Archive for January, 2008

Two species, one local, one from far away

January 21, 2008

Here are two species, one local and one from Asia. The one on the left is from Venezuela Cattleya Lueddemanniana, in this case a cross between Clint McDade and Raga. This is the first Lueddemanniana to flower this year, they usually start later, but I ahve another on in flower. This is a nice size flower, well shaped and more on the light side, very delicate.

On the right is a plant that says Cyrrhopetalum Amabile which is Asian, but I can’t find it in my book on this species and on the internet I found one and it says new species, but I certainly have had this plant quite a while, Look how complex the flower is, it even has like a purple “hood” on top. Very cute.


Chavez’ ignorant occurrences and whims continue to screw up Venezuela as he shuts down all toll roads

January 20, 2008

I have been meaning to write about Chavez’ decision last Sunday to eliminate all toll booths, but have not had time to do so which is some sense was good given the developments since. This decision basically shows why things can’t function in Venezuela as long as Chavez is President and that the reason things are not worse is just the US$ 300 billion in oil revenues the country has enjoyed since Chavez became President, which cover up the mismanagement, improvisation, corruption and stupidity.

Last Sunday President Chavez announced that he was eliminating all toll roads in Venezuela because they impeded the free movement of people around the country as guaranteed by the Constitution. Of course, this was the ostensible reason from the same man that sends the National Guard to block highways to impede that same freedom whenever the opposition holds a march in Caracas.

The true reason is first, one actually mentioned by Chavez, that this is in some sense a capitalistic measure, which charges people to use infrastructure that the state should provide for them. A second reason may be that these tolls provide funds to some opposition Governors or Governors, such as the Aragua Governor, who may be in the opposition as part of Podemos, even if he has not said it openly.

But there were many reasons why this decision was improvised and even illegal and it just happened to be an idea Chavez had and announced without consulting anyone and which goes in the direction opposite to where the country should be going.

First of all, none of these toll roads are national, they were all State toll roads, so that Chavez once again goes against decentralization. Thus, it was not even his business to shut them down. Even worse, some of them were under concession to private groups whose rights and contracts were simply violated because of a whim Hugo Chavez had. Thus, the right to private property protected not only by the Constitution, but also by the rejection in December of any changes to its definition by the Venezuelan voters, was once again violated by an Hugo Chavez that has yet to understand that the voters said no to this style of running the country and his political project.

But Chavez did not even take into account the human side of shutting down these toll roads, the more than 10,000 workers that man the toll booths (as well as 1,000 “paneleros” at the Guacara toll booth) and which with one swipe were left unemployed. They protested all week, blocked roads and in the end, they got their way in at least two states, Aragua and Carabobo, where the tolls were restored for large trucks as the workers now all became part of the ranks of the civil service in a country with too many public employees.

But the worst part is that these roads are in a terrible state of disrepair for the simple reason that the repairs were funded by the proceeds from the tolls, which had remained at the same Bs. 0.1 (4.6 US$ cents at the official rate or 1.9 US$ cents at the parallel swap rate) for the last nine years, a period in which Chavez has regaled Venezuela with an increase in prices of 295%, in another proof of the incompetence of his improvised economic policies. A country can not simply be run on the back of the occurrences of the President.

In the end tolls are a very fair tax, much fairer than the inflation created by the Government with the financial transaction tax, as you only pay it if you use it. But Chavez and his cronies have their minds programmed against not only such charges, but they abhor the thought of States outsourcing the administration of the tolls to the private sector. The same state that is incapable of maintaining the same roads the cars drive on, but the limited understanding of complex matters by the autocrat that is destroying Venezuela keeps him pushing the country in the same destructive direction the country has been in for the last nine years.

The same day Chavez banned the country’s asphalt exports, despite long term export contracts being in place, the same way that today he felt like increasing the price of milk at the wholesale level by 50%, as more than 400 items remain under control. He also called for banks to be intervened if they don’t lend to agriculture while the law simply states banks will pay a hefty fine of they don’t allocate their quota to such loans. Today, he inaugurated a milk plant purchased by the Government from Parmalat, which insures that milk shortages will continue, as the inefficient Government takes it over. But as one of his first Ministers of Agriculture said today, agricultural production per capita has fallen by 11% since Chavez became President. It will never occur to Hugo Chavez that most of his ignorant occurrences and whims are responsible for it.

Kinappings in Venezuela: It’s anyone but the FARC!!!

