Friday, 31 July 2009

Freedom of Expression Venezuela-styled

Yesterday Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz gave a speech to the National Assembly where she talks about the "Special Media Crime Bill" she is introducing. Journalists and others who, according to the socialist government of Chávez, "create unrest or dispair among the population" would face several years in prison. For the details, I ask you to read the blogs of Caracas Chronicles, Daniel Duquenal or The Devil's Excrement.

Among other things, Ortega is proposing prison terms for up to four years for those who would transmit news that would 'cause panic among the population' or 'create a false perception of facts' or 'create fear among the population' or 'promote hatred or hostility'. I completely agree hatred speeches should not be tolerated. Now, there is a huge difference between what the Chavista government and normal democracies à la Norway or Germany think are hatred speeches.

I wrote a post in Spanish about what we, Venezuelan citizens, can do now.

Here I just want to ask politicians and journalists from other countries who are involved with Venezuela to seriously do the following:

  1. find out from different sources what is the proportion of Venezuela's population that the Chavez-critical media can reach (not just in Caracas, Maracaibo or Valencia)
  2. find out what chances Venezuelans critical of Chávez have to debate in the state TV and radio stations
  3. find out how many hours a week the Venezuelan media is forced to broadcast Chávez speeches
  4. find out about attacks on Venezuelan journalists and last, but not least:
  5. follow all the hatred speeches Chávez is giving about how he will anihilate the opposition, wipe out the people who think different than he does and who consider Venezuela should be a country where pluralism reigns. Here just a couple of examples:
I still am amazed at how the European Union and the Carter Centre based part of their reports on media in Venezuela on what they could watch from their cable TV in their nice Caracas hotels in 2004 and 2006. They apparently did not know Venezuela had a democracy before Chávez, even if it was very dysfunctional, and people were used to a bigger freedom of speech, unlike in Soviet and later Lukashenko Belarus or Pinochet Chile. Media in Venezuela, specially TV and radio, suck big time, whether it is pro-Chávez or not (Globovisión and RCTV, with little reach, are the only TV stations that currently are critical of the regime). This won't make things better.

One thing the Prosecutor's speech showed me is that she is absolutely sure Chavismo will rule for decades in Venezuela. Otherwise, she would be afraid about getting prosecuted later on for what is about to happen in our land of Grace.

Below you see the Freedom of Expression world map from the Freedom House.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Sweden-Venezuela-FARC IV

The Sweden-Venezuela-FARC issue has new details. Here some of them in a nutshell.
Sources El Nacional, El Tiempo


Sweden sells a series of AT4s to Venezuela


Hugo Chávez becomes for the first time president in Venezuela (elected in 1998, came to office on 4.2.1999)


2 Swedish rocket launchers were found in FARC camp in the Yari Jungle (Caqueta Department, C1 in map). Their serial numbers are similar to the ones found in 2008.


May: Message from FARC leader Camilo Tabaco is intercepted. Details about contacts with Venezuelan contacts that would provide weapons appear.

September: Colombian forces discover, among other things, Swedish rocket launchers in a FARC camp in the Meta area (C2 in the map)

10 October: Colombian forces discover over 58000 rounds for Kalashnikovs in the Meta area


4 June: Colombian minister of Foreign Affairs gives to Venezuelan minister Maduro documents in which 2 FARC leaders mention their negotiations with three high Venezuelan officials on similar rocket launchers
24 June: Colombian magazine Semana reports on the rocket launchers.
26 June: the Colombian government asks neighbouring countries not to provide weapons to FARC and some further details come out on the weapons
28 June: Chávez freezes ties with Colombia.
End of July: the government of Hugo Chávez still has no answer for what is going on but saying it is all a media show and Colombia (and I reckon Sweden) is lying.

A silly question of mine: can we track back the Kalashnikov ammunition?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Chavez The Freezer (Sweden-Venezuela-FARC III)

Our dear president, Comandante Hugo Chávez, has just thrown a tantrum again and declared he is freezing Venezuela-Colombia ties one more time (read about it in English, Spanish or Swedish). He recalled the Venezuelan ambassador to Bogota again (who by now must be enjoying the frequent-flyer program) and he threatened that "if Colombia attacks Venezuela again, he would break all ties and expropriate the many Colombian businesses in Venezuela".

