Sunday, November 20, 2005

Chavez real targets: the Anderson case as a decoy

All will agree that the past few weeks in Venezuela have been a near total pandemonium. As such, the only visible result so far is a now totally discredited office of the Nation’s Prosecutor as its holder Isaias Rodriguez simply looks like a fool on drugs. In its wake the scandal has taken the chair of the National Assembly equally on drugs and even more of a lout than one could have guessed. Yesterday a Chavez wearing Mexican hats and chanting “rancheras” to justify his aggression on Fox was the ultimate. In fact it deserves a closer examination, just to show the casual reader what a circus we are living in.

Chavismo convoked a march to protest against imperialism as the real agent causing the break up between Fox and Venezuela. Obviously Chavez is desperate to draw some official US/Bush retort, the final blessing in order to become the official heir of Castro. And so far the US has been holding still, not falling into the silly game. The convoked march was far from being a success. As seen from the picture next, even the very official Bolivarian News Agency, ABN, could not come up with a better picture: a tight group of marchers, but no more than a couple of thousand. The surrounding emptiness can be seen clearly. At the arrival, in a chavista area, the crowds swelled more. Then again people did not have to walk that much and probably booze was served. At any rate it was enough to justify Chavez apparition. All the usual recrimination against Bush were there to greet the attendees. But probably sensing that the rallying of most of Mexico behind Fox was an unpredicted and certainly gross Venezuelan diplomatic miscalculation, Chavez donned, ridiculously, a Mexican hat and sang a few “rancheras”. Anything for a laugh! With that performance Chavez joined HIS General Prosecutor and HIS National Assembly to show that they indeed act according to HIS example and the lines that HE gives.

But it would all be fine, and mildly amusing even if it were not that this “bon enfant” fun is hiding much darker designs. And people are not fooled.

More and more the overplaying of the Anderson case is seen as:

1) An electoral threat to try to push the opposition into some miscalculation, or at least to stimulate opposition abstention and distract from any feeble campaign they might be doing, or exposing their hard found temporary unity.

2) If that does not work out, induce the remaining independent media into some improper declaration and thus give an excuse to close them or at least bar them from showing the increasing popular unhappiness that expresses itself more and more. The most popular variety these days is to block the Autopista Regional del Centro, Venezuela’s traffic aorta equivalent. Or drop garbage or other obstacles in the middle of the streets.

3) And if that does not work well, then at least intimidate the opposition and media leadership by jailing, DELIBERATELY, a few without any real charges against them. It does not matter if they are released after a few weeks with an “oops!”: the psychological effect should have been reached.

But it does not seem to work so far. Ridicule keeps hurting more chavismo than it hurts Fox, or Bush or anyone else. And two strong voices were raised this week to counter chavismo ill thought and, let’s not be afraid of words, fascistic argumentation and methods.

The first salvo was the impassioned defense of Globovision made by one of its owners. Clearly, Globovision is THE target of the Maduro infamous declarations. Guillermo Zuluoga does not thread lightly when he states, on paper and on video (1) the following:

Globovison engages itself not to demonstrate the innocence of Nelson Mezerhane which has never been in doubt, but to demonstrate to Venezuela and the World that all of this business is an infamy of no precedent. It was imagined to hide or cover up something that we do not know of, but it has been so lousily set up that the facts that it mentions, through a very unreliable witness, are impossible to demonstrate whereas it is perfectly possible to demonstrate that Nelson Mezerhane could not have been found at the alleged sites in the dates mentioned by the witness.

Mister General Prosecutor and Mister President of the National Assembly, you know, as everyone in Venezuela [knows], that Globovision does only inform of the truth. When real information is annoying, it is worth wondering why.

May all Venezuelans be assured that we will stay here. Informing as [we] always [do]. Because Globovision commitment is with Venezuela, with all of you.

Today it is against us, tomorrow it can be against anyone of you.
Strong stuff indeed! Maduro and Isaias know full well that Globovision ratings, in particular “Alo Ciudadano”, are impressive and draw a large chavista audience which does not see its problems reflected in the state controlled media. That surely hurts! It remains to be seen if in front of such a challenge Isaias and Maduro will persist in their now revealed ill intentions.