January 19, 2008

When you think you have heard it all, here comes our beloved new Minister of the Interior and Justice who says:

The kidnappings in the border region of Venezuela may be:

—Common Criminals

—Members of the Venezuelan’s police forces

But the FARC? No, no way, says Rodriguez Chacin. It’s just not their style.

So now you know, when it comes to kidnappings, it’s anyone but the FARC.

Next?  I guess Chavez asks the Vatican for Marulanda’s or Tirofijo’s sainthood…

Venezuelan Government lies and applies a cynical double standard to the FARC hostages

January 17, 2008

A few days ago Hugo Chavez, under attack for not doing anything about the Venezuelan hostages in the hands of the FARC and the ELN in Venezuela, dared to say with a straight face that there were no Venezuelans in the hands of these two terrorist groups, which he now wants us to convince us are such good and humanitarian people.

But Hugo Chavez has accustomed us Venezuelans to his lies and cynical statements, except that now he is directing them to international opinion as he tries to attack the Colombian Government. But as a friend kindly reminded me yesterday, it was Hugo Chavez who said at the Cartagena summit:

“I am a man of honor and if I were to support the guerrilla I assure you that I would not hide it. I don’t support nor have I ever supported, nor will I ever support the Colombian guerrilla. No way”. So spoke President Hugo Chavez on November 9 th, 2004 during a press conference in Cartagena.

Lies come indeed easily to the Venezuelan President who can keep a straight face in saying the above and now three years later do exactly what he claimed he would never do. But the truth is that he has always been a sympathizer of the FARC from the early days, he just hides it. The same way in which he was a sympathizer of terrorist Carlos the Jackal as clearly expressed in his letter to that terrorist  in 1999 and he sympathized with the September 11th. attacks until he realized his suggestion that the US had it coming to them did not play well anywhere else.

And it is not surprising that Chavez now named as Minister of the Interior the same man that told the guerrillas a message from Chavez that basically said: Hang in there, you can count on us.

But those kidnapped in Venezuela have families and the families did not take well to Chavez’s statements and they have been holding meetings with the press and since Chavez apparently does not care about the Venezuelan hostages, they appealed to the Colombian Government for help. Above is a partial list of some of those kidnapped, as well as the guerrilla/mercantile/terrorist group taking responsibility for it or asking for the ransom. This is a very short list of 44 names, but only in 2007 a total of 279 Venezuelans were kidnapped.

And to show the type of cynical double standard the Government has and the disdain for the suffering of its own citizens, Minister Rodriguez Chacin, the same one that tells the FARC guerrillas to hang in there and count with the support of Chavez and his Government at the moment in which the two Colombian hostages were being handed over, suggests today that the relatives of those kidnapped “may be incurring in treason” when they ask help from the Colombian Government, because nobody knows what the political objective of the kidnappers may be.

A strange statement from a man that just participated in the inverse operation of rescuing Colombian hostages in the hands of a terrorist group whose only objective is the overthrow of the Colombian Government no? Thus, Chavez was and is promoting treason on the part of Colombians when he seeks to help them and the two women released and their relatives have incurred in the same crime.

That is the logic or lack of it that Venezuelans have seen in nine years of lies, deceit and yes, treason to Venezuela on the part of Hugo Chavez and his cronies. Treason when Chavez gives money without authorization to anybody he wants to buy. Treason when he violates the Constitution and signs international agreements to give oil away to Cuba and other countries. Treason when suitcases full of cash leave Venezuela while Venezuelans go hungry or get killed by common criminals or by illnesses that were erradicated or under control in Venezuela before Chavez was elected President.

To say nothing of the fact that lying about PDVSA’s production is treason. Or the destruction of PDVSA, or the country’s industrial base, or the way US$ 300 billion in oil income has been mismanaged.

I could go on and on, but five years of writing here tell you the whole story. We know who the traitors and liars are.

And is not us.

When organized terrorist crime gives receipts for protection: Priceless!!!

January 17, 2008

—Flying in PDVSA jet to Villavicencio to wait for the realese of the hostages zero $

—Spending a night in Villavicencio to await the release $100

—Getting a receipt from the FARC so you can prove you have protection: Priceless!!!

(taken from today’s El Nacional, note it says annual fee, next payment in 2006)

The Great Farc(e) by Teodoro Petkoff

January 17, 2008

Petkoff in today’s Tal Cual Editorial used a very similar play on words that I did two nights ago in trying to show how Chavez (Chacumbele) is either trying to play innocent or does it in bad faith in his silly defense of teh FARC and why it should be recognized as a belligerent force:

The Great Farc(e) by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

What we could call the “Chacumbele Doctrine” about the Colombian conflict is either innocent or it is ignorant or it is bad faith or it is the three things at once.

