Saturday, 14 February 2009

Eurodeputy thrown out of Venezuela

On Friday the president of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, decided to expel Spanish eurodeputy Luis Herrero. He had been invited by the opposition to be an observer together with three other eurodeputies and had been waiting in Caracas for the Venezuelan government to give him the necessary credentials. He decided to talk to the only opposition TV channel that has some reach, Globovisión. That channel can reach around 30% of the Venezuelan population, those who have cable or satellite dish or live in Caracas (otherwise people can only watch non-critical or extremely pro-Chavez TV). He talked too much, in my opinion. The National Electoral Council had declared it was going to extend the voting until 6pm, among other things. He said that was strange and he asked whether there was something behind that. Indeed, that is an issue in Venezuela. Tomorrow the sun will set at 6:06pm and then it will be pitched-dark. Venezuelans try all they can to go home before that time as it becomes too dangerous (Mexico ain't nothing compared to Venezuela and most areas were we have less observers are in the most dangerous slums).

Even if Herrero was clumsy in stating as a non-Venezuelan what we all know, the Venezuelan government did not respect any procedures: they just sent their "intelligence" force to grab him and took him to the first airplane, without allowing him even to take his passport or personal belongings with him.

Do you know what European politicians the Venezuelan government likes to invite?
People like former Belgian senator Jacinta de Roeck, who was an "observer" for the CNE in 2006. Among other things, she wrote in her own site the following (go to Infomappen and then Venezuela):

"Separate talks with the people in the street show that clearly. You have three types of Venezuelans:

* those who are 100% against him (usually the wealthiest). They have no good word to say about Chavez, the bosom friend of the great bogeyman Fidel Castro and - perhaps even worse - the friend of the poor people;
* those who are 100% for him (usually the poorest part of the population). Their position is often made intuitively, without criticism. They wear his picture on their shirts, they are cheerful when they call his name. For them, Chavez is an idol, he is the man whowill improve their lives. And he does it already, they see that;
* And then there is the group of critical viewers: Chavez is the only alternative that can currently take Venezuela out of the social clift, but they have a lot of (very constructive) criticism, and they fear a Venezuela Cuba-style.

In the original, in Dutch:

"En dat deze president wind doet opwaaien is zeker. Losse gesprekken met de man in de straat tonen dat duidelijk aan. Je hebt drie soorten Venezolanen :
  • zij die 100% tegen zijn (doorgaans de meest gegoeden). Ze hebben geen goed woord over voor Chavez, de boezemvriend van de grote boeman Fidel Castro en - misschien nog erger - de vriend van de arme volksmens;
  • zij die 100% voor zijn (meestal het armste deel van de bevolking). Ook hun standpunt is vaak intuïtief gevormd, zonder kritische kanttekening. Ze dragen zijn foto op hun shirt, ze glunderen als ze zijn naam noemen. Voor hen is Chavez een idool, het is de man die het leven voor hen beter zal maken. En dat doet hij nu al, ze merken het;
  • en dan is er de groep kritische beschouwers: Chavez is het enige alternatief dat op dit ogenblik Venezuela uit het sociale slop kan halen, maar ze hebben wel erg veel (opbouwende) kritiek, en ook vrezen zij een Venezuela à la Cuba."

I am not in any of these three groups and I know most opposition are not in any of those three groups either. I believe Ms De Roeck has been very insulting. It is like saying every Fleming is a racist unless he votes for her. Actually, there are more people in Flanders who vote for an extreme right party (Vlaams Belang) than there are rich people in Venezuela who dislike the poor. Opposition can be upper-middle class, middle class or poor in Venezuela. Definitely the vast majority are not opposed to improving the lives of the poor.

But I reckon a person like Ms De Roeck is the kind of politician the CNE wants to have in Venezuela. I am curious about the political parties of the observers the regime invited this time. It would be the most leftiest from the social democrats or rather people from the communist parties of Europe (not that Chavismo is about socialism or communism) and not all of them.


  1. Off Topic: I note that the Wikipedia article on murder rates has considerably reduced the murder rates for Venezuela. Without taking the time to investigate, my guess is that the government decided that since they were getting bad publicity, it was time to massage the data.

  2. I was the previous unnamed poster.

  3. Thanks, Boludo. That would not surprise me. I will check out that data when I have time. If they do not have reliable sources, they must take that away.

  4. Hi Kepler,

    I consider the pro-chavism of a lot of self declared socialists more and more as a huge mistake.

    me personally am no socialist, but don't share this popular view that socialism is plain evil per se. Certainly, there are and allways have been great people who considered themselves socialists.

    The term socialism is a very fussy label anyway.
    Chávez sells his stuff as socialism and a lot of people buy it as such. So taking the fussy logo approach, it might be considered socialism.

    The big problem of a great part of self declared socialists consists in a complete rejection to analize what Chávez is all about. They follow way to easily those Chávez-defends-the-poor, Chávez-is-attacked-by-capitalism, etc. line of argumentations.

    Now if this Chávez Government ends in just another economic collapse, at the end of the day those people will have done harm to their own value system by accepting Chávez as socialist.

    A bit like the banks who bought all those "tripple-a" rated stuff, that carried a time bomb.

  5. Oh, I agree completely with you.
    Perhaps I was not clear.

    The sad thing is there are still socialist groups (some) that have not distanced themselves from Chavismo just because Chavez uses their labels. It is bad, even if not as bad as with those many groups from the right who supported the Apartheid regime and Pinochet and many other rogues just because those despicable regimes were "capitalists" or anti-communists (and yes, those regimes were much worse so far than Chavismo).

    I appreciate a lot of things from capitalism, I appreciate REAL free trade and fair competition, but I also appreciate a sound, strong social network, transparency in capital movements and fairness of trade and many of ideas coming from social democrats.
    I think moderate left and right parties and centrist should alternate in every country.

    I don't see any simple model as "the model".

    I don't think "socialism" is evil. First of all: socialism is a big, very vague term, the same as capitalism.
    There are lots of good ideas coming from social democracy and social democracy has contributed with a lot of wonderful things in Europe.

    Chavez has nothing to do with socialism or with communism. Chavez is about chavismo.

    It is sad that after a while Chavismo will give a very bad reputation to everything with the word "socialism" on it.


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