But in an amazing coincidence, a few minutes after an equally stronger statement came from Marcel Granier. He is one of the owners of the other network that has not bowed to Chavez, that keeps the only talk show of inquisitive journalism that is second only to Alo Ciudadano and which controls the AM ratings: La Entrevista. And to make matters worse, Marcel Granier was exiting a meeting with the OAS observers and the CNE where the OAS got apparently quite a serving of what is REALLY going on in Venezuela. The video is too long to transcribe but would deserve it (2). Below one of the gems that the OAS can mull around:

“the disequilibrium as to the propaganda from the government, which overcomes the one from the opposition in a proportion of 1 to 20 000, Not 1 to 20. I even saw the members of the CNE sincerely worried, because this does not guarantee the healthy atmosphere that all Venezuelans want”

It is significant that Marcel Granier recognizes that even the highly biased CNE recognizes indirectly that the government is pushing the envelope too far. They certainly will not act against Chavez, this blogger is sure of that, but he cites this item to try to bring a sense of what a mad house this country HAS become when even an outright opponent of Chavez recognizes that some within chavismo are a little bit taken aback by the audacity.

Still, as if this were not enough, today El Universal produces an interview of Mr. Granier by Roberto Giusti (part 2 and 3). No words were minced either. A few sections translated:
RG: Will the moment of the final strangulation [of the media] come?

MG: Yes. This day we will all be sorry. The country because it will have lost independent opinion and the government because it will pay a price on the long term. These criminals pay a long term price. Stalin died in bed.

RG: Then he did not pay.

MG: No, but the Russians did pay. Maybe those who strangle public opinion will not pay but Venezuelans will pay.


RG: Anderson having been transformed in a martyr of the revolution, Hill they reject the investigations that have not been already set up in the indictments? In other words, is there already a decision on that case?

MG: All of this is happening within the frame of a very irregular electoral scenario where the government uses any pretext to promote itself and reduce the adversary. There is a harassment and terror plan to bend the opposition, to make sure it does not dare to accuse, to make sure it does not start to march in protest, nor participate [in elections]. The Anderson case allows [the government] to make significant rallies, to occupy media space and to take them away from the opposition. It is not a matter of only hiding corruption and crime. In Venezuela there has been more than 6 000 summary executions since this administration reached office and the responsible cops are going around free and doing even more. The only thing novel is the electoral use that is given to that case.

RG: Is it not being attempted to criminalize the opposition by accusing of murderers a select group of its leaders?

MG: It is a carbon copy of what happened in Cuba. And it is our fate. Already Castro manages our foreign, military and electoral policies. The wishes of the government is to make many elections facing a trapped opposition that does not express itself or take to the streets.


RG: You state that Chavez leads a corrupt and inefficient government, but he still has the support of at least half of the people.

MG: The history of the world is full of such aberrations and alter the people that have suffered them complain. How many people did Stalin and Hitler and Mussolini kill?


RG: There is transition point, when you start losing popular support, but you already have enough power to sustain yourself through repression.

MG: This is what is happening right now and from this the present media show. As the government keeps losing popular fervor it looks for an external enemy to try to unify the people and then starts that repressive process, intimidating, though terror. And when people are afraid, they freeze.


RG: And is there not something similar happening? [looking for external confrontation to reinforce internal power]

MG: Yes, but he [Chavez] is not taking the big step. He has threatened Colombia, but he does not dare. He did so early against Guyana but he backed down and he lost, in his mistake, the territory [note of this blogger: that error of Chavez all but lost any claim that Venezuela had over the Essequibo region]. He threatens the USA, but here it is the US embassy and the Venezuelan one over there. He offends more Fox than Bush because he knows that Mexico is not a military menace in the way he sees things, though commercially this is going to hurt us a lot.
So there you have, RCTV and Globovision have thrown the gauntlet in the arena. Who will pick it up? The opposition leadership and carry it as a powerful electoral banner? Will the prosecutor jail Granier and Zuloaga? Will the National Assembly pass yet a stronger gag law? Any or all of the above in a show anytime soon.

At least one thing is clear now: people are not beating around the bush anymore, we know what is really going on. And some players seem to have decided to call on Chavez bluff.

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1) the video from Zuluoga can be found there, but it is a pay site. Look for "Guillermo Zuluoga..." 17-11-2005

2) ditto for the video of Granier, look for "Presidente de empresas 1BC..." 17-11-2005

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Added in proof, some additional relevant material. Miguel's take. Plus backrooms "sweet deals" while all of this show takes place in front. A financial view over the Mexico-Venezuela spat, with numbers. And a witness declaration at the US Congress on US Venezuela realtions, in Spanish and English.

Also some fascinating research work on the role of Vladimir Villegas, the pseudo ambassador of Venezuela in Mexico who in fact was a funding agency for all sort of trouble makers over there, things that woldl make SUMATE and the NED blush in shame for "pena ajena". As usual, fascists enjoy the application of double standards.

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