Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Arrest warrants, a political prisoner again, but still a Recall Election push
The tortured cellist Carlos Izcaray plays on TV while Venezuela is entering the active phase of its march toward dictatorship

Wednesday 12, May 2004

As expected the government today continued the charade started last Sunday. And still nothing that really would justify all the brouhaha. Yes, there are some hints that perhaps, maybe, there might be something fuzzy. But already the name list offered to Colombia only delivered one name with any criminal track record. And of course no plan so far of the Colombian government representative to come and check up the arrested guys.

This of course has not stopped the Chavez administration to issue 10 arrest warrants. The defense minister came to the airwaves to criticize again the media saying that not uniting in front of such an issue was a treason to the fatherland. He went as far as saying that hired guns were targeting people from both sides of the political conflict. He spoke of "serious documents" but none was shown. All in all the interior minister advanced a number of 89 people subjected to legal pursuits.

In spite of all these words, no words for real and needed explanations. For example the exact events of Saturday/Sunday night. Now it is clear from the videos that the whole process of paramilitary arrest, if true, was initiated by chance by El Hatillo police! This detail is quite cute indeed. One wonders why the reluctance of the government to give due credit to El Hatillo and Metropolitan Police. That by itself would give so much more credit to their paramilitary story!!!!! Instead right now one would think that the Hatillo Police walked into the set up accidentally and perhaps forced the show to move faster than expected, thus explaining some of the glaring errors seen on the Sunday morning show. Why isn't there anyone with show biz brains in the Chavez administration?

And let's not forget the communication minister who pushed along the attack line to the private media and alleged some meeting in Colombia, promptly put into the proper perspective by the Colombian general that chaired it as normal to help maintain some order in the extremely porous border. Colombia is not biting the bait so far.

It looks more and more that the Sunday event whether genuine or not will be used to put a maximum pressure on the media or the opposition. To drive the point home, on the same trumped up charges of last time that were declared questionable by the High Court, prosecutor Danilo Anderson managed to finally arrest Capriles Radonski. The super prosecutor has been the one in all the "special" cases that the Chavez regime has needed to prosecute. And now he is not afraid to go against the High Court ruling as the law will soon change and whatever he does would eventually be validated. Thus this morning Capriles Radonski left for jail, as the newest political prisoner. That is his status, as he is "judged" for his intervention in the Cuban embassy in April 2002, even though as the videos from a thankful Cuban ambassador exist (and are profusely displayed in advertisement from Primero Justicia, Capriles group). The catch is of course that ambassadors are hard to bring as witness, and even less Cuban ambassadors to the Bolivarian Republic. But if Chavez was happy to jail the mayor, the mayor's charges were showing profusely their support for their mayor in the streets.

But Capriles need not worry, soon a few folks will be joining him.

However, the other issues that took a back seat for a couple of days are returning to the front scene as the opposition refuses to play the Chavez tune. If the case of the burnt soldiers is not back yet, the Recall Election, what really keeps Chavez awake at night is showing signs of revival. Already on Monday Sumate, the electoral logistic support of the opposition, was reminding of some of the pressing issues to resolve to finally be able to go to the repair process late this month. More daring was the move by Queremos Elegir, an NGO whose aim is to secure fair elections, submitted to the Constitutional Court a petition to respect the constitutional right of the people who did sign and whose signature was rejected without a real reason and thus unable even to go to the repair process. Indeed around 375 000 people whose signatures have been dutifully submitted have been rejected for procedural forms in the gathering process, not because of any mistake of their part such as the alleged mistake of the "similar script forms". Some prominent opposition leaders are in that group and it is just inconceivable to reject their signature as it was often filmed for TV at the time.

In other words the Constitutional Court must give a ruling before May 28. If it say that these people should be allowed to repair then the Recall Election will have the signatures it needs, even if Chavez finds a way to block (for example using the paramilitary excuse for calling a state of siege). If the Constitutional Court rules against, then it will have suspended a constitutional right and unmasked itself in front of the whole world as the Chavez agent. This is crucial as the other pending issue, the conflict between the Electoral Court and the Constitutional Court, could be "dismissed" as lawyerly talk if the Constitutional Court won the day, even wrecking the constitution. At least for some foreign eyes.

Eventually as the old saying: all roads lead to the Recall Election. Now we know really how scared is Chavez. A politician secure in the support of the people does not need to fight so hard and so unfairly. He is lowering himself to the goon level.

Two notes to end tonight's writing.

Carlos Izcaray is a young Venezuelan cellist that has already found success overseas. During the February event he was observing the trouble in Plaza Altamira and was carried away nevertheless by the Nazi-onal Guard and tortured. Actually it was feared that he might not be able to handle the bow of his cello as a consequence of his injuries. Tonight he was invited by 30 Minutos host, Cesar Miguel Rondon for a brief interview, and to play. It was nice to see him recovered even though one could not fail to miss the scar on his wrist. Was it due to the recent events? They were both discrete enough to avoid that topic. Art triumphs, and heals.

To end this with a humorous note, today's Rayma, El Universal great cartoonist. Translation of the legend of the army officer reporting: "Let the President know that the second contingent of paramilitary coup makers has arrived". Indeed it would take to accuse of political coup mongering such a group to match in ridicule the paramilitary of last Sunday.

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