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.

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