Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Chavez's Spanish most excellent adventure!

Or the kind of thing that you will be allowed to see on Venezuelan TV once the gag law passes.

President Chavez by now must have ended his state visit in Spain. I am not too sure how good that visit was for Spain as it left quite a wake there. But I am sure that the inner trouble maker in Chavez must feel quite satisfied. All in all, at least on political grounds, Chavez had scored a few points, on domestic or foreign matters. At what price? Too early to say.

The big news was the political scandal that erupted in Spain. Foreign minister Moratinos declared on a TV show that former premier Aznar actively supported the 2002 April coup. This alleged intervention is far from being proved, but Chavez knows an opportunity when he sees one and he could not resist marking a few points at the expense of the Spanish political establishment. Getting out of some meeting he declared that the involvement of Aznar government was indeed true, but he added, very magnanimously, that it was a turned page now. Yeah, right...

Which aggravated the political problem within Spain. The PP former ruling party until March of this year demanded that Moratinos either put up or shut up (meaning resigns). Indeed Mariano Rajoy the PP leader demanded that the government clarified the declarations of Moratinos in the strongest term (while using the term "coronel Chavez" to address a Chavez who was in a state visit and blithely intervened in Spanish internal affairs). As usual Chavez can meddle but no one can meddle in Venezuela. An autocrat is an autocrat, everywhere.

Meanwhile Madrid has announced that Moratinos himself will go to the Cortes to account for his declarations. That will be quite interesting... Let's see:
  • Aznar government lost its credibility when it tried desperately to pin down on ETA the March 11 bombing. That cost it the election.

  • Rodriguez Zapatero himself has a rather weak foreign minister that has been pushing Spain to go against a European decision to block Cuba for its multiple violations of human rights. Of course what is going on in here is Chavez trying to push a wedge between Spain and Europe to help himself and his mentor in the famed prison island. In other words Zapatero is "el tonto util" of Chavez (Chavez's fool).

But why would Zapatero bend backward to accommodate Chavez? Because he offered him to create a Revolutionary Internationale to replace the Socialist Internationale of the social democrats? Because Chavez is so media savvy and full of life compared to the rather lifeless Zapatero? Because of the contracts held carrot like in front of Spain business?

That business section of the trip by the way brought a few cheap points for Chavez. He was received by the Cortes, the Senate, and a session was previewed where Chavez was going to be asked on the coming "gag law". But imagine that, the session was suspended at the last minute! Could have that anything to do with the promise of ordering a few boats to Spain? Postponing for a while the highly inefficient shipyards closure that is a big problem for Zapatero. After all, Chavez can afford a few overpriced ships if it helps his friend Castro back in Europe.

Unexpectedly Chavez got a second bonus. Lorenzo Mendoza, the young looking president of Polar, perhaps the main private concern of Venezuela, and a known opponent of Chavez, was in Spain. Well, it seems that times have changed and now Mr. Mendoza is very happily in Spain doing business traveling along with Chavez. And he declared so on Venevision, the first network to have preempted the "gag law" by installing self censorship in its studios. Venevision, property of Gustavo Cisneros who came for a private visit to Chavez on the hand of Carter before the Recall Election, has removed all politically contentious material from its programming. And went a step further by showing the declarations of Mr. Mendoza, while in the background one could see a broadly smiling, if not mocking, Minister Izarra, certainly appreciating the moment. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

The Spanish adventure certainly was a godsend to distract from the worrying news that hit us. A shooting took place today, some lawyer got killed, some searches made, a car seized and all supposedly to clarify the Anderson assassination. But already many questions are been raised on what is really happening. From the new found efficiency in investigation and prosecution when so many other violent death are still not "clarified" to whether today shooting was not a mistake.

All of this is more fodder for the governrment to speed up the approval of the "gag law" and initiate discussion of an anti terrorist law that will make the US Patriot Rules child's play. I recommend reading (in English) Mike Rowan article today to see what is heading toward our most unfortunate country while suckers like Zapatero debate how much dictatorial practices Europe should accept.

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