26.2.05

Recording of Hugo Chavez ordering the Avila Plan

London 26.02.05 | There is a saying in Venezuela that goes "el que tiene rabo de paja que no se acerque a la candela" which can be equated to "If you live in a glasshouse don't throw stones". The regime of Hugo Chavez has issued an arrest warrant for former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez (CAP) purportedly for having ordered the application of the Avila Plan back in 1.989. As a result very many people were killed by the army.

Fast forward 13 years and hear the recording [power point presentation and sound] of current president Hugo Chavez ordering General Garcia Carneiro the implementation of the Avila Plan. It is worth analyzing the context and circumstances of both actions.

Following drastic economic measures that led to the increase in transport fares violent riots sprouted all over Venezuela although Caracas, as it often happens, was the main point of popular looting and uncontrollable pillage. Such sudden outburst was placated by CAP's administration with the Avila Plan, which is a military contingency plan created to bring public order to normal levels once the police forces have failed to do so.

Back in 1.989 I was living in El Paraiso, west Caracas, and I remember vividly the marauding mobs descending from La Vega and La Cota 905 to ransack every shop within reach. I also saw violent street skirmishes between the army and the looters.

Now compare that with the rally goers armed with whistle and flags that made their way to Miraflores Palace on April 11 2002 to demand Chavez' resignation. Can any rightful mind -chavistas don't qualify- draw a comparison between the two scenarios? I think not. Nonetheless Hugo Chavez ought to be prosecuted and arrested for he is guilty of the same 'crime', isn't he? Oh I forgot momentarily that Venezuela's Attorney General is good friends with him.

25.2.05

Another FARC leader arrested in Venezuela

London 25.02.05 | Mmmm... How many meandering rivers have we got? Probably the answer would be as accurate as that of; how many narcoterrorists are actually operating in Venezuela? So Jessy announces that another FARC member has been arrested in connection to the kidnaping of Urbina's mother. Perhaps the regime took extraordinary measures given Chavez' love for baseball. However let us not get diverted from more pressing issues. As it happens the Colombian narcoterrorist arrested, Gentil Alvis Patiño, is also registered in Venezuela's electoral role. Hey Interpol, you want to find the whereabouts of criminals? Check Venezuela's REP!!!

Ahhh George wants to kill me!!!!!!!!!

24.2.05

Venezuela's propaganda machine sending mixed signals

London 24.02.05 | The image of failed coupster Hugo Chavez is taking a proper battering these days. For the first time since his ascent to Venezuela's presidency some of the world's most powerful media outlets have been publishing articles that show a reality heretofore thought to be gross exaggerations or desperate ranting of a dislocated opposition. We have been denouncing the authoritarian streaks of lieutenant colonel Chavez to no avail. Things are changing though. The capture in Venezuela of Peru's official security apparatus boss Wladimiro Montesinos was taken very lightly by the international community. It was considered an isolated event. Then came the arrest of aero-pirate Ballestas, also overlooked and played down. But Rodrigo Granda's capture in Caracas and subsequent diplomatic spat with Colombia have placed the burden of the proof on president Chavez shoulders.

The world media's focus picked up on the arrest of FARC leader and a very clumsy official reaction on the Venezuelan part only served to reinforce apprehensions with respect to its deep and troubling connections with terrorism. As it happens Rodrigo Granda, naturalized Venezuelan citizen courtesy of the Chavez administration, is implicated in the kidnapping and assassination of Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former Paraguayan president Raul Cubas. Allegedly he had an active role in Cecilia Cubas kidnapping whilst residing in Venezuela. In sum the truth about the relationship of Hugo Chavez with Colombia's narcoterrorists has been revealed.

Aggression has been stepped up in other fronts; army raids to confiscate private properties; oppression of criticism and dissent by way of passing draconian media laws; imprisonment and disappearance of political opponents; in sum president Chavez, taking stock of Marta Harnecker's words of advice, is wasting no time in the radicalization of his pseudo revolution. Evidence about the huge electoral fraud conducted by official authorities has also surfaced; moreover Chavez himself admitted that had the nationalization plan (known as Mision Identidad) failed he would have lost the recall referendum.

A detached and observant media has been recording the events all along which has translated in articles, editorials and opinion pieces that, based on facts, are driving the inanity propagating voices of the Chavez administration absolutely crazy. The mechanisms for counteracting the odd unfavourable article used to be handled by a very small group of agents employed by the Venezuelan regime in Washington DC. However, the Venezuela Information Office's staff can barely cope with the avalanche of 'bad news' nowadays. By the time they produce a 'coherent' response to a given article five others have appeared. Lacking talent and output capacity they seem to have recourse to official help. Other equally active spinmeisters are to be found in Venezuelanalysis.com, Vheadline.com, Axisoflogic.com and Venezuelafoia.info. Save axisoflogic the members of the aforementioned websites have working relationships with the Chavez administration; Venezuelanalysis and Vheadline do not hide the source of their funding and Venezuelafoia's main collaborator -Eva Golinger- is so deep with the regime that none of her arguments can be taken as impartial observations.

Curiously there exists divergence of opinions within the propagandistic apparatchiks. Roy Carson editor of Vheadline (a.k.a. Carlos Herrera) reappeared after a short hiatus during which funds were requested to Andres Izarra Venezuela's Information Minister. On his website one can read very many opinion articles centered on the imminent invasion of Venezuela by US forces. The driving force behind the alleged invasion and subsequent assassination of Colonel Chavez is, in Carson's view, the vast energy reserves of the country. Without providing one shred of evidence Carson pounds day in and day out about the enemies of Venezuela, invasion, wars, assassination plots, expropriation of resources and other themes. However his predicament could not be furthest from the 'truth' reported by the writers of Venezuelanalysis who in turn maintain a coordinated effort to convince their readership that a) Venezuela will not sale its energy assets in the US (CITGO); b) that Venezuela has the most cordial of relationships with oil companies; c) that PDVSA partnership with foreign conglomerates in energy projects is in an ever increasing curve; d) that Venezuela celebrates and welcomes foreign investment in the energy sector and e) that Venezuela is a reliable oil supplier. The outlook, tone and manner of Venezuelanalysis' reporters are equally distant from those of Carson and his alter egos. Whilst 'chic' logos of PDVSA and ConocoPhillips are displayed on Venezuelanalysis Vheadline continues bashing the Big Oil lobby.

