27.8.10

Crime in Venezuela: 21,132 homicides in 2009

Thanks to the kind soul that sent me the official crime report, made by Venezuela's Institute of National Statistics (INE), I can see that whoever wrote about it at El Nacional, seems to have gotten the numbers wrong: the following table, from the report (page 67), shows that 21,132 homicides took place in Venezuela in 2009


The report also shows (page 157), that inside Venezuela, that is away from FARC infested border areas, the homicide rate is 83 per 100,000:


21.8.10

Caracas: Rotten Town

Thanks to Juan I found out about an amazing video, by Venezuelan singer Juan David Chacón, known in the music world as Onechot. There's very little to add to his extremely powerful video, aptly entitled Rotten Town, without a doubt the best artistic description of post modern Caracas, and the amorality of its inhabitants, I have ever seen:


Rotten Town from El Flying Monkey on Vimeo.

Alas, as with everything else in Venezuela nowadays under deranged fascist Hugo Chavez, the video above has triggered the ire of some chavista judge somewhere, and Onechot will now be prosecuted. As per investigating the perpetrators of 19,133 assassinations in 2009, chavista judges, or indeed any government official, are yet to declare when, or if, this will start.

19.8.10

Censorship in Venezuela

Texto de medida cautelar: "Se prohíbe al diario El Nacional la publicación de imágenes, informaciones y publicidad de cualquier tipo con contenido de sangre, armas, mensajes de terror, agresiones físicas, imágenes que aticen contenidos de guerra y mensajes sobre muertes y decesos que puedan alterar el bienestar psicológico de los niños, niñas y adolescentes que tienen residencias en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, hasta que se decida el fondo de la presente acción de protección". UPDATE: even hard core supporters of Hugo Chavez are against censorship.

14.8.10

On the amorality of Venezuelans

A great exchange of ideas took place the other day in the comment section of an article published by Miguel Octavio. Miguel was basically pondering on the difficulties of explaining to foreigners the reality of our country, as cited below:
Talking to friends in the US, it is not easy to explain 11 years of Hugo Chavez in a short conversation. There are basically three questions that everyone asks or perhaps that no answer can satisfy their curiosity:
-How did Venezuelans let this happen?
-How could the system allow it to happen?
-How can Chavez allow inefficiencies and doesn’t he see the numbers that show his policies fail?
 I am going to quote myself, in replying the questions above:
Interesting answers above. I’d say I lean more towards what Daniel and to an extent Kepler said, than the rest. I’ll venture my opinion, is Chavez’s actually:
Lo que mis enemigos no entienden es que Chavez no es Chavez, Chavez es el pueblo de Venezuela.
As someone who was born in Venezuela to foreign parents I can say that the quote above encapsulates to a high degree the crux of the matter. Education is not the panacea, we all know highly educated Venezuelans who are eager to go into any shoddy deal for self gain regardless of morality. For can anyone say that Gustavo Cisneros is not an educated man? We all know that non educated Venezuelans will behave exactly the same way. For can anyone say that Nicolas Maduro is an educated man? So to me is not about education, but about morals. Morals that, as a collective, have never been there. Ever: “moral y luces…” For Cisneros, and Maduro share the same ‘morality.’ Rosales and Miquilena, Borges and Petkoff, Caldera and CAP, and all the previous with Chavez. It is an opportunistic bunch out there, and the crux of the issue is that the old guard can no longer enjoy the life, the abuse of power, the corruption rackets, etc., that they did in the past. That’s all. It was the same in Bolivar times, it was the same in Gomez times, it is the same today, and it will be the same in the future.
Venezuelans are one of the most unprincipled people in this planet, unprincipled in the orthodox sense, for the reigning principle is “quitate tu….”, “que me pongan donde…”, “que alguien resuelva…”, etc. There’s no higher principle, no moral compass, no self respect, as someone said above. Venezuelans, in general and regardless of education levels, don’t give a fuck about their country, their society, their community, their future, their reputation.
And our problem, in this blog, as well as in Daniel’s, FT’s & Juan’s, etc., is to think that we are representative of society. We do represent, a tiny fraction, of people. But it is not the elitist, highly educated bunch that we represent, for I have never been elitist, nor what people would consider highly educated (not only very recently anyway). What we represent is the tiny number of principled -in the orthodox sense- Venezuelans. Tiny number that is, in the nought point something percentile I’d say. 
PS: in answer to your questions,
-How did Venezuelans let this happen? Because they are Venezuelans.
-How could the system allow it to happen? Because it’s run by Venezuelans.
-How can Chavez allow inefficiencies and doesn’t he see the numbers that show his policies fail? Because he is Venezuelan.
This week we have witnessed a few events that reconfirm, if that was needed, the amorality discussed above. On the side of chavismo, four people working for Chavez's hegemonic propaganda project -Vanessa Davies, Andres Izarra, Mario Silva and Walter Martinez, went to Cuba to "interview" dictator Fidel Castro about the possibilities of an international nuclear war, the meaning of 21st century socialism, on the chances of Colombia and Venezuela going to war, on the likelihood of an American invasion in Venezuela... Mind you, all the "questions" posed were so loaded, that only one reply was expected. Unfortunately, for chavismo and its apologists worldwide, dictator Castro, let us not forget someone with unparalleled influence over Hugo Chavez, blew every single question, ridiculed the ignorance of his "interviewers", let slip pearls of wisdom such as "socialism of the 21st century is just communism... there's not a chance that Colombia, or the US for that matter, will launch an attack on Venezuela...", in sum, Castro destroyed in 90 minutes Chavez's war mongering discourse, together with his pretence of late that his brand of socialism is in any way different to Castro's totalitarian communism. I highly recommend the interview, it's one for the ages.

