Saturday, March 27, 2010

Apartheid alive and well in Venezuela

If today's apartheid in Venezuela is not really racial it is nevertheless fast reaching equally evil proportions, all historical considerations taken into account.  That is, today it would be nearly impossible to establish a segregationist racial regime whereas South Africa had really not much trouble in creating one.  Creative chavismo, at least in those matters, is showing the way on how a political apartheid can be established, in the XXI century, under the eyes of the world which at best mutters solid condemnations that make chavismo back-down slightly and provisionally in its march toward institutional political hate fulfillment.

Today I can point out to three highly representative items.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chavez seeks open conflict

When it rains it pours.  As if the arrest of Alvarez Paz was not enough for a single week, Chavez added today the arrest of Globovision chair Guillermo Zuluoga AND in the latest development, the arrest of Representative Wilmer Azuaje because of some obscure incident in which he would have banged the table of a female bureaucrat at the division of motor vehicle.  As if you never wanted to do that yourself.....

That this is all planned is out of doubt as the Nazional Assembly has agreed ALREADY to hold a session to lift Azuaje's immunity. Apparently violating a few of the procedures to do such a momentous action.

On the hot grid spot analysis is required:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

En Venezuela da verguenza no estar preso

That was my retweet from Milagros Socorro.  Tonight I could not agree more.

In Venezuela it is shameful not to be jailed.

Globovision main stockholder, Guillermo Zuloga, to go to jail any time soon

UPDATE!!!!!!!  Guillermo Zuloaga has been released with restrictions to his movements and actions.  Apparently the fast reactions including even one from re-elected Insulza have had an effect and cooler heads within chavismo have prevailed.  So Zuloaga will not be allowed to leave the country but  for the time being will be at home in Caracas.

Notice this: for such a decision it would have been enough to serve notice to Zuloaga in Paraguana airport and bar him from flying out to Bonaire.  That they arrested him and send a special plane to take him to Caracas courts can only mean that the original plan was to jail him.  I, for once, see this as proof that international opinion and prompt reaction can work on occasion.


The news is just breaking out: on his way to Bonaire for his Easter Week vacation with his familiy, the police at Paraguana airport detained Guillermo Zuloaga, main stock owner of opposition lone remaining network media voice, Globovision.

Google leaves china, to Brin's initiative it seems. He is no Rogge

Courtesy of a tweet from Miguel I see that the much talked about exit of Google from China might due in large part to one of his founders, Sergey Brin, who could not stomach to sponsor the censorship and repression he experienced as a very young kid when Russia was still the Soviet Empire.  So he left the Chinese promised millions to try his luck in Hong Kong and see how long it would last.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oswaldo Alvarez Paz in jail

I did not want to write for a few days but this I cannot let pass.

Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, ex governor of Zulia, ex presidential candidate for Copei in 1993, was arrested tonight for expressing his opinions in Alo Ciudadano  a few weeks ago.  Exactly as it was the case for General Uson.

What did Oswaldo say exactly?  I happened to listen to the show that night.  He was a tad direct but he did not say anything that was not already collated in a myriad of press releases from all around the world, namely that Venezuela is a center of drug trafficking, that Human Rights are routinely violated, that the FARC is at home here and that Venezuela is not a democracy anymore.  I suppose that I should get ready too because he did not say anything that was not already said in this blog, or Miguel or Quico or Globovision or many an opposition politician or newspapers OpEd.

Monday, March 22, 2010

We are a miserable country and we deserve what we get

UPDATE: This morning the government claimed it was all under control courtesy of the wonderful equipment, organization, people, etc, etc...  tonight the mountain is still burning.  They do not even have the decency to shut up for a few hours....
I cannot describe my mood tonight as I learn that my beloved mountain, Caracas Avila National Park is going up in flames.  Not only that, but the part actually burning in part, so far, is one that had not burnt in a century or more, carrying vestiges of the rain forest before the Spaniards moved in, not that Native Americans did not burn woodland on their own.

That the Avila should burn should not surprise anyone as the government of Chavez has been remiss with the care of all of Venezuela's National Parks and natural areas, be them the Upper Caroni basin where the military does business tolerating illegal garimpeiro strip mining which is increasing the mercury levels of the Guri dam to letting the National Parks near Caracas and Valencia be invaded by squatters.

Oh, but Chavez is great at changing the names of National Parks!  The Avila now supposedly wears the Native name of Guaraira Repano which no one for sure knows exactly what it means or what Natives used it and for what. But someone within chavismo decided that the words described the park or the mountain or something and that was all what it took.  Just as the hour was arbitrarily advanced by thirty minutes while the government stubbornly refuses to consider retrograding 30 minutes which could save quite a lot of the electricity that the Guri is producing.

