Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mystery location III

Before I get to face the harsh Venezuelan reality again, a fraudulent OAS, Chavez giving Bolivar's sword to Qaddafi, hunger strikes of students and the ridicule of the general prosecutor serving an Interpol arrest order for Carlos Andres Perez, almost death after severe strokes, here is an easy one for you. Although technically I was not residing at the place of that picture, the friend I visited this week end works there.

To spice up this, it is not enough to mention the place, you must also name the monument :)


-The end-

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Iran has at least one hidden nuclear facility

The new of the week has been the discovery of a secret nuclear facility that could give Iran the bomb by 2011.

The question is of course what degree of complicity Venezuela, or rather Chavez folly, have in helping Iran into this dangerous and shameless actions. I have the feeling that we are going to pay for that.

PS: And an answer might already be there, as a Venezuelan official tries to deflect attention to the real issue. Not to mention the rather tame speech of Thuggo at the UN.

-The end-

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reverse racism?

A brief scan of the news this morning reveals that there is a summit between South America and Africa to be held in Margarita. Qaddafi is one of the guest stars among miscellaneous authoritarian trash. Need we go further in our comment?

However what is fascinating is the interpretation by the Venezuelan news agency, ABN, of an interview they gave to James Petras (certainly not a reference in objectivity to start with). I am not too sure of what he really meant to say but the translation and interpretation by the sycophantic news fabricators of Chavez leaves no ambiguity as to their current state of mind :
El color de la piel del presidente Obama no será obstáculo para que éste condene las conclusiones antiimperialistas, a las que seguramente arribará la II Cumbre África Sur América. The skin color of president Obama will not be an obstacle for him to condemn the anti imperialistic conclusions to which surely the II South America Africa summit will reach.
Again, commenting is unnecessary.

-The end-

Mystery location 2

And Seattle is over. A great city to visit but not necessarily a great city to live.



-The end-

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Daniel in Romania

For something totally different, you may read in Romanian an interview I gave through Internet while in Seattle. The wonders of globalization, ain't it?

A big thanks to Adrian Novac at Hotnews.ro for the interview and the translation.
Note: link fixed. Apparently between last night and this morning they moved the page (?!)

-The end-

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two lovely comments from Tal Cual


Weil says it all with this cartoon about the Juanes concert in Cuba.

Elsewhere we learn that the 450 million dollars satellite the Chinese built for Chavez has at best a 2 year life span left, and this only if its use is limited to VTV cadenas of Chavez. What a fiasco!!!!

Daniel, stop reading the news! Get back to you vacation!

-The end-

Monday, September 21, 2009

And Zelaya is back on Honduras

Really.... What a way to spoil a perfectly beautiful day in Seattle than having to think about all of these creeps again. Hillary and Arias seem to think that it might be for the best, assuming I suppose that Micheletti and Zelaya will sit down for some drinks and settle it all.....

You know what is interesting though is that Zelaya sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy. If Brazil knew of that before hand then we must admit that Brazil has been doing "foreign intervention". There might be a lot behind this renewed charade but you know what, I will sit it out for the time being, just stating that Zelaya is truly a creep and that by his own actions since his removal he has shown that he was unworthy to be president of his country. Let's see how many people die in the next few days....

Note: read Maria Anastasia O´Grady denouncing how it is that Clinton and Obama are violating the rule of law. Food for thought.

-The end-

The "Ripley beleive it or not" Venezuelan health system

A casual look to Venezuelan news during my Seattle morning coffee break manages to leave me speechless, but not keyboardless.

It turns out that Chavez yesterday admitted that there are problems with the Venezuelan health system, that 2000, two thousands, barrio adentro joints were not working.... Besides the fact that if Chavez had been reading the newspapers he would have known long ago that a boatload of barrio adentro modules were closed, one can only wonder about that 2000 number. After all if we take it at 10 a city that would mean that 200 cities in Venezuela, 200!, would be out in trouble. Are they 200 cities in Venezuela? Or another way to rephrase the question, how many small communities in the boondocks have been left without any medical attention, as deficient as that one might have been in the first place?

But it gets worse. Chavez admitted that he was called to order by Fidel Castro who apparently learned before him about the deficient state of the mision barrio adentro. Chavez had no problem adding that it was Fidel who sent the inspection team.

One does not know whether to cry or to laugh at such inanity and lack of self respect, amen of respecting Venezuela.

But I know why Chavez is doing such a ridiculous show, where in addition he promised zillions of new doctors form Cuba: there was a terrible accident in Clarines where a chlorine gas truck hit another truck with scores of people injured or killed, in a World War I like trench cataclysm. This of course exposed the totally inadequate reply to emergency capacity of the state, as we learned that the renovation of the Clarines hospital was 10 years behind schedule. Add to this the recent weapon purchase and you will understand the desperate need of Chavez to make a ridiculous show to distract the opinion away from his absolute heath care failure, supposedly the bright success of the bolibanana revolution in the official propaganda.

Sigh... enough reading before it spoils further my vacation....

Note. In all of these news item I did not see the main point, the real main point addressed: how come it is so difficult to find people to work at barrio adentro. The bolibanana revolution cannot be bothered with such details...

-The end-


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mystery spot number 1

You guys have not been very good at guessing. Then again I was not very helpful. So there is a picture of today from my very favorite city of the country I am at, visiting one of its culinary Meccas for sea food. Whoever guesses first gets a free extra comment in a future thread ;)



-The end-

Chavez very dangerous gamble

Once we start recovering from the immorality of Chavez foreign adventures it is time to start looking about what is going on really.

