Category Archives: News

Facts, fresh

Bolivian Senators demand Peña Esclusa released

An influential group of Senators in La Paz, Bolivia, led by the Second Vice-President of the Senate January 21 sent a letter to Hugo Chávez and demanded the immediate release of the Venezuelan political leader, Alejandro Peña Esclusa.
 
In their letter, the Senate Officials claimed that “Peña Esclusa’s arrest and the judicial process against him was plagued with irregularities.” They add that “since 2002, Peña Esclusa has been the victim of systematic persecution and judicial attacks, led by the Venezuelan government.”
 
In their communication the Senators denounced that “the illegal imprisonment of Alejandro Peña-Esclusa is clearly intended to silence him and to prevent him from continuing his successful opposition activities, which have taken place within the democratic framework and the Venezuelan laws.”
 
The letter goes on to say that “it is no secret that since 1995, Peña Esclusa has been denouncing both verbally and in national and international courts the characteristics of the totalitarian regime of Hugo Chavez and his ties to the FARC narco-terrorist group. At the time of his arrest, Peña-Esclusa was leading an international team of lawyers whose goal was to accuse Chavez for crimes against humanity.”
 
Bolivian Senators accused the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) of planting false evidence during the raid at the home of Peña-Esclusa to incriminate him illegally.
 
The Parliamentarians highlighted the career of the President of UnoAmerica: “Alejandro Peña Esclusa is internationally recognized for his extensive work on behalf of democracy, freedom and human rights, something which has earned him accolades, awards, and appointments to Senior positions in various organizations. He is a prominent intellectual who has written thousands of articles and 6 books, some of which have been translated into other languages.”
 
The letter ends by saying “we will remain alert and vigilant against this flagrant violation of human rights and freedom, and will not rest until we see Peña Esclusa free, so that he can continue contributing to the advancement of democracy and regional development.”

The list of signatories is headed by the Second Vice President (Speaker) of the Senate, Carmen Eva Gonzalez Lafuente, and the Head of the National Convergence Caucus, German Antelo Vaca. Also signed Senators Centa Reck, Jeanine Añez Chavez, Maria Elena Mendez de Leon, Mollina Roger Pinto, Carlos Sonnenschein Antelo, Marcelo Antezana and Bernard O. Sanz Gutierrez, who in the coming days will assume his post as head of the opposition bloc.

(Text from press release used with permission.)

Flyers for Jan 23 rally

The flyers just arrived from “Sebastián Francisco de Miranda Rodríguez”, an alias using the name of the man who led the liberation fight of Venezuela against Spain. The main event is of course the one in Caracas, on the anniversary of the overthrowing of the last dictator. There will be no speeches or marches, just a mass gathering in Caracas, between Chacaito station and Parque del Este, along Avenida Fransisco de Miranda. This is about 6 km due east of the presidential palace, Miraflores. A list of confirmed venues follows the posters!

English flyer
Click on image to open in full resolution (1530x1980)
Flyer en español
Haga clic para abrirlo en alta resolución (1530x1980)

The following flyer outlines the nature of the dictatorship in Venezuela.

Infografia
Haga clic para abrirlo en alta resolución

List of confirmed venues
Times in 24 hour format, local time zone.

VENEZUELA
CARACAS
LUGAR: Avenida Fransisco de Miranda, Chacaíto
HORA: 10:00

Supporting rallies around the world, by continent and country:

NORTH AMERICA

USA

BOSTON
PLACE: Copley Square, entre las calles Boylston y Dartmouth, Boston
TIME: 11:00

CHARLOTTE
PLACE: 600 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC (in front of Charlotte Observer)
TIME: 14:00

DALLAS
PLACE: La Carreta Argentina 214-944-5300. 1115 N. Beckley Ave, Dallas, TX
TIME: 14:00

HOUSTON
PLACE: In front of La Informacion newspaper, at 6065 Hillcroft St, Houston, TX 77081
TIME: 10:00

LOS ANGELES
PLACE: Federal Building at 1100 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024
TIME: 13:00

MIAMI
PLACE: El Arepazo 2 3900 NW 79th Ave. Doral, FL
TIME: 12:30

NEW YORK
PLACE: 6th Avenue and 59th Street, NY, NY, monument of Simon Bolivar and José Martí (south of Central Park; authorized by NYPD)
TIME: 12:00

SAN FRANCISCO
PLACE: Union Square, downtown San Francisco, CA
TIME: 12:00

WASHINGTON DC
PLACE: Triangle Park (Simon Bolivar Statue Park), Intersection between Virginia Avenue N.W. and 18th st N.W.
TIME: 14:00

CANADA

EDMONTON
PLACE: Corner of White Ave (82nd) and Gateway Blvd (103rd)
TIME: 13:00

TORONTO
PLACE: Speakers Corner (between Nathan Phillips Square and Osgood Hall, Downtown)
TIME: 13:00

LATIN AMERICA

ARGENTINA

BUENOS AIRES
LUGAR: Monumento de los Españoles
HORA: 13:30

BRAZIL

SAN PAULO
LUGAR: Monumento As Bandeiras, Sao Paulo (al frente del Parque Ibirapuera) Praça Armando Salles de Oliveira S/N, São Paulo
HORA: 12:00

CHILE

SANTIAGO
LUGAR: Av. Dag Hammarskjold 3177, Vitacura, Santiago
HORA: TBA

COLOMBIA

BOGOTA
LUGAR: Parque nacional, calle 39 con carrera 7ma, costado occidental, Bogotá
HORA: 11:30

ECUADOR

GUAYAQUIL
LUGAR: Av 9 de octubre y Pedro Carbo, Plaza de San Francisco, Guayaquil
HORA: 16:30

