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The ballot shipwrecked on the shores of Cuba

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

07.05.05 | Last week saw the visit of Chavez to Cuba to open offices for the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA, in Havana. The gross indecency of this ill management, not to call it by much deserved stronger words, of Venezuelan public monies has shaken quite a few people, including this blogger. The contained rage that I experienced at this act of authoritarian hubris inhibited me from writing on the subject for a few days until I finally could discuss at some level the craziness of it all.

But I was not done with it. Fortunately the OpEd piece of Milagros Socorro in El Nacional last Thursday (1) allowed me a cathartic exercise by translating it today. As you will be reading below, you must realize that this is an extremely strong article, that she is the reflection of the outrage experienced by a myriad of thinking folks in Venezuela who cannot beleive that Chavez uses Venezuelan public treasury as a shoe box under his bed where he digs big banknotes to satisfy his whims and the pimps he works for. It is not idle talk to point out that under the current legal set up, what Milagros Socorro wrote could subject her to prosecution by the state (and by extension to the people that translate or cite her).

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El Nacional, Thursday 5, May 2005
Milagros Socorro (2)

The ballot shipwrecked on the shores of Cuba



The recent landing of Venezuelan billions in Cuba is an event of such enormity that it supersedes any previous scandal.

To underrate the great threat that is implied with the installation of a PDVSA office in a country _not any foreign country_ which is the enclave of a long, cruel and awfully impoverishing dictatorship, is a mistake that the Venezuelan democrats cannot afford.

Teodoro Petkoff simplifies the business at dismissing the value of setting a "Caribbean" office in Cuba because we are not in the North Pole (3). It is true, the absurdity can only lead to incredulity and mistrust. And the editor focuses in the accusations on the "flock of traders" that would meddle with PDVSA business (against the current bylaw that establishes the state company to perform all of its operations directly with its final destination clients).

All of this, already being quite damaging, is not, in my humble opinion, the key to the situation. What we need to have clear in mind is that the investment -or should we call it "expenditure"?- that Venezuela is making in the island concentration camp of Fidel Castro does not follow from any analysis performed by Venezuelan experts.

It is not the conclusion reached by a multidisciplinary team who evaluated the needs of our country and calculated which are the initiatives that would benefit the future of the Nation, of the youth that soon will reach the labor market and those who have not been able to fit in by lack of jobs and local investment. The opening of PDVSA in Cuba is not the result of a rational consideration, not the result of a planning closely tied to the interests of Venezuela. PDVSA is in Cuba by the whim of a man, to whom we do not attribute sagacious abilities or introspections, whose name is Hugo Chavez. And if that man would have fancied to fill up the Middle East with areperas or construct a cuatro music school in every Chinese village (4), he would have done so too because there is no institution in Venezuela that regulates the initiatives of the President -now openly transfigured into sovereign-, to slow down those that conspire against the well being of the Republic.

The boatloads of money that have been put into the hands of Castro, the spectacle that president Chavez gave in Havana last week, have completed the dismantling of any democratic pretense in Venezuela.

After this, elections, voting, the National Assembly, the council of ministers, all is empty of content. They mean nothing. A man who obviates in such a vulgar and blissful manner the opinion, the will, the wishes of a country to go and waste the income of the Republic in the oldest dictatorship on earth is not considering for a single instant the democratic proceedings or the value of the vote; not, of course, as an instrument of his possible substitution from office but only for what vote can have of parody, of a construct to reward his transgressions.

When Hugo Chavez shouted in Cuba that Venezuela is in a transition to toward socialism, he finished with our illusion that voting had any meaning. Democratic countries can opt for a socialist government but no socialist country can opt for a democratic government.

It is good to keep this in mind. And to understand that the way out for Venezuela cannot be through elections anymore. A king it is not dethroned by long lines at the voting centers. The permissiveness with the autocrat has gone too far and the out of control trajectory of his abuses has reached such incandescence, that the end of his trajectory cannot receive its full stop by a vote. The Venezuelan tragedy has an only, solitary, hallucinating, author and performer. Nothing will change if we rotate in their fake responsibilities the authorities that are his carnival followers.

We are living a tragedy... and the outcome of tragedies is always terrible. And unavoidable.

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1) El Nacional is by subscription only. I have posted the original article in my document blog.

2) I have translated several times the brilliant work of Milagros Socorro, the journalist who is describing with a sparseness of words and an admirable laser like focus the slow decent of Venezuela into authoritarianism, and perhaps more. Two of my favorite translated articles that illustrate this decent into barbary are when she reported on the investigations on the Danilo Anderson case, or her harrowing description of the Semerucos night when the Nazional Guard acted in its first perfectly documented fascist action.

3) I have also put the editorial of Petkoff in my document blog. There is an excellent English translation of this editorial in Vcrisis.

4) Arepera is a place to buy arepa, our local variety of corn bread filled with all sorts of things, the stapple of life just as tortilla is in Mexico. Cuatro is the four string small Venezuelan guitar with a rather unique sound and the basis of Venezuelan folk music



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