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.

But why Oswaldo in particular?  Why pick him out of the lot of Chavez accusers?

I think it has to do with the army because Oswaldo Alvarez Paz as an ex governor of Zulia is fully aware that all the traffic that is taking place at the Colombian border, from helping the FARC to dealing with drugs cannot be done without the extensive complicity of large sectors of the Venezuelan armed forces. Alvarez Paz has been unambiguous about the betrayal to the the nation that the collusion with the FARC and narcotraffickers is, and as such he was amazingly charged with treason, among other charges, leading him to jail tonight.  We know what happened to Uson, to the unjust sentence he had to serve, which was declared a violation of Human Rights by the IACHR which demanded reparations from the Venezuelan state.  Uson is still waiting.

There are also other factors that probably had a part in this arrest although for me the hate of the corrupt Venezuelan Army, including Chavez, is the main mobile.  Alvarez Paz is the right in Venezuela.  As chavismo is impotent in controlling the country's economic collapse even a relatively irrelevant right today could be in office tomorrow, actively putting corrupt chavista officials in jail.  Alvarez Paz has retained significant name recognition from his 4th place in 1993 and if his ideas cannot bring him popular support today, who is to say in 6 months from now once the country is in the dark and hungry?

Chavismo is playing smartly up to a point, if we can accept that such undemocratic methods are acceptable.  By putting Oswaldo to jail it will force a reaction of the opposition coalition under formation.  If it supports Alvarez Paz it could be branded right wing, "ultra derecha" as they are fond to say these days.  If it does not it will lose a lot of support from people that cannot stomach such an injustice.  What will the Mesa de la Unidad do?  This might be its first real test to demonstrate its mettle if it wants to convince us that it can run a campaign, that it can stare down Chavez and force him to accept National Assembly control next year.

On the other hand the opposition might take as its own the accusations of Alvarez Paz and force Chavez to arrest them also, or at least close Globovision.  Then things would become really interesting.

I, for one, will be watching, and probably make a few decisions out of their response.


If you read Spanish you can read Alvarez Paz kind of strong declarations, pro Colombia and Pro US and Pro Market.  For example he has been reprinted in the site of Ballesteros an ex right wing military turned journalist, or his very own Movimiento Republicano which has a blog.  These days in Venezuela these type of opinions are simply forbidden and all is done to silence such voices as we saw tonight.

At any rate, another example of how democracy is dead in Venezuela, how freedom of information AND freedom of expression are gone.  In this vein I watched today the retransmission of a meeting in Aruba this week end of the Inter American Press Association, which condemned Cuba and Venezuela for their attacks to these freedoms.  Chavez government has always refused to meet with the IAPA, just as it refuses entry to IACHR and other such organizations.  But in Aruba it dare to send a few journalists form its media, in particular infamous Avila TV (should it not be called now Guaraira Repano TV?).  The poor arguments advanced by these folks were pathetic, although I wonder if a plural is justified as they used once again the tired 2002 coup excuse, where their calendar stopped even if Chavez has been destroying the country more effectively than Carmona would have ever done.  Needless to say that they were very easily blown off by the rest of the attendance who had no problem detecting the hacker nature of the pro Chavez envoys.

I wonder if that IAPA condemnation, demanding an OAS visit,  was not also the reason for the timing of Alvarez Paz arrest today as a defiant Chavez is getting ready to break with a world where his only friends are folks like Lukashit and Ahmadinejerk.  Now that he will not be welcomed anymore in European capitals........

 PS: read the AP account of Alvarez troubles as published in CBS and wonder about how come that at this point the AP almost seems like taking the side of Chavez in the last two paragraphs.  Talk of unfortunate wording....  How come we never know who writes such communiques?

PS2: Is this also part of the revenge that Chavez wants to inflict on Zulia which has been refusing his rule?  Doe she think that by exiling first Rosales and now jailing Alvarez he will gain the hearts of Zulianos?


