Feb 28/05 - State Department Report on Human Rights in Venezuela
Read more of this PMBComment!
certeramente en el blanco en esta columna donde toca el tema de la
rabieta del Ministro de "Información" del régimen. Hace unos días el
joven Ministro Izarra, que una vez trabajo para CNN y quien se
preciaba durante su tiempo de Consejero de Prensa en la Embajada
bolivariana en D.C. de su dominio de varios idiomas y sus relaciones
con la prensa, mando al infierno a todos los periodistas extranjeros y
dio por finalizada - sin logro evidente - sus gestiones de "lobby" con
Al seguir reportando y editorializando estos últimos sobre una
realidad cada vez mas palpable y patética, lo único que le queda al
gobierno es apuntar a una conspiración global en su contra movida por
George W. Bush como antesala para esa muy anunciada y ¿deseada?
invasión por parte del "imperio" que justifica la teoría y procura de
la guerra asimétrica.
Lo que preocupa de la gritería medio maricona y completamente
sicofantita de Izarra es que al no ser despedido ipso facto por su
jefe "Viva Chávez" confirma, como apunta Blanco, que entramos en una
nueva etapa de esta fea autocracia. Al mandar al penthouse de Satanás
a quienes hasta anteayer intentaban conquistar directa e indirectamente
por medio de vehículos costosos como Patton Boggs, the Venezuelan
Information Office y empresas impúdicas como ChevronTexaco, lo que nos
queda es esperar la aplicación de mas medidas de presión para
silenciar, o expulsar, a los corresponsales extranjeros. Una vez hecho
esto seguramente disminuirá la corrupción, la ineficiencia y demás
crímenes de estado. Como en versiones anteriores de la MISMA película,
la culpa es siempre de quien reporta y no de quien delinque. PMB
Nota: escribo esto desde Rusia, y sin acentos. Esto es culpa de Bill
Gates y Toshiba, fabricante de laptop ajeno donde no encuentro como
acentuar mis palabras. ¿Serán también parte de la conspiración?
Viaje al centro del infierno
La reciente rabieta del joven Izarra, según la cual ya no iba a
intentar explicar nada a los corresponsales extranjeros y a la prensa
internacional, es, con cierto matiz de inmadurez, el anuncio de la
intensa confrontación que se avizora.
Dijo el emisario que "ya basta el protocolo con la prensa que
envenena. Yo desde aquí los mando al infierno".
Se podría decir que al funcionario se le fueron los tiempos; la
vocería del poder suele producir inmensos trastornos en figuras que,
de antiguo, han podido ser mesurados ciudadanos.
Es más grave esta alferecía cuando se trata de un gobierno
autocrático; en este caso, la vocería es casi como la sustitución de
la Voz del Altísimo. En las democracias, esa función nunca tiene
sentido protagónico; es una manera institucional de hablar; y el
carácter, nombre y cédula de identidad del funcionario importan poco.
En las autocracias, el vocero es un sosia del voceado y genera cierta
intimidad con el caudillo, pues éste suele preocuparse por el tono,
los sonsonetes y cadencias de lo que otros dicen en su nombre. Siendo
así, resulta que es el propio Comandante el que ha procedido a enviar
a la prensa a cobijarse en los predios de Belcebú.
Argumenta Izarra que hay que ponerle coto a la prensa internacional y
sus "lacayos locales". Como se observa, el régimen no estima que la
crítica que se produce dentro del país es producto de la observación y
deliberación de los medios de comunicación nacionales. Es decir, la
opinión adversa es inducida desde afuera. La ridiculez de estas
afirmaciones no debe conducir, sin embargo, a ignorar el profundo
desprecio que el vocero tiene hacia sus propios colegas. No; no pueden
ser sus opiniones, informaciones o análisis propios, autónomos. Si
éstos son adversos al Gobierno nada más lógico que pensar que el
veneno viene de afuera. Por sí mismos no serían capaces de producir
tan mala opinión. Mayor desprecio hacia los periodistas y medios
venezolanos no puede haber.
Sin embargo, hay cosas más graves en la pataleta ministerial. Dice el
interfecto que "estamos cansados de enviarles cartas, de reunirnos con
ustedes, de decirles que están descontextualizando, mintiendo,
manipulando y tergiversando. Ya basta de hacerles lobby para
explicarles lo que aquí pasa". Esto sencillamente equivale a una
confesión. Cuando un gobierno manda cartas, mensajes, pide reuniones,
hace gestiones hacia los medios de comunicación a los que acusa de
mentir, manipular y tergiversar, lo hace para intentar cambiar la
línea informativa de las empresas y de los periodistas que en estas
laboran. Hay dos elementos gravísimos en la confesión del colérico
ministro: la primera, consiste en asumir que son los burócratas
gubernamentales los que tienen la potestad de decidir quién dice la
verdad y quién no; la segunda, se refiere a que el régimen asume el
derecho de presionar para que los medios de comunicación digan cosas
diferentes a la que los periodistas observan y analizan.
