Archive for February, 2010

Venezuelan Government hires Cubans to build computer systems Venezuelans are much more capable at

February 28, 2010

(Ramiro Valdes gives speech at UCI’s graduation)

Today, there are a few articles in El Nacional (pages P-1-3) about the fact that databases of Venezuelans are controlled today by Cubans, as all identification systems, property systems (notaries)  and the like are more and more run by Cubans, as a Cuban company Albet has received contracts to manage them and its “Universidad de Ciencias Informaticas” has been hired to write and implement systems for all those databases. Note that Albet’s history is as short as that of the University.

I don’t know enough about the subject to write and article about the penetration of Cubans in Venezuela’s Ministries. But there is one article that really blew my mind, because it represents either an amazing attempt to deceive and lie, or it shows how ignorant these “revolutionaries” are about the country’s reality and capabilities. Or both.

The article is an interview with a Mr. Dante Rivas. who happens to be  the Head of Saime, the service that gives out ID’s and passports in Venezuela. In it, Mr. Rivas says:

“We did not have sufficient experience to create software that would integrate technology for passports and ID’s. While Cuba has a University for Informatic Sciences, we don’t have in Venezuela a university specialized in that area”

Say what?

This is as ignorant and disrespectful as can be to Venezuela and its professional. For a Government that claims to defend “sovereignty” and be concerned about it, this is the most despicable statement about the capability of Venezuela, for many reasons:

1) Venezuela has had extensive educational programs in “Informatic Sciences”, while it may not have a single university devoted to the area, the country’s best universities have had Bachelors, Master and Ph.D. programs for over three decades in Computer Sciences and Systems, with specialists in areas that Cuba would love to have had even a fraction of what Venezuela has enjoyed. Venezuela has (had?) been a leader in Latin America in networks, supercomputing and quite a number of “Informatics” companies have even been successful abroad, such as Galak, just to name one.

2) The “Universidad de Ciencias Informaticas” of Cuba, was created only in 2002, thus I would dare question its capabilities. Moreover, it originates in a military “escuela” and the “esbirro” Ramiro Valdes attends its graduations regularly and gave a speech in its first graduation.

3) Venezuela has more Ph.D. graduates, Ms.Sc. nad Bachelor graduates in the last five years that Cuba in all of its history.

Thus, we are either in the face of a gigantic lie and deceit and these people are selling out Venezuela in front of our own eyes, or these ideologists are dont seem to appreciate and/or understand the capabilities that Venezuela has (had?) in all of these fields.

Chavismo is given away the country’s sovereignty. The reason? It is not that Venezuela does not have the capability. It is not that we don’t have the universities or the programs. It is not that we don’t have the equipment. the problem is simple:

This revolution does not trust or admire Venezuelans. It is not willing to trust our capabilities and our people. They are so unaccomplished and ignorant that they have not been willing to look at the expertise and knowledge that Venezuela has.  The revolution is distrustful of anything and anyone that has not total allegiance to Chavez. Thus, it discriminates against the many talented Venezuelans, some of them underemployed that could design, create and implement systems like those Saime needs. (Much like it destroyed INTEVEP, the country’s former premier center for research and development in oil)

In the end, Chavismo is betraying Venezuela, channeling money that could be used to develop even more capabilities in Venezuela to Cuba, just because they are dazzled and enamored of the aging Dictator Fidel in the same way they are fanatic about Hugo Chavez, refusing to recognize how he is destroying Venezuela and wasting the resources of the “people” in hare brained projects that contribute nothing to our own country.

And indirectly, the revolution is giving away our sovereignty, our data, our information. Cuban intelligence knows more about what is happening in Venezuela than our own. Chavez does not trust Venezuelans to guard him. Cubans are always present in immigration departments in Venezuela’s airports. A Cuban company runs our customs in all major ports. (and did the Cubans tell Chavez to get rid of Luis Correa of intelligence office DISIP and formerly of ONA? More on that tomorrow, he was detained today)

And science and technology, where Venezuela was always ahead of Cuba, is allowed to flounder, as money is funneled to Government controlled universities in that island.

Another remarkable fraud by the Chavez revolution.

