Monday, February 24, 2003

And the ridiculous
Sunday 23, February 2003

THE UGLY: 6 deaths and a few wounded

The events in the two preceding posts were framed by deaths. Actually while I was writing the previous posts, there were only the 4 deaths of early this week, but last night the circle was closed.

Not all the details are in yet and this is why I have been postponing writing on these deaths, or rather murders. So I will be brief least I have to rewrite everything alter. The facts that are known are damning by themselves.

The week starts with 5 deaths.

Plaza Altamira has been hosting since October a few dissident military. I personally think that their action is non-productive now, and that they missed a golden opportunity to retire as heroes in November. Nevertheless, I must concede that it is admirable to have been able to live on a public square for now 4 months for ones’ convictions. Close to 200 hundred military have declared dissidence, from generals to plain soldiers. One general that dared leave Plaza Altamira for some protest action was arrested and is know in house arrest while some trumped charges are brought to trial (the real charges from April 11 have already been dismissed). And three soldiers probably bored have tried to make use of their free time, probably with some of the female public that hangs around Altamira.

These three soldiers were found dead. The way they died indicates that it was some kind of execution since they were tied up and showed signs of torture. And two of their female friends were found, one death, one badly injured and probably left there as dead. This unfortunate woman was taken to a hospital where a Bolivarian circles had managed to get rooms for their activities (In a hospital, you may ask?).

Bolivarian circles are a chavista organization initially created to organize neighborhoods to try to have people solve their own problems. But like all good intentions, the real intentions came behind as a nursery to recruit the violent fringes of chavista sympathizers, and neighborhood surveillance of people that might be only lukewarm chavistas. A little bit like the CDR in Cuba. However, I must quickly add this last function is only present in some popular areas, the main functions being to recruit the more violent members of society and fill pro Chavez marches. If truth is to be told, some circles do actually some significant social work in some areas. The circle at the hospital does not seem to have been one of the social worker one…

As soon as the news of the incorporation of the woman to the hospital was known, this Bolivarian circle tried to kidnap her. A big mess arose as doctors tried to stop the aggression. The county police (Pro Chavez in this district) was called and had to put down the riot, with somebody from the circle being killed. They took a few people to jail, but one of them was very soon released: he is the significant other of a “Pasionaria” of sorts, Lina Ron. She is a famous agitator in downtown Caracas that has been linked to many of the worst riots that have happened this last year. The woman just drove in, one suppose made a few calls, and zipped out with her Beau. No comments are needed.

Official reaction? The soldiers were killed as a consequence of some lover quarrel. Notwithstanding that this does not explain the way they were executed and that two of the women were also killed or almost killed (the survivor one has brain damage), the surprise was the speed with which the Venezuelan equivalent of the FBI reached the conclusion. This is the same police Corp that has not emitted an official accusation yet for the December 6 killer at Altamira that was caught with the smoking gun in hand, and that Chavez has publicly questioned his guilt, claiming that they “might” have been another shooter…

Interesting to observe how fast the police moves according to the interests of the government.

The week ends with a metropolitan police killed in a trap.

Last night the Metro Police (“working for” an anti Chavez mayor) was attending a call in La Campiña. Apparently it was a set up and a gang of likely pro Chavez folks tried to shoot them down pretending that they were aggressed by the police. This is incidentally the police that has been intervened by the army and that has had its entire anti riot gear confiscated, as well as its heavy equipment. It is rather unlikely that these policemen are going to look for trouble when they are under armed!

Anyway, something must have gone wrong because the police retreated, picked up its wounded and one of their men dead. Witness abound as to the aggression of the other side. Not only they have removed significant weaponry from the police force that ensures the safety of the population, but they are trying to kill them to scare them into quitting, one supposes.

What does Chavez says of all this?

Really, it does not matter. I put below the Reuter communiqué of this afternoon, but there is nothing new except that now he is insulting foreign countries (the communiqué cannot convey the vulgar and sarcastic tone of Chavez in his weekly program). He does not address the killings of this week, nor the obvious abuse of power, pretending that the judicial system is truly independent. However he also renewed his menace of closing the networks, which Reuters does not mention. Of course, he wants to shut up the networks! They were there to film all the botched operations that were planned this week! He cannot be happy when the networks have just to stand and film right in front incompetence, abuse of authority, hideous crimes, riot scenes, ambushes, etc… Who needs investigative reporting in Venezuela these days?

The Chavez administration is turning into one ridiculous soap opera.

Venezuela's Chavez Tells World to Back Off
(I clipped less significant part)

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned the world to stop meddling in the affairs of his troubled South American nation on Sunday, as police locked up a prominent strike leader on ``civil rebellion'' charges.

The populist president accused the United States and Spain of siding with his enemies, warned Colombia he might break off diplomatic relations, and reprimanded the chief mediator [Gaviria] in tortuous peace talks for stepping ``out of line.''

``I ask all of the countries of this continent and of the world ... are you going (to) stop this meddling?'' Chavez asked angrily, during his state-sponsored television show 'Alo Presidente.' ``This is a sovereign nation.''

The tongue-lashing followed a recent flurry of diplomatic communiqués expressing concern over Carlos Fernandez, a strike leader and prominent businessman who was yanked out of a Caracas steakhouse on Thursday at gunpoint by police.

A judge placed the silver-haired executive under house arrest on Sunday to await trial for charges of civil rebellion and criminal instigation, which could land him up to 26 years in prison. He spearheaded a two-month nationwide shutdown by oil workers and industry in a failed bid to force elections.

Chavez carped that the same international worry by diplomats over Fernandez wasn't shown when he was briefly ousted in a 48-hour coup last year. He said some countries, including Spain and the United States, applauded the putsch.

``It's worth remembering that the Spanish ambassador was here, in this room, applauding the coup. So the Spanish government is going (to) keep commenting?'' Chavez asked.

``We say the same thing to the government in Washington. Stop making mistakes ... A spokesman comes out there saying he's worried. No! This is a Venezuelan matter.''


Venezuela's crisis has drawn the international spotlight with leaders afraid the world's No. 5 supplier of oil could slide into civil war as Chavez allies and enemies face off.

Hailed by supporters as a champion of the poor, the paratrooper-turned-president has pledged to crack down on enemies of his self-styled ``revolution.'' Foes call him an ignorant dictator looking to impose Cuban-style communism.

Chavez crushed an oil walkout by firing 13,000 dissident workers, and laughed off the two-month-old strike which hurt the private sector and was meekly abandoned in early February.

He won an arrest warrant for another strike leader, union boss Carlos Ortega, and threatens to lock up a group of media moguls he dubs the ``Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.''

The United States, Spain and four other countries have dispatched diplomats to the negotiating table in a bid to defuse tensions fueling the crisis. But the talks have so far proven fruitless, and Chavez on Sunday seemed to push away members of the six-nation group.

Chavez reserved his most severe criticism for Cesar Gaviria, who is the chief mediator in talks to end the political deadlock. Gaviria, a former Colombian president, is the head of the Organization of American States.

``Mr. Gaviria, this is a sovereign nation, sir. You were president of a country. Don't step out of line,'' Chavez said.

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