The Tal Cual affair
This one has been going on. Now we learn that the prosecutor of the case, some woman called Mariela Viloria, has decided to appeal the fine levied against Tal Cual as being too light. The reason she advances is that neither Teodoro Petkoff nor Laureano Marquez have even tried to apologize for the alleged crime Holanda Dam has condemned them.
Well, Teodoro raises up to the challenge, quotes her and adds that she seems to have gotten her law degree from a laundry detergent box (these boxes in Venezuela used to carry small prizes and became synonymous with cheap or shoddy goods, degrees, prizes).
We are breathlessly expecting to see if enabler Viloria will dare to push further and sue Teodoro for being put down on the front page of Tal Cual today. As Teodoro points out in his editorial the woman actually dares to challenge him to publish her words, obviously feeling that the judicial system will side with her to strangle freedom of expression. Teodoro well aware of what is at stake, has no problem in picking her glove and see if they will dare silence him. Can you say "international courts in the near future?" At any rate, judge Dam and prosecutor Viloria join a lengthening list of people that one day will have to pay for their crimes.
Petkoff breaks with Eleazar Diaz Rangel
Today Tal Cual also carries the official break between old friends Eleazar Diaz Rangel and Petkoff. For some obscure reason, Teodoro Petkoff had been one of the last ones to still defend Diaz Rangel as an objective journalist. Most serious journalists in Venezuela have long ceased to consider Diaz Rangel objective, and probably not even serious anymore. I personally watched in awe how during a VTV talk show "Contra Golpe" Vanessa Davies was managing to extract an indirect support of Diaz Rangel as to the closing of RCTV. A professional journalist supporting the censorship on another journalist. Priceless!
See, this is important because Diaz Rangel is the editor of Ultimas Noticias and chavismo has been hell bent in trying to establish that Ultimas Noticias is an objective newspaper (though in the past it was criticized on occasion by Chavez, though not by very far subject to the criticism that he has hurled at El Nacional or El Universal). Ultimas Noticias is widely read among the lower middle class and lower economical classes because it is a tabloid format, it is written more simply than the major papers written more for the "elites", it carries a large adds section, and it carries all the cheaper advertisement that neighborhood stores and cheap outlets can afford. In all truth, Ultimas Noticias also tends to carry a lot of articles about lousy public services and has one of the best red pages, admittedly a more riveting material than the Central Bank numbers or the constitutional critique from specialists.
But, and this is a big BUT, Ultimas Noticias is also held by a branch of the Capriles family who managed control of the paper through judicial fiat courtesy of a chavista court (as far as I could understand the details of that sordid inheritance trial a few years ago). Also, if it criticizes public administration inefficiency it has been rather very delicate in its criticizing of Chavez himself. Someone must have realized that in Miraflores Palace and soon enough Ultimas Noticias was an OK paper again and started being flooded with governmental propaganda and advertisements, enriching the owners of the paper, and presumably also the editor though he keeps dressing with he lousiest outfits one can imagine (which could arguably be on purpose to keep a "people" image).
But Diaz Rangel luck has run out. Petkoff calls on his silence as to the Tal Cual fine by Dam and Viloria. The great reluctance of Diaz Rangel in discussing yet another naked censorship case can only mean acquiescence. An acquiescence that has already been criticized by many folks such as Milagros Socorro when she called on him a couple of years ago when he refused to mention the brutal expulsions of "Los Semerucos". With today Tal Cual Diaz Rangel cannot hide anymore and Ultimas Noticias comes out as what folks like this blogger have thought for a long time, a chavista newspaper where some opposition pens are allowed to write. For the record: El Universal and El Nacional have always allowed many chavista to publish weekly column and that has never stopped pro Chavez folks from accusing these papers from being anti Chavez. Well, at least these papers were honest about their positions whereas Ultimas Noticias was always an hypocrite rag.
But I am not holding my breath for Diaz Rangel to come out in the defense of freedom of expression: as all enablers he will keep dodging the issue and pretend he is above such niceties. His loss.
Cheap gas in London
And the day could not have been closed any better but by this grandest of all enablers, Ken Livingstone finally getting his discounted gas for London Public Transport.
I just cannot comprehend how a guy leading one of the biggest and the wealthiest city in the world can accept a gas subsidy for public transport from a small time wanna-be dictator from a bolibanana republic which cannot give decent public transportation at any price to his subjects. But then again Ken Livingston is a man who has long ago forgotten all about morality. But read the Alek Boyd take on it, better than any newspaper clip you could come across with. (Note: this story has ben unfolding for quite a while, even involving an interwiew for yours truly a few months ago; it sems that finally Ken got his comission)
These few morality epigraphs show how corrupting are people like Chavez. One would have expected that people who claim themselves to be educated would not succumb once again to this type of petty tyrant. But they do for some personal benefit. That is the worse legacy of such regimes, to crudely expose the rot at the core of Human Nature. But we are fixed on the true nature and intellectual misery of the Diaz Rangel of this world, the vile purchasable character of Viloria and Dam or the utter amorality of Livingstone. At least, every day, those who oppose Chavez get more and more reasons to feel better about themselves. I do, don't you?
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Added later: NON-enablers. Read a surprising piece by Juan Forero in the Washington Post on the fate of the Cuban medics who dare to escape Cuba AND Venezuela. I loved this part:
In Tachira state, on the border with Colombia, he [the defector] lived in a house with seven other Cubans, working 10 hours a day, seven days a week, he said. "I felt like merchandise, to be exchanged for petroleum," he said. "It's a situation where you're not valued as a professional, you don't get a dignified salary."
Ciero said his life was suffocatingly routine. Politics, and his view of Cuba's government, were off-limits in his daily dealings with Venezuelans. "You cannot talk about the Cuban reality with anyone," he said.
See, some people do have conscience and self esteem!