Coup d’état by Chávez in Venezuela

The opposition to Hugo Chávez is accused him Wednesday of carrying out a coup d’état, due to the package of laws that he is ramming through the lame duck session that ends January 5th next year. The package includes an Enabling Act that makes the next congress mute – something that Hugo himself has made fun of by heckling them on TV. It also includes severe restrictions on free speech, the right of assembly, and the right to property. His partisans, the chavistas, have said that Venezuela will not be the same after January 1st, and that the revolution will be “hard” the next two years.

Since several days Colombia’s ex president Alvaro Uribe has denounced this coup d’état – a legal coup using the same methods that Adolf Hitler used in the Spring of 1933 – in Spanish language media. Wednesday evening Reuters became first among major English language media with the news.

The fact that this is being reported as a coup abroad has led Venezuelan tweeters to use the hashtag #GolpeEstadoVE to the degree that it climbed to a top position, which provoked the reaction below.

Reactions to the fact that "coup d'état" was a leading hashtag.
Reactions to the fact that "coup d'état" was a trend topic.

First “lubrio” wrote, “they put coup as Trend Topic… I’m afraid, they are at the verge of overthrowing Chávez, o God!” Judging from his avatar he is a hard core chavista. Last “sombrerorojo” (red hat) wrote, “Did you see? Coup is Trend Topic! -Are you serious? -Damn, today the tyrant will fall.”

While that may be a bit rash, there is a real possibility that he will fall within a week or two. However, it is largely in the hands of foreign leaders.

How, you ask? -Simple. If countries with which Venezuela has diplomatic relations state that what Chávez is doing in their opinion is a coup d’état, then the security forces of Venezuela (read: the military) will much, much more prone to arrest him than otherwise.

Consider Honduras, where a similar situation happened last year. Zelaya was carrying out a coup, but the world did not acknowledge it. So when he was arrested by the military the world called it a coup, even though they were acting on orders of the Supreme Court, and the vast majority of the Congress supported the action.

In Venezuela today neither the Congress nor the Court is going to back the military in such an act, since both those institutions are dominated by Chávez-supporters. The Congress is key in carrying out the unconstitutional acts, and the Court is hardly impartial.

The only thing the military in such an act can rely on is its independent interpretation of the Constitution. There are a number of different arguments that can be made for why deposing Chávez by military force would be justified, but they should not be litigated here. Let that be for a possible court case after the fact.

The bottom line is that it is largely in the hands of foreign leaders to decide the outcome of this; if Chávez will be as successful as Hitler, or if his coup plans will be foiled. So, please, denounce this coup for what it is: A coup.

Media: DN (Swedish)

Carta abierta a los venezolanos que aman la libertad

A letter tweeted by Sonia Camacho H but the letter itself is unsigned. It makes the case that Hugo Chavez has stopped following the democratic constitution of Venezuela, why it is no longer an option to wait to the presidential electios in 2012 to replace him. Also, since he violates the constitution, the constitution itself allows for his early “retirement”. Finally the letter gives a strategy in 4 steps for what all freedom-loving Venezuelans should do, immediately. [Note: A more detailed piece of advice is found here: Como organizar la desobediencia civil]

Un régimen castrista y castrense nos humilla: hay que castrarlo.

Cual es el problema?

La sociedad venezolana se encuentra en las garras de un régimen inepto, totalitario, hiper-corrupto, entreguista de nuestros recursos y alineado con los estados forajidos y organizaciones terroristas del planeta. Como dirían en Los Teques de mi adolescencia: una pelusa!

Es posible sustanciar esta aseveración?

Si. La ineptitud está documentada por el colapso de la infraestuctura física del país, por la criminalidad galopante, por el caos financiero y la destrucción de las empresas básicas. Su totalitarismo es evidente al observar la violación sistemática de la constitución, el abuso de poder, el hostigamiento de los medios de comunicación, el desdén por la voluntad popular expresada en elecciones, la existencia de presos políticos y el lenguaje fascista-gorilista del líder, Hugo Chávez Frías. Su hiper-corrupción esta ejemplificada por la impunidad de los responsables del inmenso fraude de Pudreval, por el caso de los maletines llenos de dinero para intervenir en los procesos políicos de otros países, por el robo sistémico y sistemático en el sector de las finanzas públicas y en PDVSA. La entrega de nuestros recursos es evidente, como en el caso de la gigantesca transferencia de riqueza venezolana a la Cuba castrista, en los dineros dados a Evo Morales, a Daniél Ortega, a Rafaél Correa y en el financiamiento de la campaña presidencial de Cristina Kirchner. La alineación con los estados forajidos del planeta: Irán, Cuba, Zimbabue, Belarus, hasta Corea del Norte, está a la vista y los nexos con las FARC y la ETA están ampliamente documentados.
Esto lo digo porque la evidencia existe. No es un simple acto de catarsis oposicionista sino una denuncia formal.

