Sunday, November 05, 2006


Spinning the Official Story after Ramirezgate.

Originally published here

When something of the magnitude of Ramirez’s speech takes place, the Chavista spin machine is usually quickly activated to clean the mess. This time they’ve got a tough job. The speech comes out just one month before the Presidential election and few weeks after the start of a new “Chavez-loves-you-and-wears blue-shirts” campaign.

For a few hours after the speech hit the media, people were wondering what would the government do with such a hot potato. Would Ramírez be asked to resign? Would the President and his party support him, or would they detach themselves from it like they did with Barreto’s speech? Would the Attorney General accuse the Minister? Would the CNE impose sanctions?

As I said, the job was not an easy one. You all watched and read what Ramírez said, how would you try to twist that or provide a new interpretation?

The spin machine was, as usual, activated by the Vice President, José Vicente Rangel who, like it or not, is the Machiavellian brain behind the Revolution. He was the first to equate the transmission of RR’s speech with April 11 and the oil strike of 2002, even if the speech had nothing to do with it (except the part where RR says that he already fired 19500 workers and if needed, he’ll do it again). I would really like to invite the readers to go ahead, click on the link and read what JVR had to say on the speech. One has to marvel at his capacity to try to twist the situation.

Once JVR had spoken, we knew of course that the Chavista Politburo had decided that Ramírez was safe.

The next step was Chavez himself.

This time, he said that PDVSA was in a state of Revolution and that all workers had to accept that, and that, otherwise, they should leave the Company. He asked Ramírez to repeat his speech 100 times if necessary and he made use of one of his favorite themes: a coup was being prepared. He then recalled the events of April 2002, said that he would ask the Attorney General to investigate and threatened the TV stations with removing their licences for having aired the 14 minute video.

After Chávez, it was the turn of poker-face Minister of disinformation William Lara who literally said that “from any angle”, “there is no element” that can be qualified as an electoral campaign. And then he added, as if that was the theme of RR’s speech “All those that work for PDVSA have the Constitutional obligation of following the oil policies drawn by the Government”….who said they didn’t? Is that a diversion spin or what?

Things had to be tough for the government because spinner in chief Rangel felt it was necessary to talk again. This time it was a come back to the nicer sweeter face of the Revolution, guaranteeing a dialogue with all sectors after December 3. He went on, however, with the fact that the government had intelligence information about some type of propaganda, similar to the one that “was used four years ago”. Again, the government was trying to recall the events of April 2002 and associate them with RR’s speech.

If Rangel spoke twice, Chávez had to do likewise. He talked again about a plan to sabotage the Presidential elections and recommended to “the Devil to tie up his mad men because he will regret it”. He reiterated his support to RR and asked him to study what to do if the oil industry was destabilized.

Today El Nacional reports that The Fiscalia (Attorney General office) considers there was no offense or crime in Ramirez’s speech. And, if you still were not convinced, the now ever present José Vicente Rangel reiterated that what RR said was a theme about “The security of the State” and that no crime was committed.

So, you did not hear what you heard. This was never about political discrimination. This was never about the use of a Public entity in the Presidential Campaign. This was never about political freedom for PDVSA workers. And please recall that RR was just talking about security matters.

Ah! And if you happen to protest, then you are a potential coupster that wants to destabilize the government. Finally, if you are a TV station that transmitted the video, then you risk that your licence is not renewed.

Hmm, I wonder why? Wasn't Ramírez just talking about a State Security issue?

Reporting from Cyberspace,

Jorge Arena
The Devil’s Most Distinguished Ghost.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


On the violence at the UCV and the beginning of a new Machiavellian plot.

Originally published here

This happened a few days ago. Just read on so that you can judge the two sides of the same story…

On October 27, El Nacional (see here) reported that there were tear gas bombs and shots the previous day at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), which is the largest and most important University in the country. The events happened after the attack on a march organized by Rosales’ supporters to promote going to vote on December 3. According to Stalin Gonzalez, the president of the Federation of Students, men in motorcycles, wearing red T-shirts from the Alcaldía de Caracas, started throwing artifacts to the marchers. One of them was shooting, then got into the School of Social Work where there were about 40 people armed with guns.

Narvaez, the vice-Provost of the institution was protesting on TV the presence of the armed individuals and saying that the DISIP (police) had not come despite being called by the authorities. While Narvaez was on TV, a group stopped a truck close the University, showed a gun to the driver and told him to stay quiet because they were the government. When they arrived at the entry of the University they asked the driver out, got themselves out of the truck and throw a Molotov cocktail to the empty truck.

