Archive for April, 2007

The revolution sends its censorship brigade in the form of a Bolivarian Union of workers

April 24, 2007

The Bolivarian Assembly of workers
of the Venezuelan Institute
for Scientific Research ,
the country’s most prestigious scientific institution
, wrote the Communiqué below. This pathetic document
pretends to attack the integrity of some of the most distinguished scientists
by people who live off science but have no clue what it is or does for a
country. Once again, they attack one of the country’s most distinguished
researchers Claudio Mendoza who is called a traitor for is excellence in
research and his refusal to be quieted down by the hounds of the regime. This is clearly a censorship and intimidation brigade sent by the Government.

As if in synchrony with the
Minister of Communications, it is all made into a destabilizing conspiracy,
which supposedly has nothing to do with freedom of speech as if Dr. Mendoza
hasn’t been warned many times for going public. Moreover, it shows total
disrespect for many Venezuelan scientists that have distinguished careers and
who continue to work for the country. The accusations are ironically linked to
the shutdown and censorship of TV station RCTV, as simply being part of the
conspiracy that the opposition is preparing, as if free speech was not under
severe threat in Venezuela. In closing, they also manage to insult the
intelligence of foreign reporters calling them ignorant of what is going on in Venezuela.

This communiqué was so badly
written that there are some spots where it is basically impossible to fix the
writing without changing what was said in it, I did the best I could.

Thus, here you have it, the
Bolivarian union of workers of an institution of excellence, persecuting and
trying to shut down the same people that make that institution what it is,
simply because they dare say what they think and it goes against their
political ideas, if not fanaticism. I cant help but thinking that this letter
was prompted from above in what is clearly yet another campaign against the
basic human rights of a group of very distinguished Venezuelans.

Public Communiqué

The Bolivarian Assembly of Workers
of IVIC (ABTIVIC) publicly deplores the grave damage that has been caused to
the image of the Institute by the persistent campaign of lies and ambiguities
orchestrated in the printed media by Claudio Mendoza and political propaganda
groups invested in academic clothing. Like organized gangs, these irresponsible
people have elaborated a destabilization strategy using a discourse which
represents treason to the fatherland, making a scandal out of a domestic and
insignificant issue, which was the change in the Head of the Laboratory of
Computational Physics of this Institute; a transfer of responsibility that is
the exclusive and legitimate responsibility of the Board of Directors in use of
its attributions (For personnel of trust)

ABTIVIC recognizes behind the acts
mentioned the most decrepit ideals of the Fourth Republic, summoned to gestate
confusion in public opinion, restlessness and destruction of the fundamental
values that maintain our national institutions. With this regrettable advice, a
small group of activists come out in defense of the lies of Claudio Mendoza,
defaming and slandering individualities, sabotaging the organization of
scientific meetings of international character and destroying the little
credibility left in some national institutions such as the National Association
for the Advancement of Science (ASOVAC) and the Academy of Physical,
Mathematical and natural Sciences, driven to lose the reason for their
existence and reduced to roundtables for political discussion, condemning them
to disappear due to their loss of credibility. The members of these
“scientific” institutions are Dr. Carbonell, Dr. San Blas, Dr. Hilda Perez
among others, and all of the traditional members of the scientific community of
IVIC and of the Universities that oppose the end of their privileges and that
science once and forever finds the course of benefiting the country and not
small groups that they lead benefiting from the economic kindness of this
Government and persisting in their discourse that there are no possibilities to
do science in Venezuela.

ABTIVIC also publicly denounces,
that selling the image fabricated of a martyr Mendoza, these groups have
transgressed the imaginable limits of confusion, massively deceiving and at a
world scale, for which they have made improper and abusive use of scientific
journals. We energetically protest the Editor of Interciencia (one of the few
Venezuelan journals with ample world circulation), Dr. Miguel Laufer who
allowed himself the slip of publishing a yellow, superfluous and badly written
editorial, which relapses with stupidity and without foundation about the
fallacious statements by Mendoza about the use of nuclear energy in Venezuela,
accusing once again the authorities of IVIC of supposed violations of freedom
of speech. Dr. Laufer is a former Director of IVIC and we have evidenced how
the Institution through its authorities have backed him unconditionally, but
evidently neither him, nor his group have among their values the respect
towards the Institution that gave them everything.

