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The judicial coup in Venezuela keeps forging ahead

By Daniel Duquenal

Thursday 18, March 2004 - The news are just unbelievable. A cocky Carrasquero, the president of the Electoral Board, almost defiant, and certainly vindictive, stated that he was going to wait for the ruling of the Constitutional court, while "obeying" the ruling of the Electoral Court. Which of course meant that he was not going to do anything until the other ruling came in. And, he went on saying that "had we done it our way we would now be almost done with the reparation process". His cocky smile said volumes: this is not about the rights of people anymore, just a battle between lawyers. Carrasquero now does not even pretend anymore. He is part of the coup, officially now.

However he should not be gloating too much as he could get a surprise from the 20 justices gather. I think that the has done enough already to deserve destitution if the ruling of the Electoral Court is eventually held up. As usual, I am dreaming.

Nothing else new this afternoon from the court except for a crass maneuver to try to pretend that last week ruling from the Constitutional Court was legitimate. Laughable, but they might prevail. The Constitutional Court is twisting the facts, "back writing" decisions and justifying the unjustifiable. The judicial coup keeps advancing.

I forgot to mention that yesterday the vice president said that there had been NO HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. He defied human rights organization to come up with proof. As dozens and dozens of videos, interviews, witness are coming through. A clear defiant attitude of "see if I care". A now unrestrained executive power mocking international opinion. Interestingly this was done on front of a group of diplomats, "invited", and as far as I can tell in a format that did not allow for questions. Which they would not do anyway, but the vice likes to be safe.

And the latest blow, the arrest order for the mayor of one of Caracas districts, Baruta. Capriles Radonsky has been attacked regularly by chavismo since his not exactly clear role when the Cuban Embassy was besieged by a mob on April 12, 2002. In these contentious days, Capriles had to run there, called by the Cuban ambassador himself, to face a mob ready to go inside of the embassy and sack it. Apparently he was not efficient enough to stop the mob, came in late, etc... Which is of course very easy to say when one was not there at the time. Regardless of the truth, in these crazy days nobody is quite clear about what they really did, starting with Chavez himself. But let us accept the argument that Capriles was indeed delighted by the mobs in front of the embassy. Why wait for 23 months to arrest him? Why arrest him because he supposedly refused to declare, once again? Why not show to the defense lawyers the arrest warrant? Of course Capriles Radonsky has said that he would surrender to avoid any bloodshed as his constituents are ready to go and riot in the street. But understandably he wants to see the arrest warrant first. Since we are in an evolving coup d’etat, I doubt he will be granted that request, and he is resigned to become the first elected official to go to jail as a political prisoner.

But other political prisoners are already in jail. Carlos Melo a popular activist in the Western part of Caracas was arrested after February 27 and weapons "were found" in his car. Since he was kidnapped at a gas station, it is easy to imagine how the weapons arrived in the car. From the pictures I even wondered if the weapons were fitting in his small car. But that is irrelevant, the only thing that mattered was to put Melo in jail as he was rumored to be the a likely candidate to run against Chavez bad boy, the one controlling the Bolivarian assault sections of Caracas, Mayor Freddy Bernal, ex cop, ex jail bird.

Other elected officials are already in the judicial line of fire. The comptroller, silent for eons resurfaced with old charges against all the opposition leaders that are stratospherically high in the polls. This is of course the best way to run electoral campaign, make sure you only have weak candidates in front of you. In particular my own governor, Eduardo Lapi who was particularly vociferous after February 27 and who is rumored to ride a comfortable 50% lead over any possible chavista candidate in Yaracuy. He has the distinction of having been threatened directly by Chavez.

It seems that the plan has been set a while ago and now we have reached the execution phase. All is not lost yet, but there will be a price to pay. Street gangs do not give up their blocks without a few casualties.

Meanwhile, yet another injured man from February 27 died as a consequence of his wounds, bringing the total deaths to 15, I believe. The horrenduous tale of Juan Carlos Zambrano is just coming to light. The autopsy is a text book case of torture. his wife was raped in front of him according to survivors. Still, no pretection measure for witness , no serious investigative action. Then again he is part of the fired PDVSA contingent and justice for these people means revenge.

More are still missing. Meanwhile Justice is busy trying to exculpate the Chavez administration and making safe any future election.

I am leaving you with a pic of Capriles. Why, when there are so many people that should have their pictures up as protest about the gathering repression? Well, he would be my mayor if I were not registered to vote in Yaracuy. Baruta in Caracas is where I stay, and from where come the pictures of the street barricades that I posted two weeks ago. He is about to become the major political prisoner and he is not hiding or leaving the country as other have done. But I will make a comitment now, as I find or receive small pics of other prisoners I will be putting them up. So far I have not found any of Melo but if anyone can send me one I will put it up.

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