Monday, November 26, 2007

Finally somebody face up to Chavez

Colombia President's reaction to Chavez intervention in internal affaires.
(taken from El Tiempo newspaper)

"The truth, President Chavez, and the truth with witnesses, is that when there are no arguments and one appeals to insults, as you do, it affects not only international relations but, in this case, it hurts the dignity of the people of Venezuela whom you represent.

The truth, President Chavez is that we need a mediation against terrorism and not legitimizers of terrorism. Your words, your attitudes, give the impression that you are not interested in peace in Colombia, but instead that Colombia becomes a victim of a FARC's terrorist government. (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

The truth, President Chavez, the truth with witnesses, like ours, is that we need to be helped in overcoming this tragedy of terrorism, but not taking advantage of the need of an humanitarian agreement to invoke the aid to Colombia and come to Colombia just to intervene here, to foster an expansionist project.

The truth, President Chavez, is that if you are promoting an expansionist project on the continent, this project in Colombia has no place.

The truth, President Chavez, the truth with witnesses, is that you coannt start a fire in the continent as you do, speaking one day against Spain, beating Mexico one day, the following Peru, on the morning after Bolivia. It is not possible to mistreat the continent, setting it on fire as you do, speakinh of imperialism, when you, in your estimations, wants to set up an empire.

The truth, President Chavez, is that you cannot mistreat history, we can not tarnish the memory of the heroes defacing them in popular demagoguery in order to mislead people. General Santander gave us the example of strict law compliance.

The truth, President Chavez, is that you cannot evade the law as you do, trying to mistreat General Santander to replace the law by the personal whim.

The truth, President Chavez, the truth with witnesses, is that you cannot mislead the people by fouly interpretating the legacy of the Liberator Bolivar. The Liberator was integrationist but not expansionist. The Liberator gave independence to our nations, but did not bring a new era of subjugation.

The Liberator was not trying to remove the European domination of America, to impose, as you want to do, his own denomination based on the strength of his budget.

To the people of Venezuela and the people of Colombia, the truth, President Chavéz is that the people of Colombia has every right to defeat terrorism, has every right to accept mediation but no mediations seeking political prominence, the political domination of terrorism.

I am very concerned that you, pushed for election expectations, now try to appeal to the old trick of encouraging hatred in venezuela against Colombia and against the government of Colombia in order to collect a favorable election result.

The truth, President Chavez, is that the background of my government shows that in our difficult struggle against terrorism, we have been respectful of all governments and all countries in the world.

I appeal to the conscience thinking of the people of Venezuela to analyze this issue. (...) The contradiction is that when the Colombian government has faced the terrorists never, ever, has been disrespectful with the Venezuelan government or the people of Venezuela.

The truth, President Chavez, is that the communiqué issued yesterday is supported by our background, by our deeds which have witnesses.

The truth, President Chavez, is that at any given time new elements are known. Our consul in the United States, who accompanied Senator Cordoba to the meeting of one of the prisoners belonging to the FARC, who is in jail in the United States for drug trafficking , has informed us that Senator Cordoba spoke about politics with the prisoner of FARC. That's fine. (Also spoke of) the possibility of a new Constituent Assembly in Colombia, that's fine. All that is respectable even tough we do not agree with the idea, but the senator also spoke of the need for a transitional government in Colombia.

The truth, President Chavez, is that this gives us, the Colombians, the right to interpret that the mediation to which you were invited by Senator Piedad Cordoba, according to the attitudes of the Senator and according to these comments, (it seems) that she was more interested in make possible a government inluenced by terrorism in Colombia, that in helping us overcome the tragedy of the kidnapped and achieve peace.

From Calamar, this region of our country hit today by floods, I say to the world that we ask for and receive help, but we do not accept expansionist projects.

From Calamar, this region hit by the floods, I tell the world that there are constraints in poverty, but there is dignity also. The money is earned every day. Thus, in some nations more scarce than in others, but the dignity, the respect for the social being, the respect for individual liberties ... When you lose those values is difficult to reclaim them.

We will continue to make every effort to defeat terrorism, to retrieve our kidnapped citizens, but we do not let our tragedy to be abused in order to give terrorism the chance to say that its position is right. We do not allow the abuse of our tragedy to come to Colombia to incorporate a expansionist project that slowly will deny freedoms that this continent has managed to conquer with so many difficulties".

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rafael Correa = Chavez 2.0

The most recent proposals from Ecuador's President dispel any existing doubts about his determination in replicating Chavez path.

According to Reuters, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is set to emerge with a strong mandate to dissolve Congress and approve sweeping reforms after claiming a majority in Sunday's vote for an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

Back in 1999, when Venezuela went through a similar political situation, the same idea was proposed by Hugo Chavez who, taking advantage of his party’s huge victory in the national election for the assembly’s seats, initiated a long way that has allowed him to seize wealth and political power. The most surprising issue is that Ecuadorians are not realizing the resemblance, despite all the evidence or, something worse, that they do recognize Correa’s intentions and nevertheless they willfully want their country to be just as Venezuela is now.

By 2000, Chavez got his own way, not only dissolving Venezuelan Congress but also the Supreme Court, which by that time were not even options provided by the constitution. After that, it has been an unstoppable snowball toward the consolidation of what he has called “XXI Century Socialism”, a political process that appears to be more a new attempt in reviving Marxism-Communism that a simple leftist movement.

