Thursday, June 30, 2005


The tragic and the absurd

[originally published in The Devil's excrement]

There are two news that I fail to understand. I am reading then again and again in El Universal, El Nacional and Tal Cual and I cannot believe this is happening.

First, there is the killing, three days ago, of three engineering students. The kids were coming from a Physics exam and were giving a lift to a friend. Some members of the DIM (Direction of Military Intelligence) were apparently doing a special operation to find the assassins of one of their members. One of the DIM policemen had his face covered and carried a very large gun. The kids, thinking that they were going to be robbed accelerated the car and the masked guy and the other members of the operation ( a total of 26 policemen) went after them ending up beating and killing three male students and injuring three girls. The kids were unarmed. What revolts me, besides the absurdity of the killing, is the matter of fact explanation given by the authorities. The excuse is that there was confusion and that the masked policeman should not have worn a mask. It was a mistake. A mistake!? A MISTAKE!? Even if the kids had been trained killers, what gives the police the right to shut first? Where are the human rights established in the Venezuelan Constitution? What type of democracy is one in which unarmed kids are savagely beaten and killed by members of the Military Police?

Vicepresident Jose Vicente Rangel, declared that he considered that the government performance in this matter has been excellent, because it has been very quick in taking the necessary measures to find and charge those responsible for the massacre. That, Jose Vicente, is the least you can do. Shame on you! How dare you brag about the efficiency of your government! You should be ashamed to be leading a government for which that type of “police operatives” is candidly accepted. And yes, I want to see in six months how efficient were you after all….

Which leads me to the second absurd news about an unsolved crime that took place more than six months ago: the killing of Danilo Anderson. At that time, the government also bragged about its efficiency. They were so sure of themselves that even killed a “suspect” Antonio Lopez Castillo, a few days after Anderson’s death and found all types of weapons in the house of his parents. At the time, Interior minister Jesse Chacon declared that they were pretty close to close the first phase of the case.

Yesterday, Fiscal Isaias Rodriguez declared that the Anderson killing was really a “trial” to kill Hugo Chavez. That was really intended was the famous “magnicidio” (once again!). According to Rodriguez the plan was “ to kill the President of the Republic, but first, they had to try with other important figures”. It seems that the list started with Danilo Anderson, then the President of the TSJ, followed by the Minister of Defense and finally Isaias Rodriguez himself, right before Chavez!

That is what I call an “intelligent plot”. Someone wants to kill the President and the way to go is to “practice” first with the killing of important political figures. First the means: Danilo Anderson was killed by a bomb installed under the seat of his car. That, of course, is the best way to program the killing of a paranoid president: just put the bomb under the seat of his limousine! Piece of cake. Second the “practice” killing list: important political figures are killed one after the other and what the President and the people around him would order? To LOOSEN Presidential Security, of course!

Come on Isaias! Do you really believe that Venezuelans are so dupe that they are going to buy that story?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Race differentiation in Venezuela.

[Originally posted in The Devil's Excrement]

Despite the reported elimination of the “notas en positivo” section from the MINCI web site, there is always something interesting going on in the MINCI pages. I learned from this MINCI article that there is a group of Venezuelans identified by the new term “Afrodescendientes” (of African Descent) and that the government has designated May 10 as the day of the “Afrovenezonalidad”.

In this piece of news, there is also a report on the recent International Encounter of Afrodescendientes in Caracas to which Minister Andres Izarra, the Cuban minister of Cultural affairs, Abel Prieto, as well as the president of the National Assembly, Nicolas Maduro, participated. Maduro reported on the occasion that it is possible that the National Assembly would even pass an “anti-discrimination” law.

I was very surprised to learn that Nicolas Maduro, the president of the Venezuelan highest legislation entity, would propose such a new law. There is already a law in Venezuela that protects against any type of discrimination. It is called the Constitution.

Race discrimination, Nicolas, is specifically mentioned in the first paragraph of article 21.

Readers from around the world may wonder why I am making such a big deal about this new terminology introduced by the Chavistas. I know that in many countries, the population is often differentiated based on race, language, ancestors and/or origin, but in Venezuela, the situation is, or was, quite different.

Due to a history of repeated wars and immigration waves, Venezuelans ended up being a true racial melting pot. In a single family, one may find as many variations of skin colors as types of Espressos and Cappuccinos in a Starbuck’s Café. I have had the opportunity to travel and live in several countries and I have never seen such a permeable society as the one we have (we had?) in Venezuela. Venezuela used to be a country of real opportunities, regardless of race. And if one would have to choose one single unracist country in the whole world that would be Venezuela.

Then came Chavez.

His revolution feeds on hatred and division. So he cleverly started a policy of reminding people that they were somehow “different” from each other. I say it was clever because he reached two different goals with that policy: to put Venezuelans against Venezuelans and to gain the sympathy of the politically correct elites of this world.

