Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The 2005 Venezuela News Awards

OK, so it is this time of the year and if it seems that anyone can give awards, why not this blog? Of course there is absolutely no objectivity form the owner of this page, sole juror in the decision making process. Any complaint can be addressed to Chavez himself as all awards revolve around how these winners behaved vis-à-vis of El Supremo. However I trust that some might agree with my decisions.

Man of the year

Hugo Chavez Frias of course. Were Chavez to have left office, this blog would have ceased as its raison d’être is to narrate what a budding tyrant Chavez is. He is already a tyrant for his own people, and day by day the ones differing with him feel more and more the brunt of his ire.

Chavista of the year

This award is for the chavista that has done more to ensure the power of his overlord, in as destructive a manner as possible. If the contest was tough, the winner emerged triumphantly on December 4th, when at least 75% of the country announced its repudiation to the way things were run, if not of their repudiation of Chavez himself. The winner thus could be no one else but Jorge Rodriguez, the electoral board CNE head.

Mr. Rodriguez has indeed accumulated many merits. If the CNE cannot be accused of outright electoral fraud, now even international observers are keen on the way this one favors the chavista side, in particular by turning a consistent blind eye to the presidential politics and interferences in the election campaign, from cadenas to indiscriminate use of public funds to support its candidates.

Along the way Rodriguez has become the hero of a sector of chavismo who think it is right to cheat to have their leader on top. Reception of Rodriguez at any chavista meeting is nearly an apotheosis. Rodriguez only receives opposition leaders behind closed doors, briefly, rarely, and always ends up criticizing them. It is difficult to imagine a more partial umpire as Rodriguez, who adding insult to injury, presides the public position which requires the most impartial person of the country, even more perhaps than the High Court. No wonder the CNE is now routinely termed “the electoral ministry” as it receives its orders straight from the boss, and obeys them better than any other ministry in the chavista administration.

Sleazy bureaucrat of the year (female)

This was a surprise late minute winner. She is Delcy Rodriguez, sister of the chavista of the year award winner. Her role is vice minister for European affairs. Her performance has been lackluster at best. She is rumored to have been more preoccupied in purging staff at the foreign ministry and promoting “Bolivarian” activities in Europe than getting better ties and investments from European countries. She outraced on the final sprint any other bureaucrat when she went out of her way to criticize the EU and OAS preliminary reports, a function that to begin with was not for her to do, and which was carried in a rather inadmissible fashion anyway for the diplomatic world. Thus she proved that she united in herself all the qualities that make a perfect chavista bureaucrat: fidelity against all reason to her boss; general incompetence and lack of imagination; desire of revenge at all costs from true or imaginary offenses (she is the daughter of an assassinated political leader who probably was more democratic than his brood and might not have approved of the way they have been betraying Venezuelan democracy).

Sleazy bureaucrat of the year (male)

Isaias Rodriguez, the general prosecutor. It is hard to imagine anyone more servile, lackluster, manipulator, liar, betrayer, etc, etc… In the annals of chavismo he will shine in his own light such as people like Goebbels or Beria or Pedro Estrada are still mentioned as human rejects.

Fascist of the year (female)

Again, the winner in an extremely contested field comes at the last minute. Iris Varela, announcing on December 4 that public servants that did not go to vote should be fired on the 5th, has demonstrated how fascist the regime is. With this award she can be the pin up girl of the fascist chavista wing. She will have a great future organizing the personnel to monitor the concentration camps that she would be building as we speak if she were allowed to. But that is OK Iris, soon they might start listening to you.

Fascist of the year (male)

This award has been well earned through an impeccable track record through the year, even if in December the winner has added several brownie points to consolidate what was already an insurmountable lead. The winner has managed in a single year to muzzle the organization he presided, to transform it in a rubber stamp parliament starting January 2006. He has insulted any person that ever dared to oppose chavismo in terms that even Chavez would paused before using. Outright lies, manipulations are his routine tools of the trade. The winner is of course Nicolas Maduro, who in addition had the nerve to travel to India in the middle of the electoral campaign, demonstrating that the CNE was making sure he would be reelected no matter what, and demonstrating at the same time that Maduro was already operating as if Venezuela were already a fascist state where elections did not matter.

Leech of the year

For the six year in a row, Fidel Castro. Though this year Argentina’s Kirchner gave him a good run.

Survivor of the year

Ramos Allup has managed to come from leading an agonizing party to come back to the forefront of the opposition political scene by jumping first off the electoral ship. This dazzling maneuver allowed him to lead the abstentions party while never proposing abstention, allowed him to send its leading rival Primero Justicia in a tail spin where this one might start a series of divisions just as AD has been doing for decades, and has allowed him to become again a valid partner for chavismo if this one decides to create an “official opposition”.

Loser of the year

Julio Borges. For failing to see where the wind blew from, he jeopardized his hard work at trying to promote his candidacy and might have provoked a division of his party, Primero Justicia.

Street walker of the year

Roberto Smith who walked for nothing from Tachira to Caracas. The little bit of notoriety he might have obtained only allowed observers to see what a wishy-washy character he is, pretending at this moment not to be in the opposition or with chavismo instead coming across as a used car salesman.

Opposition leader of the year

This award actually had only one contestant who nevertheless managed to deserve his award. Teodoro Petkoff has managed to avoid the pitfalls of a fragmented opposition, then even though he opposed the abstention movement that lead to December 4, was able to understand it and to try to make the best of its consequences without crass manipulation and posturing. Even if the polls do not favor him right now, he seems definitely as the only valid option in 2006 as his potential opponents have done their best to sabotage themselves, including Chavez.

Newspaper of the year (tie)

For Tal Cual for having raised the political debate and for El Universal for its consistency in opposition since 1998 and for still being the only one with a free access English section.

Rag of the year

VEA, the chavista newspaper who cannot raise above its condition of propaganda and directions relay to the hard core chavista base. A true rag if any in Venezuela, who cannot get even some inspiration from Ultimas Noticias or Panorama.

TV station of the year

Globovision for insisting bravely in reporting the news in spite of Chavez threats and for receiving now an astounding numbers of chavistas callers complaining against the poor performance of public servants, complaints from people who often claimed that they are not allowed access to chavista media (in spite of the creation of ANTV, VIVE TV, TeleSur and some regional variations: apparently the more chavista TV we get, the less the spontaneity in people airing their claims).

Media show of the year

The Danilo Anderson investigation. Hollywood would be hard pressed to write such a B category screen play.

Conspiracy theory of the year

The CIA who seems even to be behind the lousy trash collection in Caracas streets. Who would have thought that the CIA arm reached that far?

Most perceptive political analyst of the year

One woman in Boston (Linda Kelly?) who said receiving cheap oil from Citgo that Venezuelan oil belonged to Chavez and he could do as he pleased with it.

Media personality of the year

Leopoldo Castillo of Globovision’s Alo Ciudadano who seems to have become the darling of the downtrodden masses, be they chavista or opposition. Rumored to be the one Chavez hates the most, not a small feat considering all the hatred emanating from that side.

Blogs of the year (multi tie)

Many opposition blogs who have accumulated notice, from newspaper citation to radio interviews and awards. OK, so I am including myself in the list, otherwise what is the point of writing such a list? :-)

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