On the bases of lies, this group
of agitators, abused of the ignorance of international reporters in relation to
the reality that the country is currently living, once again they publish an
Editorial and a news item in science journal Nature (London) where the grave
suggestions of Mendoza are treated as if it was a joke, which contrasts with
the national articles where he asserts that Venezuela wants to sneak into the
club of countries that have a nuclear bomb, together with Iran and Korea. It is
already customary for this stateless group of researchers to take this journal
to give negative information about the country.

That is why we denounce the
international relations of these people, with the actions deployed by the end
of the concession of RCTV and its non renewal on the part of the Executive, and
we insist that such a propaganda deployment is framed within a destabilizing
plan fro May 28th. of this year.


Letter to the President by Teodoro Petkoff

April 24, 2007

Teodoro Petkoff writes to the President telling him how he is violating the Constitution daily and he has become an autocrat in this militaristic charade called the Bolivarain Revolution.

Letter to the President by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

In my condition as citizen
of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in full use of my political rights and
precisely because of the duties that they impose on me as a citizen, I address
you publicly to get to you some considerations about some recent acts of yours
in relations to the National Armed Forces.

You expressed on April 12th.
, in a speech at Fuerte Tiuna the following concepts: “The so called
institutionality of the Armed Forces was way of hiding and of assuming a
position opposed to that of the Government (…) All commanders of units are
obligated to repeat from their soul and raise the flag with the slogan
“Fatherland, socialism or death” without ambiguities (…) If someone feels
uncomfortable because of this, it is better that they process their discharge”

Those phrases happen to be
a grave violation to the Constitution of the Republic, which in its Article 328
establishes that the Armed Forces are “an essentially professional institution,
without political membership, organized by the State to guarantee its
independence as a Nation and insuring the integrity of the geographical space
via military defense, cooperation in maintaining internal order and active
participation in national development”. Similarly, Article 330, which gives the
military the right to vote, forbids them however, from “participating in acts
of propaganda, membership or political proselytism” 

When you affirm that the
Armed Forces are a “roja, rojita” institution and when you ask its commanders
to voice slogans of political parties, you place yourself outside the
constitutional norm and, if this were not enough, you request that active
military do it too. The profession of the armed forces, exercised by its
members, is incompatible with the request that the institution assume the role
of a political party, because with it you would consecrate a contradiction of
an armed party in the midst of a system in which no political organization is
armed and least of all in the magnitude of an organization that handles
powerful war weapons. When you declare it “roja, rojita” you attribute to it
the color of the political party that you direct and when you ask that they
make their own a clearly political slogan, the property of the political party
MVR, you are demanding that they solidarize themselves politically with this
party, placing themselves in a position contrary to constitutional norms. The
armed forces are subordinated to the civilian political power and the
Constitution does not attribute them with the role of being the arbiter in the
Venezuelan political controversy.

What could arise from the
political project known as XXIst. Century Socialism pertains only to civil
society and it is not to the Armed Forces, which are called to decide on it.
You should remember that the only political compromise of the armed forces is
with democracy because precisely that is what is established in the
Constitution, when it defines the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela as a democracy.

In that same order of
ideas, it constitutes an unheard of and unacceptable transgression of
constitutional mandates as well as of the respect that the institution
deserves, to use military installations such a the Theatre of the Military
Academy or the Honor Patio to place slogans and hold events with the clear orientation
of a political party. In the same manner, it violates constitutional
regulations to use military vehicles to exhibit political slogans as happened
in the parade of June 24 2006 in the Carabobo Battlefield. The participation of
cadets from the Military
Academy in the political
meeting of the recent April 13th, in front of the Presidential
palace, is simply inexcusable.

There is no prior precedent
of such political manipulation of the students that the whole nations is
forming so that once they graduate they represent them, without distinctions of
gender, in the custody of national sovereignty.

It is also necessary that I
also mention, as contrary to the constitutional letter and spirit, the
designation of General Alberto Muller Rojas, who is the Chief of State of the
Commander of the Armed Forces, as a principal member and spokesman for the
advisory committee of the PSUV political party. In the already mention Art. 330
of the Constitution it is very clear and specific: active military officials
(the General is this once again, after 25 years of retirement) are not allowed
to participate in acts of “propaganda, membership or political proselytism”.
The public conduct of the General mentioned has been one of a political
militant, in open attitude of proselytism and political propaganda.