We then saw on CNN, a deranged Andres Izarra, former minister of information, currently president of TELESUR, laughing hysterically at the issue of crime in Venezuela, saying that there's no problem with crime levels, as Venezuelans of all stripes, opposition, NGOs, etc., make out to be, disputing figures of his own administration, lying about poverty levels and his own credentials, in sum another great example of just how utterly detached from the real world high chavista officials live. Such behaviour is difficult to understand, considering that Izarra's own wife survived an armed assault in February last year. While Andres Izarra was recovering from his good laugh at the expense of the misery of thousands of Venezuelan victims of rampant crime that can't afford a security detail, Cheuk Woon Yee Sinne, a baseball player with Hong Kong's national selection, was wounded by a bullet, during a match in Fuerte Tiuna, a heavily guarded military base in Caracas. It is likely that this week end, another 30, or 40 deaths will be added to the ever growing list of victims of crime in Venezuela, one that's larger, proportionately speaking, than those of Colombia or Mexico.

In response to Izarra's insane laughter, El Nacional ran yesterday a picture, in its front page, of Caracas' morgue (see left). The picture is no laughing matter, for beyond its crudeness, it depicts a reality that seems to have escaped many on both sides of the divide, which is, in any normal and democratic country, where moral values are held highly by society, it would simply be unthinkable that dead people are piled on top each other as shown in the picture. Caracas' morgue did not become a Dantesque show because of Chavez, it was like that much before the caudillo reached power. The picture had its effects: the official reaction is to initiate legal proceedings against El Nacional, for publishing a picture that could cause distress in children and adolescents in violation to legislation (LOPNA). Chavistas are not in the least concerned about the 134% increase in crime levels in the last 10 years. Or about the many instances in which Hugo Chavez has made calls for war, or to defend the revolution to the death, or has ordered tanks to placate civilian rallies, commandeering for it all TV and radio channels, does that not cause fear among Venezuelan children and adolescents? But chavistas pretend to be upset by the picture of Caracas morgue. A chavista police chief, called Wilmer Flores, took issue with the picture, arguing that it was from 2006, and not from December 2009, as El Nacional claims, which suggests that chavismo has been aware of this situation all along, and yet, after 4 years, they've been incapable of sorting out the mess in Caracas' morgue.

Opposition voices, on the other hand, are concerned by El Nacional irresponsible editorial policy, which in their opinion disrespects the dead. But no one is asking: how come Caracas' only morgue is kept in such state? Talk about disrespect of the dead...

