Archive for June 6th, 2007

Videos of the National Guard blocking the way for students to attend marches

June 6, 2007

And these two videos shows what happens in a Dictatorship when anti-Government students attempt to go to a protest: They are simply blocked from doing it by having the National Guard block the entrance to the toll booth with their own trucks or motorcycles. Please remember that last week, the students were gassed for blocking the roads, which we heard is illegal, unfair, in violation of people’s rights etc. But when the National Guard does it seems to be ok as no Government figure has come out and said anything about it, after all, it would never occur to the students to gas the National Guard. The first video is at Palo Negro (top), the second at Tapatapa (bottom):

The end of Venezuela as I know it

June 6, 2007

A blogger, in English, from within the student movement:

The end of Venezuela as I know it

A priceless statement on the RCTV shutdown by a Government adviser

June 6, 2007

Dorothy Kronick wrote this excellent article  in the American Prospect (worth the short free registration to read the whole article) on the RCTV shutdown, which contains some very interesting tidbits about it, like the “new” justifications for the end of the concession, such as the fact that the Minister of Communications said that RCTV had the “highest quality bandwidth” of any station and that is why it was singled out.

But for sheer ignorance of democratic principles, fair play, equality, the law and the like, nothing beats this cynical statement by Temir Porras, an adviser to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. As they say in those ads, simply “priceless”:

Temir Porras, who began working in the Chávez government in 2001 and is
currently an advisor to the minister of industry and commerce, has a
similar view.  “Of course there are political motivations, and I
support that.  A media outlet should not adopt one particular political
line,” he said in an interview. “Venevisión and Televen, for economic
reasons, realizing that Chávez will be around for a long time,
re-accommodated their political line after the coup.  RCTV and
Globovisión didn’t.  They forgot that their existence depends on
Chávez. I am sure that when the Globovisión concession expires, Chávez
will not renew it — we can say that right now.  Unless, of course,
they try to moderate their tone, which would make them look rather
ridiculous.  Essentially, those that collaborate with the government
project will be left in peace — that can be said about media outlets
as much as landowners or other actors.”

Cuban style exploitation by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

June 6, 2007

Cuban style exploitation by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

Information coming from Barinas tells of a large numbers of Cuban workers that were hired to accelerate the construction of the soccer stadiums for the upcoming America Cup

Cuban workers are also the only ones working at that mysterious “city”that is being built near Carayaca. Those Cuban workers should be the concern of the local criollo unions.

With the complicity of the Chavez Government they are being subjected to a truly salvage exploitation, of the pre-capitalist savage style, a feudal savage style, which would make you laugh at the neoliberal type. They do not contract the workers; the Cuban state does it from them.

They receive as payment less than the Venezuelan minimum salary and the Cuban Government charges for each worker US$ 600, of which the worker and his family in Cuba, see nothing but US$ 20, in pesos. They are true servants of the master, depending on the feudal lord of the Cuban state. Exploitation, extraction of added value, sneaker than this one, does not exist in any other country n the world.

Venezuelan union leaders, specially those from UNETE, which supports Chavez and has an internationalist duty, because of that which says that the proletariats from the world have to be united, and since they have nothing to lose but their chains, should go and aid their humble Cuban proletariats, subjected to such a savage exploitation. They should do it even as self-defense, because that is the relationship, which “I the Supreme” wants his Government and his party to have with the working class. He has said it even. The unions, that is, the organized working class has to be subordinate to the party. , which now is the same as the Government and the Sate. Chavez does not want unions that represent workers in front of their employers, but he wants them to represent the Government in front of the workers. He wants neither complaints nor collective bargaining agreements.

I remember visiting, many years ago, a workers Assembly at a Cuban company. They complained that they had been requesting the building of a locale for chemical products, because not having it threatened their health. They asked me to say a few words. I said that if Cuban workers could exercise the right to strike, that locale would have been built three years before. There, at that moment the assembly ended. “Thanks to the Venezuelan comrade”

The union leader of the company, by the way, was in the Presidium, together with the General manager, and his voice was not that of one of the workers, but that of management.