HONDURAS

TEGUCIGALPA
LUGAR: Paseo Los Próceres, Tegucigalpa
HORA: 15:00

MEXICO

MEXICO DF
LUGAR: Obelisco a Bolivar en frente al Hard Rock Cafe
HORA: 12:00

NICARAGUA

MANAGUA
LUGAR: Permiso negado “por seguridad”*
HORA: –

PANAMA

PANAMA
LUGAR: Cinta Costera en las escalinatas frente a la estatua de Balboa, Panama
HORA: 10:00

PUERTO RICO

SAN JUAN
LUGAR: Parque Munhoz rivera, frente a la estatua de “El Libertador”
HORA: 10:30

PERU

LIMA
LUGAR: Plaza San Martin
HORA: 16:00

EUROPE

AUSTRIA

VIENNA
PLACE: Die Pestsäule Am Graben, 1010 Wien
TIME: 14:30

FRANCE

PARIS
PLACE: Trocadéro
TIME: TBA

GERMANY

FRANKFURT
PLACE: In front of “Alte Oper” (Teatro de la Opera), Am Opern Platz, 60313 Frankfurt am Main
TIME: 12:00

ITALY

BOLOGNA
PLACE: Piazza Maggiore
TIME: 15:00

MILANO
PLACE: Piazza del Duomo de Milan
TIME: 14:00

TURIN
PLACE: Delante del Tempio valdese (Torino (TO), Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 23
TIME: 11:45

NETHERLANDS

AMSTERDAM
PLACE: Plaza del Dam, Amsterdam
TIME: 13:00

SPAIN

BARCELONA
LUGAR: Plaza de la Catedral, 08002 Barcelona
HORA: 12:00

MADRID
LUGAR: Paseo Venezuela del Parque El Retiro de Madrid
HORA: 12:00

AUSTRALIA

PERTH
PLACE: Corner of Williams St and Hays St, Perth
TIME: 12:00

First published 2011-01-16 18:03, last updated 2011-01-21 20:30 ET.

*One can only speculate that Daniel Ortega fears that his regime would be in risk of being overthrown if he would allow this demonstration. What else could the alleged “security risk” be?

Ten tenets of Chavizm

Leaked US diplomatic cable, reproduced in its entirety. This was written June 16, 2009, 12 days before the first major setback of Chavizm: The deposing of his Quisling in Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.

A student of history may find that most of these tenets are not new by any means. They have been used in the past over and over by other dictators, e.g., Adolf Hitler. The repression has continued after this cable was written, by making judge Maria Afiuni and former presidential candidate Alejandro Peña Esclusa the latest political prisoners. How much longer, Venezuela?


VZCZCXRO0130
PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT RUEHNG
RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHCV #0750/01 1671323
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161323Z JUN 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3212
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 CARACAS 000750

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS TO AID/OTI (RPORTER)
HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/11/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM VE
SUBJECT: TEN TENETS OF CHAVISMO

Classified By: CHARGE d'AFFAIRES JOHN P. CAULFIELD, REASONS 1.4 (B) AND
(D)

1. This message is the end of tour analysis of the political
situation in Venezuela by Embassy Deputy Political Counselor
Dan Lawton.

2. (C) Summary. Despite President Chavez's professed
allegiance to socialism, his political project lacks any
consistent ideology. Instead, the Venezuelan president
exercises an increasingly authoritarian playbook that ensures
his unquestioned, indefinite leadership and concentrates more
and more power in his hands. The Government of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (GBRV) aggressively defends
its democratic legitimacy at the same time that it targets
key opposition leaders, polarizes society along political and
class lines, and hypes the existence of external and internal
enemies to justify repressive measures. Chavez's preference
for loyalty over competence, creation of parallel Bolivarian
institutions, efforts to forge a one-party state, and
chest-thumping nationalism also smack of creeping
totalitarianism. Overall, Chavismo poses a serious threat to
democracy not just in Venezuela but throughout the region,
and it directly competes against U.S. influence in Latin
America. Moreover, it is becoming ever more difficult to
begin any dialogue with a GBRV increasingly consumed by its
own solipsistic "revolutionary" fervor and outsized ambition.
End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ------
One - There Is Only One Great, Indispensable Leader
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (C) President Chavez has carefully cultivated his own
personality cult, such that for most Venezuelan voters,
President Chavez embodies Chavismo. Outsized billboards and
posters of Chavez dominate public buildings as well as the
rallies and campaigns of his United Socialist Party of
Venezuela (PSUV). Venezuelans can buy a wide range of Chavez
paraphernalia from Chavez action figures to Chavez watches to
a compact disc of Chavez singing Venezuelan folk songs. He
dominates all state media, which also broadcast his Sunday
"Alo, Presidente" talk show. Chavez regularly requires all
local television and radio networks to carry his speeches
("cadenas"); he has wracked up over 1200 such hours (50 days)
on the air. He has not groomed any successor and he
frequently rebukes even his most trusted advisors publicly.

4. (C) In pursuing the elimination of presidential term
limits, Chavez declared publicly numerous times that he is
indispensable to his Bolivarian Revolution. While voters
rejected his constitutional reform package in December 2007,
he succeeded in winning public approval of the elimination of
term limits for all elected offices in the February 2009
referendum. Chavez has repeatedly stated that he plans to
govern at least until 2020. A corollary to the Venezuelan
president's protagonism is that there can be no Chavismo
without Chavez. No Chavez supporter who has broken with
Chavez has prospered politically. The formerly pro-Chavez
Podemos party is all but broken after opposing Chavez's 2007
constitutional reform package. Former Defense Minister Raul
Baduel also spoke against indefinite reelection; he is
currently sitting in a Caracas military prison awaiting trial
on corruption charges.

