Some days there seems to be some cosmic conjunction that allows even the most modest of bloggers to draw major observations.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, fresh from his New York stinky stint, went to Bolivia. What could possibly be Bolivian and Iranian common interests escapes me completely, as it also seems to escape some in the Bolivian opposition. Though apparently there are nasty rumors that Iran would love to be looking for possible uranium deposits in the Altiplano. Whatever these are, Ahmadinejerk landed today in Santa Cruz with his Iranian air 747 for a "technical" stop. From there he flew to La Paz, but NOT in his plane. The plane that we saw on TV landing in La Paz with a deplaning Ahmadinejerk was a Venezuelan plane that strangely looked exactly as the Chavez personal Airbus paid at Venezuelan taxpayer expense.
We can pass on such details such as the 747 not being able to land in La Paz (showing that Morales feels insecure enough that he cannot go to Santa Cruz to receive Ahmadinejerk). We can pass on the 747 having a "technical problem" forcing Mahmoud to take another flight. But we cannot pass on Chavez plane casually parked in Santa Cruz to offer a ride to Mahmoud. Did Iran pay for the plane to go round trip Caracas Santa Cruz? Did Mahmoud pay for the flight round trip Santa Cruz La Paz? If he did not then we have misuse of Venezuelan public funds, and more than likely corruption punishable by current Venezuelan law, a law strong enough to unseat a former president of Venezuela when the courts were still semi independent form the executive power.
What I mean is that the courts in Venezuela have lost any independence long ago and now Chavez can use Venezuelan public funds as if they were his to dispose at will. I think that even in the time of Gomez appearances were better kept, considering the era. I will remind that in 1999-2000, a newly arrived Chavez administration made a big fuss because PDVSA airplanes tended to offer lifts to people not related to PDVSA. The scandal was big enough that Chavez staged an apparent sell out of most of PDVSA planes. Today PDVSA/CITGO are rumored to have more planes than ever, to give more lifts than ever, and even Chavez offers his rumored gold plated toilet seat of his airplane to whomever is in need to use it.
But this plane we saw on TV with Mahmoud arriving, with VENEZUELA big on it is just one of the may aspects of Venezuela corruption. Today we got two more sets of corruption scene.
The electoral campaign
Since the numbers are not adding up for the referendum of December, the sycophants that surround chavez are falling over each other trying to rise up the ante.
The Labor Minister, Rivero, went out today insisting, again, that the work week will drop to 36 hours a week and that nobody will be forced to work on Saturdays. He stupendously contradicts the constitutional reform proposal that states clearly, unambiguously, that the work day cannot exceed 6 hours. In other words, if the labor minister was doing the job he was appointed to he woudl realize that the constitutional proposal means that NO BODY CAN WORK MORE THAN 6 HOURS A DAY AND THUS NO MORE THAN 30 HOURS A 5 DAY WEEK. HE WOULD KNOW THAT THE ONLY WAY, AS PER THE NEW CONSTITUTION, TO REACH A WORK WEEK OF 36 HOURS IS TO WORK ON SATURDAYS. Yet he lies, shamelessly.
Cilia Flores, nothing less than the president of the National Assembly is on record today saying that nobody should be scared by the limitations on private property introduced by the new constitution. Why? Because the penal code and code of commerce already guarantee those rights. That is, the woman that chairs the body that makes the law of the nation is telling us that a law derived from an old constitution is ABOVE a new constitution. One does not know whether to cry or to laugh at such stupidity. But one is clearly aware of the bad faith and the lies of the woman.
In any normal country, with a normal judicial system, these two public declarations would be enough to force the liars to resign from their office. These people might not be financially corrupt (though at least int he case of Cilia there is enough indirect evidence that she has "benefited" from the revolution, such as her hubby paying first class tickets in cash). However these people are clearly morally corrupt.
The Transparency International index
And to top it off the global corruption index of Transparency International was published this week. Venezuela appeared in the bottom group (162 rank, with 2 out of 10 points), just above Haiti and together with such luminaries as Myanmar (the Burma of recent news), Iraq, Sudan or Zimbabwe. And far from other LatAm countries such as Chile (22, 7 out of 10) or Uruguay (25, 6.7 out of 10, though the latest air bag full of cash episode will test this Uruguay rank). Venezuela also dropped 21 spots from last survey!
So, what is the reaction in Venezuela? Let's start with the 'flagship' newspaper pro Chavez, Panorama of Maracaibo trying to downplay the result. We read there that multinational companies fuel corruption through their grants. That is, we are led to believe that Venezuelan corruption exists because those nasty multinationals have been corrupting the honest Venezuelan civil servants. Well, that might be part of the story for sure, but are there not the same multinational companies working in Chile and Uruguay? Not to mention that I am sure that they are also operating in some of the 10 best ranked countries such as Canada or Singapore. And not to mention that Chavez has been busy trying to expel them from Venezuela through a series of nationalizations. Of course Panorama does not wonder if PDVSA is a multinational that brings corruption to Argentina through bags carrying 800 000 USD in cash.
But the best would come, as expected, from the particularly lifeless, humorless, incompetent general comptroller of the nation, Clodosvaldo Russian (Ruffian? I get confused sometimes). In a particularly sad performance, the man that is supposed to fight corruption in Venezuela said that it was all just a media manipulation, that no one tried to investigate Transparency International to see if it was a legitimate NGO. I kid you not, the guy had the gall to do a public killing of the messenger instead of offering proof that he is actually doing the job he is paid for.
Interestingly he also added that it was financed by the IMF, the US and the World Bank, which of course begs the question: how come the US did rather poorly (20, 7.2 out of 10, barely better than Chile) if they are the ones financing the NGO? He also added that the T.I used some military recruiting result that was outdated. I looked into the methods offered in the T.I. page and I did not see anything of the sort in the PDF documents offered which I checked (I did not check them all but I did check those that seemed to have a relation with methods). Curiously the same method used by the pro Chavez people visiting this page, latching on a tiny detail that might or might not be an error in a log post, but a tiny detail that they can twist out of context in the hope that the whole post will collapse. Intellectual terrorism, to give it a charitable name.
When I read the arguments of Clodosvaldo Ruffian to cover his sorry ass and sorrier reputation, or Panorama silence I can only say that they are intellectually corrupt.
And thus you have, the many splendored facets of chavismo as it brings corruption everywhere.