NYT consecration for El Chiguïre Bipolar!

Well, El Chiguïre Bipolar made it to a full fledged article on the NYT as a perfect excuse for Simon Romero to discuss talk of Internet censorship.  Not to toot-toot my horn, but this blog was one of the first pages to link to the rodent.  Not that it helped them in anyway, they need no one's help, but to underline that this writer knows a good thing when he sees one  :-)

And while you are there do not miss their take on Chavez announced own blog....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An annoying bicentennial? 19 de Abril de 1810

Starting last year and through 2011 most Latin American country will celebrate or commemorate a series of events that lead to the proclamation of independence from Spain.  The coincidence is simple to account for: Napoleon had invaded Spain and under the pretext of supporting the legitimate dynasty of Spain the elite of the time used this excuse to exert first a provisional autonomy that quickly became a declaration of Independence.

Emparan summoned back to the Cabildo
Venezuela was no exception, and in fact the clearest text book case, as on April 19 1810 the Caracas Cabildo forced the Spanish Capitan General to resign and leave the colony.  A year was enough to reach the official Independence proclamation on July 5th 1811.  And thus we have two national holidays to mark our Independence. 

One would think that the bombastic government of Chavez would take the opportunity to appropriate the two celebrations.  After all, such a centennial milestone is reached, well, once every hundred years only.  But no, nothing significantly out of the ordinary is planned.  No major festival is under organization, and we are at barely 30 days of the April date.  No literary competition has been offered that would attract the best pens or keyboards.  We do not know of any major gathering of LatinAmerican head of states in Caracas next month.

How come?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care in Venezuela: even the private sector lags

Chavista propaganda would like us to believe that health care in Venezuela is the best.  Well, it is not and we know that from nay sources, from the number of "barrio adentro" modules that are closed to the pitiful condition of public hospitals which are of public knowledge.  But today I got some even more worrisome news: even private medicine in Venezuela is decaying fast so even if you have money and heath insurance, well, you have few choices.

My twitter brought me though Decifrado this link from America Economia which lists the 20 bests health centers in Latin America, from private clinics to public hospitals and teaching universities.  Venezuela has only one clinic ranked, Clinica Metropolitana, which readers should remember from the travails that yours truly endured there.  In a way I am happy because this conforms to me that my appreciation of Clinica Metropolitana as a top institution in spite of all the miseries faced to operate in a country ruled by incompetence.  But look at the table some more and you will start wondering....  

Let's hear it for Cuba and the Damas de Blanco

Today the Cuban Security forces, already well known for the excellent medical care they provide hunger strikers to make sure they painfully know they are near death have decided to beat up a small march of pacific women dressed in white, including the mother of one of these noble hunger strikers.  Cowardly, as it is becoming the norm in Venezuela, they launched first public employees protesting the interference of the US in Cuban matters and ended up in brutal repression.  All was very spontaneous, of course, people coming to harass the Damas de Blanco carrying walky talkies to make sure the world knew of the odious International Intervention though a bunch of aging women.

Since it is lent I think that it should not be difficult for the readers of this blog to sign a petition which started today and already got 15,000 people.  The Castro do not give a damn but they care.  Do your bit by signing HERE.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And Internet censorship starts in earnest in Venezuela

Chavez words threatening Noticiero Digital did have their effect fast.

Self Censorship

Noticias 24, the other big forum decided on its own to stop comments in some of its posts, at least those of a political nature.  Self censorship at its best!  ND has not stopped yet though they decided to reply to the government mentioning that a comment section is an impossible thing to moderate with a site of such traffic.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Filho de puta: Teodoro Petkoff breaks with Lula over his support to Cuban murderers

I cannot stress enough the importance of this mini-editorial of Teodoro Petkoff, Tal Cual editor, published today in Tal Cual. He has been a long time admirer of Brazil's president Lula da Silva. But the words of this one justifying the murders of political prisoner in Cuba were too much, and outranked any good that Lula might have done.  We must welcome such a break up because it is a sign of things to come as the complacent left cannot remain complacent any longer in front of such a blinding reality. My feelings, exactly. Below the translation AND the original Spanish for those who cannot access Tal Cual

Filho de puta / Son of bitch [whore sense of course]

When Lula won Brazil's election a best seller was published with the title of Filho do Brasil which means Son of Brazil.  More recently, based on this book, a movie was produced with the same title and the same theme: the career of the Nordeste kid who from extreme poverty made it to the president's office, through years of hard and devoted struggle, in particular under military dictatorships.