Long time readers have known that I never discuss a Venezuelan foreign policy per se. What takes place as a foreign policy is an instrument designed to serve Chavez interests and ambitions exclusively. There is absolutely no consensus about foreign policy in Venezuela, not even within chavismo. The reasons are very simple: the opposition does not count at all and once the links with Cuba are cemented and the ideology of a big Latin America is spouted for show, the rank and file chavismo is satisfied with the foreign outlook of the country. It should not because Chavez interests seem to go much further than that. In fact I am actually wondering if Cuba is directing Venezuelan foreign policy as much as I thought it did. If it is the case, then castro-cubans are sicker in their minds than what I thought.

The latest tour of Chavez, if totally obscene, still has a remarkable coherence. Al the heads of state visited are anti West, almost anti US. In fact a case can be made for Spain's Zapatero to be somewhat pro West but definitively a tad anti US. Though the Zapatero visit was probably a pay back call from Chavez. Still, the coincidence is troubling.

Lybia, Syria and Iran own absolutely anti US and anti Western values.

In Lybia Chavez met Sudan and Zimbabwe, which can certainly be classified as the above.

Turkmenistan, Belarus and Russia are rather anti West and rather anti US but this is probably due at least in part to their difficulty in fitting in, in developing any democratic value within their society. Let's say that they are anti West and anti US by default or incompetence than by sheer ideology as opposed to the above mentioned countries.

Algeria is anti West alone, and certainly not militantly anti US since this one somewhat supported the Algerian side during the colonial wars of the late 50ies. But then again fundamentalism has reared its head in Algeria.

Except of the Spanish fluke, there is a noticeable coherence in these visits: Chavez was touring countries that reject Western values, of democracy in particular, and countries that are militantly anti US or that could become so very easily. The multipolar world that Chavez pretends to be seeking is not so: it is a revived ersatz cold war world of an unholy alliance of countries only united in their resentment against the West.

There is much more to it than just sticking his tongue out at the US in this journey: there is a policy to create a strong anti US block, profiting from the economic crisis of the US and its myriad problems in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and even China, North Korea and what not. If to this you add the recent exposes about the financial collusion between Venezuela and Iran, the Venezuelan offer to sell Iran gasoline so making any further UN sanctions a joke should tell you that Chavez is not at all a prince of peace as his recent anti Colombia propaganda is trying to present him. Chavez is more than preparing for war: he is looking for conflict.

We can add an additional element here. While Chavez was away Brazil made a major arms deal with France, a deal which if it is carried through will give Brazil access to advanced technology to build its own fleet of warplanes. Hence the reply of Chavez announcing billions of weapons purchase in Russia, including missiles that cannot go beyond 300 kilometers, that is, not even to Puerto Rico. Who are these missiles going to be pointed at? In which way do they serve any defensive purpose when Chavez has been promoting something like a guerrilla war system for Venezuela for all these recent years: La Guerra Asimetrica, the asymmetric war.

Chavez is playing a dangerous game here.

The US can knock out Venezuela very easily whenever it wants to. A few bomber flights and a few missiles can shut down the country effectively while Colombia intervenes. Let's underline first that the US has absolutely no need to do anything of the sort at the time being since it gets the only thing that interests it: Venezuelan oil. The point here is that it is not with the recent weapons purchase that Chavez is goign to withhold any US invasion. And Chavez must know that very well or he would have dropped his oil export to the US much faster than what he has done. The weapons are not against the US.

The weapons bought to Russia are mostly garbage. Whatever Brazil and Colombia are getting is of much better quality and will likely perform much better than the Venezuelan army, dispirited and dedicated to political activity and repression rather than the country defense.

Brazil is the rising power and it is not going to let Chavez take this role away of them. They got new oil reserves, they will be oil interdependent for the most crucial needs while having access to ethanol. They are a major food producer AND exporter and as such are already in much better shape to become a world power than anyone else, including China.

But worse for Chavez long term prospects is that his alliance with Iran (and Syria and Lybia) is not goign to be accepted either by the US, Europe or Israel. And it is going to be useless becasue these countries are not going to come to the rescue of Venezuela if it ever were needed. If Obama is a potential wuss, there is no telling that he can turn into a hawk suddenly. It has happened in US history. Furthermore, for Israel Iran nuclear program is a matter of life and death and if Europe and the US fail to ensure its safety, Israel will act alone and probably most of the Middle East will stay put as they all know that once Israel is eliminated they will become Iran-Syria next objective. Whatever Venezuela does during such conflict would be irrelevant as a few bombs dropped in Maracaibo and Puerto La Cruz will shut the country while none of Chavez allies can do a thing about it.

In other words the coalition that Chavez is trying to put up for some unforgivable reason could backfire really bad for Venezuela. Any money we lend to these countries is almost a sure loss. Any military problem they get involved in could result in bombs over Caracas while any military involvement we coudl get involved with Colombia is very unlikely to see Russia or even Brazil intervene. In fact a post Lula administration could even find itself on the Colombian side.

But what makes the whole thing even worse, and downright pathetic is that with this recent trip Chavez might have reached the peak of his strategy without realizing it. As of now, exposed as a terrorist supporter of his own doing, he is more likely to be taken seriously and will start seeing that Europe and the US are not going to put up with him anymore. France already criticized the latest weapons purchase by Chavez while the Morgenthau report in the US is only the first salvo in a series of financial revelations that are sure to come, in addition to exposing drug trafficking and other crimes.