Resultados de esta actuación del régimen

Actuando así el régimen ha llevado a Venezuela a la situación más trágica de su historia, al despilfarro de un mil millones de millones de dólares (1×10 a la doceava potencia) obtenidos, a partes iguales, por la liquidación de un recurso no renovable, el petróleo y por via de los impuestos al pueblo, sin que existan obras y políticas públicas de carácter estructural cónsonas con ese fabuloso ingreso. Venezuela es hoy una sociedad dividida por el odio de clase y hasta racial, mucho más cerca de Haití que de Chile, manejada por una pandilla sin ética de torvo aspecto. Han forzado al pueblo a hacer colas humillantes en espera de limosnas que lo hacen más dependiente del régimen. Cada día que pasa esta situación empeora, convirtiendo a Venezuela en una páis empobrecido material y espiritualmente.

Vías de salida

Un pueblo de corazón democrático pero aletargado, sin iniciativas para enfrentar la grosera agresión del régimen, ve pasar impotente los días que lo hunden en el foso del atraso y de la indignidad. Ha tomado refugio, comprensiblemente, en la noción de que en 2012 podrá ir a votar por un cambio de régimen para así tomar, de nuevo, el control de lo que quede de país, de las tristes ruinas físicas, sociales e institucionales de la nación. Este anhelo es conceptualmente irreprochable porque, quien puede objetar que los cambios políticos se realizen dentro de las reglas del juego democrático? Sin embargo, quienes así piensan parecen no darse cuenta de que Venezuela tendría que enfrentar 24 largos meses adicionales de deterioro, crimenes y abusos de autoridad y que no es nada seguro que la pandilla en el poder actuará en 2012 como sería de esperar en una democracia. Lo que estamos viendo hoy, ese obsceno desparpajo con el cual el régimen se limpia los fundillos con la voluntad popular, nos hace pensar que no tiene intenciones de actuar democraticamente ni hoy ni mañana. De manera que quienes esperan mansamente por las elecciones de 2012 pudieran estar entregando nuestro pasado de país democrático y tolerando un presente trágico, a cambio de un futuro panglosiano nada cierto.

Frente a esta resignación que nos está liquidando espiritualmente propongo una acitud cívica más militante, más aguerrida y sobretodo más digna. Una actitud que nos quite de encima ese estigma de país castrado que nos acogota hoy. Hay algunas iniciativas que pueden tomarse y que pueden darle a la sociedad venezolana un sentido de dirección, unas banderas de lucha y logren cambiar el rumbo de los acontecimientos en el país.

La primera es publicar en diarios del país un documento que exprese nuestra intención de insurgir civicamente, algo como el documento de los profesores de derecho público recién dado a la publicidad, pero más breve, no más de unas 500-600 palabras. Eso sí, a ser firmado por miles de venezolanos, individuos y asociaciones de todo tipo: médicos, abogados, profesores, estudiantes, ingenieros, grupos religiosos, empresarios, sindicatos, todo un ejército civil en movimiento. Este documento sería una declaración ante el resto del país y ante el mundo de nuestro propóito de insurgir civicamente contra el régimen. Propongo que la MUD se encargue de catalizar la aparición de este documento. Por lo que he podido tantear hay mucha aceptación a esta iniciativa. Si la MUD no quiere o no puede hacerlo, entonces una organización de prestigio como CEDICE, o los colegios profesionales, o un periódico de gran peso en la vida del país pueden promoverlo.

La segunda es organizar grupos ciudadanos que hagan una protesta silenciosa sentados en vias públicas de las principales ciudades del país, entorpeciendo el libre tránsito, creando una situación de desobediencia civil que conlleva riesgos pero que es efectiva, tal como lo fue el movimiento gandhiano en su momento. Los estudiantes parecen ser los grupos mejor organizados para este tipo de iniativas pero deben ser acompañados por el resto de la sociedad civil.

La tercera es lo que propuso Diego Arria en reciente carta. Que los diputados electos por el país democrático denuncien en la Asamblea el abuso de poder de Hugo Chávez y se nieguen a aceptarlo, llevando a cabo las acciones legislativas que estimen necesarias. Cualquier decreto-ley emitido por Chávez es ilegítimo y debe ser desconocido por el país democrático. La Asamblea Nacional fue elegida para legislar, no para entregar sus deberes específicos en manos de un paracaidista corrupto e ignorante.

La cuarta es formar un gobierno paralelo de carácter simbólico, con “ministros” que evaluen la actuación de los ministros del régimen y los denuncien. Debemos considerar nombrar “embajadores” de la Venezuela democrática en algunos centros de poder mundial, como en Washington, Londres y París, quienes lleven a la opinión pública de esos centros la voz de la democracia venezolana.

No dejemos a la Venezuela de Vargas en manos de los Carujos

Para llevar a cabo estas u otras iniciativas será necesario que la oposición se ponga en marcha! Los demócratas venezolanos esperan que la Mesa Unitaria Democrática lidere este esfuerzo. Los francotiradores (columnistas, blogeros) no pueden hacerlo eficientemente, por más valiosos que sean (aunque deben seguir en sus esfuerzos!). La batalla a la cual nos arrastra la pandilla usurpadora involucra a la nación, es una batalla de vida o muerte por nuestra democracia.