In Colombia the post Uribe period starts, with a big thanks to Chavez

Colombia voted for its new Congress yesterday.  According to El Tiempo special page it looks like the right has an outright majority in the Senate and that with semi right parties it will be holding quite a comfortable lead.  The more so that the potential opposition will be chopped up between the Liberales, Verdes and Polo Democatico.  The only parties that would try eventually, with great care, to reconcile Colombia with Chavez, Polo Democratico and Liberal, apparently will not reach 25% of the vote together.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

And now toward the end of free Internet in Venezuela

Today Chavez officially launched his crusade against freedom of Internet.  In another heated speech at the PSUV congress where he goes to make sure they toe the line he said:
"Eso no puede ser así, que transmitan lo que les da le gana, envenenando la mente de mucha gente"
This cannot be, that they transmit whatever they feel like it, poisoning the minds of many people.

Friday, March 12, 2010

XXI century racism

We have a XXI century socialism and we can say that it i nicely accompanied by a XXI century racism. Or how else can you explain that in Cuba we have political prisoners who starve themselves to death in defense of their Human Rights, and who are, GASP! African Americans, Blacks, Niggers, whatever you want to name them. BUT, they are the people that supposedly, allegedly, according to the Castro-chavismo propaganda were supposed to be the ones for which that XXI century crapism was lucubrated?

I found this poster at Babalu and I found it very appropriate to broach a subject over which I had not written much yet.  Not that Chavez leaves me with no time but because I did not know quite how to write about it.

How idiotic can one be?

With all the ETA-FARC-chavismo talk of these days and guess what? Today at Lisbon Airport they arrested with a fake Mexican passport an Etarra of note, Andoni Zengotitabengoa. He was trying to catch a flight to, you guessed it, Caracas! The story does not tell us whether he was booked in tourist or first class and who paid for the ticket, directly or indirectly....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A strong democracy off the rubble, while another ex-democrcay shorts out...

Morales and Lugo shaking, for real!
Today Chile inaugurated its new president.  The day is not significant because, say, Lugo of Paraguay not used to earthquakes looked a little shaken while Morales of Bolivia used to quakes found it interesting.  The real significance is that in spite of a never ending quake that is shaking the foundation of Chilean prosperity democracy goes on, as planned, with all political actors holding hands to deal with the emergency.

I was maybe too optimistic when I first wrote about the Chile earthquake of February. It turned out that the amplitude and repetitive nature of the disaster also shook the response of the government, a response which seemed very good at first.  But when the GPS detects that the city of Concepcion might have moved several yards into the Pacific, well, there is some excuse to be offered for some not so adequate response.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Judicial Coup in Venezuela

The flash-point news this afternoon is the decision of the high court to allow a massive retirement of 90% of its members.  So what, you may say?  Justices are also allowed to retire of they want, no?

Not so fast.

Contrary to the US, when some one becomes Justice of the high court of Venezuela, TSJ, s/he is appointed for a number of years, not for life.  Justices are also appointed upon a mere vote of the National Assembly, without, in theory, influence of the executive although we all know that in Venezuela 90% of the Justices were appointed after approved from Miraflores Palace.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Comedy Capers in Madrid

Those of us who are old enough (1) to remember the old silent, black and white Comedy Capers must be remembering them as they look at the fight between Spain and Venezuela over the alleged ETA support by the folks of  Chavez's regime.  Silent because nobody dares to mention the real issue behind the Spanish vacillation about a case which is rather crystal clear: big Spanish bucks.

The fact of the matter is that the Socialist Government of Spain, who should have known better, thought that it could calm down Chavez, step in and pick up all sorts of juicy contracts left behind by people that had enough of chavista extortion.   As a result some Spanish interests flourished, from Telefonica through Movistar which is the main wireless system in Venezuela, to BBVA which controls Banco Provincial one of the largest Venezuelan banks.  Amen of REPSOL digging for oil and other little contracts including a very suspicious major repair for the Caracas Subway taken away from the French original builders, where apparently the Spanish alleged contractor would not have the skills to do the job (I know that from a perfectly reliable source).

Electoral reality check

This week end, major newspapers carried electoral studies about the opposition chances for September legislative elections.  As if we were in a perfectly normal country.  Even Quico went through such exercise a few weeks ago.  It seems that for once I am not the one doing the detailed electoral analysis.  Why?  Because I think that it will be very difficult to reach the September electoral date, at least as planned.

