Monday, December 22, 2003


Monday 22, December 2003

So there I am hoping from some quiet on the political front, a Christmas truce, but no such luck. There is only so much cynicism that a blogger can tolerate. Back to blog!

The thumb print affair (Saturday)

In yet another dilatory move, the minister of public works, Diosdado Cabello, went personally to the Electoral Board (CNE) to demand that the finger prints of every signature is checked. Let's pass on the facts that the rules only contemplate use finger prints in cases of a contested signature, that it would be too long and expensive, that the rules agreed by all did not demand finger print revision, and most importantly that there is no a good database of Venezuelan finger prints to do the job even if all wanted it and provided the funds and people for it.

What is truly an insult to intelligence is that among many hats worn by Diosdado since Chavez came to office one was to direct the ministry in charge of establishing Venezuelan ID, and presumably to collect thumb prints and create a database. If there is anyone in Venezuela that should know what a disaster is the "Ministerio del Interior" is Diosdado. He knows how impossible it is to do such a job, even just for contested areas like Tachira, in a timely fashion. But no journalist (that I know of) did ask him at his press conference if during his tenure he had worked at improving the data base that he demands now the CNE to use. Though that would probably not have shut up his big mouth, he is one of the really hard noses of the administration, only surpassed by the Vice.

Really, they do not know what to invent to annul the signatures! Signing has become much more difficult than voting! I can see what voting in Venezuela will become if Diosdado gets his way: just like the pre-Iraq invasion referendum on the rule of Saddam when people signed with their blood to vote for Saddam. Incidentally that "referendum" was won by 100% of the vote. I suppose that Diosdado would not contest such a result.

Lunch with Chavez (Monday)

With a sense of timing defying description, Chavez announced that he had invited Castro for lunch to discuss bilateral matters, "in a new way, not like that neo-liberal way to deal between nations" or some such nonsense. Among other things they would discuss progress on the oil program with Cuba (the big subsidy that made Venezuela replace the USSR in survival aid to Castro). They would also discuss the progress of Barrio Adentro, the program where Cuban doctors treat the poor. "Castro unfortunately would not have time to inspect personally." (And miss such a PR opportunity? Pleaaase........)

I think I will stop enumerating the excuses for such a luncheon (apparently a luncheon at the beach at that if we are to believe Miguel report on this). The real reason of the meeting is just the same one that is found in all those authoritarian rulers that we have had: " 'cause I said so!". What Chavez really wants is to see Castro to get some "moral support" from Castro (and yet a new meaning for "moral"!). And perhaps plan something together to counter the opposition advantage. Two fine democrats discussing elections, you gotta love it!

The cynicism at inviting right now, when a recall election hangs on Chavez head, the longest serving dictator of the Americas is pretty obvious. The cynicism on wasting public monies for a long distance lunch, is even more obvious, but thus operate this kind of characters that only want the best for their people. The cynicism of trying to make us believe that it is a real business affair, well, it is just insulting to our intelligence.

But Tal Cual did not miss a bit. Teodoro Petkoff gave one of his most stinging editorials ever! And the front page cartoon was a gem! How low the image of Castro has fallen!

OK, I think it is about time that Chavez and co go and do some Christmas shopping and stop hugging the news!

PS: sorry, I am on vacation and too lazy to put up links. But I can assure you that I am not inventing anything. Any link to a Venezuelan newspaper should confirm my delirium. If I find a moment I will try to translate Petkoff editorial. Miguel kindly offers some links in his post today, and his own view, hardly less sanguine than mine...

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