Archive for September, 2015

Human Rights and Chavismo/Madurismo

September 22, 2015


I am sure that I am not the only one offended by the picture above. Chavismo not only blatantly violates Human Rights, but on top of it, has the audacity to hold an event to promote the content of its 2015-2019 National Plan for Human rights, under the heading: “Venezuela a country guarantor of Human Rights”

The plan itself ignores the country’s Human Rights reality. In Geneva, the UN found the Venezual’s homicide rate to be one of the most profound violations in Human Rights, there have been 231 thousand homicides under Chavismo, but the document presented by the Maduro Government fails to mention  homicides at all and the “consultation” period for the plan ends in only a week.

And while this plan is being built up, written and delivered, the Maduro Government created out of the blue, a series of violations of Human Rights at the Colombia/Venezuela border, which are not mentioned either. To say nothing of the infamous OLP’s, police and military operations, which come into barrios and kill people, like on the Cota 905 in Caracas in July, when around 18 people were killed in these “operation”, without the People’s Ombudsman, ironically called the People’s Defender in Venezuela, saying anything about it.

To someone like me, who was born under the Perez Jimenez Dictatorship in the 50’s and witnessed the horrors of the South American Dictatorships in the 60’s and 70’s, the ability of Chavismo to ignore and disrespect Human Rights is quite difficult to understand, let alone the deafening silence by those Governing Chile, Argentina, Brasil and other countries, whose Presidents and Government officials and their families were victims of the same Dictatorships.

But while those that followed the Dictatorships in the 70’s and 80’s made sure to guarantee Human Rights in the future by creating legal instruments that bound all countries by commonly accepted Human Rights principles, those that followed them in Government, all “left wing”,  seemed to have forgotten the past and decided to simply ignore Human Rights.

And while the Government holds these bombastic  Human Rights events, officials screw up at every turn in clear demonstration that Human Rights is not even discussed extensively within the Government.

Take Jacqueline Faria, for example, a PSUV member who dared say “All of those that are legally in our territory have their Human Rights guaranteed”

How cynic can you get? If you are illegal, you simply have no Human Rights, as has been clearly demonstrated by the treatment of Colombians along the border, which has actually caught some legal Colombians in the process, but nobody is around to defend them anyway.

And the People’s Defender had the gull to say that student Marcos Coello’s accusations of torture had no validity, because he had become a fugitive of Justice, as if Coello was supposed to stay and suffer more torture, as a way of promoting his cause. The truth is that Coello had denounced repeatedly how he was tortured in Mr. Saab’s office, before Mr. Saab became Ombudsman, but the case was simply shelved. Coellos’ mother wrote a wonderful letter to Mr. Saab, noting that on March 17th. 2014, Coello’s case was presented to his office and the Prosecutor’s office, which were followed up later in March and once again in June, but to the date, as Mr. Coello decided to leave the country and become a “fugitive” with no Human Rights, according to Saab, the Prosecutor’s office has not moved a finger to investigate the student’s torture or his tortures.

And let’s not forget Ines Gonzales, “Inesita La Terrible“, a Ph.D. in Chemistry, who was jailed 18 months ago for taunting the intelligence police in her tweets. Today we hear that Saab will “mediate” so that the Judge can allow her to leave jail and  have a complete hysterectomy. But Saab should mediate to have her freed, because tweeting your opinions is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

But what does he know?

But Saab, much like his predecessors in the position, could care less about Human Rights. Human Rights are Human Rights, they do not depend on whether you are free, in jail, a fugitive or “legally” in Venezuela or not. They have to be respected and those in charge of enforcing them are supposed to do just that. In fact, I am sure that Farias and Saab are careful enough not to say that Human Rights are guaranteed only to those legally in Venezuela and those that support the Government. Because in the end, Chavistas seem to have more “rights” than others, or opposition members seem to have fewer rights than Chavistas. But in the end, Chavismo could care less about Human Rights. Those that are victims of homicides are more likely to have been or be Government supporters than opposition and the rate of homicides has never been a priority since Chávez arrived in 1998. And neither are many of the rights guaranteed by the Venezuelan Constitution.

But maybe I am just an innocent flower child of the 60’s and 70’s.

But wait, so were Bachelet, Roussef and many of those that today ignore the Human Rights gains of the 80’s and 90’s and place their commercial interests above Human Rights and Democratic (With a capital D) rights in Venezuela…

And yes, I may have been an innocent, naive, flower child of the 60’s and 70’s, but I will not forget. If we ever get rid of these people, I will be around to write about the barbaric acts and statements by Saab, Farias and their cohorts. I will use my blog and records to emphasize that I will only reconcile with those that were not involved in Human Rights violations and that crimes against humanity never expire.

Maybe nobody will listen, but I will be there…




Miserable Decision Against Leopoldo Lopez No Surprise

September 12, 2015


I have been traveling and ever since I heard about the miserable thirteen years and nine months sentence against Leopoldo López, I have been trying to put together my thoughts on the matter, but it is not easy.

Not that I did not expect it, I did. Leopoldo López was identified early by Chavismo as someone that needed to be neutralized. When he was Mayor of Chacao he was barred from running for office for seven years using a procedure via the Comptroller which had no legality, but which stopped him at the time from running for office. The excuse was that López used some funds to pay salaries earmarked for something else. Of course, no equivalent decision was made against Nelson Merentes who used billions of dollars, not millions of Bolívars for the same purpose as López. But, of course, Merentes has never been interested in being elected, he prefers being named to positions he is not qualified for. But I digress….

