Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Chavez making mistakes?

What has been happening these past days leaves anyone wondering what is really going on. Already in early September I was observing the sudden and apparently unnecessary acceleration in the leftward push of Chavez. All seemed to indicate in July that Chavez would coast quietly until December, get a 2/3 in the new National Assembly and then change the constitution early in 2006 to nail down everything once and for all. “Everything” being of course his personal unlimited power.

Not only he kept the pace, but this week-end botched Mar del Plata adventure and the Anderson case unbelievable manipulation make one wonder what is going on, really, behind closed doors. There must be some pressing issue that scares/bothers Chavez for him to reach for such provocations. I think it is too early for this blogger to speculate on what is going on, though a possible illness of Castro and the ardent wish to ensure the ideological succession, if not even the actual Cuban succession for Chavez, is a lovely idea to toy with.

The Mar del Plata summit

No matter what Chavez stated when he came back, he should not be claiming victory for the Mar del Plata fiasco. That he was the great saboteur, there is no question. That he gained something from it remains to be seen. A simple list of a few observable facts are enough.

1- His big show in the stadium did not attract anyone of importance, unless junkie/ex-junkie/junkie-to-be Maradona counts for something of substance. Even Manu Chao refused to sing for Chavez, according to the Tal Cual gossip column, “por mi madre”. However allowance must be made that Chavez did not want to share the limelight with anyone. In character.

2- The summit split alright on the free trade issue. But this is far from being a Chavez victory. The Mercosur had always been angst ridden about joining the US anyway and had been wanting to position itself on a hard bargain seat. It would be a mistake to see Chavez prodding the Mercosur. In fact, trying to pretend it did could backfire badly as Lula and Kirchner are certainly not going to like to be seen as Chavez puppets, no matter how many bad Argentinean debt Chavez buys.

3- But it gets better, almost 5 times as many countries signed to keep Free Trade talks going than to suspend them (well, actually Mercosur did not suspend the talks, just put them on the back burner). So, the legitimate question here is: all the oil spent on the small Caribbean nations through Petrocaribe promise, did it gain anything for Chavez at the summit? None signed with the Mercosur. In fact Peru, Colombia and Ecuador seem everyday closer to sign some bilateral pact, and a new non-Morales Bolivian government would join them fast.

4- The only thing that Chavez seems to be achieving is an ever deeper division of Latin America, something that he might find difficult to live with sooner than later.

5- And, does any of this benefit Venezuela? No. Any possible benefit, if you look at the chavista point of view was achieved before the summit. This one in fact could be argued to have detracted from previous supposed advantages gained.

6- And what about the troubles he brought to some countries, for nothing? Who thinks that Kirchener is going to host any important summit in the near future? It will be years before Argentina gets any really important event. Chavez rotten attitude probably forced in part the strong stand of Fox, which in turn could affect negatively his likely successor Obrador by forcing to take a position on free trade before he gets elected. This is relative as Mexico is now too tied to the US and Canada for Obrador to do much (see the EU to understand what happens when free trade starts reaping benefits). In fact, it might be an excuse for Obrador to distance himself more and more from Chavez. Rumors are that Peru’s Toledo also had a spat with Chavez. How will all of these free enmities collected play in the long run is anyone guess.

In fact Chavez pathetic attitude coming back trying to put up a winner mask reminds me of a famous La Fontaine poem, Le Coche et la Mouche, where a pesky fly thinks that her harassing of the horses and the people in the cart are what drove it out of the ditch (in English here) (1)

Ainsi certaines gens, faisant les empressés,
S'introduisent dans les affaires:
Ils font partout les nécessaires,
Et, partout importuns, devraient être chassés.

The Anderson murder manipulation

This is really getting out of hand. The more the General Prosecutor, Isaias Rodriguez, speaks the more ridiculous he looks, and the more he comes across as a liar. Simply put the official story is making water from all sides.

Carlos Herrera, an Anderson pal, was brilliant today when he said during an extensive press conference that Mezerhane would have to be really stupid as an owner of Globovision to promote that one’s campaign to uncover the murder of Anderson if he was himself involved in said murder (video) (2). He also stated in a very humorous but popular and direct way that the meetings to plot the murder of Anderson where so many people went were just beyond belief. According the sole eye witness of meetings where dozens attended, a Colombian citizen who apparently had no reason to be there, people did all to identify themselves but wear name tags and sign the attendance book. A cornered Isaias, hit from all sides limited himself to go to the state TV, be interviewed by a very compliant journalist and announce that he would not be caught dead facing real inquisitive journalists, say, at Globovision. In addition of being another one of Chavez’s whores, he revealed himself a total coward: if you have the real truth and the proofs in hand, no journalist will scare you! Of course the MVR went out with the now worn out line: “it is a media attack on the Prosecutor!”, Lara, the biggest whore of them all taking the lead in not worrying about the evidence. But thus works fascism.

SUMATE forbidden to leave the country

And speaking of fascism. 4 directors of SUMATE have just been barred from leaving the country (they had announced for months that they had no plans to “escape”). Why would Chavez order such a thing one month before the election befuddles me, just as international observers are arriving and will meet with SUMATE as one of the main representatives of the opposition parties.

Does it make sense?

Is Chavez strategy paradoxically to have the opposition withdraw all its candidates from the December elections? Indeed, in such conditions it is impossible to lead a campaign. Not only the noise of Anderson and other scandals will drown anything else, but how can you mount an effective defense of the voting act in such a situation of open judicial prosecution?

Is Chavez trying to provoke the opposition into yet another suicidal act? Can the opposition even do such a suicide if it wanted to? We are not in 2002 anymore, times have changed!

Add this to Mar del Plata, the silly socialism of the XXI century and all the things I have been reporting on for the past two months and you should start worrying about what is really going on in the halls of Miraflores. Those mistakes might be too obvious to be mistakes. Or is there something else, the acknowledgement that Chavez will not get his 10 millon voters and, trapped in a ridiculous self imposed challenge, decided that an “alternate” way should be attempted?

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1) Thus some people meddle,
Right smack in the middle
Of other people's business, acting as though
It is they who run the show.
Someone should tell them, "Just buzz off! Go!"

2) the video of Herrera interview can be found in the page of Globovision at the Grado 33 page, but by subscription. If anyone can post a free video, it would be really worth your time to watch it. It is the one dated Grado 33 07/11/05 - Parte 2

Update: Stig has posted the video at Albacom.

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