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Our daily outrage in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal

Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - It is kind of difficult to remain blasé in Venezuela, even though the news should be a little bit tamer now that we are heading toward the so wished for Recall Election. But such an election comes with a campaign and electoral campaigns, well, you know… Still, the real important news are not too numerous and, it seems that I can keep it down to a post a day, easier on me and on this blog's readers. Let's do today's digest.

The Internet item of the day has to be Venezuela going in the list of countries trafficking with people. Alexandra Beech writes on the children that not only Chavez has failed to protect, but whose fate is even worse after 5 years of chavismo.

Still, this did not stop the High Constitutional Court to rule that if Chavez is Recalled on August 15, he will be able to run in 2006 again. One would like to think that the ruling came as a favor to Chavez to allow people to forget about his misrule of the past 5.5 years. But nothing of the sorts as the ruling does not address the real question: Chavez will be able to run for the presidential election to fill up the last two years of his term if he is recalled. Apparently in this shameless political system that Chavez has saddled us with, some people think that a Recall Election is nothing more than a memo to the boss. To be continued.

Thus Chavez keeps rolling out his campaign. The latest initiative is a radio show to be transmitted at 10:30 PM. The title? "Patrolling with Chavez". This is no joke. Chavez is "personally" going to tell his followers every night what they should do the next day. The transmission vehicle is organizing them in "patrols" of a dozen or so people that will go door to door making sure people are registered to vote, and vote Chavez. Incidentally, though it has not been reported in the foreign press who probably would think of it as bad joke, the government in Venezuela has stopped working. Effectively since the "Mision Santa Ines" has been called and the "Comando Maisanta" sworn in to lead the mission, we have learned that most cabinet members will be in the fields for the next two month working for the Recall Election defense of Chavez term. Of course during that time tax payer money will continue providing for their paychecks. They will be helped in their non sectarian labor for the benefit of ALL Venezuelan people by the monies of PDVSA directly detoured for their usage without any of the normal budgetary controls such as the Central Bank or the General Comptroller office. The effects on inflation and corruption might be felt by August 15th......

Amazingly one of Chavez supporters in the National Assembly, perhaps sensing a shift in the political winds, has dared cite the Oil Minister to account for this illegal transfer of funds. Representative Rondon has dared propose a vote a no-confidence to Rafael Ramirez, citing a very long list of possible misdeeds and unexplained facts. This has created quite as stir within chavismo seats with some representatives bending backwards to praise Ramirez and trying to simply eject Rondon from the commission he presides. Dissenting in chavismo is the highest crime, whereas more mundane sins such as corruption are easily overlooked.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Electoral Board, CNE, has finally written the "QUESTION". The Recall Election being a referendum, it needed a question. Well, they managed to avoid using the word "revoke" in the question, instead using a "end" the mandate. It is just a silly face saving maneuver but it tells a lot about the mood of chavismo, trying desperately to grab any twig to stay afloat. The controversy about the automated process keeps apace, no compromise on sight, no reassuring events for the public. Right now, it seems that all the doubts that I expressed a few weeks ago as to the reliability of the system are still unanswered.

However the CNE seems to be losing the battle of the International Observers. In a clear sign that the International Community is quite up to the tricks that Battaglini and his posse are intending to develop as an electoral fraud, the European Community has offered its services for international observers. The Battaglini claque, since he woke up, was to ban the "partial" OAS and Carter Center since they basically forced them to accept the signatures. Now it would be very difficult to accept Europe and refuse America, or to refuse all of them. In other words, delicately the offer of money and people for the August contest is a very delicate and diplomatic way for Europe to say to chavismo that elections not duly monitored will not be recognized. It is interesting to see that the Battaglini started the whole affair but now Rodriguez is trying to mend fences. One wonders, one wonders…

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