Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Why doesn't anybody talk about pluralism?

A basic part of any democracy is constituted by pluralism. I wonder why on Earth nobody talks about pluralism in Venezuela.

When BBC journalist Sackur interviewed Chávez, the coup monger said Venezuela was the most democratic nation on Earth, even after reacting furiously about Amnesty International and HRW reports on human rights, even after saying the only solution is (his) socialism, even if he has previously said his system will last for centuries. It is a pity neither Sackur nor anyone else wants to ask Chavista honchos how they can justify there is a democracy when they are forcing a socialist system down people's throats, when they reject any form of real-time, public debate (in the original meaning of the word), when they repeatedly say the opposition will never come back to power.

Anyway, here you have an interesting article and video by The Guardian journalist Carroll. He talks about the new enemies of Chavismo.

Monday, 28 June 2010

The Axis of the Personality Cult Promotors

Chávez and Syria's president for life, Bashar al-Assad, have declared an "Axis of the Courageous", as Spanish El País and CBS report here and here. I assume the big mouth phrasing came once more from Chávez himself, who has become Venezuela's version of a bad will Cantinflas.

Chávez has met Assad several times before. He has expressed support for the Syrian dictator many times.

Syria's regime has been trying on different occassions to get back some clout in Libanon, they have been trying to become less of a pariah state by hinting they could "help" the US in their fight against terrorism.

So: what is in for Syria here? I guess Assad is just playing along with Chávez as long as he gets what he really wants. He wants first and foremost to show to the West "he is not alone" in case things became less warm again, he also wants Syria to profit from commercial trades with Venezuela - unfortunately, Chávez only signs deals that are good for other countries' exports - and strengthen the intelligence sources Syria has thanks to an important amount of Syrian immigrants in Venezuela.

Chávez gave a copy of his favourite little toy, a gold-plated replica of Simón Bolívar's sword, to the Syrian líder máximo. The Sabaneta-born lieutenant had previously given copies of that toy to such figures as Mugabe, Gaddafi, Lukashenko and Akhmadinejad. Chávez uses the historical sword - the real one - as his personal possession and lightsaber.

Meanwhile, the regime strengthens its hold on Venezuela: new laws are passed to circumvent the National Assembly in view of the September Parliamentary elections, more Communal Councils are formed with members of the Chávez party and exclusion of the rest, Chávez's nieces and nephews use state money and bodyguards to visit "the Empire"

Meanwhile Venezuela's health sector deteriorates further, there is a dengue and Chagas crisis and children go to bad schools without books.

Friday, 25 June 2010

The Power of Persistence or the Story of a Venezuelan scientist

Scientist Jacinto Convit does not want to retire too young. He is just 98 years old and he feels he can give a lot more of his time to science. I met him when my parents took me as a child to a fascinating presentation he was giving to the public in my hometown.

When Convit was a young physician, leper patients were put into chains and sent to very isolated colonies with guards. They were treated as the worst of the world. This scientist dedicated a lot of time treating those patients and giving them better conditions. Convit, together with 6 other Venezuelan and 2 Italian doctors, started to perform experiments on the Chaulmogra oil, which was known as a palliative. They managed to identify the role of clofazimine and other components in the Mycobacterium leprae and this lead to their development of a vaccine. Lepra colonies are a thing of the past.

The team produced this vaccine by combining a tuberculosis vaccin with the bacterium Mycobacterium Leprae. Convit also developed a vaccine against a terrible parasite disease common in tropical and sub-tropical regions, Leishmaniasis.

Mr Convit has been nominated to the Nobel Prize for his work against leprosy. He got the Prince of Asturias Awards for Science Research in 1987 and the Premio de México de Ciencia in 1990.

Now he said at an interview he is carrying out experiments on human patients for a vaccine that is supposed to fight mammal and colon cancer and "so far, so good". The details of that article are still very vague, but I will try to find more about them as soon as I can.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Die 1000 Mordanschläge gegen den Militär Chávez

Hier eine kleine Auswahl


Juli: Chávez erklärt, man will ihn in Puerto Ordaz umbringen (Quelle: Tal Cual)
Dezember: Castro warnt Chávez über Mordpläne.


August: Die Regierung meldet, dass es ein Militärkomplott gab, um Chávez zu ermorden.


Juni: Chávez sagt, es gäbe Pläne, um ihn im Verlauf der Feierlichkeiten zum Unabhängigkeitstag zu töten.


Oktober: Chávez meldet erneut, dass es einen Plan gibt, um ihn umzubringen.