Necesitamos un ejército cívico. Yo estoy a la orden como soldado raso para hacer lo que sea necesario. Es preciso insurgir.

No podemos quedarnos de brazos cruzados frente a la barbarie. Venezuela no debe ser de los Carujos. Debe ser la Venezuela de Vargas.

La Resistencia en Venezuela te necesita

This is a guest blog from Venezuelan General Carlos Peñaloza Zambranon. First his text, followed by an accompanying letter, calling for support of the resistance against Chávez’ communist self-coup that is being implemented in a whirlwind the last few days of 2010.

NINGÚN pueblo está obligado a reconocer el poder ilegal de gobiernos que violan continuamente la Constitución o aceptan la tutela de sus invasores. Cuando los ciudadanos se sienten oprimidos por otras naciones y/o por sus propios gobiernos que violan su Constitución, tienen el derecho de agruparse para ejecutar coordinadamente acciones de resistencia civil.

Ese derecho a enfrentar proyectos tiránicos está plasmado en la Constitución venezolana en su Artículo 350, el cual establece: “El pueblo de Venezuela, fiel a su tradición republicana, a su lucha por la independencia, la paz, y la libertad, desconocerá cualquier régimen, legislación o autoridad que contraríe los valores, principios y garantías democráticos o menoscabe los derechos humanos”.

Los “intelectuales” chavistas han descubierto que no es aplicable ese Artículo 350 de la que ellos mismos llamaron “la mejor Constitución del mundo”. Según ellos el texto es confuso, indefinido e incongruente, y por tanto debe desconocerse. Se arrogan el derecho exclusivo de decidir qué es reconocible y qué es desconocible en la Carta Fundamental de la República. Lo desconocible es la posibilidad de que ellos sean desconocidos.

Estos seudo analistas olvidan que la idea nació de una mente narcisista. Fue su forma de validar histórica y moralmente su palurdo intento de golpe de Estado el 4 de febrero de 1992. No pensó que también sería aplicable contra él. En el momento en que le entusiasmó ese Artículo 350, él se creía invulnerable. Ahora su monstruo de Frankestein está despertando.

El espíritu y propósito del 350 son evidentes y no admiten torcidas interpretaciones. El pueblo tiene derecho a rechazar cualquier intento de asfixiar su *** La Constitución es terminante. Exhortar a la movilización civil en rechazo a cuanto dañe las libertades democráticas y los derechos humanos, como en efecto los daña la Ley Habilitante, libertad y sus derechos. Más que una posibilidad es una exhortación. Si Fidel trata de imponernos su proyecto lo enfrentaremos. La resistencia civil no implica necesariamente el uso de la violencia, pero no lo descarta como respuesta a agresiones y violaciones de la Constitución. Tampoco es un intento de sabotear los esfuerzos de los políticos de oposición, reducidos a enfrentar al déspota utilizando reglas democráticas despreciadas por el régimen. La MUD está combatiendo según el equivalente político de las reglas del Marqués de Queensberry, mientras el Gobierno aplica la Ley de la Selva. La MUD no puede hacer otra cosa. Le corresponde establecer un principio de legalidad. Pero la resistencia es algo distinto. Tiene sus propias regulaciones.

La MUD cumple un rol importante. Su rol, que no es fácil. La resistencia no la desplaza como representación institucional. Tampoco le resta autoridad. Más bien la fortalece y la defiende. No hay una conexión directa entre la MUD y La Resistencia. Pero de hecho son coadyuvantes. Están imbricadas y se puede trabajar en ambas. Deben moverse armónicamente hacia el mismo objetivo aplicando cada una sus propias fortalezas y habilidades. La MUD es el brazo político en procura de un triunfo electoral y La Resistencia Civil es la reacción legítima de la sociedad para defender su dignidad ante el atropello de la fuerza ilegítimamente utilizada, con violación de la Constitución y los derechos humanos. A la MUD no le queda sino echar adelante a través de obstáculos ilegales opuestos por el régimen. La Resistencia reacciona activamente contra esa ilegalidad. Los partidos políticos aliados en la MUD realizan un trabajo duro y encomiable, manteniendo viva la esperanza de una solución pacifica, que es la más deseable, la que todos quisiéramos. El problema estriba en que el Gobierno pretende permitirle actuar sólo “si se porta bien”, entendiendo por buen comportamiento la renuncia a los derechos que la Constitución le autoriza para alcanzar su objetivo legítimo.

Para el hegemón cubano y su mandadero local, buena conducta es, por ejemplo, ignorar que en la Constitución hay un Artículo 350, cuya mención intentarán criminalizar. Las limitaciones naturales intrínsecas de la MUD hacen imprescindible el desarrollo de una Resistencia Civil basada en la letra constitucional, independiente de la MUD pero solidaria con ella en el objetivo de democracia y libertad.

Este enfoque del problema venezolano queda suficientemente validado a la luz de la Ley Habilitante aprobada el luctuoso 17 de diciembre. La sociedad traicionada tiene derecho a organizarse para una lucha cuyas condiciones correspondan a los métodos empleados por quienes, ignorando la voluntad popular expresada con reiteración y claridad, intentan imponernos una tiranía como la que rige en Cuba.