----------------------
Two - Centralize Power
----------------------

5. (C) Chavez's "Socialism of the 21st Century" exalts the
government's active role in the economy and vilifies
capitalism, but in the minds of most Venezuelans, it remains
a vague notion of a state bearing benefits. The thread that
most consistently ties together Chavez's political project is
the increasing concentration of power in his hands. Chavez
has firm control over all the other branches of government.
The opposition foolishly boycotted National Assembly
elections in 2005, and currently only approximately 15 former
government supporters do not automatically support Chavez in
the 167-seat unicameral legislature. With few exceptions,
the judiciary rules in favor of the executive branch, even in
civil cases bereft of political implications.

6. (C) Chavez is also squeezing state and local governments
from above and below. He recently promulgated a law that
allows the central government to take state control over
ports, airports, and highways. The central government has
done just that in states run by opposition governors.

Moreover, Chavez created an appointed position to take over
virtually all the functions and budget of the opposition
mayor of Caracas. The National Assembly is considering
creating presidentially appointed regional vice presidencies
that would undermine elected governors. The Venezuelan
president also created community councils nationwide which
are registered by and report directly to the Office of the
Presidency. Chavez diverted 30 percent of state and local
discretionary development funds to these community councils.

--------------------------------------------
Three - Hype External and Internal "Enemies"
--------------------------------------------

7. (C) Chavez insists on depicting the United States (which
he habitually refers to as "The Empire") as Venezuela's
enemy. Although most Venezuelans are not anti-American,
Chavez's radical foreign policy plays to his base of firm
supporters and serves as a convenient rallying cry during
Venezuela's frequent elections. Although he holds virtually
absolute power in Venezuela, Chavez tries to reframe public
perceptions by depicting himself as David fighting Goliath,
usually the United States, but also occasionally Spain,
Colombia, or Israel. Chavez and other senior GBRV leaders
have tempered this script somewhat since the election of
President Obama. They tend to praise the President and
Secretary personally, while quickly adding that "imperial"
political power continues to be exercised in the United
States by big business, the military establishment, and the
CIA.

8. (C) Although domestic opposition to Chavez is weak and
disunited, Chavez and senior GBRV officials regularly accuse
it of plotting to overthrow or assassinate the Venezuelan
president in coordination with the United States. The GBRV
does not produce proof or in most cases actually pursue
charges; such allegations conveniently serve to circle the
wagons within Chavismo, to prevent across-the-aisle political
dialogue, and to discredit the opposition. The GBRV
regularly reminds voters that large sectors of the opposition
participated in the short-lived 2002 coup to give greater
credence to current "threats." Chavez also accuses the
opposition of doing the USG's bidding, calling them
"pitiyanquis." Moreover, government supporters regularly
accuse opposition-oriented press outlets of "media
terrorism," essentially building the case for continued
government harassment of the vestiges of independent media.

---------------
Four - Polarize
---------------

9. (C) Railing against the "oligarchs," Chavez exploits class
divisions in stratified Venezuela for political gain. By
playing almost exclusively to the over 70% of Venezuelans who
are poor, Chavez has maintained a reliable electoral majority
(with the exception of the 2007 constitutional referendum
vote when many Chavistas abstained). He is not only
channeling government resources to the economically
disadvantaged, but also prioritizing the GBRV's role in the
economy at the expense of the private sector. Such policies
squeeze the middle class and are feeding a growing brain
drain of professionals, sectors of society traditionally
associated with the opposition. They also increase citizens'
economic dependence on the GBRV.

10. (C) Politically, Chavez tolerates no middle ground.
Although increasingly large numbers of voters consider
themselves politically neutral, most Venezuelans still
habitually self-identify themselves as either with "the
process" or against. Moreover, the GBRV has a good idea
where most voters stand. Those that signed the 2004 recall
referendum soon found themselves on the infamous "Tascon
List" by which the GBRV discriminated in terms of government
jobs, contracts, and other benefits. In his speeches, Chavez
frequently cites mentor Fidel Castro, bellowing in stark
terms, "With the revolution, everything; outside, nothing."
After its most recent registration drive, the PSUV claims
over seven million members. Local analysts believe the PSUV
party list is becoming the "reverse Tascon List" -- if your
name is not on it, you cannot expect to get government
services (at least not without paying intermediaries).

---------------------------------------
Five - Insist on Democratic Credentials
---------------------------------------

11. (C) Senior GBRV leaders insist that "participatory"

democracy is superior to "representative" democracy. They
contend that real democracies give priority to "social
rights" and argue that concepts such as checks and balances
and institutional autonomy are discredited "bourgeois"
concepts. Chavez also regularly stresses that he has held
national elections almost yearly since he was first elected
in 1998, blurring any distinction between being elected
democratically and governing democratically. Anxious to
preserve their democratic legitimacy at home and abroad,
Chavez and senior GBRV officials lash out immediately and
disproportionately to any criticism of GBRV abuses. They
traditionally dismiss any criticism as interference in
Venezuela's domestic affairs and insult or try to discredit
any government or organization that faults the GBRV (without
ever engaging on the substance of the critique). The GBRV
forcibly expelled a Human Rights Watch leader and a member of
the European Parliament when they publicly took issue with
the GBRV's human rights record while in Caracas.

------------------------------------
Six - Reward Loyalty Over Competence
------------------------------------

12. (C) The single most important common characteristic of
Chavez's ministers and other senior officials is their
unquestioning loyalty to the Venezuelan president. He tends
to rotate a small coterie of firm supporters through senior
positions, simultaneously rewarding his inner circle while
preventing them from accruing either real expertise or an
independent power base. A substantial portion of Chavez's
appointed officials participated in his failed 1992 military
coup. Moreover, Chavez retains loyalists despite their poor
administrative or electoral track records. He named
Diosadado Cabello, who last year lost his re-election for the
Miranda Governorship, to be Minister of Infrastructure and
Telecommunications. Chavez appointed Jessie Chacon
Information Minister after he lost the mayoral race in the
Sucre borough of Caracas. By contrast, Chavez's PSUV
temporarily expelled Henri Falcon, the then widely hailed
competent mayor of Barquisimeto, only to quickly reinstate
him after it became obvious that Falcon would win the
governorship of Lara State in 2008 with or without the PSUV's
endorsement.

