Friday, December 23, 2005

Felice Chavidad 

Felice Chavidad is a play on words meaning something like Happy Chivista Christmas. In any event, even if you don't celebrate anything more than the Winter Solstice, I hope you enjoy the Holidays. And pretty soon we'll be in a new year with hopefully lots of new victories and advances for the Bolivarian Revolution

I have to say I like the way the city government in Barquisimeto worked the "Ahora es de todos" logo into some of the decorations.

The blogging will be light over the Holiday weekend but should return to normal by Tuesday.


Those who count for something, and those who don't. 

Recently a Venezuelan judge sentenced several murderers to jail for the shooting death of a Venezuelan women in Altamira Plaza. The women was part of a group protesting against the outcome of the referendum when several Chavistas who became involved in a scuffle opened fire with guns. This was a horrific act and the loss of Ms. Ron's life most regretable. This murderous violence was condemmed at the time by the government and its perpetrators will now be in jail for 11 years. While to people outside of Venezuela that may seem like a very short sentence it is what Venezuelan law provides for. But justice has been served, at least to some degree, in this case.

Contrast that with what happened to Chavez supporters who happened to be celebrating the Chavez victor on the other side of town in a poor area called Antimano. From Ultimas Noticias Wednesday, August 18, 2004 page 22:

2 Deaths in atacks on "No" celebrations

D'Yahana M. De Bastidas

One person dead and another wounded was teh result of a shooting that occurred in the "Callejon Caracas de Carapita", in Antimano, when unknown subjects shot at a car that was part of a celebration of the "No" victory.

The dead person was identified as Juan Carlos Paez Salazar, who was 20, and the wounded person as Angel Suarez Chaporro, who was 21, both with gun shots to the head.

"Everything seems to indicate that some people were in a red jeep behind the victims ahead of the victims jeep and that upon hearing the celebration they got down and with any words shot at them" said the police investigator Antonio Li Morales.

In another event, in the "UD4 de Cariuao" died Alfredo Andrade, who was 18. Li Morales said the death took place when shots were fired at a "No" caravan. "The young student died upon recieving a bullet to the head" he said.

To my knowledge the responsible authorites, the Metropolitan Police who at that time were controlled by an opposition mayor, never apprehended anyone. And don't bother looking for this news in any opposition media or web sites - they never mentioned it and never will. Truthfully, its probably not the fact that the three people who got shot in the head were Chavistas that prevents them from mentioning it. Rather its that they are, well, just regular Venezuelans, and therefore don't count for much of anything in the opposition's book. Kind of like a cockroach being stepped on - its life is not viewed as being worth anything.

But of course, if you are part of the lucky elite, those who shop at the San Ignacio, have multiple entry visas or even dual citizenship, got sent to US or British boarding schools, or in other words just belong to the select group known as "the beautiful people" then you count for something. Then your life matters and is worthy of attention if something unfortunate happens to it. If you instead come from a place like Antimano, then they can't waste ink or bandwidth even mentioning your demise. Such are the values of those who make up the Venezuelan opposition.


What election fraud really looks like 

Now that the opposition in Venezuela has faded away with barely a wimper maybe we can turn our attention elsewhere for a second. And in turning it to Iraq for a minute what do we see - some completely farcical activity called elections. While in Venezuela there were hundreds of international observers present who could observe every aspect of the election and ratify its transparency Iraq had no international observers (unless you consider the U.S. troops there "international observers" which Bush probably does).

Not suprisingly the result of this farcical election, which by the way the results of still haven't been announced, is that the Iraqi people have poured into the streets to denounce the massive fraud that is being perpetrated. Its good to see that Iraqi people aren't just going to sit by passively and allow this fraud to be perpetrated on them.

Meanwhile the Venezuelan opposition can only sit by and look on with envy. They had wanted people to go to church on December 4th to show that they were actively boycotting the electoral process. But that turned out to be a bust as people went to the malls instead. And since then although they have been mouthing off about all sorts of fraud they have never been able to mount any protest with more than a few dozen people.

