Archive for July 19th, 2009

According to Venezuela’s People’s Ombudsman soaring crime is just a “sensation” created by the media

July 19, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

One of the true innovations of the 2000 Bolivarian Constitution was the creation of the position of the People’s Ombudsman or Defensor del Pueblo. With its creation, the old office for the defense of human rights was taken out of the Prosecutor’s Office, given an independent status and the rank that human rights deserve in a modern and democratic society.

Unfortunately, it never delivered on the promise. The first person to occupy the position was German Mundarain, a mediocre and lowly character who spent his tenure at the position defending Hugo Chavez and ignoring the blatant violation of people’s  rights like the Chavez/Tascon list and even the flagrant murder of poor Venezuelans day after day.

Mundarain was thankfully not renewed in the position and nobody thought we could get someone as willing to please the Dictator and were a little (never have high expectations with the revolution!) encouraged that a younger person, Gabriela Ramirez, reputed to be a Diosdado soldier was named to the position. And while being with Diosdado should not be considered a positive recommendation, I did know that Ms. Ramirez was actually royally screwed when she was a candidate for Chavez, when the  PSUV gave her little funds for her campaign, just because of her closeness with “Pretty Eyes” Cabello.

But it was not to be. Ramirez has turned out to be a female version of Mundarain, at times more radical, but always coming out to defend the indefensible regime of Hugo Chavez and its antics and seldom expressing a word in the defense of the meek and weak.

But I must say I was astonished, with a regime that has lost its ability to amaze and surprise me anymore, when Ms. Ramirez came out with her rather novel, daring and silly theory about crime and homicides in Venezuela.

According to Ms. Ramirez, the person that is supposed to be defending the people and their rights, the problem is not that there is insecurity in Venezuela. Rather, this high level of improvised theorist of what is happening in Venezuela says, it is more of a “sensation” of insecurity, created by, you guessed it, the media, who hammers on the subject thus creating this generalized feeling that there is a problem that does not exist. Then, in the greater mind of this neo-fascist of human right defense, the solution is to attack the problem at its roots, forcing the media to stop promoting this “sensation” or “feeling” that murders have increased during the incredibly positive regime of Hugo Chavez, neo-Dictator.

I guess this lady may have been too young (or care?) to know that in 1998 when Hugo Chavez became President there were around 8,000 murders a year in Venezuela and that number is currently at around 14,000, after topping 16,000 in 2004. (Some believe the lowering of the number is simply fudging). Thus, she should worry about reality, because 8,000 were unacceptable then as much as 14,000 are today, particularly because the deaths occur largely among the poor, the ones that have the least capability to defend themselves.

But homicides and kidnappings have become the rule of the day and gone beyond anything imaginable and much more than a simple “sensation” created by the media. In the last six months a client of mine was kidnapped while driving his 1990 Malibu (The kidnappers were not fooled, they knew exactly who he was) and a person I know and respect quite a bit, was kidnapped and remains in the hands of the kidnappers almost three months after he was taken away.

But these are the ways of the revolution, they improvise and invent concepts right and left even if they have no clue about what they are talking about, which leads to people like Ramirez defending human rights, the other Ramirez as head of PDVSA  or Merentes in the Central Bank or, yes,  Chavez in the Presidency.

And the whole thing is so depressing that I have to end by translating Laureano Marquez’ take on the subject which he entitled “Sensational” , quoting Kant in that “Patience is the strength of the weak, while impatience is the weakness of the strong”. The article was not as difficult to translate but for the last sentence, which refers to the TV show Sabado Sensacional which used to fill six to eight hours of entertainment every Saturday in Venezuela.

Sensational by Laureano Marquez in Tal Cual

It has been said this week in Venezuela that this is not a country without security, but it is a country in which we live a “sensation” of insecurity. Everyone has attacked the author of the phrase, without realizing that the postulate is a transcendental concept that even is philosophically impeccable. To me, this stuff takes us back to Kant, the German philosopher, who understood the concept of sensation as “the effect over the representative faculty, as far as we are affected by it”

Who can assure the more than 59 people that died last week in Caracas that they are truly dead? Do we have the capacity of involve ourselves in spiritual inights? Probably, Kant and his Ombudsman would say that “the object”, the lead bullet, produced over “the representative faculty” of the victim the “sensation” of dying. The only difference with other vitals sensations is that this will be a lasting and definitive sensation, but that takes nothing away from it.

