Venezuela: Paranoia within chavismo
Tuesday 20, July 2004 - I wrote this week end about the fundamentalist nature of Chavismo. As it is to be expected in such type of movement, it comes with a certain dose of paranoia incorporated. Let's see what it does to some of its followers.
We have a government in office since February 2, 1999 that has managed in all this time to control the following things:
- a new constitution
- courtesy of this new constitution, a control of the two offices that supposedly are in charge of checking governmental abuse(the general prosecutor and the general comptroller)
- a new high court packed with favorable justices
- a national assembly which started with a 2/3 majority for Chavez and still gives him a slight majority
- a majority of state houses and town halls
- a set of laws that allows it to control some key aspects of economic policy making
- a purge in the army, courtesy of the failed 2002 Carmona adventure
- a take over of the Venezuelan oil company which brings direct access to the source of Venezuelan income, courtesy of the failed strike of 12/2002
- a weakening of the trade unions with pro government trade unions that have neutralized many of the potential social conflicts in public administration
- a relentless purge of the public administration in particular the security and repressive apparatus
- a court appointed electoral board that is controlled by a 3 to 2 majority and that has been able to void one recall election petition and protect Chavez from an election for a full year
- a new judicial law that ends independence of the judicial power by allowing Chavez to re-pack once again the high court, in spite of many foreign criticism
- a national assembly that has surrendered some of the financial controls allowing the oil money outside of the budget process and thus removing revenue from the states, in particular the opposition states
In other words;
NO ADMINISTRATION IN VENEZUELA SINCE THE TIME OF GOMEZ AND PEREZ JIMENEZ HAS HAD AS MUCH POWER, AS MUCH CONTROL OVER THE LEGAL MECHANISMS OF THE COUNTRY, OVER THE MONEY SUPPLY AND HOW TO USE IT AT WILL.
And yet, what have we been witnessing these past few days?
The most ineffable William Lara has announced with all seriousness that the opposition has an evil plan to sabotage the recall election on August 15. How would that dastardly deed work out? Well, the opposition will very early in the morning bring 2.5 million electors (which they will, evil or not). At 10 AM all sorts of "accidents" will be happening such as dropping coffee or soda on the voting machines and thus sabotage the referendum.
Jesse Chacon, the communication minister, famous for his bloody assault on a TV station in the 1992 failed coup, went to the CNE to complain about the "imbalance" of the news coverage in the opposition media. Now that is fine and dandy and certainly the opposition media is favoring the opposition just as the official media is favoring, and way more, the official positions, without forgetting the "cadenas". However the minister took the time to count the percentage of cartoons that are in favor of the opposition, naming directly El Universal and El Nacional. I am not making this up, according to Chacon: "the political cartoons have been used in more than 50% linked to the SI" (sic, sort of).
Leaders of the groups more active in organizing the grassroots efforts to organize the Recall Election vote are been pursued and indicted for the most ridiculous reasons. The government of course knows that and in some cases the indictment come more than a year after the alleged crime. But the strategy is very clear: the guys must now spend time with their lawyers to prepare their defense instead of organizing the grassroots work. The financial cost to the government: a few cheaply paid hack lawyers. Thus we saw this week Horacio Medina, from Gente de Petroleo, all the ex-oil workers now working hard to get back their jobs through the vote and the third in charge at Sumate, the organization that did all the logistics for the Recall Election petition drive, Luis Henrique Palacios, being cited to court, both leading the two most effective organizations of vote gathering.
The government is trying to make a show of international support, a show organized by the exquisite Samuel Moncada. So we got a group of Brazilian intellectuals sign up a letter which title is "If I were a Venezuelan I would vote for Chavez". The letter is brought to Venezuela (who probably paid the trip) by one of these intellectuals (?) who found himself on some podium with Moncada, Richard Gott of Britain and the Anglo Pakistani journalist Tariq Ali (whose trips I leave the reader to wonder as to who paid the tab). The inanities proffered were quite something (Gott conveyed Tony Benn best wishes, I thought he was dead, well, he is politically dead anyway). More notably was the tone used, which was almost angry! Why such anger if they do not live in the country? Aren't they supposed to be cool headed and impartial observers? That was strange. But the most ridiculous part of an already quite ridiculous event was that it quickly turned out into some anti Bush platform as to Iraq, of course. Tariq Ali had no qualms in asking "where are the Venezuelan tortured and prisoners like in Guantanamo?". I mean, from under which rock has he crawled off? Has he heard of February 27 2004 in Caracas? I mean, is he paid off? Bad faith? Ignorant? Manipulated?
Now, are these kind of activities indicators of a government that feels confident of an electoral victory? I think not.
How can we interpret this? How come a government that controls almost everything is able to accuse the opposition to prepare a massive fraud? And believe it to the point of having to hire washed out leftists to come and make a case for itself that it is unable to make?
It is very simple: they have all become fundamentalist and they think that the whole world is out to get them. There is no way to ever reassure them unless the enemy is eliminated. And even then they would invent themselves a new enemy.
I think the loony-bin manual calls that paranoia.
Only 27 days until the Recall Election on Hugo Chavez. Do I want him out?
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