Archive for September 8th, 2008

Chavez’ appoints Al Aissami to replace badass Chacin

September 8, 2008

And how about Chavez’ sardonic sense of humor, removing “badass” Chacin from the Ministry of the Interior today and replacing him with none other than Tarek Al Aissami, the only high Venezuelan official whose picture was submitted as evidence in the Miami Maletagate trial. I guess Chavez juts wanted to make sure that the link to the Venezuelan Government by the men charged goes to the highest possible places.

Talk about timing! Or simply adding some fuel to pyre of the Miami trial?

Direct Flight to backwardness in Venezuela

September 8, 2008

Today the Homeland Security Department issued a warning about the fact that it has been unable to check security procedures at Venezuelan airports from which flights go to the US. This is due to the lack of cooperation of the Venezuelan Government. I was planning to write about it, but Veneconomy sent this opinion piece this afternoon that simply said it all:

Direct Flight to backwardness by Veneconomy

For many years, Venezuela was given a Category II rating by the US aviation authorities, which meant that
Venezuelan airlines were prevented from flying to the United States.

In 2006, after making many adjustments to meet international standards,
complying with endless technical requirements, and undertaking extensive
modernization in the area of infrastructure, the National Civil Aviation
Institute (INAC) culminated a long process for recertifying Venezuela in
Category I, as a result of which domestic airlines were once again able to fly
their routes to the United States under the Venezuelan flag and with Venezuelan
crews and Venezuelan registered aircraft.

However, this progress seems to be about to suffer a setback.

This weekend, the US Department of Homeland Security reported that it had been
impossible to determine whether or not Venezuelan airports and direct flights
between Venezuela and the United States
complied with the security rules established by the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO). According to press reports, this impediment is
apparently due to the fact that the Venezuelan authorities have refused to
allow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to inspect Maracaibo and Valencia airports alleging that,
under international security standards, the only agency entitled to conduct
these inspections is the ICAO, which has a visit scheduled for January 2009.

VenEconomy respects the
INAC’s legal right to reject the visit by representatives of the TSA. But it
costs nothing to be polite, and Venezuela
has always extended this courtesy to US government officials in the past.

However, according to Nelson Bocaranda, the government’s intolerance has reach
such a pitch that the INAC has threatened to eliminate some flights of US airlines
between the US and Venezuela.
VenEconomy considers that an
inspection of this type would be most timely at this moment, when there is a
clear conflict of interests in this area in Venezuela. A single person occupies
the presidency of the INAC, the Executive’s Coordinated Air Transportation
Service (SATA), and the airline Conviasa. In other words, the supervisee is the
same person as the supervisor.

For example, this three-hatted president would have to answer questions from
the US security representatives such as: Why did you allow the Conviasa
aircraft, which crashed a few days ago in Ecuador, to do a night flight when
international standards indicate that, if an aircraft does not meet all air
navigation standards, it should only fly during the daytime? or, Why, if it was
a well-known secret that some pilots took illegal shortcuts when departing from
MéridaAirport, the INAC did not take the necessary measures? Had they done so,
perhaps the accident of the Santa Bárbara Airline, in which so many lives were
lost, could have been prevented.

In short, it seems that the US
transportation security authorities are sending a very important message on the
state of airport security in Venezuela.

A guide for understanding freedom of speech in Venezuela

September 8, 2008

A guide for understanding
freedom of speech in
Venezuela by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

I don’t know if it is a
coincidence, but what is happening to the Villegas brothers, Vladimir, Mario
and Ernesto is something that should be in Ripley’s. Besides the curious detail
that three members of the same family, reporters all three, have been victims
of measures that if they are not repressive they are quite close, the case of
the three Villegas’ could serve well to the “revolutionary tourists” to
understand well how it is that freedom of speech is handled in Venezuela. These
good souls, like Ignacio Ramonet and Danny Glover, when not the kids from the
Unified Spanish Left, always have on the tip of their tongue the topic of
freedom of speech in Venezuela.
One explains to them that certainly, there is no censorship here and that in
some media outlets you can say all you want against the Government and its owner. One
attempts to clarify that this is due more to the fact that these people do not
allow the Government to intimidate them with its pressures, threats and
blackmail, but that quite a few of these media outlets have been broken and
become “accommodating” to the Government. Then, so that they understand well
how things work, here is the Villegas case. Mario, the oldest, who is not
pro-Chavez, works as a professional at the tax office SENIAT, but because as a
columnist for El Mundo he has spared no effort to criticize and point out things
about the regime, SENIAT sent him to Santa Elena de Uairen in the border with
Brazil. Vladimir, the second oldest, pro-Chavez but not unconditional nor the
type to shut up, has just been fired from the TV Station run by Maripili
Hernandez, precisely because his opinions do not adapt themselves to what “I the
Supreme” expects from his followers. Ernesto, the third one, one of the anchors
of channel 8, who is also pro-Chavez, came out to defend the cameramen
attacked by the top Capo. “Coincidentally” his morning program has been
suspended since then. Do you Sean Penn now understand how things work in