Today I can point out to three highly representative items.
Trampling parliamentary immunity
I reported yesterday that representative Wilmer Azuaje was involved in a troubled incident. In less than 24 hours the high court TSJ decided and the Nazional Assembly removed his parliamentary immunity. Now compare this with the following:
- Representative Iris Varela appears in videos physically attacking two people much more violently than Wilmer Azuaje allegedly did (and for which no substantial proof has been offered yet). And yet she never had to worry about her parliamentary immunity revoked.
- In all the proceedings today as far as we know Wilmer Azuaje never had a chance to speak and defend himself, be it at the TSJ, be it at the Nazional Assembly. He might be guilty as hell for all that we know but he should at least be given the opportunity to account for his actions.
- Contrast the speed at which the TSJ decided with say, the innumerable complaints that have been residing without replies about such notorious cases like RCTV, Globovision, and other media people, just to select a particularly present situation.
The crime of Azuaje is of course to have been exposing the corruption of the Chavez famiglia in Barinas state and to be currently leading in polls there. The trap had been set long ago and chavismo needed only to fill in the blanks of the paper work, violating parliamentary procedure and the constitution along the way. Azuaje might not be allowed to run for reelection, by the way.
Delayed justice is not justice
The second item is the condemnation of journalist Azocar in San Cristobal (incidentally one of the two victims of representative Iris Varela). The affair is an obscure lottery advertisement contract. In other words peanuts when compared tot he gazillions that minister and ex Miranda governor Diosdado Cabello has allegedly embezzled, for which he has been properly denounced and for which the state has not started any official investigation that we know of. Fortunately for Azocar they could only give him a 2+ year sentence and since he almost served it as he was in jail through the whole trial he can walk out with certain prohibitions such as been forbidden to move out of state or travel outside the country. And apparently he will not allowed to run for election. Imagine that! He was the shoo in candidate in Tachira state.
Are we starting to see a pattern here?
Not everyone is allowed to vote
The third evidence for the apartheid-ization of Venezuela comes from the pages of El Universal.
The government has just passed a new law to kill the decentralization of the country, dividing it all in small "consejos comunales" (kind of soviets like system) which will depend from unelected bureaucrats in Caracas rather than the dutifully elected local governors or mayors. In other words, if your local consejo is not directed by red shirt folks you are going to get zilch, no matter how much taxes you pay (not that it makes any difference for those who pay taxes today).
Now these XXI century soviets are to be organized into a federal organization that will replace and take over many of the functions of the National Assembly, rending this one into a decorative item of the government at best, kind of a rubber stamp validation headquarters. Yes, that is right, direct elections will be replaced by tiered indirect elections, Cuba style. That does not worry me much in the sense that Chavez controls everything and I will be eventually expropriated from my home by the local consejo rather than a governmental fiat. The end result is the same.
What is not the same is the cynicism deployed in organizing this new Federal Council. See, the Universal note tells us that only the pro Chavez organizations of the Baruta district received an invitation to the election of the Baruta delegates to the Miranda/local Consejo Federal. Baruta is a Caracas district that votes 80% against Chavez and because of the secrecy in which the Consejo formation was held it will be represented by 100% pro Chavez fascist red shirts.
Of course Baruta townhall is going to battle this and the issue is not over, but that is not the point here. What this tells us is to which extremes chavismo is willing to go to create a client base and use that dependency to control any opponent.
The way an apartheid state function is by creating permanent divisions with enough individuals willing to sell themselves to the system in order to get some material benefit, or simply power over their neighbors. Color of skin is of course a very easy way to create such a division, but cheap political tricks and actual political discrimination can eventually yield to the same result.
One thing you need to understand is that even if the good burgers of Baruta were to decide to make a pact with Chavez, that would never make them full citizens again. This also works in individual cases as it does not matter whether Wilmer Azuaje asks for forgiveness or persists in his accusations against the Chavez corrupt clan: he will always be the necessary victim to scare into submission the other representatives at the Nazional Assembly that could consider at some point to vote against Chavez. I have in mind the PPT who is in trouble these days for accepting Lara's governor Falcon and whose representatives withdrew today from the sahemeful debate at the Nazional Assembly.
An Apartheid regime does not quite work like the Cuban one even if the end results will be the same. An apartheid regime works in creating constantly a group of second class citizens. When these second class citizens are dead or leave the country or ask for forgiveness they will only be "forgiven" or forgotten once the system found another group to hate because the system always need an internal enemy where to focus the hate of its right citizens. Cuba could avoid the formalism of an apartheid like system because it was an island, because Fidel got full power very quickly and because the embargo policy of the US gave the regime a convenient hate figure to rally the dumb masses. But Chavez is in the XXI century, Venezuela is not an island and the US is buying all of our oil, at least as long as its armies are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus the need for Chavez to segregate the country, to coalesce around him a group of bribed and/or hate filled folks to scare the rest of the population into submission. That is why a political apartheid is developed.
And it has been working so far. For example who remembers today that Chavez was elected largely through the electoral expertise of the MAS who directed his 1998 campaign? When the MAS defected after 2002 it was so vilified that its followers either went into oblivion or joined PODEMOS. Today PODEMOS which left Chavez in 2007 is suffering the same fate as the MAS. I allow myself to wonder if the embers of the MAS were to ask Chavez forgiveness and entry in the PSUV if this one would not welcome them in a big show even if it would not give him or them much in return.
That apartheid/hate creation system also works on people that were never in bed with Chavez. AD and COPEI nearly disappeared as they were the 1998 enemies, the people that needed to be dominated and brought to their rightful place (do you remember the promise to fry the heads of AD followers?). You cannot count today the amount of local prominent chavistas redder than red who a decade ago where AD or COPEI, starting with Chavez own father. If AD and COPEI are not dead it is due more to the incompetence of chavismo than any ability by them to fight back the verbal onslaught of Chavez.
Finally isolated cases of redemption occur to demonstrate that the beloved leader can be magnanimous at times if you are willing to grovel low enough. Arias Cardenas, equal co-author of the 1992 coup where he was in charge of Zulia and succeeded as opposed to Chavez lame failure in Caracas, became worse than shit when in 2000 he dared to run against Chavez. And today he is working for Chavez as a foreign policy errand boy where he shows his great limitations. Amazingly he retains a weekly column at El Universal, a column that has evolved from constant criticism to abject sycophancy..... The message is clear: if you dare to challenge you will be turned into a second class citizen from where there is never any real return anyway. The best you can hope is that if your groveling is convincing enough you will be allowed to finish your life in ridicule.