However, as it happens in any autocracy, the word that counts and the one that carries weight is that of Hugo Chavez. Thus whatever achievement in the 'media war' that his asinine employees mark is shattered in a couple of hours of his Sunday's telethon "Alo President". Apart from having to 'refute' the arguments brought forth by international commentarists Chavez apologists have to devote half of their time to excuse the boss. Other similarly damaging issues such as stacking of the courts, acquisitions of weapons of war and closure of franchises have painted a worrying sign in the face of the international community.

So what does a revolutionary lieutenant do? He cries bloody murder foolishly thinking that somebody, taken into account his anti-democratic preceding actions, will take pity and empathize with his void predicament. Another technique that has proven successful is that of killing the messenger. Thence the speakers of the Venezuelan government dismiss those who have dissimilar stances as paid agents at the service of imperialism, read the USA. Of course such futile accusations coming from the Chavez camp flight into the realm of preposterousness for the very same voices condemning criticism are demonstrably paid advocates of Chavez. Furthermore none of them can deny the acts for which Chavez is being criticized.

Andres Izarra, at the helm of the counteracting effort, utilizing highly questionable sources such as once guest of the regime Justin Delacour or VIO employee Andres Mateo Jarrin, denounces that the US media is waging a war whose aim is to isolate Venezuela. He fails to mention that Venezuela under Chavez has become the annoying neighbour; the country that uses its abundant oil income to destabilize other democratically elected governments of the region. But who is this Andres Izarra? Has he got the appropriate profile for such a job? Son of one of the ideologues of the 'revolution' (the Venezuelan voice of the asymmetric war) Izarra's curriculum is equal to that of any up and coming chavista; absolute lacking of credentials but infinite capacity to suck it up to the boss, a fine exponent of the perfect yes-man. Ergo can his comments and denouncements be taken seriously? Go figure...

Venezuela's Chavez on the USA's assassination plot

chavez assassination plot


London 24.02.05 | One can only mock the pathetic and unsubstantiated ravings of Venezuela's president Chavez and his minions in regards to the assassination plot that the USA is crafting to "liquidate" him. The caption reads:

Hey friends, you reckon I'll be able to save my ass from assassination with: 100.000 rifles; 50 Migs; 40 choppers; 4 corvettes; 6 c-295; 12 Super Tucanos; the FARC; the Cuban G2; Tupamaros, Bolivarian Circles and the Venezuelan army?

The reply of his 'friends' (Castro, Ortega, Lula, Zapatero, Putin, Khatami, and Marulanda) is quite straightforward.

21.2.05

Terrorism means nothing to Spain's Rodriguez Zapatero

Daily El Pais reports that the Hugo Chavez administration will purchase four corvettes (light military ships) to Spain. The €600-€800 million deal was broker during Spain's Minister of Defence Jose Bono's last visit to Caracas on January 25th. Purportedly Chavez would also be interested in acquiring six transport planes of the C-295 type.

Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was not elected on his own merits, or those of his failed party PSOE, but rather due to the reaction of the Spanish electorate to the Madrid bombing; a terrorist attack that was not very well handled, politically speaking, by Aznar and his cabinet. Zapatero, a rather gauche and inept politician, against all predictions won the race. Pundits, PSOE's Luis Felipe Gonzalez and King Don Juan Carlos included, have commented that his policies are taking Spain down the road of international alienation for let us not forget that Spain's Europarlamentarians lobbied actively for the establishment anew of laces with Fidel Castro, actions that have been criticized by widely respected figures.

Thus it is not surprising that said pathetic cartoon of a Prime Minister, whom reached office only because of terrorist atrocities, has got no qualms in accepting the extended helping hand -millions of euros that is- of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's terrorists-supporter president.

Una mano lava l’altra e tuté due lavano il viso!

19.2.05

Politics and the Church

My first schooling took place in Caracas' Colegio Francia. Up to third grade. My family then moved to the Basque country where by grandmother put me in a school of the Antonian's order. Of course I was not accustomed to the brutal way of teaching employed by the Antonian priests or "Los Frailes" as every one used to call them. My grandmother is a devoted catholic. To this day she believes with all her heart that the Church is the house of god and its representatives, i.e. priests, nuns, etc, are holy creatures incapable of harm. The first time one "fraile" gave me a beating, for misbehaviour, I remember having rushed back home to tell my grandparents what had just happened. The rage I had was so oppressive that only swear words and curses came out of my mouth, I was 8 years old. My swearing to refer to 'holy people' made her very upset and without further ado she gave me another beating for she thought I was disrespectful towards the Church and my account could be nothing more than lies. Moreover, she said that if indeed they had hit me it was well deserved for probably it was due to some mischiefs of mine. I just couldn't believe it. There I was, just 8 years old, abused by 'representatives of god' and betrayed by my own family. That day I learned that none of my arguments would ever convince my grandmother about the malicious nature of those who were in charge of my education. And so time went by. About three years ago in a visit to me grandmother I brought up in casual conversation the subject of the abuses I had to withstand during my six years in the Antonian's school. I said to her "grandma, now I'm a father and I can tell you that if ever any of my beloved children comes to me with similar stories I would personally go and beat the crap out of whomever dares to abuse them". She was shocked; she just couldn't believe what I was saying, much less my position, fully shared by my wife, in that respect.