---------------------------
Seven - Repress Selectively
---------------------------

13. (C) The GBRV picks its political victims carefully,
making examples of sector leaders. Such calibrated
repression has so far avoided any significant public backlash
while at the same time created a climate of fear in civil
society and fostered self-censorship in the media. Examples
abound. The GBRV recently pressed corruption charges against
Maracaibo Mayor and 2006 consensus opposition presidential
candidate Manuel Rosales; Rosales fled to Peru where he was
granted asylum. The GBRV jailed Carlos Ortega, the leader of
the largest opposition trade union confederation. He escaped
from military prison in 2006 and was also granted asylum in
Peru. The GBRV closed the only critical free-to-air
television network in 2007 and is threatening to do the same
to opposition-oriented cable news network Globovision.
Prominent electoral NGO Sumate has been subject to numerous
government investigations. Chavez and other senior GBRV
officials have blasted prominent Catholic Church officials
for defending democracy, and pro-Chavez thugs briefly
occupied the Cardinal's residence in downtown Caracas.

----------------------------------
Eight - Create Parallel Structures
----------------------------------

14. (C) Over the last ten years, the GBRV and its supporters
and allies have created new bodies and institutions in an
effort to undermine and outflank organizations that it could
neither control nor co-opt. Domestically, the GBRV and its
adherents have spawned pro-government NGOs, business groups,
labor unions, television and radio networks, and even a
socialist spin-off of the Catholic Church. Chavez's social
programs ("misiones") generally sidestep and starve long
established government ministries of resources.
Internationally, Chavez is endeavoring to establish
multilateral organizations that both magnify Venezuela's
influence and combat purported "U.S. imperialism." From the
GBRV's perspective, ALBA, Petrocaribe, UNASUR, and the Bank
of the South are tools with which to supplant or weaken the
OAS, IMF, and the World Bank.

-------------------------
Nine - Party Equals State
-------------------------

15. (C) Since creating the United Socialist Party of
Venezuela (PSUV) in 2007, President Chavez has been trying to
forge a one-party state. Chavez uses government resources,
especially state media, and pressures the over two million
government employees to support the Venezuelan president,
PSUV candidates, and his referendum proposals during
elections. The National Electoral Council (CNE) staffs PSUV
registration drives. Chavez demanded that all pro-government
parties join the PSUV, but three parties, the Communist Party
(PCV), Patria Para Todos (PPT), and the Podemos party,
declined. Podemos later joined the opposition in 2007. The
PSUV declined to support any PPT or PCV gubernatorial and
mayoral candidates in the 2008 state and local elections and
neither party now exercises any meaningful local power.
Moreover, the National Assembly is seriously considering an
electoral law that would almost certainly expand the PSUV's
absolute legislative majority and diminish the influence of
the PPT and PCV after the 2010 parliamentary elections.

----------------------------
Ten - Monopolize Nationalism
----------------------------

16. (C) Calling himself the heir to Venezuelan founder Simon
Bolivar, Chavez asserts exclusive claim to Venezuela's
forefathers and national symbols. He regularly cites Bolivar
and other national heroes out of context, insisting that they
were early socialists. One of Chavez's stock stump speech
messages is that his Bolivarian Revolution liberated
Venezuela from being an American colony and will make
Venezuela a world power in coming decades. In contrast,
Chavez and his supporters depict the opposition as
unpatriotic, stateless, or paid U.S. agents. Chavez's own
exaggerated demonstrations of patriotism conveniently
distract public attention from local problems or demonstrate
incontrovertibly that he can do what he wants. In 2006,
Chavez added a star to the Venezuelan flag and flipped the
horse on the national seal to make it run left, not right.
In 2007, he eliminated three zeros from the currency and
changed its name from "bolivars" to "strong bolivars." He
also added the prefix "People's Power" to all ministries and
ordered all Venezuelan clocks changed by thirty minutes to
create a unique Venezuelan time zone. In 2008, he suggested
that he would exhume Bolivar's body to prove that he was
poisoned (He has not done so yet).

-------
Comment
-------

17. (C) The increasingly authoritarian nature of Chavismo,
not to mention its habitual and politically convenient
vilification of the United States, pose considerable
challenges to any effort to improve bilateral ties. Chavez
and other senior GBRV officials publicly express interest in
greater dialogue with the USG, but the reality is that to
date, the GBRV has been reluctant to create meaningful and
easily accessible channels of communication, let alone engage
substantively on issues that should be of common interest.
The GBRV also makes it clear that it will not accept or look
past any USG criticism, however well-founded or required by
congressionally-mandated reports or testimony. Facing no
checks on his power at home, Chavez craves international
attention and influence abroad. Whether it is funneling arms
and money to the FARC, sending suitcases of money to the
Kirchner campaign in Argentina, or exporting elements of
Chavismo to ALBA countries, to name just a few prominent
examples, Chavez's outsized ambition backed by petrodollars
makes Venezuela an active and intractable U.S. competitor in
the region.

January 23 the Day to Stop Chávez

On January 23, 1958, the people of Venezuela threw out the dictator. January 23, 2011, they again take to the streets against a dictator. This time his name is Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.

Graffiti on statue
The graffiti reads, "We'll meet the 23rd" (uploaded Jan 7, 2011).

The protest will be carried out from 10 AM to noon in Caracas as well as in cities all over the country. Supporting demonstrations will be held the same day in Paris, New York, Boston, Miami, Madrid, Lima, Washington, Buenos Aires, Managua, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, Panama, Rome, Bologna, Los Angeles, Vienna, London, Sao Paolo, Guayaquil, Asuncion, Santiago, and Sydney.