All of this accentuates the
militaristic features that characterize the regime, the climax of which was
achieved with the reform of the Organic Bill of the Armed Forces (Lofan) in
whose Art. 40the military grade of Commander n Chief was created for the
President of the Republic. To the constitutional condition, strictly political,
of the President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, it is now added the
purely military condition of the President as Commander in Chief. The Armed
Forces an institution of the State, has derived, simultaneously, in an
institution of the Government.

In closing and with respect
to the institutionalism of the Armed Forces, it must be mentioned that if this
one was born literally as the praetorian guard of General Gomez, and later, in
some fashion, it was also that of General Perez Jimenez, it is also not less
true that after 1958 it began to assume an ever increasing national and
institutional role. It is true that there ere cases in which not a few number
of officers looked for “godfathers” in AD and COPEI, in order to obtain
particularly promotions, but the Armed Forces, as an institution, was never at
the service of any of those parties nor of any of its leaders. In fact, during
the four decades in which the Armed Forces settled with some institutional
criteria subordinated to civil power, without involving itself in the field of
political parties.

When you pretend to destroy
institutionalism, in truth what you are aspiring to is to make it obey again as
a praetorian guard, this time at your personal service, in clear negation of
constitutional postulates. Surely you have in mind to reform the Constitution
in these aspects, to consecrate the condition of political armed forces and
ideologically compromised with your project, but for now, the 1999 Constitution
is valid and you are fragrantly violating that which is one of its more
substantive norms for obvious reasons, that one which establishes with all
precision the attributions of military power and its relation with national

I write this letter, Mr.
President, to ask you if you are conscious of the position that you have
assumed in front of the Armed Forces and that it represents a definite and
systematic violation of the democratic and constitutional order.


Teodoro PetkofF

April 22, 2007

Even before I placed the picture of Gustavo Dudamel with the
Pope, I have been thinking about writing a post about Venezuelan Classical
music, not so much because of the recent success of people like Dudamel, but
more because that area has a level of institutionality that surpasses end even
survives above the current Government, which led me to conclude that in the
area of music, Venezuela is like a developed country. And I say this for a
number of reasons, no only because of the success of the Venezuelan musicians
and the structure of music in Venezuela, but also because unlike other
institutions, like the Modern Art Museum, Venezuelan Science and Conare, the
reforestation institute that seems to have disappeared under Hugo Chavez.
Gustavo Coronel wrote
about this
recently but more about the individuals than the size of the
project, but I wanted to give some numbers so that people can get an
idea of the size and extent of the musical system in Venezuela.

The origin of it all, after a tradition of composers and
guitarists, economist Jose Antonio Abreu started what would become the National
System for Youth Orchestras. Abreu founded in 1975 the Simon Bolivar Symphony
Orchestra and the next year he founded the system. Beginning with funding from
the first Government of Carlos Andres Perez, funding that has never stopped on
the part of any Government, adding to it both international and private
funding, Abreu has built a remarkable system of orchestras. Today, Caracas alone has five
symphony orchestras, there are 300 orchestras associated to the system created
by Abteu, 143 teaching centers and a total of 673 groups that play under the
system. There are a total of 293,000 musicians who are pat of the system in all
states of the nation and 60% come from the lower social strata of the
population, demonstrating the penetration of Abreu’s work.

Everyone calls it the system, even if it has a more complex
name Foundation del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Juveniles e
Infantiles de Venezuela (FESNOJIV). This “system” encompasses four levels, the
infantile, pre-youth, youth and professional systems and even has its won
educational institution the Instituto Universatrio de Estudios Musicales.

While Dudamel is one clear example of the success of the
“system”, it may be that his precociousness is part of it; it always surprises
people how young he is and the level of international success he ahs achieved.
But there are others like Aquiles Machado, an opera tenor who has sung in the
Metropolitan Opera in New York and in Milan’s La Scala, Edicso Ruiz, who played bass for the
Berlin Philharmonic before he was 18, or Francisco Colmenares. a trumpet
player who won the Maurice Andre trumpet contest in Paris.

