Thursday, March 18, 2004

A summary of the news from Venezuela
Carrasquero and CNE fraud, back taxes on the networks, the case of the missing constitutional case, and a Human Rights report

Thursday 18, March 2004

Things keep moving. The coup keeps tightening. Tonight's targets are the private TV networks, fined for giving free air time to opposition advertisement during the 2002/2003 strike. Let's forget about some peculiar tax code interpretation that might justify that a company that loses revenue on purpose should be fined. What about the CADENAS to which we were subjected those days, dozens of hours a week? Is Chavez going to pay for all the revenue that the networks lost while he was transmitting his propaganda at the same time on all radio and TV? In a moment of particular cynicism, the SENIAT director (IRS equivalent) Vielma Mora said that the state TV, VTV was also investigated. Yeah, right... I would like to see the amount of that fine... Oh, and that declaration was given on VTV only! But little did they know that this blogger monitors VTV.

Tonight I feel tempted to start a new section: Vile Person of the day. The clear winner is CNE president Carrasquero. He piled it up high. He accused the OAS and the Carter Center to be partial against Chavez. He told them that they could leave or stay but that Venezuela was a sovereign country and would do as it please. I am sure that this declaration will go down real well. But that was not all. He said he had proof!!!!! We are anxious to see the evidence!!!! And he went on to say that there might be recall elections in spite of the opposition. It is all the opposition leaders fault now that the people that signed are missing the referendum. Or maybe I have stopped understanding Spanish...

But these declarations were accompanied by declarations from the two minority members of the CNE. Yesterday the CNE had announced that they were to obey the ruling of the Electoral Court. But this morning Carrasquero took upon himself to have the CNE sue for autonomy of power. This legal maneuvering that will cost money to the CNE was not decided in reunion! The two minority directors of course voiced the possible legal implications of Carrasquero acting on his own. Let's see how many lies, distortions and plain punishable misdeeds we can count on Mr. Carrasquero actions since early this week.

As a side comment. A couple of days ago I was commenting on the puffed face of CNE director Rodriguez. Well, he was hospitalized today for hypertension. Once again this blogger shows himself to be a keen observer of the big and little news. This probably explains why Carrasquero did not dare to convoke a meeting today since he would not have been able to have the lawsuit initiative approved.

Another piece of news was the revelation that the famous ruling of the Constitutional Court that started this whole chaos, the supposedly illegal but then legal ruling, well, it does not exist in the dossier of the case! It has not been registered! Gerardo Blyde, a notorious representative from Primero Justicia, a doggedly good lawyer apparently, was able to force his way as a plaintiff to the constitutional case and found out that there is no ruling on paper against the Electoral Court, and thus there is no case. At least on paper. Is there deliberate misdeed in the Constitutional Court?

The Electoral Court, probably still waiting for that ruling decided that it would not surrender its electoral dossier to the constitutional Court, stating a now open and verbal defiance to the Constitutional Court. That Court, probably knowing that it screwed the case, is probably behind a silly move from the National Assembly to disrobe the Electoral Court justices. Yet anothe case of "shoot the messenger"!

But for candidate of Vile Moment of the day we do have the National Assembly which, as Caracas is burning, decided to discuss a law to allow casinos to operate in Military Bases. We know of course who is really ruling the country now: the notorious Portuguese Casino Mafia and the generals that will offer them protection. An obscure fist fight between two representatives lightened up the lofty discussions.

To close, the report of CIDH came out, in English. It is for the year 2003. I can hardly imagine how will be the 2004 report! The Inter American Commission on Human Rights, a section of the OAS, is rather damming, in spite of their condemnation of the 2002 Carmona adventure. Here is paragraph 523 for a sample. While you read it think of the Vice President or of Chavez daring people to bring evidence for Human Rights Violations.

537. The Commission has observed, as noted throughout this report, that between March 2002 and first quarter of this year more than 40 people were killed and some 750 injured as the result of street protests. The extreme political polarization and the resulting acts of violence that erupt periodically between demonstrators of different persuasions illustrate the growing political intolerance in the country. Among the signs of institutional weakness are the failure to enforce the new constitution, the perceived lack of independence of the branches of government, the growing concentration of power in the national executive, the impunity with which armed civilian groups and death squads conduct their activities, the tendency to confrontation and to denigrate the traditional political opposition on the part of the government, the constant attacks on journalists and the news media, the tendency to militarization of public administration through the increasingly prominent role of the armed forces, the growing radicalization of political stances in the context of widespread public discontent with the failure to meet social demands, controversies over the exercise of trade union rights, and the climate of harsh political intolerance and, in relation to the inter-American system, the repeated and persistent failure of the State to comply with precautionary measures granted by the IACHR and the provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court, all of which has been documented in this report and will be presented in summary fashion below.

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