The Venezuelan opposition has always talked about using "people power" to oust Chavez. After all, they say, if the Ukranians could do it in their Orange Revolution, why can't we do it. Well, I gave this hint once before a number of month ago but apparently they missed it. So let me tell it to them again. If you want to use "people power" to accomplish your ends its generally a good idea to actually have the "people" on your side. "People power" movements without people just never seem to get very far. You would think that was axiomatic but apparently it isn't.

P.S. Please be sure to check out this gem in the Guardian article:

Sunni Arab and secular Shiite factions demanded Thursday that an international body review election fraud complaints, and threatened to boycott the new legislature. The United Nations rejected the idea.

Its a little interesting that some of our opposition bloggers have tauting the Iraqi elections when any sort of international review is rejected out of hand while Venezuelan elections are closely scrutinized by all sorts of international bodies and experts. Que tal?


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Doing good and making money 

As if it weren't enough that Citgo is helping out a lot of people in need in the U.S. today it was reported in Panorama newspaper that Citgo paid record dividends to Venezuela of $785 million. So by having a well managed and well run oil company you can actually do some good things for people and still make lots of money with which to do good things inside Venezuela. Who'd have thought?

And please remember, before Chavez came to power Citgo never paid a solitary cent in dividends to Venezuela. Kind of strange, no - owning a company yet not trying to actually make any money from it? Well, Chavez changed that in a hot New York minute and you can be sure these invaluable and much needed resources are going to good use.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

PDVSA going down the tubes - NOT 

For the last several years we have been listening to a lot of non-sense from opposition propogandists about how PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, is going down the tubes and is a shell of its former self. The employees are incompetant political hacks, production is declining, and the organization is purely third rate they say. Of course, most of this was exposed as non-sense when PDVSA's financial statements came out a couple of months ago.

But now we get some more pretty compelling evidence of what a lie all that propoganda is. In the most recent issue of the "Petroleum Intelligence Weekly" they have a ranking of world wide oil companies. Out of the 50 companies ranked PDVSA has now moved UP to 3rd place behind only Exxon-Mobil and Saudi Aramco. Not bad for a company "going down the tubes" huh?

This ranking is based on refining capacity, reserves, total sales, and net earnings among other factors. PDVSA, and all of Venezuela, should be quite proud. What this clearly shows is how PDVSA has dramatically improved since the worthless former management was given the boot. And given taht no apoligies were forthcoming after the financial statements were released I wont hold my breath for the Gustavo Coronel's and Miguel Octavios of the world to come clean and apologize for all the misinformation they've been speading. The fact that their already low credibility is further diminished is rewarding enough!


Monday, December 19, 2005

The value of standing firm 

As has been discussed before the previous administration of PDVSA negotiated a serious a sweetheart deals with foriegn oil companies, known as Strategic Associations which allowed them to exploit Venezuelan oil fields at very advantageous terms. As a result of these deals Venezuela has been losing billions of dollars in potential revenue.

Finally the government put its foot down and told the almost 30 foriegn oil companies involved that they would have to renegotiate the terms of their contracts and accept a majority PDVSA ownership in these Strategic Associations. As is to be expected the vendepatrias of eastern Caracas got into a tizzy about this and how Chavez was being unnecessarily harsh on the foriegn companies. Further, they claimed, the companies would never agree to renogiate the terms.

As is to be expected, what actually happened is the exact opposite of what the opposition predicted. Every single company, save Exxon-Mobil, has now renegotiated their contracts and accepted the governments terms. Once again Chavez has proved the doubters and naysayers wrong. And the Venezuelan treasury will be richer for it.


The Iraqicazo 

As if things weren't going badly enough for the U.S. and their puppet regime in Baghdad now we have this. As we all know, the rocket scientists currently running that place can't even get oil production up to the levels of when Saddam Hussien was running the place. This puts the Iraqi government in a bind because they were counting on that money to run their government. So to make up for the shortfall in money someone came up with the brilliant idea of just raising the price of gasoline and cooking oil. Of course, this had the rather predictable effect of touching off riots and now the oil minister is trying to save his bacon by offering to resign.