Thus, thanks to Jose Antonio Abreu, his vision and hard
work, Venezuela
counts today wth the infrastructure in music that it should be able to have in
every area of human endeavor given the resources it has enjoyed n the last few
decades, as well as the local talent available. Unfortunately, politics has
always interfered and is interfering today with all institutions, driving
people away from the country and from working for the Government.
Unfortunately, very few of those left have been left standing with any
integrity by the fake revolution.

New flowers

April 22, 2007

Above left a very tough one, Cattelya Warneri Alfonso Gregory from Brazil, it has been with me over 18 years, first time it flowers! Go figure! On teh right a fdlower I almost missed a Cattleya Mossiae coerulea from a plant so small, I did not even check it and the flower opened looking away from me

On the left a Venezuelan Cyrtpodium Cristatum. Right, a Dendrobium from Asia, not sure of the name.

Once in a while you see funny bugs in the orchid room

News from the revolution

April 21, 2007

Always something going on in the revolution, even when all
the leaders are busy in Margarita:

–Minister of Finance Cabezas held a press conference to
announce with great pride that Venezuela had cancelled all of its debts with
the World Bank.

Well, it was only US$ 53 million left, a meager 0.5% of what
the Government wants to obtain in new debt this year. World Bank debt is
actually quite good as it just does not go into a general pot but is earmarked
for specific projects. Just out of memory I recall some 5,000 day care centers
built in the mid 90’s with World Bank funds, the project to modernize the tax
authority SENIAT, a project fro better management of the National Parks, a
project to create the economic office of the old Congress (since canned) and a
project to reduce poverty.

–And there is so much freedom of speech in Venezuela that
the police and the Bolivarian Circles stop the showing of the movie “La Fiesta del Chivo” on April 9th.
at the Universidad Nacional Experimental del Tachira and not one of the major
newspapers or broadcasting stations has the guts (I wanted to use a different
word) to report it.

Jeez, I wonder why they are bothered by a movie about an
autocratic Dictator, who develops a cult of his personality, creates a single
political party and destroys all semblance of institutionality in the Dominican
Republic? I really can’t see the parallel!

–Best phrase at the Margarita Energy Summit: That of the
Minister of Agriculture from Uruguay on Chavez’ proposal to create a regional
energetic union in Latin America “es una discussion boluda…estamos discutiendo
pavadas”, which loosely translated means “This is a stupid discussion…we are
discussing silly stuff”

I guess some of our regional neighbors are not as dumb as we
think sometimes. I hear Uruguay’ s Parliament’s will issue a condemnation of
the closing of TV station RCTV similar to that of the Chilean Senate. According
to the ever cynical Minister
of Communications
, there is now an international media conspiracy against Venezuela
now on this issue. Using his perverse logic the fact that there was a
demonstration today against the arbitrary shutdown of RCTV, demonstrates there
is freedom of speech on Venezuela. Goebbels would have been proud of him combining a number of his
in such a compact form.

–And the latest bright idea by the revolution is price
control for the private health care system, clinics and hospitals.

I guess the more controls fail; the more they want to impose
them on all areas of the economy. I am not even quite sure why the
Superintendent of Taxes makes
announcements about this
and talks about inflation he should work and speak
on tax matters.

–The Penal hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court voided the
decision to let go the 29 prison workers accused of allowing former Governor
Lapi to escape from jail.

Funny how they voided the first decision and ignored the
obviously illegal second decision by the replacement judge…

–Today some sectors of the opposition took to the streets with a
to the TV stations headquarters, to protest the promised shutdown of

Despite threats that it would be violent by the Minister of
Interior and Justice, who is charge of security and justice in the country,
people did turn out today and it was peaceful. It was not the best of dates as
Thursday was holiday and many people took the long vacation, which we call
“Puente” (Bridge) in Venezuela.

–And you can read everything about the collusion between Venevision and VTV here in Quico’s blog.

I don’t believe everyone has a price, but I am constantly surprised by how many people do.

Maduro’s cynical outrage

April 19, 2007

Jeez, so much outrage on
the part of the Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro
because terrorist Posada
Carriles was freed on
and will stand trial in the US in May while in freedom. Maduro
called this a disgrace and was absolute outraged about it.