All this effort and all of this expenses from Chavez and we are probably going to lose it all without being able to inflict any significant penalty. The costs for Venezuela of Chavez folly are going to be paid for a generation or two while the worst that awaits him is a few years in jail.

----

I had started this post before my trip but only got around to finish it as rains keeps me trapped inside.

PS: the economist seems to agree with me.

-The end-

Friday, September 18, 2009

The fortunes of Chacon, Cabello and others (and Chavez?)

So I am on vacation but my mail box brings interesting stuff. I can at least pass it along.

Well informed, in fact rather very well informed Caracas Gringo when it comes to money matters, has a new post where he describes in scary details how the Chacon, Cabellos and other noted mafiosi of the bolivarian regime have become rich and control the state apparatus to become even richer. After reading "the rise of bolivarian organized crime" you will need to draw your own unavoidable conclusions. As a reminder I will bring back the notion of a power triumvirate between Chavez, Chacon and Cabello. So that you know.

-The end-

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vacation notice

For the first time in years I am taking a few days off without even some work related activity on the side. In other words, I left Venezuela for a couple of weeks to visit friends and relax. Blog writing will be erratic but existent, though if you want regular coverage of Venezuelan events you might be advised to check Miguel's blog first because I intend to read as little as possible about Venezuela. If some of you wonder where I went you will need to wait for the feature "where is Waldoniel" coming as soon as I have made interesting pictures. Hint: the book I bought at a mystery airport is "how Rome fell" by Adrian Goldsworthy. Good enough to read 60 pages in a flight sitting.


-The end-

Monday, September 14, 2009

The immorality of Chavez latest grand tour

It seems that the latest grand tour of Chavez has been upsetting enough even for chavistas that Chavez felt compelled today to come up with some lame explanations. But may as he can justify, the cartoon of Rayma this Sunday is simply not going to go away. Let's recap first.

Chavez left Venezuela for two weeks, and came back only to find floods, earthquakes and a state totally inefficient to face the emergency, amen to the routine it cannot deal with, from rampant crime to crumbling health system. But what irritated most were two things: the Madrid luxurious stop and the purchase of all sorts of weapons in Russia, not only unnecessary today, but too costly for the current economic situation and ill fitting for a self appointed prince of peace. The contrast between Chavez words and his real life actions could not have been driven home more clearly than this tragic, and ridicule end of a journey.

Truly, this must have been the worst journey of Chavez. first , he only visited rogues. Then while he was away the successful No Mas Chavez took place. While at the same time the opposition mounted a huge protest for his recent policies. He tried to make a stopover in Venice "Mostra" but instead of glamor he collected ridicule as it was obvious that the adoring crowd were shallow gliterati and paid for entourage. In the end Stone proved himself to be and aggressive ignoramus and a budding fascist, not collecting a single award for his trouble.

Sensing that things were not going his way Chavez tried in a hurry to organize a stopover in Madrid where he had no urgent business to attend. The objective was of course to meet at least one presentable head of state and today the only European willing to be seen with Chavez is Zapatero, and barely at that, mostly because the Venezuelan debt to Spanish interests is large enough that Zapatero needs to grin as he swallows hard. In the real world it is called blackmail, something that Thuggo understands and practices very well.

We will never know what really pushed Chavez to plan that Madrid stopover but he must be truly sorry right now. I suppose that after having been pictured with so many barbarians (did you take a look at Qaddafi recent outfits?) Chavez needed to present a more "intellectual image of himself to the world. So, out of the blue, he decided to stop by one of the major bookstores of downtown Madrid, as a simple tourist and shopper. Apparently he spent almost one hour and left with about 60 books. We only learned that he inquired about the book he gave to Obama in Trinidad, as if he needed to read it again... I mean, what kind of publicity stunt was that? At the end, infuriated passerby suffering the disruption that Chavez large entourage brings everywhere started heckling him as he left the store.

And then we learned that he spent for his own suite 5,400 Euros, a suite he sullied for only a few hours. No word about what was spent for his excessive entourage. Hence the Rayma cartoon legend above "5,400 euros the night of revolution?". Priceless, and I mean it in the context...

But Rayma is not the only one whose creativity benefited from Chavez wasteful indulgences. The press this Sunday was littered with acidic comments and revulsion. This short sample from El Nacional (subscription):

Milagros Socorro commented indignant that Chavez could afford to buy 60 books in a fancy Madrid bookstore while in Venezuela books are not only exceedingly expensive but because of CADIVI shelves are increasingly depleted. Indeed, if we average at 20 euros the books bought by Chavez, we add up 1200 Euros, which is more than half what a normal Venezuelan is allowed to spend in a year if s/he wishes to travel. Once food and lodging are factored in, intellectuals like Ms. Socorro, or book worms like me, have very little left to spend on half a dozen paper backs at best.

Simon Alberto Consalvi wondered about Oliver Stone throwing stones at the people who actually made it possible for him to throw stones. He had this exquisite put down in Spanish about Stone:
"Stone exhibe la banalidad de los rebeldes sin causa". Stone shows the banality of the rebels without a cause. Sounds much better in Spanish.
Barrera Tyska observes that no other head of state ever attended a Venice Mostra because their are minding their shop. But this is only an excuse for him to demolish savagely the wasteful ego of Chavez.

And more but that is enough of a sample of how Chavez managed to tarnish further his image, something that some were calling impossible. All agree on one thing though: Chavez is really out of touch, out of timing, to do such a trip as things are getting worse by the day in Venezuela. No wonder Chavez had to explain himself today, justifying the expenses. Yes, he is the one who pays to be received by these truants he visited, when they should all be the one paying him for being the lone "elected" head of state to visit them.... Then again he is about to join them in this college of illegitimate heads of state.