Juni: Chávez behauptet, man will ihn in Los Próceres, Caracas, liquidieren.
Juli: Chávez sagt, dass man ihn während eines Besuchs in Santo Domingo beseitigen will.
November: Ein Mordanschlag gegen Chávez soll in Puerto La Cruz entdeckt worden sein. Die "Verschworenen" werden aber wegen Mangel an Beweisen freigelassen.


Mai: Chávez sagt, dass extremrechtse Kolumbianer ihn töten wollen. Mehr Info hier.


Februar: Chávez macht die EU für jeden Mordanschlag gegen ihn verantwortlich.
Juni: Chávez berichtet, dass er eine Antwort hat auf Pläne, ihn umzubringen.


Oktober: Chávez meldet, dass er einige Monate davor einen Mordanschlag in Zulia überlebt hat und dass Bush nun über einen neunen Plan verfügt, um ihn umzubringen.


November: Chávez sagt, der Nachrichtensender CNN stiftet zu seinem Mord an.
Dezember: Chávez befürchtet, man könne ihn umbringen, wenn er nach Guatemala fliegen würde.


September: Chávez sagt, man will ihn in Venezuela töten.
October: Chávez befürchtet, man könne ihn in El Salvador während des Iberoamerikanischen Gipfels umbringen.


Mai: Chávez befürchtet erneut, man könne ihn in El Salvador aus dieser Welt verschaffen.
Juni: Chávez erklärt, dass man in Tachira Paramilitärs trainiert, die ihn töten sollen.
Juli: Abgeordneter Isea erklärt, dass es eine neue Untersuchung in Zulia, Táchira und Mérida gibt wegen Mordanstiftung gegen Chávez. Er sagt, "die Kommission arbeitet ohne Eile aber auch ohne Pause".
August: Der Präsident erklärt erneut, dass die Opposition einen Plan hat, um ihn zu töten.

Hier BBC von 2008 über einige Mordanschläge.
Hier über noch andere.


Januar: Abgeordneter Mario Isea sagt, dass es neue Pläne gibt, um Chávez umzubringen.

Juni: am 19. Juni sagt Chávez, dass die Opposition erneut Mordpläne gegen ihn hat.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Unsustainable underdevelopment

Venezuela's population according to the wishes of military Chávez
(I assume the 50 million "target" is to be attained in 2031 at the earliest, no matter how madly people get to know each other)

Hugo Chávez has an obsession with demographics: he wants Venezuela to have 50 million inhabitants as soon as possible. He thinks that would make Venezuela a "more" powerful nation. Never mind Venezuela has to import most of its food requirements and almost anything else it needs but oil. Never mind Venezuelan workers theoretically have to spend a month's salary to buy books for their children - unless they send children without books to schools that have no books-. In that respect, like in many others, Chávez is in the same wavelength as Iranian Akhmadinejad. I wonder if his belief is based on sheer ignorance or on a very Machiavellian thought about how to keep control of an underdeveloped nation.

That mindset - sheer population size as power - has been rejected by most countries at least since the end of World War II.

Here you can watch some minutes of Chávez's show. I did not watch the whole thing but started at minute 8. There you can see how Chávez talks to a Venezuelan couple in one of the supermarkets the French were forced to "sell" to the military government. The woman is Evelin. She has 3 children: Kefrins, Katrin and Kevin. The names are typical of those poor parents with little education give to their children. They usually choose English or pseudo-English names or just make up names. The man is Emilio. He comes from Guatire, a poor area of Miranda state in Central Venezuela, not far from the capital. Emilio says he wants to have another child. You can hear the woman protesting. He says - jokingly - the country needs many more people. Chávez says: "of course, we have to reach the goal...we have to reach 50 million inhabitants".

Evelin then says she has learnt many things thanks to the communal councils (let's remember council in Russian is "soviet" or совет). "When the baby was in the belly" she says", I used to tell him: son, you are going to become a revolutionary...and every time he hears the slogan Fatherland, Socialism or Death, he would cry (sic)".

Friday, 18 June 2010

News from down the drain

I have been busy, so I haven't blogged much. Still, here some bits of news you should consider:

  • BBC journalist Sackur interviewed Chávez. You can read Miguel's take here and Quico's here. My opinion: the journalist wasted time by asking several questions with very predictable answers - at least any average Venezuelan could have guessed Chávez's response. The BBC journalist should have asked other things like how Chávez can claim to be a democrat and yet declare his system will last for centuries, how Chávez can say the only possibility in Venezuela is socialism and yet state that anything else would lead to a civil war. The journalist could have asked why Chávez' refuses to have an open debate with the opposition as people do in parliamentarian Europe and to a more limited extent in Chile, Colombia and the US.
Anyway, I think the most telling part of the interview is this detail the BBC mentions:

"Mr Chavez became visibly agitated when faced with a set of specific questions about his government's respect for the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the press and the rights of political opponents."