The point is, a devoted catholic will never doubt the integrity, holiness and good intentions of the members of the Church. Historical records show that indeed the Church has had its hands behind much of the wars, conflicts, scandals, assassinations, destruction of entire civilizations, conquering campaigns and so on. Imperialism, power, oppression of dissent are, in my view, only synonyms of the Church. But regardless of how clear and revealing the evidence is my grandmother will never cease to believe in it. Such is the level of conviction, reinforced by years of sermons and unquestioning belief, that the issue is firmly anchored in rock solid faith terrain.

Equally disturbing is the stance of people that have decided to surrender their intellect and reasoning capacity to political ideologies or charismatic leaders. Someone immortalised the phrase "a lie repeated one thousand times becomes reality" however a controversial reality repeated a million times and shown to the converted and the faithful is swiftly dismissed as a lie for it undermines the faith upon which their whole system of values is built.

Thus I held the opinion that it is entirely worthless to even engage with either religious or political fanatics unwilling to begin to question the bases of their beliefs. My grandmother continues to think that I am on the wrong...

17.2.05

An image is worth a thousand words...

My previous post about Pinochet has caused outrage to some PSF. To those who spouse political ideals from the sinistra here's this image that encapsulates perfectly my feelings vis-a-vis their most powerful icon:



Chupense ese caramelito!!

15.2.05

Socialism in Venezuela

London 15.02.05 | Recent news about floods in my country have preoccupied me, so this morning I picked up the phone and had a chat with a good friend who lives in Merida. He gave me a quick brief of the situation commenting that the disaster caused by heavy rains did not affect Merida that much; Santa Cruz de Mora on the other hand has been badly affected. The Mocoties river, converted, owing to the downpour know locally as "vaguada", into a very rapid and powerful mudslide, came rushing down the valley and destroyed very many houses, the bus terminal and other buildings located in the lower area of Santa Cruz. Access to Merida is only through the high Andean road for slides have blocked the highway that connects the city to El Vigia. Fortunately the area where my family lives wasn't affected.

My friend told me that he had been watching for a number of days, over at the weather channel, how the "vaguada" formed in the Amazon basin near Bolivia and Peru and moved slowly towards Venezuela. According to him the cloud formation is very similar to that of a hurricane, the difference between the two fronts being the velocity of the winds transporting the clouds of the cumulonimbus type. Given that in similar storm fronts associated with hurricanes heavy downpours are the norm, he was quite amazed that no one alerted about the consequences that would ensue in light of the much slower pace of the "vaguada" concluding "so much for the chavista socialism and care for the poor!"

Well that sums it up quite nicely, doesn't it? We have learned about the more than $1 billion allocated by the regime back in 1999 to reconstruct Vargas that to this day has no infrastructure; we have learned how efficient civil servants proposed coherent plans to avoid further tragedies in Vargas were dismissed; we know how Chavez decided, in detriment to the benefit of his much touted and 'loved' constituency, to reject US offers of help; we can count with the fingers of one hand the new developments that have been built for the thousands of victims of the 1999 tragedy; we can affirm that the international aid received has also been stolen or pilfered or let to expire; in sum we have seen a six year long movie of chavista socialism that keeps multiplying the number of poor people; we have witnessed how ring master of extortionists is buried as a revolutionary hero; we have seen the utter devaluation and destruction of our only profitable industry; we are yet to learn about the fate of Silvino Bustillos, emblem of the growing list of the missing, assassinated or illegally imprisoned by this regime; we saw the details of FARC narcoterrorist Rodrigo Granda in our electoral roll; we remember the capture of Wladimiro Montesinos, protected by the highest spheres of power, whilst we keep counting the victims of political violence; we are yet to see the regime arresting any of the terrorists that Colombia alleges live in Venezuela; we can all feel the hatred amongst ourselves and the deep division that has fractured our once happy go lucky society; we, Venezuelans, can now be taken to another country to face 'revolutionary justice' owing to the sick infatuation of a degenerated army man whose formation was meant to help guarantee our sovereignty; that and more is what is known as socialism in Venezuela.

Whoever is watching from afar should be best advised to be extremely wary of this type of socialism.

11.2.05

Venezuela's government failed to distribute 55 tons of emergency supplies

London 11.02.05 | A reader kindly sent a report (as of September 15 2004), commissioned by the Chavez administration, which lays out the nationwide status of the health programme known as "Barrio Adentro". Shockingly in page 19 one can read the following paragraph:

2.- Para ampliar la capacidad de almacenamiento de equipos para los Consultorios Populares, se recuperaron 2.400 mts2 de infraestructura en el depósito de Las Adjuntas del MSDS; en estos espacios evidenciamos la existencia de 55.000 Kgs. de medicamentos, materiales médico-quirúrgicos y alimentos envasados vencidos, provenientes de donaciones durante la tragedia del Estado Vargas.

Translation:

In order to augment the storage capacity for equipment destined to the popular clinics, 2.400m² were cleared from the warehouse of the Ministry of Health and Social Development located in Las Adjuntas; in said location we have found 55.000 Kilograms of expired medicines, medical / surgery supplies and canned foods that were donated during the Vargas tragedy.

The emergency supplies referred to were presumably donated in late 1999 / beginning of 2000 to aid the many thousands of victims of the mudslides in Vargas.

10.2.05

The real tragedy of Venezuela is the lack of common sense of its citizens

One day before the tragedy of Vargas shook Venezuela, as I was about to get indoors after having a haircut, my sister in law came rushing out the building's entrance screaming that a child was going to fell from one of the top floors of an adyacent building. We ran to the scene, my brother in law joined us, and saw a great deal of people gathered in awe, just waiting for the worse. Neighbours and onlookers of other buildings were paralyzed. I entered the building and almost literally flew up the staircase to the apartment where the child was trapped in the seventh floor. There were already some men trying to force the door open, however, as is the case with the majority of the apartments in Caracas, two doors separate the outside from the inside: one exterior security door and one interior which in most cases is equally difficult to brake. I stood there in the hallway for a few seconds analyzing the situation; I remember thinking "the child is hanging from a balcony (his head trapped between iron bars meant to prevent entrance of intruders) I should gain access to him either from adyacent balconies or from those above or beneath".

