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More than 500 dead or missing in Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

London 18.02.05 | In December 1999 mudslides of devastating proportions destroyed much of the cities and towns of Vargas in Venezuela. The total number of victims remains a mystery to this day, although most reports put the figure in the vicinity of 40.000 deaths and 250.000 unsettled. The tragedy was caused by cloud formations that, in abnormal stationary fashion, discharged a tremendous amount of rain over the Avila range. Back then Venezuela was a non-happening place financially and politically speaking and it took more than a week for the MSM to grasp the real dimension of the tragedy and report accordingly. Nonetheless national and international help, in the form of emergency aid, poured into the relief effort.

Ignacio Arcaya was the Interior Minister and it is widely believed that he decided to ignore warnings and reports produced by Defensa Civil prior to the disaster for he was only too keen to go join his patron, incipient president Chavez, in La Orchila where revolutionary celebrations were taking place due to the recently won referendum. Top officials of the Chavez administration, including the president, were nowhere to be found for three days.

The army, led by Lucas Rincon Romero, did participate in the relief effort only after their electoral responsibilities (Plan Republica) were fulfilled. I remember vividly that in that occasion the army was accused of political proselytism; denounces about emergency aid donated by the Church being repacked into government bags were ripe. Ergo I do not understand the current outrage of some people in regards to the same problem that apparently has manifested itself with revived vigour in Merida state. I also fail to comprehend the hype about the Venezuelan media not reporting accurate numbers of victims in that area. Three days ago I reported, after having a conversation with a friend who happens to live in Merida, that more than 400 people are missing or dead; entire buses filled with passengers are reportedly missing. He gave me a detailed account of the situation in Santa Cruz de Mora. I also spoke to his brother who actually lives in Santa Cruz de Mora to cross check the information.

The difference between and the Venezuelan media is that no Hugo Chavez is going to order CONATEL to take away my license to report whatever I want. The MSM, as usual, is three days behind the curve and their numbers are as inaccurate as they can be. Hence dear readers don't get worked up. To those who read from Venezuela a word of advice: don't give anything to the regime's relief effort; if you want to help, go and help but refrain from giving/donating anything to the government; let the saviour of the dispossessed save them; let him do what allegedly his good at; let him earn his votes and do remember that 55 tons of emergency aid donated to the first disaster was left to rot and expire and more than $1 billion found its way to chavista accounts.

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