Perhaps nothing best than today Milagros Socorro line:
Esta será la imagen que perdurará de Hugo Chávez, finalmente un pobre tipo a quien el poder no hizo sino poner una lupa en sus rasgos hasta mostrarlo en toda su mediocridad, avidez de dinero, lujos y privilegios; y, todavía peor, en su desprecio a la democracia, los derechos humanos, el respeto al otro.
This is the image that will follow Chavez, a nobody that power did nothing but magnify his traits until it exposed him in all his mediocrity, thirst for money, luxuries and privileges; and even worse, his disrespect for democracy, human rights, respect to the other.
To leave you in a truly somber mood, there is this picture of Chavez and the strong man of Iran, Khamenei, the one that singlehandedly conducted the electoral fraud to strengthen his terrorist theocracy. Chavez, so far, is the only "elected" leader to visit him. Commenting further would be an insult to our intelligence.



-The end-

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chavez idiotic moment of the day: recognizing Georgia "dissident " republics

In yet another effusive moment of misplaced "grandeur" Chavez opened his big mouth in Moscow and recognized (alone with Russia and Nicaragua) the dissident republics of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Ever helpful the Moscow Times tells us that there was no quid pro quo between Russia and Venezuela for that recognition. Yeah, right.....

I am not going to discuss the merits of Abkhazia and South Ossetia separatist movement. However I am going to condemn Chavez for yet another naked intervention into other people business while he does not tolerate even slight comments about him of his cattle ranch that used to be a country. Only grief comes from such cheap posturing as any potential rewards will be cashed by Russia.

But in a way I am delighted: when the outlying areas of Chavez cattle ranch that can become an independent state on their own decide to separate, countries like, say, Colombia, will have the perfect excuse to recognize the "new republics". After all in Zulia they do not speak like in Caracas and they do not even worship the same Virgins. Not to mention that they work harder than the Caracas bureaucrats and care deeply for their business and modernity. Another country altogether.

-The end-

Another corruption smoking gun found in Andorra

I will never cease to be amazed by how far chavismo has reached in hiding its ill acquired riches. The Andorra principality has decided to adapt to the European, and International norms and has suspended partially its banking secrecy. Among the first thugs discovered we find a few people "close" to Chavez. Entourage? Family? Who cares!? what business do they have in Andorra, a tiny country that they probably ignored of its existence ten years ago.

I happen to know some people hiding money here and there. Usually they chose Switzerland, or if non US and not too rich, the US of A. Yours truly has retained his tiny account in the US from his days of college teaching credit union. He even opened another small account in France. But in ten years he never made enough money to even look into a fiscal haven, and even less Andorra. Mind you, I know where Andorra is. When I was in college, oh, so many years ago, I used to hang out in the Pyrenees, skiing or hiking and even once shopping at Andorra for the free tax stuff. As a poor student my purchases were very limited, a little bit of turron and a couple of bottles of port wine or something like it. Nothing else was in my budget, even tax free, not even food as we brought our own sandwiches. We only spent on drinks and a ride on the tallest cable car of the time.

Andorra is pretty but yet not as accessible to Venezuelans as, say, any of the Alpine resorts. For a Chavez "relative/friend/accomplice" going to Andorra is really a deliberate endeavor, not an accident, even through an "agent". And even less if apparently that many of them went there and managed funds of such nature as force Andorra to release names. How did these people manage to make enough money in ten years to have a substantial account in Andorra?

I cannot wait to read the spin... Right now anyone that tells me that corruption is unproven in chavista Venezuela will receive an instant electronic slap to wake up to reality. Really...

If you manage French and Spanish you may want to read the original Catalan from the Andorra paper, it is quite delightful choice of words.

By the way, I wonder if Chavez last minute stop in Madrid is related to this event, or if he decided he needed to meet his Andorran banking officer. I am sure he can afford to have the guy fly in from Andorra.

-The end-

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Primary or not to Primary

Apparently my esteemed colleague Juan Cristobal is endorsing strongly Leopoldo Lopez call for a opposition primary. Something who is also a choice of my other esteemed colleague Miguel.

Well, I am not so sure, though I agree that a dose of primary would do much good to the opposition, if anything to create and train the supervising teams that will be needed to control all the CNE abuses coming our way.

I am not going to go into full details because I already broached extensively the subject late June. Since I am tired after a long road trip this post is really a way to bring back to the forth my previous post and participate in the current debate: it is as current today as it was two months ago. However I will add at the end of this post the Mini Petkoff Tal Cual of Wednesday which in Spanish summarizes my position well.

Just a note on why Leopoldo is so adamant about primaries: because he thinks that through such a system he could create his very own movement. He thinks he has coattails even if those were not as strong as he expected them to be in Chacao last November where his candidate won but not by the large margins Leopoldo had hoped. Just like Chavez, whatever popularity they benefit, coattails are never a sure thing. However the damage that Leopoldo could inflict if he becomes stubborn on that issue is a sure thing. Needless to say that I am not on board with him on that one, at least as he is presenting it right now. But if he wants to know more about the out of Caracas politics he could do worse than consulting with me :)

-----------------------------

¿Tarjeta única?

Por ahí anda una de esas proposiciones, en el fondo bizantinas, sobre la necesidad de una tarjeta única de los partidos opositores, para las elecciones parlamentarias.