Apreciado(a) amigo(a).

Le envío en archivo anexo mi ultímo artículo sobre la Resistencia Civil, publicado en El Nuevo País del día de hoy, 22 de diciembre de 2010. Allí expongo ídeas sobre los roles complementarios y no contradictorios de la MUD y de la Resistencia Civil y Democrática.

Adicionalmente a lo expresado en dicho artículo quiero resaltar lo siguiente:

Para la oposición el espíritu y propósito del 350 son evidentes y no admiten torcidas interpretaciones cubanas. Si el tirano Fidel sigue tratando de imponernos su proyecto comunista la resistencia civil es la vía para enfrentarlo.

Dada la naturaleza de las actividades, aparte de los voceros oficiales, los líderes de la resistencia no serán conocidos públicamente hasta después que se asegure el cumplimiento de la carta magna. La resistencia estará en el corazón de los venezolanos pero sus líderes trataran de ser incorpóreos para el G2 cubano. La resistencia será invisible, pero estará en todas partes. Necesitamos su ayuda.

En la actualidad la resistencia civil esta atomizada en múltiples grupos cada uno con su propio comando, organización y objetivos. Debido a esto, y pese al esfuerzo realizado, estas estructuras carecen de capacidades, fuerza y unidad de criterio requeridas por el momento histórico. Muchas están encabezadas por devotos patriotas dirigentes de base que con mínimos recursos han logrado crear organizaciones con las uñas. Estos esfuerzos son loables, pero debido a su dispersión no alcanzan la fuerza necesaria por carecer de recursos y organización indispensables para plantearse como retadores serios ante el monstruo totalitario.

Estos esfuerzos difuminados deben agruparse en una Confederación que los convierta en un puño de hierro capaz de responder debidamente a los abusos del déspota. En esta coalición cada grupo mantendrá su estructura y liderazgo y podrán continuar con sus actividades regulares. La Confederación además presupone que se buscará objetivos comunes y se trabajará en forma sincronizada, ejecutando las acciones convenidas. Como mínimo, estas organizaciones existentes actuarán como cajas de resonancia de la resistencia, continuarán siendo una fuerza local con autonomía en sus aéreas de influencia, pero con acuerdos y fines de acción común. La idea no es desplazar al liderazgo local que se ha desarrollado, sino integrarlo a una fuerza coherente de alcance nacional, bien apertrechada. El propósito es fortalecer la resistencia civil con las herramientas, mecanismos e infraestructura necesarias.

A los líderes de organizaciones de resistencia comuníquense con nosotros a través de esta dirección de correo, como un aproximación inicial para la profundización y desarrollo de este tema.

Gen Carlos Peñaloza Zambrano

Chavistas: They Think They Are Free

One of the best books about the Third Reich, Hitler’s Nazi Germany, is “They Thought They Were Free – the Germans 1933-45” by Milton Mayer (1955). Using some enlightening excerpts I will compare Nazi Germany to Bolivarian Venezuela; the political strategy of Adolf Hitler to that of Hugo Chávez.

A philologist who lived through Nazi Germany recollects in the book: “You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote.” These are things that the citizenry of Bolivarian Venezuela are all too familiar with. Chávez constantly repeats that it is democratic socialism, popular democracy. And voting, yes, they can vote. If they vote wrong he will let them vote again until they vote right. And if that is not possible, as in the last parliamentary elections, he uses a crisis as an excuse to create an enabling act so he doesn’t depend on the parliament. Just like Hitler.

The book continues: “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security.” Chávez has for long governed by surprise, taken decisions himself (God knows how), and presented them on live TV, to the surprise not only of the citizenry, but also of his own cabinet.

Further: “And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.” Replace Hitler with Chávez and it is equally applicable.

The excerpt continues: “This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.” It’s chilling reading if you have followed the recent events in Venezuela.

Jumping a bit now: “The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway.” Hitler did not have TV, so he couldn’t have done what Chávez is doing: An hour-long political entertainment TV shows every Sunday, Aló Presidente. In it, the president is diverting the audience with political rhetoric of the populist kind, giving them a feeling that they are part of the government process. It is all about diverting, of course. In reality they are further and further from it, just like the Germans.

The following longer excerpt is worth reading slowly, over and over again, especially for all Venezuelans:

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something—but then it was too late.

Resist the beginning. Consider the end. Venezuela, it is not too late! But in a week it may be…

Chávez has confiscated businesses, industries, farms, without any uprising. But the past weekend something went wrong. At the farm El Peonío the workers threw out the military and the action failed. That gave time for a popular resistance to form. Since Chávez was at the same time attacking on many fronts (to hurry up and finish his consolidation of power in the lame duck session), too many Venezuelans were angered at the same time. This is a decisive moment. This is an historic opportunity to throw out the golpista Hugo Chávez.

However, out of respect for democracy and the rule of law, it has to be done constitutionally correct. Just like Manuel Zelaya, ex president of Honduras, was deposed in a constitutional way last year, for doing much the same things as Zelaya has done in Venezuela.