The protest is organized by a large number of organizations in cooperation. The theme is “Detengamos la dictadura en Venezuela”. There will be no speeches or marches, just a mass gathering in Caracas, between Chacaito station and Parque del Este, along Avenida Fransisco de Miranda. This is about 6 km due east of the presidential palace, Miraflores.

Background, in Spanish: Declaration by laywers, declaration by the Catholic church in Venezuela, letter from the opposition to the Organization for American States (OAS).

Det kalla kriget tog inte slut

Det kalla kriget tog inte slut med kommunismens fall i Europa. Det gjorde bara en strategisk reträtt, medan den trotskistiska bolshevismen övervintrade på Kuba. Utan att ha uppmärksammats i västvärlden har nu kommunismen ryckt fram på bred front. Om den inte stoppas kommer det snart att utgöra ett reellt hot mot både USA och Europa. I Latinamerika är den redan etablerad.

Venezuelas folkvalde president Hugo Chávez har utnyttjat demokratin för att komma till makten. Väl där har han nu monterat ner hela det demokratiska systemet och ersatt det med en kommunistisk diktatur. Detta efter att han förlorat parlamentsvalen i september. Förlorat och förlorat, hans grupp fick 48% av rösterna men 60% av mandaten. Tillräckligt lite för att få honom att släppa den demokratiska fasaden och klart styra åt det diktatoriska håll som hans belackare i 11 år har varnat för var hans verkliga mål.

Ända sedan Chávez misslyckade statskupp 1992 mot den socialdemokratiska presidenten Carlos Andrés Perez (han dog på juldagen i fjol) har hans maktambitioner varit kända, men ändå lyckades han bli vald till president 1998.

Efter valförlusten den 26 september 2010 såg Chávez till att den utgående kongressen gav honom rätt att styra med dekret, samtidigt som den förbjöd riksdagsmännen att rösta efter sitt samvete. De ersatte vidare alla regionala och lokala valda församlingar med toppstyrda “kommuner” enligt sovjet-modell, och skapade 10 militärstyrda områden i landet. Plus ungefär 20 ytterligare lagar som alla i varierande grad undergräver demokrati, yttrandefrihet och rättsstat.

Chávez idol är Fidel Castro. I presidentpalatset, Miraflores, finns en ledningscentral, ett “war room” för propaganda, som är bemannat med kubaner under direkt befäl av Kubas vicepresident kommandant Valdes, enligt uppgifter från den demokratiska motståndsrörelsen i Venezuela. Valdes tillhör det gamla gardet; han slogs med Fidel och Raúl Castro i Sierra Madre. Deras mantra är permanent revolution. Men vad är då trotskistisk bolshevism?

Bolshevism är den form av kommunism som menar att ändamålen helgar medlen – precis som Chávez och hans kubanska “rådgivare”. I revolutionens namn är det inte ett brott att konfiskera egendom från revolutionens fiender. I fjol hungerstrejkade en bonde sig till döds för att få tillbaka sin gård. Det är klasskamp av klassiskt slag som gäller i Venezuela år 2011.

Trotskij menade, till skillnad från Stalin, att revolutionen först skulle spridas till andra länder, innan den konsoliderades i det egna landet. Just detta har Chávez och hans kubanska “rådgivare” gjort i åratal. Venezuelas oljemiljoner har använts dels till att hålla Kuba flytande (efter att Sovjet kollapsade blev ju Kuba utan sitt understöd, så där kom Chávez valseger i Venezuela väl till pass), dels till att sprida revolutionen till Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras, och att få gamle revolutionären och diktatorn Ortega vald i Nicaragua.

I samtliga fall är processen likartad. Hjälp en presidentkandidat ekonomiskt med valkampanjen. Typ Manuel Zelaya i Honduras, han fick 50 miljoner. När han blivit vald erbjuds han att köpa olja med 50% på kredit. De femtio procenten ges dock inte som lån till landet, utan till presidenten, eller snarare presidentämbetet. Han kan använda de pengarna totalt utanför budgeten. Naturligtvis vore det landsförräderi och mutbrott i Sverige, men i Latinamerika är det inte så strikt med lagar och sånt. I gengäld måste presidenten göra en sak för Castro genom Chávez: Hålla en konstituerande grundlagsförsamling.

Orsaken till att det skall vara en konstituerande grundlagsförsamling och inte en redigering på laglig väg i kongressen är ganska säkert att det blir lättare att sätta in pålitliga personer i processen, och skapa ett dokument som är till uppdragsgivarens belåtenhet.

I Honduras förstod folk vartåt det lutade och stoppade Zelaya i tid (trots att den amerikanske ambassadören av allt att döma intrigerade för att hjälpa Zelaya, Chávez, och därmed Castro). Han avsattes, och demokratin räddades. Åtminstone tills vidare, för det utövas starka påtryckningar på den nye folkvalde presidenten att sätta sig över domstolsväsendet och starta en process som i förlängningen leder till den där konstituerade grundlagsförsamlingen. Bland de länder som utövar dessa påtryckningar finns naturligtvis Kuba och Venezuela, samt de andra köpta länderna (Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia), men också märkligt nog USA.

Varför USA tar denna sida i konflikten kan jag bara gissa. Att ambassadören i Honduras spelar under täcket är en möjlighet. Att det är i USAs intresse är en annan, men i så fall offrar man cyniskt Honduras demokrati för att få tillgång till Venezuelas olja (10% av USAs oljeförbrukning härrör från Venezuela), och kanske för att hindra en öppen konflikt med Chávez som skulle kunna leda till att kommunismen sprids till ännu fler länder i Latinamerika. Det är i så fall ett vanskligt spel. Varför spela så högt?

Anledningen vore säkerligen att USA inte längre är berett att spela “bad cop”, med Europa som “good cop”. Priset för det kan ses som för högt för Obama. Han kan ha valt en taktik att ligga lågt tills Europa tar sitt ansvar.

Det ironiska är att EU länge uttryckt önskemål om att spela en viktigare roll i världspolitiken. Men nu, när deras röst verkligen behövs, så hörs bara tystnad.

