Good post on Venezuela


This is about constitutional democracy, which we pretend is still important, right?

From Alas, a Blog


Is there a 'best of the blogosphere' anywhere?

Not really.

There's, but otherwise I just find stuff by obsessively reading a lot of blogs that I like. is very good too.

Hi I was looking for the Pinakothek der Moderne and got to your site, then i saw your link to a Venezuelan issue, my country! and I felt necessary to respond to that, here it is:

Dear Ampersand, I find gratifying to read your entry about Venezuela, although I am completely against what you post. it is good to know that some people do make an effort to understand what is happening there.
However the problem is very complicated and there are many agendas involved. The fact that the media needs to have a good guy and a bad guy is of extreme damage for those who opppose the pseudo-"revolution" that Chavez wants to impose in Venezuela. To start with, Chavez does not represent the Left, he changes his rethoric depending on the audience that he addresses in every one of the many international tours he takes every year (no other Venezuelan president has travel so much and he even bought a new plane while at the same time the very poor poor people are even poorer. As a side note: now the presidentŽs family travels to Disneyworld using the old plane and thanks to the taxpayer's money. This kind of note might seem like pure gossip but in fact Chavez won the presindency mainly on a promise of getting rid of corruption, the fact is that corruption is more spread than ever)
Going back to the topic,.. on the other side, the opposition, you have the worker unions and the buisnessmen, where have you seen such a combination before? what is happeninig is crazy. Back in April when the opposition tried to get the president to resign and a small right wing faction took possesion of the governement, the workers unions inmediately moved away, even part of the private run media dennounced the events. It was a very bad conclusion for what was a real social movement against the governemnt. i believe that the so called opposition which is supposedly looking for Coup de Etat with the present strike is an oversimplification of the situation, while let us not forget that Chavez himself attempted a failed coup 10 years ago at a time when Venezuela could show off declaring that it was the most stable constitutional democracy of Latin America.
Finally you have the most dangerous character in this play, the armed forces, who because of chavez's wishes also have a right to become political as the new constitution estates. Active soldiers can vote and in fact occupy many civil public posts under the present regime. Pararlell to he civic strike and since november there are a group of generals opposed to the government living on a public square of Cararas, they decided not to move from the place until the government resigns, now this is a highly irregular situation for what it is supposed to be a democracy, but if what those army men were doing was illegal do you think that they could still be there after almost two months? Of course they can because this is possible thanks to the Constitution that Chavez promoted since he had the idea of turning the army into his political party. So in conclusion Chavey does not belong to the left or the right, he becomes to the military and his government which breaks the constitution very often is very close to becoming a dictatorship. (The descentralisation of power which venezuelans have been fighting for durng the last decade was trashed for what it is a totally centralised system, where the different powers that must check each other no longer do so, only acting under the presidents will)