He is a true believer in this doctrine and his buying his way up through all Latin America, taking into consideration specially those countries with important natural resources, such as Ecuador and Bolivia. Riding a colossal wave of popularity in the continent, due to a particular personality (great charisma and a very affect way of speaking, matched maybe only by Fidel Castro)and a compulsive craze of giving away large amounts of Venezuelans’ resources with no questions, he has succeeded in capitalize an increasing dissatisfaction with United States, partially justify by Bush administration’s almost complete oblivion of the existence of Latin countries as a whole (not just Colombia and Mexico) while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a very strong and growing influence, spends more time in Latin America than President Bush. The point is that waving a “counter-imperialism” flag Chavez has won a lot of supporters around the world and within Venezuela. Just by criticism he has achieve at least recognition in world affairs.

Having reach so far, surviving even an allegedly coup, he is about to achieve a hegemonic control in the South American country by giving the last stitches to a prêt-a-porter constitution. Central Bank autonomy is bound to disappear, as well as the current Presidential term’s limitation, not for all public posts but only for the President, allowing him to stand indefinitely for the position.

Chavez is now in the position of transfer the know how acquired in this try and error process, which pretty much follows this alchemist’s solve et coagula formula: control the country’s main sources of income, assume a critical position against Uncle Sam (not a difficult task these days, by the way), blame USA A.K.A the “Empire” and upper- middle class citizens of every problem, change education is order to transmit the necessary values to give birth the “New Man” (indoctrination), and then let everybody wear out pursuing an utopia while you, in the other hand, keep strengthening your economic and political control. By these means you will hold everybody at your feet begging for survival. I think this would be a best-seller for every leader that wants to build a stronghold to keep governing as much as possible with no real opposition.

While Venezuela economic system is becoming a capitalism ruled monopolistically by the State (which in Venezuela equals to Chavez), in other countries there are still people rightfully wandering if this “revolution” is the model to follow. In order to get the answer you need to keep in mind the final outcome: an almighty ruler surrounded by a group of privileged persons (named Nomenklatura in the Soviet Union), the only ones with full citizen status thanks to their “service” to the country, which in most cases suppose only to pledge blind loyalty to the leader and the process; and the rest of the population which will be so occupied blaming each other and fighting each other that will be powerless once they realize who is really their enemy.

If that is what you want for your country, then let Correa dissolve the Congress, let him control all the oil income and so on. In no time you will have a purported champion of the poor blaming everybody but himself while you see your cities full of US$100.000 vehicles, which ironically are a quintessential symbol of capitalism.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Barbiegate: Could a toy bring Chavez down?

Apparently, Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez can find the time to ponder about the toys that children should be using to play.

Last Sunday, on his weekly program "Aló Presidente" (Hello President), he expressed his contempt for Barbie and Ken, saying that these toys represent "a disgusting stupidity" and proposing endogenous toys instead, which, in his own words, would be wood rocking horses and “llaneros” (Venezuelan cowboys) for boys and rag dolls for girls. According to Chavez, Barbie and Ken are imperialism products that alienate children, since little girls feel frustrated if "they don’t look like Barbie".

Leaving aside any consideration about Chavez’ management skills of relevant issues and concerns, which obviously are nonexistent, and Chavez' own doll fun fact, we can be sure that he’ll be firm in his intention of imposing a unique point of view, his, since he considers himself the sole interpreter of the people. It appears that this controlling trend will continue in the future, leaving history and reality apart in order to reach even the most private aspects of citizens’ lives.

Will the Government act on these ideas? That is what Venezuelans are asking themselves these days. Will be American toys importation prohibited by Xmas? What have Mattel and the rest of toys manufacturers to say about this?

I’d like to see how kids will react to this year´s good old Gramp gift, who last year gave them that Tickling Elmo they have been asking for so intensely each time he brought them to the Sambil (one the most popular Caracas' mall) and this year decide, being a loyal "chavista", to obey and fulfill Chavez´ desires by delivering wooden toys to his grandchildren, specially now when kids have very sophisticated tastes. I think that, having the freedom to make a choice, very few will follow Chavez’ line of though, even his staunchest supporters, because deep down opposing to the States per se feels very unnatural in a country where the American way of life is still a closer concept that communism.

The truth regarding this story is that maybe every Venezuelan woman has played with these toys in their childhood. I know for sure that my sister and cousins did, as well as my mother and aunts. Maybe it has to do with every girl dream of becoming a participant in the most famous beauty pageant of the country: Miss Venezuela; maybe not. I also have seen every Christmas how adults (parents, grandparents, you name it) look forward to gift kids whatever they want (as long as they can afford it, of course) since that has been always the holiday spirit.

How could you pretend to change that overnight, such a profound thought? I don’t think that the Government is naïve at all: the historical evidence is there and they know the answer for sure: there is a fixed core, a fundamental set of believes and feelings that cannot be touch without causing a great reaction in people. Knowing this, it becomes obvious that Chavez now has to decide whether he goes that “extra mile” in order to bend wills everywhere in the name of the Revolution, or better wait a few more years to see results from more subtle ways of persuasion.

Family and tradition, what happens when you affect them? Would this apparently silly situation become Chavez’ biggest faux pas yet? I don’t think that an eventual embargo on toys not complying with the President’s criteria would arise national turmoil caused by rioting anger parents who cannot get what their kids want, since people have confronted worse situations without unrest. But, since this is, by far, the most surreal period that Venezuela has lived, anything is possible. I have to admit that thinking of Chavez as the President overthrown by a Barbie doll is, at least, very therapeutic.

We´ll have to wait in order to see the final outcome, but in the meanwhile, we are sure that “El Comandante” will keep worrying Venezuelans and entertaining the rest of the world with another jewel of enlighten wisdom. As we write this article probably Chavez’ staff is coping with the implementation of his boss’ orders, wondering if Woody, the cowboy from Toy Story, would qualify as a “llanero” or not.