It does not matter how far you go (at least in your mind), it does not matter that you are only too happy Internet is expensive as an excuse to avoid getting sucked by Venezuelan news, they reach you anyway. In fact, the little bit that reached me was persuasive enough to allow me a quick electoral update. Among the many events that happened through the second half of September we can list the following ones, without any particular order:
- Chavez crashes into several capitals for photo ops, even in Paris a few days before I arrived there. Note: these are real photo ops as nothing substantial is negotiated at each stop, as no red carpet nor official state reception is previewed. But Chavez gets his picture shacking hand with the local potentate.
- Since the "yankis de mierda" speech the stream of vulgar invectives against anyone that crosses Chavez path has gone down unabated. There is no more debate, if there was any, only insults from Chavez at every campaign stop.
- Opposition figures passports are now routinely photocopied when they come back home from some foreign trip. There is no valid reason offered considering the fact that the Venezuelan government is supposedly already in the know of who does travel where and when. Or why else are the immigration officials for? Heinz Sonntag passport was even annulled as "deficient" though the man has used it dozens of times. And even poor Yon Goicochea coming back from his honeymoon was scanned (at least his bride went through). I suppose that since we met overseas by accident I should be included in that lot: it was a famous museum cafeteria, surely there was embassy personnel spying on us from a corner.
- Vivanco and assistant from HRW were violently expelled from Venezuela because they published an unflattering report on Human Rights in Venezuela. That their treatment confirmed everything in that report does not seem to have crossed the mind of the fascist group that took them tot he airport to catch the first flight. In an amusing detail that speaks volumes on how bonkers these people are becoming, they had no qualms in delaying by hours the Sao Paulo flight, the last one to leave Maiquetia in the day, until they could put inside Vivancos. Amusingly the passengers were complaining because they thought that again the flight was delayed in order for some running late chavista big wig to catch it....
- Yesterday Baduel was arrested. The interest here is not whether Baduel deserves it or not (he gets little sympathy from me as he is one of the fathers of the beast) but on how the arrest procedure took place, reminding us of daylight fascist arrests. Clearly, the objective is to scare dissent.
- Students are now killed at the rate of one a week, including just sworn in elected leaders.
- The National Assembly passed on first discussion a law that will allow Chavez to appoint military personnel to supervise the newly elected governors and mayors, ending thus effectively their local authority.
This all from afar or just as I arrive. I am sure that once I get back in the mood to search news I will be able to double that list easily.
The question thus is very simple: who do you think is leading in polls in Venezuela these days? I thought we would agree.....