Monday, April 19, 2004

Monday night grab bag
From Petkoff in Boston to a Florida Senator in Venezuela and a Brazilian mugging

It is the end of a three days holiday, and stuck at home with the remains of a Brazilian flu I might as well put together some stuff that I have left on the side.

It is also a good idea to catch up before tomorrow when we are expecting momentous decisions from the CNE and the opposition as to the possibility of ever reaching a recall election. Incidentally, one thing that is bothering me is that now the earliest date for the recall election is early August. If the recall election is not held before August 19, then all the effort will have been for naught as Chavez will leave his vice president to complete the term. How come the Carter Center or the OAS, or the Coordinadora Democratica for that matter, have not come up front and say that the recall election after August 19 is unacceptable? That the CNE should come out clear on that? That the intention of the voters that signed in December was for a Recall before August and that bad management of the CNE is not an excuse? This should be grounds to demand the dismissal of the present CNE! Even if we all know that they were "incompetent" on purpose.

Am I smelling a rat?

But this is a topic for a full post later.

Teodoro Petkoff in Boston

Read the riveting account of his presentation in Boston as written by Guillermo on April 11. Note that the "Bolivarian circle" of Boston might be composed of US lefties instead of Venezuelans. How come I am not surprised?

Ibsen Martinez strikes again

For those who subscribe to El Nacional, read today's article by Ibsen Martinez on his visit last year to a certain Timerman, a close help of Spain's Aznar. He was visiting La Moncloa, the prime minister residence, incidentally with Petkoff, to discuss about Venezuela just as the alliance tanks were rolling into Baghdad. There is no one like Ibsen Martinez to expose so clearly the hubris of high placed officials (and to remind the Venezuelan opposition that they are victim of hubris even as they are in the dog house). You will probably understand better why Aznar's party is now out of office.

Yaracuy politics are a world of their own

Yaracuy governor, Eduardo Lapi, can probably run with one hand tied behind his back and still reach 60% of the vote. For better of for worse, what local leadership does to people that actually try to improve the lot of people that they administer.

He had some perhaps unfortunate declarations early in March when he threatened to declare himself in civil disobedience. Now the central government is accusing him of being a "conspirator". Lapi conspiring! The guy that cannot keep his mouth shut! Quite amazingly the Coordinadora Democratica is very reluctant to endorse him (as it is reluctant to endorse any of the guys that were in the negotiation table last year, how interesting!). And chavismo probably presented the very worst candidate to run against Lapi. So what else could they do but try to jail Lapi? And so far the Coordinadora is not up in arms the way it was with, say, Capriles Radonsky of Baruta. The reason? Lapi has trounced repeatedly Copei and AD in Yaracuy making them pretty much irrelevant here.

Senator Nelson Caracas vacation

Florida's junior senator came to Caracas and he left with a very bad impression of the place, and not from the obvious garbage in the streets. Quote:
''We may reach the point where the U.S. has to treat this government as a hostile and unfriendly government to the U.S. and the U.S. interests,'' said Nelson, a Democratic member of the Senates Foreign Relations Committee.

The vice president and the foreign minister are rather upset and found nothing better but to threaten visitors with use of lie detectors.
Apparently chavismo has not realized that fact finding missions are actually fact finding and not adulation material gathering.

The Brazilian report

Last two times I went to Brazil I was inspired to write some amateur social comparative studies. Having survived Venezuela high crime rates just to find myself mugged at 9 PM on Ipanema returning from dinner has cut short inspiration. Not to mention that my precious digital camera is gone. That Rio was in the middle of a favelha battle with all cops in the favelhas make me think that perhaps all the small time thieves were down in the now unguarded street.

Still, I came back with one piece of crucial observation. After a couple of days in Rio I noticed that something was missing. It was missing because the ethnic mix of Rio is pretty close to Caracas so it was obvious to my subconscious that something was missing. Eventually I realized it: no soldiers anywhere. Except very informally around some military buildings that are not guarded like fortress the way Venezuelan military installations are guarded these days. Caracas, and even San Felipe streets these days offer the only too frequent spectacle of soldiers loitering around, supposedly bringing some security to the citizenry. This military presence has not stopped the crime index from increasing, and a few reports have even surfaced where the muggings were actually made by soldiers. I wonder now what people visiting Venezuela think when they see so many soldiers that should be in their barracks preparing to defend the country.

Yet one more evidence that Venezuela might already be under a military dictatorship but we just do not know about it.

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