Thursday, March 31, 2005

Zapatero leaves Venezuela with a trail of controversy

Poor Zapatero. The Spanish Socialist Prime Minister was hoping to improve his international standing but he leaves Venezuela with little else than a few defense contracts. And a rather embarrassing moment at the hands of the Spaniards in Venezuela.

The summary

Well, it was not too bad overall. Zapatero did get his defense contracts, mostly for coast guards. Even Colombia's Uribe backed them (though elsewhere he stated in front of the summiteers that he hoped Venezuela will control the "old" rifles discarded for the new 100000 guns to be bought. Good luck with that). Even the opposition did not complain too much as we all know that the Venezuelan shores are a dangerous place to sail. We are pretty sure that Chavez will not be able to secure the coast against pirates and drug runners, but at least if we give him the ships he will have no excuse (or so we hope).

However when El Mundo of Spain reports the inherent contradiction when a socialist head of state defends the sales of weapons under a specious argument "va en beneficio de los pueblos" (goes to the benefit of the people) one can only but wear an amused smile.

But ABC in Spain is much more critical. In an OpEd piece we can read:

The first of these dangerous elements is the totalitarian populism, repressive, irresponsible, undemocratic and invasive that has settled in some countries of Latin America. Populism by definition lacks any recognizable ideology, its unique and true desire is power, domination and perpetuation. When a few sectors of the left, in general the more radical, but unfortunately not only them, acclaim as an essential reference a doctrine empty and a philofascist in his methods and forms such as Hugo Chavez is, president of Venezuela, it is a mark that the ideological drought of the left was worse than what some had predicted. Chavez is the white hope of the failed castrism anachronic and near death who feels that its continuation is impossible in the Island and that it is only possible through the Venezuelan president and the MVR, its extravagant, radical and heterogeneous political movement.
If some terms are a little bit exaggerated it is still a delightful assessment. And it is assorted with another article describing the Spanish descent in the shadowy world of arm dealing.

The colorful moments

Well, let's pass on the fact that the Spanish opposition is waiting for Zapatero with a vote to condemn the Venezuelan "gag law". More interesting is that the Venezuelan opposition did give Zapatero a rather long list of petitions, in particular for European Union observers. The ones that did not come in August because they were not allowed to do their job. The title of that article, by the way, was the refusal of Venezuela PSOE correligionaries to meet with Zapatero.

But Zapatero did get a lousy pause in his routine. His people had scheduled a meeting with the Spaniards residing in Venezuela (several hundred thousand live in Venezuela). He did not stood them up but he was 2 hours late and lamely presented his excuses (Chavez certainly never bothers to give excuses so at least it shows that Zapatero is polite). Still he was booed several times which rattled him some, obviously not expecting such an un-welcome. Making fun of the way Spaniards speak El Ciudadano in Globovision said as a commentary "os aplaudieron y os pitaron" (not translatable).

Perhaps part of the Spaniards restleness was not due only to the fact that they had to wait for nearly three hours of Zapatero. Early on this one visited the National Assembly to give a rather disappointing speech where he reluctantly slid concepts about the separation of powers. That chavismo was delighted with the speech goes to tell you how lame it was. In fact the ineffable Maduro ordered its publication in every newspaper. 'nuf said!

Bloggers do have some "sources". In addition to the above report from Hermandad Gallega, where the all-Spain booing took place, I was told that last year about 50 000 thousand Venezuelans entered Spain but only 10 000 returned to Venezuela. In other words, there was an illegal emigration to Spain of perhaps 40 000 Venezuelans (the source of course does not want me to reveal the name but I can assure that it is a good source, not to mention that I personally know three people, two of them distant relatives, that settled in Spain last year, illegally).


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