La idea parece atractiva, pero equivale a colocar la carreta delante de los bueyes. Para que haya una tarjeta única es imprescindible, condición sine qua non, que la oposición alcance una alianza perfecta para sus candidaturas. Si no se da una alianza perfecta, esto es, listas únicas y unitarias en cada uno de los estados y candidatos únicos y unitarios en cada uno de los circuitos electorales, no es posible una tarjeta única. Si no hay candidatos únicos, no es posible tarjeta única.

Pero si la alianza perfecta se produce, como es indispensable (porque de lo contrario, no hay vida), entonces la tarjeta única no hace falta porque cualquiera de ellas sirve para votar por candidatos que son comunes a todos los partidos. Las distintas tarjetas cubren los mismos nombres en cada estado y cada circuito. Claro que si se diera una alianza perfecta, una tarjeta única que las cubra no sería mala idea, pero existen intereses muy legítimos de fuerzas políticas que quieren medir su propia evolución electoral. Y éste es un interés muy respetable. Otra idea bizantina que anda por ahí es reducir solamente a elecciones primarias el mecanismo de selección de candidatos. ¿Por qué sólo ese? ¿Por qué descartar de antemano la posibilidad de que en distintos sitios existan candidatos indiscutibles, sobre los cuales todo el mundo podría acordarse sin mayor discusión? El sentido común pareciera indicar que, tanto los acuerdos como las primarias e incluso las encuestas, son todos mecanismos a la disposición de la implementación del acuerdo electoral unitario.

¿Por qué crear esa oposición artificial entre primarias y cualquier otro método? Van a perdonar a este minicronista que se meta a opinar en esta materia pero es que hay veces que siento que alguna gente en el mundo político opositor suele confundir la gimnasia con la magnesia e introduce elementos polémicos arbitrarios y, además, perjudiciales.

-The end-

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Iran Venezuela, a new axis of evil

A new report is going a long way in describing how dangerous is becoming the liaison between Chavez and Ahmadinejad. I am not going into details, you may read for example this summary on the Wall Street Journal or go to the complete Morgenthau report. The fact of the matter is that the alliance of these two regimes cannot be ignored further as the consequences over BOTH their populations can now be seen as a consequence, in part at least, of that counter nature collusion between a theocracy and thugocracy. Then again some might think that there is not much of a difference between these two conceptions of power.

This year has seen a remarkable increase in repression and violence against their citizens in both Iran and Venezuela. The repression after the fraudulent elections in Iran is now a regular in the news. Even today we read in the New York Times that opposition offices are raided so that the regime can remove from there the dossiers on prison abuse that are been painstakingly established by the opponents.

In Venezuela of course we have been subjected to a series of new laws, established unconstitutionally and whose sole aim is to give the regime further elements of control over the populace, while creating an electoral system as the one in Iran where official fraud is made routine.

The result in both country would be the same, a "legal" regime that cannot be removed through a democratic way, a violence generating machine where people who behave as expected would be for a time allowed semi normal lives, as long as the regime oil reserves allow for it. And the reasons for the establishment of such repressive regimes are the same, protect the power of a small "elite" of ruthless thugs that have too much to hide and who are blinded by an ideological credo.

This is all now public knowledge and thus the question that remains is why are there still creeps like Oliver Stone, to name the latest episode, who support Chavez and Iran theocracy. It is amazing to see how some people who call themselves progressives can support a regime where gays are executed, where women are enslaved under the excuse of a veil for modesty, where corruption is overwhelmingly at the service of a minority that gets rich and powerful at the expense of an immense majority of people slowly forced into irremediable dependency poverty. In Venezuela things are still not as bad as in Iran but you can bet your bottom dollar that one day, if women are not forced under a chador, bikinis will be forbidden. Listen just to the morality speeches already coming from the Nazional Assembly, such as the recent ones on banning certain type of video games and you have a hint of what is in store for us.

-The end-

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Help request

My blogger template is from 2002. Since then a lot of changes have taken place and I am simply too HTLM ignorant, and too bereft of free time to study what I need to study, to do the major changes I need to do. Besides my job is to write on Venezuela, not to make dazzling web pages on Venezuela.

The basic problem I have is that if I were to switch to the new blogger template, which would simplify my life greatly, I would lose all my haloscan archives! And too many comments have some historical worth in reflecting the mood of the times and should be kept for future archives. Thus I cannot add easily things that are now common, such as Digg it or Stumble upon. And other such features.

I have simple needs though. What I need is somebody able to look into my current HTLM and refurbish it to make it to the new blogger standards, while keeping haloscan for commenting. Then I can take on and add other simple features. Or, if it is not possible, we could keep the current blogger version but at least try to arrange it enough so I can put a few features such as Diggit. There are no big funds for it and it would be mostly a labor of love. Though if you are in Venezuela I can treat you to a nice dinner. Then again if some readers are willing to put some funds, I guess that with about a 1,000 USD we could get this site modernized enough for what we really need, a blog adapted to current information needs and sharing but still designed for people who do not care much about glitzy gizmos when choosing their reading material.

There is no need to revamp the whole site: in a past survey people admitted that they got used to the format, now an institution of sorts, even if they have sometimes a hard time to read over the yellow-brown back ground. But blogger offers a limited amount of fonts anyway. Besides it served all of us well enough for the last 6 years. Though I admit that a new format keeping the original design idea would be good. We could have a white back ground but keep the stars, the red column on the right and find a way to put a true thin yellow stripe somewhere.