I always wondered why it was the US did not send Posada to
Venezuela, where because of his age, he would not only be free while waiting to
be tried, but even if found guilty, would never be jailed, but would serve
house arrest for up to four years and then be free. Maduro could not be
outraged then, it happens to be the law! Of course, the concern has always been
that Posada, who was already tried once in Venezuela,
would be sent to Cuba
to stand trial.

I wonder what Maduro tells his Cuban, Iranian, Syrian and
even Russian counterparts when he talks to them about their terrorist

What cynics!

April 19, 2007

Marino Gonzalez is a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in Public
Health Policy. He is the type of person who would be an ideal advisor to any Government,
but not in Venezuela
where he has to devote himself to study what is going on, instead of helping
out, because the revolution does not want help, they think anyone can do
anything and knowledge and expertise are unnecessary. Marino wrote this article
in today’s Tal Cual, which clearly shows how cynical and fake this Government
is. It speaks for itself.

Measles rojas, rojitas by Marino González in Tal Cual

We have an incompetent and authoritarian Government

That is public and well noted. What is becoming clearer is
also the cynicism of the current Government to take advantage of the good faith
of millions of Venezuelans. It creates illusions that contradict the suffering
of many sectors, especially the poorest and least informed.

It is also cynicism when the Government does not warn its
citizens, nor does it investigate the causes of the problems that affect them.

The Government of President Chavez has incessantly
repeated many fallacies about its management of the health sector. Such
repetitions have managed to even dazzle some international organizations, the
supposed defenders of good scientific practices.

In his last speech on the occasion of his annual message
to the National Assembly, President Chavez pointed out” “We can say today that Venezuela has
what it never had before: A public integrated health system.”

Previously he had pointed out: “In Barrio Adentro I, we
reached 56.8 million doctor’s appointments…” To close it off he said:” We
have expanded the hospital system, we are now going towards Barrio Adentro IV,
Barrio Adentro keeps advancing with…”

All of this rhetorical
euphoria, a product of ideological manipulation, has nothing to do with the
realty of the health of Venezuelans. The Government of President Chavez has
only built tales. And they keep telling them without any shame.

There is a very simple way
to prove what was just said.

If we had the best health
system in the world, as he has said in some sort of “communicational trance” in
we would not have a single measles case. However, we have the highest number of
cases so far this year in the whole of the western hemisphere, according to the
reports of the Ministry of Health, as well as the weekly Measles Bulletin
elaborated by the Pan-American Health Organization.

Measles care is an
excellent indicator of the penetration and quality of a health system. In the
first place, because measles is an illness which can be completely eradicated.
It is produced by a virus and can be avoided via immunization.

In the second place,
because the technology (the vaccine) has a low cost and proven effectiveness. In
the third place, because through adequate organizational arrangements, it is
possible to cover all of the population at risk.

Because of all these
reasons, the Ministers of Health of the Americas adopted in 1994 the goal
of eradicating measles on the year 2000. Many of the countries in the region
have been successful against measles:

In Nicaragua the last case was reported in 1994, in
Honduras in 1997, in Guatemala in
1998. Only to cite countries with less relative development that Venezuela.
In Colombia the last case
was reported in 2002, in Peru
in 2000.

In the years of the rojo,
rojito Government, Venezuela
has turned itself into an island of measles. Only in 2002 we had 2,392 cases.
After an absence of cases from 2003 to 2005, measles has surged again in 2006
with 92 cases. This signifies the highest number of cases in the Americas. It is
more by far than the 14 cases of Brazil
or the 23 of Mexico.
In no other country in Latin America, have
there been cases of measles.

The cases of measles are
distributed across all of the regions of the country.
We have had
cases in Zulia, Carabobo, Guárico, Amazonas, Distrito Metropolitano, Miranda,
and Nueva Esparta.
So far in 2007, 23
cases have already been reported. Four more times than in the US. No other
country in America
has had a measles case in 2007.

The Government of President
Chávez has not passed the measles test. It is a health system impotent in the
face of simple problems, already solved in countries with fewer resources. A
National Assembly concerned about the problems has started an investigation.
Could it be the vaccine is ineffective? Could it be there was no adequate
quality control? Why does the Government say that vaccination is high and we
have measles? Is something similar happening with other vaccines? What is
happening with the Barrio Adentro vaccinations? Why doesn’t the Government give
information about all of this?

