Friday, January 17, 2003

GORILLAS IN THE BEER
Friday 17, January 2003

Among the colorful personages that the Bolivarian pseudo-revolution has put on the front scene there is General Acosta Carles. This general of the National Guard has distinguished himself lately as one of the goonier characters within Chavez entourage. Gaining of course extensive credit from Chavez. He came to the fore by beating down a women’s protest rally at Valencia airport when Chavez was having some meeting there. They were locked outside while pro-Chavez people were allowed in to offer a nice landscape behind Chavez for the cameras. This general Acosta Carles was filmed pushing himself some women in a rather rude fashion to the point of hurting them, throwing one on the floor or something like that. Since then the said general has been one of the heroes of the oil strike piquet line crossers, so to speak. He was seen in particular commandeering gas trucks and hanging outside the passenger door in a triumphant gesture while the truck was taken from its rightful owners. Last week he was publicly congratulated during a Chavez speech. He stood up, arranged his crotch in front of the camera, planted himself legs spread, and knuckles on his hips, as defiant an attitude as possible. Acosta Carles cuts a dashing figure indeed. He must be at least 7 feet tall, very fair skinned. A hunk of sorts, until he acts and opens his mouth, then one is reminded more of an albino Gorilla.

Today Acosta Carles outdid himself. With the “paro” and the oil strike, obviously supplies are difficult to be supplied, and forgive the redundancy. There has been a concerted effort to provide the basic staples. But many non critical items such as beer or soda have been out of the shelves for a few weeks now. Chavez agents have been tried to demonstrate that there was hoarding and price speculation but without really any success. He fails to understand, or pretend he does not understand that production has stopped or is reduced to a minimal expression. He would rather see hoarding and price fixing, which of course is more politically convenient for him.

Well, Acosta Carles did strike today. This morning he took over the main Coca Cola depot in Valencia. He did not even wait for anyone to get the keys of the padlocks and just had his soldiers break them. No judicial order was shown. Of course he found the depots with some stuff, including bottled water. He said that the bottled water was an essential article that was hoarded. Incidentally, it is the brand that I purchase and I can vouch that I have been able to find it, not everyday, but often enough that I have had no problem in maintaining my supply. The brand is Nevada if anyone wants to check.

The general did not find beer, unfortunately. But he found “malta” this rather unique Venezuelan beverage which is a form of non alcoholic malt beer like beverage praised by young people, and cleverly marketed as a “nutritive” soda. “Malta” even comes in bottles that look strangely like beer bottles. Well, without paying for it the general had a bottle opened and drunk it in front of the camera, putting an appropriately needy look and then a satisfied one. And he gave a huge burp in front of the camera and started giggling like a spoiled brat. I will pass on the details of his comments for the cameras, his gross flirting, his narcissistic behavior, etc.. But he dropped this pearl “The public interest is above the private interest” without specifying who decided what public interest was or why was beer of public interest. Well, a case could be made for beer I suppose.

Meanwhile back outside a few people, including some of the management tried to oppose such abuse of authority. The National Guards had no qualms beating them up, throwing tear gas, etc… An image that has already made it to CNN is of a woman brutally thrown on the floor in a way that could have caused a concussion.

After a fun morning Acosta Carles decided to go for an afternoon media show at the expense of Polar, the main brewery in Venezuela. Same strategy. The management fought back and refused to let him in since he could not show a judicial order. He had the management thrown out to the street, the head manager (or the lawyer, I am not sure) actually falling hard and rolling on the side walk (“He threw himself down” commented the general). Unfortunately the loot was not too good, no beer. Luckily for him he did find a little bit of scarce corn flour so he made a big show. Too bad that one of the managers said later that they had only the equivalent of what they dispatched in three hours of a normal day. In other words, nothing. Anyone could have guessed that anyway since what was there would have filled up at most the shelves of 3-4 large grocery stores. Peanuts!

Anyway, the general might get his beer tomorrow since he announced that he was going now after “La Catira” in a very leery tone. “La Catira” is the marketing name of Polar main competition, “The Blonde”, a beer. ‘nuf said!

Back at the ranch Chavez was making his state of the union speech. He did not have much of a state to speak of so he took his time to attack the opposition as coup-mongers, extortionists, fascists, and what not. That is, all the people that have been on TV for the last few months. It is difficult to sit down to discuss issues with people that you call fascist in a formal ceremony at the National Assembly. But he said he would not mind to talk to the real civil opposition. I suppose he meant the ones that might disagree with him on only an issue or two. I wonder where they hide.

And while we are talking on gorillas. Three days ago a student protest was repressed brutally. A student had to be hospitalized. Well, an officer of the State Security Police (DISIP) came to pick the guy up at the hospital and forced the staff to let him go. The kid was released today, and had been beaten up and tortured. One wonder if they did that to scare people, and if they ceded to some pressure from somewhere. But the kid is still waiting for the charges. We could see his beaten up face while people carried him outside of the DISIP center where he was held.

I am afraid that we are under a military dictatorship, under cover. I have sensed that since Chavez sent the army to take over the oil industry. And the general said clearly that he was following Chavez orders and that these were the only ones he followed. Time to hit your public representative?

And tonight we are subjected to repetitions of the video of Acosta Carles burping.


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