Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Death and Venezuela's military regime

Head of the current Parliament, Cilia Flores, said the opposition shows "necrophilia" with the way it talks about the horrible murder rate in Venezuela. At the same time, the military regime decided to exhume the bodies of Bolívar's sisters in order to prove the bones they exhumed some weeks earlier were really those of Bolívar. One of the obsessions lieutenant-colonel Chávez has is to prove Bolívar was murdered by US Americans in collusion with the Colombians.

As I wrote in Spanish a few weeks ago, the Bolívar Bone Project, as I call it, is part of the circus the regime has to motivate people. Romans had panem et circenses, Spaniards have pan y toros and Venezuelans arepa and Bolívar. My predictions are becoming true, even if two weeks later: the regime announced "important findings" (without declaring what) and the regime has now exhumed the women's skeletons. I am sure before 26 September it is likely to announce "something". The regime probably does not know what it will announce, but it will be something, anything that could put it as being good to the mythical figure of Bolívar. Meanwhile, over 95% of murders happening in Venezuela remain unpunished.

Yesterday, Brito García, a man who was on hunger strike protesting against the way the regime had violated his rights, died.

One day justice will be made.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Measuring death in the government of Chávez

Crime is one of the main problems facing Venezuela now. In the last weeks a series of events have brought the discussion to the forefront: propaganda minister Izarra laughing on CNN about murder statistics, more protests from everybody about the persistent crime and recently an apparent leak of an official report that shows the murder rate may be higher than previously thought.

I have been blogging for years about the problem. I have been particularly puzzled by the very unprofessional way in which many organizations deal with the issue: the regime has kept blaming it on previous governments, numbers are thrown back and forth, only now people try to talk about actual murder rates and almost no one has demanded from the govermnent to publish the real numbers. No newspaper in Venezuela seems to see any use in charts to represent trends and only lately did they see fit to compare rates with that of other countries.

I have kept a count of murders for Carabobo, my region, for several years now. I owe it to Notitarde. I never used to read Notitarde until I came to Europe but I decided to read the grim crime section at least once a month because Notitarde keeps a monthly report on statistics. The report is based not on polls as other sources, but on the reports from the state police and the and the mortuaries. There are isolated articles referring to specific murders and with that you can verify numbers do add up. Here I present the latest figures I have.

Valencia is a municipio that has more than 1 million inhabitants. Different governments have tried to split it into two municipios, but there has been resistance. The North is generally speaking better off and the South is very poor, even if there are some low middle class areas in the South. The military regime has split the municipio only for gerrymandering and completely inconstitutional purposes. Most murders in Carabobo take place in the Southern part but the statistics don't show this, so it is hard for me to prove here how the poorest are by far the more affected. Carabobo's Municipio Libertador, though, is home to mostly poor people. According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, there are about 186222 people living there. In the last 12 months, 254 people have been murdered in Libertador. The murder rate for the last 12 months is thus 136.4 murders. Municipio San Diego is mostly middle class with a couple of slums and its government is led by a rather efficient opposition mayor, Enzo Scarano. The murder rate there is 25.71, still high but among the lowest in Venezuela's urban areas. The murder rate for the whole of Carabobo (July 2009-July 2010) was 89.94 murders per 100,000 persons.

I think I have a fair impression of how crime is in Lara, in Greater Caracas and a couple of other regions, but I do not have the hard facts. All in all, though, the numbers I presented here very much correspond with what is finally coming out from such studies as the ones Miguel is talking about.

The Venezuelan military regime will keep blaming it on the others. Propaganda "journalists" such as Maurice Lemoine, from Monde Diplomatique, will write about conspiracies whereby most of these murders are product of Colombians and right-winged paramilitaries trying to topple the military government of Hugo Chávez.

Murder per municipio in Carabobo

In reality not every parish in Valencia is affected in the same way. Northern Valencia is not as affected as poor Miguel Peña. Most people in San Diego are middle class. Most people in Libertador are poor.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Humboldt (and Venezuelans|und Venezolaner)

Alexander von Humboldt wrote the following at the start of his long visit to Venezuela in 1799. The place was Cariaco, now a third-rank town that was an important "city" in Venezuela back then.

"We met in the city many people who through a certain lightness of behaviour, through a wider scope of ideas and - may I say - through a strong preference for the form of government of the United States, showed they had a lot of links with the outside world. Here we heard for the first time under these skies people pronouncing the names of Franklin and Washington with excitement. Next to the expression of this excitement we got to hear complains about the current situation of New Andalusia, images, often exaggerated, of the natural wealth of the country, and passionate, impatient desires for a better future"

Alexander von Humboldt hat folgendes am Anfang seines Aufenthalts in Venezuela 1799 geschrieben. Der Ort war Cariaco, eine wichtige "Stadt" im damaligen Venezuela, jetzt einfach ein Kaff.