Necesitaban una "prueba" de la conspiración "mediática" de Estados
Unidos. Nada más apropiado que arremeter contra el corresponsal
reportajes serían la demostración de la conspiración internacional. Y
cuando el periodista Gunson, de manera muy calmada, le dice al
ministro que acusa sin pruebas; exactamente de la manera que el mismo
Izarra dice que hace Washington, entonces este se indigna y adquiere
tono de prócer. Por eso concluyó su intervención en la que anuncia la
ruptura con los medios, con la proclama que dice: "Míster gringo, ten
la seguridad que te vamos a volver a derrotar (...) porque trabajamos
con la verdad, tenemos moral y sobre todo algo muy especial, un líder
que nos une y nos inspira el comandante Chávez. Imperio de EEUU desde
aquí le gritamos, no pasarán. Viva Chávez". Se notará que casi le
declara la guerra mundial a Bush y de paso se guinda sin atenuantes de
los abalorios presiden ciales.
No es sólo una competencia por el mecate que muchos tiemplan a la vez
y cuyo tirón sólo padece el comandante. Es más que eso. Se hace
evidente que la inmensa cantidad de dinero que se emplea no puede
evitar que la prensa internacional advierta el proceso de liquidación
de las libertades en Venezuela. Junto a esto, se hace claro que la
promesa del "Nuevo Orden Comunicacional" es una oferta de mayor
represión, cárcel, juicios e intimidaciones contra los periodistas
Prensa libre y autocracia militar no pueden convivir; a la larga, una
de las dos desaparece. ¿Cuál será en Venezuela?
PMBComment: when one read the impression
THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT | China's development dwarfs Latin America's
BEIJING -- I came to the People's Republic of China for a 10-day visit
to find out how Latin America could best compete with this
economically booming country. It took me about 30 seconds to know the
answer: Unless it undertakes dramatic reforms, it can't.
From the minute one lands in
be stunned by the capitalist fever that is gripping this country, the
monumental dimensions of
38-million-passengers-a-year airport shocks even the most skeptical
My plane pulled in at Gate 305 -- an eye-opener for someone used to
arriving at Gate B-7 of
107 gates. But that was only the first surprise.
On the way to my hotel, I saw more high-rise construction cranes than
I've ever seen anywhere, let alone in
high-rise construction sites in the Chinese capital today -- so many,
that the latest joke making the rounds here says you should never
blink while in this city, because you could miss a new building's
At street level of some of the ultra-modern skyscrapers, there are
dealerships of Rolls Royce, Maseratti, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, BMW
and Audi, next to Rolex, Armani and Louis Vuitton stores.
I asked my taxi driver to stop in front of some of these car
dealerships, convinced that they were representative offices to sell
jet engines or tractors to the Chinese government. But no: They were
selling luxury cars to rich Chinese. Last year, Mercedes-Benz sold
12,000 cars in
government-run China Daily reported recently, with obvious pride.
economic opening 25 years ago is producing a rapidly growing wealthy
elite and an expanding middle class, lifting about 250 million people
from poverty. If economic growth continues,
double by the year 2020, to about 40 percent of the population.
And it shows on the streets, from the glitzy
While 80 percent of
the countryside, city-dwellers in
cities are better dressed than in most world capitals, thanks in part
to a thriving black market of pirated brand goods. The Chinese have
replaced the Mao uniform with the imitation Armani suit.
Chinese official and foreign diplomat or businessperson I met here. I
heard many answers, but they all boiled down to one thing:
become competitive in the world race for investments and exports,
One striking example: I read in Asian newspapers that Venezuelan
President Hugo Chávez's government had closed down that country's 80
McDonald's restaurants for three days because of alleged tax law
violations, while Chávez was denouncing ''savage [
during a visit to
media had triumphantly announced that the board of directors of
McDonald's would visit Beijing, meet with top government officials and
announce that the company would expand its current 600 stores in China
to 1,000 by next year.