Before I continue I do not want to imply that there will not be elections this year, that a "constitutional coup" is coming. I mean that elections can either be postponed or held but for other objectives.  Though with Chavez one never knows exactly what is cooking.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Even in Internet we are lagging behind

The BBC shows a cute map of how the Net has grown world wide, indicating what percentage of the people/home/business of each country is on line (hat tip Alek).  Of course I could not resist the urge of making a little table.

In 1998 Chavez is winning his first election, we are all on the same level.  By 2001 Chile is taking off.  In 2004 Lula and Uribe are president, Chile is reaching European levels and Brazil is taking off while Venezuela and Colombia keep slowly improving.  In 2008 the three countries have rejoined world wide Internet development status while Venezuela is still in the less than 20% penetration.

And I think that the ways things are going chavismo probably thinks that this 16-20 percent is way too high.....

Tampering with blogger

That new format I was forced to move to last December might have lost me years of comments but it does bring other interesting features.  One of them is that it allows me to create up to 10 free standing pages.  One is for 7 years of post but he other nine ones are for whatever I want, though they are equivalent to a single blog post, albeit as long as I want it to be.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

"Poder Popular" and elections: this is no democracy (but you already did know that!)

For my post today I need only to translate this fabulous text of Yoani Sanchez about the coming elections in Cuba.
Yoani Sanchez electoral "summons" (1)
I see my co-citizens go as robots to the small grocery store, hang out tamely at work and slid without any hope their ballots at the box.  Their lives go by while they buy bread _smaller by the day_, cash in a symbolic pay check that does not even cover a sub-life and they raise their hands in the assemblies to name candidates.  None of the chosen ones in the current electoral process will be able to solve these everyday problems which weigh heavily on Cuban's lives.  Of the proposed ones we barely know a picture and a biography full of "heroism", where s/he states -almost always- that s/he is of humble origins.  We do not see a word on his programs or intentions after they are sworn to office.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

It does not go away, no matter how Chavez lashes out

This morning I was having my tea watching the Spanish TV, "desayunos con TVE".  Sure enough the infamous clip of Chavez yesterday demanding that Zapatero bug off, making an indirect mockery of the independent judiciary of Spain was one of the topics.  The format is very simple: a TVE anchor invites three personalities from the press or academia to discuss the events of the day.  What they said is irrelevant, what is important was their tone toward Chavez, even from the socialist sympathizers: he is a clown, and lacks credibility.  No redundancy as a great clown can have credibility, you know....

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

When right wing presidents fail: Calderon inevitable decline?

I was reading the WaPo and found an article about Mexico city making gay marriage legal.  In Mexico of  all places...  What stroke me more in that article is the amount of time that the PAN and Calderon, PAN's president of Mexico, are wasting in the issue, worthy of all the reactionary move in the US (I say reactionary because I include as well GOP bigots and California "colored" Liberals that had no problem in trashing the gay marriage there while voting for Obama).

The IACHR report

I did not write on the IACHR report earlier because I was writing an article for Index on Censorship. You can read it here though it has been quite edited: they cut it by half with the implied extensive editions. In fact one could say they used my article and references as source to rewrite the article.  Sigh...  I would never make it in the 400 or less characters world....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Can Chavez escape the fallout?

What happened to the image of the glorious bolibanana revolution these past few days is no mean feat, reminding us that you cannot hide your crimes forever.  Chavez might scream bloody murder as much as he wants, it might work at home for his more and more shrinking though increasingly imbecility stricken following, but it will not work overseas.

Chavez Venezuela: a repressive country, a haven for terrorists and drug smugglers

Today was a terrible day for Chavez. [UPDATED 1 & 2]

First it started with a judge in Spain emitting an indictment that states among other things that ETA terrorists get cover and help just as the FARC ones do, in Venezuela.  While there, they plotted killing two Colombian presidents as well as other Colombian figures. There goes the constant Chavez complaints that all want to kill him.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Electoral update: blackmail everywhere? Poltical prisoners, PPT, the Carabobo Salas...

Some people may have wondered how come I have been rather silent since last year on the matter of the September election.  Very simple: the ground keeps shifting all the time and it is too early to really predict much, even though some of my colleagues try to do so with maps and all.

However there seems to be a recurring theme in both sides: blackmail to get good positions on the electoral list, and I find it rather shocking and irresponsible in the opposition, while it is rather meaningless inside chavismo but equally nasty.

Political prisoners

If you expect Political Correctness skip this section.