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Easter week sets in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal

Wednesday 7, April 2004 - Traditions are stronger than politics and the week that started with some intensity as far as news was concerned, is easing some. Nothing major today, just a follow up.

The case of the burnt soldiers. Nothing more except that now even the Ombudsman thinks that the fire was set on purpose while the Army keeps stalling any independent investigation.

Meanwhile the funeral for Orlando Bustamante drew a large attendance in his hometown, with all the proper expressions of familiy grief including all the Latin cultural excesses, of course duly shown on TV over and over. Air waves battle never rests.

Another soldier is still fighting for his life. The relatives refuse to let the Army transfer the soldier to a military facility in Caracas. Which seems to upset the Army greatly...

The Electoral front. Nothing. The CNE just left for vacation and any agreement will have to wait for negotiations to restart next Monday.

Carlos Melo. He received a hero's welcome at the head quarters of the Coordinadora Democratica and has retaken his political activities.

Other news. On the economic front the perspectives are not good. The economy is growing again, but it is growing from the bottom of the hole and not above the 2001 levels. This is a mild recovery at best. And an endangered one. Venezuela is eating all of its reserves in a period of high oil price. The posibilities of yet a harsh recession are again looming with any decrease in the price of oil. And we have not even recovered our 2001 level!

The debt service in the budget has ballooned to 32% of the budget! Eclipsing items such as health care and education! And what is worse is that the debt is going to increase as the government in an irresponsible permanent political campaign keep launching useless social programs (the famous "misiones") whose only mission is to buy votes for eventual elections.

Miscellaneous. A curious and grizzly murder was uncovered: three bodies were found in bags in two areas of Caracas with the same signs of demise. Quickly the investigation progressed and it seems that perhaps 5 guys were killed in some sort of Satanically orchestrated mass murder among the squatters of some buildings. These high rise apartment complex in a commercial area of Caracas were empty and destined for demolition or renovation. But due to the crisis the work had stopped. Some pro Chavez gang invaded them a few months ago. Since then, the police unwilling or unable or forbidden to remove them, has witnessed impotent as these buildings became the turf of gang wars and dens of all sorts of sordid business. Apparently the killed ones were the victims of an internal "reorganization" in one of the invaded buildings. Another sign of the continuous degradation of Caracas.

We do need a vacation...

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