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Stonewalling big time in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal

08/10/04 - Little time to write but so much to discuss! Chavismo has decided to reinitiate big time discussion of controversial laws. The least that can be said about these laws is that they will concentrate even more power into the hands of a privileged few. The worse? Well, from repressive and up.

No matter what, democracy will not be advanced.

The one that suddenly came back in the front burner is the gag law which aims at controlling how the news are presented in media during day time. The excuse is to protect youth from hard/violent news during day time, day time being understood from 5 AM to 11 PM, giving a new meaning to Summer Time. It suddenly garnered a new urgency due "to parents concerns" now strangely heard whereas before nobody did pay attention to them. Of course, more important stuff that the mental health of children was at stake for chavismo, such as retaining power so as to keep ransacking the country. Cry the little children....

To put pressure on the National Assembly we are observing executive pressure in a way that is not even seen in parliamentary regimes where the executive emanates directly from parliament. The communication minister, Izarra, felt compelled once again to go on TV and give very non convincing explanations on how the National Assembly agenda was suddenly changed to accommodate visits by several high public officials. But nobody is fooled, least of them chavistas in the assembly who know only too well that outside of Chavez they have no future. When Chavez speaks, they jump!

But why all the urgency? Shoot the messenger, of course. Chavez and chavismo seem less and less able to put up with criticism. To begin with the talk of fraud is not going away. There seems to be a ground swelling building up for October 31, a ground swelling for civil disturbance on election day, abstention and what not, something that chavismo cannot allow to build as it intends to take over most town halls and governorships, legally or illegally as the case might be, but making sure that the OAS and other observers are adequately fooled.

And more unfavorable TV coverage is yet to come as it seems that in spite of a 50 USD per barrel is not enough to sustain governmental expenses!!!! Many hints of that are for all to be seen.

In San Felipe, I can witness the long lines of people that have been bought inside chavismo through the "misiones" and are right now camping in front governmental offices (1) trying to cash their bonus which have stopped flowing after the Recall Election. Imagine that!

More telling are that new taxes are being levied! In a period of abundant oil income! From now on, the banking transaction tax, which was supposed to be provisional as of 2001 will become permanent. It is to be noted that it was established when the oil barrel was in the low tens, but apparently the barrel in the high 40ies is not enough for a wasteful (and corrupt?) administration and they will keep retaining 0,75% of any check I emit.

And do not let me start with the talk of gas hike! Gas, way cheaper in Venezuela than bottled water, is a subsidy for the rich that for some reason the poor support as if their own life went into it. Any talk of gas hike, which will have to come as the subsidy is just unbearable for Venezuelan finances, could trigger protests that certainly the Chavez administration does not want to go on TV. See February 1988, El Caracazo. (2)

The best hard playing by the administration came yesterday when the CNE refused point blank to let the oppostion examine the voting records of the Recall Election. Now, there are some people that still go around saying that the election was fair and clean. Could they tell me why is it that the CNE is stonewalling so much? At this point I do not need anymore statistical theories: the refusal of the CNE to shed any clarity in spite of constant legal demands tells me all what I need to know about the August 15 fraud.

(1) I do not have my digital camera these days and the Yaracuy papers are not on line. The reader will have to trust me on that one :-)

(2) Massive rioting and sacking triggered by a gas hike. Some early troubles were broadcast live on TV who was accused of generating a national ransacking spree. Hundred of people killed and disappeared.

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