Monday, 29 September 2008

Chávez's role model in Europe again "winner"


Lukashenko, one of Chávez's role models in Europe (the other being Vladimir Putin) managed a resounding victory in Sunday's Parliamentary elections, as BBC reports. All seats have gone to the government.

Will Hugo Chávez use the same tactics as the man he claims to be a great democrat, the Belorussian leader?

Some tactics Chávez may try to use for next local elections in November:

1) install fear in over 2 million state workers that they will lose their job
2) distribute food and other goodies for free shortly before the elections take place
3) say that if the opposition obtains too many posts this would lead to civil war
4) use state resources to promote his candidates
5) block time after time the transportation of opposition people to marches

Well, he has already done all that many times.

There is also 6) try to manipulate the results by using the CNE, the electoral commission that is completely subject to Chávez's whims, manipulating an electronic voting where the software is not open source, where there is no guarantee about the behaviour of executable files, where finger print machines are used that install fear on the poor with little education.

What will the opposition do?

Ah, little reminder: most people in Venezuela (I am not talking about Caracas) have NO CABLE, NO SATELLITE TV and they cannot watch the only really regime-critical TV channel in Venezuela.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Transparency International's new report: Venezuela has position 16!

Transparency International has published its yearly transparency index. Again, we beat most countries. As you can see, Venezuela is at the top 2O out of 180 countries! Only Somalia, Myanmar, Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, Sudan, Guinea, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia are more corrupt than Venezuela! Because I am lazy and the list was published starting by less developed countries in the area of corruption, I decided simply to rotate the graphic.

I do not show the rest of the very long list. At the bottom you would find a lot of EU countries. The very bottom is occupied by Scandinavian countries and New Zealand.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Where is the opposition in Venezuela?

Here you have an interesting map about where the opposition won last December's referendum.
Although Chavez and his followers keep repeating the "big opposition machinery can reach everybody in Venezuela", in reality Chávez-critical press reaches the largest urban areas only.

How come?

- Venezuelans read in general very little, the opposition newspapers have a total volume of less than half a million exemplars per day (for a population of 28 million people)
- Globovisión has an open signal only in Caracas and via cable and dish to major cities like Valencia and Maracaibo. RCTV, which before could reach every corner of Venezuela, can now only be seen via cable or satellite. Unlike what Chavistas abroad say, most poor people in Venezuela do not have cable TV, Internet access or satellite dishes.

What options does the opposition have to increase its leverage outside the urban areas?
I will post on that later this month. Stay tuned.

Another thing you can see in the link above are the places for which the pro-Chavez National Electoral Council has not delivered last referendum's results, something that is against the law. 10% of the votes are still missing.

Friday, 12 September 2008

It did not work

Chávez showed what he could do best again: he insulted people, he particularly attacked verbally the US government.*

If he intended to create more tension in the market and make oil prices go up, it did not work.
Check the oil prices.

Did his popularity rise among the die-hard Chavistas? No, even if the hard-core ones got new emotional fuel. Did the ones who are just hungry believe more in him? I doubt it. Did Chávez manage to distract the ninis a little bit about Venezuela's failing infrastructure, dramatic criminality levels or sheer corruption? Hardly.

* There are more videos where you can hear all the insults and repetitions, but I was feeling lazy. You can find them fairly easily or look at the posts Miguel wrote.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The European Extreme Left planning how to support Lukashenko's friend

As the German Marxist-oriented newspaper Junge Welt* reports, the European extreme left plans to hold a conference this autumn to coordinate how the different extreme-left parties will continue supporting Hugo Chávez's regime.

What parties are we talking about here? It is basically those that are to the left of the democratic left. They are the ones who call social democrats (off the record) "traitors", "sissies" and so on. Some of them claim for the general public to be "the real social democrats".

Among the parties supporting this conference you can find the German Linke, the heirs of the SED. Apart from the extreme left proper there may be a couple of politicians from the left branches of the social democrats, but there are less and less of this type as European social democrats have become wearier of associating themselves with such governments as Chavez'.

The extreme left parties will discuss in this conference mostly how they will support the Chávez regime for the coming regional elections in Venezuela this November. They will decide how to carry out lobbying work, coordinate their work to block any condemnation of Chavismo at EU level.

I am not very worried about their work. Still, I wanted to report it here. I am now more concerned about the way real social democrats are still too quiet about the violation of human rights by Chavismo. There are exceptions: the French socialists have proved they can see through the appearances. They have already condemned Chavez's referendum proposal, among other things. But we need the Spanish PSOE, Labour, the SPD and any others who call themselves social democrats to have courage and denounce Chavismo's hatred for pluralism and the many vices that the Venezuelan electoral system and judiciary present. Is the PSOE so quiet, for instance, because it is afraid of losing so many juicy weapons deals for a Spain going towards recession?

If the social democrats in Europe do not speak out fast, they will be the biggest losers: Chávez is giving a horrible reputation to socialism in Venezuela and once the economic kettle explodes, the bad reputation will be also felt by those governments in Latin Amerian countries currently profiting from Chávez's financial support and Venezuela's petrodollar bleeding.

