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Venezuela: A story of discrimination, cynicism and fascism in many acts

By Miguel Octavio

16.11.06 | Act I.-Two days ago former Presidential candidate Roberto Smith, not exactly my favorite person in the world, gave a press conference to denounce a racket at the country's customs by which private companies would pay "intermediaries", some of them former workers of the tax office Seniat, so that they would be "exonerated" from paying custom duties. Smith presented e-mails, documents and bank statements showing that at least three people, all former workers of Seniat had managed to gain about US$ 1 million (at the latest parallel rate) in commissions, by bilking the country some US$ 3 million.

Act II. - Yesterday, the Superintendent of Taxes Vielma Mora, gave an improvised press conference in the morning, standing in front of a huge painting of Hugo Chavez, in which he was clearly furious at Smith, saying he did not believe the "charges", explicitly saying "we do not give credit to the charges", "this is just a campaign to damage the Government, the revolution and the private sector", "emails prove nothing". Vielma Mora was arrogant, saying it was not his fault if he had qualified among the top 100 most efficient managers in the country and saying that he had a "collection of false charges" and then he called Rosales "the losing candidate in the upcoming election" something that had no place at the press conference.

Vielma added that the tax office was investigating the opposition candidate, to see where all his funds were coming from, but he failed to say whether he was investigating Hugo Chavez, who is outspending Rosales 12 to 1, all with public funds. I guess that is why he does not need to investigate him, he knows where the money is coming from. Such is life in the cynical revolution.

At various times during his very political press conference, Vielma Mora called Chavez "my only boss", defended the revolution and tried to paint the whole thing as an attack on the private sector, even inviting some of the leaders of the companies accused of corruption to be present at the press conference

Act III. A much different Vielma Mora showed up at a different press conference in the afternoon, when Smith showed up at Seniat headquarters, to present Vielma Mora with folders and folders with all of the evidence he had found. In one e-mail, one of those accused by Smith actually said to one of his partners that the commission was not "great" (using a popular saying "No es lapa pero se come") at only US$ 100,000.

But it was at this point that Vielma Mora did something that absolutely made my blood boil: Someone handed him three pieces of paper and Vielma Mora with a straight face proceeded to say on National TV, that someone at his office had the Chavez/Tascon/Maisanta list checked and all three people being accused by Smith "are not Bolivarian, as they all signed the petition to recall President Chavez in 2004".

Thus, this fascist Superintendent of Taxes had no other bright idea but to go and have the corrupt checked to determine their revolutionary purity! He is so accustomed to discriminating, to use what Ana Julia Jatar has called the XXIst Century Apartheid in her recent book, to differentiate Venezuelans into two new classes corrupt Bolivarians and the rest of the corrupt! How sick can you get.

Thus, we see a new use for this abominable list, which I have described extensively in detail here, and Daniel has reviewed the details of the movie "The List" here, with private testimonies of those fired and abused by this cynical Government. All of this demonstrates how the use of this list, which we imagine is being updated constantly, has become a formal policy of the Venezuelan State: Anyone that dared to sign against almighty Hugo Chavez is to be excluded from getting jobs, from getting aid, from even getting a passport (My case) and if he holds a Government position, he is to be fired, excluded and treated as a second, if not third, class citizen. You can be corrupt and Bolivarian, but in this new interpretation, it is much worse to be corrupt and to have signed against Chavez.

The frame of mind of these people is simply scary and unbelievable. They think nothing of saying they are using the list and discriminating on National TV. They think nothing of pledging allegiance to the Supreme Being Hugo Chavez. To Hell with corruption, if it was done by an enemy of the Government, what else could you expect? That was not the point and Vielma never seemed to realize that all of the corruption was taking place under his "efficient" and "Bolivarian" management, but he appeared not to notice that it is his responsibility to stop corruption at Seniat, whether Bolivarian or not.

Thus, the corrupt join the ranks of the PDVSA workers (those that did not strike, but were fired for signing the recall petition), FOGADE, Border Institute and the 42 Government institutions which Jatar has documented in her book used the Chavez/Tascon/Maisanta list, even after the day Chavez said on National TV that it was time to "bury" it. Some burial! Only today Veneconomy had a very good Editorial on the use of apartheid as official Government policy.

And some people are naive enough to claim in the blogosphere that the Tascon list has never been used against anyone! Fools!

Act IV.- The Comptroller, that shadowy and almost invisible figure who gave a press conference to deny that Venezuela was among the most corrupt countries in Latin America (What else can you do when you are in charge of stopping corruption?) comes out (can't find link) and recriminates that Smith rather than holding a press conference should have presented his charges to him! Oh! I see, like in Bolivar 2000, I guess that was never investigated, how about the agreement with Cuba, I guess nothing there either, how about the cheap CD's sold to a local broker in a private transaction by the Ministry of Finance, not investigated either, US$ 3 billion missing from FIEM, he probably does not recall that, how about the CAEES sugar factory where US$ 200 million is missing, Argentinean bond...well, you get the picture.

Act V. And finally the day of cynical statements was crowned by the man in charge, Chavez himself, the intolerant one, the promoter of the Tascon/Maisanta list, the man that ordered a repressive military Plan on April 11th. 2002 against those that opposed him, the man that staged or helped stage two bloody coups in 1992, the man that allows the hate and discrimination to take place day after day in his Government, the one that loves to threaten us with his weapons and soldiers, comes out and calls on Venezuelans to go out and build a country in peace, without political distinctions!

Is Chavez being cynical or does he simply have a plan to get rid of those that oppose him, all of us, if he wins on Dec 3d.? After all the abuses and fascism, it may well be the only way...

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