Var finns fördömandet av att Hugo Chávez gjort sig till envåldshärskare?

Var finns det moraliska stödet till de demokratiska krafterna i Venezuela?

Var finns insikten att Chávez och Castro är allierade med Iran, Vitryssland, Ryssland, Syrien, och att dessa håller på att bygga upp ett världsomspännande imperium av diktaturer med kopplingar till knarksmuggling och terrorism?

Om EU kan uttala ett klart stöd, så ökar det väsentligt sannolikheten för att demokratin vinner. Det finns nämligen en opposition även inom den styrande gruppen, riktad mot att landets rikedomar går utomlands medan de egna innevånarna får det allt sämre (bortsett då från regimens stödtrupper så att säga.) Det finns också ett starkt motstånd inom militären mot den påtvingade utländska kontrollen och de kommunistiska idealen. Men framför allt finns det en organiserad motståndsrörelse under kommandant Panela, som kämpar för att avsätta Hugo Chávez med alla till buds stående fredliga medel.

Motståndsrörelsens mål är alltså att med icke-våldsmetoder tvinga ut Chávez och kubanerna från Miraflores. Målet är att återinföra demokratin och respekten för grundlagen. För tydlighets skull vill jag säga, att eftersom regimen uttryckligen anser att deras “revolution” är viktigare än motståndarnas mänskliga rättigheter, så finns det en uppenbar risk för att de helt enkelt slår ner den demokratiska motståndsrörelsen med militärt övervåld. Därför förbehåller sig motståndsrörelsen rätten att försvara sig om de blir anfallna. Deras uttalade förhoppning är dock att militären helt enkelt skall förhålla sig passiv.

Via mellanhänder har jag varit i kontakt med kommandant Panela, och kan vidarebefordra en begäran att Sverige och de övriga EU-länderna klart fördömer införandet av diktatur i Venezuela, och uppmuntrar till en fredlig återgång till demokrati i enlighet med grundlagen – vilken i sin sista paragraf faktiskt säger att det är alla medborgares skyldighet att återetablera respekten för grundlagen om den bryts.

Då Honduras slog tillbaka det kommunistiska anfallet 2009 var det en liten delseger. Om Venezuela kan göra samma sak nu så vore det en oändligt mycket större seger för demokratin, för det är Venezuela som är den ekonomiska drivkraften i alla kommunistiska projekt i Latinamerika för närvarande. Även Kuba kan stå på fallrepet snart om Venezuelas diktatur faller. Detta skulle vara en enorm vinst för världens säkerhet och framtida fred. Så hjälp till att sprida informationen är du snäll!

Arson in Venezuela excuse for crackdown

Update 2011-01-10 07:20 ET: As expected, Hugo Chávez, the elected president turned dictator of Venezuela, accused the “opposition” and “bourgeoisie” of having set the fire, and vowed that in response, the land confiscations (i.e., what he calls “expropriations” in his communist newspeak) would intensify. Yesterday the military and civilians were in standoff at three farms all day. Today AP published an article about the fire, completely swallowing the castro-communist propaganda (the situation room in Miraflores, their equivalent to the White House, is staffed by Cubans under the command of the vice president of Cuba, commander Valdes, a revolutionary who fought in the revolution with the Castro brothers). AP wrote that the opposition had no immediate comments. That is a patent lie, since they have commented all day yesterday as anybody with access to Twitter can testify. This suggests that AP is not neutral, just as it was not neutral when president Zelaya was legally deposed in Honduras in 2009. To their excuse, their reporter writes from Caracas, and due to media censorship he may not be fully aware of what is going on or how biased his access to information is. But anyone can ask himself, who has most to win on this fire? The farmers, whose legal claims went up in smoke, or the government who wants to confiscate their lands with a semblance of legality?

The INTI offices in Sta Barbara went up in flames.
The INTI offices in Sta Barbara went up in flames.

Original text 2011-01-08: At 3 AM today the offices of the agricultural authority INTI in Sta Barbara, western Venezuela, were set on fire. One woman was inside by could be saved. The recent confiscations of farms in the state of Zulia were coordinated from that office.

The confiscations led to massive demonstrations, roadblocks with hundreds if not thousands of parked vehicles on the highway, to prevent the government’s to arrive with the tanks they sent to enforce the confiscations. At first sight it might therefore appear that the arson was made by angry citizens.

With near certainty I would say that is not the case. Nobody has anything to win on this except the government. Ignoring the fact that important documents went up in smoke, documents that can show who is the real owner of farms, also the political effect is squarely benefitting the dictatorial government. Remember the Reichtag fire?

For background see posts on this blog from Dec 18, 2010, and forward.

The original story above was published 2011-01-09 09:19 ET. UPDATE 11:28 ET: General Angel Vivas tweeted from Venezuela that it seems to be chavistas who set the fire. Here is a Youtube video of events that took place at that office the past couple of weeks, when the farmers demanded justice, that their farms, their houses, their homes should be returned to them. All the documents that were filed were presumably consumed in the fire.

Update 13:50 ET: The fire occurred at 06:30 local time (06:00 ET). All documents that were destroyed have backups according to the minister of agriculture.

Everything inside was burned to ashes.
Everything inside was burned to ashes.

Link: Foreign Affairs on Venezuela

Wikileaked cable reveals USA ignorant

The USAmerican ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, wrote a cable on June 19, 9 days before the president of the country, Manuel Zelaya, was arrested by the military on orders of the Supreme Court, reports Le Monde. There had been rumors of a military coup, but on that morning he had breakfast with the head of the military General Romeo Vazquez Velasquez, and the head of the army, General Miguel Garcia Padgett, who both assured him that the military would not depose the president to install a junta. They said it was just a rumor circulated behind closed doors to put pressure on the politicians. The ambassador also reported that they would not act without the knowledge of the US, and concluded that the military “do not have the least intention to attack the legitimate government” (reverse translated from French).