So is there a constitutional way to depose Hugo? I’m not a legal scholar, but I can read, and it seems to me that a case can be made.

What would be the strategy?

Step 1 is for people to take to the streets, do the cacerolazo at night, paint slogans on cars, and similar actions. The purpose of this is not to make Chávez change his mind; he won’t. The purpose is to show those having the power to depose Chávez that they have popular support. This step is crucial! If you want Hugo gone, you MUST show up in overwhelming force on the streets!

Step 2 is to surround the government with unarmed, peaceful civil disobedience, demanding Chávez’ resignation. He won’t resign, but that’s not the point. You will win if you just don’t give up – ever. Keep this principle in mind and you will win:

Things aren’t always what they seem to be.
You just have to keep doing the right thing,
and the circumstances will change before your eyes.

Weak Chávez Retreats Tail Between Legs

The standoff at the farm El Peonío, Zulia state, Venezuela, between some farmers and Chávez military, ended with Chávez sending an envoy to offer a huge payoff. Given the rumors that the military had to be led by Cubans since the Venezuelan officers refused to use military force to confiscate the land from a farmer in their own country, and the rumors that FARC terrorists were also leading the confiscations at many of the other 46 farms, the logical conclusion is that Hugo Chávez is standing increasingly alone.

Cacerolazo in Caracas.
Cacerolazo in Caracas.

After the election loss he is using the lame duck session to introduce full-fledged totalitarian rule, another clear sign of weakness.

Persistent rumors have it that a large majority of the Venezuelan military is against him. His use of Cubans in the recent actions suggests that he really is afraid that they might disobey him. Perhaps even rebel against him.

In this situation Venezuelans have banged pots this evening (twitter hashtag #cacerolazo is leading in Venezuela now), as a signal to judge how widespread the wish for a regime-change is. The same method was used in Iran and there it lead to the overthrow of the Shah.

Chávez has clearly demonstrated that he is not willing to accept democracy. He is not respecting the results. He is using every dirty trick in the book, and some not yet in the book, to sabotage the fundamental principles of democracy, including that of free speech. He has turned himself into a full-fledged dictator – and the courageous people of Venezuela are responding to the provocation by organizing a forceful defense of democracy and the rule of law.

El Peonío was not the end of this fight. It was not even the beginning of the end. It was just the end of the beginning – as Churchill might have put it. Tomorrow new actions are planned.

Media: SvD (Swedish)

Uprising Spreads in Venezuela

Here I will report new developments in Venezuela as I hear about them. If not stated, times are in Eastern Time (GMT -5; Venezuela is GMT -4.5). Read the earlier blog posts for the background.

Riots in Caracas earlier today.
Riots in Caracas Monday December 20, 2010.

18:00 ET: The calm has returned to Caracas, after the riots on the Nueva Granada Avenue earlier today (photos above, below). From the farm El Peonio, it was reported 18:45 local time that the militaries were leaving.

At 17:35 ET, tweets speak of a helicopter overflying the finca El Peonio, and the gendarmes trying to enter wherever they can. This means that the Venezuelan government broke their own word in an agreement entered into at 09:00 today, see below. As general Angel Vivas wrote, one cannot negotiate with those people because they don’t have any principles, no honor, no values.

Riot police have just been sent out in Caracas.
Riot police have just been sent out in Caracas.

14:45 ET: Students have taken to the streets in Venezuela’s capital Caracas, according to tweets. Chavez responds to the opposition with words of civil war: “rifle against rifle” (fusil contra fusil).

Farmers' meeting in Santa Barbara, Zulia, Venezuela (Asamblea de ganaderos de Santa Barbara), 2010-12-20
Farmers' meeting in Santa Barbara, Zulia, Venezuela (Asamblea de ganaderos de Santa Barbara), 2010-12-20

13:30 ET: Live video from an ongoing meeting of the farmers. The farmers demand that all confiscated farms are returned to their rightful owners. They also denounce that the resources that are now used to confiscate the properties, including many helicopters, should have been used to save people from the recent inundations, but they weren’t.

12:00 ET: The newly created Zulian Front for the Defense of the Constitution (Frente Zuliano en Defensa de la Constitucion) has held a press conference. They say that the confiscation of the 47 farms has nothing to do with food production, but is only a way to undermine the social fabric in the state of Zulia, the social network of farmers that can be a counter-force. This, in my opinion, is precisely the reason why Stalin killed the farmers of Ukraine, which provoked the infamous starvation in 1933.

09:00 ET: The deal is, according to Globovision, that starting at 10:00 local time, the agricultural institute INTI will start to inspect that the farm is producing. The reason given by Chavez for the confiscation (what he erroneously calls “expropriation”) was that the farms were not in production.

08:30 ET: New twitter handle to look for, #mollejero, a local word in Venezuela, originating from Zulia and the “guajiros”, that means both ‘fight’ and some complicated mess. Pretty appropriate for this day, with military confiscation attempts of a huge dairy farm at 6 o’clock, with farmers meeting to plan actions at 8 o’clock, with an announcement of a front for democracy in the state capital of Maracaibo at 11 o’clock, and is if that is not enough, new heavy rains that have again made several bridges impassable. Un verdadero mollejero.

