A special message for those attending the World Social Forum from abroad: The double standard, manipulation and cynicism of the Chavez revolution.
Dear World Social Forum attendee:
Today the Mayor of part of Caracas said that holding the Forum in Caracas would not imply any additional expenses for his municipality. We can forgive him for this hyperbole, he is probably just excited in his revolutionary spirit by the holding of the Forum in the municipality he runs.
But more bothersome to those Venezuelans like me, who reject the Chavez Government due to its militaristic, fascist and autocratic nature, was the following statement by Mayor Bernal:
“In the Los Caobos Park, there will be 400 officers dressed in civilian clothes, because there are groups of diverse tendencies that are antimilitaristic, thus dressing them as civilians we can offer the security without them being perturbed”
I simply find this statement terribly disturbing my dear friends. Disturbing, because I do not believe for one moment that Mr. Bernal, a former convicted criminal, soldier and cop, suddenly has changed his nature and is trying to be respectful of political diversity. It is more likely that he wants to hide from all of you coming to the Forum the true militaristic and repressive nature of this Government. Moreover, Mr. Bernal expresses a respect for diversity he has never shown before since becoming Mayor of the Libertador District of Caracas.
Just to prove my point about our esteemed Mayor let me briefly tell you two stories, which are fortunately well documented in this blog:
-In December 2002 the opposition had made Altamira square in the East of Caracas its meeting point and symbol. On December 3d. 2002 a lone gunman with a Glock, managed to kill three and injure 27 people (Believable, no?). Well, a couple of days later an amateur video showed your now-respectful Mayor unloading weapons at the headquarters of the Venezuelan oil company at 2:30 AM in the company of none other than the gunman that was captured after the shootings. Please understand that the protest at Altamira was always peaceful, so you have to wonder why this guy who appears today so respectful of diversity in politics that he wants to disguise military uniforms for your peace of mind, was unloading weapons at such a God awful hour, under the cover of darkness and at a civilian installation.
-The second case is even more dramatic. On February 27th. 2004, Venezuela hosted the meeting of the G-15 leaders. A letter was written to these leaders meeting in Caracas and a peaceful march was held to hand over a letter expressing our difficulties on holding a recall referendum against Hugo Chavez as allowed in our Constitution. The idea was simple, a comittee from the march would be allowed to go beyond security and the letter would be handed over and the event/march would be over.
Well, to begin with, this is what was waiting for us even before the march began, right next to the Los Caobos Park where coincidentally you will apparently be protected by these fake civilians for your peace of mind in the next few days:
If you are part of the anti-militaristic group of the Forum, you may wonder why such a peaceful and respectful Government would await a peaceful march with this Robocop-looking army of National Guards. I was naïve enough that day to go the march even without the tear gas mask I had learned to bring to all marches as I relate in this post from that day. (One advantage of having a blog is that I have perfect memory of events!). But it was a terrible day, one person was shot dead by the National Guard no more than a few meters away from where I was. I eas gassed over and over by the Guards. The National Guard used repressive tactics that would make you sick, such as attacking the protesters in motorcycles with two guards on them, with the one on the back carrying a tear gas gun and shooting at short range at the marchers. Nice, no?
But you can get a very good idea of how things played out by reading this post, also from that day, in which you will see a picture of a Venezuelan woman with a flag in her hand approach one of the guards to complain about their violent and repressive attitude. You can then see how this guy proceeded to savagely attack this woman and threw her to the ground, injuring her. Here are some pics:
Nice people, no?
My whole point dear attendee to the World Social Forum, is that you are being fooled into believing that this revolution is “nice” and non-militaristic, while the opposite is actually the case. In fact, the respect that Mayor Bernal claims to be having for your political ideals would be in the best case a double standard of discrimination of those Venezuelans that oppose this fascist Government versus the visitors from abroad like you that they want to impress. But the truth is that this is simply another cynical manipulation of well-meaning people like you who may think and believe that Chavez really cares for the Venezuelan people. But you see, Chaves believes only in Chavez, as seven years of his rule and US$ 300 billion in oil income without any impact on poverty levels clearly show. But that is another story, also well documented in this blog in the last three and a half years.
Have a good time in Caracas, but please don’t let them fool you, your ideals of human rights and anti-militarism are surely closer to mine than to theirs!
Your friendly blogger.