Monday, April 05, 2004

Easter week holidays start in Venezuela
but there is not much resting going on

Monday 5, April 2004

Easter week in Venezuela is a major holiday in a country that does not have a tradition of summer month holidays as in Europe. Thursday and Friday are official holidays and many private business just close for the whole week, the closest approximation we have to August in Europe.

But politics is not taking a break this week.

Let's start with the murky incident of the burnt soldiers I had reported a few days ago. Still at this point there is no clear or convincing explanation. The Army is protecting the site not letting independent investigation. The relatives are having a different version than the one offered by the government. Even some of the soldiers "allegedly" changed their initial story.

But things took a dramatic turn today. In his weekly address "Alo, presidente!" Chavez, not only is not taking the Easter break himself but generated enough material to have tongues running all through the week. Besides aggravating in the holy week his relations with he church by calling the church clergy "Judas", he said that the soldiers "accident" was blown out of proportion by the "conspirator" press, tied with the church with foreign interest (etc, etc...), and that at any rate, the injuries suffered by the soldiers were minor.

Unfortunately one of the 8 soldiers did die today. And the information minister Jesse Chacon just tended his resignation a few minutes ago, as seen through Globovision, a first in Chavez Venezuela. Strange, is it not? So many ministers have made such big blunders and they are still in office or in a cozy embassy...

Actually it is not strange. The Army is now the main support of Chavez and a major gaffe in such a delicate business could jeopardize the support for Chavez, a support that is costing him so much to maintain. And hearing the ex (?) minister talk on TV, suggests to me that he is the one that minimized the injuries of the soldiers trying probably to gain good marks with Chavez. That would be the very best example to demonstrate that Chavez entourage are actively hiding the reality of the country to Chavez.

While this major political faux pas was taking place, there was some activity on the electoral front. The opposition getting restless and sensing that the recall election is about to die sort of made an ultimatum, posing three conditions to go to the repair process of the signatures. They seem to me quite reasonable and I will discuss them tomorrow when I get more details and a better understanding as to the why of these conditions.

To add insult to injury to the wretched opposition case, late this evening the CNE announced that the opposition did not get the signatures to effectuate Recall Elections on the chavista assembly folks it sought to unseat. The Coordinadora has not replied yet so we will see tomorrow what this maneuver mean.

And the Electoral Court has not emitted a ruling expected today. Tomorrow?

As you can see, it is a good thing that I do get to work through the holidays this year, I will be around to post on the further developments as this week promises to be more interesting than expected. Miguel was wise to bail out to some distant beach ;-)

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