Archive for February 20th, 2006

Uuuy, how scary!!! By Teodoro Petkoff

February 20, 2006

I got my wish rather quickly in this Editorial by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

Uuuy, how scary!!! By Teodoro Petkoff

Chavez is “studying” the possibility of reforming the
Constitution to rule until his body can take it. The condition to fulfill this
threat would be that no opposition candidates participate in December and let
him running alone. Which, of course and can be discounted, according that that
frankly idiotic logic that sees even in the most trivial transportation strike a
“maneuver of imperialism” would also be a move by the empire. Forget your hypocrisy
and throw once and for all your pig’s tail to reform the Constitution, You have
always wanted that and for a long time you have been looking for the argument
to consecrate the lifetime Presidency. Stop play acting and “echale bolas” (go
ahead and do it) once and for all! We will se how Venezuelans respond to that
tyrannical initiative.

If Chavez thinks that, then “abort the maneuver by imperialism”
removing the oxygen that would be the argument to withdraw the candidacies of
the opposition: the electoral system and the Electoral Board (CNE). Exercise
your influence as President so that the CNE to be designated is and appears to
be honest, contributes to put in black and white the electoral conditions, a
large part of which, by the way, were advanced by the CNE and the political parties
of the opposition before the parliamentary elections and should be ratified now,
in writing with the CNE to complete what was advanced before last December 4th.
 Chavez can be sure that if they come out
with a CNE that is a clone of the current CNE and that there will be no audit
of the voting machines nor suppression of the fingerprint machines nor
publication of the electoral registry nor manual counting of the ballots and
the gross use of the advantages of being Government currently in use is maintained,
it would be uphill to participate in an electoral process that would present
the same vices and defects that were already detected and made public by the
OAS as well as the European Union. Under those conditions not participating
will have nothing to do with imperialism nor with coup plotting, but with the
human condition of not behaving like imbeciles nor lending ourselves to a pantomime.
If Chavez wants competition, play fair. Don’t be afraid nor “shield” your
electoral efforts with tricks. If you are so sure of the ten million votes,
then go look for them in a fair fight. Don’t protect yourself neither under a
sold umpire, nor with balls with saliva nor changing the rules each inning. Play
fair to see if it is true the country accompanies you with so much inefficiency,
so much corruption, so much blabbing, so many unfair advantages, so much
discrimination and partiality, so much poverty.

The funniest thing is that Chavez considers the things he
said as “a lesson in true politics”. Perhaps he believes that these
trivialities about continuity are deserving of a Machiavelli or a Napoleon. Get
off that cloud “commander in chief” A guy who was particularly mediocre like
Perez Jimenez had the same idea. By the way, it did not work out well for him.

February 20, 2006

President Hugo Chavez, using the perverse logic that has characterized him
during the last seven years, proposed that if the opposition refuses to
participate in the December Presidential elections because “conditions are not
adequate”, then he would hold a referendum to allow him to be a candidate in
2013 (The Constitution only allows two six year terms) and “people could decide
I should stay as President until 2031”. This would essentially fulfill Chavez’ autocratic ambition of perpetuating himself in power.

This is a
clear example of the type of circular logic Chavez uses regularly: Conditions
for elections have been quite negative for the opposition as the Government has
controlled and absolutely controls the Electoral Board as well as the conditions for all
electoral processes. In the last four elections, the Chávez-controlled Electoral
Board has refused to manually count all the ballots at every single instance
and “graciously” allowed for an audit of 47% of the ballot boxes in the
December Parliamentary elections. But the “audit” was not live, but rather votes
were tallied manually and the Electoral Board had promised to reveal the
results of the audit five weeks after the election. It has now been twelve
weeks and we have yet to see the final results of the election, let alone that
of the audits. So much for spending US$ 200 million in “the most perfect
automatic voting system in the world”. The opposition withdrew from that
election when it was discovered a week before it was to take place that it was
possible to identify who casted each vote, despite denials in the last four
electoral processes that this was even remotely possible.

Chavez threatens to hold a referendum if electoral conditions are not agreeable
to the opposition that would perpetuate him in power a la Fidel Castro. Thus, it
is to his advantage not provide adequate conditions, which he absolutely controls,
because he can then get his wish of
becoming King or Emperor of Venezuela, which has always been his dream.