The crux of the thesis of the Great Strategists is that if you recognize the FARC as a “belligerent force, they would immediately enter the Geneva Protocol (a convention that establishes certain rules in war to “humanize” them) and they could not use kidnapping (Chacumbele dixit). Just BS. The serene little angels from the FARC do not need to be protected by the Geneva Protocol to stop kidnapping civilians.

They know what they are doing. They know perfectly well that the kidnapping of innocent civilians, divorced from the armed fight, is a monstrous practice, abominable, that denies in itself any noble purpose that could motivate those that take up arms with a political purpose and that denies the rules of war.

They kidnap with a full conscience that they are doing it because this is a financing mechanism and not because the known the “rules of war” that came out of the Geneva Convention. Our Clausewitz is wrong when he points out that the kidnappings (which he claims to reject) are part of a policy, different from that of the common criminal, because these are political kidnappings, not to kill them or torture the but for humanitarian exchanges (Chacumbele redixit). For God’s sake, how can he lie like that! Not long ago the FARC assassinated 11 members of Parliament they had in their hands.

 But the main thing is that 99% of those kidnapped by the FARC are non-political citizens, kidnapped to demand (and obtain) a monetary ransom. Bt even if the few political kidnappings had been taken to advance a humanitarian exchange, it is not possible to justify it. The jailed guerrilla members are uniformed combatants captured in combat. The ladies recently freed are civilians removed from the conflict.

To use them as an object of exchange does nothing but accentuate the monstrosity of the FARC’s procedure. The fight that claims to be revolutionary is in the end, a fight for the soul of the collective. Even with weapons in the hands, a revolutionary organization needs to again supporters not lose them. The means that it uses cannot deny the ends that it claims to pursue. To use monstrous procedures, such as kidnapping and drug trafficking, without mentioning the massacres of peasants, alienate sympathies. It is no coincidence that all of Colombia, from the rich to the poor, rejects the FARC, as demonstrated by numerous polls. Since the FARC devoted themselves to drug trafficking and kidnappings they lost all respectability and all credibility.

If kidnapping takes part of the outlaw panoply it is because it happens to be a fully conscious decision f its bosses and it is stupid to think that the Geneva Protocol would stop them from continuing with it. To stop the kidnappings the only thing the FARC needs, is to recuperate its political meaning. If they did it a small path could be opened towards peace in Colombia.

Chavez continues to provoke Colombian Government by meddling with that country’s affairs

January 16, 2008

By now, it would seem as President Hugo Chavez, acting irresponsibly and in absurd fashion is simply trying to pick a fight with Colombia. After suggesting that the FARC should be taken off the terrorist list and refusing to recognize that he is  involving himself in matters which are sovereign to a nation, Chavez accused the Colombian Government of plotting with the US against him. Using claims that those that love in Venezuela are quite used to, Chavez said he had videos and tapes of meetings between the US and Colombia where such plotting took place. Of course, this non-existent “proof” is never seen much like the weapons of those that attempted so many times to kill him using bazookas that seemed to repeat and high power rifles that look oxidized.

But Chavez has to vent his frustration with his failure as President of Venezuela. Not only has he failed in making life better for the people of this country, bu he has failed to convince the people to follow his lead into XXIst. Century Socialism or to be their President indefinitely. Thus. instead of worrying about solving the problems that he has failed to solve for the last ten years, he has spent the month and a half since his loss in the referendum traveling and trying to sove Colombia’s problems as if they were his while treating the terrorist group FARC as buddies and making them out to be the good guys.

Thus, the man who can not make peace with his own people now claims Colombia does not want peace and discusses the FARC on equal footing with Colombia’s politicians and legal military forces, forgetting the horror and the terror with which the FARC have treated the innocent citizens of that country.

And it is as if Chavez not only wanted to pick a fight with Colombia, with one affront after the other and truly medling in that country’s affairs. Chavez is provoking Colombia and it seems as if he is using this as a distraction, but at the same time he wants to escalate the distraction into an irreversible conflict with that country.

