Thursday, June 19, 2003

June 18, 2003

This seems to be the only strategy for the government.

Today, Wednesday 18 June, 5 full days after the events of El Petarazo, the mayor finally spoke. The scene was the mayor, his Dad, also known as Chavez’s vice president, the Minister of Internal affairs, and the former chairman of the National Assembly who went to the General Prosecutor’s office to put an official complaint against the Metropolitana Police Department and the Governor of Miranda State.

To the journalists’ astonishment, and our bewilderment, they claimed that all what the media had been showing, had been talking about were misinformation, fabrications, a total lack of objectivity. In other words what we saw live from our own eyes was not true. The Metropolitana shot first, the chavistas were peaceful, nobody knows who destroyed the Police Station, etc… Ah, and the chavistas did not throw tear gas bombs. The mayor was a sorry sight, unable to say much else than he was not where the press put him and “the opposition should have staid in their area” (apartheid anyone?), and was just bluntly cut by his Dad in front of the cameras. The Vice even said that they submitted their own videos as proof of what they were sustaining. Interestingly the press got hold of the official deposition and apparently there is no mention of videos there. And when asked when would the government show its own videos the answer was “in due time”. Please!

This all accompanied by a whole series of gratuitous comments and attacks on the opposition. At least they backed out of their earlier claim that they had a dead man. It seems that the body cannot be found anywhere. They still claim 7 people injured by bullets from the Metropolitana but no proof is advanced, no bodies, no ballistics. And none filmed on Friday that we know of. Or at least that we have seen on the videos where the only bullet would that I saw was for a police officer from Miranda state.

But to add a further eerie element to this, Globovision released yet a new video today, taken by someone that was at ground level Friday. It seems that Venezuela has become a big video amateur country these days, no wonder the government wants to muzzle TV! Well, in that video, shown shortly after the deposition of the Vice, one can see clearly that the first tear gas bomb was launched from the chavista side. And it was a few of minutes until the police threw its first bomb. Another video also released today shows the National Guard arriving and the crowds obviously waiting for them to start moving, a video obviously filmed by someone within pretending to be with the crowd. Yet a third one shows the Mayor doing a “motivational” speech nearby instead of calming his followers and protecting public property.

Really, can you conceive a Vice President of the US, a Governor or a Mayor of a main city, in the US or Europe, deliberately declaring against all that was shown live? And if he were to do so, can you imagine him going unscathed to sue the other side? This, and really this, is the problem of foreign press covering Venezuela: they cannot believe that high level public officials can lie to that extent. But it is changing. Early this week the Reuters correspondent actually asked point blank the Vice how could he refute what was for all to see. The reply of the Vice? “I respect your position, you serve your interests, but you are wrong”. This to a Reuters correspondent in Venezuela. Should we speculate on what the Reuters guy wrote to his central office?

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