From the brief gaze I gave to him from the street he seemed to be hanging from his hands. I reacted very quickly I asked neighbours in the same floor whether they had open balconies, they didn't; then I went up to the 8th floor, no luck there; so I went down to the 6th and fortunately the apartment right underneath had an open balcony. As I opened the windows to climb to rescue the child from falling I remember vividly the facial expressions and screams of the people in the building in front "no, no, don't do it, you're going to fall too..." I was determined, so I did climb and asked the kid to rest his weight on my lap. Apparently he was playing with his sister (also in the flat), sitting on the balcony's window grille when his little body slipped through the bars and got stuck; the only part of his body that wasn't completely outside the grille was his head and so he hanged there.

He was about 5 years of age. To my 'comfort' there was a little edge in which I placed both my feet so that he could sit on my lap until rescue came. Incredibly, once I was up there with him, neighbours started yelling again "don't let go, hang in there..." and I kept thinking "these people must be fucking stupid if they believe that I'm going to from a 7th floor..."

All the while my wife was on the street. Emergency calls to the police and the firemen were made. The first to arrive were the Metropolitan police. There was a big crowd on the street but that did not impede them to drive their patrol jeeps to the front of the building. About 20 minutes after their arrival the fire engine came; but they couldn't park where they wanted for the police jeeps were blocking the street. From where I was I could see my wife having a heated discussion with firemen and police officers. They were, just like Chavez, 'appraising the situation' in order to come up with an action plan to rescue us. A big fat fireman came up, my wife told me afterwards, with the brilliant idea of utilizing the electric stair attached to the fire engine, the only problem being that it would reach, at the most, the third floor. So there I was trying to tranquilise the boy and watching the display of sheer incompetence of both police and firemen.

About 45 minutes after I climbed, the boy's sister, who had been asleep next room all along, came out. The 'rescue team' composed by inept police officers, firemen and ordinary neighbours hadn't succeeded at opening either of the doors so when I saw the little girl (about 6 years of age) I asked her whether they were on their own; she said yes. Then I asked whether she had any keys to open the doors; she said that she could open just the one inside, so I asked her to go open it. When she did the 'rescue team' shouted at her so much and so desperately that she was paralyzed, so I called her back and told her to sit next to us in the balcony.

The parents were out of reach, no one knew where they were or why they had left the children locked inside the flat. Please note that I'm talking about 5-6 year olds.

My brother in law, who had been talking to me from the window above, said that the firemen were about to brake the door locks. Once they did, well into one hour later, they rushed in. I almost ordered them not to abuse the children with unnecessary yells; someone came from the kitchen with cooking oil to be rubbed in the boy's chest and back in order to minimize the trauma of pulling him through the bars. They then got a saw to cut some bars and got me in.

The father of the children came; he went into their bedroom and hugged them; he was obviously shocked and embarrassed. Once 'saved' I told him not to leave his kids unattended and locked inside the flat ever again for next time it could well be the case that no one would be crazed enough to do what I did.

When I finally got out of the building everyone was so relieved, I remember that very many people congratulated me saying things such as "you're a hero man, I wouldn't have done that" and my answer was "if my children ever need some rescuing I wish that someone would do it without hesitation, just as I did".

Back in our building, one of our neighbours said "I got everything on tape mate, amazing feat, well done!".

The following day the mudslides of Vargas were wreaking havoc and calls for voluntaries were being made in the media. So my brother in law, a cousin of his and myself went to the cable car station in Mariperez to help, only to find that, there too, a great number of 'rescuers', with all sorts of fancy climbing equipment, were trying to 'coordinate' an operation to save some lives up in Galipan, but I guess that's another day's story.

The point of this one is to give readers an understanding of the lacking of common sense of ordinary Venezuelans, ergo it shouldn't come as a surprise that we have Chavez in the presidency...

PS: the parents of the boy never said a word of gratitude, not even once...

Supporter of Hugo Chavez, anti-Jewish and 'homophobic'? Must be Ken Livingstone!

London 10.02.05 | Not long ago our mayor Ken Livingstone considered fitting to lend his 'credibility' and signature to a letter penned by a Tariq Ali entitled "If We Were Venezuelans...We Would Vote for Hugo Chavez". Said manifesto prompted me to call to Mayor's Livingstone office to express my concern and I also took the pain of sending him an email that to this day remains unanswered.

Ken Livingstone is the typical socially resented, double-faced, backward thinking, anti-establishment, anti-semitic, homophobic, extreme-left-radical Labour figure that one would encounter in a European political setting. His siding with Hugo Chavez demonstrates just that. Curiously he has the support of another such creature and prominent representative of Hugo Chavez in the House of Commons, MP John McDonnell.

Quite obviously these two politicians, just like Hugo Chavez, have totally forgotten that holding public office carries a certain degree of responsibility and decorum. The latest faux pas of Mayor Livingstone has been to make anti-semitic remarks against a Jewish journalist. To Livingstone great misfortune, he's as clumsy as his Venezuelan folk hero, Evening Standard’s Oliver Finegold recorded the Mayor's remarks and the tape has been released to the media here in London.

Other infamous comments of Livingstone can be read here and here.

All in all, I do not doubt for one minute that Ken Livingstone and Hugo Chavez share the same political and life principles; must certainly Livingstone would have voted for Chavez in the recall referendum, just like FARC leader Rodrigo Granda did...

8.2.05

Take 3 on Venezuela's Hugo Chavez

London 08.02.05 | Much to the discomfort of the official propaganda apparatus of Hugo Chavez, FOX News have reported from Venezuela three video clips that portray the Venezuelan president in its true light. The latest is pretty accurate [Windows media player]. That he is modeling the system of governance after Fidel Castro's there is no doubt; proof that he is fostering, aiding and abetting with narcoterrorists are evident, in view of the latest arrest of FARC leader Rodrigo Granda in Caracas; there should not be any doubts, either, with respect to his intentions to export his 'revolution', just look at the sudden purchase of Russian war weaponry.

