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Venezuela: Breed Crows...

By Miguel Octavio

Thursday, July 01, 2004 - Reportedly, there is a lot of infighting within Chavez’ MVR. The failure by the Chavistas to stop the recall referendum has created important differences among the various factions in the Chavismo. Some want the Government to be tougher, others want to follow the rules and others…are simply fed up.

Such cracks in the wall are typical of regimes that have total control of a political system and are a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite for its downfall. One such crack, which has been making a lot of noise lately, is MVR/Podemos (former?) Deputy Roger Rondon. Rondon was one of those unknown political figures that rode on Chavez’ coattails to the National Assembly. He had been the loyal soldier until recently when, supposedly fed up with the control by the Patria para Todos (PPT) party over PDVSA as well as the numerous cases of corruption in the Venezuelan oil industry. After making corruption and nepotism charges against the Minister of Energy and Mines Rafael Ramirez, Rondon was removed from his position as Chairman of the Energy and Mines Committee of the National Assembly.

Rondon was certainly unhappy. He not only reiterated the charges against Ramirez, including hiring half his family in the oil industry, but also denounced that MVR Deputy Luis Tascon had confessed that the Government had planted the paramilitary uniforms thus creating the now forgotten scandal of the paramilitary force purportedly organized by the opposition. According to Rondon, Tascon even boasted that this was proof of the efficiency of the Chavista team in dominating the media.

Tascon was not happy either and showed a note from Rondon yesterday asking someone from PDVSA to give a hand to an acquaintance of his who owns a gas station.

Rondon responded in kind today, making what are probably the most explosive charges, this time against General Raul Baduel, the man who supposedly saved Chavez’ presidency in April 2002. Rondon showed today a letter written by the General quite a while ago, to then President of PDVSA Roberto Mandini. In it, Baduel, who was then Chavez private secretary, recommended to Mandini to consider the company Earth Tech for contracts related to the Jose project. Rondon said in his statement that the letter said that Baduel was following instructions from the President, but he was careful enough to clarify that he could not say Chavez knew of this. Since that letter, Earth Tech has been awarded contracts at Jose for over US$ 70 million.

In this same press conference, Rondon claimed that graphological examination of the note proved that it was not written by him and took advantage of the occasion to take a potshot at MVR Deputy Nicolas Maduro accusing him of owning 400 cabs of obscure origin. To close, Rondon said that from now on he will vote his conscience in the National Assembly.

Thus, an obscure politician whose only claim to fame was supporting Chavez, becomes a problem for Chavez and his supporters. We will likely see more evidence and charges from Rodnon given his former influential position in the National Assembly. As we say in Spanish:

“Cria cuervos y te sacaran los ojos” “Breed crows and they will pick your eyes”

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