When the president was arrested by the military at dawn on June 28, Llorens – one might guess from his cable communication – did not know that the Supreme Court had issued an arrest warrant for the president. Based on this previous communication, one may therefore suspect that the ambassador felt betrayed, thinking that they had done a coup d’État nine days after promising that they would not do it, not knowing or understanding that in spite of it appearing to be a coup, it was not a coup.

However, there is a problem with this interpretation: A persistent rumor that Llorens knew about the arrest order in advance. From the cables it appears he did not.

There is one way in which these different facts can be reconciled. The generals did not, in Llorens’s words as translated by Le Monde, say that they necessarily would inform him personally. Just his country. There is a US air base in Honduras, and Marines train there. Given the close contacts it is beyond likely that at least some of them would have known. Thus, the generals did not lie to the ambassador.

Furthermore, the military of Honduras never attacked “the legitimate government”, the legitimate government being the Congress and the Supreme Court. Furthermore, they did not “attack” the president, they arrested him on orders of the Supreme Court (and then they set him free abroad rather than hold him). So the generals kept their word quite literally on that point, too.

What should be of concern, though, is the ambassador’s words that Zelaya is not an ideologue, thinking that USA can manipulate him. That is either ignorant, or misleading. Zelaya was bought by South American interests, most likely Hugo Chávez, already in his election campaign. This bribery continued with the so-called ALBA “loans”, in a process that in most every country would have made the president guilty of high treason. Furthermore, he said explicitly that he obeyed Chávez second only to God (“Después de Dios, ¡Chávez!”). If Llorens was ignorant about this, it is not good. If he is protecting Zelaya (or someone else), it is even less good.

Having seen now what Chávez did once his democratic cover was blown, introducing a full-blown dictatorship by similar methods as Hitler once did, I don’t think anybody can argue that the defense of democracy in Honduras was too rash, too determined. It was appropriate. Unfortunately Venezuela is in a different position, the judiciary already having been completely compromised, and the legislative as well, so a repeat is not possible. The best hope for Venezuela is a popular uprising and that the security forces remain passive while the people throw out the dictator quite literally.

Chávez consummates coup d’État

The Congress in Venezuela, AN in Spanish, has now installed itself. The opposition got 52% of the votes, the chavistas got 48%. However, the chavistas have got a larger number of congressmen (98 vs. 67) which they used to steamroll the opposition, and accept the unconstitutional legislation passed in the eleventh hour by the lame duck session. The methods used did not even have a semblance of democracy. To top it off, the new Speaker is a former traitor of the country, who helped a communist invasion force from Cuba in the 1960’s: Comandante Ramírez, now known as Fernando Soto Rojas. Chávez, backed by the Cuban vice-president Valdéz, is attempting to rule Venezuela with a finger. His middle finger. The shock effect is similar to the one that Adolf Hitler was aiming for when he made himself absolute dictator in a similar way.

This means that it is no longer a crime against democracy to depose Chávez by force.

In fact, if Chávez was sent to an isolated island to spend the rest of his days in internal exile, a prisoner at a military base, it would not be a crime. Just like it was no coup d’État when the military of Honduras arrested Zelaya, jailing Chávez while democracy is restored would not be a coup.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean that it is likely to happen. Venezuela has a different set of circumstances than Honduras. It has no independent judiciary, it has no independent parliament. There is thus no democratic institution that can give the orders to the military. The military would have to act on its own, based on their own, internal, evaluation of the constitutionality, in obedience to the oath they have taken.

Even though there is a large majority of militaries in Venezuela who would agree with this action, it is still a very risky proposition, because the top leaders are bought by Cuba, and there are Cuban soldiers at various levels to assure compliance with the orders from Havana, Cuba.

Therefore, the best bet for Venezuelans who want democracy and the rule of law to be restored (and the many political prisoners to be released) is to organize a totally civilian non-violent resistance. The downside with that strategy is that it can take a long time to reach victory, and be very costly. However, it can also be used a a first step towards a military mutiny.

Just like there were many Germans who supported Hitler and the Nazis up until the oppression became obvious, so are there still quite a few Venezuelans who support the Chávez dictatorship. They probably don’t understand or give a damn about democracy, human rights, or the rule of law. Perhaps they just see their own personal situation, and are not concerned with the suffering of their fellow Venezuelans. I don’t know, but to reach these people with the message is key to eroding the support from the dictator in Caracas. When the support is sufficiently eroded, a mutiny may be the final step to reach a quick end to the disaster that is Bolivarian Venezuela.

Annex: Como derrocar a una dictadura (pdf).

Link: List of political prisoners in Venezuela.

Opposition in Venezuela demands Rule of Law

It is January 5 and the new Congress is meeting in Caracas. The governing party has taken all seats in the leadership for itself, chairman, vice chairman, secretary, vice secretary, and so on. The opposition, which won a 52% majority in the election, demands to be represented as well. The chavistas responded by yelling “murderer” and saying that the opposition has no right to demand anything at all in the Congress. The oficialistas got 98 seats from 48%, whereas the opposition got only 67 seats from their 52%. A 52% vote only gave them 40% representation.

Opposition demonstration outside the Congress in Caracas, Jan 5, 2011, gathering tens of thousands of people.

Two opposition congressmen are missing as they were sentenced to long prison terms a few days ago in kangaroo courts. One of them, Commissioner Mazuco, was advanced by the opposition as candidate for the vice president post. He was elected with 98,000 votes. The president of the congress, Soto Rojas, a former traitor of his country, only got 3,000 votes.

The opposition soon after nominated Commissioner Mazuco as secretary of the Congress. At the moment he finished speaking, the Speaker asked his assistant what proposals for secretary there were. Just one, he said (the proposal from the chavistas, who won a 48% minority in the elections). He asked for the members to vote, they did by raising their hands. No recognition whatsoever of the proposal from the opposition (who won a 52% majority).