Globovicion, the last surviving regime-critical TV channel in Venezuela, has been in the farm since early in the morning. General Estrada and a colonel entered the farm to speak with the owner, Jesus “Chucho” Melean. Reportedly they negotiated that the military is shown around to see that it is in production. Personally, I see this as a way for the military to scout out the area to plan for actions. As general Angel Vivas wrote, one should not negotiate with communists; chances are production is not the real reason for the confiscation.

At 06:22 local time they called from the farm that army had arrived, and shortly after the following tweet came from congressman Juan Romero, “JuanBRomero”: “Inicia la toma de la finca 2 El Peonio de Chcho Hernandez en #surdellago, 20 vehiculos oficiales intentan con personal armado ingresar” (The overtaking of the finca 2 El Peonio of Chcho Hernandez in #surdellago starts, 20 official vehicles with armed personnel try to enter)

Entries 2010-12-19:

On the way to the standoff, evening of 2010-12-19
On the way to the standoff, evening of 2010-12-19

22:40 General Angel Vivas tweets that the operation will start within hours, and that they have already set up roadblocks to prevent help or media from arriving to the finca.

At 22.20 the farm called for URGENT help and for media. Media tried to get there but were blocked. Critical events unfolding but little or no information is getting out. (Source TiaPanaYo)

Around 22:10 ET, more vehicles arrived and continued directly, tweeted TiaPanaYo. The photo above was taken of one of them.

Image taken Sur del Lago, 2010:12:19 13:50 local time.
Photo of anti-riot vehicle taken in Sur del Lago, 2010-12-19 13:50 local time.

Around 20:30, @TiaPanaYo tweeted “Me acaban de informar que 2 Jeeps mas 1 tanqueta estan llegando. Pero si van a El Peonio, deben pasar a 100 mts de mi casa. Saliendo!” (I was just informed that 2 jeeps and one armored personnel vehicle are arriving. But if they are going to El Peonio, they have to pass within 100 m from my house. They are leaving!” A few minutes later, General Angel Vivas (who has sought direct message contact with TiaPanaYo, I assume since she is on location and he cannot get there with his knowledge from Caracas) tweeted, “Recomiendo a los ciudadanos no se emocionen demasiado, todavía,… recuerden que el comunismo es mentiroso,cobarde y traidor ¡TRIUNFAREMOS!” (I recommend the citizens to not get too emotional yet… remember that communism is lying, coward, and treasonous. WE WILL WIN!)

At 18:15 or so, the following was tweeted by Jose Meza: “El frente Zulianos por la Constitución presentará mañana un documento a las 11:00 am en el Colegio de Abogados de Maracaibo”, i.e., “The Zulian Front for the Constitution will present a document tomorrow at 11:00 AM in the Colegio de Abogados in Maracaibo [lawyer’s association]”.

Around 18:00 ET the following tweets were sent by “@josegremeza Jose Meza”: “En El Peonío no hubo tiros ni palos. Sí, toque de tambores. Representantes del Inti o de la GN no han vuelto (vía @TiaPanaYo)”, “Más de 100 personas de diferentes ámbitos se reunieron en Maracaibo para crear un frente de defensa de la Constitución”, “En Maracaibo mañana a las 11:00 am se presentará oficialmente el frente de defensa de la Constitución #surdellago #Mollejero”. In translation, “In the Peonío there were neither shots nor sticks. Yes, drums playing. Representatives of INTI [the agricultural department] or of the National Gendarmes have not returned”, “More than 100 persons from different walks of life got together in Maracaibo to create a front for the defense of the Constitution”, and “In Maracaibo at 11 AM tomorrow the front for the defense of the Constitution will be officially presented.”

At 15:12 ET this tweet reply was written by “@AngieRod Angie Rodríguez” to the question what is going on in #surdellago: “@marialuisarios hay presencia militar y concentraciones pero ningún enfrentamiento” (“there is a military presence and gatherings [of people] but no clashes”).

This blog post by Daniel at 15:00 explains, or at least highlights, why you don’t find anything about this ongoing crisis if you Google news from Venezuela.

Tweet from josegremeza Jose Meza ca 14:03 ET: “Mañana asamblea de productores agropecuarios a las 8:00 am en Santa Bárbara para determinar acciones” (“Tomorrow meeting of farmers at 8 AM in Santa Barbara to decide on actions.”)

Tweet from josegremeza Jose Meza ca 14:00 ET: “En Maracaibo se reúnen a esta hora representantes de diversos sectores para crear un frente de defensa democrático” (“In Maracaibo representatives of diverse sectors are gathering at this time to create a democratic front of defense”).

Tweet from General Angel Vivas at 13:00 ca: “Solicito apoyo aéreo para trasladarme al sur del lago y unirme a quienes defienden la comida de Venezuela. Por tierra no me dejarían pasar.” In translation: “I am asking for help with air transport to south of the lake to join those who defend the food of Venezuela. They will not allow me to pass by land.”

Flyers are distributed today distributed calling for a general meeting Monday at 10:30 (10:00 ET) in Huasipungo.