Tonight the Colombian Government forcibly asked Chavez to show more respect for it and to stop meddling, as he is confusing cooperation with meddling. Unfortunately Chavez is unlikely to stay quiet and understand that he has violated the boundaries of what is proper. This is likely to lead to a break in diplomatic relations, which are already quite strained and who knows into what adventure the thoughtless autocrat wants to take the Venezuelan people, thinking that it will make us forget or ignore the problems that he ahs failed to solve in the last nine years, despite the biggest windfall in the country’s history

Colombian hostages sad, ill, letters show

January 15, 2008

And just so there is no mistake as to who the FARC exactly are and the horror they subject their captives to, here is a Reuters article from today on the letters the hostages still in captivity sent their relatives with the two women that were freed:

Colombian hostages sad, ill, letters show

Chained, often weak from disease and wracked with despair, Colombian hostages in jungle camps cling to hope a deal with their Marxist rebel captors will free them, letters from the captives released on Tuesday show.

The notes and pictures from guerrilla hostages were brought by former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez who was freed last week after nearly six years in rebel captivity in a deal brokered by Venezuela’s left-wing President Hugo Chavez.

The release of Gonzalez and fellow captive, Clara Rojas, has raised hopes for an accord to free other hostages held by Latin America’s oldest insurgency, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans.

But letters from those left behind such as Police Col. Luis Mendieta, captured nearly a decade ago, show the toll on their physical and mental health after bouts of illness, long jungle marches, and frustration after years in insect-infested camps.

“It is not the physical pain that wounds us, nor the chains on our necks that torment us or the constant sickness … it’s the mental agony of the irrationality of all this,” says one letter signed by Mendieta and others read on local radio.

“It seems that we are worthless, that we do not exist.”

Details of suffering from recent hostage letters have shocked Colombians even as violence from their four-decade conflict eases under President Alvaro Uribe, a Washington ally who has led a campaign to drive the rebels into the jungles.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, still holds several hundred hostages for ransom or political leverage. Authorities said the rebels kidnapped six Colombian tourists on Sunday from a remote Pacific beach.

Mendieta wrote that he has been chained to a pole and spends days trying to pass time playing cards and learning English and Russian in informal classes from another hostage.

Sickness has forced him to be carried several times in a hammock. Injections have eased ailments in his legs and feet, but at times he cannot walk.

“I had to drag myself to the bathroom for my necessities through the mud with just the strength of my arms because I could not get up,” he wrote in a letter read by his daughter.

Blurry photos show Mendieta with former local governor Alan Jara and ex-congressman Luis Eduardo Gechem and other police hostages who have been held for more than five years.

In one letter read by Gechem’s wife he appealed for help from Cuba, which has been host to attempts to broker a peace deal with the ELN, Colombia’s second-largest rebel group.

Gechem, who suffers from a bleeding ulcer and a heart ailment, writes he is even willing to be jailed in Cuba while he recovers his health, his wife said.

“President Fidel Castro, I ask you, beg you to make an additional gesture for humanity,” Gechem wrote. “Comandante Castro, please save this life.”

After a failed attempt at the end of the year, Chavez last week helped negotiate the release of Rojas and Gonzalez, who were held for nearly six years by the FARC, which Washington brands a drug-trafficking terrorist group.

Rojas gave birth to a child in captivity who was taken from her months after he was born. They were reunited on Sunday.

Chavez, a foe of Washington, has stirred tensions with Colombia by demanding Uribe recognize the FARC’s political status and has urged foreign governments to take the group off their lists of terrorist organizations.

Uribe’s government says that could only happen when the FARC commits to a peace process.

“This shows the horror and infamy to which the FARC submits those held in its power. For us it is clear the need for an immediate way out of this,” Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told reporters on a visit to Costa Rica.

The rebels, who began as a peasant army fighting for socialism in the 1960s, are insisting Uribe pull troops from an big area of southwest Colombia to facilitate any hostage deal.

But Uribe, a hardliner whose father was killed in a botched FARC kidnapping more than 20 years ago, has refused, saying creating such a safe haven would let the guerrillas regroup.

Bolivarian friends? Plain bandits

January 15, 2008

I meant to translate this Editorial in El Nacional, but had no time, but now BBC Monitor published it and you can read it too (link later):

Bolivarian friends? Plain bandits Editorial in El Nacional

The international news agencies had a feast yesterday with President [Hugo] Chavez’ request for the democratic countries of the world to erase the crimes and terrorist actions perpetrated throughout the past 20 years by the Colombian FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] and the ELN [Army of National Liberation] and declare them
“insurgent forces.” In other words, he has asked them to give the two groups their own political status of a movement of national liberation, status they had back in the 1960s and 1970s. However, our president has forgotten that he is shamefully raising some up in arms groups that today have industrialized kidnapping, extortion, and the protection of drug trafficking networks, thus betraying the ethical principles of a revolutionary.

