, it was only one year and fifteen days late. not bad for this administration.

By the way, whatever happened to the election results from December? It’s been 45 days and no final results yet. I guess it wasn’t as easy to fudge this time around even with all the technology. So much for the efficiency of the US$ 300 million electronic voting system!

I guess that is why Laureano Marquez suggested to the unmentionable girl the turtle for the Coat of Arms of Venezuela, it would better reflect the pace of the revolution.

Chavez, La Hojilla and the Jews by Paulina Gamus

January 15, 2006

Gamus is the Third Vice-President of the Venezuelan Union Israelita and a
former Deputy of the National Assembly

Chavez, La
Hojilla and the Jews
, by Paulina Gamus

The most
frequent question that Venezuelan Jews and those from other countries ask me is:
You were a politician and you were never attacked for being Jewish? I recall my
memory and remember three cases since I was born in the San Jose Parish of Caracas, many years ago. The
first one was a playmate of kids’ games-when I was seven or eight years old-who
accused me of having killed Christ.

Since I did
not remember having killed anyone, I asked my mother who told me that because
of that lie the Nazis were killing Jews in Europe:
the Second World War was not over yet. The next day the girl wanted to come and
play to my house, I kicked her out, I never talked to her again and I learned
to defend my condition as a Jew with dignity.

The second
offense came from a high leader of my party, Acción Democrática, who opposed me
entering its executive committee; he gathered the electing delegates and told
them that I was a “Zionist”. This caused me hilarity more than rage, when some
of them, most of them from the provinces, told me that my adversaries were
accusing me of something strange that sounded like communism. I won that
election and became part of the executive committee.

The third one took place during a parliamentary debate about the anti-tobacco
bill: from the speakers position I commented that the project had some
fascistoid aspects and one of the promoters of the bill said from his seat; “What
does that Jew know about fascism?”. When I finished my speech I went up close
to him and told him that it was precisely the Jews who best knew fascism and
not ignorant anti-Semites like him.

I never greeted
him again. Surely there were hundreds or thousands with similar expressions to
discharge their disagreement with my political positions, but at least I never found
out about them.

And what is the relevance of this introduction? I will begin by
recognizing that in the seven years of his profuse and aggressive verbosity,
president Chávez has never refereed to the Jews or the state of Israel neither
in favor nor against. Could it be that the President-in contrast with those
that suffered anti-Semitic prejudices-knows truly what and how the Jews are? For
the majority, even for those that are barely ignorant, the Jews are a sort of
secret society or brotherhood that responds to the same physical, cultural,
ethical, economical and political patterns. The Jews have a curved nose, are
rich, stingy, can not be trusted, do not feel citizens of any country and thus
are not loyal. They constitute an international mafia and are the owners of the
press, movie industry, media in general, of banks and of everything that
signifies power. It is difficult to make them believe that the Jews can be
white or black, decent or indecent, honest or corrupt, poor or rich, dignified
or execrable, dumb or intelligent, ugly or pretty, much like all other human
beings. And above all, that each person is responsible for his or her own acts
and these can not be charged to the community to which that individual belongs.
Of course we do help ourselves and a spirit of solidarity joins us, it could
not be any other way, after what has happened through the millennia.

It could
be a mystery what president Chávez thinks of Jews if it were not for what the
communicators of the regime express, in a regime in which nobody dares to emit
a sound, if it does not have the consent of the great chief.

The official media, be it the press or the digital one and others like
Radio Nacional, Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) and more recently Telesur, broadcast
regularly anti-Jewish programs, even if some pretend to cover it up with the
veil of them being pro-Palestinian. The crowning glory of this (for now) has
been the TV program la Hojilla, transmitted on January 5th. in the official TV
channel VTV and conducted by Mario Silva and Lina Ron. The broadcast was
destined in its totality to question Jonathan Jacubowics, the young Venezuelan director
of the movie Secuestro Express. Did I say Venezuelan? Crass error; for Silva
and Ron, Jonathan is a Jew that dared offend the armed institutions of the
country, his movie was promoted by Miramax in the US because Jews help each
other and Miramax is owned by the Weinstein’s, a Jewish family.

Lina Ron charges again when she claims to be amazed because the CAIV (the international
representation of the Jewish people allows people like Jacubowicz to throw mud
on our country and that the weekly New Israeli world ‘disrespects the country
saying that Caracas
is a city of contrasts a sub world of differences…” Silva adds that even if
it is true that six million Jews died in the Holocaust, nobody talks about the
50 million Russians that died in world war II, because the idea is to only
speak of the Holocaust, the rest is ‘jungle and snakes’ (sic)(irrelevant in Spanish).
The anti-Semitic hate charge of those that made phone calls to the program, had
a much more elevated tone.

On the last December 24th. at a refuge called Manantial de
los Sueños, Chávez said that the wealth of the world is concentrated in the
descendents of those that assassinated Christ; in another context, he confessed
that his daily routine is to watch la Hojilla and since he did not always have
the time, he would watch at least part of it. It is thus reasonable to assume
that the President approves of the program.

The questions then have to be then addressed to President Chavez directly
and not to second rate people: you who have gone around the World complaining
about the racism of the Venezuelan opposition, do you know that anti Jewish
hate is one of the most abominable forms of racism? In the Bolivarian revolution
Venezuelan Jews are equal to the rest of Venezuelans or are we second class
citizens? Does XXIst. Century socialism allow that Venezuelan Jews may think,
dissent, write, give their opinion, be movie makers and even participate in politics?
The Jews that were born, grew up and work in Venezuela, that have grandchildren
like me, born in this country and who have buried their death in this land, can
we continue to live here without staying silent and kneeling ourselves? And
last, this directed to the two from la Hojilla; if instead of being Jewish Jonathan
Jacubowicz had been black, what would be the arguments to attack him?

(By the way, Gamus wrote a
in which she states, as a member and third vice-president of the CAIV
that in two successive meetings the majority of the members of the Board of
CAIV voted against sending a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal
Center as was done by its