"Wir lernten in der Stadt viele Leute kennen, die durch eine gewisse Leichtigkeit des Benehmens, durch umfassenderen Ideenkreis und, darf ich hinzusetzen, durch entschiedene Vorliebe für die Regierungssorm der Vereinigten Staaten verriethen, daß sie viel mit dem Ausland in Verkehr gestanden. Hier hörten wir zum erstenmal in diesem Himmelsstriche die Namen Franklin und Washington mit Begeisterung aussprechen. Neben dem Ausdruck dieser Begeisterung bekamen wir Klagen zu hören über den gegenwärtigen Zustand von Neu-Andalusien, Schilderungen, oft übertriebene, des natürlichen Reichthums des Landes, leidenschaftliche, ungeduldige Wünsche für eine bessere Zukunft."

Monday, 23 August 2010

Propaganda in Venezuela, nicht in der DDR

Alle Radio- und Fernsehsender, auch der letzte regimekritische Sender des Landes, Globovision, der von nur 30% der Bevölkerung gesehen werden kann, müssen jede Woche stundenlang kostenlose Werbung des Militärregimes zeigen.

Hier könnt Ihr ein Beispiel davon sehen, was Venezolaner ertragen müssen:

Der Mann sagt u.a. folgendes:

"Wir stellen nicht nur Handies her, wir kriegen darüber hinaus die Bildung, um neue Männer und Frauen zu werden und wir errichten das gute Vaterland."
"Darum...wenn die Yankee-Liebhaber und die Bourgeoisie die Regierung kritisieren, sage ich: oh Gott, verzeihe ihnen, denn sie sind nie in einem sozialistischen Unternehmen gewesen."

Was fast keiner dieser Chávez-Anhänger weiss, obwohl man das (noch) im Bericht der Zentralbank lesen kann, obwohl viele Arbeiter und Unternehmer im privaten Sektor das wissen, ist, dass die venezolanische Industrie im Jahre 2009 um 11% geschrumpft ist.

Am Sonntag erklärte Hugo Chávez den Anfang der Operation "Zestörung", mit der die Opposition geschlagen werden muss. "Die Operation wird so heissen: Operation Zerstörung. So wird sie heissen. Ihr müsst sie [die Opposition] zunichte machen. Das ist der Befehl. Wir sind nicht gekommen, um besiegt zu werden".


Daniel hat zuerst darüber berichtet.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Amazing Venezuela: the most incredible electoral system on Earth. (1)

The maps I present here show municipios with a different colour depending on number of voters. More interestingly, the map above shows as red dots those voting units where Chávez's 2009 referendum -the one where he managed to pass what was rejected in 2007- got a 100% approval. On average 111 voters said YES and not one said no, according to the data from the National Electoral Council.

Most of them are in areas with native American population (which makes less than 2% of Venezuela's population) and all in schools where the opposition had no witness.

On the map below you will see in big yellow dots all the voting units where the NO vote got 100% of approval.

OK, look no more. There is not a single yellow dot. Even in the most anti-Chávez places you have at least 2% of votes for SÍ.

Strange, isn't it?

These are not the only weird things. As I posted earlier, you have things like a voting unit where over 522 persons voted yes, 1 voted no, everybody went to vote and there was a voter who -with 137 years of age- is the oldest person on Earth by far. In many voting centres, the presence of opposition witnesses correlated to at least 10% more votes for the NO.

Friday, 20 August 2010

If you are a Venezuelan living abroad, you are not Venezuelan...and more

Juan posted about a brilliant video by rapper Onechot that talks about violence in Venezuela, the country with the by far highest murder rate in South America and one of the worst in America, after El Salvador, Honduras and Jamaica.

Now Tania Díaz in her programme on the state TV declared the Chávez government is opening an investigation about that video for its "sensationalistic character". One of the things that caught my attention was when she said Onechot is "a rapper claiming to be Venezuelan but living in Spain". I reckon that is the reason why the Venezuelan military government does not count our votes abroad. Since 2007 the CNE does not publish the results (even if we do have the actas) of votes abroad as Maduro wants to say "over half of all Venezuelans living abroad signed a petition supporting Chávez".

Díaz, Chávez aparatchik at the VTV state TV.

What should we do? I am sending this information - again - to the OAS and EU.