Dying with dignity by Teodoro Petkoff

February 27, 2010

The death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo has been a terrible reminder of the backseat that human rights have taken in Latin America in the last few years. As the region’s Heads of State laughed and joked with Raul Castro in Cancun this man was dying in Cuba in his own personal fight for dignity. It is my hope that one day, history will judge Lula, Bachelet, Chavez and the rest under the proper light. They are guilty by their silence, by their diplomatic effort to ignore this terrible tragedy in the interest of good personal relations with the killers of Cuba. Hopefully, the next generation of the region’s leaders will be forced to respect human rights. It is hard to be optimistic, it appears as if we have learned very little about the ability of human beings to treat other human beings as animals when it suits their political purposes.

Dying with dignity by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual
Horror, shock and a deep sense of rejection and condemnation is all that can be expressed at the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban, bricklayer, black, political prisoner of a system to which the sacrifice of Zapata Tamayo undresses in all its infinite cruelty and inhumanity. The man died defending a single duty: to recognize his status as a political prisoner rather than infamy of being a common criminal. The appalling and outrageous adventures of his arrest and hunger strike are worthy of the universal history of infamy. Detained in the great raid of 2003 against 75 dissidents, he was initially sentenced to three years in prison, but then, due to his unwavering demand for respect for his human and political convictions additional convictions were accumulated against him, to take them to 32 years of prison. For anyone who finds this monstrosity hard to believe, I will remember an episode that I experienced personally. By the time Hubert Matos would have served his sentence to twenty years imprisonment, the Cuban ambassador in Venezuela then, Norberto Hernandez, told me that his government was considering an additional condemnation to give him an additional twenty years in jail. Given the anger that I expressed, about this barbarism, he went off the topic with what he thought was a witty comment. But now I see he was not joking. In the light of what has happened with Zapata Tamayo, I have no doubt that the Cuban government had in mind the idea of aberrantly condemning Hubert Matos twice for the same cause. Just as Thatcher, the Iron Lady implacable British conservative known for his fanaticism, who left two activists of the Irish IRA to die of hunger strikes, the regime of Fidel let Zapata Tamayo to die simply for not recognizing his right to be treated as a minimum like a human being. He was not even demanding his freedom; he just wanted to have his rights recognized as political prisoners.

Because under that brutal dictatorship, anyone who dares to challenge the unlimited authority of the senile satrap is treated as either being insane if not as a common criminal and condemned to brutal sentences.

And by the way, what’s happening with Franklin Brito?

Venezuela, the country where electric power plants prices can vary by 100%

February 27, 2010

A few months ago Juan from Caracas Chronicles wrote a post questioning the cost of the power plant to be built by Iberdrola in Venezuela. Basically, Juan noted, the plant hired out by Diosdado Cabello to be built in Sucre State was costing too much compared to world standards at Euros 1,400 per KW.

Well, the Ministers in Chavez’ Cabinet are so disorganized that they don’t even check for the consistency of their numbers. While Diosaddo builds power plants with 1 KW fcosting roughly $2,000, Rafael Ramirez says PDVSA is buying plants from somewhere between US$ 1,333 and US$ 1,500 per 1 KW, while Ali Rodriguez, Minister for Electricity, says he is buying 4,000 MW for US$ 4 billion, that is, US$ 1,000 per KW. These guys can’t shoot straight or figure out who is on first base, that is why Venezuela is in such sorry state.

These guys are so incompetent that they don’t even listen or pay attention to one another. In any seriously run country, this would be a scandal to determine the 100% difference in prices claimed by the different Government officials.

The problem is, that the only plant that has been really contracted out is the Iberdrola one. The rest is fluff, the type of announcements that the Government makes Sunday after Sunday in Chavez’ program to appease the Dicator and make him believe that they are doing something.But these plants are virtual and will remain so for quote a while.

Because there is no doubt in my mind that the Iberdrola plant is full of overcharges and commissions, at $2,000 per KW it will be (If it ever gets built) the most expensive thermoelectric power plant in world’s history. (Has it even been started yet?) But there is also no doubt in my mind that Ramirez’ and Rodriguez’ announcements are just that: announcements and nothing concrete has been signed.

In fact, both of them are lying when they said that most of these power plants will come on line in 2010, Ali Rodriguez said it on ABN and Ramirez in Sunday’ Alo Presidente.

