Archive for February 27th, 2010

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!