Juan Barreto, the major of Caracas, rejected the accusation of promoting violence. He said that the Metropolitan police and the DISIP always give protection to the “supposedly unity candidate” and that “we ask our people not to get into violence and we do not promote it. We have no fear because we know that Chavez will win the Presidency and that the opposition is acting irrationally when confronted with its failure”. And then, in his usual charming words he said that “the coupsters are giving their last kicks”.

I wondered which coupsters was he referring to….

So this curious ghost decided to check out the “official news”, published by the government (see here). To my surprise it took me a while to realize that VTV was referring to the same news.

The events have become a “warning about a plan to destabilize the Venezuelan Universities”. The article says that according to “University leaders”, there is a plan devised by University authorities and students to “heat up” the Universities. The plan is rooted on the opposition desperation for the lead of Hugo Chavez in the forthcoming elections.

Interesting, in the VTV article there is not recount of what was going on, no Molotov cocktail, no truck in fire, just the opinion of the “University leaders” of what the plan is and why.

Also interesting is the corollary of the whole incident expressed by Hector Rodríguez, one of the student leaders interviewed by VTV. He said that there is a pretension of University support for Rosales taking the UCV as a pattern without accounting for educational centers like Universidad Simón Rodríguez, Bolivariana and Unefa. The UCV, he said, is no longer the “alfa” and “omega” of the academic circles in Venezuela.

The article then explains that there is a plot to initiate violence at the Universities for December 3 since it is well known that Chavez will win with 50 to 60% of the vote.

At the end, the article reminds the reader that the President proposes a deepening of the socialist doctrine during his mandate whereas Rosales is prone to neoliberal concepts and a rapprochement to the United States.

Quite a peculiar way to recount a violent event.


Update. On the 28th El Nacional reported that a preliminary inquest identified the individuals that attacked the march as students of Sociology, armed groups from El 23 de Enero and students from the Universidad Bolivariana.

Reporting from Cyberspace,

Jorge Arena

Distinguished ghost blogger.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Sugary humor

Originally published here

This was too funny not to report. A Chilean producer of artificial sugar made a commercial with an image of Bush kissing Chavez. There was an oil field in the background and the slogan: “We got the impossible, we reinvented sugar”. El Universal reports that the new appointed Venezuelan ambassador in Chile was not amused and made a formal complaint.

No complaints from the US Ambassador. The Americans seem to have a better sense of humour.

Reporting from cyberspace,

Jorge Arena

Invited Ghost.

Note: Since I cannot upload the picture in Miguel’s system, you can see it in Arena Space.

Friday, September 15, 2006


On Hugo Chávez’s campaign proposals, foie gras and a planet called Iris.

Originally published here

Dear readers, after the harsh treatment I received in Miguel’s blog and my wife’s bugging complaints about my intensive ghost blogging I decided to retire for a while. But now that I have heard that Tom Hanks Daniel has been lost in the jungle of complicated European airports, I will help him once in a while, at least until he finds his way out of Paris Airport.

Daniel, if you read this, I hope that I will get a nice tin of foie gras in return, just go straight to the first floor, right beside the silk scarves store where they also sell the huge brie cheeses, you cannot miss it.

A tin of foie gras … 50 Euros, a devoted ghost blogger with a tomatoes section….priceless…

Yes, yes, they do accept Venezuelan Master Cards.

Back to the post…

The presidential campaign is now in full swing. Rosales has been visiting the barrios, being bashed in Quico’s blog, defended in the Suffolk vampire blog and, more importantly, being attacked twice by what looked like a bunch of Chavez’s followers.

Chávez, on the other hand, after visiting Beloroussia, Angola, Cuba, Siria, Iran, Cuba, The North Pole, Tibet and Cuba came back to La Havana…sorry, to Caracas, with some interesting ideas for his presidential campaign. I have been compiling his proposals to offer them to the readers. Here they are:

1.- He called for a Revocatory referendum to remove Manuel Rosales from the Zulia government office. This is quite an interesting and creative initiative, it is exactly the type of proposal everyone was waiting for, in particular the Zulia voters that were the only ones in Venezuela to elect over and over a non-Chavista governor.