Did Ho Chi Minh, the brave old man who defeated the US forces in Vietnam, ever become involved in the illegal drug trade to finance his struggle? He never did, and he never lowered himself by practicing the extortion tactics practiced in Colombia with kidnapping and with the demanding of protection money. Furthermore, that old, calm, and wise, old Vietnamese man, never recruited children to be killed on the battle fields as the FARC does.

Did Nelson Mandela during his struggle for South Africa’s freedom ever become the guardian of the drug traffickers in that vast African zone? How many extortions did Mandela practice and how many kidnap victims did he negotiate for cash and political support, as we saw in Venezuela? Did this wise former South African president ever cover up the dirty businesses of the guerrilla groups that disguised as revolutionaries to operate in Africa and export diamonds and gold to Europe? No honest revolutionary supports a guerrilla machinery whose operation depends on illegal, cruel, and criminal tactics. All we have to do is listen to the statements made by one of the two hostages released by the FARC, Consuelo Gonzalez who said that there are “people’s jails” in the Colombian jungles, jails where [Manuel] Marulanda’s people are holding dozens of hostages in miserable and infrahuman conditions.

But what is most horrifying is what Gonzalez also said, that “the prisoners who are soldiers or policemen have chains around their necks,” like the chains that the captains of slave boats during the days of the colony made the slaves wear. One of the things Gonzalez said, which she said was very painful, was “seeing the men in chains who were forced to carry those chains in a haversack on their shoulders, wherever they went.” She added that Colombia “is the only place in the world where this is happening.” For her, the way these prisoners behaved was amazing: “One would look at them and wonder: how can these people who were kidnapped nine or 10 years ago keep on going, people who have been in chains for more than a year?” She also said that all the hostages have very serious health problems.

This Dantesque picture shows the true nature of President Chavez’ guerilla friends [amiguitos guerrilleros], those he wants to turn into “insurgent rebels”.

Originally published by El Nacional website, Caracas, in Spanish 12
Jan 08.

Hugo, what a FARC(e)!

January 14, 2008

(Weil: And I propose to the world…specially the people of Transylvania that we stop qualifying  Count Dracula as a vampire)

The whole issue of the FARC is so absurd that I meant to stay away from it, but by now it reveals so much about the true state of mind of Hugo Chavez that I can’t help but comment on the whole FARC(e) he has staged over the last few days after he left his mouth opened for so long that the truth came out and he has spent his time trying to make himself the big humanitarian that he ain’t.

For years, everyone has suspected Hugo Chavez’ admiration for the FARC, which are apparently not too reciprocal, given the way the FARC left Hugo Chavez repeatedly standing at the rescue attempt altar over the last three months. But Hugo and the FARC have a sordid history of close calls and cover ups since Chavez became President that all the last few days prove is the FARC(e) Hugo has staged over the years to protect his international image that he now tries to hide under the transparent cover of his fake humanism and care for others.

In the early Chavez days, General Gonzalez Gonzalez brought to Chavez’ attention the number of FARC camps within Venezuela’s borders which were not being eliminated by the country’s armed forces. Under Chavez’ orders, Gonzalez Gonzalez was told not to do anything, which created a deep chasm between the General and the autocrat which led to Gonzalez Gonzalez not only splitting from the Government, but from Chavez going after him. He remains at large at this time.

By that time FARC friendly Rodriguez Chacin had become Minister of the Interior, raising all sorts of tales about his relationship with the guerrilla group that were never clarified. Chavez got rid of Rodriguez Chacin, rumored to be Chavez’ Ambassador to the FARC, in one of his many Cabinet shake ups and the issued died down. Later, he was found to have two separate identities under very similar names and to have deposited a multimillion Bolivar or dollar amount under his “secondary” identity at a local institution.

But in a country where opposition figures are prosecuted and persecuted for shifting funds from one line item to the other and prohibited from holding public office for years, no Prosecutor ever charged Rodriguez Chacin. But it did not seem to happen as the former Minister had simply disappeared from the face of the Earth with some even claiming he had died in one of his “secret” missions for Chavez and others claiming he had simply moved to his newly acquired cattle farm in Barinas state near the border with Colombia.

But it seemed irrelevant at the time as Rodriguez Chacin could (would?) never come back to an important position, so what was the point? Let sleeping or war dogs lie, wherever they may be.

