Last night, in a fit of insomnia I was watching the Oppenheimer report on TV, a weekly TV feature from Miami directed by noted journalist Andres Oppenheimer. This show which should be mandatory viewing for anyone interested in Latin America politics, is unfortunately only transmitted after midnight on Venezuela's Venevision on Saturday (12:30 AM Sunday!)
The host was brand new OAS secretary Jose Miguel Insulza. The format is for the guest to meet from 3 to 5 people that can either agree or disagree with him but who offer a contrast or needed side commentary. One of the three guests last night was Jorge Valero, Venezuela's ambassador to the OAS.
The main topic was discussing the OAS role in helping democracy, threatened in many countries. Of course, an OAS theme which recently had Venezuela in mind during previous discussions at different OAS assemblies. At some point when Oppenheimer addressed Valero he reminded the audience that the nomination of 17 justices to the high court was the way which the executive, Chavez, gained control of the judicial power, thus breaking separation of powers, an expected democratic quality. Valero did not even bother justifying that take over in Venezuela, he just outright lied about it by claiming that the justices had been elected by a 2/3 votes of the National Assembly. This is false, it is a naked lie, as the 17 new justices failed to gain the 2/3 constitutional requirement, in violation of the constitution, a violation ignored by the sitting court at the time in spite of abundant denunciations, including from Human Rights Watch among others. The 17 new "justices" were thus named only by the thin chavista majority at the National Assembly.
I know that the role of an ambassador is to lie when needed, white lies that avoid confrontation among countries. But never had I heard such an outright lie by someone who should have known much better, in a place where he knew the host AND the main guest knew better (but would be too polite to set him straight?) As early as June 19 2004 this blog was describing the irregularities behind the new court nomination and the international outcry. This is not a matter open to discussion as even the new justices claim that their nomination serves the interes of the "revolution" (and so to hell with constitutional forms?)
Or is it that Valero has been away from Venezuela for too long? Or did he forget his lawyer background as poker faced he recited the same litanies that have become the Venezuelan speech of any Venezuelan pseudo diplomat sent on mission?
We must wonder how come Valero does not pretend anymore, does not try anymore to build up a semi plausible case that might stand partially a brief scrutiny of facts by the casual observer not too intersted in Venezuela. Now, it is all simply a collection of the crassest of lies and denials, the victimization discourse everytime. No more diplomacy (assuming that there was some diplomacy before).
The answer is the same as the one found when we discuss the foreign policy of the Eastern Europe countries of the Cold War; or of Cuba today and North Korea. It is the answer of countries that know that people are up to their games, their abuses, even if their international partners have decided not to act on it for the time being. It is the foreing policy of the "see if I care" construct, one that despises public opinion since they know that their position cannot be defended nor supported by the rational discourse.
Last night I realized with complete clarity that Venezuelan voice is still heard only because oil is at 60 USD a barrel. If it were for all the lies that flow from Chavez and his hack people such as Valero, nobody would pay attention anymore.