In sum, as we have been alerting all along, the man is up to no good. Instead of explaining Chavez' absurd policies his supporters have started with the standard procedure for these cases; i.e. to shoot the messenger. What a crass error that is turning out to be for the more they defend their leader, without tackling the root of the issues denounced, the more obvious it becomes that, indeed, Chavez is a menace and has to be dealt with as such. On January 20th the Colombian government handed in detailed information related to narcoterrorists and their activities in Venezuela and to this day all we have heard about is disqualifications of the intelligence provided by high Venezuelan officials. Is that the reaction that ought to be expected from a government that alleges to have no connections with terrorism?

7.2.05

Is there true freedom of expression in Venezuela?

Just saw an interview of England's Prime Minister Blair regarding the immigration issue. The way in which the journalist was questioning him, and his policies, was very tough indeed, and I wondered "why is it that no journalist can question the policies of Hugo Chavez in a similar tete-a-tete?" For one of the first arguments that international supporters of Chavez (henceforth PSF; Pendejos Sin Fronteras) is that the virulent anti-Chavez media is responsible for the present chaos the country is in. I have often thought that it would be a truly remarkable experience, for me at least, to conduct an unscripted interview with Chavez; I would ask him whether or not were true those rumors that he used to beat the crap out of former first lady Marysabel; also about his alleged homosexual relationship with Fidel Castro -so that we know his stance with respect to women and gays in general- but I guess we will never have the chance to see that happen...

The PSF squad has got notorious 'intellectuals', mind you those eminent creatures with fancy PhDs from posh Universities that make a living out of opining about other people's problems. Most of them are citizens of 'advanced societies'. Alas the fact that Chavez prosecutes journalists bothers none of them. Seeing Michael Moore's personal attack on Bush (Farenheit 9/11) gives a good perspective of the liberties of American citizens to criticize their leaders. Has anyone seen of late a similar 'documentary' on Hugo Chavez? An insight view of Fidel Castro's ways perhaps? And then the PSF have the gall to even suggest that Bush is worse than his oppressive counterparts from down the river. I know how Castro deals with such criticism and we are just learning about his pupil's antics. Thus can any rational mind, PSF don't qualify, affirm that there is freedom of expression in Venezuela in the way we understand it here in first world nations?


Venezuela: A Totalitarian Scheme

Luis Garcia Mora* | El Nacional

07.02.05 | Let's not fool ourselves, dear readers. As a well known friend and medical doctor says, when he refers to the regime and the current moment, anyone that thinks that this is going to stabilize and its going to produce results is wrong.

None of this is permanent.

It has been six years and the country is living a subsistence crisis, where one can feel the continuous collapse of populist management. You can feel it, you can touch it: the waste is beyond belief and each Bolivar is now worth only a cent. And this in the middle of the highest oil windfall ever. You only need to see the streets, the cities, to appreciate the national disaster.

The missions, the Bolivarian units, attempts on the fly and through the grassroots to redefine a new social structure in the popular sectors where the economic asphyxia is explosive. Neither his Government nor his party work for Chavez and the human resources and the technicians of the Armed Forces have reached their limit of utilization for social politics, which implies there is a fight to establish a new relationship between the poor and the Government.

For the Venezuelan without means, there is an abyss between the whirlpool of billions and the galloping corruption that is now manifesting itself without even blushing, in the highest spheres of power. And all of the their myths to get out of their hole have exploded, which is why trapped between the orthodox path, to be honest and work hard, and the path of crime, rip offs, illegalities, jewels, shoes and fancy watches, there is no other option, but to join the Government and the missions to survive. And that is where Chávez is launching his last bet.

The machinery of Government does not work.

And once again, it is facing a phase of accelerated decomposition.

This has been a characteristic of his Government, which every once in while goes into a phase of self-destruction. Because of its waste, because of its ineptitude.

A state that has been going like this for six years.

Spain (to give an example) tripled its GDP in twenty years and is living in a state of bonanza, while here what we have is cities submerged in garbage and crime. In only two months Valencia and Carabobo appear as if the locust had gone by.

As another doctor friend says, in six years what we are going to have is an autolyitic crisis. That is, destruction: "A bunch of guys say that they are rebuilding the country and saving Venezuela and what they are doing is deepening all of its imperfections and destroying it. And not only in the physical sense, also in the moral one. How is it possible, my dear reader, that Anderson (the killed Prosecutor) has gone from having his funeral in the national mausoleum to being a crook? Where are the moral reserves? And none of Chavez' supporters dares to say anything.

They never end up showing the slightest capacity for self-criticism and recomposition in front of a public opinion which just observes it all with perplexity.

Because the conclusion you have to reach is that with this vision of a society, success is simply not possible.

As someone says, Chávez is surrounded by a Cyclopic pressure within the structures of the regime, which he can't get out of, "unless he can correct that, but if he does he will be overthrown. It is (corruption) all over the place. Horizontally and vertically"

"And in a reality where the Bolivar does not yield much, it will explode, because you can't give charity to the whole country"

A collective idea has been created that we are living a folly.

The Chavista folly. Which has lasted six long years. Seemingly infinite ones. Where each new plan is crazier than the next.

An improbable world where Ramon Martinez (Governor of Sucre) created an airline three years ago and nobody knows where it is. The same way nobody knows where the Trans-Antillean airline that Chávez created with his former presidential plane is. Lots of broken projects. Where are the vertical chicken coops? So much inconclusive and unfinished junk. How about those entrepreneurs with the projects to make tiles? And the river boats to connect to the Meta River? A fortune thrown overboard. Where are the much promised harvests? The modernization of the penitentiary system? The humanization of jails? The schools and home for the street kids?

