This post from Gustavo Coronel is a pleasure to read if anything because it reminds us of what we are deprived of in Venezuela: DEBATE. But in the US where debate is the rule, grudgingly, on occasion, chavismo through some of its lobbyist has to lower itself to debate with opposition representative. This time it was Mark Weisbrot and Diego Arria.
Weisbrot in these pages has long ago been exposed as a cheap chavista agent/lobbyist (well, cheap I do not know for sure). He has been writing many articles in favor of Chavez where the statistics are the non verifiable ones coming from the ministry of propaganda (generic term including pretty much any ministry in Venezuela). We have even seen him at Congress hearings defending his client.
Diego Arria on the other hand is one of those Venezuelans who after a successful career in Venezuela (serving in bipartisan ways) became an international diplomat free of political attachments to the Venezuela establishment, and thus a noted critic of chavismo. He must have hit a soft spot in chavismo underbelly since he was even accused to be the prospective transition president for a post Chavez government. Mr. Arria apparently was so surprised by such a ludicrous accusation that he demanded in an open letter published in Venezuelan papers to benefit from a hearing at the National Assembly to listen to the evidence against him and publicly reply to them. Needless to say that the National Assembly never invited him... Not to mention that a farm that Mr. Arria retains in Venezuela as his pied-a-terre has been attacked and ransacked by a paramilitary group without the government doing anything about it. That is, every trip Arria does to his homeland he puts his life in danger. To his credit, that does not stop him from criticizing Chavez and call the regime a military regime, a qualification with which I fully agree.
Needless to say, after reading the eyewitness account of the A.U. debate, one is not surprised that Diego Arria undid Mark Weisbrot very easily, not to mention that Weisbrot had to resort to long and meaningless replies to avoid facing the facts. No wonder chavismo refuses any type of debate in Venezuela where it would be so much easier to trash its positions. Does anyone remember the last time that a Chavez minister was actually subjected to a real press questioning or even, god forbid, to an actual debate? I suspect that even these A.U. type of encounters will become rarer as chavismo economics start unraveling.