"As the tension in the presidential palace rose, Oliver Stone who was seated in a corner listening intently to the exchanges - along with a host of presidential aides and one of the president's daughters - gestured to the president with both hands.

The message was easy to read: Calm down."

Oliver Stone has really become a full-time consultant for lieutenant Chávez.

  • Chavismo is accelerating the dismantling of democratic institutions through the creation of parallel administration systems: you can read in El Nacional in Spanish about how the comunes are going to take over more competences from the municipalities and states. This is a process similar to what happened in the early years of the Soviet Union when the soviets - councils in English - started to replace other forms of government. The soviets themselves became just a toy of the Communist Party. Here we will see how the comunas will become a toy of the state party, the PSUV.

How Venezuelan gangsters make money

  • Last but not least: every day Venezuelans are discovering more rotten food supplies and past date medicine containers that had been imported by state PDVAL. The very latest (as of today) is that citizens in Carabobo discovered more than 6 thousand tons of past date milk at a PDVAL deposit. In the last few weeks the general public has read about the discovery of some 100,000 tons of wasted food and medicine. This is the product of Chavismo corruption bands, groups that imported large quantities of products at a the preferential rate of Bs2.6 instead of Bs4.3 per dollar.
Nothing new in the Venezuelan front.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Don't shake it , baby (Crotalus durissus)

I have already mentioned how Venezuelans who spend even a little bit of time outside major cities learn very soon they have to watch out for snakes. There are few natural areas - the islands, very high mountains - without poisonous snakes.

This is one of those animals you really have to avoid. It is the Crotalus durissus, a South American rattle snake that can kill you or leave you blind or with some other very nasty problems.

The Crotalus durissus really shakes it and then you don't want it close to you. I have had a couple of encounters with them and sometimes they do attack. Then it's you the one who twists and shouts.

Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage Euch oder der Preis einer Hostie

Die letzte Aló-Presidente-Sendung zeigt, wie "Priester" Alfonso Rojas den venezolanischen Präsidenten segnet. Man sieht, wie Rojas Chávez lobt, wie Chávez die Hostie verzehrt (close-up, close-up), wie Chávez erklärt, Sozialismus und Christentum gehen Hand in Hand.

Derselbe Priester ist auch in einem Video von 2009 zu sehen. Da kann man ihn hören, als er wirr über das Kommunistische Manifest spricht oder eher erwähnt, denn Chavistas gehen nicht wirklich sehr tief auf Theorie ein, und fragt, was man nun in der neuen Revolution machen will. Er sagt, man habe die Wangen immer wieder hingehalten und die Wangen wären schon längst abgefallen (ich übersetze, ich übersetzte). Er sagt, die Militärs seien nun - im Gegensatz zur Vierten Republik- unsere Freunde. Er lobt Hugo Chávez. Am Ende ruft er auf: "Vaterland, Sozialismus oder Tod".

Ich bin Christ, wenn auch kein Katholik. Ich bin so erzogen worden, dass ich eine strenge Trennung zwischen Staat und Kirche befürworte und Fanatiker jeder Art vermeide. Ich weiss, wie oft Religion als Machtmittel benutzt wurde und wird. Ob man Christ oder Atheist, Agnostiker oder Buddhist ist, man kann nur sagen: so eine Show ist einfach eine Schande.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Venezuelans in Europe

Readers of this blog come from many countries, but most are Europeans and North Americans. Still, the most represented nationality is Venezuelan. A little bit less than 1/3 of all readers are from Venezuela.

Last month I carried out a poll to find out in what countries Venezuelan readers of this blog living in Europe are located. Results can be seen above. The vast majority are in Germany. There is one in a Western European country and two in Eastern European countries I did not list (shame on me). I assume there are a couple Venezuelan lurkers in Europe as well, but the proportion must be like that.

The distribution is different from the usual distribution of Venezuelans in Europe or Venezuelan "voters" in Europe -I write "voters" because the Venezuelan regime simply does not publish results of votes abroad-. This different distribution is normal as I write here mostly in Venezuelan English or Venezuelan German.

Venezuelans registered to vote in Venezuelan embassies in Europe (2008) o gente a la que el gobierno venezolano no le para bola en las elecciones

Tomorrow I would like to start a poll to find out a bit more about Europeans readers who are living right now in Venezuela. Please, if you are one, take part in the new poll. By European I mean someone who was born in Europe and did not eat arepas until his/her 4th birthday or later. If you were born in Venezuela, I count you as a Venezuelan and not as an European even if your parents are European and you are European and you don't eat arepas. You know what I mean: jus soli.

