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Monday, November 06, 2006

Venezuela: threats, rallies, and no UN Security Council seat

Threats . . .
Rafael Ramirez, the government minister and head of PDVSA (the Venezuelan oil monopoly that owns CITGO in the USA) gave a speech last week where he specifically threatened with firing from their jobs, physical force and "total anihilation" for those PDVSA employees who don't reciprocate Hugo's love of his people and who don't conform to the party line, and for those who don't support the Bolivarian revolution. Of course, the AP resorted to its customary Associated Press Deficit Disorder, which last year I defined as
Associated Press Deficit Disorder: the innatention of Associated Press and other news agencies to the actual words said by a person who doesn't fit what AP wants to hear.
Venezuela News and Views explains
The report of Ms. Nuñez is not only bland but it leaves one with the distinct impression that she got out of her way to minimize an event that she had no choice but to report. When you examine what she wrote she ONLY writes on the two most innocuous aspects of the Ramirez: that the revolution and PDVSA are red and that PDVSA workers should be Bolivarian. She left out the vulgarity of Ramirez and much worse, the threat of physical violence that the minister used. How can a serious journalist NOT REPORT on a minister of a government in a function who calls for violence against his co-citizens? On the other hand she had no qualms reporting on an ad hoc support rally of a about a hundred people claiming that no one was forcing them to rally and support Ramirez.
Indeed, VV&N realizes that From Ramirez to Chavez, they all come out of the fascist closet once and for all.

El Universal newspaper has the foul-mouthed Ramirez's transcript and translation:
Nobody is to stop Chávez here in Pdvsa. Here in Pdvsa we are quite clear that the new Pdvsa -which was born in the heat of the sabotage against the oil industry- is a Bolivarian corporation; it is red and is ready to do anything for Chávez.

This is what we are telling our staff, this is what we are telling our workers, and this is what we wanted to tell you upfront in order not to leave any doubt. There should be no surprise whenever we take any action needed to align this company strength in our people's top interest, clearly expressed by President Chavez.

We had to remove a person, a man working in an operational area of ours. He let (single opposition) candidate (Manuel) Rosales to land and tour our areas. Damn! What the hell is going on? Is it that they went nuts here? Is it true, then, that whave been infiltrated by the "squalid" ones, the enemies of this revolution? We warn you, we will not let this to happen. We have iron fist; we fired from this company 19,500 foes of this country, and we are ready to continue doing it in order to ensure that this company is in alignment with and reciprocates the love expressed by our people to our President.

I am exasperated, and I am sure that you are exasperated also; our Board of Directors is exasperated, when we find ni-ni people (undecided voters), light people saying now that we are in such and such processes, that we need to open this thing. No way. If anybody here turns out to forget that we are in the middle of a revolution, we will beat him for him to remember it, because this company is with the President
In the same speech, Ramirez also threatened to "liberate" Bolivia's natural gas industry.

Venezuela News and Views and Feathers Blog have the video of the speech (in Spanish). The video also quotes from the Venezuelan Constitution each time Ramirez violates the Constitution. The video ends with a quote from the Constitution that says that making such threats is a felony that carries a compulsory three year sentence.

Caracas Chronicles posts on "Revolution" as conceptual bulldozer
In a Revolution, state = government = homeland = people = leader. If you accept that, it follows that dissenting from the leader is tantamount to treason against the state. Once you've conflated these ideas into a single, undifferentiated soup, you pull out all the conceptual stops that restrain a government from tyranny. In this way, the word "Revolution" has become a trump-card, a conceptual bulldozer plowing over all spaces for legitimate dissent.

Ramirez is explicit about this: "we were put here by the Revolution, we were put here by the pueblo, we were put here by President Chavez." You can't pick and choose between them, because they're basically the same thing - a kind of revolutionary Holy Trinity. There's no room in this vision for NiNis, for "light" supporters. To be "a little bit revolutionary" is to be a little bit of a traitor. It just won't do.
While some speculated as to whether this was Hugo's maneuver to get rid of Ramirez, Hugo's clearly stressed:

The WaPo's saying "Hugo Chavez is on a losing streak"

The International Herald Tribune's saying that Venezuela's Chavez threatens to revoke TV broadcasting licenses for private TV stations, accusing them of fomenting conspiracies against his government.