* According to Spiegel and others, several of the journalists working for Die Junge Welt have a Stasi past. If you want to know more about what the Stasi was about, I would recommend you to see the excellent German film Das Leben der Anderen. The picture I put on top was the Stasi's emblem.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Ken Livingstone with Mugabe's Venezuelan friend

(I know the second man hugging Chávez is Iran's President Ahmed Ahmadinejad, I just wanted to put a picture of another of Chavez's friends in the world, someone different from Mugabe or Ghadaffi or Syria's president or Castro)

This 29 August we could read in The Guardian a letter written by Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of one of the richest cities in the world.

You can read the letter here.

Here I simply address several of his statements:

"The idea that this country is a dictatorship is ridiculous – probably some of those assiduously promoting it have difficulty in keeping a straight face."
Mr Livingstone basically asserts that because he could see from his hotel TV set the critical Globovisión on cable and he could check we have some newspapers that are critical of Chavez.
The little things he does not know:

  • Most people in Venezuela DO NOT HAVE cable TV and cannot watch Globovisión.
  • Caracas plus Maracaibo plus Valencia are not all of Venezuela. M
ost regions outside the main urban centres are not reached by Globovisión or RCTV cable.
  • Less than 25% of Venezuelans have Internet access.
  • El Universal and El Nacional are newspapers that have always been bought by a minority in a country where those who read, read so very little.

Mr Livingstone does not tell you that a lot of high officials in the Chávez regime openly threatened people who signed the petition for the referendum for Chávez. Those officials said whoever signed against Chavez would be sacked. He does not say how Chávez announced the finger prints of those who signed against him would pass to history.

Mr Livingstone does not say Chávez has declared many times that if the opposition wins, there would be war.

Mr Livingstone claims Chávez showed how good a democrat he can be by admitting his obvious defeat last December. The former mayor does not mention Chávez said the opposition's victory was a "shitty shitty shitty victory" and that he would not change anything in his proposal and he would push for it later, even if it was rejected by most people (he has already passed several laws via special powers that were part of the points rejected in the referendum).

Mr Livingstone does not explain why the Venezuelan National Electoral Council has not declared what happened with 10% of the votes in last December's referendum, that the National Electoral Council should have published the final results many months ago and that it has not done so even if the numbers they provided in the first report simply DO NOT ADD UP.

Mr Livingstone does not explain why Chávez does not allow critical journalists or channels close to him.

Mr Livingstone does not explain the real meaning of Socialism, Fatherland or Death.

Mr Livingstone does not explain the pathetic Personality Cult we have in Venezuela, where the state spends millions in thousands and thousands of billboards glorifying Chávez as a successor of Bolívar, as the new great hero.

Mr Livingstone shamelessly says illiteracy has been eliminated to "UNESCO levels". That is not right at all. UNESCO never confirmed Chavez's assertions. As you can read in The Economist, this is a big, big fib. Venezuela's literacy rate in 1998 was around 93% and growing. After some years, Chávez claimed it had been reduced to 0%, something not even Germany has managed to do and definitely not the UK. As that was not credible, Chavez and his cronies mentioned other numbers..."well, we have brought literacy to something in the ninety%". Hello? What is difference from 93% in 1997? And then they have had to concede hundreds of thousands of the people who registered for the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela cannot read or write. Mr Livingstone does not say either that now Venezuela has pulled out of open evaluation tests of education levels, as those promoted by UNESCO. He does not say Venezuela is one of the few countries in Latin America that do not take part in the PISA programme.

Mr Livingstone talks about the old rich, but he does not talk about the Boliburgueses, about the Kaufmans and the Antonini Wilsons, about the ministers who claim this is a true socialist government while wearing the most expensive clothes.

Mr Livingstone claims Chávez has introduced a "new free healthcare system", when he does not know the state of public hospitals (already free before Chávez).

Mr Livingstone mentions crime very briefly, but he does not mention the murder rate in Venezuela has increased over 300% since 1998, more than in any other country in Latin America, including Mexico. He does not mention either the 8 ministers of Justice Venezuela has had since 1999 have lied month after month about the murder rates, that they have claimed the murder rate is down because they compare one isolated weekend to another or one region during a couple of days suitable for their pseudo-statistical analysis. He does not want to say Venezuela's government stopped sending the number of murders in 2003 to United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime when it became too clear crime was out of control in Venezuela.

Mr Livingstone does not explain exactly what has been achieved with the money poor Venezuela invested in one of the richest cities in the world.

Mr Livingstone tries to make Britons believe most of the opposition are evil rich people who dislike the poor. That is like saying most Britons who do not like Mr Livingstone are neo-Nazis and as proof he chooses some fringe neo-Nazi group.
What kind of tactic is that? If some Venezuelan were to tell Britons everybody who is not with Mr Livingstone/Cameron/Blair/you-name-him or her is a Nazi or that he is just some kind of selfish monster, I think Britons would be very angry and feel that Venezuelan does not know what respect and honesty are.

Shame on you, Mr Livingstone.