Rather than being deterred by his ban from running, López began forming a party and took his case to the OAS’s CIDH, which ruled in his favor. He then ran in the opposition’s primary in 2012, withdrawing and supporting  Capriles who was clearly leading the polls. He was an invaluable asset to Capriles, developing the strategy to have witnesses at polling stations, which limited phantom votes by Chavismo. He helped Capriles end up in a virtual tie with Maduro in 2013, but we all know how that was untied.

Then in 2014, Leopoldo embraced the controversial “La Salida” strategy, in the understanding that if you don’t poke a Dictatorship in the eye, the monster does not leave power. After some demonstrations ended up in deaths, most provoked directly by Government agents, the Maduro Government charged Leopoldo with “subliminally” inducing the violence leading to these deaths, initiating the travesty of the judicial process that just ended. Lopez was not allowed to present as evidence videos that demonstrated that the charges by the Government were false. The trial was closed to the public and López was sentenced to more yeas than Chavismo will remain in power, proving once again the stupidity and shortsightedness of autocrats. Curious that the Judge sentencing Lopez was the same that quietly freed some prominent Chavista boliburgeois on December 31st 2012, who had accumulated fortunes in a short time and were jailed during the 2009 mini-banking crisis.

And Leopoldo has been poking at the regime like no other politician, even from jail. First, he refused to leave the country opting instead to go to jail. Then he went on a hunger strike which he stopped when he wanted to, not when the regime wanted. And he has been communicating from jail, embarrassing the regime over and over.

And his wife Lilian has taken over a role that I am not sure she ever planned to. She has been impressive an relentless, helping to convince the world that Venezuela is far from being a democracy or be a country in which justice or due process exist.

But one has to feel for Leopoldo and his family. I don’t know Inesita La Terrible, a scientist who was jailed for her tweets, but I feel for her, because she got her Ph.D. at IVIC and I would have known her if I had not left science.

But I do know Leopoldo and his wife. Not closely, but I have had some serious conversations with him and I was always impressed at his commitment and his willingess to listen and understand. Even if he is committed, even if he sees this as a necessary step, he must be having a very rough time. And I can not even begin to imagine what he is going through.

But the fatal mistake by the regime is, like many other repressive regimes before them, that they have managed to lift Leopoldo to another level. A level that one day will take him very far in Venezuela. And by fighting and poking the regime in the eye, he wold have deserved it. No other politician has come that close to staking everything on removing Chavismo like Leopoldo. If they had, maybe we would not be where we are. I am in the radical camp, you need to poke and stir as often as possible, make the regime react. If not, we will be in the same spot decades from now.

To me, the miserable decision against Leopoldo, does little for the Government, except in that it removes him as an organizer in the upcoming election. But few Chavistas will be encouraged to go and vote because he has been sentenced. On the contrary, at a time that so many former pro-Chavismo and even Chavismo supporters are questioning the Government, jailing Leopoldo, who is very popular in all levels of society, only adds to the doubts.

And the MUD should take the jailing as a warning. A warning that Chavismo will not play fair in December. And that with Leopoldo absent, our ability to stop fraud is reduced. And the decisiveness to act on Dec. 6th. and 7th. when Chavismo decides to manipulate results, will not be there, but in the Ramo Verde jail.


Hyperinflated Arepa Index VIII: A Surprising Drop!

September 6, 2015


On the eight time to get a data point, Miguel gets all cocky and invites a buddy, the same guy that wrote the Wall Street Journal article and we went and had some pretty nice arepas. I had my usual, while Kejal had a caraotas and yellow cheese arepa, as he has become Venezolanized in his five years here. This one did not count, the same as the delicious mango juices that I had. We went for the data point on the arepas, but the conversation was so good, that it became an afterthought, it was just intriguing to find out how much the HAI went up.

Except it went down.

As I sat there trying to comprehend the Bs.389 number for my queso de mano arepa, I could not help but call the waiter and ask: What happened, how come prices have dropped?

I was, of course, expecting a tale of pressure, visiting agents or whatever, but instead, the apparently clueless waiter started going on a tale about how they now separate the VAT from the price and the 389.75 was without the VAT.

So he brings over a menu to prove it and it says my arepa con queso de mano is Bolivars 440 with VAT, except ther is no way that 389.75 plus VAT adds up to Bs. 440. But he claims it is that number. (It would have to be 391.1 and that was not the number in the receipt)

So, I have to use the menu number Bs. 440, a Bs. 30 drop from the last time. And even if the waiter seemed clueless, I have to think that something happened, but can’t confirm it.

And it makes little sense that it dropped, unless there was some pressure to drop prices, as I had visited the Mercado Libre de Chacao and found that cheeses, the delicious un-pasteurized Venezuelan white cheeses, went up sharply since my last visit. About 40% if I remember correctly.

But a data point is a data point and the first drop in the HAI occurs nine and a half months after it was started. This is a 6.3% drop in five weeks, a 166% rise in nine and a half months.

I had actually expected a 20% rise, but I have been wrong every single time about my expectations. I stick to the data and we now wait till the next number in one more month…

(The arepa was still delicious and only 59 cents and the last exchange rate of the unmentionable rate. But, of course, Venezuelans earn Bolivars, not dollars. This is very expensive for them.)