But above all this, the crazy birth of a new state that simultaneously is a single party and a segregationist apartheid of the other half of the country, which does not agree with Chávez and his six years and his totalitarian experimentation.

A sort of fascism (or fascism). Which is escaping through the seams. And that is asking for new political-institutional experiments, to execute in a more effective way the acceleration, conscious and programmed, of a totalitarian process on society and the state.

A totalitarian spirit.

Which has been expressed in all of its nakedness, first, with the defamation case against Tulio Álvarez and Ybeyise Pacheco, which reveals in a very transparent fashion in one single action the criminalization of dissidence and of freedom of expression.

Afterwards, in the announcement by the new President of the Supreme Court, Omar Mora, that he is going to act aggressively and without losing any time to remove from the Judiciary all of those judges "coupsters" that are anti-Chavez. A warning that connects directly with the suspension by Luis Velázquez Alvaray, President of the Judiciary Commission, of the three judges which revoked the prohibition from leaving the country against 27 people charge with civil rebellion for their part in the events of April 11th (2002), backing Carmona.

But, above all considerations, the accusation against Patricia Poleo by the Attorney General/Prosecutor Isaias Rodriguez for the supposed crime of obtaining and publishing confidential documents from a judicial file.

For informing.

And that is very grave.

Because Prosecutor Rodriguez has said that " it is not the same to handle the confidentiality of sources of information that handling documents that sustain that information" and that means simply that if this nonsense is successful, investigative reporting is not only finished here but also the exercise of pure reporting.

The right to be informed my friends.

Because the question that arises is why did the Prosecutor give that jump that cuts down a freedom which is considered by contemporary political thinking as one of the fundamental pillars of a pluralistic society?

First, because there's no democracy. Or it will die instantly the moment that this arbitrariness is completed, this abuse, this madness.

And after it, because Rodriguez tries to escape from the truth about Anderson. Of the extortion network that it is said had rotted his institution. Of a dead hero of the revolution, who had amassed a sudden fortune in which he kept, in his home alone, 1.5 billion bolivars and six hundred thousand dollars.

Of a scandal Chavez has been unable to escape from, even threatening to freeze relations with Colombia, nor provoking the first economic and military power of the world.

Of a scandal that on top of that, sinks its deepest roots in the social decomposition of the regime itself.

Because with the accusation against Patricia, Tulio, Ibeyise, Uson and the signators of the decree, and taking into account the control the Government has over the institutions, with the fiscal and judiciary monopoly, what is expressing itself, dear reader, is how far the regime is willing to go. What it is ready to do or transgress, in order to impose its hegemony.

It could be all that is imaginable. With a clear message, to the rest of Venezuelans, that the best thing anyone can do is not to fight with him, not to confront him. Or what is the same, a final and definite turn of the screws (and defining one) in this scheme of tightening and loosening, and in which each time it loosens up, it leaves you tighter than before, thus allowing you to live with the minimum oxygen possible, so that you understand that the cost of fighting with him is jail. Or bringing you to trial.

A totalitarian scheme.

*Translation by Miguel Octavio.

Commentary on the newly found reporting acumen...

Interesting to see the newly found acumen of anglo-speaking reporters vis-a-vis Venezuela. Nonetheless I am quite happy to read Adams-like articles for it's obvious that the democratic veil of Chavez has fallen.

At times when all the oil producers worldwide are desperate to enter into the American market, our failed coupster seeks to sale CITGO and head to... Argentina??? Good thing that Shell returned the favour by communicating that their assets in Argentina and Chile were not for sale. As we know Chavez ordered the stoppage of crude supply to the Hovensa refinery in St. Croix (joint venture where Shell has a stake).

The virulently anti-American president of Venezuela...

By David Adams | St. Petersburg Times

Published February 7, 2005 | MIAMI - It's been one of the longest-serving and most reliable oil suppliers to the United States. But for how much longer? That's the question facing United States oil companies and the Bush administration after reports this week that Venezuela's revolutionary government is seeking to cut its U.S. oil ties. >>

6.2.05

Venezuela's Chavez takes it against McDonald's

London 06.02.05 | Hugo Chavez has taken his personal quarrel with the USA to the terrain of small private enterprise. Any person familiar with the system of franchises know that McDonald's, at least in Venezuela, operates under such mechanism. As such, when the SENIAT (Venezuela's tax office) closes 80 restaurants affiliated to McDonald's Chavez is effectively harming 80 Venezuelan companies much more than the US junk food giant. It seems to me that the man is screaming out loud for confrontation these days and it also appears, in light of the recent comments of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, that he may get his wishes fulfilled.

Chavez' plan to sale CITGO and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies

London 03.02.05 | My involvement in this business of writing
and reporting the crisis of Venezuela started in October 2002 when I
learned that Hugo Chavez had been invited by Oxford's Center for Socio
Legal Studies to give a conference, as a guest speaker, in a human
rights seminar. At a latter date I found out that the convener of the
seminar and visiting fellow of the said center, William F. Pepper,
received a handsome payment of $137.527, 42 from the Venezuelan
government via the Venezuelan Information Office in Washington DC. I
was astounded by the discovery that a visiting scholar to one of Oxford
University's colleges could be so easily, and cheaply I must add,
bribed by Hugo Chavez.

My attention has turned now to the Oxford Institute for Energy
Studies (OIES). With the precedent aforementioned ever daunting me, I
have started investigating a couple of individuals that have done/are
doing research in that Institute and currently sit in the board of
directors of PDVSA, namely Bernard Mommer and Juan Carlos Boué.