Also this week, Luis Tascon, one of the architects of political persecution in Venezuela, died. Thanks to Tascon's deeds, chavismo trampled on the human, civil, and political rights of millions of Venezuelans. A minute of silence was observed in Congress for the passing of Tascon, considered a hero for many chavistas.

What the picture above does show is reality, it depicts a society that's completely lacking in morals, an amoral society that focuses on the last political scandal, without a care on social causes.

13.8.10

Crece la hipocresía colombo-venezolana

Hace unos días, nos sorprendíamos con las revelaciones de los nexos que existen entre los narcoterroristas de las FARC y el régimen de Hugo Chavez, hechas por el representante de Colombia en sesión extraordinaria de la OEA. Entre los que vemos las cosas desde la barrera, hubo toda clase de opiniones: desde condenar a Uribe por haber hecho publica tal información, hasta llamarlo hipócrita, por no haberlo hecho con anterioridad.

La reciente reunión entre los presidentes Santos y Chavez en Santa Marta, y las subsiguientes declaraciones y acuerdos, llevan a la conclusión que las relaciones colombo-venezolanas seguirán enmarcadas en la más absoluta hipocresía, por ambas partes. Del lado venezolano, vemos como Hugo Chavez pasa del discurso de la guerra, al tono conciliador en cuestión de una semana. El gobierno de Colombia por su lado, pasa de la más extrema indignación por la presencia de las FARC en territorio venezolano, demostrada por su embajador ante la OEA quien incluso exigió la formación de una comisión internacional de verificación, a las palabras de la nueva canciller Maria Angela Holguin, quien sin imputarse acaba de afirmar que su gobierno no espera ningún tipo de verificación internacional por las denuncias hechas por la administración de Uribe.

El meollo de todo esto sigue siendo el comercio bilateral. El discurso pro, o anti FARC, no es más que una carta que ambos gobiernos usan para avanzar sus intereses. En el interim, los miles de colombianos y venezolanos, en ambos lados de la frontera, que sufren en carne propia las consecuencias de tan irresponsable política, siguen a la merced del narcoterrorismo. Tal parece que la existencia misma de las FARC, y su libertad de continuar con el tráfico de droga  en la región con todo los problemas que esto genera, tiene un costo ya acordado por Colombia y Venezuela: 7.000 millones de dólares de comercio bilateral. Es decir, los gobiernos de la dupla Uribe/Santos y Chavez están bien dispuestos a hacerse la vista gorda ante los desplazados, las vidas, el sufrimiento, las miles de familias e individuos afectados, mientras el flujo bilateral se mantenga en el orden de los 7.000 millones de dólares. Cuando esa cifra disminuye, vemos rompimiento de relaciones, amenazas de guerra, demandas ante cortes internacionales, histrionismo en organismos multilaterales, etc. Cuando la promesa de restablecerla es acordada, vemos como, en tan sólo unas horas, todos olvidan el asunto de las FARC.

Chavez sigue atacando la democracia colombiana, sigue minando la mera existencia de las instituciones de ese país. Y el gobierno de Colombia lo permite, por 7.000 millones de dólares, ¿o acaso alguien puede tomar seriamente los llamados a abandonar la lucha armada hecho por Chavez a las FARC, cuando ni siquiera ha ordenado una investigación ante la denuncias de la presencia de las mismas en Venezuela? Si el deseo de Chavez fuese sincero, habríamos visto a Ivan Marquez y a Piedad Cordoba en Miraflores otra vez. ¿El deseo de Colombia? Ese ya lo tenemos claro: que su sector empresarial siga beneficiándose de la ineptitud chavista. Como diría Chavez: "mientras los gobiernos andan de cumbre en cumbre, los pueblos andan de abismo en abismo."

10.8.10

Davies, Izarra, Silva y Martinez se rinden al dictador de Cuba

Rara oportunidad de ver y escuchar al dictador cubano Fidel Castro, entrevistado por un grupo de apólogos del totalitarismo comunista (video 1, video 2). Poco que agregar, salvo resaltar la actitud de Vanessa Davies, Andres Izarra, Mario Silva y Walter Martinez: una vergüenza para Venezuela, y un ejemplo para la historia de amoralidad, tanto por parte de los entrevistadores como del entrevistado.

