Friday, August 18, 2006

A woman as a speaker of the house in Venezuela

Normally this blogger is very supportive of firsts: first minority to do this, first woman to reach that, first gay person elected there, first Latin person to achieve such record. Well, today Venezuela named its first woman to lead the parliament and I am not impressed.

Nicolas Maduro, the past speaker, was transferred to the foreign ministry. I have already highlighted how unsuitable for that post Maduro is, and how much disrespect for the function of speaker of the Venezuelan parliament his easy resignation meant. Well, on this last point, the regime has outdone itself once again.

Naming Cilia Flores, with her eternal tacky red leather jacket, is yet another slap at the office of speaker of the house in Venezuela (note that the vice president of the assembly, Desiree Santos is also wearing red in the picture to show that even though she was the natural heir of Maduro and the one who probably deserved it most, she was still a good revolutionary and followed the line from above). Normally there would have been some election, some debate as to who succeed Maduro. Instead it was announced that they would wait for some representatives traveling overseas to return before holding the vote. Cilia was one of them. When she arrived she was "spontaneously" nominated by Ismael Garcia and she was acclaimed unanimously. And that was that. This is the debating body that we have in Venezuela: there were rumors in the hallways as to Carreño deserving the chair, but when word came form above they all lined up sheepishly.

Thus now we have a hereditary chair of the Nationals Assembly as Cilia Flores, one of the most radical members of the revolution is nothing less but the spouse of Maduro. Even some claim that he forced her nomination to make sure that she would put some order in the messy "administration" he left behind, a detoured way to say that some funds were not used as they should have been. I have not much to say for her but I am pretty sure that her managerial skills can only be better than those oh her hubby.

But who is Cilia? Well, she was a third rate lawyer that rushed to Yare in 1992 when Chavez was in jail there to offer her services. Now she is the chair of the National Assembly. Nothing else needs to be added to describe the person. What kind of chair will she be? In an El Nacional interview she said that the National Assembly did not need an opposition, that they were already listening to the people in the streets and that was enough. Thus, if anyone still harbored the illusion that Cilia Flores was named to preside a house to debate ideas and laws, well, they were set straight: there is not a bone of democrat in Cilia Flores. The only surprise here is that she was so blunt, so undiplomatic in asserting her profound disdain to debate, to ideas, to original thinking. She comes across as more radical than Chavez is possible!

There was also the amusing moment, moments that such regimes so richly provide. When Ismael Garcia, the primus sycophant of chavismo, proposed the name of Cilia Flores he said "for the first time in 500 years a woman will president the National Assembly". This was too much even for Carreño who when his turn came to speak pointed out to silly Ismael that there had been a parliament for only 200 years in Venezuela. I will recall that Careño is the one that said that Direct TV decoder boxes had a camera inside so as to allow the Us to spy inside people’s houses in Venezuela.

So there you are, the legislative future of Venezuela in the hands of overzealous and inept Flores, inane Garcia and X-file minded Carreño. Words fail me.

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