Archive for January 5th, 2008

Some items from the Venezuelan revolution’s Believe it or not file

January 5, 2008

—Chavez has had 118 different Ministers in his nine years in office. Of the twelve people appointed to teh Cabinet yesterday, three are woman and six out of the other nine are former military. Five of them had been Ministers previously.

—In the Caracas morgue bodies are all over the place, including on the floors. A body was actually missing for three days according to the relatives. The Head of the intelligence police blames it all on the increase on the population.

—You can actually buy things almost for free with your Internet quota at the official rate of exchange. Two days ago I needed to buy some software that cost $60 in Amazon, or Bs. F. 129. However, the software has a rebate of $20, which at the parallel  exchange rate corresponds to Bs. F.  112. Thus, I will get the software for exactly US$ 3.03 at the parallel rate of exchange once I get my rebate check.

—Five days after the monetary reconversion began, I have yet to know anyone that has seen one of the new coins. I get the feeling they are not even circulating in another triumph for the inefficiency of the revolution.

—After leading the National Assembly through a year with almost no new Bills approved and introducing 25 new articles to the proposed Constitutional change which likely doomed the proposal, Deputy Celia Flores was ratified today as President of the National Assembly for another year.

Chavez gest farked by the FARC once agan

January 5, 2008

It is hard to understand exactly what game the FARC is playing with Chavez and exactly how the FARC wants to convince the world that they are the good guys in the high stakes game of the never happening return of the hostages in the hands of that guerrilla group. Since the beginning, Chavez has been saying once thing, the FARC has not delivered and has appeared to be withholding information from Chavez which eventually would embarrass the Venezuelan President. Thus, using the name of a once known website, the FARC seems to have farked (embarrassed) Chavez repeatedly, managing to embarrass him over and over without a clear purpose.

Today was no exception. After the FARC had offered to release three hostages, two women and the son of one of them born in captivity nothing happened which actually was quite puzzling at the time. Then we learned from the President of Colombia that the ki, named Enmanuel, was not in the hands of th FARC but had been turned over to the care of a Government social institution over two years ago.

Immediately the Venezuelan Governemnt questioned Uribe’s version, suggesting it had all been made up to make Chavez look bad. At the time Uribe said that his Government would make DNA tests, using Enmanuel’s grandmother’s DNA and the results woudl be made public in two or three days.

Today, the preliminary tests were out and they strongly suggested the kid found in Bogota was indeed the son of hostage Clara Gonzelez de Rojas. Immediately Veenzuelan Foreign Minister Maduro, using his characteristic and undiplomatic style of speak first and find the facts later, came out and criticized the Colombian Government for not allowing a Venezuelan expert to do tests on the case.

Of course, if the roles were reversed, the Venezuelan Government would call that an interference in Venezuelan affairs as the kid, the rebels and the hostages are all Colombian and Chavez is just meddling in all this in order to garner international attention.

But the Colombian Government paid little attention to this, instead coming out and saying they did not oppose the examination of the DNA by Venezuelan experts, as long as the General Prosecutor and appropriate social protection institutions approved it. Fortunately, Foreign Minister Maduro had no time to stick his foot in his mouth once again, as the FARC itself issued a press release soon after the statement by the Colombian Foreign Minister saying that the Colombian Government had actually kidnapped Enmanuel in order to “sabotage” the release of the hostages.

Obviously this raises too many questions about the good faith of the FARC in their promises to Hugo Chavez. First of all, if the FARC have over 3,000 hostages, how come they happened to choose a hostage that was not even in their hands? Why not release Ingrid Betancourt, for example, perhaps the most emblematic hostage in the hands of the FARC which would have made Hugo Chavez, and the FARC, look very good in front of international opinion? But once the FARC decided on those three hostages, why did they not come out clean and tell Chavez or his negotiators that the kid was not in their hands? And, once again, once Uribe came out and said they had a kid in their hands who appeared to be Enmanuel, why not communicate to Chavez that this was probably correct? Any of these acts would have at least saved the Venezuelan Government and Hugo Chavez some embarrassing moments in the last few days.

And Chavez once again got farked today, when the guerrilla group confirmed the identity of the kid was indeed Enmanuel, making Foreign Minister Maduro look bad and certainly out of he loop.

In fact, all of this has actually made President Uribe of Colombia look good. Uribe did not stage a failed show like Chavez. He gave in to all of the requests of the Chavez Government and the international observers for access to a possible exchange. While the FARC was saying that the exchange was not taking place because the Colombian military was carrying out operations in the area, it turns out they simply could not hand over the promised hostages, because one of them was not in their hands. As first stated by PMB in a private comment: What the FARC is going on here?

Which goes back to my earlier post on the subject: The FARC have their own political agenda and clearly it seems like it is not  perfectly aligned with that of Hugo Chavez. Maybe the FARC perceives Hugo as a competitor more than a colleague as both groups are fighting for political influence and control over Colombia under much different terms.

And for Chavez this has also been an unnecessary and time consuming distraction from his problems at home. While the media show over the release of the hostages plays well everywhere rom Peoria to Paris, it is likely to be of little significance to Venezuelans increasedly frustrated over the lack of response to their problems from higher inflation, to crime, to garbage collection. Meanwhile, they watch foreign politicians jetting around in fancy Venezuelan Government private planes, their President coordinating expensive military operations and most politicians away for Christmas vacation ignoring their problems.

And in the end, he does not even get his Oliver Stone documentary or his Nobel Peace prize nomination.

It’s tough to be farked like that…