To anyone with knowledge of Venezuelan history this is all too familiar. In Venezuela petroleum products have always been heavily subsidized by the government. In 1989 the government of Carlos Andres Perez, to please the IMF and foriegn banks, decided to raise gasoline prices. That touched off rioting which was brutally put down by the army at the cost of hundreds or even thousands of lives. This became known as the Caracazo and is seen as a seminal event in Venezuelan history and one of the precursors to Chavez's rise to power.

Interestingly enough, though Carlos Andres Perez has been very active in the Venezuelan opposition, up to and including advocating Chavez's assasination, he hasn't been seen in some time. Could it be he is now in the Baghdad Green Zone helping the gringos with their Iraq problem? If so, the U.S. is in much deeper trouble than I had thought.


You don't win by running against Chavez 

By popular insistance here is a a good on Evo Morales huge victory in Bolivia:

LA PAZ, Bolivia, Dec. 18 - Evo Morales, a candidate for president who has pledged to reverse a campaign financed by the United States to wipe out coca growing, scored a decisive victory in general elections in Bolivia on Sunday.

Mr. Morales, 46, an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer who also promises to roll back American-prescribed economic changes, had garnered up to 51 percent of the vote, according to televised quick-count polls, which tally a sample of votes at polling places and are considered highly accurate.

At 9 p.m., his leading challenger, Jorge Quiroga, 45, an American-educated former president who was trailing by as much as 20 percentage points, admitted defeat in a nationally televised speech.

At his party's headquarters in Cochabamba, Mr. Morales said his win signaled that "a new history of Bolivia begins, a history where we search for equality, justice and peace with social justice."

"As a people who fight for their country and love their country, we have enormous responsibility to change our history," he said.

Mr. Quiroga's concession signaled that he was prepared to step aside and avoid a protracted selection process in Congress, which, under Bolivian law, would choose between the top two finishers if neither obtained at least 50 percent of the vote.

"I congratulate Evo Morales," Mr. Quiroga said in a somber speech.

The National Electoral Court had not tabulated results on Sunday night, though Mr. Morales echoed the early polls and claimed to have won a majority.

His margin of victory appeared to be a resounding win that delivered the kind of mandate two of his predecessors, both of whom were forced to resign, never had. Eduardo Gamarra, a Bolivian-born political analyst from Florida International University in Miami, said Mr. Morales could be on his way to becoming "the president with the most legitimacy since the transition to democracy" from dictatorship a generation ago.

A Morales government would become the first indigenous administration in Bolivia's 180-year history and would further consolidate a new leftist trend in South America, where nearly 300 million of the continent's 365 million people live in countries with left-leaning governments.

Though most of those governments are politically and economically pragmatic, a Morales administration signals a dramatic shift to the left for a country that has long been ruled by traditional political parties disparaged by many Bolivians.

The victory by Mr. Morales will not be welcomed by the Bush administration, which has not hidden its distaste for the charismatic congressman and leader of the country's federation of coca farmers. American officials have warned that his election could be the advent of a destabilizing alliance involving Mr. Morales, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, who has seemed determined to thwart American objectives in the region.

In comments to reporters after casting his vote in the Chapara coca-growing region on Sunday , Mr. Morales said his government would cooperate closely with other "anti-imperialists," referring to Venezuela and Cuba. He said he would welcome cordial relations with the United States, but not "a relationship of submission."

He also pledged that under his government his country would have "zero cocaine, zero narco-trafficking but not zero coca," referring to the leaf that is used to make cocaine.

Mr. Chávez, who has met frequently with Mr. Morales, expressed confidence that Bolivia would turn a new page with the election. "We are sure what happens today will mean another step in the integration of the South America of our dreams, free and united," he said earlier in the day from Venezuela.