And then there's this, Chavez threatens to halt oil exports to US:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez vowed to win the upcoming Dec. 3 election and warned on Saturday night that Venezuela could halt oil exports to the United States if his opponents, joined by the US government, attempt to destabilize his leftist administration.
That'll be the day. For those speculating earlier whether Ramirez had spoen out of turn,
Chavez also reiterated that government opponents are not welcome in the military or the state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA. A day earlier, he suggested those who do not like his leftist policies should go somewhere else, like Miami.
As it turns out, a friend of my family lives in Doral in Miami, which by now is known as "Doralzuela" for the amount of Venezuelan expats living there.

. . . rallies . . .
But Hugo's worries are not leaving for Miami; the opposition, which up to now has been divided, appears to be consolidating its support of Manuel Rosales
By Rausseo pulling out and helping Rosales would be another sign that the political opposition has finally matured and can set aside their differences for the greater good of the country. Some benefits Rausseo can give to Rosales are name recognition, potential votes of lower income and young people, and strategic campaigning in the llanos and in the west. While not stealing significant votes from Rosales or Chavez (~2%) this could be significant enough in a close race, which in my opinion could very well be.
This weekend's Rosales rally in Caracas was immense: an estimated half a million people turned up in Caracas on Saturday
Caracas only has 6 million people, so this crowd represents about one out of every twelve caraquenos
On Sunday, another huge Rosales rally, in Barquisimeto.

While the urban legend is that only upper-class whites oppose Chavez, Venezuela News and Views comments on the racial composition of the Caracas crowd:
The [photo] I have selected is so telling as to the diversity of Venezuelan population and as to how many "dark skinned" folks oppose Chavez authoritarianism, that it deserves a special mention. This picture was taken as the march was leaving the alleged chavista strongholds (walking through Parque Los Caobos) of Caracas and moving to "whiter" areas of Caracas. As an exercise find all the different shades of skin color in the picture. You might be surprised at the color that opposes Chavez.
While few American bloggers are keeping track of the story, The American Thinker's posting on the rallies.

Will this lead to a change?

Tomas Sancio:
Chavez's reelection is every day appearing less like a given, especially when seeing recent polls and Rosales marches like Saturday's.
But there's the problem of the rigged voting machines:

Maru Angarita
While Venezuelan Opposition Candidate Manuel Rosales seems to be gathering a lot of supporters, the fact that Chavez's may have ways to cheat the e-voting results using his infamous Smartmatic machines is worrying a lot of people. It is imperative that the international observers act with police intervention if needed to allow Venezuelans to hold democratic elections free of cheating and corruption
Romulo Ortiz is optimistic and urges people to vote:
And while on this subject I also wanted to share some thoughts regarding the likelihood of fraudulent elections: many undecided/indifferent voters (known as "nini") have reasoned that since we are being blackmailed into voting for Hugo Chavez and there is an almost-certainty that chavismo will try to steal the election, then the odds are against an oppositionist victory and thus making voting irrelevant.

My answer is simple: Manuel Rosales and his team are prepared for such a scenario and through its implementation they have defeated Hugo Chávez in Zulia state not once but twice. So make no mistake, there is a constitutionally viable plan B aimed to prevent any excesses and guarantee a clean result. There are tens of thousands of volunteers being trained and prepared to detect and combat fraud, so I am confident we will not be caught with our pants down as it happened in the recall election. In a few words, come election day don't stay at home and go vote!

Then it is of the utmost importance that we assume our personal responsibility and defend this vote through all democratic and constitutional means available
Certainly things are heating up for Hugo.

. . . and no UN Security Council seat for Venezuela:
As for Venezuela's seat in the UN Security Council, that's gone, now that Panama's in:
Latin American and Caribbean nations unanimously endorsed Panama for a seat on the U.N. Security Council Friday after Guatemala and Venezuela agreed to withdraw to break a deadlock that dragged on through 47 votes in the General Assembly.

After a closed-door meeting of the group's 34 nations, Argentina's U.N. Ambassador Cesar Mayoral told reporters that Panama had been officially selected as the candidate of Latin America and the Caribbean by consensus, without a vote. The choice paved the way for General Assembly approval in the coming days.
Update Alvaro Vargas Llosa asks, How Would Latin Americans Vote on Nov. 7?

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At 9:08 AM, Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

Terrific roundup!

At 11:10 AM, Blogger HILLARYNEEDSAVACATION said...

thanks for the fine insight and helpful links...

best wishes...


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