I ask all Venezuelans abroad to put pressure on the Venezuelan regime so that the CNE publishes the result of our votes from 2007 onwards. They must do that by law, whether officers are elected and referendums approved or rejected.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Die Wahlen in Venezuela: die Farce

Der Nationale Wahlrat (CNE auf Spanisch) ist völlig unter Kontrolle der Nationalregierung und darum unter Kontrolle von Chávez. Es gibt ein einziges Mitglied, das nicht mit der Militärregierung ist: Vicente Díaz. Er wird völlig ignoriert. Das ist gestern schon wieder geschehen. Tibisay Lucena, die Vorsitzende des Wahlrates, erklärte, internationale Beobachter dürfen ihre Berichte nur an die Regierung geben und diese Berichte seien streng vertraulich. Darüber hinaus weigert sich der CNE, eine Untersuchung über die Werbungen der Regierung, die die Opposition auf primitiver Art und Weise beleidigen, einzuleiten. Damit hat Lucena die Forderungen von Díaz zum zigsten Mal abgelehnt.

Die Radio- und fernsehsender des Staates strahlen ausschliesslich die Meinung der Chavistas aus. Die anderen Sender sind gezwungen, jede Woche stundenlang die Reden der Regierung zu zeigen. Es gibt nur einen einzigen Sender, Globovisión, der regierungskritisch ist. Er kann nur von etwa 30% der Bevölkerung gesehen werden: die, die in Caracas leben oder Internet bzw Kabelzugang haben. Die CNE erlaubt nicht, dass die Opposition mehr als ein paar Minuten Werbung pro Tag ausstrahlt. Die Staatssender sind aber immer damit beschäftigt, die sogenannte "Revolution" zu promoten, Chávez und seine Militärs zu loben und die Opposition ganz vulgär zu beschimpfen. Wehe, wenn die Opposition etwas ähnliches machen würde.

Das ist die grösste Demokratie der Sarah Wagenknecht, des Heinz Dieterichs, das ist die Demokratie, die manche Figuren der spanischen PSOE loben.

Was wird die EU nun tun?

Über die unverschämte und im Gegensatz zu anderswo theoretisch völlig verfassungswidrige Gerrymandering habe ich schon hier berichtet. Francisco Toro schreibt auch darüber. Siehe dies und dies.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Amazing Venezuela: the case of Areo

Cedeño Municipality, Monagas State, on the Eastern Llanos of Venezuela

Uraco is the only municipality where the opposition has an alcalde (even if with a largely emasculated government after Chávez modified the competences for municipalities and states)

In 2008 in Areo, a village in the Northwest of Monagas state, a 135-year old lady called Lareyah de Cases Caden went to vote in the regional elections. In early 2009, she went back to vote in the new referendum where Chávez proposed the last thing people rejected in 2007 and he couldn't pass through special laws after that. Mrs de Cases has been voting since the 2004 referendum, according to registries the opposition could get from the National Electoral Commission. Before 2004 she wasn't politically active. We can fairly say Chavismo invigorated her. Mrs de Cases was a 27-year old woman during the Second Boer War and the Paris Exposition Universelle. She was a 72 year old lady when World War II came to an end. She became an 100-year-old lady when the Yom Kippur War took place. As I said in a previous post, Venezuela's rate of centenaries per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the National Electoral Commission, is 4 times higher than Japan's. I wonder if Mrs Lareyah de Cases's health has something to do with the waters of the Areo River or with the kind of food she eats. The Areo region was home to Carib Indians and perhaps there is something in the genes or habits we got from them that gives us that little bit of extra life and energy.

Votes in the 2009 referendum, parish Areo


The school where de Cases went to give her vote is the Escuela Básica Morita. Results for the 2009 referendum show that every one of the 550 registered voters at the Morita school . Everyone. Chávez's proposal was to introduce indefinite re-election for elected functionaries, which now allows a president in a strongly presidential, not a parliamentary system, to run for re-elections indefinitely. The proposal got a rather strong support at that school. Of the 550 voters, 547 voted for it. Only one opposed it and 2 voted null, even if that is not shown at the CNE site since 2009 (it does not show votes abroad since 2007).

We have no actas because the opposition did not manage to get witnesses for that school as for any other in many other areas there, but then: who is going to blow against the wind? Who is going to put in doubt the most modern and reliable electoral system in human history?


Areo is a parish part of the Cedeño Municipality. The mayor of Cedeño is the brother of the state governor, José Gregorio Briceño, a former member of the 4th Republic AD party who conveniently noticed the winds of "change" and switched to the PSUV and has been governor of the state since 2004. Mr Briceño is a lawyer from the private Santa María University, just like Cilia Flores. I still remember when I used to read in newspapers job ads for lawyers where employers warned: "Santa María lawyers please, do not apply".