8.8.10

Uribe sues Chavez in the International Criminal Court

El Pais reports that Jaime Granados, legal representative of -as of today- former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe formally filed, on Friday, a lawsuit against Hugo Chavez before the International Criminal Court (ICC), for violations against the Rome Statute and human rights. The reasoning of Uribe is that by allowing unfettered presence of narcoterrorists in Venezuelan soil, for the purpose of resting, regrouping, coordinating, and launching fresh attacks on Colombia, Chavez is party to terrorist activities.

Couldn't agree more really, although I don't think the ICC will act against an acting president. The positive thing however, is that violations against human rights, and crimes against humanity do not prescribe. Similar issues were raised by Granados with the Inter American Commission of Human Rights, according to the report.

5.8.10

Smartmatic tries to improve online reputation

Google alerts is just such a fantastic tool, for it allows anyone with an interest on any given subject to be aware of information indexed by Google. While there is a lot that's being published nowadays, I find particularly interesting the fact that Smartmatic blogs are starting to appear, again. And I say again, because if memory serves well a similar online reputation management strategy was devised by Smartmatic employees in 2006. Given how rapidly this company gets into trouble, I reckon it won't be long before the current campaign is abandoned. Wikipedia entries, blogs and LinkedIn pages can't hide this type of information about Smartmatic.

US DoS sends message to Hugo Chavez

Pedro Burelli sent me Questions for the Record to Ambassador - Designate Larry Leon Palmer by Senator Richard Lugar, of the US' Senate Foreign Relations Committee. To be frank, I am pleasantly surprised by the level of detail of some of those questions (bold added):
  • In response to a February 2010 report issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) regarding violations of human rights and intimidation of citizens in Venezuela based on their political beliefs, I released a joint statement with Senator Dodd in March 2010... Please provide your views of the performance of the Organization of American States (OAS) in safeguarding human rights in Venezuela. If confirmed, how will you work with U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, Carmen Lomellin, to ensure that the OAS is responsive to these repetitive and blatant violations? A worsening of the situation in Venezuela should be of concern to all the Member States of the OAS as it is a clear violation of Venezuela’s obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Many believe that the United States should invoke the Democratic Charter. Under what circumstances would the U.S. seek to invoke the OAS's Democratic Charter?
  • Many critics of President Chávez have gone into exile to avoid jail time. The effort to silence critics comes at a time when the opposition is preparing for National Assembly elections in September. Please explain your views regarding the credibility of these elections given the political persecution of dissenters in Venezuela. Please comment on the objective conditions for this election in light of the highly critical election observation reports by the OAS and the EU on the 2005 legislative elections.
  • Please provide your assessment of the Venezuela’s military in light of President Hugo Chávez’s orders to break off diplomatic relations with Colombia. A recent GAO report that I commissioned states that at least one branch of the military, the National Guard, is deeply involved in the narcotics business. Please comment on the fact that two out of three individuals designated as “kingpin” under OFAC procedures remain entrenched in high-level positions in the Venezuelan security apparatus. It is particularly troublesome to hear that one of them, General Henry Rangel Silva, has recently been promoted to the most important operational post within the National Bolivarian Armed Forces.
  • How would you describe Venezuelan-Cuban military-to-military interaction over the years? How would you describe it today? Could you discuss the level of involvement of the Cuban Government in the internal affairs of Venezuela?
  • A great deal has been said in public and in private about President Chávez's meddling in the affairs of Colombia; most recently Colombian Government officials stated that Venezuela is harboring as many as 87 guerilla camps used to smuggle cocaine and launch terrorist attacks across the border. Please provide your views...
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez recently threatened to cut oil supplies to the United States in case of a military attack from Colombia as a dispute escalated over charges his country harbors Colombian rebels. Given that Venezuela, a member of OPEC, gets more than 90 percent of its export income from oil sales, mostly to the United States, and that the South American country's economy would collapse quickly if it stopped shipments, could you provide your views regarding President Chávez’s repeated and bombastic threats to the United States.
  • In the first quarter of 2010, Venezuela's economy contracted by 5.8 percent. Earthquake-ravaged Haiti is the only other country in the Western hemisphere to see its economy shrink so far this year. Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) produced 3.3 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2001. But a massive strike in 2002, the firing of thousands of PDVSA employees that followed, and mismanagement have taken a toll. The Government claims that it still produces 3 million bpd. Some experts claim the number is closer to 2.6 million. OPEC says Venezuela is now producing closer to 2.3 million. In June, inflation hit 31.2 percent year on year. Venezuela imports nearly three-quarters of its food, but shortages of basic foodstuffs in state-run grocery stores have eroded Chávez's popularity. A scandal erupted this spring when officials discovered tens of thousands of tons of imported food that had been abandoned to rot in state-run warehouses. Please explain the implications for the region of an implosion of Venezuela’s economy. Please provide your views on the funding and trading implications for countries within the so-called ALBA group.
  • In order to properly assess the imminence of economic and political turmoil it is key to understand the financial situation of the Venezuelan Government. Please provide your assessment of the true level of reserves held at the Central Bank of Venezuela. Different estimates have reached my attention that would indicate that a correct evaluation of existing reserves differs from the official numbers due to improper accounting of arrears related to expropriations, delayed payments, and possible legal rulings against the Government of Venezuela. Please provide information regarding the quality of assets held by the bank in light of a decision announced a few years ago to move monetary reserves away from the U.S. dollar and U.S. institutions, and the possible purchase of debt from financially risky political allies in the region (Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua).
Go and read the whole thing, for, if anything, it indicates Hugo Chavez's sui generis 'revolution' has turned inedible, even among diplomats, who normally are masters at swallowing with a smile the bullshit of the most revolting characters. The funny thing, again hat tip Pedro, is that Chavez is 'protesting' Palmer's answers to the questions above, as a sign of meddling.