Because even if these plants were built by companies like Bechtel, Fluor and the like, it would take much more than 12 months to have them running, even if construction were to start tomorrow. Which it isn’t. So, imagine with the well-known Chavista inefficiency, everyone trying to get a commission out and the teams in charge being changed every six months or so, how long this will all take. Remember, for example, that in October Corpoelec says that Planta Centro would be back up by the end of February and the turbines in Guri would be online also by February. I hear Planta Centro is not even close to being ready and the turbines, oh well, eight of the twenty are still offline. (Yes!, one additional turbine has gone online since October when the crisis began, way to go Hugo and the revolution!)

This is simply no way to run a country and while Chavistas believe rain will save them, this is not the case. The electric crisis will last at least until 2012 and with these people in charge, maybe forever. And forever is a long time, like the song says.

Because most of these guys prefer to go on shows like the picture above, rather than wait for the work to be finished before they have the show. Problem is, they are so incompetent that they would never ahve much to show off anyway.  But if rather than spend so much time talking and on TV, they worked hard, maybe they could get a little more done that they do.

Some revolution!

You know Venezuela is screwed up when even the Presidental Palace has blackouts during a Chavez speech

February 26, 2010

Of course, according to Chavez there was no blackout. Yeah! sure, and the sky is not blue and crime has not soared in Venezuela.

Homicides in Venezuela: Eleven years of neglect and incompetence

February 26, 2010

This picture almost needs no explanation. The red line is the number of homicides in Venezuela each year since 1998, the year Chavez became President. The data was compiled from official statistics by the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence. The blue line is the number of detentions associated with homicides. As you can see in 1998, the year Chavez was elected, there were more than one person on average detained for each homicide. In 2009 that number was barely 1,491 for 16,047 homicides, about 9%.

The people’s Ombudsman Gabriela Ramirez said she would not recognize the CIDH report because it failed to note the decrease in extra-judicial homicides (included in the numbers above). Is this lady really proud of the above record of neglect and incompetence? Does she really care for the inhabitants of Venezuela? Can’t she see something is truly wrong with the above graph?

This is another farce of the revolution.

Oscar Arias: Last Democrat Standing in the region?

February 25, 2010

(In Spanish here)

After seeing how easily Latin American leaders skirt democratic principles and look the other way at the systematic violations of human rights in the region, it is somewhat comforting to see that at least one leader and rule in the region still “gets it”. In contrast with the Lula’s, Bachelet’s, Kirchner’s, Insulza’s and the rest, it is clear that this man is a true statesman who understands the follies and foibles of the pitiful leaders that the inhabitants of our region have to endure. By now, democarcy in Latin America seems to have been reduced to having elections and damn the people, their rights and their future. It is always somebody else’s fault, these empty and fake leaders never take responsibility for their gigantic failures.

Kudos to Oscar Arias in the hope that the end of his term, will not be the end of what seems to be the lonely voice of the last democrat standing in Latin America.

Here, his speech at the cancun summit, no more comments are necessary, it has no waste (Hat tip PMB!):

Speech by Óscar Arias Sánchez, President of Costa Rica

Excellencies, Heads of State and Government from Latin America and the Caribbean, friends:

This is my last participation at an international summit. I do not expect to say goodbye to Latin America nor to the Caribbean. I keep the dreams of this region bound to the center of my life. But I do have to say farewell to all of you, my colleagues, brothers and sisters, fellow travelers. I must say goodbye to this audience that summarizes, in a cluster of voices, the hopes of 600 million people, nearly a tenth of humanity. It is on behalf of that Latin American lineage that I want to share with you some thoughts. It is on behalf of the generation that dwells beyond these doors, and demands from us the boldness to build a more dignified place under the sun.

Despite the speeches and the applause, the truth of the matter is our region has made little progress in recent decades. In certain areas, it has stepped back resolutely. Many want to climb aboard a rusted out railroad car headed toward the past, to the ideological trenches that divided the world during the Cold War. Latin America runs the risk of adding to its unprecedented collection of lost generations. It runs the risk of wasting, once again, its opportunity on Earth. It is up to us, and those who come after us, to prevent that from happening. It is up to us to honor the debt we owe to democracy, to development and to peace for our peoples, a debt, whose deadline expired centuries ago.