Also there is no need to create a complex discussion and comment section system: moderation is here to stay and I cannot allow to have too many comments that I simply have no time to read. See, I am old fashioned in that I think it is elemental courtesy to reply to every note. Since I cannot do it, I still think that I must give the polite impression that I read every comment at the very least. Moderation allows for that, and haloscan gives me all that I need. There are other blogs where folks can go and discuss until their finger tips bleed.

If any one can, is interested, is willing to help or knows somebody that could help, please let me know here: danielduquenal (at) gmail (dot) com (which might become some day the next official blog mailing address).

Now, be warned: I am very busy these days and a very scared chicken when it comes to tweak my blog settings. Not only you need patience with me but you risk that at the end I decide to keep the old format any way :)


-The end-

Monday, September 07, 2009

Chavez Stone-d in Venice

[Updated] So Chavez took some time off from his visit of the world's tyrants to visit the Venice film festival where his paid accomplice Oliver Stone (1), noted director of movies dedicated to conspiracy theories, was presenting his "South of the Border", an alleged documentary of "progressive" leaders of South America.

Now, I was not planning to write on this silly event. After all, since the in-famous and duly debunked "Revolution shall not be televised", I know that this type of movies is mere propaganda presented in a relatively palatable form. You know, like the movies of Eisenstein, but without the gorgeous scores of Prokofiev or the stunning symbolism of the Odessa staircase.

However watching the news tonight on French TV made me write this note. See, the French are not buying it. They reported of the Venice visit by Chavez in the fluff section at the end of the newscast, right before a report on the world championship of plowing in Slovenia, won this year by a Belgian plower. I am not making this up.

They started by mentioning that "after having visited Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi ... Hugo Chavez stopped in Venice". Clearly, the French viewer is placed in front of the reality, a guy that spends days visiting such creepy leaders cannot be taken seriously. That impression is of course confirmed when we see scenes of Chavez AGAIN taking pictures of the journalists, and the words "il est très fort" which in the context they were say did not mean he is good, but rather he got chutzpah and media manipulation savvy. Then we hear some of the silly words of Stone defending his hero by stating that he was some kind of superhero, you know, comic book like. He said that Chavez was open and tolerant, something I am sure his latest political prisoner would agree with if he is ever shown the movie in his new jail quarters.

The newscast took pain to point out that other progressive presidents of South America were in the show but that the real hero was Chavez (Apparently Bachelet is not glamour enough for Stone to be interviewed as he prefers the colorful kind, like the one looking like the people as he played soccer with his body guards, as seen in the movie).

With some cruelty the newscast mentioned that Stone was there to " redorer le blasondemocratique", refurbish, re-gild, the democratic coat of arms of Chavez. The implication is that if such a coat or arms needs to be refurbished it is because, well, it has been quite tarnished...

At the end the journalist states that opponents of Chavez are not going to pay to watch that movie, which is a delicate way to imply that there is no need to watch it, that it is that bad, a prayer for the believer.

PS: in addition to The Independent review indicated above I suggest the Telegraph one where you will be amused learning that Chavez had 50 body guards for the movie show, and that he did not do the traditional boat arrival at the Lido because he suffers from sea sickness. Some hero....


1) I have of course no way to know for sure whether Oliver Stone gets a direct stipend from Chavez. He probably does not need it anyway however he does need funding for his movies. In addition he has been wined and dined by Chavez for days in a row, notably during the "Emmanuel" episode of FARC hostage release. Considering the qualities of the man offering that money, considering how Oliver Stone is willing to disregard all the abuses of Chavez, even if Oliver Stone does not get direct cash we can consider him to be on Chavez payroll anyway.

By the way, Stone did criticize Obama while praising Chavez. 'nuf said.

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UPDATE: Petkoff mini editorial on Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone

One might even be sympathetic to people like Noam Chomsky or Oliver Stone. They are part of a left so very, very powerless in their own country, that every time they see a Third World military such as Chávez or a guerrilla, even one of papier-mache as the ineffable Marcos, who sticks his finger in the eye to gringos - verbally, of course - they cling to their epaulets and live, then, vicariously, the "revolution" for which they feel that there's no room in [North] America.

So there we must offer a bit of indulgence with the political idiocy that characterizes them. Only political cretinism, because, on the other hand, these are people whose talent can not be ignored. And this is why their behavior is so damaging.

They are not mercenaries or bought. Unlike rabble like Ignacio Ramonet, for example, who everyone knows is a cynic who charges Chavez for writing in his favor, Stone and Chomsky are honest people who believe in what they say and who are also
outstanding in their specific fields of knowledge. Would we not have discovered faster the treachery that was the Soviet Union had it not not been for hundreds and hundreds of some of the brightest intellectuals of the world singing the praises of daddy Stalin and his successors ? Now we have Oliver Stone to sell the world the image of Chacumbele [Chavez], based on lot the tall tales he sold him and that Stone bought without even making an inventory, not even bothering to compare them against some piece of the Venezuelan reality.

You read that
immense and river like book that Neruda's Canto General is and when you stumble on the "Song of Stalin", yet one wonders how could Neruda, with all his genius, could write such a great stupidity. One wonders if this Oliver Stone of "South of the Border" is the same as the one of "Platoon".

-The end-

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Leopoldo Lopez, just another caudillo

I am getting a little bit tired of Leopoldo Lopez antics.

True, he works hard, he has charisma, he is willing to take risks. But he is also working for his own glory alone, as recent events show us.

The point is that after days of rumors, declarations and counter declarations he came out himself to say he was out of UNT and OK with it. the reason? Because he did not like the way UNT was managing the electoral organization for next year elections.