3.8.10

Carta abierta a Bernardo Alvarez Herrera

Estimado Bernardo,

Siendo que somos venezolanos me permito la licencia de tutearte, espero no te moleste.

Acabo de leer en uno de los tantos medios del imperio comunicacional y hegemónico del comandante presidente Chavez, una réplica pública a un editorial del Washington Post, supuestamente escrita por ti. Debo admitir que una afirmación y una nota final, contenidas en la pagina web que publica dicha replica, me han dejado estupefacto.

La primera afirmación, aquella con la que concluye el segundo párrafo, reza:
"...an Interpol analysis of the laptop concluded that because of the handling of the evidence by the Colombian government for days before it was turned over, the documents on it could not be used in any judicial proceedings."
Así pues, estimado Bernardo, te invito a que me indiques con la mayor precisión que tu dominio del tema permita, qué parte del informe de 94 paginas publicado por INTERPOL soporta tu argumento, de que debido a la forma en que el gobierno de Colombia manejó la evidencia contenida en los dizque computadores del camarada Raul Reyes, dicha evidencia no puede utilizarse en procesos judiciales. Por favor, número de pagina, si eres tan amable. De no poder cumplir con tan simple solicitud Bernardo, me imagino que no tendrás reparo en que las muchas personas cuyas mentes se encuentran bajo el ominoso control de la rancia oligarquía, lleguen a la conclusión de que eres, además de mentiroso, un irresponsable que apoya al narcoterrorismo.

Luego la nota al final del articulo, que dice lo siguiente:
*This letter has been made public given that The Washington Post rarely publishes our responses to their constant strident editorials against Venezuela.
No sabes cuánto me acongoja saber que se te esté dificultando el trabajo de diseminar propaganda información en medios de comunicación independientes de países democráticos. Y por ello esta carta, para coadyuvar en la divulgación de tus opiniones revolucionarias, bolivarianas, injustamente ignoradas por periódicos, periodistas, y editores controlados por el imperio. Si emplearas los servicios de redacción de individuos mundialmente respetados, como Mark Weisbrot, Greg Wilpert o Tariq Ali, se publicarían tus cartas con mayor regularidad.

Sin mas, me despido con el mas cordial de los saludos en espera de pronta, y pública, respuesta.