Why does he want to put Venezuelans against Venezuelans? Because he is inefficient, he does not know how to run the country and the only way to keep his popularity up is to divide, to create an “enemy” and to be constantly seen as the savior from that enemy. And, of course, if that comes with increasing popularity abroad, the better.

I categorically refuse to use my mixed Venezuelan background for hatred or reverse racism. To do that, would be to undermine the suffering of those that have been real victims of racism in the world. But that is exactly what Chavez has been doing since he took power. He has systematically underlined and confused race with political factors to manipulate international opinion. He even takes advantage of his own mixed racial features to make believe that his enemies are racists and that his revolution is somehow related with race.

That is preposterous. I challenge anybody to have a look at the pictures of Chavista ministers and of opposition leaders and to be able to tell, just by their racial features, which is which.

So, it is with no surprise at all, that I find out that the Chavista government is supporting more race differentiation. It simply intensifies their campaign to divide Venezuelans and to look politically correct from abroad.

The funny thing is that the use of the term “afrodescendientes” has no sense at all in Venezuela since nearly everybody is an “afrodescendiente”. We may as well replace it by the good old term that we used before:


Saturday, June 04, 2005


Who is afraid of Sumate?

[Originally posted in Venezuela News and Views]

In a previous post, I wrote that one of the first milestones that took me out of my political lethargy was the persecution of the Sumate directive. It made no sense to me then and it makes no sense to me now that the government would spend precious time and resources persecuting Sumate for receiving a small foreign grant. It makes no sense either that they dusted an old Juan Vicente Gomez article of the Penal Code and kept it there so that the Sumate directive could be put in jail for 8 to 16 years if found guilty. And, finally, it makes no sense that they react in such a visceral manner every time Sumate makes the news and that top government officials, and even the President, get out of their way to publicly voice vicious verbal attacks against the Sumate directive.

The question is why? Why do they pay so much attention to Sumate? Why are they so afraid of Sumate?

The answer is that the people of Sumate are efficient and effective, and the government is not. They are quite different from the old opposition political entities that can be as incompetent as the government. Sumate delivers and the government knows it. Sumate is Chavez’s real threat.

Sumate is composed of a particular generation of people; a generation of prepared, intelligent, dynamic Venezuelans. They represent what did not go wrong in the old Venezuela. It was a class of highly educated people that were quite aware of the social problems created by the previous generations but who had optimism and a drive to make things change. And good change can come only with a very strict respect of rights and freedoms.

When Chavez stepped in, he had all the popularity, all the powers to make use of that wonderful resource that was left from the old Venezuela. The tragic reality is that he has not even realized it yet. In what is probably the worse mistake made by any ruler in the history of Venezuela, he disposed of that class of people as non-entities and has always rejected their skills and their knowledge. His revolution has been only capable of divisions and destruction; it has been incapable to build up from what were the good elements of the old Venezuela.

First, a subtle apartheid system, never before experienced in Venezuela, was slowly put in place. Those against the revolutionary process started to feel that their views made a difference in the workplace. Before long, Chavez divisive style of government induced a head on confrontation with the most important Venezuelan industry. 20000 people were fired from it: not ten, not a hundred, not a thousand. There were twenty thousand people that were not only fired, but also denied their basic labor rights, and who are still today blacklisted from working ever again in their field. From the human side, many lives were shattered while the government managed, overnight, to get rid of millions of man-years of education, training and Venezuelan know-how.

So, a large part of the population realized that the subtle apartheid was not so subtle anymore. That Chavez meant business, and that he would not stop at anything to retain power by any means. The division of the country and the risk of a civil war were not enough reasons for him to step down. Quite the opposite, he kept and still keeps, his divisive inflammatory discourse to put Venezuelans against Venezuelans.

But Venezuelans are fighters. One must not forget that South American independence from the mighty kingdom of Spain started and came from Venezuela. And this new generation of well prepared Venezuelans found their way to fight for their rights and freedoms; they used the law, their organizational skills and their signatures. Sumate was thus born to find a constitutional solution to the political crisis.

It was not easy. The government can claim in the web page of their US propaganda office VIO that the referendum was going to be a wonderful demonstration of democracy at work, but the reality is that they fought every step of the way, by all means, the holding of that referendum. Moreover, they have blacklisted all those that signed the referendum petition and created a de-facto state of Political Apartheid in Venezuela (see What did Chavez know and when did he know it?).

That, of course, does not appear in the cheerful VIO webpage.

But I digress.

So who is afraid of Sumate? Chavez is. Because he knows that they are a mightier enemy than the good old boys of AD or Copei. He knows that Sumate has the potential to expose to the world the undemocratic face of his revolution.

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