Probably the relatives have the sensation that they buried him and the morgues the sensation that they collapsed…I will go even further; Do you, dear reader ever have a feeling that we only have a sensation of Government, that this shit can not be happening?

Have you ever thought when oil prices go up beyond one hundred dollars and you keep contemplating the same poverty, that what we have here is a sensation of wealth? When you hear the corresponding Minister saying that he is going to end with the workers and that he will lessen their working conditions imposed by the –employee-Government, that what we have here is a sensation of socialism? Don’t you have the sensation that here what they are doing is ripping off the money shamelessly? With what happened in Curiepe don’t you get the feeling that people are getting pissed and that the “people’ have the sensation that they are being screwed and that is why they are going to shut down radio stations so that people do not have the sensation that they have sensations? To me, by now, I have no doubt; Venezuela is a country, which is:

Sensational! (like the TV show)

OAS turns a blind eye to violations by left by Glenn Garvin

July 19, 2009

(Este post está en español aquí)

The Miami Herald tells it like it is on the OAS

OAS turns a blind eye to violations by left by Glenn Garvin

There’s been no formal announcement yet, but I think Woody Allen must be remaking Bananas, his old comedy about Latin American politics. Really: When Argentine president Cristina Fernandez tells the Organization of American States that the miliary coup in Honduras amounted to ”kidnapping the democratic restoration in Latin America,” how could it be anything but a punch line? And the joke — a very sad and expensive one — is the OAS.

An organization that can, with a straight face, expel Honduras as a threat to democracy barely a month after inviting Cuba (50 years without elections and still counting) to join, has lost any claim to serious consideration, much less the funding of American taxpayers.

Founded in 1948, the OAS is an artifact of the Cold War, originally intended to resist Soviet mischief in Latin America. How much it really accomplished in that regard, and at what cost, are open to debate. But what isn’t arguable is that for the past 30 years, the OAS has devolved into a pack of circus clowns who perform political somersaults for the amusement of the region’s leftists — all on the nickel of U.S. taxpayers, who put up more than 60 percent of the OAS budget.

The OAS double standard on democracy dates at least to the late 1970s, when it worked to oust Nicaragua’s anti-communist Somoza dynasty while breathing not a word about Omar Torrijos, the vicious left-wing military dictator just over the hill in Panama.

But in the past decade, the organization has outdone itself. If the OAS were a sports team, its official mascot would be a pipe cleaner, its motto Capable of bending around any corner.

The rule of law? That’s very important for a centrist government in Honduras — so much so that the OAS has appointed itself the ultimate arbiter of the country’s constitution, overruling the Honduran supreme court. Not so much in Venezuela, where leftist strongman Hugo Chávez sent mobs to Caracas city hall to keep a victorious opposition candidate from taking office after he won election last year.

The sanctity of elections? Absolutely crucial in Honduras, where the OAS insists that Chávez’s sock-puppet Manuel Zelaya be returned to power to serve out the final six months of his term even though practically every political force in the country opposes him. But much less so for Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista party was so obvious in its theft of 40 mayoral elections last fall that even the ordinarily sympathetic European Union cut off aid.

Toppling elected governments? That’s an authoritarian affront to the hemisphere if it’s done by the army in Honduras and participatory democracy when it happens at the hands of leftist mobs in Ecuador, where Jamil Mahuad was forced out in 2000. (Pssst! Don’t tell the OAS, but the Ecuadoran army helped, too!) Or in Bolivia, where two presidents in two years were driven from office by machete-wielding gangs loyal to cocaine socialist Evo Morales — who, in an amazing coincidence, was elected president right afterward.

Literally nothing — not even captured documents showing that he was supplying money, oil and weapons (including anti-aircraft missiles) to Marxist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia — can prod the OAS into breathing a word against Chávez and his left-wing cronies.

The organization’s left-eye-blindness reached terminal levels in the wake of last month’s coup, when the OAS ignored Chávez’s ranting threats to invade, then blandly cited ”the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states” as its justification for expelling Honduras and threatening the broke little country with economic sanctions. As Woody Allen said in Bananas, “It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”