Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sleazebag of the week: Jose Albornoz on Sumate

During the last electoral process I used to give awards such as sleaze of the week. I suppose that with the presidential campaign starting I will have the opportunity to grant again such awards as a few politicians will crawl from under the rocks they usually live to garner favor with the potential winners. Thus today I renew with the habit except that for once I should have been harsher than usual in the title of my award, scumbag comning to mind.

The other thing is that such awards are an opportunity to describe to folks the vileness of some politicians in Venezuela who otherwise would not deserve a mention anywhere. But these low life pols are now in the limelight because Chavez lifted the rocks under which they lived, almost literally.

Jose Albornoz is now the leader of the PPT (Fatherland for all). This PPT had a decent origin when it was born from a break up of the Causa R, the genuine social movement that almost carried the day in 1993 with Andres Velazquez. Contrary to Chavez adventure, the Causa R was a true social movement, an organization of trade union, real leftists, political activists, where Andres Velazquez was only a primus inter pares. But then came Chavez and this one turned into shit the PPT with that perverse reverse Midas Touch that characterizes him.

Today the PPT is the biggest placement agency in the Chavez so called coalition. Event though the PPT is the junior partner, by very far, of the ruling regime it has managed to place an astounding number of ministers and public employees. How has it managed that? Well, in 2000 there was a break within the PPT as a portion refused to follow the reelection fo Chavez. But those that stayed with Chavez (at least 4 ministers if memory serves me well) supported Chavez, walking on hot embers if necessary. Such abject devotion, not even seen within the very own Chavez MVR did pay off. One of the surest way for you to get a public administration job is to have a PPT contact, in particular in PDVSA.

Today the leadership of the PPT falls unto Jose Albornoz. It is difficult to describe objectively the character. First, I have a strong problem with he way he speaks, his accent, a mellifluous but nasal blend that has the power to hurt my ears. If I go into the words he utters, it gets worse. Conceiving of a meaner individual whose every words are designed to diminish, criticize, humiliate, patronize, whomever is in front of him is difficult. And do not think that he reserves his bilis against the opposition only: when Albornoz is crossed by a chavista who tries to get a good position ahead of him, he can be even meaner than he is when he attacks the opposition. An example here of intra chavismo squabbling involving Albornoz defending his protegés.

In other words, by his presence and his voice and his lack of intellect and ethics, Albornoz reminds me of some of these small lap dogs of cartoons, always yelping, always trying to bite. I suppose that this serves well his master El Supremo who has such contempt for the PPT and yet works closely with them, showing what a consummate manipulator and enabler Chavez really is.

The reason why I award today’s prize to Albornoz is, I could say, a recognition of his long and distinguished career as “jala mecate” of chavismo. Translating jala mecate is difficult, it blends the meaning of sycophant, unethical, perverse, and amoral flatterer in different shades that cannot be properly rendered in words, only under the pen of Zapata cartoon’s over at El Nacional. The actual excuse for today's award is his latest action against Sumate.

Albornoz has decided from the National Assembly to destroy Sumate once and for all. Demonstrating of course that Sumate is the main opposition threat to chavismo, but such subtleties are lost on that crowd. Any form of “crimes” is imagined or attributed to Sumate from the august legislative palace. But so far none has been very productive. Until today. See, a few months ago a restrictive law was passed to strengthen the currency exchange control, a law that among other things forced people to declare when they exchanged or carried more than 10 000 USD. The USA has a mild version of it, in that you must declare to customs if you carry with you more than 10 000 USD when you arrive in the US. The difference is tha the US only wants you to declare and demonstrate that it is your hard earned income and not some drug money laundering. In Venezuelan law it is almost a crime to own 10 000 bucks even if it is your life long savings. But that is the mentality of the day even as public “servants" are looting the country’s coffers.

Anyway, Albornoz has found out that the declared 107 000 USD received by Sumate did not go through the CADIVI currency system. A mistake for Sumate without any doubt, and thus a little bit like nailing Al Capone on sales taxes. But that will do for Albornoz who in his little bird brain thinks that the Al Capone now occupying Venezuelan ministries are just fine and decent guys.

Because this is what is so irksome, so vile in Albornoz latest moves. Albornoz is shocked, shocked! that Sumate has not declared its 107 000 USD. He tells us that "This is worrisome because matters are more delicate than what we thought".

But Albornoz has nothing to say about the millions and millions of USD that leave Venezuela either as unjustifiable foreign aid or wasteful travel expenses or downright political support to foreign polticians in a way the NED would never dare! Should we remind him to check into Venezuelan planes carrying Evo Morales here and there? Heck, the silly trip of Chavez to Belarus costs several folds what Sumate received from the NED jut because of all the unnecessary personnel that Chavez carries along with him. Not to mention how useless for Venezuela is a trip to Belarus, the only interest being Chavez personal glory.

But this is how fascism changes a country and its people, Albornoz is this week the poster boy on how the moral compass of people is lost when regimes like chavismo fall into place, regimes that force you to say and do unspeakable things to please the beloved leader, losing along the way your human condition.

At least we have a small consolation: such incident shows us how scared of Sumate chavismo is.

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Update: Miguel instructs us that Albornoz is wrong, that when Sumate did whatever it did, it did before the law invoked by Albornoz applied. Then again at the National Assembly I am sure they could revote it and make it retroactive. I am pretty sure the TSJ would not find it unconstitutional.

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