Sunday, January 23, 2005

January 23, Anderson, Granda, Dodd and the thin threads of liberty

Today we celebrate, perhaps more than ever if not in a flashy way, "le 23 de enero", January 23. This was the day in 1958 when we kicked out our last really real dictator. 47 years later, it seems that we are back to square one. After all, Perez Jimenez had won in a rigged election and could claim some legitimacy, though at least he had something to show for his years in power, more than our present wanna-be.

The situation of our democracy, and liberties, today is very complex. We have a president that *might* have won a recall election, who has won a regional election almost by forfeit, and with both elections now under even great questioning as a consequence of the Granda case. This case has had the indirect consequence of given the first firm proof of active electoral rigging by the government when it registered scores of foreigners to vote in key districts, many of these foreigners able to vote twice, with their old ID and their new ID. The impact of such manipulation now cannot be denied in the Tachira border state.

I can deal with the Granda case details fast thanks to the stupendous analysis of Miguel. The Venezuelan government is finding itself in perhaps its most delicate situation since it came into office, paradoxically even more delicate than in April 2002 where the spin was in its favor. But times have changed.

The Chavez administration certainly has been an expert at dodging issues long enough until it can find a way to slither out of tight spots. But these were mostly domestic situations which in appearance did not affect foreign observers directly. A skilful manipulation of the information ensured that the international press saw Venezuela as a classical liberation movement, thus who cared if our local liberties were trampled!?

But the Granda affair has brought a new look on things. And foreign interests have changed. Two things must be noted. In April 2002 the international fight against terrorism had just started. Now, thanks to the Bali, Ossetia and above all Madrid bombings, the whole world knows that they can be next even if the play nice to radical elements. The other new factor is that the US seems to have decided to get out of Iraq rain or shine, an odd but justified consideration if we consider the desert nature of Iraq. A newly sworn in Bush is working for history and he certainly will do his outmost to solve that problem least a Democrat administration takes the glory of the peace maker. The Venezuelan oil and the protection granted to terrorist groups by Chavez, now reported in exquisite details, have entered the direct gaze of the people that are planning the new world.

It is rather paradoxical when Chavez seems poised to become a target that Rafael Poleo in an interview for El Universal takes a most anti US pose.
Poleo: … in a Venezuela where business is collapsing due to the political mistrust.
en una Venezuela donde las empresas están derrumbándose por la desconfianza política.

Giusti: Isn't that a contradiction with the anti imperialist speeches?

Poleo: Paradoxically Chavez helps all that he pretends to oppose. He is making a tabula rasa with the economy, a wished for situation for foreign interests to buy the country cheap. International Capital is ready to step in when Chavez leaves.

And an even somber forecast
Giusti: Thus the Maisto thesis was wrong in the end [for John Maisto US ambassador when Chavez was elected first and who said that Chavez should be judged for his acts rather than his words, assuming that the US economical privileges in Venezuela would not be touched].

Poleo: Maisto is not blamed because he was right in the core proposition: at the end of the road we will get the country, destroyed by Chavez and turned right wing. After Chavez comes a Venezuela where Rafael Poleo and Roberto Giusti will be very uncomfortable.

Even if Poleo tends to exaggerate things, this last comment deserves further examination. Rafael Poleo is not saying that he is living comfortably now, he has made quite a second career criticizing the mediocrity and authoritarian bent of the regime. What Poleo is saying is that the Venezuela that we will inherit from Chavez is not going to be a pretty place. Either a right wing military government will be in place, or a right wing government supported by the army, even if elected in a general election with an electorate repulsed by the excesses of the present psuedo-administration. The curtailing of liberties by such a new regime will not be frowned upon at all by the US, now the economic masters of that new Venezuela offered on a silver platter to US interests. A successful Iraq without the war.

And this would be the good hypothesis. Civil war is the other unmentioned one. The hypothesis of a stable and prosperous Venezuela under Chavez is not even considered thanks to what has happened since November first.

The Danilo Anderson martyrdom has now been revealed to be an account setting between extortion gangs in the judicial power where the only things left to determinate is if Anderson was cashing himself and what sector of the government decided his death. This has revealed the deep corruption of the civilian sector in at least some areas of the government, in addition to its sheer administrative incompetence very well established along these 6 years. Is such staffed regime viable in the long run?

And the Granda affair has established that Chavez will never be a good neighbor whose interests are not in the Venezuelan prosperity but in his international career.

Meanwhile we saw a few US senators such as Dodd coming here and becoming "el tonto util" of Chavez while demonstrating with an offer of Peace Corps volunteers that they probably have no idea of what is going on in this area of the world. I wonder if Dodd has any idea on how counterproductive his actions are in preserving Venezuelan liberties, assuming generously that he cares about us.


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