Thursday, April 06, 2006

A country in shock, a vigil for the Faddoul brothers

I am very busy at work these days, and with barely enough time to follow the news, and even less for blogging. Thus this morning the quick post, without time for reflection or further inquiry. Well, coming home at 6:30 and finally tuning on Alo Ciudadano I realize that the country is in shock about the death of the three youngsters, worse blow impossible to imagine for a family.

But I should have known better. When I arrived at work, my administrator was in tears. In fact she sobbed on and off all day. Yes, she was in full empathy with the mother of the three Faddoul kids. In fact I was probably one of the most serene people at work, chavista and anti chavista alike. There is something to be said for work crisis, gives you less time to worry about things you cannot do much about.

Thus I was unwillingly prepared to see the spontaneous gatherings, road blocks that got up during the day. Though not as prepared to the intensity of the callers to Alo Ciudadano, or the people interviewed in the streets. Really, the grief and anger are palpable.

The panel of Alo Ciudadano was composed of shrinks, economists and pollsters, NO politicos. The question is what kind of society we are becoming where fake police check points can kidnap people and execute them in cold blood a few days later if the ransom is not paid fast enough. And what kind of society are we where the Interior Minister (the one in charge of police and security of the nation) has not resigned yet after all the crimes made under his tenure. And what kind of society we are to produce the aberration that rules over Caracas, Juan Barreto, who found nothing else to do today but to announce that hundred of Metropolitana police are under investigation (according to him coming from the Peña years) while surrendering it to the armed forces. That is right, the “civilian” mayor of Caracas can’t wait to see military presence in the streets. Barreto should have said that if within a week the guilty party are not brought to heel, he would resign. That is what a responsible and serious and decent person says. But do not expect this from Barreto, an out of the gutter character that is only concerned about ways to stay in office by ingratiating himself to his boss.

While Barreto gave yet another infamous performance, the National Assembly wowed to press on a law to punish ransom seekers and mob. About time, no? This did not stop Isaias Rodriguez, our to abject for words general prosecutor, to come out with platitudes similar to the ones he uttered from the Danilo Anderson murder and that resulted in the brilliant failure that we all know about, where the need to cover for some corrupt chavistas, imaginary plots had to be created including and invalid Cardinal. Does Isaias think for one second that his words are fooling anyone with half a functioning brain? Does he delude himself that he is reassuring the country? No, they are all running out of their office to ask folks to avoid politicizing the crime because they know full well that the one who politicize crime in Venezuela is Chavez himself, their boss and the holder of their jobs. When violence comes from the presidential speech, what can one expect? Today, journalists covering the different events in Caracas were harassed when not killed like the El Mundo photo reporter, Jorge Aguirre, taking for his last picture the back of his assailant driving away. Each time, guys on motor bikes without license plates, fake police uniforms. Fascism.

And we are left bereft, waiting for the assassins of the Kennedy case to be punished, for Sindoni murderers to be caught, wondering if the Faddoul family will know who killed their children, while in the barrios scores of scores of humble families wonder how they will manage tomorrow to run the gauntlet of their local thieves that might just kill them for their weekly paycheck.

Today comes crashing down another of Chavez pretense. No matter how hard his guys have been busy at distracting the attention from rising crime, the Faddoul assassination is going to be for him like the bridge was for his public works record, like what CAEZ and Luis Velazquez Alvaray are becoming for his anti corruption lies. The government is crumbling from internal rot and at some point something will have to be severed, either the government or our liberties so we are kept in the dark as what is really going on in the country.

PS1: as I was typing this I saw the Nazional Guard sent to Altamira to lift the road block with tear gas. I mean, how stupid can you be? The country is in shock, people are pissed off, and they cannot let it go for one day? But of course chavista bureaucrats need to go back home… At least the crowds were already dwindling.

And if it were not for blogger down this would have been live reporting....

PS1 bis: As I revise things, at 10:15PM, the Nazional gurad is on the attack at Plaza Altamira. Lovely to see fascism on the march live on TV.

PS2: A noteworthy editorial from Veneconomy

Coup de grace

This Tuesday, April 4, Venezuela went into mourning, yet again. The kidnapping of the three Faddoul brothers and Mr. Miguel Rivas a month ago had the most inhumane denouement possible, the cold-blooded murder of these four innocent victims.

Sadly, vile murders of this type have become everyday occurrences throughout the country, claiming victims from all walks of life regardless of class, sex, race or age. Insecurity abounds everywhere; there is nowhere in Venezuela where people can feel safe. Crime is a threat that is everywhere, from the poorest barrios to the most exclusive neighborhoods. Criminals hunt down their victims on streets, avenues and freeways and in their homes, offices, and churches, under the indifferent –and even conspiratorial- gaze of the authorities of the day.

While it is true that crime has always existed and is a scourge that is spreading the world over, it is also true that, in Venezuela, it has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past seven years. The homicide rate jumped from 4,000 in 1998, according to unofficial figures (the official figures are practically unrecognized) to 11,000 in 2005.

This uncontrolled violence has been unleashed thanks to years of indolence on the part of the authorities in energetically attacking and punishing crime. It is the result of impunity and of the aggressive, divisive discourse favored by the leaders of this political process being implemented by President Hugo Chávez. This violence, which takes the form of muggings, armed robbery, kidnappings, and murders, is the consequence of the de-professionalization of the police forces and the infiltration of individuals with criminal records among their ranks, of the government’s flirtation with irregular groups in neighboring countries, and of the widespread corruption in the legal system, to cite just a few of aberrations in Venezuela’s system of justice and security.

The outcome of this abysmal handling of the security system could hardly be other than the events of the past week. Seven people executed in circumstances in which, one way or another, members of the police were allegedly involved, hundreds of murders in poor neighborhoods throughout the country, plus some thirty kidnappings that are currently being investigated and hundreds more “express” kidnappings that never hit the headlines.

In Venezuela values and priorities have been turned upside down. Crimes of political dissidence and opinion are punished and huge sums of money are used to arm the country for a possible war with the United States -a possibility that exists only in the minds of the President and his entourage-, while the true criminals walk free or associate with government personalities and groups of the civil population who support the government are armed. Sadly, these political decisions are the coup de grace for the security of the man in the street.

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