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Venezuela: Chavez' sense of responsibility

By Daniel Duquenal

Sunday 15, February 2004 - Blogs in English have been abuzz this week with the translation of the equivalent to the state of the Union speech that Chavez gave to the National Assembly some weeks ago.

Chavez speeches are very hard for me to tolerate and I must confess that I have never, never, been able to withstand his oratory style for more than about 10 minutes. When I hear Chavez on the radio somehow it is a little bit more tolerable as I am spared the visuals of his pseudo amiability or his fiery impudence, according to the occasion. However, even stuck in traffic in the middle of a cadena there is a limit of what I can endure and I will eventually turn off the radio. I think that the only intervention that I was able to withstand was one cadena in February 2002 where the Bolivar was set to float freely and thus the destiny of the country. For once he made an effort for more cohesion and clarity and perhaps my intuition told me then and there that everything will be different, as it verified in the following weeks.

Perhaps there is the clue somewhere there that differentiates me from his loving supporters that listen to every single word he utters, and a lot of words those are. Or perhaps it is my scientific background that sorts of make my mind work in overdrive to try to understand what is Chavez point as his rhetoric gets lost in an endless blather mixing the trivial with the important, the vulgar with the popular, the sacred with the profane. My mind just gives up at some point.

All this preamble is just to say that as usual when the "state of Venezuela" speech came I just turned to cable TV which is exempt of cadena. Perhaps I should have listened a lot more, as Gustavo Coronel did, translating part of the speech and pointing out something that even the Venezuelan press did not pay attention to, so anesthetized after all these years. In a portion of this speech, that found its way to the web pages of the government offices in a PDF format one can read that Chavez admit to have manufactured the confrontation with PDVSA so as to grab absolute control of it, knowing full well the cost to the country that this would provoke. Great material that could be used in a trial against Chavez if we ever manage to bring him to the courts where he should have been sent long ago.

As Francisco Toro wrote in his own page, like him I am reluctant to quote other blogs though I never fail to mention them when necessary. But this is good stuff and deserves to appear in every blog on Venezuela in English, to illustrate the thuggish mentality of the guy that we have in office, presiding the biggest looting of our history.

I am just quoting one paragraph of Gustavo’s article (his highlights and cuts):

"Crisis in Chinese means danger and opportunity. . . . Sometimes the crisis has to be generated, controlling them, of course. What we did in PDVSA was necessary . . . AND WE GENERATED THE CRISIS. . . . When I took the whistle in 'Alo Presidente' and started to fire people I was provoking the crisis. WHEN I NAMED GASTON PARRA PRESIDENT OF PDVSA AND THE NEW BOARD WE WERE PROVOKING THE CRISIS . . . THEY ANSWERED and the conflict appeared. And this is where we are today. . . ."

And the corresponding in Spanish:

Muy bien, ahora otro elemento que surgió el 2003 y también producto de la crisis, la crisis en el idioma chino creo que se escribe guei-hi y significa crisis o riesgo, peligro y oportunidad. Toda crisis trae eso, por eso es que las crisis muchas veces son necesarias, muchas veces son necesarias, incluso a veces hay que generarlas, midiéndolas, por supuesto. Lo de Pdvsa era necesario aun cuando nosotros, bueno, no es que no la generamos, sí la generamos, porque cuando yo agarré el pito aquel en un “Aló, Presidente” y empecé a botar gente, yo estaba provocando la crisis; cuando nombré a Gastón Parra Luzardo y aquella nueva junta directiva, pues estábamos provocando la crisis. Ellos respondieron y se presentó el conflicto y aquí estamos hoy. Era necesaria la crisis.

A curious detail: as word of the speech in English spread, the PDF document in the web disappeared. Fortunately somebody had the good idea to save it for public perusal. Coincidence? The power of blogging? Is someone beeing fired?

Another detail is that the preamble of the speech seems to be missing in the PDF format. Plain sloppiness? A trap of sorts? With Chavez all is possible…

Finally if you understand Spanish enough try to read any, and I mean any, of the long winded paragraphs of Chavez you will be able to appreciate his messy style and how the transcription staff had trouble even putting down comas and periods.

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