That XXth. Century Socialism is the one Chavez wants for his. Unions that are there to watch the interest of the State-employer and not that of the workers.

As an old extreme-left Venezuelan used to say, when referring to the Polish workers of “Solidarity”: “Those are not strikes, because the workers can not strike against themselves.” It was not cynicism, but innocence. Cuban workers, over exploited and mistreated, deserve the solidarity of Venezuelan union members.

Chavez wants to buy himself a revolution by Joaquin Vilalobos

June 6, 2007

Joaquin Villalobos of Salvadorian guerilla fame, wrote this interesting article about Chavez and his revolution, although I do not agree with a few things he says, a lot of them are right on the money and I thought it was worth translating it.

Chavez wants to buy himself a revolution by Joaquin Vilalobos

With a lack of conditions and credentials to make a revolution, the Venezuelan President relies on provocations. The closure of RCTV, his last act of brave arrogance, has reverted against him the process of accumulation of strength and revitalizes an opposition that was demoralized

Normally parents punish their kids banning them from watching TV, however Cubans when their kids behave badly, are forced to watch state TV. Chavez has made a grave error in shutting down a pro-opposition TV station that had been on the air for more than half a century. Like it or not, this was not an attack on the capitalist meditatic power, but a direct hit to the cultural identity of Venezuelans that will have severe implications for the Government.

To pretend to replace soap operas and the entertainment of the poor with pathetic “revolutionary” programming is as grave as leaving them without food.

The starting point of this and other mistakes by Chavez is to believe that he has made a revolution, while all he has done is simply to have won elections and this did not happen because of his accomplishments, but for the errors and arrogance of an opposition that has many jewels and not much popular backing. This helped him get an electoral majority that allowed him to control institutions and change some rules, but it has not given him sufficient correlation to impose a drastic ideological turn like he is pretending.

There has been no revolutionary rupture in Venezuela, like there was in Cuba and Nicaragua, where democracy had no precedent.

In Cuba the change was violent and complete, all of the institutions were founded again and up to today, there is no opposition, nor elections, nor freedom of the press, nor private property.

In Nicaragua the change was equally violent, even if it damaged freedom of the press, elections and private property survived.

Venezuela may have an extreme crisis of polarization or a prolonged period of unrest, but not a revolution. When that happens political violence takes preeminence first as a rebellion and later with a counter-revolution. In Venezuela, political violence continues to be more verbal than real.

Sleeping with the enemy

Forty years of pacific alternation built a democratic culture among Venezuelans that up to now has managed to block political violence. In Venezuela there is a weakened legality, but there is legality. The mistake of the opposition coup in 2002 was precisely to ignore the importance of this. It is not easy to overthrow Governments and it is also not easy to radically and coldly modify the pillars of a preexisting system. A revolutionary rupture creates a situation of great social exaltation that, for better or worse, opens spaces to change many things, including ideological or cultural topics, very sensitive in a society, however, these are the hardest to change.

Ant-capitalist revolutions emerged more from dictatorships than from poverty. In Venezuela there was no dictatorship and poverty was not important in Chavez’ ascent, even if is today to defend him. All revolutions are austere and this is not known by Venezuelans from either the right or the left. Venezuela is neither an industrial, nor an industrious capitalist country, but rentist and consumerist. Chavez is strengthening the economic role of the State redistributing oil income and forming new economic elites via populism, business opportunities and corruption.

All of this is neither new, nor a revolution, nor is it socialism.

Chavez does not have a revolutionary party but a fragmented political structure, composed by a diverse ideological mix. To his right are the military, to his left some intellectuals and below him a multicolor base. To turn that into a party implies to confront a whole bunch of leaders who are accustomed to express their dissent. Chavismo has done something positive in giving power and identity to thousands of Venezuelans that were excluded but its political structure is not cohesive neither by its ideology, nor by its history, but by oil income. Chavez does not have a revolutionary army; on the contrary, the Army has defeated him twice (1992 and 2002). The current complicity of the Army depends on weapons purchases, which are not in preparation for combat but lucrative corruption, and are precisely these privileges that shutdown the path to revolutionary ideas.