A great act of simplism (can you say this? sorry english is not my mother tongue) is to say that the opposition is trying to create an ANTICONSTITUTIONAL exit to the crisis. The constitution is a piece of text that holds the principles of the law, law is derived from it, thus the constitution is always victim of interpretation. Chavez can interpret it one way, the opposition in a different one. Articles 5 and 6 declare that the president will always be under the scrutiny of the people and his mandate could be taken away. Of course a referendum to get the president out of office can only be set to be at the middle of the presidential term (until now august?) but one of the solutions that the opposition is looking for is a simple non-binding referendum which as the same constitution estates can be done at any moment. The referendum is legal, is constitutional, it will ask the question "would you ask the president to resign?" and the President does not have to resign even if the result is overwhelming against him because the referendum is "non-binding". However if as the opposition expects the result is solidly overwhelming, then which government wouldn't resign for the good of the nation? That is all. This is not as you innacurately express in your post anticonstitutional, the constitution asks for this type of referendum to be performed for 1.5 million signatures and the opposition collected 2 million signatures. You also mention that there are only two ways of getting the president out of the office this is also not true, because another possibility appart from the non-binding referendum which is currently under discussion, is a constitutional reform which can be voted by the national assembly (of course currently the majority in the assembly is pro-chavez, so such innitiative wouldnt move forward, but it is indeeed a way, and members of the assembly can change sides, who knows? all these politicians are just looking after their own necks and if pressure mounts on the government maybe they will abadon the ship, and this is also a very important comment I think, because those politicians don't believe in Chavez's revolution but on their bank accounts) A third solution is the one that the Organisation of American Countries is trying to promote which is simply NEGOTIATION. Funnily Cesar Gaviria the president of the Organisation of American Countries and the venezuela opposition to the government calls these talks "the table of negotiation and resolutions" while the Venezuelan governement calls the" the table of discussions" so the governement to start with, doesnt accept that the purpose of these meetings is to find a solution to the problem through a negotiation. It is just making time, and here I would like to go back to the comment that I made above "until now august?" I used the question mark, because the government is trying to use this as an excuse, nobody can assure the opposition that in fact the government will promote the august referendum, in fact if the half presidential term rule is taken strictly, the referendum could not be in august (chavez won elections in august 2000) but in february 2003 because he actually took on his second term of office in february 2001, but of course the government keeps this card hidden in the pocket to take out when the right time comes.
You mention that the strike is a national lock-out, that is another gross innacuracy, in fact the most credible element of the opposition is the national workers union, a promoter of the strike and a force which chavez doesnt recognise as legal. the president of the workers union won the elections against the pro Chavez candidate, who didnt came second but third out of three main candidates. At the moment of the national worker's union election, the hughe popularity of the government was starting to cease, in fact that moment marked the shifting point for the government, from a highly popular force to a more and more dissilunsionment of the poorer masses.
You also talk about the USA tax dollars, well of course, your government manouvers folowing their own agenda, in fact when the threat to irak was just beginning, the Bush government was supporting Chavez because Venezuela represented the reliable energy much needed by the USA. At the same time it is obvious that the anti-yanki rethoric of Chave is also not convenient for america so there must be some evil CIA guys working againt his government. Politics is a very dirty thing and ethics is last priority.

Your number one thing to know about Venezuela is the respect for the constitution, I believe that you can say this because you are cozily sitting in front of a computer. I believe that the hundred of thousands of Caraquenians have more pressing things in their heads, like for example, hunger since due to the strike rations are diminishing fast and there is no petrol to move around. However these people are doing these because they believe that the future will be better, hopefully the opposition will manage to get through with this government on a constitutional way, since they do exist, and can be applied NOW not in 7 months time, this process didnt start on the 2nd of December but actually last august, and of course the opposition must watch out for something like what happened in April 11 not to be repeated.

Ampersand sorry I have written too much, I just wanted to thank you for your interest in Venezuela but to set the record straight as well, I dont know you and I ran into your blog by chance, but I am now very exhausted of seeing so much lack of information about the Venezuelan problem and now I felt like expressing my views.
I would reccomend you to look at another website and maybe add it to your list of reccomendations: It is a opposition website but full of useful insight. Also look at these photos ( ) and think that if an opposite group which is not a political party but a coalition of different ones, and without a clear head can gather such large masses in very short notice, then it would be criminal to think that we must sit down until august and not try ways out of this situation, legal ways of course, and let me say again that there is space in the constitution for these ways.

P.d.: the greatest problem that Chavez has created is not economic but social, creating even more class division and hatred between venezuelans. Last week there was a highway blockade by opposing forces, and pro government people appeared in the scene to confront the opposing mass. The usual conclusion of these situations is a street fight, violence and hurt people. However these time, out of nowhere a football came between the two groups and magically a football match was arranged, right there and then. In thne middle of the highway a mini football match was played between pro and againt government people, in reality a match between venezuelans. After the match both groups maintained their convictions however they drank softdrinks and water together and sung the national anthem and even hugged each other.
I hope that whatever the outcome of the present situation, the people of Venezuela will be brothers again.

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This page contains a single entry by published on December 24, 2002 12:44 PM.

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