  1. Hugo may not have any illusions of winning hearts in Zulia, but he has no objections to having their fear.

    It's the same with those speaking out. Your best bet about staying out of jail may be two-fold: first, they don't want to arrest everyone, to maintain the fig leaf of freedom of speech. They are perfectly content to cow people into submission for fear of punishment - much like putting fear in Zulianos. Second, they always aim for one of the biggest fish, and I suspect that you aren't at the top of that list. Not yet, anyways. Courage.

  2. AIO

    Even if I were writing in Spanish I would not be near the top.

  3. I know, and I also know that's partly because it's not important to you. The only thing is, there's nothing this regime has ever done which suggests to me that they might not work their way to you in time. I mean, where else have they started down a path like that and clearly stopped? They want people to give in because of fear, but they have no other way to handle those who don't.

  4. AIO

    Oh! they will eventually!

    In preparation I am considering changing my name to Yoano but somewhat it is not great sounding in Spanish...

  5. I think this is something that can benefit the opposition in the next elections because it exposes once again , beyond any doubt the true nature of Chavismo.

    People tend to lose their focus when it comes to remembering old news, like what happened to Uson and many others.Perhaps they needed a refresher.

    To see a known figure like Oswaldo Alvarez Paz,jailed for what is practically common knowledge,and said by most of the media both here and abroad, although perhaps in not so much in a precise and incisive way,shows reality in a stark way.

    Those who can still vote for Chavez under these circumstances are knowingly voting for dictatorship.

  6. Boludo Tejano8:16 PM

    For Thugo, the truth is whatever increases his power. Falsehood is whatever diminishes his power. And that's the truth.

  7. Sr. Paz has a weekly column in la Estrella, published here in Panama. His problem was noted in a short article in today's paper. The comments by readers generally reflect the view here of Chavez.


  8. Dan

    I think the view on Chavez is pretty bleak anywhere among thinking people, right or left. The military autocrat cannot be hidden anymore.

  9. Daniel wrote: "I think the view on Chavez is pretty bleak anywhere among thinking people, right or left."

    I'm sorry to say that I see no evidence of that in my reading, and I read a lot. Chavez is and has been a religion among "progressive" English speakers worldwide. They know nothing really about him because they don't read Spanish or follow Latin American politics; however, they watched the movie "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and they know that Chavez dissed GWBush at the UN and that is all they care to know.

    Add in years of propaganda and denial from Chomsky, Petras, and Lendman and what you get is that anyone who dares to criticize Chavez on any "progressive" forum is viciously attacked as a CIA plant who wants the USA to invade Venezuela, kill Chavez, and re-instate the "Oligarchs".

    I wish what you said were true, Daniel, but it is not. Chavez remains an untouchable and inviolable saint and hero to the English speaking liberals, progressives, and socialists. He literally can do no wrong.

    Same goes for Fidel, sad to say.

  10. m_astera


    i mean my words, usually.

    those people you report on are not necessarily into the thinking group, more into the feeling one, which is an altogether different matter.

  11. I love this little friendly little skirmish between M_Astera and Daniel because it brings up a point I am interested in.

    I would like to make my point here about thinking and feeling in politics.There are many brilliant people who can think well except in areas where they are too emotional.Sometimes the more intellectual folks are so divorced from emotional understanding that in areas where emotions are needed as in politics, their views are distorted by way of personal emotions and needs.Cases of shadows run amok..

    But not so brilliant people can also have the same problem or else in reverse;Cases of poor thinking interfering with emotions creating a silly bias.This can also be a case of shadows( the poorly used side of ourselves) run amok.

    This happens on both the right and the left though there is a tendency for it to occur in a slightly different way depending the side.

    I have noticed how important it is to keep extremely emotional issues out of the political arena.Unfortunately politicians instinctively know that the best way to win votes,is through moving negative and primal emotion.Primal emotion is good when used creatively for survival, but not for all the nuanced decisions needed to run a proper government.

    The world will be blessed when we can get rid of this plague.Long time from now because it depends on us.


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