It was predictable. What was that Colombian attack? Well, Colombia simply was looking for explanations. They found Swedish rocket-launchers in a FARC camp and Sweden had sold those weapons to the Venezuelan army in the eighties, as the serial numbers showed. The Swedish government confirmed that and it is now also asking the Venezuelan government to explain how those weapons ended up in the hands of the Colombian guerrilla. The FARC is a terrorist organisation for the European Union, among others, and Sweden is part of the European Union, so the Swedes are not amused about how others are using their very lethal weapons*.

Now, in my previous post I presented all possibilities, just for fairness:

  1. Some of the many corrupt Venezuelan military men sold those weapons to the FARC before Chavez came to power
  2. Chavez military gave those weapons to the FARC when their bloody coups in 1992 failed
  3. Some of the many corrupt Venezuelan military sold those weapons to the FARC NOW
  4. The Chavez army gave those weapons to the FARC, with or without knowledge from the Great Leader himself
For the record: I think it is 4. Chávez recently rejected he ever supported FARC., even if he asked for a minute of silence on TV when a FARC leader was killed by a Colombian attack, even if his former minister Chacín wished the FARC success (pro-Chavez Telesur broadcast), even if the FARC laptops (laptops Chavistas claimed were fixed by the Colombian government) tell another story, even if...I digress.

As fellow blogger Daniel Duquenal wrote, any more or less normal government that finds itself in the situation Chavismo is right now would at the very least declare that it will carry out an enquiry on the issue. Chavismo is different: the Chávez ministers firstly said it was just a fib and media show without any counter-explanation and Chávez now threatens Colombia, as he knows Colombia is interested in keeping the current trade.

Colombian exporters are greatly benefiting from the mess in which Chavez has placed Venezuela. I plotted the statistics on trade between Colombia and Venezuela for the first half of 2008 and 2009 here:

Venezuela exported to Colombia just 584 million dollars in the first half of 2008 and Venezuelan exports there fell to just 280 million on the first half of this year. Venezuelan exports consists mostly of iron and aluminum and some chemicals. Venezuela is becoming less competitive by the day. Colombia is exporting to Venezuela from underwear to flour, meat, toilet paper and assembled cars.

Venezuela's currency control and very overvalued Bolivar together with the bad climate for productive business due to expropriations and political shenanigans have lead producers to become importers or simply keep their production at spare flame (this is irrespective of the global crisis).

What is this about and what next?

I wonder, though, why Colombia waited until now to reveal the issue about the weapons they found last year. One reason could be "they were just waiting for Sweden's confirmation". It is most likely something else: they wanted to use it to show they need the US bases in their territory. They are in their right to do so, considering the civil war they have there. As Daniel Duquenal said, they may be starting to think Chávez is looking, after all, for a confrontation. That is what the Argentinian military did decades ago and they went for the Malvinas. Or it could be Colombia wants to get more US aid as it knows Venezuela's economy is collapsing and having US bases there increases those chances. If you have any other idea, let me know.

In any case, businesses from both sides (actually, Colombian exporters and Venezuelan importers mostly) are calling for restrain.

This could get worse. Colombians are probably going to react in a more cautious manner, due to their business interests. Venezuela has few options for importing many products at the same price it does from Colombia. Still: Venezuela's president is not
Gro Harlem Brundtland but Hugo Chávez, a.k.a. El Comandante.

What a difference between Venezuela-Colombia and the European Union! Colombians and Venezuelans have the same language, a lot of common traditions, almost anything. The main differences I see are two:

  1. Education: Venezuelans have on average a much worse level of basic education. Colombia's government, in spite of all the problems, is trying to improve its education standards and to bring about some transparency, whereas Venezuela's so-called revolutionaries abhor accountability, proclaim a lot and deliver little (here for an interview in Spanish with Venezuela's minister of education some months ago).
  2. Economic production: even if Colombia exports mainly raw materials, its production is much more diversified than Venezuela's petroculture. Colombia can feed and clothe itself. Venezuela can't. The Colombian government has no control over the main exports, Venezuela's government provides 90% of Venezuela's dollars, which turns Venezuelan citizens into beggars
OK, there is another difference: Venezuela's cuisine is better than Colombia's, but don't tell my neighbours, they are producing the ingredients.