The state is home to such luminaries as entrepreneur and military man Diosdado Cabello, one of the key coup mongers of November 1992 and probably one of Chávez's 5 closest men. Cabello is one of the 3 men president Chávez follows in Twitter. He is also key candidate for the National Assembly for the Monagas state.

A couple of months ago, Mr Briceño (the governor, not the mayor) visited Areo to inaugurate a new school for 400 pupils. I am happy the people of the area got that school, as I know a lot of children in many areas of Venezuela are in over-crowded schools, sometimes having classes under the skies. I do not know what kind of opposition there is in the region. I would suspect the guys there are rather clueless AD-COPEI-supporters who thought things could go on like they were before and, in opposition to the ones from the government, have no money for pork and much less for schools.

The governor and his family are strong in the state, but there is a certain cloud over their power. Since 2007 about 52 people have been killed by the state police of Monagas and most of the cases are very unclear and have to do with cocaine trade. If you speak Spanish, watch this interview of former mayor of the Aguasay municipalty and now candidate for the circuit where Areo and other municipalities are.

Monagas State is called after the Monagas family, who were military caudillos and presidents of Venezuela in the second half of the XIX century. Oil and drugs have changed the shape of the state forever. More on that in another post.

Hat tip to Amieres for the electoral details

Probably the oldest person on Earth

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Transparency for Venezuela in pictures

I keep writing about ideas for improving Venezuela even if I know Venezuela is currently under a military autocracy and there is little room for any proposal from pluralistic Venezuela to be implemented. I still think we need to talk about what we can do once the military regime is gone.

A few months ago a German IT magazine, Ct', had an article about sites promoting transparency in different countries. One of those I liked the most was a tiny British site called Where Does My Money Go? If you have a minute, take a look, specially check out the dashboard and the way regions and spending fields can be compared. The site is a taster. I can think of a dozen other items they could add there to go deeper into who is spending what in the government, possibly with links to the public tenders and companies involved in any project with a budget over a certain threshold (say, the equivalent to €5000). The site is maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Right now the Venezuelan government is one of the least transparent. We just get contradictory pieces of information here and there, we do know the Venezuelan so-called revolution spends in submarines, Kalashnikovs and tanks galore as well as in Chávez's travels and dresses. Although the self-proclaimed "socialist" but actually just military regime says it spends a lot in "education", schools are overcrowded and falling apart and parents still have to pay an average worker's monthly salary to get the books and textbooks for two children..whereas in the EU and USA those things are usually provided by the state.

It is time for the opposition to go out and propose ideas on transparency and spending...but not in Caracas or Northern Valencia, not on just on Internet, but in the streets of Maturín and El Tigre, Southern Valencia and San Carlos, Calabozo Pedernales.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Über Mord lachen

Andrés Izarra ist Präsident des internationalen TV-Satellitensenders Telesur und früherer Minister für Information. Telesur ist vor allem eine Propagandamaschine für Chávez. Dort gibt es keinen Platz für eine offene Debatte mit der Regierungskritiker. Gestern hat CNN Spanish ihn und Roberto Briceño León, Direktor der ONG Venezolanischer Beobachter für Gewalt interviewt. Als Briceño León über Mordsstatistiken in Venezuela sprach, began Izarra hysterisch zu lachen und zwar sehr laut.

Dann sagte er, diese Statistiken seien Lug und Trug, sie seien Teil einer pornographiscen Kampagne gegen die Revolution. Er sagte, in Kolumbien gibt es Tausende unbekannte Ermordete und in Mexiko muss die Regierung die Truppen auf der Strasse haben.

Izarras Aussagen über Kolumbien und Mexiko stimmen. Das ändert aber gar nichts über die Lage in Venezuela und das macht es gar nicht besser. Wenn man die Lage eigentlich auf nationaler Ebene vergleicht sieht man wie ernst die Situation in Venezuela is. Izarra wird auf keinen Fall erklären, warum die venezolanische Regierung seit 2002 Statistiken über Mord in Venezuela an die UNODC nicht mehr schickt (die letzten, die sie schickten, zeigten eine Zunahme der Mordratte von 19 * 100,000 Einwohner in 1999 zu 34 in 2001), warum die venezolanische Regierung sich weigert über MORDRATEN im ganzen Land zu sprechen und ständig nur über Ciudad Juarez in Mexiko spricht.