Bernard Mommer


Platt's Oilgram News reported on December 22, 1994 "fallout about PDVSA's foreign investment plan". The brief read:

"The first signs of internal conflict in PDVSA over its much
heralded profit-sharing agreements have emerged with the surprise
resignation of senior strategic planning advisor, Bernard Mommer. PDVSA
vice president Claus Graf admitted Dec. 15 that Mommer's resignation
resulted from his disagreement with the way the oil industry is being
opened up to foreign participation. But he said he didn't believe
Mommer's views were widespread or that they would affect the scheme.
Mommer, who will remain at PDVSA until Jan. 15, declined to comment in
detail on the issue, but indicated that his views had been made clear
in a paper delivered to the Fifth Petroleum Conference in November.

Hence Mommer was, already in 1994, a senior strategic planning
advisor of PDVSA. It is puzzling to imagine how such a leftist radical
made it to the senior echelons of the company. Nonetheless, sources
report that he was asked to leave and he headed for greener pastures.
Mommer is quoted as an Andres Bello fellow of St. Anthony's College by
The Times on October 20, 1993; then again on October 4, 1996. His name
appears associated with the OIES for the first time in 1994 in a paper
published by the OIES entitled "The Political Role of National Oil
Companies in Exporting Countries: The Venezuelan Case". In 1998 he
published another paper under the OIES umbrella called "The New
Governance of Venezuelan Oil". Both papers reflect Mommer's own
understanding of how commercial relationships between the State,
through its vehicle PDVSA, and foreign companies should be modeled. He
argues that Venezuela, in regards to the public administration,
possesses an appalling record of economic performance and even goes on
to admit that PDVSA was "…the only profitable, stable and dynamic
institution" [sic] of the country. Alarmingly Mommer condemns the
management of the oil giant for having, effectively, taken control away
from the Venezuela's Minister of Mines vis-à-vis energy policy and
related activities. The State has a role of administrator of a system,
coined by Mommer, as rent-capitalism (little he seems to know about
mercantilism…).

The FT Energy Newsletters - Energy Economist of June 1, 1998,
carries an article whereby it is argued that the policy of opening up
Venezuela (Apertura Petrolera) to foreign firms to recuperate marginal
oil fields, augment production and in some cases initiate exploration
activities had been a resounding success:

"PDVSA began in 1991 to put various of its marginal or low-yield
fields out to tender to domestic and foreign firms to reactive under
operating contracts. Proven reserves in the marginal fields, mainly
situated in western Venezuela, are estimated at close to 2 billion
barrels of light and medium crude oil. Together with a second round in
1993, a total of 15 contracts were awarded to companies, although one
was subsequently cancelled.

A third round of 18 marginal fields offered last year was
massively oversubscribed, with a record 240 investors queuing up to
participate. PDVSA eventually received GBP 2.1bn, more than twice what
the company had anticipated (see FTEE 188/10). The total investment for
these third round fields alone is now estimated at between GBP 8bn and
GBP 10bn. Venezuela will also benefit from foreign technology and
expertise; foreign operators now expect to boost production from the 18
fields from 150,000 bpd to 500,000 bpd, far greater than PDVSA's
original forecasts of 350,000 bpd.

Mommer, begged to differ though, he advocated from the get go that
the internationalization plan of PDVSA was flawed, unprofitable and
prejudicial for Venezuela's interests. Mommer went on to become adviser
to OPEC Secretary-general Ali Rodriguez, then back to managerial
positions in PDVSA. In 2002 Mery Mogollon published an article entitled
"VENEZUELA: 'PARALLEL' PDVSA LEADERSHIP SEEKS ALI RODRIGUEZ'S REMOVAL"
in which one can read the tactics devised by Mommer, by this time
already in company of Boué, to have the management of PDVSA removed and
replaced by a group of revolutionary supporters of Hugo Chavez. Said
group, structure created by Mommer, was formed by Adina Bastidas,
Gustavo Perez Issa, Vladimir Lazo, Carmen Romero, Yolanda Vetencourt,
Victor Poleo, Gaston Parra, Carlos Mendoza Potella, Alfreda Riera,
Argenis Rodriguez, and Felix Rodríguez.

Juan Carlos Boué

In the current version of the OIES' website one can see the profile of Juan Carlos Boué.
Dr Boué is meant to be an expert in "Microeconomic and logistical
aspects of oil markets and oil trading. Oil geopolitics. Oil and gas
taxation. Oil and development. OPEC. Political economy of oil in Latin
and North America". His professional career appears to be linked solely
to PEMEX, the national oil company of Mexico, his own country. Boué has
also written about the petroleum industry of Venezuela; a book
published in 1993 entitled "Venezuela: The Political Economy of Oil"
and more recently a paper entitled "the Internationalization Programme
of PDVSA". Boué's opinions are almost a repetition of Mommer arguments
and strikingly similar to those of Mark Weisbrot;
i.e. the whole purpose of PDVSA in its internationalization campaign
was to divert revenues that should have ended up in Venezuela's
treasury coffers, in the form of fiscal contribution and taxation, to
the USA. That is the reason why Chavez, a complete ignorant of the oil
business, keeps hammering upon the argument that CITGO is 'financing'
Bush. The chemical composition and characteristics of the Venezuelan
crude lacks relevance in the view of these experts, the issue revolves
around the unpatriotic conduct of former PDVSA management and the
evident ideological collision of market oriented method of management
with obsolete socialist utopias.

Last month I received a copy of the recent appointments of the new PDVSA board of directors
produced in a meeting held on January 19 2005. Surprisingly enough the
name of Juan Carlos Boué pops up as Vice President of Commerchamp
(subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. that sells aviation fuel,
lubricants and services related to PDVSA). It is a given that said
appointment came to fruition thanks to the good auspices of old pal and
now multitasked-PDVSA's-executive-director Bernard Mommer. Sensing a
potential conflict of interests between Boué's role as a senior
research fellow of the non-partisan OIES and his executive position at
Commerchamp, I decided to send him an email to his electronic address
at the OIES. He kindly replied, although his arguments are, in my view,
not only flawed but extremely ignorant.