Honoring the debt to democracy means more than enacting political constitutions, signing democratic charters or celebrating periodic elections. It means building a reliable set of institutions, beyond the anemic structures that currently sustain our state apparatuses. It means guaranteeing the supremacy of the law and the effectiveness of the Rule of Law, one which some insist on vaulting with a pole.

It means strengthening the system of checks and balances, deeply threatened by the presence of tentacular governments who have erased the boundaries between ruler, party and State. It means ensuring the enjoyment of a solid core of fundamental rights and guarantees, chronically impinged upon in much of the Latin American region. And it means, above all, the use of political power for achieving a greater human development, the improvement of our people’s living conditions and the expansion of our citizens’ freedoms.

One must not confuse the democratic origin of a régime with the democratic operation of the State. There are governments in our region that avail themselves of election results so as to justify their desire to restrict individual freedoms and persecute their opponents. They make use of a democratic mechanism in order to subvert the foundations of democracy. For a true democrat, if he has no opposition, then he must create one. He shows his success in the fruits of his labor, but not in the product of his retaliations. He demonstrates his power by opening hospitals, roads and universities and not by curtailing freedom of opinion and expression. A true democrat demonstrates his power by fighting poverty, ignorance and rampant crime, and not foreign empires and imaginary conspiracies. This region, tired of hollow promises and empty words, needs a legion of increasingly tolerant statesmen and not a legion of increasingly authoritarian rulers. It is easy to defend the rights of those who think like we do. Defending the rights of those who think differently: that is the challenge for the true democrat. Let us hope that our peoples have the wisdom to elect rulers for whom the democratic shirt is not too large a fit.

And may they also resist the temptation of those who promise rose gardens behind the participatory democracy that can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of populism and demagoguery. Latin America’s problems are not solved by replacing a dysfunctional representative democracy with a chaotic participatory democracy.

Paraphrasing Octavio Paz, I dare say that democracy in our region does not need to take on wings; what it needs is to take root.  Before selling tickets to paradise, let us worry first about consolidating our feeble institutions, safeguarding the fundamental guarantees, ensuring equal opportunities for our citizens, increasing the transparency of our governments, and above all, improving the effectiveness of our bureaucracies . My experience as a head of state has shown me that what we have are sclerotic and hypertrophied States, unable to meet the needs of our people and to provide the benefits that democracy is obliged to deliver.

This has serious consequences for our capacity to honor the second debt that I wanted to mention to you, the debt owed to development. A debt which, I repeat, we must honor. Neither Spanish colonialism, nor the lack of natural resources, nor the hegemony of the United States, nor any other theory resulting from the eternal victimization of Latin America, explains the fact that we refuse to increase our spending on innovation, to tax the rich, to graduate professionals in engineering and the hard sciences, to promote competition, to build infrastructure or to provide legal certainty to businesses. It is time for each mast to endure the sails of its own own progress.

What right does Latin America have to complain about the inequalities that divide its peoples, if it collects almost half of its fiscal revenues in indirect taxes, and the tax burden in some nations in the region hardly reaches 10% of the Gross Domestic Product? What right does Latin America have to complain about its underdevelopment, if it is the one that has demonstrated a proverbial resistance to change every time there is talk of innovation and adaptation to new circumstances? What right does Latin America have to complain about the lack of quality jobs, when it is the one that allows the average schooling to be around 8 years? And above all, what right does  Latin America have to complain about its poverty if it spends, each year, nearly 60 billion dollars in weapons and soldiers?

The debt to peace is the most shameful of all, because it demonstrates the amnesia of a region that feeds the return of an arms race, in many cases aimed at fighting ghosts and mirages. It also shows the complete inability to set priorities in Latin America, a practice that prevents the realization of a true agenda for development. There are countries suffering internal conflicts who may justify an increase in national defense expenditures. But in the vast majority of our nations, increased military spending is inexcusable in view of the needs of a people whose real enemies are hunger, disease, illiteracy, inequality, crime and environmental degradation. It is regrettable that there are gathered at this Summit of Unity countries that are arming against each other. It is also regrettable that one finds absent from this Summit of Unity the Government of Honduras, whose people are victims of militarism and do not deserve punishment, but rather help instead.

If I had been told twenty years ago that in the year 2010 I would still be condemning the increase in military spending in Latin America, I probably would have been surprised.