There is
one problem though with this strategy, which to me clearly indicates this is
nothing but a bluff: According
to article 71-74 of the Venezuelan Constitution
, 40% of registered voters would
have to vote in favor of such a referendum if it were a law or he would require a majority iof at least 25% of the people showing up. Given the 70% plus abstention of
the last three electoral processes, it is an extremely dangerous and risky
strategy for the President Chavez. Not only he risks not getting the required
40% or majority, but this would be one vote where opposition forces would be highly
motivated to attend, while the same can not be said of his own supporters, who are growing increasingly frustrated with the Government’s incompetence and lack of accomplishments.

Thus, if I
were an opposition candidate today I would be challenging the man who wants to
be King to actually go ahead and do it. But I would add one element to the challenge: But if
you lose, you would withdraw your candidacy from the December Presidential
election too. It would should how weak Chavez’ hand is and call his bluff.

Film report: The List, a documentary on the Tascon list and the discrimination it created

February 20, 2006

I went to the presentation of the documentary “La Lista: Un pueblo Bajo
Sospecha” (The list: A people under suspicion”) sponsored by Ciudadania Activa, an ONG focused
on defending people’s human rights, particularly against discrimination.

documentary tells the story of the Tascon
and its successor, the Maisanta
, and how the Government used the first to discriminate and fire
civil servants and the second one to control its own supporters. To do this,
the documentary tells the story of the origin of the list, starting from the
introduction of the recall referendum into the new Constitution by Chavez,
through the three requests for a recall vote by the opposition. It reminds
everyone, those that lived through it and those that did not, the details of
how the first two requests were denied on technicalities and how the third was
blocked by having the Electoral Board create new rules after the signatures had
been gathered and increase the reasons for rejection for a signature from 8 to
39. This allowed 45 out of every 100 signatures to be rejected, but a new
process, the “reparo” was held and people actually went and ratified that their
signatures were approved and the recall referendum was held.

In my
opinion, the documentary is very well done, combining clips from the news, from
Chavez’ many speeches and his Sunday program Alo Presidente, with interviews
and testimonials with politicians and those that were directly affected by the
use of the list.

particularly liked the clip which shows Chavez in his more “democratic” days
talking about the recall being introduced in the Constitution and saying:” If
in three years you don’t think I am doing a good, job you can get rid of me”,
but then, later, when the recall becomes a possibility, he actually says:” Even
if they get 90% of the vote in the recall referendum, I am not resigning”

It also
documents well how the Tascon list was not an accident but a very well planned
program to discriminate and repress. First you see Chavez saying (which is repeated
throughout the film): “Those that sign against Chavez, their names will be left
there registered for history, because they will have to put their first names,
their last names, their signature, their ID number and their fingerprint”

Then you
see Chavez saying that he signed the paper requesting a copy of every single
petition and the corresponding signatures from the Electoral Board and asks
Deputy Luis Tascon, who was present that day on his program, how that is going.
Tascon says that it’s going well and that “by the end of the week we will have
all of the copies and see the true face of this fraud” (referring to the
signatures, which at the time the Government claimed were fraudulent)

It also
shows a clip of Chavez on his Sunday program talking about the list, laughing
about how it has created fear in people and telling everyone on his program to
go and check it on Tascon’s webpage, actually giving out the link.

Some of
the testimonials are heartbreaking, because it shows people from all levels
being fired for signing the petition and talking how it has affected them and changed
their lives. It also shows the President of a Government institution saying
that they have not use lists in any way, only to later show an actual paper
list in which every single person was classified according to how much time
they signed in the three petition attempts. Over 120 of them were fired by the
same cynic denying anything at the beginning…

It also
shows the more candid Chavistas, like the Minister of Health, saying anyone
that signed has to be fired and a Deputy saying that every civil servant that
did not vote in December should also be fired.

it shows Chavez himself saying that the list “should now be buried”, and how
“it played its role in his time”, showing no regrets or remorse about the use
of this discriminatory tool against the people. After that, many Government
institutions joined in the condemnation of the list, but never before, proving
that they have no personality of their own and no conscience and they totally
depend on what their leader says or doesn’t say can be done.

It is a
great compilation of the history of a discriminatory process used by a fascist
Government which claims to be democratic. How it has destroyed lives for
political gain and never showed regret or remorse for it. How it compiled a
list to discriminate the opposition and then it extended it to a database to
control its own supporters. It is proof of fascism and discrimination in the
XXIst. Century, under the eyes of the whole world and even the support of those
that claim to defend human rights but are so fanatical that they don’t want to
see the warts in the fake revolution they so admire. Everyone should buy it and see it, because it
is “Prohibido Olvidar” (To forget is forbidden). It also represents another
document to be shown over and over, the day this nightmare is over. It should never
happen again and those that collaborated with it should one day pay for their crimes.

A version
in English is being worked on and should be out in a couple of months.