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Venezuela's Chavez Mistakes Programs, then Attacks Bush

By Alexandra Beech,

11/07/04 - The opposition is so incompetent, said government supporter Eva Gollinger on the phone while speaking to Chavez during his weekly television show, that they need their government plan drafted by Washington.

I am one never to use the word “incompetence” so lightly, because it is one of those boomerang words that can come back and hit you. Such seems to be the case with this latest episode in Venezuela.

On Sunday, Chavez said in Alo Presidente, his weekly call-in show, that he had evidence that the Bush government had financed “Plan Consenso”, the transition plan recently presented by the opposition.

According to an article posted on the website of the Ministry of Communications and Information, “the documents identify Cedice as responsible for the opposition project, and as members of the Committee for the Promotion of said document are Fedecámaras, CTV [Confederation of Workers], the Citizens Assembly, Radio Caracas TV, CEDICE and Father Mikel de Viana, as a representative of the Catholic Church, among other organizations.”

Chavez said that “one must denounce it before the world. The government of Mr. George W. Bush continues putting its hands where it shouldn’t. The government of Washington continues with its politics of intervention in Venezuela. The government of Mr. Bush continues its imperialist politics.”

When many in Caracas heard Chavez refer to “Cedice”, they questioned its connection to Plan Consenso, since it is an entirely different project.

Then details of Chavez’s mistake emerged.

In a local interview, Diego Bautista Urbaneja, who heads Plan Consenso, said that “Plan Consenso País has no connection with Cedice’s project.” He said that the President mistakenly was referring to “a project called ‘Constructing Consensus’ of the organization Cedice, as was evident in the documents that he showed.” In addition, he said that Cedice “is very respectable, but it has absolutely nothing to do with Consenso Pais.”

Unfortunately, the news had already traveled around the world. Al-Jazeera reported that “Chavez said the money given by the endowment was used by the opposition to draft a government plan titled Country Consensus as a blueprint for a post-Chavez Venezuela,” and China News reported that the National Endowment for Democracy “money was used to draft a government and economic plan entitled Country Consensus, which was released by the opposition alliance Democratic Coordinator on Friday as a blueprint for a post-Chavez Venezuela.”

It is not likely that Chavez will admit his mistake, since then he would have to also acknowledge, not only that his information providers are not very, um, competent, but also that Plan Consenso was conceived by Venezuelan citizens who are dissatisfied with his government.

However, this latest guffaw is only a prelude to the dirty methods that Chavez will employ to win the referendum.

Urbaneja, in his usual folksy style, said that he hoped that “Chavez was a victim of a confusion...or he would make a huge fuss with his analysts or advisors for allowing him to fall into a confusion of this magnitude.”

Losing credibility, on any given day, doesn’t look good for a president facing a recall referendum.

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