42 readers answered they can read posts in Spanish. They make up 67% of the readership. 30 (48%) said they can read posts in German. 9% do not reader in Spanish or German. Thus: I will continue writing mostly in English, but I will also write in German as so few people in German about Venezuela. Some of my links will be to Spanish sites. I write less frequently posts in Spanish in a blog that has a more "Venezuelan for Venezuelan" view.

Thanks for your visits!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Peace for Latin America?


total arms exports in millions of dollars worldwide

I don't know who would be against peace and real integration in Latin America, but I have a hunch about who is profiting from tensions between Latin American countries and who is profiting from Latin Americans spending billions and billions in weapons instead of books, schools and medicine.

Blogger Miguel (the Devil's Excrement) published some time ago an interesting post with a letter by Nobel prize winner Oscar Arias to the Uruguayan president proposing him to dismantle the army as Costa Rica did many years ago. Like Miguel, I also think our Latin American countries don't need armies: a very efficient, well educated security force as in Costa Rica or Iceland would do. Armies have just generated dictators and profits for the weapons industry.

The first picture shows the main arms exporting countries and the approximate amounts in billions of dollars.

Weapons as percentage of total exports

The second picture shows the percentage the weapons industry has in the total exports of each of those countries that sell the most weapons. The percentages I came up with seem like just a little but a percentage less or more does mean a lot for most countries, specially if they depend more on exports. Let's be clear: we will unfortunately stll need weapons, but we could save many billions if we started to get rid of our milicos.

Latin Americans have to think about this and they have to think about this very very very loud.

El País writes about how Spain's arms industry is having a wonderful year in spite of the recession. Among other things, Spain sold to Venezuela almost one million euros in anti-riot equipment (students, you know what you are going to get: made in Spain) and the Spanish government authorized the sale of 7 ships for the Venezuelan army for 925 million euros.
Once Chávez is gone expect US and Israeli arms companies as well as those of the other companies showns here to queue up to sell toys for our military, toys I doubt we need so much.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Schriftsteller als Schurken und andere Nachrichten aus der Rhewoluzion

Venezolanischer Schriftsteller in den Augen der Kulturbeamten

Die venezolanische Regierung hat den neuen Literaturpreis "Stefania Mosca" vorgestellt. Dieser Preis soll von Libertador, von der grössten Verwaltungsgemeinde Caracas, verliehen werden. Wie der venezolanische Blogger JorgeLetralia uns berichtet, hatte das Ganze schon einen schlechten Start. Der Vorsitzende des Auswahlkommitees, Enrique Hernández, erklärte, die anderen Mitglieder des Kommiteees werden nicht bekannt gemacht, weil "die Schriftsteller dieses Landes echte Schurken sind. Wenn man die Namen [der Jury] bekannt geben würde, würden sie versuchen, diese Leute zu kaufen". Tja. Also weiss man nur, dass Hernández das wichtigste Mitglied ist.

Der Militär-Präsident hat den privaten Banken mit "seinen Massnahmen" bedroht, wenn sie nicht 5 Milliarden Dollar in Form von Bonds zur Verfügung stellen, um den Druck auf die Währung zu verringern. Blogger Francisco schreibt hier über die verrückte Geld- und Währungspolitik im Lande. Der Regierung geht trotz hoher Erdölpreise die Puste aus.

Ferner sagte Chávez, der Handelskammerverband Fedecámaras sei unnötig in einem Land, das auf den Weg zum Sozialismus ist. Hier habt Ihr die Quelle der geflügelten Worte. Wie üblich -gäääähn, Verzeihung- erklärte er, die Opposition wolle Sitze in der Asamblea Nacional bekommen, nur um die Interessen der Bourgeoisie zu verteidigen.

Mittlerweile hat man über 30000 Tonnen zum grossen Teil vergammelte Lebensmittel der Staatsfirma PDVAL (Productora y Distribuidora Venezolana de Alimentos) in Containern entdeckt. Diese Lebensmittel wurden ins Land eingeführt, aber im Hafen von Puerto Cabello und anderswo einfach zurückgelassen, wo sie nun vergammeln. Man steht schon wieder mal vor einem riesigen Korruptionsskandal, also nichts besonderes. Hier berichtet eine Deutsche in Venezuela. Sie kennt schon seit Jahren, was es ist, wenn man im Supermarkt mal kein Fleisch mal keinen Zucker, mal keine Milch mal keine Butter findet.

Und so geht's weiter in der Tierra de Gracia.