Thursday, March 10, 2005

Chavez in Paris: an American in Paris it is not*

Chavez has been traveling around again. He dropped by Uruguay first to “offer” them 20% of Telesur. While he was there he did some shopping with Venezuelan taxpayer money: 500 million dollars of Argentinean debt. Each time he was helping countries with a higher standard of living, countries which by the way have better overall prospects for the future than Venezuela. I wonder if they will help us back when the chavismo economical lunacy comes home to roost.

Then it was off to India to outgandhi the sacred Mahatma memory. Communist ruled Bengal graciously offered a Calcutta stadium full of sympathizers for some speech to which Chavez arrived nevertheless 2.5 hours late. O Calcutta! it was considering the naked warnings to the US. A quick hop through Qatar and then it was off to Paris, a much more coveted prize for Chavez observing that the French are doing their best to pretend that chavismo is a democracy. But French need to sell their wares and they have demonstrated long ago that “scrupule” as a word was erased from the Petit Larousse Illustré special edition for foreign affairs offices.

There is really nothing much to say about the French visit except for this stunning account of a “press conference” given by Chavez, adding a new meaning to the phrase press conference. Without further ado, to close this post, the translation from the Cuba Si, Castro No communiqué(signed by Jacobo Machover, I kept the emphasis of the original in French here ). And by the way, Chavez was an hour an a half late, as usual. Even Clinton was quite on time compared to Chavez.

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He arrived 1.5 hours late, without apologizing surrounded by an improbable number of body guards, mostly Cubans, members of the Castrist secret services, who presided at their ease on the stage of studio 104 of Maison de la Radio, with their little suitcases, holding a machine gun or a bullet proof vest, for all to see. All around the few dozens journalists convoked (yes, convoked, dixit the press organizer) for the occasion, as many if not more thugs, all quite visible, ready to pluck manu militari the insolent who would dare to ask a troubling question to the “citizen president”. But there was little chance for this to happen. Effectively, only 5 questions were allowed. According to the organizer, the media had been drawn at random. Among the lucky chosen (imagine that!), there was the journalist from L’Humanité [French Communist Party newspaper].

Strange press conference, which seemed more like a meeting, with “spontaneous” clapping of the claque sitting on the front rows. Outside, chavistas strained to support their leader and its mentor, Castro, with lots of Cuban flags. A little bit further, pushed out of sight of the ruffianly soldier in suit and tie, a few protesters (too few), who were still saving the opposition honor in this France visit, which was as much propaganda as business, with a strong oil smell.

Inside the hall, a group of journalists, Venezuelan and other Latin American, had written a communiqué protesting the conditions evidently un-democratic of this press conference unheard format. But they were not allowed to read it, silenced by the barely veiled threats of the castro-chavista security personnel. The only thing they could do was to stand up and noticeably leave the hall (the only democratic reaction still possible) at the end of the first endless answer of the ex-coup-monger who was accusing, without the slightest evidence, Bush of wanting to kill him, which was without doubt used to justify the imposing protective apparatus and, mostly, intimidation one.

It still remains that fear is there. One can touch it with the finger, just as in Cuba. Venezuela is now (for how long? : let’s hope it is not for eternity) under the thumb, under the domination of a ridiculous but dangerous caudillo, who agitated a little blue book holding his “Bolivarian” constitution, just as in past times Chinese, constrained and forced, agitated the Little Red Book of Mao. Hugo Chavez has nothing of a Libertador, he is the poster boy of the apprentice dictator.

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*With my deepest apologies to George Gershwin, one of my very favorite composers even though an American in Paris I never liked. I find it a cacophony, though much less messed up than Chavez utterings.

PS: Tal Cual publishes a curious quote from Chavez in Paris, the country most Anglophobic language wise. At least someone at the Venezuelan embassy knew how to use that information:
“Yo, el ingles no lo hablo ni quiero hablarlo” (I do not speak English nor I want to)
Tal Cual adds the comment: You can’t.

Ah! Silliness has no boundaries!

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