2.- He called for a Revocatory referendum in 2010 with a question on revoking his mandate, and another question on allowing eternal reelection. Daniel had an interesting insight on the issue (see here) whereas Bruni got a link on what Chávez really said and explains the tricky details of the proposed “double jeopardy” (see here).

3.- He asked his followers to unify into a single party that will be the party of the people of Venezuela. He received the approval of his mentor Fidel who said that Chávez created an “indestructible” model. His devoted fan Mari Pili Hernández already has a name for the party: “Partido Socialista de Venezuela”.

5.- He suggested that on September 11, the WTC was bombed and that there was some kind of conspiracy behind the terrorist acts that should be looked into…I guess that the planes we were watching on TV that day were really an Oliver Stone film.

6.- He led a ferocious battle for a spot on the UN security council that thanks to the new game “Where in the world is Hugo Chávez?”, Venezuela has almost won.

7.- I cannot find anything else…yes, I know I am a lazy ghost but frankly, I have tried hard and I am running out of Chavez’s promises…


Mr. President, did you realize that Pluto is no longer a planet? That the oligarchy of the previous solar system is gone forever? Have you heard that there is a small planet called “Iris”? Yes, Iris… Hugo? No, there are no Hugo planets…not yet…

…so now we got the next proposal for the Venezuelan Presidential Campaign!

Reporting from Cyberspace,

Jorge Arena

Your friendly ghost.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


On the formal and informal observations of the REP by the Carter Center.

Originally published here

Many of you have been asking what I have been up to. Life has not been good to this ghost. First, my favorite soccer team was eliminated from the World Cup. Then my tocayo (probably a distant cousin) was no longer the manager of the team and next, my tomato plants were not growing as expected.

The good news is that Miguel has been getting so many complaint messages about my disappearance that he has begged me to please do something about it because not even Gmail can contain so many emails.

So, in spite of the fact that I swore not to come back until I was allowed to open the tomato section of this blog , I decided to please my fans, get momentarily out of retirement, and accept Miguel’s invitation once again.

The day started in a cheerful way since I am always happy when I learn that old friends are coming back to visit. In fact, browsing the dayly news this morning, I came up with this news. You read it right: it says that the Canter Center was coming to Venezuela to observe the REP audit that is being carried out by the Universities invited by the CNE. I was so happy to hear that the CC was coming to town that I quickly went to the CNE site and I got confirmation of the news (see here).

The press release from the CNE indicated that the Canter Center invited themselves in a letter addressed to Tibisay Lucena, the “new” CNE President. And that Lucena had accepted the CC as an observer.

But that was this morning just before I left to do errands for my tomato plants. When I came back home this afternoon…surprise surprise! El Universal reported that the Carter Center is not coming as a formal observer. In a Press release, the CC said that they should have been formally invited by the CNE with enough time to send their personnel, which was not the case. It seems that their representative in Venezuela, Héctor Vanolli, is going to informally hang around the audit, but that cannot be considered a formal observation.

So my first observation is that I am happy to learn that one can observe things two ways: formally or informally. In the formal observation, one is formally invited to get a seat and observe. In the informal observation, one is informally invited to get a seat and informally observe what is going on.

What? You don’t see the difference?

Of course there is one difference (like in the ACE commercial). If the informal observer finds something wrong, it does not count, because it is informally wrong. Not so when you are formally invited to be a formal observer, in which case whatever you observe as wrong is then formally wrong.

Clear, isn’t it?

But now, the real question. What happened between this morning and this afternoon?

If you got any formal or informal ideas, you are welcome to post them in the formal comment section.

Formally reporting from Cyberspace,

Jorge Arena

Ghost Blogger Emeritus.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


The opposition primaries.-Súmate makes a proposal!

Originally published here

In an unprecedented show of democratic openness, Súmate is proposing to organize the primaries to find the candidate that will represent the opposition in the forthcoming Presidential elections.

Maria Corina Machado and Ricardo Estévez exposed the rules and the logistics envisioned by Súmate to choose the candidate.

I hope that the CNE and the “Aquelarre” of government officials read them so that they can understand what an OPEN, CLEAN, FAIR and DEMOCRATIC process really means.

The presentation in Power Point can be downloaded from Sumate main page.

Here is the main proposal for the election:

1.- All those registered in the REP as of March 2006 can vote in the Primaries

2.- The elected candidate will be the winner by simple majority

3.- The voting will be MANUAL and the scrutiny will be PUBLIC

4.- All the physical logs will be destroyed.

