Saturday, March 27, 2004

Brief news from Venezuela
Political prisoners remain in prison while election speak goes on
Saturday 27, March 2004

El Universal publishes in English an article on political prisoners in Venezuela. I will copy just one paragraph:
This means a total of 202 persons imprisoned or sentenced to visit a court weekly, many of them teenagers. All of them have reported to have been tortured or threatened with death.

Meanwhile El Universal today's banner is the apparent failure of chavismo to collect enough signatures to subject opposition legislators to a Recall Election of their own. Apparently only 2 are subjected to a Recall Election and half of them escaped altogether. Chavista officials in a rather somber mood assured that their collection effort was itself subjected to the repair process and that surely during that process they will ratify the signatures collected.

But is this really a relevant piece of news? We all knew from the November and December shows that chavismo had not done too well in its recollection process. Funny videos of people carrying loads of "signatures" in obviously strangely light boxes are in everyone's memory. No, this is meaningless since the only Recall Election that really matters is the Chavez one. Furthermore, this is good news for chavismo: by accepting that they did not get the signatures they will be able to demand that the opposition recognizes that it did not collect the necessary signatures against Chavez. Remember, you read it here first.

What would be news is for the 36 opposition assemblypersons that were subjected to a Recall Election to offer to go anyway if Chavez would submit himself to the Recall process. But assemblymen seem rather attached to their paycheck to make such a dashing performance. While I keep hoping for some real action from our representatives, I cannot fail to observe that in spite of talk of unity against Chavez, 140 people are running for the 22 state houses. The Venezuelan political class is just hopeless and it will be saved in spite of itself, if it gets saved.

To close this issue. The Crass Declaration Award goes to PPT's secretary Albornoz. According to him, the candidacies of the opposition for governor mansions (and town halls too) are decided at the US Embassy. As usual no evidence is offered, except that Accion Democratica, AD, seems excluded from many candidacies reflecting the US veto. The best spin that one can put on such an absurd declaration, from someone specializing in absurdities is that he is trying to put a wedge between AD and the Coordinadora Democratica. Though I expect anything from AD, including to negotiate directly with the US if needed.

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