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A repressive day in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

02.03.05 | Today things went fast so I will dispatch the news like a quick press summary. Luckily El Universal has been able to translate the snippets in English thus saving me some time. In no particular order as all is equally important.

Carlos Ortega Arrested

One of the three leader of the general strike of 2002-2003 got arrested. After having been granted exile in Costa Rica, he was booted out of it for some undue activities and eventually came back as a clandestine last August. Shows to tell you how efficient is Venezuelan police. I suppose that in three months we will have the arrests of Danilo Anderson's murderers if I let myself guide by the timing on Ortega.

I have mixed feelings on that. Besides having almost doomed the strike from the start by not ensuring that Caracas subway would stop, his handling of the post-strike left a lot to be desired. I am afraid that only hot heads *might* go and defend him. His time has passed and I doubt that he will achieve now the martyr status he could have obtained had he faced the music in mid 2003. Instead, he will be used as a scarecrow by chavistas, as the indecorous glee of Jesse "James" Chacon allows one to predict. Indeed, I have never seen an interior ministry behave in such an unceremonious way, really showing how unfit he is for the office of securing the nation. Obviously he was not put there for that but to pursue enemies, imaginary or real. And Ortega will allow him to talk of something else than the putrid entourage of Anderson, Vargas, Granda, etc, etc...

Napoleon Bravo got indicted

His case is just the latest one of a journalist that dared to criticize the regime and now must pay for it. It is important to recall that in past administrations Bravo run into trouble for his sharp criticisms, and that he was a Chavez supporter in 1998. But times change and now he must be punished for lèse majesté. The excuse as in previous cases is irrelevant: we all know that it has been decreed from Miraflores. In the past Bravo faced democrats and now he is facing a wanna-be dictator. Elementary my dear Watson.

Enrique Mendoza will be indicted

On April 11 2002 in a TV show Mendoza said that VTV should be closed. At least on aesthetic grounds it would be very difficult to disagree with such words as VTV was a pitiful propaganda vehicle then. It is still a propaganda vehicle but it got spruced up a little bit over the years.

People like me remember vividly that the personnel of VTV had probably run away in the evening of April 11, probably before Mendoza said such words. When the cameras of Globovision went to VTV they found all empty and they walked through the studios as if nothing.

And besides, even if Mendoza said those words he certainly did not execute them: the personnel of VTV had no problem to go back to the radio station on Saturday 13 and restart it. But of course the objective there is to punish Mendoza from having organized the Recall Election. VTV will do.

Venezuelan deficient Human Rights Record gets slammed again

Thus these people newly arrested do not face fair justice and fair detention. Of course, in spite of all the evidence the vice says that Venezuela is the best of worlds. The Chavez administration also dispatched promptly one of its most abject lackeys, the ombudsman,​ to spin the news. He whose main mission would be to protect all of us prefers to play politics and is not apparently very good at protecting his own people as they are starting to chew each other (see Anderson's case if you doubt this blogger).

The government even dares to criticize COFAVIC, the very noble organization who was set up to help the victims of February 27 1989. Now chavismo knows that COFAVIC could help the victims they are planning to create anytime soon, and thus COFAVIC is declared persona non grata.

And so dies freedom

In our continuous course towards the end of our liberties, as more and more hues of fascism obscure our daily lives and with he certainty that the morally corrupt new High Court will emit all sorts of rulings to destroy any opposition to the regime, Michael Rowan regales us with a new penetrating assay. It is good enough that I reproduce it completely below, thinking about the long chavista night falling on us. Inspired on Pastor Niemoller, but these words are never heard too often.



It does not end with a bang, but a whimper. The end creeps up like sleep, and then you are transported somewhere in a dream, with no influence over what is happening. You are being carried down a stream, which seems harmless at first, and then you hear the distant roar of a waterfall where all the water wants to go. Or you are asleep in a little shack slowly being covered with mud, filled with mud, and you never awaken to know what happens in the end, or if ever there was one.

Freedom does not disappear in a way that you notice it. One day, it is just gone. You think back to all the little steps that somehow took you to this place, and can't figure out which one was telling. It seemed to be happening to someone else, somewhere else, at some other time. The little difficulties piled up. She lost her job, he lost his farm, she lost her company, he lost his brother, she lost her reputation, and he was charged with something preposterous but no one seemed to notice.

One day there appeared right and wrong places to shop, to work, to bank, to live, to drive, to meet, or to go to school, or to the doctor, or to a lawyer. It was hard to say how this happened. Here are men in uniforms armed to the teeth raiding a school - and there is an arrest, followed by a deathly silence. Here is a public confession that makes absolutely no sense - and there is a headline screaming unanswered charges that are simply preposterous. Absurdity upon absurdity dulls the senses into a kind of day-long half-sleep. Truth itself is suspect, elusive, and grey. Facts disappear like pebbles under an avalanche of interpretations. Only one thing is certain: the authorities are certain.

To act, to speak, to vote, to write, and to think somehow attain boundaries not noticed before. The boundaries of freedom somehow shrank, invisibly, like water evaporating on the sidewalk in front of your home. One moment there was a pool of water that unavoidably seeped into the shoes; later, a thin sheet of water that must be stepped around or over; and still later, nothing but bone dry cement baking in the sun, so much so that you can't recall where the water might have been. So you walk by, taking no notice.

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