How, after having seen the mangled bodies of young people and children wounded in war, could this region long for a return to arms? How could one allow the horrific parade of rockets, missiles and guns that passes by in view of rickety school desks, empty lunch boxes and clinics without medicines? Some might say that I was mistaken to trust in a peaceful future. I think not. Hope is never a mistake, no matter how many times it is short-changed.

I still hope for a new day for Latin America and the Caribbean. I hope for a future of greatness for our peoples. The day will come when democracy, development and peace will fill the saddlebags of the region. The day will come when the recount of the lost generations will cease. It may be tomorrow, if we dare to make it so. It may be next year, in the next decade or in the next century. As for me, I will keep fighting. Regardless of the shadows, I will continue to wait for the light at the end of the rainbow. I will continue to fight until such day arrives.

Dear friends. It has been a high honor and a true privilege to partake in this forum with you, just as it has been at many others. This is my last summit and in saying goodbye I want all of you to know that Óscar Arias will always be your true friend.

Thank you very much.

Óscar Arias Sánchez

Supreme Court asks to repeat vote and names losing Chavista candidate to fill the position

February 24, 2010

The Venezuelan Supreme Court reached this week another one of its bizarre and revolutionary decisions, when it ruled that the vote for Mayor of the Sucre municipality of Zulia State had to be redone, because the elected Mayor owed the municipality money (about $300 dollars at Bs. 4.3 per $) at the time of the election.  And in its infinite wisdom, the Supreme Court decided to name as interim Mayor, the loser in the election, who coincidentally happens to be a member of Chavez PSUV party.

The Mayor, the brother of Omar Barboza of Un Nuevo Tiempo, had rented his home and the owner of the house had failed to pay municipal taxes. Thus, the elected mayor was supposedly not solvent with the municipality as required by law to be a candidate, despite the fact that he did present a certification when he registered to run that HE did not personally owe any taxes.

Thus, in all of its wisdom the Supreme Court not only removes Barboza and names the losing party to the position, but bans Barboza from running for the next four years (Convenient, no?). The argument was that the loser was Mayor before the election, but it was not his party that won, thus reason, logic and common sense would say that to satisfy the wishes of the voters, the Mayor should have come from the winning party and not from the Chavista losing party.

Thus, as usual, even when the opposition wins, it loses, when the Chavez-controlled-dominated-intimidated Venezuela Supreme Court rules according to his wishes and not the law.

There is no rule of law, just the rule of Chavez as the OAS report clearly states.

IACHR report on Venezuela: And you really thought Venezuela was a democracy?

February 24, 2010

Since the report is long, I wanted to summarize the highlights from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights report on Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela. Despite the Venezuelan Government’s refusal to allow a visit since 2002, the Commission felt it could still analyze the Venezuelan situation in order to comply with its mandate.

Here are some highlights, for those that still want to believe or defend that Venezuela is a democarcy:

  • The Commission also finds that in Venezuela, not all persons are ensured full enjoyment of their rights irrespective of the positions they hold vis-à-vis the government’s policies.
  • The Commission also finds that the State’s punitive power is being used to intimidate or punish people on account of their political opinions.
  • The Commission’s report establishes that Venezuela lacks the conditions necessary for human rights defenders and journalists to carry out their work freely.
  • The IACHR also detects the existence of a pattern of impunity in cases of violence, which particularly affects media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, participants in public demonstrations, people held in custody, campesinos (small-scale and subsistence farmers), indigenous peoples, and women.
  • The IACHR’s report indicates that mechanisms have been created in Venezuela that restrict the possibilities of candidates opposed to the government for securing access to power. That has taken place through administrative resolutions of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic, whereby 260 individuals, mostly opposed to the government, were disqualified from standing for election. The Commission notes that these disqualifications from holding public office were not the result of criminal convictions and were ordered in the absence of prior proceedings, in contravention of the American Convention’s standards.
  • The Commission also notes how the State has taken action to limit some powers of popularly‐elected authorities in order to reduce the scope of public functions in the hands of members of the opposition.
  • The IACHR also notes a troubling trend of punishments, intimidation, and attacks on individuals in reprisal for expressing their dissent with official policy.
  • The Commission notes a trend toward the use of criminal charges to punish people exercising their right to demonstrate or protest against government policies.
  • The IACHR considers that the right to demonstrate in Venezuela is being restricted through the imposition of sanctions contained in provisions enacted by President Chávez’s government. The Commission describes cases of people facing criminal charges for which they could be sentenced to prison terms of over twenty years in connection with their participation in antigovernment demonstrations. In the Commission’s view, this practice constitutes a restriction of the rights of assembly and freedom of expression guaranteed in the American Convention, the free exercise of which is necessary for the correct functioning of a democratic system that includes all sectors of society.
  • The rules for the appointment, removal, and suspension of justices set out in the Organic Law of the Supreme Court of Justice lack the safeguards necessary to prevent other branches of government from undermining the Supreme Court’s independence and to keep narrow or temporary majorities from determining its composition.
  • Since judges are not appointed through public competitions, judges and prosecutors are freely appointed and removable, which seriously affects their independence in making decisions.
  • The Commission also describes how large numbers of judges have been removed or their appointments voided without the applicable administrative proceedings.
  • The numerous violent acts of intimidation carried out by private groups against journalists and media outlets, together with the discrediting declarations made by high‐ranking public officials against the media and journalists on account of their editorial lines and the systematic opening of administrative proceedings based on legal provisions that allow a high level of discretion in their application and enable drastic sanctions to be imposed, along with other elements, make for a climate of restriction that hampers the free exercise of freedom of expression as a prerequisite for a vigorous democracy based on pluralism and public debate.
  • The Commission observes with particular concern that there have been very serious violations of the rights to life and humane treatment in Venezuela as a result of the victims’ exercise of free expression.
  • The IACHR notes that recent months have seen an increase in administrative proceedings sanctioning media that criticize the government.
  • The Commission has also verified the existence of cases of prior censorship as a prototype of extreme and radical violations of freedom of expression in Venezuela.
  • The report also analyzes the impact on the right of free expression of the proceedings initiated in July 2009 toward the possible cancellation of 240 radio stations’ broadcasting concessions, and of the decision to order 32 stations to cease transmissions.
  • The Commission calls the attention of the Venezuelan State to the incompatibility between the current legal framework governing freedom of expression and its obligations under the American Convention.
  • The Commission also stresses that the offenses of desacato (disrespect) and viipendio (contempt) contained in the amendments to the Penal Code in force since 2005 are incompatible with the American Convention in that they restrict the possibilities of free, open, plural, and uninhibited discussion on matters of public importance.
  • The Commission also deals with the major obstacles faced by human rights defenders in their work in Venezuela. It also notes with concern that witnesses and relatives of the victims of human rights violations are frequently targeted by threats, harassment, and intimidation for denouncing violations.
  • The IACHR also finds that inadequate access to public information has hindered the work of defending human rights in Venezuela.
  • One of the issues relating to human rights in Venezuela of gravest concern to the Inter‐American Commission is that of public insecurity.
  • The IACHR’s report identifies certain provisions in the Venezuelan legal framework that are incompatible with a democratic approach to the defense and security of the State.
  • During 2008, the Ombudsman’s Office recorded a total of 134 complaints involving arbitrary killings arising from the alleged actions of officers from different state security agencies. It also recorded a total of 2,197 complaints related to violations of humane treatment by state security officials. In addition, it reports receiving 87 allegations of torture and claims it is following up on 33 cases of alleged forced disappearances reported during 2008 and 34 reported during 2007.
  • Homicides, kidnappings, contract killings, and rural violence are the phenomena that most frequently affect the security of Venezuela’s citizens.
  • Information made available to the Commission indicates that in 2008, there were a total of 13,780 homicides in Venezuela, which averages out to 1,148 murders a month and 38 every day. The victims of these killings include an alarming number of children and adolescents.
  • The Commission’s report also notes with extreme concern that in Venezuela, violent groups such as the Movimiento Tupamaro, Colectivo La Piedrita, Colectivo Alexis Vive, Unidad Popular Venezolana, and Grupo Carapaica are perpetrating acts of violence with the involvement or acquiescence of state agents.
  • The Commission also continues with its observations on the alarmingly violent conditions within Venezuelan prisons.
  • The laws and policies pursued by the State have not been effective in guaranteeing the rights of women, particularly their right to a life free of violence.
  • The Commission notes in its report that impunity is a common characteristic that equally affects cases of reprisals against dissent, attacks on human rights defenders and on journalists, excessive use of force in response to peaceful protests, abuses of state force, common and organized crime, violence in prisons, violence against women, and other serious human rights violations.
  • On the other hand, in this report the Commission highlights the Venezuelan State’s major achievements in the fields of economic, social, and cultural rights, through legally recognizing the enforceability of the rights to education, to health, to housing, to universal social security, and other rights, as well as by implementing policies and measures aimed at remedying the shortcomings that affect vast sectors of the Venezuelan population.
  • The IACHR notes that the Missions have succeeded in improving the poverty situation and access to education and health among the traditionally‐excluded sectors of Venezuela’s population. Nevertheless, the Commission expresses concern at certain issues relating to the Missions as an axis of the government’s social policies.
  • The Commission notes that Venezuela is still characterized by constant intervention in the functioning of its trade unions, through actions of the State that hinder the activities of union leaders and that point to political control over the organized labor movement, as well as through rules that allow government agencies to interfere in the election of union leaders.

