Monday, September 22, 2014

The New York Times and the Washington Post trash Maduro

This week end two majors newspapers of the world have come out with harsh to blistering editorials. They are worth putting in full in this blog as for once, editorials sound almost as stringent as this blog.  I have taken the liberty to highlight a few words in both editorials, to show how degraded the image of Venezuela is. For two papers and this blog to use almost the same language is quite striking, unless, of course, chavista will claim it a conspiracy and yours truly advising the editorial boards of both papers.....


Venezuela’s Crackdown on Opposition


The Venezuelan government early this year responded to a wave of street protests by jailing opposition leaders, deploying the army against unarmed protesters and tightening control of the media. The deplorable tactics have largely driven an inspiring opposition movement underground, depriving Venezuelans of the right to challenge a leader who has put a once-prosperous nation on a perilous track.

The imprisonment and trial of an opposition leader, Leopoldo López, show how far President Nicolás Maduro is willing to go to stave off legitimate grievances in a country he and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, mismanaged. Mr. López, a 43-year-old Harvard-educated politician, has been jailed since Feb. 18, when the authorities accused him of instigating violent demonstrations. Some 1,700 demonstrators are awaiting trial and more than 70 remain jailed.

Mr. López’s trial, which began in July, is a travesty. The indictment bizarrely contends that Mr. López, who peacefully called for Mr. Maduro’s resignation, incited violence through “subliminal” messages conveyed during public speeches demanding change that won him strong public support. The judge in the case approved more than 100 witnesses for the prosecution and rejected all but two defense witnesses. Mr. Maduro, who has called Mr. López an American pawn, has told reporters, “He has to pay, and he’s going to pay,” all but determining the outcome.

The human rights abuses and Venezuela’s ailing economy are an outgrowth of the political crisis that has gripped the country in the past decade. The socialist policies Mr. Chávez adopted after taking office in 1999 markedly reduced poverty and expanded opportunities in a country with a long history of entrenched inequality. But his despotic governing style led the country down a dark path. And he drove out capital and talent by nationalizing key industries and asserting greater government control of the oil sector, the country’s economic engine. Insecurity and inflation soared during his years in power.

Mr. Maduro, lacking Mr. Chávez’s charisma and shrewd political instincts, has proved to be an even more dangerous and divisive leader. Venezuelans now suffer from shortages of basic commodities, including milk. Inflation surpassed 60 percent this summer. Leading economists have suggested that Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, could default on its foreign debt this fall. Unable to reverse the decline, Mr. Maduro rails about foreign conspiracies and has throttled a once-free press. Several news organizations that used to be critical of the government have been forced by mysterious new owners to take pro-government stances.

Venezuela’s dismal state has alarmed its neighbors, but those with influence over Caracas have not wanted to appear to interfere with the internal affairs of others. The Maduro government’s abuses are dangerous for the region and certainly warrant strong criticism from Latin American leaders.

Next year, Venezuela is expected to get a seat for a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council, based on a rotation that countries from the region negotiated several years ago. This would give the Maduro government an important and prestigious appointment on a body that is expected to tackle critical issues, including the global response against fighters of the Islamic State. Colombia, Brazil and other Latin American countries should lead an effort to prevent Caracas from representing the region when it is fast becoming an embarrassment on the continent.

(ME: Let's hope that some in the Liberal left will take notice, including the mayor of New York, imbued of his Sandinista past.)



Venezuela doesn’t deserve a seat on the U.N. Security Council

By Editorial Board September 20

THE ODDS that Venezuela, once Latin America’s richest country, will suffer a catastrophic economic collapse shortened significantly this month. Nicolás Maduro, the economically illiterate former bus driver who succeeded Hugo Chávez as president last year, rejected the advice of pragmatists proposing common-sense measures to rein in soaring inflation of more than 60 percent and crippling shortages of basic goods such as milk and toilet paper. Instead he gave a speech claiming that “our problems are the result of economic war waged by the opposition and private business.”

Now Mr. Maduro’s government is attempting to prove his point. It is pressing forward with the prosecution of several top opposition leaders, including Leopoldo López, the former mayor of a Caracas district who heads the more militant wing of anti-government forces. “Militant” is a relative term here: Earlier this year Mr. López and several allies called for peaceful street demonstrations under the slogan “the way out.” The hope was they would create irresistible pressure for change, similar to the “people power” revolutions of Asia and Eastern Europe.

