Monday, September 29, 2003

THE WEEK IN REVIEW
September 21 through 28, 2003

Quite a week indeed.

The Nazi-onal guard strikes at Los Semerucos

I am not making this up, some press writers and caricaturists now call the Venezuelan National Guard, the Nazi-onal Guard since the eviction of the striking oil workers in Los Semerucos.

After the massive firing of oil workers through the first few months of the year (around 20 000) some of them kept using their regulation living quarters in the oil fields. The argument? The firing has not been properly done, the compensation package has not been given, they are still entitled to their housing.

The argument from the new political management of PDVSA says that they have been fired and that they have betrayed the nation so that they should be happy they are not in jail, and thus should be giving up their houses fast.

Unfortunately, when the strike started it seems that the workers gave notary statements as to the conditions of the working places and to this day the government has not been able to make a lawsuit prosper against the ex-workers, be it for sabotage, be it for crimes against the state. Even worse, the oil workers have won some preliminary injunctions that should eventually force the government to make good on its legal obligations.

That is no problem with the Chavez administration who has no qualm about sending again (Revenge in Paraguana) the Nazi-onal guard to vacate the Los Semerucos complex, even though judicial injunctions forbid it. But of course another judge refuses to consider these decisions and emits one that “legalizes” what was one of the most deplorable scenes that we have been subjected to. In the middle of the night, a tear gas attack inside houses that ended up with elderly parents and children running in the streets in their night attire . And 26 arrests for violence. The Nazi-onal guard that threw tear gas inside houses is fine, thank you. Its honor, or whatever was left of it, done for. I suppose that at some point they will claim “I was following orders”.

I wonder, if Chavez ever leaves, what we’ll have to do with the disgraced National Guard, this 4th part of the Armed Forces, responsible for internal security and who under Chavez has lent itself to all sorts of abuses and corruption, like your average S.A contingent…


Iris Varela, the new cat woman

Another obscure incident at the National Assembly. Iris Valera one of the Pasionarias of the glorious Bolivarian fiasco, probably upset by the blockade made by the opposition against the attempt by Chavez to control once and for all the Judicial system, scratched the face of one of her main opponents. The unfortunate victim (accused of having kicked her before) was for all to see on TV with a bloody cheek. For all her lame explanations people have not forgotten her use of pepper gas at different opportunities, even inside the National Assembly. She is a true democrat and has the means to convince you, whether you want it being irrelevant (The Political Fringes on Stage).


The Electoral Board (CNE) gives the rules

The rules on how to call for a recall election were handed down Thursday night . This would deserve an article by itself. It probably will be better to wait and see how the process evolves. What was surprising was that the CNE will involve itself closely in any signature recollection process, even controlling the time frame of the collection! This is almost risible as it looks almost like a real election!

But one should not be too fussy. After all, now there are rules, and these ones, if harsher than what the opposition would have liked, are not impossible to follow. If the opposition indeed has the following it claims to have we should be able to vote on Chavez by late February (a complete article by Roberto Giusti for El Universal on the electoral situation can be found in an English version)

Of course there is a problem: what will Chavez do? He is not going to sit tight. Considering that he has done all what he could to block any election since last year, it is to be expected that a rain of legal challenges and acts of violence is on its way. Even if ludicrous, they will at least postpone any election. A glimpse into Chavez state of mind came fast.


Chavez against the world.

In yet another memorable moment, Chavez managed to insult the US, the UN and the Spanish Prime Minister. While cutting oil supply to Dominican Republic on some alleged support for coup-mongers against his rule.

There is no point in repeating the inanities that Chavez uttered. What is really interesting here is the not so distant echo of Fidel Castro excoriating Europe because he put in jail a few dissidents a few months ago. Chavez is quite clear: all is just a conspiracy against the Venezuelan people. This is a very convenient excuse for whatever he is planning to do to block (destroy?) the opposition democratic tries at ending the crisis. Why give the legitimacy of an election to what is only a press and “foreign interests” conspiracy?


Remember, you read it here first.

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