The Venezuelan army will not kill nor die for Chavez.

Fidel Castro survived innumerable attempts on his life, Ortega led a triumphant insurrection and Evo Morales jumped from the barricades to the Presidency.

Chavez, on the other hand, sells oil to the Americans, in two occasions has surrendered without fighting and sleeps with an enemy’s army. This pushes him to use provocations that allow him to obtain his revolutionary credentials, at least with an insult of Bush. The attacks strengthen him and his tolerance weakens him. He needs external enemies that help him hide the corruption of his civil servants, the incompetence of his Government, the divisions among his ranks and the insecurity in the streets of the country.

With the closure of RCTV, Chavez is reverting against him the process of accumulations of strengths and is revitalizing a demoralized opposition.

Perhaps Chavez may make changes in Venezuela, but he will never be able to eliminate elections and in these, there are no unmovable majorities, nor eternal alliances, nor insurmountable fraud. The money from oil can help Chavez to do many things, but it will never allow him to buy a revolution.

Government feels the heat and the impact from student demonstrations

June 6, 2007

Well, the Chavez administration must be feeling the heat by now, given the performance of the Deputies of the National Assembly today. The students have by now moved their fight beyond freedom of speech and RCTV to turn it into a discussion of all civilian rights for all Venezuelans and without discrimination. And the message seems to be getting across as the members of the National Assembly held a press conference which was diametrically the opposite of what the Chavista Deputies said last week about the student demonstrators.

As they invited the students to go to the Parliament on Thursday, the Deputies praised them for their ideas and proposals, saying their movement was authentic and will contribute to the discussions. They said they would of course invite them, as this is what they do regularly with Venezuelans from all walks of life (Did they hear anyone on the RCTV shutdown?). It was all niceties, filled with phrases like “Venezuela for all”, “these bright kids”, “authentic” and the like. And most of the words were spoken by none other than Cilia Flores, the wife of the Foreign Minister, who was one of the members of the Cabinet that blasted the students the most last week, calling them preppies, arrogant and manipulated.

Clearly, polls must be telling the Government something that they have changed so much in so little time. Lost in the intensity of the student demonstrations was the fact that at the University of Los Andes, the movement led by Nixon Moreno, the same man that is currently requesting asylum at the Vatican’s Embassy, beat the Chavista group by more than a three to one margin.

The students are definitely mad at the politicians. In press conferences today, they reiterated that they are owed an apology by both the National Assembly members and other members of the Government. They also began talking about the fact that the Chavez Government has placed social rights above civil rights, but has delivered little on social rights, while forgetting the importance of civil rights. Thus, they said discrimination is rampant on the part of the Government and the way they have been treated has shown that. They said they want this to stop and will march and demonstrate until it is stopped.

The Government is looking for a way to neutralize the protest. Initially they tried repressive action, but it backfired as the children of revolutionary officials are part of the protests and Venezuelan police has always been quite abusive of demonstrators so that given them a free rein to control the crowds led to excesses and repressive actions that have affected the image of the Government in Venezuela. A second strategy has been to delay permits, but while this worked well on Friday, did not work on Monday and there may already be problems with tomorrow’s “Universities”march. After not allowing that march today, now the Mayor of the Libertador district is saying he has received no request for tomorrow’s march.

For the Government the problem is critical, after Chavez sailing for the last six months with his whims and wishes, Enabling Bill, nationalizations, secret discussion of Constitutional reform and the like, the student movement represents a significant stumbling block on his path and is suddenly very well organized. The path to indefinite reelection and other reforms of the Constitution, the fight for control of the Universities and even changing laws under the Enabling Bill, will now become a difficult battle for the autocrat.

Even worse, any misstep along the way, like excessive force on demonstrators or a move against a media outlet, could increase international pressures, which while irrelevant at the end of the day for the outcome of the confrontation, seem to matter quite a bit to the Government and thus would like to avoid them.

For now, the students are ready to take things one day at a time, as the Government feels thei heat and the impact of their demonstrations.