Die Mordrate in Venezuela hat sich seit 1999 verdreifacht. Sie ist doppelt so gross wie in Kolumbien. Die Regierung weigert sich kategorisch klipp und klar zu sagen, wie viele Morde pro Jahr in Venezuela gibt und wie viele im Jahr 1999 gab, als sie an die Macht kam. Sie wird immer wieder über Gott und die Welt sprechen, aber gar nicht über diese Zahlen, die sie gar nicht verstecken kann. Journalisten können aber immer noch bei Lokalbehörden die Listen der Ermordeten in jedem Bundesstaat kriegen, auch wenn das immer schwieriger wird, denn die Nationalregierung setzt die Polizei unter Druck, um solche Daten selbst lokal nicht bekanntzugeben. Journalisten gehen darüber hinaus zu den Leichehäusern, um weitere Statistiken zu kriegen bzw die Zahlen der Polizei zu verifizieren...und die Wahrheit ist schrecklich.

Die Militärregierung Venezuelas spricht immer wieder über eine "Abnahme" der Kriminalität (ganz allgemein) in X%, sehr wohl wissend, dass man Zahlen über Delikte im allgemeinen, nicht über Morde, sehr leicht manipulieren kann. Sie verlgicht auch manchmal Zahlen zwischen Woche X in diesem Jahr und im früheren Jahr. Wenn weniger Menschen in einer einzigen Woche umgebracht werden, berichten sie über diese Woche, nicht über die vorige oder über den Monat oder das Jahr. Statistiken für Idioten. Auch wenn die Regierung die Definition von Mord schon drastisch beschränkt hat, bleiben die meisten Morde Morde.

Und Izarra lacht.

Ps1: Vicente hat mich auf ein Tweet des Izarras aufmerksam gemacht. Hier die Worte des Vorsitzenders von Telesur. Vorsicht!

Rauhe Übersetzung: "Ein escuálido* ist ein Rotz, der sich für Kaugummi hält und dazu will, dass die ganze Welt ihm eine Massage gibt und in Ekstase schreit."

*escuálido oder Schwächling: Bezeichnung der Chávez-Unterstützer für Oppositionelle in Venezuela

Wir haben Screenshots und Kopien der Tweets gemacht...falls Izarra das alles löschen will.

Ps2: Für mehr Infos über Kriminalität in Venezuela einfach auf Label "crime" klicken

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

An Iranian woman, stoning and Venezuela

For some months the world has heard about Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year old woman of the Azeri-speaking minority accused by the Iranian regime of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. She was first sentenced to whipping in 2006 for "illicit relationship" with two men after the death of her husband and went through the punishment soon afterwards. She then was sent again to trail during the process of the men involved in the killing of her husband. She said she had been tortured for the confession and that she does not speak Farsi. She was going to be executed by stoning in July 2010 but the campaign carried out by one of her children stopped the execution for a time. Her initial lawyer went into hiding and is now a refugee in Norway. Lula da Silva, a friend of Akhmadinejad, asked him to grant Ms Ashtiani assylum, but the Iranian rejected the plea. They said da Silva did not know the case well.

Last week The Guardian managed to get an
interview through a middle person and there Ms Ashtiani said the Iranian regime is constructing new charges to pave the way for her execution.

Yesterday the state channel transmitted a broadcast where Ashtiani herself reads out, with trembling voice, a "confession". The way the confession took place makes people believe it was product of torture, a horribly common practice in Iran. International organizations as Amnesty International fear the imminent execution of Ms Ashtiani. As a Venezuelan I am profoundly shocked. Opposition parties and NGOs protested against the imminent execution of Ashtiani in front of the Iranian embassy. I suppose Chávez et alia will dismiss this all as politics and he will say he does not intervene in other nation's affairs. I would tell him: call it as you want, but do something. Please, intercede for this woman's life. We are talking about the most basic human rights. If you want to read more about human rights in Iran, you can take a look at Amnesty's reports here.

Wee lion that is not a lion

I know this animal as leoncillo or wee lion. It is also called Jaguarundi. It is a rather small feline. It can be found mostly in such places as in the Canaima National Park forests.

Here you have a youtube of one in Surinam:

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

How the Military Regime in Venezuela violates the constitution

The real rulers of Venezuela since the very start: the military honchos

Venezuelan honchos have hold Venezuela hostage from the very start of the independence: a military upper caste proclaimed itself the only liberators, grab the vast majority of Venezuelan lands, became the president-dictators for most of the time. Civil presidents ruled for only for 7 years between 1810 and 1899. Civil presidents ruled for just a couple of years before 1958. The 1958-1998 was the exception to the rule. Coup monger Chávez finally came to power via elections, but he has been eroding the electoral system ever since, in spite of what his foreign apollogists proclaim.

