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Peace in Venezuela: is it possible?

By Aleksander Boyd

London 14 May 2004 – Few days ago I had the chance to have lunch in one of the restaurants of the UNO-city in Vienna; it was a remarkable experience for all the wrong reasons. Bureaucracy and international intrigue have an almost corporeal presence there; it’s ‘palpable.’ Representatives from all the countries of the planet get together pretending to be friends with each other; measuring every move, word, gesture, cadence… I always knew that whatever happens in Venezuela, international help was most definitely not going to come to the rescue, however visiting the sit where decisions are taken by soulless individuals came to reaffirm my apprehensions.

The reason for my trip was to give a conference about Venezuela’s media in the Latin American Institute (LAI). As soon as I landed I called the office of the Venezuelan Ambassador to Austria to invite him to the event. This chavista representative seems to spend most of his time ‘organizing’ the Bolivarian Circles there and taping into the Marxist’s pool to gain support for the Revolution. The very same venue where the conference was going to be held was utilised previously by this gentleman who, in customary official style, suggested without candour that in Venezuela only one radio station, one TV channel and one newspaper should be permitted by the State; great speech from a diplomat in one of the world’s headquarters of the UN. Allegedly LAI’s personnel were incordiated by letters and emails of Ambassador Gustavo Marquez in which he demanded for the conference to be suspended owing to my lack of credentials. Notwithstanding the people at the LAI did not bend to his wishes and I gave my spiel.

The balance of opinions in the room was divided into 60% against / 40% for, please do bear in mind that nowadays one either supports Chavez or one is a fascist/puschist oligarch. The group of Viennese supporters of Hugo Chavez was formed by a lecturer of the University of Vienna and his pupils (the oldest could have been 22) and some Chilean citizens exiled in the city since Pinochet times. Special mention needs be made about the Professor. Apparently this man is –or has been- the representative to the UN of Venezuela’s Indigenous Peoples. I had the chance to have a word with him, when the whole thing finished, and asked who had given him such a job; whether the ‘caciques’ of Venezuela had elected him or whether it was a political ‘assignment.’ He did not reply, instead he mentioned about Chavez’ decision to prohibit the importation and sowing of genetically modified seeds (be alert on the coming transformation of Chavez in green movement’s carrier across the globe, as if we did not have enough with leftist fundamentalists…). The comments I made to him casually on the sidewalk suffered much subjective and febrile Marxist interpretation and were published in a dodgy website, exposing me as a CIA spook with all the innovative accusations endemic of the chavista camp.

The conference was good, I feel that I did my bit in ridiculing and humiliating in public the ludicrous allegations brought forth by the adolescent ‘experts’ seasoned with their sheer ignorance about Venezuela. They were expecting me to take side with the opposition or with the media; much to their surprise I opened the Q&A session with a disclaimer in regards to my position asseverating that I am not part of any. The first question was of course my position vis-à-vis 11A to which I replied that I did not take part on it nor did I approve of it. Then they moved on to media questions “how many media outlets have been closed since Chavez took power?” They were obviously expecting me to say none, again my response surprised them when I said that Alfredo Peña had illegally shut TV Catia –a closure that they have heard about but did not know the details- so I proceeded to lecture them on its closure, location and Peña’s disregard to court rulings to give back the confiscated broadcasting equipment. Radio Perola was also mentioned by them and again I replied that it was true but I did not have enough details to comment on it. The ‘sharpest’ student of the lot, after showing off with swear words his limited understanding of the Spanish language, said that the referendum was not going to happen for more than 1 million signatures turned out to be from dead people, as discovered by the ever so ‘independent’ CNE. Furthermore he said that Hugo Chavez had an extraordinary support in Venezuela and no elitist opposition was going to win an election. I asked him whether he was certain of his allegations, he laughed. Then I invited him to read the Constitution –the very same one his Venezuelan idol promoted- together with the CNE’s norms and regulations for referenda, the Organic law of Suffrage and Political Participation, the law of Electoral Power, the presidential decree of simplification administrative processes, OAS’ brokered agreements 821 and 833 between government and opposition and come up with one single article that justifies in any manner the illegal decision of the CNE to send to repair 870.000 signatures. Moreover, I said I would be in town the following two days and I was eager to see him again so that he could show me, and all of those interested in a venue of his choosing, the legislation. Silence… Shame, he ridicule himself I just pointed out the facts. Another such savant confronted me –this one was, he said, constitutional expert-. He called me a liar, he said that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and therefore all rulings by said chamber (read the impasse with the Electoral Chamber) are binding to the judiciary in its entirety. It was excellent to hear him opening his statement in such a legal fashion. I am not a constitutional expert or a jurist for that matter, thus my knowledge on the subject is limited. However I know this much, all the legal systems of the civilised world are constructed on the premise of hierarchy. Departing from that principle I can say that the Constitutional Chamber has no saying, and can not exert any power, upon other chambers. For such case there exists the plenary of the Supreme Court. Additionally there is precedent in that respect, last year’s decision by the Electoral Chamber to strike out the signatures collected extemporaneously was reinforced by a later ruling of the Constitutional Chamber establishing precedent and ceding jurisdiction for electoral matters to the Electoral Chamber. Of course that small detail he did not know. I subsequently found out that he was one of the ‘electoral observers’ invited by the regime last November.

The experience was great, unlike London Vienna seems to have a thriving ‘Bolivarian movement’ whose great defenders and exponents were in the conference. Also it is worth noting that they all come from academia. Their statements are so weak, their ignorance so obvious and their understanding of the situation so precarious that it is not worth even engaging in conversations with them, which by the way they are not interested in having. One of the students even refuse to shake hands for “we are enemies in a war” he said. What a wanker.

The after thoughts have been varied. Is there any possibility to solve our crisis taking into consideration that the other part does not even want to talk? Will they be able to raise their game and come to our level and have civilised discussions or will we have to lower ours and get violent? Lot of people asked me about my views with respect to the outcome of the crisis. I still think that we must exhaust all peaceful and democratic resources so that, should we fail in bringing a peaceful end to this disgraceful chapter, no one in the future will be able to accuse us of not being tolerant or democratic. One worrying aspect is that Chavez is following Castro’s orders. I had the chance to see a documentary about Cuba called “Conducta Impropia” where exiled Cuban intellectuals of world stature narrate the horrors of the concentration camps for homosexuals, lesbians, prostitutes and intellectuals devised by yet another homosexual, i.e. Raul Castro. In said documentary one can see a young Fidel lying with such a cheek that I immediately understood Chavez’, JVR’s and other Venezuelan officials present attitude. It is a script written and developed by the Cuban dictator nothing more. Sadly the Cubans have been terrorised for so long that they are absolutely harmless; I sincerely hope that before that state of mind pervades the Venezuelan psyche someone somewhere will have the balls to go for Chavez’ head, but before that moment comes we need to reach the end of the democratic path. We are very close…

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