Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chavez vs. Lina Ron: hostage release vs. hostage taking

[Updated 1, 2 and 3]

I am not too sure what to make of today multiple shows we have been subjected to. Either Chavez is sabotaging Lina Ron activities in favor of the radical revolution by releasing FARC hostages and speaking of peace. Or Lina Ron is sabotaging Chavez attempt at recovering world leader status by reminding him, and some in his entourage, that the local elections and the PSUV formation will not happen without her input, even on her dead body.

Chavez gets 4 more hostages released

So eventually the FARC and Chavez reached some agreement, something was given somewhere and the Colombian army staid put. Four more hostages were released. First, let's celebrate that 4 more Colombians are freed. Let hope that the 796 that are left will be released shortly because at a rate of 4 a month we are looking forward to yet 16 more years of slow hostage release assuming that new ones are not taken.

Chavez very clumsily tried to generate some enthusiasm again. But this time the enthusiasm was less, even in France where the nightly news dedicated a bare minute to the release, no image offered except for a picture of one of the hostage and the wishes that Ingrid Betancourt release would not be far behind. In Venezuela courtesy to Lina Ron, whatever propaganda effect he tried was blasted... But before I get into this let's look at the propaganda around the hostage release (pics taken by yours truly out of his TV set during the cadena).

First, this time the TeleSur camera who had the exclusive filmed much more lovingly the whole release scene in the jungle. Rodriguez Chacin, Venezuelan FARC minister, was more careful about his words and if he encouraged the FARC to keep up, he did so away from the cameras (though a few "comrade" were uttered). The inevitable Piedad Cordoba was all around hugging and kissing and loosing her turban. Yet, the camera and the rather warm farewell between the guerrilla and the hostages (note: those who freed them are not those who kept them for all these years, which explains a lot) could not hide how broken these people are coming out of the jungle. In fact one of them had recovered enough to blast the FARC as soon as he reached the Caracas airport a few hours later.
But the worst part was the welcome at Miraflores. First, could Chavez not wait until tomorrow morning? Must he subject these people and their relatives to a Miraflores Ceremony within minutes of their arrival in Caracas? I do not know about you but even though Chavez deserves his media time for footing the whole bill, I find it tacky, selfish and crass.

But the cameras also learned from past experiences and showed a glamorous ceremony with parade military, musical band and all. We even had a shifting scene where the waving Venezuelan flag floated over the whole thing. Utmost tackiness, not even cheap “patrioterismo”.

The highlight was when the Colombian anthem was sung: Chavez sung along. I do not know, but I did not think it was appropriate. Even if he planned to show he loved Colombians dearly, he should have at least taken care that his daughter (who serves as first lady) knew the Colombian anthem. I do not know, it would have looked better, no? The picture says it all (click to enlarge, and enjoy the ridiculous yellow turban of Piedad: at least this time she was not all clad in red). At any rate, when we moved on to the Venezuelan anthem, the hostages and their relatives remained silent with their hand on their heart, as appropriate.

I cannot wait for the antics of the next hostage delivery.

Back at the ranch, Lina Ron spoils the day

Thus we would have expected that today all the media, including Globovision, would have spent the best part of their newscast on a hostage release special. But they could not. First Lina Ron, the passionara of the revolution, and one getting more bloated by the day, decided to move her red shirts and to take over the Caracas see. That is right, they invaded the seat of the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardenal Urosa. No harm was done, nothing broken, but the words she used when the press interviewed her were terrible. Among a few choice words she said that it would be OK for any one to bomb Globovision. And I will pass on all sorts of vulgarities and threats she proffered. All of this under the gaze of two National Assembly representatives. Apparently it is not enough for them that the opposition voices have been shut up in the N.A., as good stalino-fascists they want more.

This YouTube carries the whole Lina Ron declaration, from accusations to other chavista groups, to the declaration of new martyrs, to insults to Globovision and bomb threats.

You can also watch a video of Lina Ron two years ago when she was happy that Globovision was taking down her declarations that state TV did not want to broadcast. And for the fun of it, you can see the better made Globovision counter attack on Lina, another "Usted lo vio" to remember (it is also shorter than the video above for those who do not speak Spanish but want to have a feel of the Ron character).

That would have been enough, but she also called for a march to Globovision to protest in front. Unfortunately there were not that many people to do a real march thus instead a big group was bused up to Globovision where hey screamed and shouted, and attacked, and covered the walls of Globovision, holding its entrance hostage for a few hours. They even read a communiqué who was a pathetic peeve and read in an even more pathetic way. By the way, it was impressive to observe the diction, the poise, the control of language of the released hostages after 7 years in the inhumane conditions of the jungle. When you watched them and a few hours later you observe Lina Ron and her hordes speak, well, the least we can say is that the Venezuelan educational system is a major failure.

At any rate they stayed for a while in front of Globovision, food and beverage were brought to them so they could keep screaming while a small theatrical representation of “Florentino y el Diablo” took place on the side walk. Meanwhile an inordinate amount of masked guys kept drawing graffiti. Is it not something, the amount of masked guys among chavista red shirted hordes? What are they hiding? That they are public employees paid for such activities? Naaah……

Anyway, to tell you the truth I was not too concerned: it was clearly a hysterical moment of a small group of people that feel cornered by events and want to fight back. You know, like a cornered dog. No, what is important here is what it reflects about what is going on inside chavismo. Since December 2 chavismo has started to unravel. The fight inside for positions left, for money still available to steal is just hitting the streets. For Lina Ron to make a media event that might now outshine Chavez event today was quite a dare. She could not have ignored that the hostage release was the most important item in Chavez agenda now that success is so scarce for him. Robbing him at home of the limelight while all sorts of international journalists are watching INSIDE Venezuela is just either a crass political mistake or a dangerous sign of the violence that is to come inside chavismo.

And as we all know, once the big leaders start killing their faithful lieutenants (Rohm-Hitler anyone?) we know that our turn on the side line cannot be far ahead.

UPDATE 1: Tonight Chavez is already attacking Lina Ron actions today on La Hojilla on state TV. He even brings how the Chilean "ultra left" was infiltrated by the CIA and helped along the fall of Allende. Heard that Lina? Chavez is pissed! he even asked Mario Silva to "investigate". You are toast!

Oh well, too bad for Lina, soon she will rejoin Tascon in forming a pro Chavez dissident party without the blessing of their hero..... If it were not so dangerous, so dramatic, and so unfair, it would be totally enjoyable.

UPDATE 2: this Thursday morning I watched the Spanish news on TVE. Chavez does not get much credit except for the mention that the released hostages thanked him. On the other hand the news about Ingrid Betancourt ill health duly reported by them got the main focus. The FARC was duly decried as inhumane and barbarous. So much for any good will they might had expected.

That they refuse to release further hostages until they get their mini state was also pointed out and implied to be highly unreasonable. At any rate, a piece of advice to Chavez and the FARC: you want to get a big positive right now? Free Ingrid tomorrow, without delay. If she dies in your hands the bakclash against you will be terrible. Do not forget that in Colombia and Venezuela we care about the 700 + other hostages but the jet set looks at Ingrid. Time to act boys if you want to keep the slimiest of chances to become semi respectable some day.

UPDATE 3: The news today speak of Ingrid sickness, very little, if any, of Chavez.

In further tackiness at 8 PM tonight it is still not clear whether the Colombian ambassador to Caracas has been allowed to visit the released hostages. I suppose that when the FARC minister called the hostages "compatriotas" he meant it. Maybe they are been issued Venezuela passports as I type?


-The end-

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