The election, which was marked by personal attacks, pitted two fundamentally different visions for how to extricate Bolivia from poverty. While Mr. Quiroga pledged to advance international trade, Mr. Morales promised to squeeze foreign oil companies and ignore the International Monetary Fund's advice.

Mr. Morales enjoyed strong support in El Alto, a largely indigenous city adjacent to the capital, La Paz, where voters said they had tired of years of government indifference.

"The hope is that he can channel our needs," said Janeth Zenteno, 31, a pharmacist in El Alto. "We have all supported Evo. It is not just what he says. It is that this is his base and he knows us."

For Javier Sukojayo, 40, a teacher, the election could signal a transformation of Bolivia into a country where the poor have more say.

"It has been 500 years of oppression since the Spanish came here," said Mr. Sukojayo, who counts himself as indigenous. "If we are part of the government - and we are the majority - we can make new laws that are in favor of the majority."

This is, as Predident Chavez pointed out, a huge victory for the liberation and inegration of Latin American (and I will say it again - I can't wait for Obredor to win in Mexico). And while this is obviously Morales's and the people of Bolivia's victory lets make no mistake - this is a huge victory for Hugo Chavez and his ideas. Inside Venezuela, and now outside of Venezuela, you don't win by running against Chavez.


Once again guess who is telling the truth 

Listening to the Chavez government and then to its opponents one would often think they are living in different universes. They can't ever seem to agree even on the basic facts of what is going on in their own country. Of course, to me the Chavez government government has much more credibility given that everytime one of these disputes is investigated by unbiased outside parties it turns out that it was the Chavez government was telling the truth while the opposition was giving false information. Prime examples are the out come of the Recall Referendum where numerous outside observers confirmed that the information provided by the government, that Chavez won, was correct. And more recently we saw that the government was telling the truth all along about the country's oil production numbers.

Now we may have yet another incident to back up Chavez's credibility and show what liars the opposition are. For much of the past year the Chavez government has been investigating and uncovering plots to overthrow it or carry out terrorist acts in Venezuela. The opposition has said these were all just propoganda and attempts to divert public opinion. Well, yesterday the president of Colombia and guess what he said - yes, thats right, that some Venezuelan military officials and Colombian secret police had been meeting in Colombia to plot against the Venezuelan government:

SANTA MARTA, Colombia (AFP) - Venezuelan former soldiers plotted against President Hugo Chavez's government at a Colombian military building, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said.

Uribe made the stunning disclosure Saturday at this Caribbean resort town where he is meeting with Chavez, and after analyzing documents furnished by the Venezuelan leader.

"The Venezuelan soldiers who are in Bogota went to a building to meet with members of the Colombian military. President Chavez gave us these documents ... we analyzed them and this morning I said to President Chavez: 'I must tell you the truth: this is a building of Colombia's public forces,'" he said.

Uribe said that intelligence efforts against the Venezuelan government are conducted in the building, and took full responsibility for the affair.

The two presidents met for six hours amid a climate of unusual goodwill Saturday to discuss the purported Bogota-based conspiracy against the Venezuelan president, which Chavez first disclosed to his Colombian counterpart during a meeting in Venezuela on November 24.

Seven Venezuelans involved in a 48-hour coup against Chavez in April 2002 have been linked to the new plot.

Businessman Pedro Carmona, leader of the failed military-civilian coup, enjoys political asylum in Colombia, where he is working as a university professor.

Uribe refused asylum to six Venezuelan soldiers involved in the coup but gave them permission to live in Colombia while they look for safe haven in another country.

The conservative Colombian leader said Saturday that he takes responsibility for the events.

"I took responsibility before President Chavez and I took it in public, because the government of Colombia, which suffers from terrorism, cannot permit anyone to plot conspiracies, especially against a brother country," he said.

So I don't know if anyone out there is keeping score but when it comes to the veracity of their information it is at least Chavez 3 the opposition 0.


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