Very strange meeting procedures, they would have been regarded as completely undemocratic where I come from. Not at least the fact that the chavistas by law have to vote for the proposal made by Soto Rojas; they cannot vote against it or abstain. If they do, they risk joining the growing ranks of political prisoners in the country.

The meeting is ongoing at this time and can be seen live at La Patilla.

Workers are demonstrating near the National Assembly, AN, although they were not given permission. Opposition congressmen have invited all the supporter of the opposition to accompany them to the opening of the new Congress, AN (original invitation, Dec 30)

Libelous article is part of framing of political prisoner

In 2007 an article on Italian Wikipedia was created about the Venezuelan politician Alejandro Peña Esclusa.

It was obviously created by his political opponents, the regime of Hugo Chávez and its supporters, in order to defame him. Since then a large number of attempts have been made to remove the libel, to no avail. Please look at the discussion and history pages. I furthermore contacted the top legal counsel of the Wikipedia Foundation back in July, but that was equally fruitless. The only result from my insistent arguments for removing the libel and making the article un-biased was to be permanently banned from Italian Wikipedia.

Peña Esclusa was framed for terrorism and jailed in July. The Wikipedia article did a tremendous amount of harm to him, as it was spread over the blogosphere in a machine-translated form, and convinced Internet users that he was a very bad person (fascist, violent, advocating military dictatorships) why they refrained from speaking up in his defense. He is to this day sitting in a 2 x 3 m cell in the jail of the political police in Caracas.

The most important libel in the article today is a paragraph that says, in short, that “he is furthermore a member of TFP, and some members of that organization have been accused of trying to murder Pope John Paul II, and President Reagan. TFP has been banned in several countries for being too extremist.” I first removed every statement after the first comma, since it belongs in the article about TFP, not this one. However, it was promptly reinserted.

Yesterday I got a chance to ask APE himself about his membership in TFP, and he gave me a quote from Ch 17 in his own book “350” where he explicitly says that he has NEVER been a member of TFP. I then went to another computer, to avoid the permanent block, and removed the entire paragraph, left a note referring to the discussion page, and in the discussion page I gave the quote and the reference. Three minutes later it was undone, asking for motivation (apparently ignoring what I wrote). I deleted it again, assuming that the other user would see and understand the note in the talk page. But a few minutes later an editor not only reinserted the libel without comment, but also blocked the IP I was at. I went out on Twitter and the following day two users removed the libel, one with a note referring to the talk page, but in both cases it was promptly reinserted by two different users. Thus, within 27 hours 4 different users reinserted the libel. To me it indicates that there is a conspiracy to defame Mr. Peña Esclusa.

Alejandro Peña Esclusa is facing prosecution in Venezuela, now a communist dictatorship where the entire executive, legislative, and judicial powers are in the hands of “Commander President” Hugo Chávez (he now calls himself Comandante in imitation of the Cuban revolutionaries, and the last step of the Sovietization took place at the end of December last year). He has a ministry of propaganda with an international TV network at its disposal (TeleSur). It is beyond likely that he also has a significant number of staff dedicated to Internet propaganda, and many of those are apparently engaged in editing Wikipedia. One example may be user Skyluke, who sported a communist symbol on his user-page while he edited the libelous article.

The above was sent this evening to the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee. I will report significant developments. First update is that the paragraph was deleted and reinserted a fifth time shortly after this letter was sent.

Update 2011-01-02: Using a still-not-blocked computer to access Italian Wikipedia, I wrote the following explicit warning and explanation of why is libelous: “The second paragraph states that Mr. Peña Esclusa is a member of TFP (Tradition Family Property). There is NO SOURCE given for that claim. Here is a referenced quote from the man himself saying that he has never been a member. Yet 5 different users have reinserted the libel within 48 hours. Furthermore, the rest of the paragraph does not belong in this article but in the article about TFP, and it is clearly present here for the sole purpose of defamation. The man himself being held as a political prisoner in a 2 x 3 m cell without windows and with bare concrete floor. This article contributed materially to him being framed and jailed. He has not ruled out a large lawsuit of the Wikipedia Foundation, or the users who have inserted the libelous claims in full knowledge that they were defamatory. Of course, any user that reinserted the libel after user Lindorm warned of it above in July may be held to an especially high standard.” The entire paragraph was removed by Vituzzu 6 hours later. I also removed the libelous paragraph explaining that it was removed for libel, but it was promptly reinserted by user Valerio79, who also protected the page from “vandalism”, as in all the other cases without any motivation or explanation of why the paragraph belonged there. If anybody doubted that it was communist propaganda, the sixth user to enter the fray in the past few days left us no doubt: User Jaqen added a reference to the statement that Mr. Peña Esclusa is a member of TFP; The source is the official propaganda of Bolivia.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a conspiracy by a criminal network, in which Italy may be deeply immersed. As is well-known, Peña Esclusa’s main target of criticism is Hugo Chávez (who is entirely beholden to Castro’s Cuba, to the extent that Cubans control his government, suck the oil from Venezuela’s ground like petro-vampires, and lately also has converted Venezuela to a Cuban or Soviet style communist dictatorship). Chávez in turn owns Bolivia’s president Evo Morales, so nothing from Bolivia has any value whatsoever as a reference against Peña Esclusa. Furthermore, this axis is closely connected not only to the communist dictator Lukashenko in Belorus, and not only to Ahmedinejad in Iran, but also to Putin in Russia – who in turn is a close friend of Berlusconi in Italy. This axis seems to be less about ideology and more about corruption. They are putting money in their own pockets in a scale that is unheard of in the history of mankind, and Alejandro Peña Esclusa, with his fierce defense of democracy and call for a peaceful uprising was apparently too big a threat for these greedy despots and their useful idiots on the Internet.