Unlike in Western Europe, the military are the ones really in control of the election process. They still control vast amounts of territory they proclaim to be "military terrain" but is more "hunting ground" than anything. They are still among the biggest terratenientes of the country. The other big landowners obtained their lands mostly via the military. "Agricultural reform" has been based only on the land of those landowners that are not befriended with the military. Venezuelan beaches cannot be private...unless they are part of military clubs. The military control the access not just to Indian territories that need special protection but to many other areas. And they more often than not allow their friends to do as they please in those territories.

After the reports from the Colombian government about FARC/ENL bases in Venezuela, the Chávez Ministry of Defence published a communique in their site.

The military honchos started their rejection of Colombia's assertion with this:

"The Bolivarian Armed Forces, in its socialist and anti-imperialist character, loyal to its commitment with the Venezuelan people and to its historical tradition of peace and non-intervention in the inner problems of our brother-nations, seen the aggressions perpetrated by the ambassador of Colombia, LUIS ALFONSO HOYOS, at the Organization of American States, manifests its unconditional support to our commandant-in-chief, HUGO CHÁVEZ..."

Now, the constitution of Venezuela states the following:

"The National Armed Forces constitute an essentially professional institution, with no political orientation, organized by the State to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the Nation and ensure the integrity of its geographical space, through military defense, cooperation for the purpose of maintaining internal order and active participation in national development, in accordance with this Constitution and the law. In performing their functions, they are at the exclusive service of the Nation, and in no case at the service of any person or political partisanship...The National Armed Forces consist of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the National Guard, which function in an integrated manner within the scope of their competence to fulfill their mission, with their own overall Social Security system, as established under the pertinent organic law."

Coup monger Chávez had proposed in 2007 several changes and they were all rejected. One of them was this:

Article 328: The National Armed Forces constitute an essentially patriotic, popular and anti-imperialist institution organized by the State to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the Nation; to preserve it from any internal or external attacks and ensure the integrity of its geographic area through the study, planning and execution of the Bolivarian military doctrine, the implementation of the principles of integral military defense and the war of popular resistance, the permanent participation in tasks akin to maintaining security of the citizenry, and the upkeep of the internal order as well as the active engagement in economic, social, scientific and technological development plans in accordance to this constitution and the law.

In the performance of its functions it will always be at the service of the Venezuelan people defending its sacred interests and under no circumstances will serve any oligarchies or imperial foreign powers.

Its fundamental pillars are this constitution and the law, as well as discipline, obedience and subordination.

Its historical pillars are in Bolivar's mandate: to free the nation, to take the sword to defend social guarantees and to deserve people's blessings."

But then Chávez did not care. He started to force all changes through "special decreets" that are anything but legal.

The military forces, together with a judiciary and an Electoral Committee totally subservient to the military caste, are going to do anything to keep themselves in power.

Any opposition will be seen as "traición a la patria".

Yesterday, the military started a process against Antonio Rivero, a dissident military who dared criticized them.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Ideas for democracy, books instead of Kalashnikovs and more

The Mesa de la Unidad (Unity Table or ignonimiously MUD in its Spanish acronym) has finally made available a contact form and email in order to receive suggestions from us all. That's cool.

I would like to ask you to send your ideas for the sustainable development of Venezuela and for the attainment of democracy and justice in Venezuela to their address here.

One of the ideas I had: guarantee by law that every child in Venezuela can borrow all textbooks s/he needs and get enough notebooks from the school. We can use the money Chavismo 's 21 Century "Socialism" is using right now for submarines and Kalashnikovs. At this moment in Venezuela you have to pay a worker's salary to get the books and notebooks of two children. The real cost for those books actually is very affordable, we just need some competition, transparency, public tender and the money we are wasting now in toys for the milicos.

GDP growth for the last quarter in several Latin American countries (source: latest The Economist). Venezuela's indeed very red.

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Lurid Story of Venezuelan Political Parties


% of party per state
governor elections in 2008

Venezuela's political mood has been evolving quite a lot since 2008. Still, a phenomenon that has plagued the country since the early XIX century remains unchanged: it is a country of caudillos where parties are more than anywhere else a platform for a leader, then a platform for the friends and only then a platform for an ideology...of sorts. To some extent the People's Front of Judea had a more mature political platform than most Venezuelan parties:

Almost no party has a programme and definitely not something that can be seen as a plan for sustainable development. The PSUV produced some lengthy "wish list" after 8 years in power and Primero Justicia has a plan that almost no one knows about.

In the first chart you see the results in percentage for each state of each political "party". It was very difficult to portray it all: the Chávez party, the PSUV, got into coalition with the small Partido Comunista de Venezuela almost everywhere and with different other parties in this or that state.