Media Links: DN (Swedish)

General Angel Vivas statement

General Angel Vivas is using Twitter to request help with air transportation from Caracas to the area south of the lake where the reclaiming of democracy in Venezuela has started. The following was just posted (my translation):

General Angel Vivas, Venezuela
General Angel Vivas, Venezuela

I am requesting air transportation assistance to move me and my campaign team to unite with, as soon as possible, to those in the regions south of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, who are defending the universal and constitutional human right to private property, and the food supply to all Venezualans; to those who defend the Constitution, the sovereignty, the independence, the democracy, and the liberty of all Venezuelans. I wish to join as soon as possible those Venezuelans and foreigners as well, who work for the greatness of Venezuela, and I wish to share their destiny, as long as they are determined to defend, WITHOUT ANY TYPE OF NEGOTIATION AND UNTIL THE ULTIMATE CONSEQUENCES, the guarantees that are given them the Republic founded in 1811, as it was perceived and founded by Fransisco de Miranda, Simon Bolivar, and our Liberators, but which is being destroyed by a group of traitors to the Fatherland who fulfill faithfully the instructions that emanates from Havana by Fidel Castro and the old murderous dictators who control power on cuba, whose main ambition for the moment is the total control of the immense economic resources of out Fatherland in order to project their their terrorist acts in all of the world and continue to attack democratic governments who are respectful of the laws, destroying their democracies, in order to sow the communist gloom and horror, while strengthening the international crime and terrorism. I find myself in the need to solicit help with air transport since by land I possibly cannot arrive in time or the forces that serve Fidel Castro may not allow me, since I am a man poorly seen by the Cubans and the traitors who are handing over our Fatherland to them. We must fight and win over the Cuban invader and the traitors against the Fatherland who serve their interests here in Venezuela. With invaders and traitors one should NEVER negotiate.

General Ángel Vivas

Here is the Spanish original:

Solicito apoyo aéreo para trasladarme con mi equipo de campaña, a unirme, lo más pronto posible, a quienes en la región del sur del lago de Maracaibo, Venezuela, defienden el derecho humano universal y constitucional de la propiedad privada, y la comida de todos los venezolanos; a quienes defienden la Constitución, la soberanía, la independencia, la democracia y la libertad de todos los Venezolanos. Deseo unirme lo más pronto posible a todos aquellos venezolanos y extranjeros de bien, que trabajan por la grandeza de Venezuela, y deseo correr la misma suerte que corran ellos, siempre y cuando estén resueltos a defender SIN NEGOCIACIÓN DE NINGÚN TIPO Y HASTA SUS ÚLTIMAS CONSECUENCIAS, las garantías que le dan la República fundada en 1811, tal y como fue pensada y fundada por Francisco de Miranda, Simón Bolívar y nuestros Libertadores, la cual esta siendo destruida por un grupo de traidores a la PATRIA que cumplen fielmente las instrucciones emanadas desde La Habana por Fidel Castro y el grupo gerontocrático de asesinos que controla el poder en cuba, cuya mayor ambición actual es controlar totalmente los inmensos recursos económicos de nuestra PATRIA para poder proyectar sus acciones terroristas en todo el mundo y continuar atacando gobiernos democráticos y respetuosos de las leyes, destruyendo sus democracias, para sembrar las tinieblas y el horror comunista fortaleciendo el crimen y el terrorismo mundial. Me veo en la necesidad de solicitar apoyo aéreo para el traslado pues tal vez por tierra no pueda llegar a tiempo o las fuerzas que sirven a Fidel Castro no me lo permitan, ya que soy un hombre muy marcado por los invasores cubanos y los traidores que le están entregando nuestra PATRIA. Hay que luchar y triunfar en contra el invasor cubano y los traidores a la PATRIA que sirven a sus intereses aquí en Venezuela. Con invasores y traidores JAMÁS se debe negociar.

If you are interested in knowing more about the general, and speak Spanish, visit his blog and read a comment by a Honduran soldier who served under him when clearing mines in southern Honduras, a work for which the general was decorated by the country of catrachos (scroll down to find it).

Budkaveln går i Venezuela

Man vet aldrig när Historien börjar. Kanske den börjar i det område som i Venezuela kallas Sur del Lago, söder om sjön (Maracaibosjön), och kanske tidpunkten är just nu. Idag på morgonen lokal tid bestämdes sig invånarna i Santa Barbara för att gå ut i civil olydnad. Bakgrunden är den breda attack mot demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter som president Hugo Chávez påbörjade i förra veckan. Droppen som fick bägaren att rinna över var konfiskationen av tjogtals mjölkgårdar i det nämnda området igår. Endast en stod emot, då de hundratals anställda kastade ut militären och polisen.

Flyer distributed in Sur del Lago, Venezuela, 2010-12-19
Flygblad som distribueras i området kallat Sur del Lago, Venezuela, idag 2010-12-19

Flygbladet säger bland annat: “…vi får inte tillåta att åratals arbete och uppoffringar under generationer förstörs…” och slutar med uppmaning till “allmän kamp” för att för att försvara framtiden för “Sur del Lago”.