Let's pass on the silliness of such an excuse since it is more likely that Lopez could have more influence from inside UNT than outside where he will be just the front of another small group that thinks it's big. The fact of the matter is that Lopez personal ambition wrecked the rise of Primero Justicia in 2007 which has not been the same since Leopoldo left it to join UNT. Now, as he cannot gain the control of UNT, he bails out to dedicate himself to work for his "redes pupulares".

This is not the place to decide whether the "redes populares" are the way to go to unseat Chavez: they could well be. Nor it is the place to discuss whether there is any worth to the PJ or UNT labels and the wisdom of Lopez to bail out. Though we can point out to his overall negative effect within these two groups.

The point is that Leopoldo Lopez everyday looks suspiciously more and more like a Chavez himself. True, with nicer words, more education, better management skills, but a Chavez nevertheless. Or a caudillo to be more gentle: that race of folks who are "my way or the highway". I do not know about you, but after 10 years of a relentless caudillo I have a hard time jumping in the band wagon of another one.

-The end-

Saturday, September 05, 2009

No Mas Chavez: the fall out in Venezuela

You only need to look at the overreacting of many chavistas to notice that no matter how big yesterday's No Mas Chavez rally were, chavista officialdom is really upset. They cannot hide it.

Be it Chavez who takes lots of time to explain to us he does not care, from Syria, from Iran.

Be it the Venezuelan ambassador in Bogota who says that Venezuela is insulted (correction, you might be insulted, I am not) and implying that the Bogota government should not allow such demonstrations.

Be it the half-assed attempt today at calling pro Chavez march across Venezuela as the opposition led another successful and gigantic march in Caracas apparently dwarfing the counter march from chavismo.

Be it the Nazional Assembly member Augusto Montiel associating himself with people beating up anti Chavez protesters in Brussels.

In fact chavismo is so upset that revenge must be exacted. Thus Globovison, the closest object at hand, once again is under attack by a particularly bitter Diosdado Cabello, the guy in charge while Chavez visits the planets collection of tyrants. Not only a new investigation against Globovision is undertaken for a single alleged SMS (whereas the VTV ticker spews constant violence that the regime supports by ignoring them), but 29 more radio stations are to be taken off the air waves (in addition to the 34 already killed). Globovison offers the video of Cabello threats and bitterness. But the world is noticing and Diosdado words hit the news wires fast, even in English. They sure will be a nice complement to Chavez words supporting Iran's nuclear program today.

Meanwhile there will be more wounds to lick for Chavismo: BBCmundo reports that in Honduras the No Mas Chavez was big in 5 cities of the small country while the pro Chavez zelayista camp coudl only manage an activity in Tegucigalpa. The picture on the left is from the BBC mundo site and speaks for itself, even at a time where suddenly the US decides to show more bite against Honduras. A very bad P.R. week for chavismo.

-The end-

Friday, September 04, 2009

The No Mas Chavez show: the readers post!

Updated post as I receive info and pictures. So far 9 readers sent their views.

I could not make it but I can post readers pics... (and I can still keep posting them for a couple of days)

MORE Belgian update: the small assembly at Brussels was attacked by hooligans, some apparently did not even speak Spanish. Among them was a Venezuelan representative and a European extreme left wing employee of the EU. More on that later as a police report for aggression has been filed.
update: at second 9 of the video you can see clearly Augusto Montiel, backbencher at the Venezuelan Nazional Assembly (pictured on the right with Tonny Benn 2 years ago, taken from a collection of truly ethnographic and cliche laden silly pictures of the VSC trips to Venezuela). Well, the state propaganda radio, RNV, reported that Montiel was sent in mission over the European Parliament to promote Chavez thesis over the US "bases" in Colombia. Among other activities we are told he was going to organize a march yesterday. Well, it must have been a flop because he had nothing left to do but to act as a hooligan at the No Mas Chavez rally.
Questions: did he do his trip on the 2,500 USD allotted by CADIVI as the only legal amount we have to travel? More importantly, how many Belgian and International laws did Montiel broke yesterday? Will he be punished?

NOTE at 4 PM Caracas time, the NoMasChavez page is down. Should we be suspicious?

NOTE: the size of the crowd is meaningless today, what is important is the simultaneity of the events, the demonstration of the existence of a Venezuelan exile, and of a Colombian exile also affected by Chavez alliance with the FARC. 10 people in Reykjavik count as much as a million in Caracas, as far as I am concerned.

Now, tomorrow's size in Caracas does matter.
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El Universal has an impressive gallery of No Mas Chavez. If by any chance you appear in one of these pictures I can also add it here.

Brett informs us that Seattle had nothing but Vancouver did and he drove up there! Atta boy!



In Brussels things did not go out smoothly. A group of chavista tried to hide the small, but bigger group of anti chavistas. Apparently they were mad enough that they ended up attacking the No Mas Chavez group, in Brussels! One video here where you can see the anger of the chavista faces. At 0:09 you can see clearly in front one of those chavista officials who has been dispatched for a last minute counter propaganda effort after the Bariloche failure, and who took time from his schedule to do in Brussels streets the kind of hooliganism he does constantly in Venezuela. Does anyone remember his name? He appears regularly on VTV.

In Sidney we get to see how important is becoming the Australian exile. Luis illustrates to us, unwillingly, the success of the Australian government in attracting Venezuelan immigration. Another crime that shall be paid by Chavez someday.



In Toronto they did their homework with poster making, as these two pictures from reader Michael tells us.



WT from Hamburg, TWO pictures, first the kick ass No Mas Chavez folks, and then an even smaller group of sullen mean looking local pro Chavez.