There is no doubt: the
rojo, rojito Government has been incompetent even with measles.

A comment becomes a post and a caption contest, thanks Virginia

April 19, 2007

Without knowing Virginia has contributed this post with her comment below, which included these three pictures and her own caprions to it, which I thought were wonderful. You can add your own in the comments below at no extra charge, but Virginia’s will be hard to beat:

From left to right:

You have to understand that I am the Supreme Leader of the South
2) Sorry, not anymore. The pantomime is over.
3) The result? Pusillanimous puts

Margarita Summit: Three strikes and you are out..was it four?

April 18, 2007

So Chavez holds the Latin American Energy Summit in
Margarita island, where he was going to propose all sorts of grandiose and
unifying concepts for Latin America. Let’s see his main proposals:

—The tenth point in the final declaration would make a
call against Ethanol production from crops as proposed by The Venezuelan
declaration. After hours of discussion, we have yet to see the final
declaration, but we did see Hugo Chávez turning the reverse-ethanol-shift,
praising ethanol and saying Venezuela would import ethanol from Brazil. Strike

—Chavez proposes a natural gas cartel to group Latin
American Gas Exporters, despite the fact that Venezuela does not even export a
cubic centimeter of natural gas. The President of Brazil nixes the concept as
Marco Aurelio Garcia pulled his weight and threatened to have Lula leave early.
Strike Two.

—Venezuela has proposed the Bank of the South with most
South American countries joining the idea, as Venezuela will provide most of
the capital for it. Brazil says not interested unless everyone contributes a
fair share. Proposal postponed. Strike Three.

Of course, Chavez held a strange press conference alone
after the summit was over, hailing it a “total success”.

Still waiting for that final document…

Oh yeah! And remember the enviromentalist´s dream that Chavez came up with of a gas pipeline through the Amazon? Well, Lula said, it’s OK as long as Chavez pays for it and goes no further than Pernambuco. You be the judge.

What the Zimbabwean and the Caracas Stock market may have in common

April 17, 2007

I was struck by this article in Publiuspundit about the best
performing stock market in the world in 2006:

you see the chart above corresponds to the Zimbabwe stock
market, which despite being one of the least friendly countries to investments
in the world had that outstanding performance. up 555% in 2006. According to the Luwig Von Mises
Institute in Austria the explanation is simple:

“This is what we are
seeing in Zimbabwe. With the country suffering from Mugabe’s catastrophic
policies, increasingly the only means for the government to fund itself has
been money-supply growth. This has only exacerbated the economy’s problems. The
flood of new money that authorities have created has caused the existing value
of money in circulation to plummet, i.e., the prices of all sorts of goods to
explode, some rising more than others.”

Why did this strike a chord? Because the second best market
in the world for the same year 2006, happens to have been the
Venezuelan Stock Market, where the same exaggerated money supply growth (up 67% in 2006) has
created inflation and in the face of exchange controls, similar to Zimbabwe,
people sought refuge in one of the few assets that could preserve the value of
your money, the stock market, driving it up 160% for the year 2006:

In fact, dampen some the extremes, add a little oil and the
explanation given below in the same article is quite similar,
change Zimbabwean for Venezuelan, the time frame and give it a little more
footing for Government bonds thanks to oil and the economic framework is similar and so were the
results for the market:

This relative outperformance versus
general prices is a result of stocks being a chief entry point for the flood of
newly created money. Keep Zimbabwean dollars in your pocket, and they’ve
already lost a chunk of their value by the next day. Putting money in the bank,
where rates are pithy, is not much better. Investing in government bonds is the
equivalent of financial suicide. Converting wealth into foreign currency is
difficult; hard currency is scarce, and strict rules limit exchangeability.

Of course, in early January our market came crashing down
thanks to Chavez’ threats to private property, as clearly seen in the graph. Of
course, according to the electoral magician now turned Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez,
that 33% drop did not even occur in another bizarre Chavista explanation of reality.

So, the lesson is when markets go up, it may be a reflection
of excess money supply more than economic health, something that the whole
world maybe be living through at this point. Next time you hear a country
imposing exchange controls and expansive monetary policies, just jump in, you
may be rewarded amply!