Later, one Foreign Minister of the FARC was found living in Venezuela illegally, or legally depending on your point of view, using an assumed named, moving about and living the life of the guerrilla rich and famous, and aided by, guess who, none other than Rodriguez Chacin when he was Minister.

But Venezuela’s ineffable Justice system was too busy to look into this, instead prosecuting Uson, Mendoza and the like for saying things, and everyone was happy as Rodriguez Chacin was nowhere to be found as Chavista hordes even made Granda out to be a hero in one of their marches.

And while Chavez denied and denies that there are FARC in Venezuela, Granda was very clear when he was “kidnapped” by Colombian authorities saying the FARC has people “everywhere”, and in fact he actively participated in a “Bolivarian” Congress in Venezuela, where Granda using his fake Venezuelan nationality and identity, the same one he used to vote in the referendum to recall Chavez, actually managed to propose a condemnation of Uribe, the US and the attacks on the FARC.

And then, after some silence on the issue, Chavez saw his chance to prop up his much damaged reputation in teh world, when he discovered the interest of the French and the new French President on the Ingrid Betancourt issue. And even as his buddies in the FARC did not deliver, making him look bad, he kept the attack on Colombian President Uribe, making him look as the bad guy, as if the FARC did not hold thousands of hostages in its hands and forgetting the thousands of deaths and injured in their record.

The FARC the forced us to watch Director Stone and first gentleman Kirchner waste their time in the heat of Villavicencio, as the FARC accused Uribe of military operations barring the return of the captives. Chavez defended the FARC and accused Uribe, so did the dumb Director and only Kirchner showed that he at least has some political sixth sense as he tried to leave the Colombian town before the whole thing collapsed. Then Uribe explained how the “humanitarian” FARC turned over Enmanuel with a broken arm, malaria and parasites to a caretaker, who realized the severity of the child’s health, turning him into Colombian social authorities, a true act of humanity which almsot cost him his life.

While Uribe gave this explanation in a very calm fashion, Chavez and his Foreign Minister stridently questioned it and suggested this was another step to “boycott” and “dynamite” Chavez’ operation to get the attention of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. And as Enmanuel’s mother and friend were finally released, a revived Rodriguez Chacin was put in charge of the operation and everyone heard him tell the guerrillas releasing the hostages to “hang in there” and ” we will support you”. Remarkable words for a man no longer a civilian but now in charge of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice of Venezuela, despite his outlaw background.

But as Chavez’ hopes were dashed and he spoke freely and reportedly under sedation or the effects of coca leaves Chavez went over board, calling for the world to remove the FARC from its terrorist lists. But it was a matter of the tongue being faster than the brain or simply the output to be under no control from the brain. And as friendly and unfriendly Governments called Chavez’ bluff, the autocrat tried to make it look better than it was, failing miserably,

Failing, because even if the FARC began as an organized Army with a political goal, its use of kidnapping and drug trafficking has washed away this long gone idealism which turned the organization into a mercantile operation and a FARC(e).

Even worse, Chavez failed, like Brazilian President Lula, to ask the FARC for anything. He could ave asked for teh 3,000 hostages to be released as a gesture of good will. Or more simply, he could have asked them to stop kidnapping and killing, but just yesterday the great “humanitarian” organization known as the FARC kidnapped six tourists, one Norwegian, to add to their stock of human captives.

And while Chavez continued to defend the FARC without calling for any concession on their part, he denies the FARC or ELN have any Venezuelans in their hands, outraging the relatives and making a true mockery of the whole process.

But as countries like Spain, that have seen the Basque separatist group ETA kill and maim in a scale that is almost miniscule compared to the barbaric and massive acts of the FARC, refuse and condemn Chavez request to remove the terrorist group form their black list, former Colombian President Gaviria says Chavez is violating the OAS charter with his request and the Presidents of Guatemala and Ecuador distance themselves form the autocrat.

But Chavez himself proved his sympathy for the rebel group, when he said the FARC were Bolivarian, a name he has reserved exclusively for his own movement over the years, But Bolivar would be ashamed of both. Chavez who ignores the people and concentrates in his own ambitious goals for power forever and the FARC, with their absolute disregard for the “people” they claim to love and represent.

In the end it is simply a FARC(e) as both Chavez and the guerrilla group simply aspire for power, without any clear plan as to what they would do with it once they have.

That is why Hugo is more interested in projecting himself internationally than dealing with the tough and daily problems of the Venezuelan citizens.

What a FARC(e)!