Votes per party per state 2008, governor and Alcalde Mayor

As you see, a lot of people want to found parties in Venezuela.

The second graph shows the same data with total of votes. There is about a dozen "social democratic" parties, a dozen "liberal" parties, a hundred parties that want to act at national level but have just a couple of hundred voters per state and also several dozen parties that are represented in one state only. I haven't seen something like this...perhaps in Afghanistan, but I have never been there.

Remember this data comes from the 2008 elections. The opposition acted in a very messy way back then. It lost several municipalities because there was no common front (one of them the third largest city of the country, Valencia) and the largest state by surface, Bolívar. Now unity has improved, even if it is at a microscopic level.

Barinas, we lost it. The second place went to a former Chavista who is now being attacked at every level by the government because he was on his turn denouncing the corruption within the Chávez clan. Barinas is a sort of Duchy for the Chávez clan. The current governor is Chávez's oldest brother and the previous one was his dad. Several key posts in the state belong to the Chávez clan.

Bolívar, the largest state: we lost it because centre-right Primero Justicia (PJ) did not want to accept Velázquez from Causa R, was the most popular opposition candidate and Velázquez did not want to leave it to PJ either. Half a dozen parties supported Causa R and half a dozen parties supported PJ, so the PSUV got it.

Aragua: central state where the opposition hasn't got a clue. One of the main opposition politicians from Aragua is now major of the Sucre Municipality in Caracas.

The opposition got the state of Carabobo with the clan party of Proyecto Venezuela (brownish yellow) and the support of many other parties. Unfortunately, the opposition lost the very important city of Valencia because Proyecto Venezuela did not want to accept other parties had a much more popular candidate for the municipality. Proyecto Venezuela also tries to place candidates in many other states, which is a complete waste of resources.

Monagas, another Venezuelan-cowbody state. The opposition, specially PJ and UNT, haven't found out how to get there. Maturín, the main city, is considered a village by most people from Caracas, in spite of its 650000 inhabitants. Several of the most notorious Boliburgueses, including Diosdado Cabello, one of the 3 most important guys in Chávez's inner circle, come from here.

Unlike what some very silly foreign useful idiots think, Zulianos do not want the independence. They are very regionalist, though. The opposition easily wins there: UNT (social democrats sort of) got a bit more votes than PSUV on its own and also got the support of AD, COPEI, Primero Justicia and several micro-parties.

Miranda: the North of Miranda is part of Greater Caracas. Most of the PJ seems to be living and breathing and thinking there. Once you get out of Northern Miranda, you are mostly in Chávez territory. I suppose opposition leaders spend 0.5% of their time there.

In spite of that, the government of Miranda, led by PJ, has been doing a pretty decent job and they are likely to increase their popularity also in Chavista areas, in spite of the national government taking away most competences and a large part of resources from the regions, in spite of constant attacks by Chavista thugs to any initiative from PJ. I just wish PJ (and the other 400 opposition parties) would spend more time in the secondary cities and towns.

Chávez supporters led by a pro-Chávez mayor attacking the state governor house after the PJ was elected, 2008. This was just one of the many attacks against the opposition. I listed some of them here.

The PSUV has been losing ground in the last months, but let's remember the pro-Chávez Electoral Council has done a lot to gerrymander in many key places, the regime is using the state channels and radios as permanent propaganda weapons, it is not allowing access to the alternative forces and the most modern electoral system on Earth, forever certified by the Carter Centre, EU and Jupiter tends to produce paper trails that do not match the digital vote.

The democratic forces need to work much harder and above all more intelligently if we want to have pluralism and start to take the road of sustainable development in the coming years.

Music from Venezuelan Guayana

Here you can watch a Croatian musician interpreting music from Antonio Lauro, one of South America's greatest composers. Lauro was born in Ciudad Bolívar, formerly known as Angostura, on the Orinoco. He composed mostly for guitar but his pieces have often being adapted for other instruments.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Zu ehrlich, so geht es nicht

Eins der vielen PDVSA-Gebäude - hinten sieht man "Sozialismus, Vaterland oder Tod"...den jetzigen Slogan der Chávez-Fans und vor allem der Chávez-Beamten

Die Staatserdölgesellschaft PDVSA hatte vorgestern ihren Jahresbericht online gestellt. Der Journalist und Blogger Setti hatte damals folgendes geschrieben:

"This 523-page document is a classic bit of Venezuelan duality: on the one hand, a demonstration of extreme transparency, above and beyond what’s required by law or normal among OPEC’s state oil companies. On the other hand, a bizarre mess of obfuscation and unexplained phenomena. (Yes, pro- and anti-Chavistas, you are both welcome to quote me out of context.)"

