Friday 9, January 2004
I finally drove back yesterday to Yaracuy to resume work. The dry season has started. When I drove to Caracas on December 20 late rains had kept all lush and green. But we got strong weird dry winds for several days between Christmas and New Year and the effect on the vegetation can already be seen as the seasonal dryness is catching up fast. On the other hand we do get cooler temperatures at night and luminous skies. Until late January that is, then comes the worse part of the year until rains come again, sometime in May.
Road traffic was still relatively light as about half of the country is still on vacation. One of the AC at work is broke and the service company is closed until next Monday... Other suppliers and clients are reopening this Wednesday as we did, or next Monday. It is quite amazing how many sectors of the country shut solid for three full weeks this time of year.
On the other hand Chavez's mouth is already working full speed. Conflict in the National Assembly has already started as the chavista side is pushing all the orders from above. They do have until April to secure control of the High Court to block a referendum. They need to produce money for vote buying ASAP to prepare the campaign just in case; and too bad for credit rating and inflation.
In addition some changes have been made in the Army commands to neutralize "unreliable" components. Or so go the analysts. But who knows what really is going on inside the barracks. As long as Chavez can lavish money on the Army I suppose that they will stay quiet, if not supporting deliberately Chavez.
The interesting news really is that Garcia Carneiro, the commander of the Army has been named defense secretary. This officer is not one of the brightest one of the armed forces, barely making the grade. But he was wise enough to tie his fate to Chavez and accept to perform all sorts of tasks from him, including selling produce on Avenida Bolivar at discount rates while the Colombian border becomes a Colombian guerilla freeway. He has no charisma whatsoever but he "looks" like the people and he has managed to convince Chavez of his loyalty. It seems that he is becoming an experiment of sorts: how to transform a mediocre soldier into an acceptable political candidate, as Chavez seems to be running out of acceptable candidates. Certainly Chavez has shown a consistent dislike of the civil sector, preferring any time he can to put soldiers in key public service position. Garcia Carneiro already known for spreading the revolutionary largesses to the masses is certainly a candidate for cross over to the pseudo civilian world that Chavez would like so much to create. A world used to follow orders blindly, even if the orders are ridiculous. Once a soldier...
It seems that while the country was enjoying the season's bounties Chavez was diligently at work on his cause. What was the oppositon doing?