THIS AND THAT
Sunday 12, January 2003
I drove back to San Felipe. Light traffic. More open gas stations than on December 20 but all with half a mile long lines. Still it seems that 3/4 remain closed or open intermittently. Caracas station on the Eastern side remain closed. The one closest from home where I went this morning for some oil told me that they have not had a gas delivery in over a month. We are punished it seems.
The march to Los Proceres was repeated with pretty much the same result: tear gas, injuries. At least this time the pro Chavez faction was kept away and perhaps that accounted for no victims. But yet again a journalist was hurt by plastic bullets shot by national guards. This time they had barred Los Proceres access with tanks, barbed wire, etc... The delicacy of the army. At least after some conflict they allowed a commission of 10 people proceed to the end of the avenue and deposit ceremony like a floral offering.
Chavez did his weekly show. Among a few gems he accused that the oil spills on Maracaibo lake, that cannot be dismissed as "normal" accidents, to be the act of saboteurs. As were the explosion of a couple of pipelines valves. This is important because those valves will serve as an excuse to explain why gas is not arriving to cities, in particular Caracas. So he will blame the incompetency of his scalawags on striking workers that have been denied access to facilities for now a month. Details, details... What is much more worrisome is that CNN transmitted this tidbit without mentioning that as usual Chavez did not bring any proof of his accusations. Why does CNN do that? Do they have the proofs in hand? Have they been told that they are going to get them? Why did they not add that information to their report? The way CNN (En Espanol) mentions this news is almost the same as backing Chavez. Of course they reported before the brutal repression of the march earlier and perhaps they tried to give balance. But it was so crude that one expects better from CNN.
Another gem was to threaten a second network from revocation of license. Just like that, because "everyone can see how they lie about everything". So we have a second media-fatwah.
More comic. He produced a worker that was supposedly dead as announced by a major paper. There was no clear evidence shown that the young "technician" was the alleged dead one. The supposed family has not come forward to confirm yet. However, Chavez in very familiar terms spoke with the young man making him talk about his job. Apparently he is a "refinery specialist" and he is happily restarting them around the country. Of course later in the days the striking oil workers said that 1) there is no such a job description as every refinery is unique and requires specialized staff and 2) neither the technician or Chavez had no idea of what they were talking about since they mentioned that the refinery of the discussion was supplied by tankers when in reality it is supplied by a pipe line (or reverse, I did not quite understand it myself). Was it a show? Did somebody die in that accident? More tomorrow.
On the way to San Felipe I stopped by a SAM's club like thing where I shop on occasion. Incredibly more than a third of the storage area / shelves were empty. The aisles were clear and the aisles ends were free of the usual promotional material. The refrigerated area of the fresh milk, yoghurt et al, was 95% empty. I was told to buy tooth paste and laundry detergent as they are items that will run out soon and the lack of importation of ingredients will make us face a scarcity for the next couple of months. Dirty laundry in perspective... At least there seems to be enough food items if not of the traditional ones.
Finally. El Universal had an excellent article written by a major political commentator to debunk some of the half backed constructs that have been sustaining the international image of Chavez, in particular with some sectors of the left in major Newspapers (such as the NYT that does not seem to see the light yet). I put the link below in case you want to try your hand at Spanish. Or to forward to people that might be interested.
An interesting detail, the pic is from a pro Chavez rally. This is really a good article and even if you cannot read it, pas it along to your local paper ;-)