Dieses 523-seitige Dokument ist ein Klassiker der venezolanischen Dualität: einerseits ein Beweis extremer Transparenz, viel mehr als was das Gesetz vorschreibt oder was unter OPEC-Erdölgesellschaften üblich ist, andererseits ein seltsames Durcheinander von Verschleierung und unerklärten Phänomenen (Ja, Fans und Gegner des Chavismus, Ihr könnt mich nun ganz ruhig aus dem Kontext gerissen zitieren)

Heute berichtet die Zeitung El Nacional, dass dieser Bericht nicht mehr online ist: man hat ihn durch ein Dokument ersetzt, das "Stärke von PDVSA 2009" heisst.

Im verschwundenen Bericht stand u.a., dass die Gewinne lediglich 52.2% von denen waren, was man 2008 erzielte und dass der jetzt wegen des PDVAL-Skaldals festgenommene Luis Pulido interner Leiter von PDVSA ist und am 25 Januar 2010 als Präsident von Bariven ernannt wurde (zum PDVAL-Skandal siehe u.a. hier und hier) .

Und dennoch wird die Regierung dieses Jahr genug Geld haben, um einige Stimmen für die Parlamentswahlen kaufen zu können: die Chinesen haben vor einigen Tagen 4 Milliarden Dollar hingeblättert, Teil eines Deals von etwa 10 Milliarden Dollar plus 10 Milliarden in chinesischen Waren, die die Regierung des Chávez erhalten soll. Damit die Asiaten das geben muss Venezuela nun jährlich und über Jahre hinaus etwa 200,000 Fässe Öl - auf Markt- bzw unter Marktpreis, je nachdem, wer was sagt. Nachhaltig ist das alles auf jeden Fall nicht.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Öffentliche Unruhen in Europa!

OK, es handelt sich um Desorden Público, eine ausgezeichnete Ska-Gruppe aus Venezuela.
Hier könnt Ihr ihren Plan sehen. Nicht gehen ist eine Sünde.

Desorden Público will be touring around in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Switzerland.

Nicht alle Youtube-Videos sind in jedem Land verfügbar. Wenn Ihr das folgende Video in Eurem Aufenthaltsort nicht sehen könnt, könnt Ihr einfach in Youtube weiter andere ähnliche Videos suchen.

Useful idiots

Right now BBC has a three-episode programme about "Useful Idiots". The pictures you see here were randomly chosen by a software I have and have no relationship whatsoever with the post. Really.

Ps. I just wish BBC would change Willy Grant as reporter for Venezuela.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The military Chávez is looking for more bones. Do you have some?

The country is in recession, corruption scandals are the daily bread and crime reigns in Venezuela but the military president is obsessed with hero bones.

There is a Venezuelan commission now that is trying to locate the bones of Francisco de Miranda, the Venezuelan independence hero who fought in the US, the French and the South American revolutions. Miranda was a quite remarkable man, a real homo universalis who wrote fascinating diaries about his travels through the world of the XVIII century. He corresponded with queens and kings, renown scientists and revolutionaries of his time. He was one of the key elements to initiate the independence movement in Venezuela. Although this is not told like that in Venezuela, he was actually betrayed by Bolívar, who wanted to save himself when Miranda was forced to surrender. Bolívar, curiously, later became the new leader of the Independence. Venezuela's history books reinterpret the story in the most incredible way, telling us Bolívar delivered Miranda to the Spaniards because he and others thought Miranda had betrayed the independence movement with...the Spaniards. Miranda was in prison from 1812 until his death in Cadiz, Spain, in 1816. Anyway: Miranda is part of the hero cult in Venezuela.

A few years ago some bones were discovered in the prison where Miranda was buried, in a public grave. Now there is a Chávez commission to try to verify that certain bones there are Miranda's. They are looking at bones of relatives for genetic tests. If they are sure about the bones in Cadiz being Miranda's, they want to bring them back to Venezuela. What's next? Are they going to try to bring Sucre's bones to Venezuela for next elections? Oops...Sucre is buried in Ecuador and he clearly stated he wanted his bones to stay in Ecuador. What other bones would Chávez want to bring to Venezuela in order to distract from Venezuela's problems? Will he use Venezuela's resources to find Pedro Camejo's bones? Juan wrote a bit more on this show here. I wrote something else in Spanish here.

Anyway, expect more details from Bolívar's necrophilic show before the Parliamentary elections of 26th September: the possible face of Bolívar and details about his magnificent humeri, his portentous femuri and his amazing skull.

I am actually in contact with someone who may be a descendant of Miranda, but not through maternal line. Hat tip to her.