There you have it, the IACHR demonstrates that Venezuela is no longer a functioning democracy through the neglect and intimidation of a Government that discriminates its citizens even when they are in agreement with its policies. And, despite the Dictator’s claims, most of his policies show atotal disregard for the “people” that he claims to love so much.

The Falcon and the Strongman: Henry vs. Hugo

February 23, 2010

Somehow I feel like I have to make a comment about Henry Falcon even if I really don’t want to. To me Falcon’s resignation from Chavez PSUV party has little to do with the opposition and a lot to do with Chavismo. Few may not remember that when Chavez created PSUV Falcon was ready to split from Chavez and join the opposition. But at the time Falcon decided he did not have the individual strength to challenge Chavez, maybe fearing that the Comptroller could ban him from running for Governor.

But this is 2010 and Falcon, in contrast with others with little to show individually (read Diosdado) has probably decided that the Strongman has weakened and it is time to throw his independent gauntlet into the fire.

Which in the end has little to do with the opposition, not because the opposition may not embrace him, but because he probably does not see himself in that role, it is one thing to run for Governor of Lara as a candidate for both the opposition and the left, it is another to see himself as the candidate for a post-Chavismo era of the progressive forces that may join him in this effort.

Personally, I find Falcon to be infinitely better than what we have, but he is still a populist left wing politician that in my mind will not take Venezuela in the direction I want it to go. However, he would seems to be a democrat, has respect for human rights and believes that all sectors of society have to talk to each other. To me, that may not be enough to vote for him, but certainly enough to shut down this blog if he became President.

That a politician of Falcon’s rank dares to take this step is a very significant departure for Venezuelan politics, over what we have seen in the last few years. Falcon is still hedging his bets against the strongman by staying in PPT’s ranks, as irrelevant a party on the left as there may be in Venezuela today. He would have been better off joining Podemos, except maybe Chavez’ ire may have been magnified a few orders of magnitude. But Falcon’s departure is certainly to rattle Hugo in his labyrinth, accustomed to have nobody oppose him.

The attacks on Falcon have begun, he has already been called “right wing” by Tarek William Saab, a stupid remark if I ever heard one. But Chavismo is accustomed to fight the “other” side and these bouts will take the Dictator’s time and energy and will rattle many who sympathize with Falcon within Chavismo.

These are cracks, which are no longer tiny, like when Podemos split with the Government, but are becoming significant as the economy deteriorates and Chavez’ popularity drops.

In the end, this is not about the opposition, it is about Chavismo having more discussions, more democracy and that can’t be all bad.

Whether Chavez intends to fight Falcon or not is yet to be seen, the next few days will tell us whether Falcon has become a pariah or whether Chavez will reach out to him and PPT in the knowledge that he may be needed in 2012 to preserve Chavismo in power.

Strong confrontation between Uribe and Chavez

February 22, 2010

Reportedly at the meeting in Cancun to create a new organization of Latin American unity, Hugo Chavez and Alvaro Uribe got into a strong confrontation. As the two Presidents argued about Venezuela’s commercial boycott of Colombia, Chavez sen Uribe to Hell (Vete pa’l carajo) and when Chavez threatened to leave Uribe told him to be a man and stay to argue face to face (sea varon y quedese a discutir de frente). (In English here)

There is never unity when Hugo is involved, if you are not with him, you are against him.