30 July 2009

Hugo Chavez freezes ties with Colombia for the third time over FARC

The first time Hugo Chavez froze relations with Venezuela's second largest commercial partner (Colombia that is, on January 2005), it was due to the capture of one of FARC's leaders Rodrigo Granda, while attending in Caracas one the Bolivarian get-togethers organized by the Venezuelan regime. Granda, a wanted criminal involved in planning and assassinating Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former Paraguayan President Raúl Cubas, had been living in Venezuela and was given citizenship by the Chavez administration. The army intelligence officer who conducted the operation to capture Granda, was tortured and convicted on trumped charges by Chavez's kangaroo courts.

The second time Hugo Chavez froze relations with Colombia, was over the assassination in Ecuador of FARC leader Raul Reyes in March 2008. This time round the Venezuelan dictator escalated his willingness of having a war with Colombia, and actually ordered troops and tanks to the border between the two countries.

The most recent, and third, time Chavez froze relations with Colombia, has been over the seizure of "AT-4 anti-tank rocket launchers bought by Venezuela from Sweden's Saab Bofors Dynamics", found in the hands of the FARC, a terrorist organization according to European countries, the USA and Canada.

If more evidence of Chavez's relationships with the FARC were needed, close collaborators of his are up to their eye balls in dealings with the terrorist group. So the question is not whether Colombia's latest revelation confirms what has been public knowledge for a long time, but rather to ask: when will the international community start treating Hugo Chavez and his regime as the terrorists supporters they are?

21 July 2009

Smartmatic does the Philippines

One of the reasons I have stopped blogging regularly about Venezuela is that everything that I felt I needed to expose I have already. Be it Eva Golinger lies about tax status, credentials or relations with the Chavez regime, the non existence of records of Chavez's favorite pollsters, the evident conflict of interests between Smartmatic and the Venezuelan government, or the family links that unite peddlers of baseless allegations and the regime led by the putschist, I feel I have done my share.

In the past few days I have noticed an increased amount of visits to one of my websites from the Philippines. So I got curious and investigated a bit further about it, sadly to find out that the firm that has rigged elections for Chavez since 2004 in Venezuela, the firm whose acquisition of Sequoia Voting Systems in the USA was challenged on the basis of an electoral fiasco in Chicago, has been contracted, to the tune of $150 million, by the Filipino electoral watchdog to run elections in 2010.

Filipinos will soon find out the sort of democracy Hugo Chavez e-voting firm provides.

9 July 2009

An interview with Carlos Cruz Diez

Some weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to a private exhibition of Venezuelan op-art supremo Carlos Cruz Diez. The encounter was all the more meaningful for me, for I had just handed in an essay entitled "El fracaso de realidades decretadas: arte moderno en espacios públicos en Venezuela", and some of the questions I have posed in it, I wanted to ask directly to one of the remaining Venezuelan artists that had seen their work favoured by the country's top political class in the past.

The gist of my essay, as the title so clearly suggest, was to argue that reality can not be changed by decree. Dictators, caudillos and the like have tried to do so in the past, and given that Cruz Diez thought once that "the artist must be totally committed to its immediate socio-political reality" and that art was "another medium through which to reflect reality and to attain Latin American dignity", clearly stances that identified with prevailing policy, I certainly wasn't going to pass on the opportunity to question him on these issues.

To be frank, it was quite exceptional to hear someone of the stature of Cruz Diez, going against previous ideological positions and actually admitting, rather candidly, that in the case of Venezuela, art had had a negligible, if that, impact on reality. My questions were, of course, aimed at determining whether previous administrations had been successful in altering the socio-political reality of Venezuelans by decree, or whether by commissioning works of art, to be exhibited in public spaces, Venezuelans had in any way changed socially or politically. Cruz Diez said "no chico, si yo hubiera sabido entonces..." meaning that his reasoning in the 60ies and 70ies was informed on a positivist reality that the governments of the time tried to impose, to no avail.

Another question that I posed was the use of red by the current regime. I said to him that the country has turned red and that by associating with or painting Bolivar in red, what the propaganda masters of Chavez had done was actually bank on the capital of an icon already well established in the majority of Venezuelans. Very clever, and targeted specifically to the largely ignorant masses, for whom political messages must be crafted in a language they can easily digest without much questioning: read imagery. In fact, the output of chavismo in this respect surpasses, as intellectual manifestation and by far, literary production, the responsibles of which have failed miserably at coming up with novel and creative ideas/concepts to spread the doctrine of '21st Century Socialism'. I argued that color had been at the forefront of artistic revolutions in Venezuela since a long time, to which he agreed, stressing that that was one of the reasons why he decided to pursue color in itself, rather than color as part of something else.

Within the Venezuelan context, Cruz Diez is of the opinion that the artist and the politico are equally incapable of effecting any long term change in people's behavior, for this can only be achieved through education. He commented about the irony of going from being one of the favorite artists to being an outcast, for the present regime, without having modified his work.