Bakgrunden är att Chávez politiska allians förlorade parlamentsvalen nyligen, och den 5 januari tillträder det nya parlamentet. I samband med en svår översvämning som just passerat tog Chávez chansen att låta det utgående parlamentet ge honom 18 månaders rätt att styra med dekret, för att därigenom göra parlamentet maktlöst. Samtidigt togs översvämningen som ursäkt för att konfiskera stora landområden.

Alltså, istället för att hjälpa de drabbade bönderna konfiskerar Chávez deras mark för att de “inte brukar den”. Bönderna svarar att de brukade marken fram till översvämningen, och ber om hjälp istället för att bli utkastade av militärer från sina gårdar.

Tidigare konfiskerade gårdar har i stor utsträckning förfallit och ligger nu i träda. Det handlar ofta om jord som är olämplig för jordbruk, och som därför använts för boskapsuppfödning och och mjölkproduktion. På de igår konfiskerade egendomarna finns tusentals mjölkkor, vilka – om mönstret fortsätter – till stor del säkert kommer att slaktas och gå ur produktion.

Hur var det skämtet gick? “Kommunism: Du har två kor. Staten tar bägge, slaktar den ena, mjölkar den andra, och häller bort mjölken.” Månne Chávez trott att det är så det skall gå till? Månne han har uppfattat Stalins folkmord på bönder i Ukraina som ett revolutionens framsteg? Har han inte hört om de miljontals människor som svalt ihjäl, eller bryr han sig inte om hans landsmän svälter?

Media: DN

Chavez is creating Stalin style starvation

The uprising that started yesterday in western Venezuela, Zulia state south of Lake Maracaibo, was in reaction to the confiscation of large areas of agricultural land. The Chavez regime has during the last few years confiscated a large amount of agricultural and producing land. A significant amount of that has now been abandoned, leading to fears of lack of food, or even starvation.

Abandoned confiscated land in Venezuela.
Abandoned confiscated land in Venezuela.

This is of course precisely what happened when Stalin eliminated the farmers of Ukraine, the main grain-producing area of Europe; starvation in the entire Soviet Union. My grandfather was there as a visitor just after the confiscation, and understood that there were no farmers on the farm. They didn’t even know how to use a plow! A similar destiny can come to Venezuela if the people don’t rise up. Luckily, they are aware of the risk, and they are rising up for precisely that reason, as this article explains.

After Chavez confiscated grain-producing farms in western Venezuela yesterday, the farmers blocked roads. Tanks were called in to clear the roads, but more people joined the rebellion, Twitter being used for the rallying calls. Tweets this morning say that the authorities claim to have cleared the road, but the farmers are in a meeting as I type this, planning for new actions to retake the farms and avoid a starvation disaster in Venezuela.

It seems that this is a moment of truth for Venezuela. The number of people that take to the streets, and the success of a general strike called tomorrow, may determine the future of the country. This reminds me of the general strike in Finland, then part of Russia, in 1905. The whites and reds joined forces against a very repressive Russian regime – and managed to get democracy back. In fact, Finland became the first place where women could both vote and be elected to public office. Perhaps not entirely immaterial is the fact that someone murdered Bobrikov, a much hated governor sent by the Tsar of Russia. But I am digressing; the point is that when the people unites, not even the Tsar of Russia can stand up to it. And in Finland, unlike in Russia, they saved democracy – to this day. There is hope for Venezuela, but it requires that people take to the streets, peacefully.

If Chavez kills innocent people who refuse to move, he loses. If he doesn’t, they don’t move. That is the strategy.

Hacienda La Carolina a month before the government attacked.
Hacienda La Carolina a month before the government attacked.

Links: La Verdad (interview with a 94-year old farmer whose workers threw out the military, plus accounts of the thousands of cattle and hectares seized yesterday on dairy farms). La Nacion (“protests continue”). El Nacional (“protests continue”). Video of the minister of agriculture, pistol in belt, firing up the military and the mob before they went, allegedly assisted by the narco-terrorists in FARC, to expel Venezuelan farmers from their inherited lands.

Popular uprising against Chavez

Original text 19:48 – There have been twitter rumors for hours about a popular uprising south of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The military was sent out to confiscate private farms but were stopped by farmers, led by 92-year old Jesus “Chucho” Melean. Later tanks were called for allegedly, but neighbours and students are joining the farmers, and an uprising has been called, according to twitter messages. Follow on twitter, hash tag #SurDelLago

El Peonio, Venezuela, 2010-12-18
El Peonio, Venezuela, 2010-12-18

Update 24:00 – During the evening twitter messages reported that tanks had been called in against the rebelling farmers. There were also reports that the uprising had spread to other cities, at least a half dozen. Furthermore, mass meetings have been called for tomorrow morning, at 8 or 9 AM depending on location. Finally, there was an urgent tweet less than two hours ago that a battle was ongoing at the finca El Peonio, from where the above photo was taken earlier during the day (image source: http://yfrog.com/hs6fmj).

Background: DN (Swedish), El Universal (Spanish)