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Venezuela: Paramilitary in Caracas, burnt soldiers, witnesses that get burnt...

By Daniel Duquenal

Monday 10, May 2004 - The politics of lies and shows in Venezuela under Chavez. I have watched a little bit TV this morning and to tell the truth there is nothing much new or enlightening. The only thing that we can take for granted is that we will never know for sure what has happened in all these events, just as we are still waiting for who protected Montesinos, who shot who on April 11, where are the billions dollars missing, etc, etc............

The government is the real saboteur here. Chavez needs to occupy the headlines all the time. To do so there are two ways. One can create the tools to investigate and one can release the results, reaching wherever and whoever must be reached. Or one can keep constantly changing the topic of conversation, keep committing bolder actions. As the French say "La fuite en avant", the flight forward.

But the opposition is not totally innocent either. For one thing it has lasted quite a long time to get rid of its most unsavory elements and thus has managed to lose some of its credibility.

Thus today it does not matter what one side says, the other one will dismiss it instantly. This is no way to build a country, much less to solve the political problems that are overwhelming us.

Sometimes it is hard to keep one's head clear. I am glad that I did not jump on the soldier Barroso story. This young recruit popped out on TV for his 15 minutes of fame, claiming that he was an eye witness of the burning episode in Fort Mara. But somehow something did not match and I decided to wait for the next witness to show up. That is usually what happens, the dam breaks. Well, within 24 hours Barroso was completely discredited, by himself and others as it happened. A show all along? And who did mount that show? Today Barroso is probably all gone and we will never know whether the "lawyers" accompanying him were double agents.

But sometimes it is quite clear to see through things really fast, like yesterday pathetic show of the paramilitary arrests. A casual observer like this blogger could pick enough inconsistencies to establish without a doubt that even if there were subversive activities in Baruta, these were magnified out of all proportion, at the very least. The opposition of course decried it automatically but for once with justification. Any impartial observer in Venezuela has already detected that Chavez has become quite an adept at hiding negative events by creating a new agenda. And the burnt soldier issue plus the Saturday verification process were too important for him to let the opposition occupy center stage for so long.

Before I close this post I would like to translate the words from Chavez' first defense Minister, a general that at least has some idea of what a military subversive operation should be. Salazar's words on the paramilitary:

"debi­an estar al tanto de saber que un campamento de este estilo tiene que contar con puesto de seguridad perimetrica y de profundidad. Por lo menos a un kilometro de alli debia haber un puesto de seguridad, uno ve que era una especie de muchachos reunidos, sera de campamento boy scout pero no de paramilitares"

"They should have known that a camp of this sort should have included a perimetral security observation post. At least 1 kilometer from there should have been a security post, one can see that it was some type of youngsters group gathered in a boy scout camp but not of paramilitary."

No, there is no way to buy yesterday show. The only way that Chavez could pull out this one it to let independent media interview the arrested paramilitary. He even had the nerve to claim that an "important" paramilitary leader was arrested. Colombia has already offered all the help it can and has asked for the names. Of course, nothing so far has been released. In my mind I am sure that some sectors of the opposition are looking at "ways" to oppose Chavez. But yesterday was a show.

Now the real questions is why would Chavez mount such an operation, even if there is a kernel of truth somewhere. This answer will have to wait.

The question that we can answer is why Chavez dares to mount such a show: independent and in depth investigation will never be possible as long as he controls the judiciary tools as he does. Just as we are still waiting for the promised truth comission for the April 2002 events, and the truth on Montesinos, and what is going on in military barracks, and where is the cash, and, and, and, and.....



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