As Human Rights Watch documented , the regime responded violently. More than 40 people were killed, and 1,700 were criminally charged. Some 70, including Mr. López, remain incarcerated. Since voluntarily surrendering on Feb. 18, Mr. López has been held in isolation on a military base. Now he is undergoing a trial that can only be described as farcical. The government claims that Mr. López is somehow responsible for violent clashes in Caracas, even though he was not present when they took place and had publicly called on his followers to remain peaceful. A judge has disallowed all but one of the more than 60 witnesses he called, while scheduling more than 100 for the prosecution. As The Post’s Nick Miroff recently reported, Mr. Maduro has already declared the trial’s outcome: “He has to pay, and he will pay.”

Average Venezuelans are already paying heavily for Mr. Maduro’s practice of substituting political persecution for economic remedies. Now the question is whether he and his cronies will be held responsible for their behavior by outside powers with leverage, including the United States. The Obama administration has been resisting legislation that would provide for sanctions against leading members of the regime. In July, it offered the weaker measure of canceling the U.S. visas of some two dozen officials, without naming them.

It’s time for more visible action. One opportunity is at the United Nations: Next month Venezuela will stand for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, where it would be able to advocate for allies such as Syria, Iran and Cuba. Though unopposed, the Maduro government must win the votes of two-thirds of the General Assembly in a secret ballot. The Obama administration could help itself and send a message to Mr. Maduro by rounding up the 65 votes needed to keep Venezuela off the Security Council.


  1. Mr Obama has other priorities. It seems he's worried about Ukraine, Israel and the people of Funafuti.

  2. Boludo Tejano8:57 PM

    A judge has disallowed all but one of the more than 60 witnesses he called, while scheduling more than 100 for the prosecution.

    Which reminds me of the time I saw a hagiographic film about Che Guevara followed by a discussion afterwards with the filmmaker, an Argentine expat living in the US. Someone in the audience brought up the several thousand that Che had executed in Cuba. The reply from the filmmaker was that those executed had gone through trials. Just like the trial Leopoldo Lopez will be going through.

    1. An interesting tidbit: the "revolution" had my uncle taken to a killing camp they set up in the Sierra Maestra mountains. He was a military officer in the revolutionary armed forces, but declared himself Anticommunist. I bet many of you didn't realize people were murdered without being tried. And some of them were rebels.

    2. Boludo Tejano11:11 PM

      After the Castro brothers leave us for another world, we may well find out how many they have executed in their half century + of tyranny- though I suspect the evidence will be destroyed.

  3. “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary … These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution!” - Che Guevara

  4. Anonymous8:02 AM

    Not sure what Obamas priorities are. He seems to do absolutely nothing.

    1. Boludo Tejano10:44 AM

      Venezuela is NOT one of his priorities.

    2. Anonymous11:33 AM

      What I don't get is why Obama should do anything( has he been asked to help?),and especially if the Venezuelan opposition is not doing everything it possible could first.


    3. I'm just fine if Obama does absolutely nothing. In that case he needs to shut up about Ukraine and Iraq, stop helping Israel and bring every USA soldier home. The USA would accomplish more by re gaining the moral high ground, closing the prison in Guantanamo and handing the territory over to free Cubans. I bet Castro would have a cow, and eventually a free Cuban territory in Guantanamo would out earn and have more military might than the oligarchs and trash surrounding Castro.

  5. Anonymous1:15 PM

    "Venezuelans elected for Chavez and got what they asked for."
    If Chavismo is what Venezuela chose, then why should the U.S. intercede?

    1. Anonymous3:29 PM

      The editorials aren't asking for the US to intercede. Also, I've given up on Venezuelans using the "former bus driver" line but was surprised that the Post did. I was a busboy in High School, will that haunt me in the future if I ascend to any higher positions?

    2. The USA should use its diplomatic power to block Maduro from the UN Security Council. Why? Mostly to make a point to Latin American nations. What other actions can Obama take? Cut off the cash being sent by the Cubans in Miami to Cuban relatives. That's several billion dollars. I would cut it cold. And I would cut off gasoline sales to Venezuela and shut down all trade with the dictatorship. They don't like it? Let them trade with China. As for the Castros, let them rot. They want to play hardball, they will get hardball. However, we know Obama is a weakling, his deal is pleasing the Israel lobby, the watermelons and the "progressives". Nothing will get done.

    3. Island Canuck4:19 PM

      The " watermelons"??

      Wow do you live in another era!

    4. double Wow.

    5. Anonymous6:07 PM

      hahahaha "watermelons" . and they say time travel is impossible.... you just took us back a least 70 years.

    6. Anonymous9:59 PM

      chill out people and please cut the politically correct crap. Fernando is calling is how he sees it. He has the right to express himself and I don't condone it. Racism is alive and well in America. Blacks hate whites too.

