Archive for December 17th, 2007

Hugo Chavez fights the ghosts of the empire and the windmills in his mind, while digging the bones of the Liberator

December 17, 2007

Hugo Chavez is nothing short of remarkable. After his referendum defeat, the
autocrat waited little time before beginning his favorite form of
governing when he has problems: He left the country. While away, few of
the problems facing the country were attacked or even discussed. Now
the autocrat is back and he spends his whole speech on the
commemoration of the anniversary of Simon Bolivar’s death, talking about the oligarchy killing the Liberator
and not tuberculosis, like history books tell us. Damn the country’s
problems, who cares about them, after all, he does not feel them!

thing is, in contrast with problems like shortages or inflation of
which he is clueless, Chavez does have a plan on how to find out how
Bolivar died, his theory being that he was assassinated by the
Colombian and Venezuelan oligarchy. Thus, Chavez ordered that Bolivar’s
remains be exhumed and first a test be performed in order to determine
if the bones are truly those of Venezuela’s Liberator.

the oligarchies hated Bolivar, Chavez blamed not only the oligarchies,
but also all historians, cheating the people and distorting and
falsifying the truth. But it is through people like him, dedicated
students of history that the truth will be revealed.

also said that soon after Bolivar’s death, the US Empire arrived,
buying lands, corporations and even people (verbatim!). The gringos
even changed history, accusing Bolivar of attempting to be named King.
But this was all fake, part of the gringos psychological warfare.
(Yeap!, we are supposed to believe it all started way back then)

and on the man went for almost four hours. Little mention was made of
the problems facing the country, from shortages to inflation; these
were simply ignored as he concentrated in his peculiar form of
historical revisionism and obsession. Since he does not even go to
Cabinet meetings, you have to wonder who is running this country!

And then the autocrat moved to another “relevant” topic calling the case against the Venezuelans in Miami an infamy
against the Argentinean President. Which only goes to show why
corruption runs rampant in our countries, as the case now has become
political. What a difference between the way Brazil dealt with its
corruption scandal and the way Venezuela, Argentina and now Uruguay are
dealing with Maletagate. It is so easy to blame the US, to call it a
conspiracy, but really, in the four months since the now infamous
suitcase arrived in Buenos Aires full of one hundred dollar bills,
little has been done by any of the three countries to deal with the

Yes, Argentina asked for Antonini to
be extradited and one Government official was removed, but none of this
has ever been explained:

–Why did the joint
oil venture between Venezuela and Argentina rented a jet plane to go from
Buenos Aires to Caracas and back? Why the urgency? Why those
passengers, in either direction?

–What was Antonini doing on that flight since he had no relationship with either company? Why was he allowed to go through without the money and then to leave Argentina two days later?

was the son of a PDVSA’s VP in that plane? Why did PDVSA say the
man had resigned, which was not true and why has PDVSA yet to
investigate the case? Whatever happened to PDVSA´s investigation of the case_

–Where did the $800,000
in cash come from in a country with exchange controls? What was their
purpose? How many times similar trips been carried out? How did they
get through customs here? Why didn´t the National Assembly investigate this?

–Why were there high Argentinean Government officials (not related to oil either) in the flight?

did Antonini flee to Uruguay? Who was there? Why didn’t he just go back
to the US? How many similar trips (and suitcases!) did Antonini take?

And now we can also ask a bunch of new questions:

–Are the US tapes then supposed to be fake?

we to believe that Kauffman and Duran have become millionaires in less
than eight year’s doing an honest day’s work? Did they lie about their
high Venezuelan Government connections, which they obviously have? Or were the
threats against Antonini’s family empty threats? What about the 2 million dollar
bribe? Who ordered it? Who was going to pay for it?

Because if in the end if
the US$ 800,000 suitcase was not meant for Mrs. Kirchner’s campaign, it
must have had another propose, which was as fishy and dirty as the first
one and it is clear that neither of the two Governments wants to get to
the bottom of it.

In fact, there is no better
or alternative explanation to the one given by the US authorities which
is backed by tapes of Kauffman and Duran saying the money was meant for
Mrs. Kirchner’s campaign and the two Government would like Antonini to
say the money was his.

The fact is that it is
truly sad that neither country wants this to be investigated because of
political expediency. Which in the end s the reason that corruption
runs rampant in out countries and while a harebrained theory of Bolivar
being poisoned, is more important than corruption or the problems
everyday Venezuelans have.

BBC video: The trillion dollar revolutionary

December 17, 2007

This is a good video by John Sweeney of the BBC, which was
broadcast about two weeks before the referendum. The video is long,
about thirty minutes but it is worth watching, particularly those that
are from abroad.
It is perhaps ironic that the
couple of praises in the video for the accomplishments of the
revolution are not true. Sweeney says that Chávez now provides medical
care to most people, just on the same day
that Human Rights organization Provea said that the Government only
built 2,700 of the 8,500 Barrio Adentro modules budgeted (I wonder if
the National Assembly will ask where the money is?). Moreover, despite
the fact that the budget for Barrio Adentro is twice that of the
traditional health care system, which is the one that operates and
performs difficult diagnoses, it turns out that 62%, yes almost two
thirds of the Barrio Adentro modules, are not functional today. That means
that only 1026 barrios in Venezuela are currently enjoying Barrio
Adentro benefits, which represent very simple primary and emergency
In another part, a teacher, clearly
pro-Chavez, talks about the lunch program and tells Sweeney that Chavez
established that program, the video also says that more kids are going
to school which is not true either. The truth is that Chavez when he
first got to power eliminated the milk programs at all
schools in Venezuela and later reestablished them and that Chávez’
Bolivarian School system is simply the renaming of schools, as Chávez
has built less than 10% of the existing schools in his eight years in
Government, worse than the average per Presidential term in the
terrible years of the IVth. Republic.
does not mention housing, but since we are there, it has been another
abysmal failure in housing again this year with only 36,000 units built, as it seems
that under Chávez the number of new housing units built goes down every
year, as if nothing has been learnt any Chavista bureaucrats in the
institutions that are in charge of housing.