* the real weapons that went from Sweden to the Venezuelan army to the terrorist organization FARC are not like the chef's (thanks to Dutch blogger Alpha for the video):

Monday, 27 July 2009

Sweden-Venezuela-FARC II

Ccontinuation of Sweden-Venezuela-FARC I:

I was browsing a little bit and found out the US Americans were already protesting to the Swedes about 3 years ago for Sweden's export to Venezuela and since THEN Sweden had stopped the weapons export. Here you can read (in Swedish, sorry) an article from 2006 on the Swedish exports. Here a new one in English. Saab Bofors Dynamics said the weapons they could identify were exported to Venezuela in the eighties.

In 2006 US Americans were demanding Sweden to stop sending weapons with US components to Chávez's government.

Among the goodies Sweden was exporting to Venezuela were the following:

Robot 70

antitank rockets AT 40 (we saw them already in the past post)

and ammunition for Carl Gustaf grenade throwers as these:

They all contain US components.

Some questions:

  • How many of them are in the hands of the FARC?
  • For what else would Chavez want to use them?
  • Is it possible those weapons had gone to the FARC many years ago, even before Chavez came to power? Could the Chavez people have been given them to the FARC in 1992? Or could they have been provided by just any other corrupt military before Chavismo came to power? We know Venezuelan thieves are armed like an army and that has been so for decades now, even if things have worsened lately.
  • If that is so: could this be, after all, just a way Colombians have to bring more weight to the US bases in their territory? (not that I believe now Chavistas are saints, but all possibilities need to be contemplated)
The director of Saab Bofors said it was "annoying when weapons ended up in the wrong hands" but that that "was very rare". Well, I beg disagree, you just need to read, among other things, this from British journalist Robert Fisk or this from German journalist Peter Scholl-Latour (in German only so far). Fisk is considered an "Islamo fascist" by the US far right (sigh) and Peter Scholl-Latour an ultra-conservative by the extreme left in Germany (sigh again).

Stay tuned.

Sunday, 26 July 2009


I am afraid this blog is becoming a bit like a magazine about military material. I am having to learn more about weapons than I care to.

Colombian magazine Semana reports (in Spanish) a bout an ugly finding: the Colombian army raided a couple of FARC camps and discovered, among other things, several AT4s. Those are very powerful anti-tank weapons from Sweden. The Colombians contacted the Swedish embassy and submitted the serial numbers of the rockets to find out how they came up there. It turns out that Sweden had sold those rockets to the Venezuelan government a few years ago. FARC is a terrorist organization, also in the eyes of the European Union.

The Swedish company that sells those weapons said it was an unfortunate incident as they "follow Swedish and international regulations", but that the issue was beyond their control as they sold those weapons to the Venezuelan army. I ask: what are the consequences the EU has to take?


The Swedish government is now demanding explanations from the Venezuelan government on how those weapons ended up in the hands of the FARC.


And now the Minister of Interior and "Justice" in Venezuela, Tarek Al-Aissami, declared it was all lies and the Colombians were just producing a "media show" that looked like a "bad US movie". I suppose he will say Mr Jens Erikssons from the Swedish government is also lying. The Swedish have decided to stop ALL WEAPON EXPORTS TO VENEZUELA! Read the article in Dagens Nyheter here if you understand Swedish.

Among other things, that Swedish article says this:

  • Jan-Erik Lövgren, Deputy Director General of the Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) declares Sweden has now stopped weapons export to Venezuela.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is discussing right now with Venezuela and Colombia how the FARC could get hold of those weapons.
  • The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association says Sweden has sold 474 million kroner to Venezuela in the past 9 years.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Hugo is buying toys again

Here we have it again: the Venezuelan government wants to "at least double the number of tanks in its military and continue strengthening its defense capability".