    7. Should criminals be in charge of correcting the wrong they inflicted?

      Puerto Ricans vote in elections every 4 years at an 80% level of participation. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States (US) government for the past 116 years. If the US government has the final say in what happens in Puerto Rico, what is the purpose of these elections? The purpose is to fool the world that Puerto Rico is a democracy.

      The United Nations (UN) declared colonialism a crime against humanity in 1960. The UN has asked the US government 33 times to decolonize Puerto Rico immediately. The US government has refused. It says that Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States is none of the UN’s business. The US says that it is a domestic affair.

      To appear that the US government wants to decolonize Puerto Rico, it promotes the use of plebiscites to determine what Puerto Ricans want. Doesn’t that sounds innocent and democratic? So what’s the problem?

      To begin with, the international community already rendered its verdict and determined that colonialism is illegal. So to have a political status option in a plebiscite that favors maintaining Puerto Rico a colony of the United States is not permitted. To have a political status option of Puerto Rico becoming a state of the United States is also not permitted under international law. The problem goes back to the beginning of this article. In order to have free elections, the country must be free. So before these elections and plebiscite could be valid, Puerto Rico would have to first be an independent nation.

      What people must realize is that Puerto Rico is a colony of the US because the US government wants it that way. That is why it has used terrorism to keep it that way. That is why it refuses to release the Puerto Rican political prisoner of 33 years Oscar López Rivera. That is also why it is ridiculous to believe that decolonization is a US internal matter in which the UN has no jurisdiction over. If we allow the US government to decolonize Puerto Rico, she will remain a colony of the United States forever!

      José M López Sierra

    8. I am sorry, but why are you writing this in this post?

      No matter why, the point is that in the last 40 years Puerto Rico could have become independent and it did not do it. The reason may be that they became welfare queens, or did not care or whatever, but they could have if they wanted to. In modern world geopolitics Puerto Rico is not that important anymore once the Panama Canals was given to Panama. Historically the US wanted Puerto Rico as a naval base and it made sense. But these days of drones and missiles, well, who cares about Puerto Rico.

      Or to put it in a different light, This days I rather be colonized in Puerto Rico than independent in Venezuela. In 2015 there is infinitely more freedom and well being in PR than in Venezuela.

  6. The Sept. 20--26 issua of The Economist magazine has an excellent article on Venezuela ending with the words:"But the price of the revolution's survival seems to be the slow death of Venezuela".

  7. Anonymous8:39 AM

    To Anonymous above, the "bus driver" designation is only a metaphor of Maduro's complete lack of education to conduct the basic duties of his role. Whatever "education" they claim he has is nothing but an indoctrination, not to lead a country but only to achieve the Castros' goals.

  8. Charly1:15 PM

    A breath of fresh air on the local political scene, Chuo Torrealba becomes general secretary of the MUD. I have been following him for several years now with "Radar de los barios". I do not know him personally but from what I see, his name is synonymous with ethics. I wish him all the best, he will need a lots of good luck to avoid the pitfalls from "coños madre" of all stripes.

  9. Anonymous2:00 PM

    Napoleon went to the best schools in France, Hitler was a high school drop-out,
    education, or lack of it is not required to be a dictator.

  10. Anonymous3:54 PM

    There is nothing Obama and the USA can do to help in the battle against Maduro that they are not doing. Any major public play by them will just play into Maduro's hands as why the country is struggling. The reality is the poor people need to rise up against Maduro as they are the majority. This would have happened if Lopez and Maria hadn't turned the earlier protests into a political function. All people in the country stood for what the students initially protested about but once it turned political the poor did not support it.

    Canadian looking in

  11. Anonymous7:35 PM

    You could hear a pin drop during maburro's speech...that's because there was nobody there, but he gained a reputation as "The Ma Who Talk to the Chairs"!

  12. FYI Here's someone else trashing Maduro:

    Venezuela marks International Day of
    Peace with Orwellian contradiction

    "Venezuela represents exactly the type of “monopoly of violence” JPFO warns against in its unique message that “gun control” is the common factor in the most prevalent form of homicide, murder by government. How telling that monopoly is exactly what domestic gun-grabbers laud as the ideal, even going so far as to credit German sociologist and economist Max Weber."

  13. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Bolivar has completely spiraled out of control. Breaking 100. My god.

  14. Here's Venezuela's own Gabby Franco:

    Commentators Ep. 88: “Learning From History” With Gabby Franco

    NRA News Commentator Gabby Franco cautions that to preserve freedoms in our country, we need to learn from past events that have occurred in other countries.

  15. JJ Minihagh8:08 PM

    So interesting that these former apologists and sympathizers of Chavez have finally turned .
    Yhe morally corrupt media has some confessing to make for giving the hooligans and thugs, political cover for so long


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