Friday, May 09, 2003

MAKING THE NEWS: LITERALLY
May 9, 2003

I have been a little slack lately considering all the things that need to be written as the Chavez administration seems on an all out strategy to avoid the upcoming referendum, and its monitoring by international observers. More on that later. I think I should start first by the latest illustration on this operetta revolution that Chavez leads.

MAY 1, the facts.

200 000 people were in the streets for the opposition at the high tide. The pro Chavez rally does not seem to have garnered much more than 10 000 people. 1 in 20 ratio, quite a poll if you ask me.

Obviously Chavez was quite displeased by it. And as usual that creates a backlash. One possible one, but people like me are just so prejudiced, is that to divert interest in the opposition number, and try to scare them away from their march in the remote case that their number were to match those of the government, was to kill somebody.

This was done apparently by your average “malandro” (thug) nicknamed “Pollo Ronco” (“Hoarse Chicken”, don’t ask!). From the videos it was quite clear that he was waiting for the marchers, and from several neighbor witnesses, he had uttered plenty of threats the days before and was a local terror in the El Silencio area. The total was one death and two injured, and a “hoarse chicken” on the run.

MAY 1, the investigation.

This is when things get more interesting and show how the Bolivarian system of justice works.

Let’s start with the prosecution. Normally there are a few state prosecutors on “guard” that automatically get the initial investigation in such cases. The one on guard were bypassed and the ineffable Danilo Anderson, officially an environmental prosecutor, was called. This prosecutor has curiously being involved in all the notorious case where some pro-chavez guy shot an anti-chavez person. Notably in the prosecution of Gouveia, the killer of three people at Plaza Altamira in early December.

The defense attorney is no less colorful. Not only he is a noted chavista (weird since if it had been a “passional” crime any attorney would have done), but he was the defender of Lina Ron early in 2002. This personage is the bleached hair Passionaria that rules the downtown gangs of Caracas. Officially she is a “social worker” but in fact she is one of the few people inside the chavista world that has created a genuine following, an Evita of sorts. She pretty much coordinates the crowds that mobilize “spontaneously” to any section of Caracas when needed to fight any anti-chavez cause. Some of her high feats were storming Caracas town hall, or blocking the November 4 march to bring the signed petition to the electoral college. This last one ended up with a couple of dozen of bullet wounds and multitudinary tear gassing of friends and foes alike.

Last but not least. “Pollo Ronco” was finally arrested after a surrendering “deal” with Danilo Anderson, and brought in front of Judge Maikel Moreno. This personage was the defender of the Puente Llaguno shooters of April 11 2002 notoriety. As a reward he has been named “accidental” judge, judges that are put on temporarily to supply somebody, or until they are approved by the legal review process. In other words, an ideal system to appoint a judge for a specific murky task, even if he should not otherwise qualify. Judge Moreno was appointed barely long enough to be able to manage the arrest of Carlos Fernandez, the president of the Business organization, in another famous “by-pass”. This by-pass of established channels was so obvious that eventually the defense was able to appeal successfully and get Fernandez freed. Interestingly this judge has been charged with some misdemeanors in the past, apparently bad enough to disqualify him from being a judge. Somehow he has managed to avoid being disbarred by the complacent high court reviewing the case…

I will leave at your own criteria to evaluate the judiciary system that now exists in Venezuela. However I trust that you will agree with me that the government does not balk at anything to try to make the news go its way.


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