From: A. Boyd

Date: 03/02/05 13.13 GMT

To: Juan Carlos Boué [juancarlos.boue@oxfordenergy.org]

Subject: Information request

Dear Dr Boué,

It is with great interest that I have read your recent paper
entitled "The Internationalisation programme of PDVSA". My attention
was drawn particularly to this argument:

"...covenants have probably become the best protection for the
internationalisation programme against the interference of the
Venezuelan government. For instance, in the hypothetical case that the
Venezuelan government had tried to force through the sale of PDVSA’s
refining assets in the United States, the fiscal agent for the special
purpose vehicle could have declared PDVSA in breach of covenant and
then proceeded to retain the whole of the accounts receivable generated
by designated clients in the United States until enough funds were
available to pay off the creditors of the vehicle (the balance of PDVSA
Finance bond issues to the end of 2001 was 3,300 MMUSD)".

Ergo according to that predicament, Hugo Chavez would be seeking to
sell CITGO in order to hedge himself against possible actions of the
fiscal agent.

Could you please confirm that indeed that is the reason behind the recent move to get rid of CITGO's assets?

Cordially, A. Boyd

-------------------------------------------------------------

From: Juan Carlos Boué [juancarlos.boue@oxfordenergy.org]

Date: 03/02/05 14.13 GMT

To: A. Boyd

Subject: Re: Information request

Dear Aleksandr:

Actually this argument is now rather passé, because
most of the debt issuance for which these considerations applied
(specifically PDVSA Finance) was retired by PDVSA in the latter part of
last year. In any case, the sale of Citgo would not have been a hedge
against the actions of the fiscal agent. To the contrary, such a sale
would have been taken by the fiscal agent as a breach of covenant, with
appropriate actions following. Bear in mind that the fiscal agent is
merely a large bank working on behalf of the investors in a special
purpose vehicle (in this case, the vehicle was called PDVSA Finance).
The reason why the President wants to sell Citgo has to do with
discounts: owning Citgo is bad business because crude oil sold under
the supply contracts that Citgo has realises, on average, 1.10 dollars
per barrel less than the same crude sold in the open market. Hope that
this is of use. JCBoué

-----------------------------------------------------------------

From: A. Boyd

Date: 03/02/05 14.18 GMT

To: Juan Carlos Boué [juancarlos.boue@oxfordenergy.org]

Subject: Re: Information request

Dear Dr Boué,

Many thanks for your rapid response. Thinking aloud, wouldn't it be
better, from a strategic point of view and taking into account the
network of outlets for refined products that CITGO possesses, to revise
and adjust, instead, the supply contracts between PDV and CITGO?

Cordially, A. Boyd

--------------------------------------------------------------

From: Juan Carlos Boué [juancarlos.boue@oxfordenergy.org]

Date: 03/02/05 14.31 GMT

To: A. Boyd

Subject: Re: Information request

The idea that one needs outlets for refined products in order to
sell crude oil is a fallacy. Product marketing is a low return business
as was, until very recently, refining. A company like PDVSA, with a
limited capital budget, will always be better off dedicating all of its
investment capital to exploration and production activities. Notice
how, until very recently, all the large oil companies in the world were
very keen to get out of refining and marketing and concentrate on
E&P. Why should it be that what is good for them is not good for
us? Furthermore, the internationalisation programme has cost the
Venezuelan people around 20 billion dollars in foregone revenues since
1982. Today, it would be possible to recoup a far larger proportion of
this loss than would have been the case in the past.

End of messages

There have been mixed reactions to the above exchange. On the one
hand some experts believe that the new policies of PDVSA are been
modeled on those implemented by PEMEX, which need be stressed, are not
to be heralded as a showcase of profitability or excellence. Others
feel that the selection process of investment banks that surely shall
broker the sale of CITGO will represent fantastic opportunities for
some to make a killing, for corruption and obscure decisions will
dictate Venezuela's course of action. To Boué's claim that "the
internationalization programme has cost the Venezuelan people around 20
billion dollars in foregone revenues since 1982" an expert replied "it
can easily be demonstrated that the six year presidency of Hugo Chavez
has cost PDVSA shareholders, i.e. the people of Venezuela, at least 60
billion dollars in nominal capital value losses".

Sources also report that there is a somewhat valid apprehension that
Boué is one of the key elements in instilling the sudden motivation of
Chavez to sale CITGO. Furthermore it has been suggested that this
detrimental action to the network of international holdings of PDVSA
may be the result of Boué's acting in cohorts with old employer PEMEX.

My own take is pragmatic. I do not see the purpose of selling
strategic assets due to unworkable supply contracts between a
subsidiary and a parent company. Neither do I understand how
refineries, which according to Boué have turned of late into a
lucrative business, need be disposed of. I firmly believe, this may be
interpreted by experts as an idiocy, that there is a fundamental
difference between "large oil companies in the world" (making their
money out of refining and marketing) and PDVSA like enterprises for the
vertical integration that the latter have can only be envied and
desired by the former. Imagine Shell or BP actually owning, without
contractual time constraints, the reserves that PDVSA has got, without
having to pay royalties of any sort to "rent-capitalist" governments.
It's like comparing a supermarket (with the accompanying overheads)
that buys its products from middlemen, to a farmer who actually grows
his produce, transports it in his already paid of van and sells
directly to the end buyer in the farmer's market at full price.

The fundamental questions that arise are; how come Mommer, a German
citizen, and Boué, a Mexican citizen, have got so much leverage with
Venezuela's current administration? Does the chavista concept of
sovereignty apply only to US citizens? How come Boué admits quite
candidly "Why should it be that what is good for them is not good for
us?" Boué is not part of us, he's Mexican, and his actions are defined
in my Venezuelan sovereignty taxonomic dictionary as treason.

What would be the OIES' stance, in light of the partisan profile of
one of its senior fellows? Have PEMEX, Statoil, Saudi Aramco, Total,
Shell, Exxon, etc., got 'autonomous researchers' at the OIES?