Karl Marx at Parque Crystal



RC from the Windy City, Obamaland




Jen in Caracas



Washington reader RevBob



Santa Cruz, Canary Islands, Alpha reader



-The end-

Thursday, September 03, 2009

No mas Chavez pics and fun stuff

UPDATED

Apparently I will not be able to go to Valencia to attend the No Mas Chavez rallies, not even to Caracas on Saturday for the next one on defending our rights to protest.

However I can publish pictures :)

Anyone that goes to any rally anywhere in the world, please try to take a pic that reflects the mood of your rally site. It does not matter whether you were a dozen or a dozen of thousand, the point is that there was a rally.

On other related matters:

As expected, chavismo decided on the last minute to mount its counter marches. Besides resorting to the childish mine is bigger than yours, they demonstrate that they really do not get the point: it is so unusual that a specific leader is targeted in such a way that they probably would have been better off ridiculing the No Mas Chavez movement and move on. But no, by doing that they only highlight Chavez while he is visiting the most unpalatable regimes of the planet.... The Christian Science Monitor titles the junket admirably "looking for love in all the wrong places"!

Amen of the fact that petrodollars and all they might not be able to rally as many people to their counter rally than the No Mas Chavez folk. Of course, you will never know that from VTV alone, which is the sole objective of chavismo in its permanent disinformation of the country.

Elsewhere the Internet wars rage. Twitter and the web offer more and more cities and info on tomorrow activities even though some of the organizers have been threatened. I think the US must up to two dozen cities by now! Check out Twitter to see if your city appears.

Even Foreign Policy Morozov, the guy in charge of Internet commentary, dedicates an entry to No Mas Chavez: "Chavez is smarter than FARC, at least on Facebook". He notes that the anti FARC success of last year was duly noted and that chavismo is replying. However he cites Eva Golinger as if she were some authority on the field when readers of this blog have long been told what a failure this new version of Tokyo Rose is in reality. If indeed Eva is in charge then No Mas Chavez has little to fear. As I checked few minutes ago No Mas Chavez had 168 781 members while Eva Facebook joint had only 295! I kid you not!!!! But of course the sloppiness of Eva's work is as usual, with the French part of the title "sur le pied de paix" meaning nothing in French, not even a good take (or pun?) on the known "en pied de guerre" which actually means something and is used in context that really do not apply here.

This is going to be fun...

Update1. Even Tal Cual mentions Eva Facebok. Obviously they think her more able than what we do.

Update2. Micheletti of Tegucigalpa gets to attend the No Mas Chavez in Honduras. Let's see how the pro Chavez camp counters that over there, a potential excellent free bonus for Micheletti if any....

-The end-

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Chavez summer road trip: a shame a day

Just before summer is officially over Chavez decided to take a little road trip, a vacation of sorts since it is a trip that will produce nothing for Venezuela. Below Tal Cual offers us a picture that says it all about the gang, literally, as in chain-gang, Chavez is about to visit over the next ten days.




From left to right:

Ahmadinejerk, once elected, now imposed president of Iran, the country where women are forced to wear a veil and where gays are lynched, among other many human rights violated.

Syria's Assad, the hereditary ruler of Syria, a main sponsor of terrorism and a regime bent on the elimination of Israel, though not as vocally as the preceding creep of this list.

Bouteflika of Algeria, the heir of a once proud FLN now a mere machine to ensure the eternal reelection of Bouteflika.

Qaddafi, noted terrorist supporter, who is staging his anniversary party for 40 years in power in Libya without any election, without any democracy, second only to Castro, and who in addition offered a triumphal welcome to the murderer of Lockerbie.

Lukashenko of Belarus, the head of the last Easter Europe Commie state. No further comment needed.

Putin, who benefited once upon a time of the legitimacy of the vote but who now has become a new type of Tsar of all Russias, killing small ethnic nations whenever required.

Missing from the grand tour (for lack of time?) Mugabe, Bashir and the North Korean creep, though the first two Chavez did meet while in Tripoli for the Muammar bash.

How can this trip be possibly good for Venezuela? How can you put a positive spin on that?

Unbelievable..... How low can one fall? Truly, birds of a criminal feather!


-The end-

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September 1, 1939, Poland

The BBC for breakfast offered us a reminder that today 70 years ago Poland entered the darkest hour of its life. As a few heads of state are gathering near Gdansk for commemorations it is suitable to remember that appeasement in front of bullies never pays off in the end.

To all those people that support Chavez just because he opposes Bush, or the USofA now that Bush is no more, just because he needs an enemy to help him rule at home, to all these people that still do not know that the Berlin Wall fell a couple decades ago, to all of these people who see Cuba as a haven and not for the watery jail it has been for 50 years, I must remind them that such leadership almost invariably end up in bloodshed and ALWAYS end up with total misery over the people they "lead".

When you support a thug for whatever reason you think justifies such support you always risk to see that thug join hands with another one to screw up both people. This is what we must commemorate today, that Hitler and Stalin split Poland, and that after ruining Poland they ruined both of their countries.

If you see no problem in Chavez supporting Castro or Qaddafi or Mugabe or Bashir, then you have learned nothing from life and history. If indeed what happens today in Venezuela cannot be compared to Europe in august 1939, it still remains that the situation can get worse, and worse, as more misery will come our way. Your support such regimes comes at the expense of your moral standing.

You have been told, you know what you are, and you know we know what you are. It does not make any difference if you are a PSF reading these lines or Lula da Silva in Brasilia who will never read them: both of you will have your hands stained once this is all over.

-The end-

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