Thursday, September 13, 2007

What political persecution isn't... 

Now that we've had a good and healthy discussion on the dangers of group think and forced loyalty now maybe we can take a look at what it IS NOT and how the foriegn media uses false allegations of it for cheap propoganda.

Today from a south Florida newspaper had this standard propogandistic fair:

Doug Krizner: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demands loyalty, especially from workers in the state-owned oil business. Since taking power, Chavez fired thousands and replaced them with party loyalists. Now, four years later, those ex-employees are turning up all around the world. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech has the story of one such workers who resettled in south Florida.

Dan Grech: Luis Ramirez never planned on leaving Venezuela. He had a 22-year career at the state oil firm, PDVSA. He had three cars, an apartment with a mountain view, a fat pension.

But Ramirez felt President Hugo Chavez was politicizing the oil company. So in late 2002, he joined a national strike against Chavez.

Luis Ramirez: I knew that there might be consequences. But, you know, it was a calculated risk.

One that ended with his being fired. Word came from an unusual source.

Ramirez: It was by newspaper, an ad in the newspaper. My list was sort of 150 people altogether in one list.

All told, at least 18,000 PDVSA employees lost their jobs.

In Chavez's Venezuela, most working professionals have what's known as a Plan Beh, or Plan B. That's where they'll resettle outside the country if staying is no longer an option.

For fired PDVSA executives, Plan B is usually a global oil center, like Houston.

Ramirez: I have friends living in northern Canada, England, Mexico and many other places.

Ramirez chose Weston, a palm-lined suburb near Fort Lauderdale. He had an investment property there. Problem is there are few oil jobs in south Florida.

Ramirez: When we came here, we had to start over and build our way up again.

Ramirez lost his assets, his country club membership, his maid. He sold the Florida investment property and used the money to start a family printing business. He lives with his wife and two kids in a rental home.

Ramirez: I'm . . . I'm positive. I feel I have all the tools I need to get back on my track. There are so many opportunities in this country. It's so open and warm to people to come here and do business, and we really feel optimistic about that.

Ramirez is even looking to get back into the oil business. He just linked up with eight other PDVSA exiles to form a consulting firm.

In Weston, I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

So lets see, this guy goes on strike demanding the overthrow of the Venezuelan government and the resignation of its democratically elected government and this not too on the ball reporter sees it as Chavez demanding loyalty?!?!?! No, I think those people getting fired was really just the government telling people they should respect the outcome of elections. Twenty thousand people who have the privilege (with three cars and a mountain view apartment this is meant literally) of working in the oil industry don't have the right to tell 25 million Venezuelans who should govern them.

Through much pain and with a lot of hard work Venezuela overcame the damage done by these self-centered swine. These wretches should consider themselves lucky that they lost little more than their country club memberships and maids (life is a bitch - I wonder how they are adjusting to having to do their own laundry?).

It is completely uninformed articles like this that make a real and fair discussion of Venezuela in the U.S. almost impossible. This reporter clearly has not a clue - or is simply writing what he has to write.

But as anyone who knows anything about what has happened in Venezuela over the past 8 years knows the person described here is not a freedom fighter, not a victim of repression or discrimination, and not someone who deserves any sympathy.

At the same time, I hope it is not lost on Chavistas that not everyone who has a different opinion and dares to express it is the same as this former oil manager.

These distinctions need to be kept clear by all of us despite the efforts of some on both sides to blur them and confuse people.


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