Frankfurter Allgemeine § ZDF learn about Venezuela’s human rights situation
By Aleksander Boyd
Frankfurt 10 June 2.004 – Same Gorgonzola cheese brand, same Buttonni pasta, and equally similar Turkish yoghurt presentations; the European standardization of foods and brands is here folks. As one walks down a supermarket aisle the same products are to be found in Vienna, Rome, Paris or London. Similarly the same skepticism towards the opposition and the aftermath of Chavez’ recall referendum runs freely across nations and its inhabitants. Yesterday Mohamad Merhi gave an account upon the current human rights situation in Venezuela to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, the ZDF and the Hessischer Rundfunk alerting about the ever present possibility of a civil war in the country, whilst I did my bit in commenting on the media and the government plans to silence it through the passing of the Gag Law. It was interesting to discover that the questions that I was asked recently in Vienna by university professors and Chavez’ supporters were echoed by members of the German press.
After Chavez what?
The first and foremost preoccupation, shared by all observers, is what will happen after Chavez’ is recalled. Not much attention is dispensed to the fact that the country is at the brink of civil war due to the forced presence of Chavez, no. That is only a minor factor; the future, that’s what’s important. However the latest bulletin of Crisis Watch places Venezuela, together with Ethiopia/Eritrea and Sudan, as the countries with the highest risk of armed conflict in the world. Let us reflect on that tidbit for a moment. No mention of Iraq or Chechenya? How about the Israel – Palestine issue? So one of the rare countries in the planet that has enjoyed a war free period of nearly 200 years is dangerously nearing a civil strife of considerable magnitude, yet European analysts and experts alike are concerned about what will the opposition do with the social plans implemented by Chavez. A growing worry in regards to the effects that such scenario may have for oil prices in the future is also expressed continuously. Mind you the country with the largest crude reserves outside the Middle East is presided by a man that will do whatever he can to stay in power –legal and illegal-, even if it means to take the nation down the war path but the wellbeing of the dispossessed tops the agenda in any convesation about Venezuela.
The regime is in full campaign swing and the social benefits (called “Misiones”) have taken centre stage. Like a magic mantra all government information outlets are pounding on the catchphrase “No dejes que te quiten tus misiones” or do not let the opposition take away your benefits. How does Chavez know what the opposition will do with the “Misiones,” is he clairvoyant as well? The “Misiones” that work should not only stay but be greatly enhanced by future administrations if any support is to be gained from benefit – recipients, i.e. Chavez supporters. I was not afraid of words when asked about this issue yesterday -confronted with an argument on the massive support that Chavez seems to have- and expressed “firstly if Chavez has indeed the backing of Venezuela’s poor, that estimated figures place anywhere between 65% to 85% of the population, how come he dreads the recall referendum so evidently? Secondly, how can a nation of welfare recipients progress?” As the saying goes “give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever.” The benefit programms in place are unsustainable if oil price fells and similarly if private industries are converted into “enemies of the People.” The mercantilistic and paternalistic approach of the state needs be modified without further ado and that will never happen with a useless charlatan like Chavez.
The recall referendum
Journalists from the aforementioned media seemed pretty much convinced about the necessity of a recall referendum, however they appear to have not a proper knowledge about a few facts that are there for anyone to see, for instance the stake that the regime has in the SBC Consortium, or the clear violation to norms and regulations by the chavista board of the National Electoral Council. The messing about with the rules is unknown to foreign analysts for what it is a sheer ignorance about them. But can we blame them, taking into account the obscene spin expenditure of the regime? No we can not for we have seen the true colours of Chavey but some of them have not or wish not to see the evident. Tomorrow chavistas will close here in Frankfurt a tour that has taken them around Europe with the purpose of disseminating the official lies. Hopefully the Deutsche media will honour their promise to accompany Mohamad Merhi, myself and others to give them a run for their money. Venezuela’s political debate has become international and the necessity of the recall will be explained by us everywhere until it comes to fruition. Our list of priorities has the removal of Hugo Chavez in the first place. All other arguments, however important, are secondary now for the tampering of the recall can have devastating consequences. The 15th of August the eyes of the world will be fixed upon Venezuela and that day Hugo Chavez’ intentions will be revealed for good.
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