Saturday, October 04, 2008

Venezolano con carné: the latest on the "valija gate"

I have not been following too closely the Miami trial but on my return there was an incident that I could not pass on. It turns out that the man on trial, Franklin Duran, had a intelligence badge form the Venezuelan Navy.

We have to love this latest turn of event.

In Venezuela we have an expression, "peligroso como venezolano con carné", slang for as dangerous as a Venezuelan with a badge. That is, as a people WE LOVE to carry badges with us around and we LOVE EVEN MORE to use and abuse them. Not for us the words of Woody Allen "I would never belong to a club that wants me as a member". No, noooo.... here, we belong somewhere, at all cost, preferably with the group perceived as the winner. We root for Brazil in soccer, we buy brand X because we have been convinced that most people buy that brand, we will do anything to be allowed inside club Z even if we hate the music played there, we vote for Chavez because he is going to win. People like me that found themselves in the 10% minority of the referendum of 1999 are looked upon with amused contempt, almost pity. Originality does not pay in Venezuela. I suppose it is the remains of our tribal origins...

But the most prized badges are those that will give you some pretense of authority, those that will be impressive enough on some local cop to make him back down on his intention to fine you, or that will silence the local public works inspector when your addition to your house breaks all local building regulations. And if we cannot get such a badge, then we do the next best thing: know a military, know someone in the government that can intercede for us. With all the financial and moral corruption that follows such practices, of course.

It was thus with great amusement that I found the Duran badge. It reveals so much on the world conception of this rather pale character, with no personality at all but who had the good idea to cast his lot with chavismo to the point of confessing in one of the taped phone calls that he made millions at tax payers expenses. Of course he had to have a badge and he got a good one, a badge from he navy intelligence unit. And he is stupid and arrogant enough to actually carry it around in Florida and be caught with it. Yes, a badge of no value in Florida but a badge that is so much of a prop for his feeble mind that he could not resist carrying it around. In particular as he was trying to abuse his power in forcing Antonini in taking the fall for all of his corrupt camarilla. There you have the full measure of Duran, a sordid character from an even more sordid play.

Let's close this part with a little reflection on the Navy Intelligence of Venezuela. Let's obviate the fact that there is such an intelligence body there. After all we can assume that the Navy needs to monitor the conspirative activity on its ships (Duran, as far as I know, did not do any "intelligence" activity on Venezuela's ships). Instead let's look at the flashy badge. Tacky in fact. Let's observe that Duran is "chief commissar" which means that he is more than just inspector. What did he do to obtain such a "rank"? Is he getting some form of remuneration for his services? And what are his services? And he is number 367 which makes us to assume that the Navy uses hundreds of people for activities that bear no relationship with the size of the Venezuelan Navy.....

On the same edition of El Universal we can read the comic relief when the Ombudsman of the Republic, Gabriela Ramirez, does not trust the evidence presented at the trial because the US judicial system is not to be trusted. The article does not do full justice to her words as the video seen on TV told an even worst bias from her part. I suppose that Gabriela might have her reasons to prefer her judicial system to the one in the US: certainly her track record as a dimwit since she took over the job implies that in the US she would have never reached a position of assistant to the assistant of a national Ombudsman. In fact she makes us miss her predecessor, German Mundarain, who knew he was doing wrong deliberately. It was despicable but at least it showed that the man was neither stupid nor clueless. Gabriela has no clue whatsoever. If she had a clue she would wonder first about a judicial system whose investigative bodies include people like Duran to gather the evidence for the kind of justice she apparently has in mind.

-The end-

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