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Justice arrives in Venezuela as Chavez's popularity drops

By Aleksander Boyd

London 03.09.06 | Chavismo announced with great fanfarre this week that one of the many death squads operating in the country was finally sentenced for the slaughtering of 3 university students in Kennedy back in June last year. Members of the death squad, composed by police and military intelligence operatives, have received sentences between 10 and 30 years. This is the second instance where perpetrators of high profile murders have been sentenced in Venezuela since Chavez took power in 1998. Many are still unresolved. Is this a coincidence or product of Chavez's drop of popularity in the polls?

I am inclined to believe that Chavez has lost touch with Venezuelan reality. His speech upon arrival from the latest road show was hollower than normal and the ever shrinking crowds, paid to cheer him, seem to have lost interest in the incongruencies of a deranged man that wants to save the world before putting his own country in order. The problem may stem from the fact that none of the sycophants in his entourage has the courage to tell things that may upset him, as crucial information about the state of the country never reaches the caudillo's hands. His is a world where infinite funds can be disposed off as he sees fit, in his many global trips. Venezuelan voters' concerns ceased being an issue long time ago. And now when Chavez is feted by the Galloways, Ahmadinejads, Castros et al of this world, what importance could his backward constituency have? The same of that enjoyed by regular Cubans, Iranians and Chinese perhaps. See Chavez has grown into the global-leader's role that his international cheerleaders have sold to him. He truly believes the bullshit he hears about him in comfort zones where nothing but nauseating praise can be expressed. And what could be more gratifying for an abused little soldier from Sabaneta de Barinas than to have the world's left at his feet? That's no mere achievement. From the BBC to Noam Chomski, the list of institutions/people prepared to celebrate Hugo Chavez's pet project is quite impressive. Now how could he waste any of his precious time with housing problems in Vargas; with rampant criminality in Caracas; with agricultural issues in Yaracuy; with explosions in El Palito; with inflation? No, he's beyond all that. His is a business of nurturing his image with photo-ops, joint declarations with leaders of rogue nations and accumulating air miles, whilst all the while being absolutely certain about the infallibility of the e-voting machines that will confer upon him victory after victory at the ballots. That is why he promised a referendum in 2010, so that Venezuelans can 'democratically' decide whether or not he becomes a dictator for life as his beloved idol in Havana. So sure of his victory this december that he's offering referenda in 4 years time.

The very few members of his cabinet left behind, that is the ones left out of the 100+ people entourage accompanying him in the fleet of planes led by the spanking $60 million Airbus, pretend to be manning the shop. Buttler Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel ordered the assassins to be sentenced, and everyone is supposed to say "wow, the chavista justice system is truly working! Second sentence in nearly 8 years, what an extraordinary achievement!" Diosdado Cabello, head of the operating military junta that controls pretty much everything from Mercal to the booming drug trade, is meant to have had Metropolitan Mayor Barreto suspended owing to his fascist behaviour. And again everybody is expected to say "see? There are chavistas committed to upheld the rule of law and respect private property!!" However this whole charade is, apart from comical, not fooling anyone. The great majority of Venezuelans consider private property to be a right not to be encroached. The thing is Chavez takes pride in sending the army to expropriate private property, ergo whatever his minions' decision against that state policy -remember l'etat c'est moi?- is mere posturing.

Results of the presidential election are already fixed, or as the chavistas say "the election's in the bag." Not because Chavez will get more votes than Rosales but rather due to the utmost efficiency of Smartmatics. It remains to be seen whether the strategists around Rosales prepare a plan B, which, if implemented nationwide, can bring about change, not without much suffering and deaths though. My impression is that 'the good news' from officialdom will steamroll from now on. We will hear about fantastic projects, INE or its US' spokesperson Mark Weisbrot will announce that poverty has decreased further in the second semester of 2006, unemployment figures will be sexed up -or is it sexed-down?, exemplary sentences will be announced in front of the cameras against criminals, Barrio Adentro 'doctors' will break the 146-million-treated-cases barrier, donkies in Merida, Trujillo and Tachira will learn how to read-write-sing, in sum Venezuela in the coming three months will overtake the Netherlands as the most democratic, progressive, transparent nation on earth. No one will be left behind. No small feat after 8 years of failures and nothing to show for, isn't it?

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