I did not want to write for a few days but this I cannot let pass.
Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, ex governor of Zulia, ex presidential candidate for Copei in 1993, was arrested tonight for expressing his opinions in Alo Ciudadano a few weeks ago. Exactly as it was the case for General Uson.
What did Oswaldo say exactly? I happened to listen to the show that night. He was a tad direct but he did not say anything that was not already collated in a myriad of press releases from all around the world, namely that Venezuela is a center of drug trafficking, that Human Rights are routinely violated, that the FARC is at home here and that Venezuela is not a democracy anymore. I suppose that I should get ready too because he did not say anything that was not already said in this blog, or Miguel or Quico or Globovision or many an opposition politician or newspapers OpEd.
But why Oswaldo in particular? Why pick him out of the lot of Chavez accusers?
I think it has to do with the army because Oswaldo Alvarez Paz as an ex governor of Zulia is fully aware that all the traffic that is taking place at the Colombian border, from helping the FARC to dealing with drugs cannot be done without the extensive complicity of large sectors of the Venezuelan armed forces. Alvarez Paz has been unambiguous about the betrayal to the the nation that the collusion with the FARC and narcotraffickers is, and as such he was amazingly charged with treason, among other charges, leading him to jail tonight. We know what happened to Uson, to the unjust sentence he had to serve, which was declared a violation of Human Rights by the IACHR which demanded reparations from the Venezuelan state. Uson is still waiting.
There are also other factors that probably had a part in this arrest although for me the hate of the corrupt Venezuelan Army, including Chavez, is the main mobile. Alvarez Paz is the right in Venezuela. As chavismo is impotent in controlling the country's economic collapse even a relatively irrelevant right today could be in office tomorrow, actively putting corrupt chavista officials in jail. Alvarez Paz has retained significant name recognition from his 4th place in 1993 and if his ideas cannot bring him popular support today, who is to say in 6 months from now once the country is in the dark and hungry?
Chavismo is playing smartly up to a point, if we can accept that such undemocratic methods are acceptable. By putting Oswaldo to jail it will force a reaction of the opposition coalition under formation. If it supports Alvarez Paz it could be branded right wing, "ultra derecha" as they are fond to say these days. If it does not it will lose a lot of support from people that cannot stomach such an injustice. What will the Mesa de la Unidad do? This might be its first real test to demonstrate its mettle if it wants to convince us that it can run a campaign, that it can stare down Chavez and force him to accept National Assembly control next year.
On the other hand the opposition might take as its own the accusations of Alvarez Paz and force Chavez to arrest them also, or at least close Globovision. Then things would become really interesting.
I, for one, will be watching, and probably make a few decisions out of their response.
If you read Spanish you can read Alvarez Paz kind of strong declarations, pro Colombia and Pro US and Pro Market. For example he has been reprinted in the site of Ballesteros an ex right wing military turned journalist, or his very own Movimiento Republicano which has a blog. These days in Venezuela these type of opinions are simply forbidden and all is done to silence such voices as we saw tonight.
At any rate, another example of how democracy is dead in Venezuela, how freedom of information AND freedom of expression are gone. In this vein I watched today the retransmission of a meeting in Aruba this week end of the Inter American Press Association, which condemned Cuba and Venezuela for their attacks to these freedoms. Chavez government has always refused to meet with the IAPA, just as it refuses entry to IACHR and other such organizations. But in Aruba it dare to send a few journalists form its media, in particular infamous Avila TV (should it not be called now Guaraira Repano TV?). The poor arguments advanced by these folks were pathetic, although I wonder if a plural is justified as they used once again the tired 2002 coup excuse, where their calendar stopped even if Chavez has been destroying the country more effectively than Carmona would have ever done. Needless to say that they were very easily blown off by the rest of the attendance who had no problem detecting the hacker nature of the pro Chavez envoys.
I wonder if that IAPA condemnation, demanding an OAS visit, was not also the reason for the timing of Alvarez Paz arrest today as a defiant Chavez is getting ready to break with a world where his only friends are folks like Lukashit and Ahmadinejerk. Now that he will not be welcomed anymore in European capitals........
PS: read the AP account of Alvarez troubles as published in CBS and wonder about how come that at this point the AP almost seems like taking the side of Chavez in the last two paragraphs. Talk of unfortunate wording.... How come we never know who writes such communiques?
PS2: Is this also part of the revenge that Chavez wants to inflict on Zulia which has been refusing his rule? Doe she think that by exiling first Rosales and now jailing Alvarez he will gain the hearts of Zulianos?