Hugo Chávez has some French tanks and also several dozen Russian AMX-13C light tanks like the one you see on the left.

Now he wants to buy, among other things, tanks like the ones you see below, pretty big battle tanks T-90.

In the last couple of years Venezuela has given over 4.4 billion dollars to Russia for getting AMX-13C tanks, over one hundred thousand Kalashnikovs, some Sukhoi jets and some other toys.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan schools are a disaster, hospitals are a shambles, the health centres in the slums are being abandoned and Venezuelans stopped producing patents.

Who is benefiting from this? For sure some Russian tycoons...but it is certain that some Boliburgueses too are getting some Russian money for "supporting" the operation.

What could these tanks be used for? Where? Most of Venezuela's borders with Colombia are jungle.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Auyantepuí, a wonder of nature

If you click in here you can vote for the 7 wonders of nature. Of course, one of the 28 finalists is the Auyan tepuí, a.k.a. Angel's Falls. Auyan tepuí means Devil's Mountain in the Carib language Pemon, one of the some 29 official languages in Venezuela.

On one side of this mountain you can see the highest water fall on Earth: 979 meters (3,210 ft) high, and 807 meters of uninterrupted descent.
You can see another cooler picture here.

These here are flesh-eating Heliamphora. Believe me, there are many more wonderful creatures there at every step:

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Latin American monkeys know how to talk but nobody is listening

Some weeks ago I read an interesting article in BBC Science: studies revealed Tamarin monkeys (Saguinus oedipus) are able to spot when a word is "wrong".

Basically, what scientists did was to teach them two-syllable terms and then studied their reaction to words that did not follow the pattern.

What they don't say is that this monkey is an endangered species. They used to live in Venezuela and could be found from Costa Rica to Brazil. Not anymore. Most were hunted and a lot were taken to laboratories like the ones the BBC is talking about.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Organization of American States does not care a bit about this

This post is a reference to all steps the Chavez regime is taking towards dictatorship.
Please, if you know of more events, send them over. I specially want to document how Chavez and his people are illegally taking over the powers from the regions and doing everything to prevent the opposition from doing its work.



  • Regional elections take place. Venezuelan opposition gets around 45% of the votes. It gets the government of following main regions:
  1. Caracas Capital municipality,
  2. Carabobo state,
  3. Miranda state,
  4. Nueva Esparta state,
  5. Táchira state,
  6. Zulia state
and several municipalities, among them the largest slum of Venezuela, Petare. Those are a minority of the states but 45% of Venezuelans live there.


  • Chávez insults the opposition: "fascists, Yankee-puppets". He declares the opposition is preparing a coup. He declares he will sweep them away.


  • Avila TV, TV channel of Caracas municipality, is transferred by Chavez decree to the national government so that the newly elected opposition can not manage it.

Soviet-style wall on state Avila TV






  • Chavista thugs attack building of newly elected mayor of Caracas and occupy it.
MARCH 2009

  • Pro-Chavez groups, lead by deputy Cruz Ortiz and by Cruz Mora, violently take over the House of Culture of Guarenas, Miranda.

APRIL 2009

  • Venezuelan National Assembly passes a Capital District Law transfering most functions, funding, and personnel from Caracas' municipality (where Antonio Ledezma was elected mayor) to the control of Jacqueline Farias, appointed by Chavez

MAY 2009


  • Pro-Chavez groups tries by error to occupy the Corporación Metropolitana de Seguridad thinking it is the Metropolitan Institute of the Youth (part of Caracas's institutions they wanted to take away from elected mayor Ledezma)
  • The national government takes away schools from elected mayor of Caracas to put them under the control of Jacqueline Farías.

  • Pro-Chavez fans try to attack the House of Acción Democrática (AD) party in Anaco when AD's general secretary was on visit there. Notice than the pro-Chavez groups explains here what "really happened" without realizing in any country with rule of law that "really" would be equally condemnable.
JUNE 2009

  • Chavista thugs attack people from Primero Justicia in front of police station and kill a young man.