5.- The whole country will be covered with 3000 centers

Note that Súmate is proposing the destruction of the log material to avoid any type of blacklisting like what happened with the signers of the Revocatory Referendum.

Here is the schedule:


CAMPAIGN: MAY 21st to JULY 14, 2006



Súmate is also asking for volunteers for the organization. If you are interested, here are the telephone number and the email:

(0212) 715.28.15

voluntarios at

So now, we all know what was the “Aquelarre” Willian Lara was talking about! Súmate was preparing a demonstration of democracy in action, that the government officials are not even able to understand.

Reporting from cyberspace,

Jorge Arena
Democratic Venezuelan and Distinguished Ghost.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Willian Lara and Súmate's "Aquelarre"

Originally published here

Everytime I see the MINCI home page without any picture of Chávez, I get nervous. I cannot help but wonder what the heavy government weights must be concocting when Yo El Supremo is not in their front page. The explanation might be very simple, the President might be resting for a few days, but, noneless, I always wonder what is going on, in particular when neither the Vice President nor Nicolas Maduro appear in their pages.

My ghost experience has taught me that nothing is irrelevant in the Chavista kingdom of Venezuela.

However, I was relieved to see that at least William Lara, the new Minister of Information was there today, in prime space. This time, the object of his speech was Súmate. He accused the organization of starting the “mediatic machine gun” against the committee that is selecting the new members of the CNE. The article specifically says:

“invitó a venezolanos y venezolanas que se oponen al proceso de cambio democrático liderado por el presidente Chávez que no hagan oídos a este aquelarre montado por Súmate, que probablemente tendrá eco mañana en otros portavoces de la política de Bush, y que se mantengan leales a sus convicciones y prácticas democráticas”.

“Invited Venezuelans that oppose the process of democratic change led by President Chávez not to pay attention to the coven that Súmate is putting into place and that will surely have an echo tomorrow in other spokepersons of Bush’s politics and be [the Venezuelans that oppose..] loyal to their convictions and democratic practices..”

So this Venezuelan and curious blogger was pretty curious about what this “aquelarre” was all about. I looked it up first in the Real Academia and found the following definition:

  1. m. Junta o reunión nocturna de brujos y brujas, con la supuesta intervención del demonio ordinariamente en figura de macho cabrío, para la práctica de las artes de esta superstición.

So it seems that the aquelarre is a night meeting of witches with the Devil’s intervention….

So what triggered Minister Lara to use such a charming term against Súmate?

Well, the commission in charge of electing the new CNE is about to provide the definite list in a week or two and the rumors around the National Assembly say that three of the current officials will be re-elected: Oscar Battaglini, Tibisay Lucena and Oscar León. Súmate has objected their names because they say that those individuals did not provide an account of their management or the balance of their budget during the years as CNE officials.

Now, this ghost blogger disagrees for the first time this year with Súmate. They are absolutely, totally wrong to be objecting the term of these three officials based on some trifle like lack of transparency and of accountability! I take advantage of this ghost post to make a formal complaint against Súmate’s objections of those candidates.

In fact, this ghost blogger strongly objects the candidacy of those CNE officials as well, but not because of the mild reasons provided by Súmate, but because of their potential responsibility in handing to the government the personal data of millions of Venezuelans that led to the Tascón list, the Maisanta database and the Batalla de Santa Inés software that has created a political apartheid in Venezuela.

I want these guys to be investigated first. Did they approve the handling of the personal data to the Maisanta campaign? Did they know that the data was being used by Tascón in a public web page? Did they know that the Maisanta command had elaborated a database and a program to be used for political profiling and blacklisting of Venezuelan citizens? Did they protest when they knew of the use of the data? Did they order an internal investigation? Did they realize that the rights of millions of Venezuelans were being violated?

I want to get the answers to those questions first before these guys ever get to be nominated again for the CNE, Mr. Lara. So thank you very much for reminding me that I should be loyal to my democratic convictions. I agree with you, Súmate is wrong this time, but because they are being way too mild.

And, BTW, dear Minister, many thanks also for helping me improve my Spanish vocabulary. I now have a new precise word to ask you the following…

What type of Aquelarre are all the President’s man putting in place these days?

Reporting from Cyberspace,

Jorge Arena
The Devil’s Distinguished Ghost.

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