He will elect all comptrollers in every state now

  • Municipality of the Metropolitan area (Caracas) denounces the authorities of the newly formed Capital district does not send them the financial resources they should get according to the constitution.
  • Pro-Chavez mayor gets walls of the region painted with slogans against Globovisión, the last Chavez-critical TV channel (open air only in Caracas and Valencia, accessible by cable for 30%

"Globovision does not inform, it makes sick. Turn off the disease"

JULY 2009

  • Pro-Chavez thugs attack in daylight the offices of newspapers El Notitarde and El Carabobeno in Puerto Cabello and paint slogans such as "information criminals". The march is organized by officialist mayor Rafael Lavaca.
  • Antonio Ledezma, elected mayor of Caracas, begins a hunger strike at the OAS embassy in Caracas to call the attention about the state of democracy in Venezuela.

  • Chávez tells his Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela to stand together to avoid that the opposition wins the majority in congress in 2010 as this would lead to "a coup as in Honduras".
  • Military of Táchira takes over main square of the state capital and prevents the elected governor from celebrating there the 5th of July, Independence Day, as governors used to do. The military chef says he can do that because "he is the military governor".
  • The president of Venezuela's Supreme Court, Luisa Estela Morales, threatens a journalist who was asking difficult questions and says the journalist could end up like another journalist who cannot report on the Supreme Court since 2007 for being difficult.

  • Energy minister Rafael Ramírez, a man who has a base salary that is over 60 times the minimum wage, declares he won't discuss with unions that are "enemies of Chavez". He says: "I am not going to sit down to talk to foes of the revolution. There is no point in having a new Venezuelan national oil company if it is a nest of squalid ones (referring to opposition)". He adds: "the oligarchy should be afraid of us as we hate the oligarchy". Finally he said PDVSA workers should constitute socialist committees, otherwise "they will be considered suspect of conspiring with the government".

  • The National Guard troop attacks a police centre of the Miranda state (in the town of Curiepe) and throws out the police managed by the opposition governor.
  • Venezuelan judge declares she was forced to sign an order against Globovisión owner Zuloaga.
  • Military in Táchira threaten to take over several kindergartens.
  • Military in Miranda threaten to take over several police stations under control of the Miranda governor, as they did before in Curiepe.
  • Judge who declared that she forced to send order against Globovisión order is sacked.
  • Chavez "suggests" again to the National Assembly to give him special powers in order to "speed up the revolution" and "eliminate all the antirevolutionary laws".

  • Chavez declares that when he sees that the border opposition-ruled states of Táchira and Zulia try to "destabilize" the country, "we have to go after them and to reduce the opposition through laws".




  • The national government sacks two teachers for accepting from opposition leader Ledezma a donation of books and tools for children.
  • The military prevents medical assistance from the Tachira lottery from arriving to a Barinas city. The reason: the lottery belongs to a state where the opposition was elected.
  • Hugo approves new budget for 2010 reducing resources allocated for all kinds of ministries, for the police, for education and specially the region, but increasing 638% the resources allocated to himself.
  • Several of the new directors of the National Electoral Commission (CNE) turn out to be hard-core PSUV members. People belonging to parties are not allowed to be part of Venezuela's Electoral commitee...unless they belong to the PSUV.



MARCH 2010

  • Ex governor Oswaldo Álvarez Paz was detained for expressing his opinion about Chávez's regime.

APRIL 2010

  • Chávez declares, between insults, that "if they kill me, sweep away with the bourgeoisie."
MAY 2010

  • Rocío San Miguel, NGO representative who denounced the inconstitutional involvement of active military in the PSUV, is threatened by goons.
  • The CNE rejects the petition to accept observers from the European Union and the OAS.
  • Nurses were detained for one day for a peaceful protest they made about their working conditions and the lack of resources of the maternity hospital.

  • The national police (CICPC) takes away 30 motorbikes from the opposition-managed Alcaldía Metropolitana claiming the bikes were "irregular". Elected major Ledezma says all papers are in order.
  • The outgoing pro-Chávez assembly approves an unconstitutional law that forbids deputies to vote according to their conscience and forces them to vote according to what their party says.