In a world where developing countries compete for a limited pool of
private investments, China is clobbering Latin America: The $54
billion in foreign direct investments it got last year amounted to
about $5 billion more than what all 32 Latin American countries got
together, according to United Nations figures. Less than a decade ago,
material exports to
American exporters from the much more lucrative global market of
share in the
Contrary to the generalized belief that multinationals are descending
conditions condoned by the Communist Party in the name of economic
progress -- several
here instead because of
most of their profits in their companies and produced increasingly
better goods. Another one I met in
love affair with the market economy is making people work harder, and
The fact is, multinational companies are bullish about
-- ironically -- this communist country is embracing capitalism with a
passion. To an outsider, the Chinese government's proclaimed
''socialist market economy'' is a face-saving rhetorical gimmick, or a
good way of justifying an economic opening without giving up its
one-party totalitarian rule.
In an interview at his office, Zhou Xi-an, deputy director of China's
powerful National Development and Reform Commission, told me that 30
percent of China's economy is still in state hands, 10 percent is in
collective hands and 60 percent is in ''nonpublic'' hands, China's
euphemism for the private sector.
''The private sector has become the main driving force for economic
development, and the major source of employment,'' Zhou told me.
Recalling a figure I had read recently, I asked, is it true that you
will privatize another 100,000 state-owned companies within the next
five years? ''No. The figure will be much higher,'' the official
Jiang Shixue, a top academic of the Institute of Latin American
Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank for
the Chinese government, told me he has recently completed a book
comparing the development of East Asia and Latin America, and
concluded, among other things, that ''the outward model'' pursued by
East Asia for the past several decades ``is superior to the
''Theories should be updated from time to time,'' Jiang told me. ``The
dependency theory [of blaming
the 1960s, but now we can see that it has become outdated.''
Granted, many things could go bad in
poverty-ridden peasants may rise up in anger over the growing gap
between rich and poor, or the fragile Chinese banking system may
collapse, taking the country down with it.
And even if there is no such calamity, it's dubious that the second
generation of today's Chinese capitalists will be as willing to work
as hard as their parents. But in the short term, unless Latin America
takes drastic steps to open up its economy and become more
COMING THURSDAY: What is
access to raw materials to reduce its dependency on the United States
and the Middle East; South-South political alliances to counter U.S.
influence, and a backup route to export duty-free to the United States
if Washington puts restrictions on Chinese goods.
I'll Link to That
Hunter Thompson, Larry Summers, Hillary, Condi and the Internet's patron saint.
Thursday, February 24, 2005 12:01 a.m.
This week, an homage de blog. Or would that be homage du blog? James
Taranto will know. It's good to have an editor, especially one I would
characterize as a nonintrusive stickler. He always knows my topic,
doesn't know my view, corrects my spelling and grammar. [De? Du? It's
all Greek to me!--ed.]
Today I post thoughts blog-style. There is, however, a theme. Find it.
Hunter Thompson, RIP. Tom Wolfe, a genius, goes over the top in his
praise of Thompson. Wolfe and Thompson were of the same journalistic
generation, and we are all chauvinists for our era. But Hunter
Thompson was not Mark Twain, who was a genius, nor was he the great
comic voice of
He was a reporter/diarist who helped create a new journalistic form,
to which 30 years ago he gave the even then embarrassingly corny name
"gonzo journalism." It was highly personal, eccentric, with the writer
at the center of the story, and it had its moments, the best of which
was "Fear and Loathing in
different attitude, and a whiff of anarchy that seemed liberating.
In time Thompson's swashbuckling came to seem joyless, aggressive and
half dead. What he thought fed his gift (drugs, alcohol) killed it. He
must have been very scared to get tanked like that to write. The empty
page, the blank screen, is scary. But so is a mortgage. So is the
stillness of a courtroom before you make the closing argument. And so
is a broken leg that needs fixing fast. We all have jobs. You take a
bad turn when you start to think your next work must be marked by
genius because you are a genius. Thompson's death is an occasion not
for inspiration or celebration but compassion. Not pity, but a sense
of universal idiocy, and sympathy.
The Larry Summers story continues. What choice does it have? It could
end, but its authors would have to have the good sense to put a period
in and change the subject.
Tuesday he faced an angry faculty gathering where "his ears were
pinned back," as one reporter said. Summers now seems to be saying he
made a mistake in airing the idea of gender-related differences in the
interests and aptitudes of scholars. But here is what he may be
forgetting, for people under pressure often lose track of their lack
of culpability: Summers did nothing wrong. He thought aloud about an
interesting question in a colorful and un-defended way. That's what
universities are for.
His mistake was stepping on the real third rail in American cultural
politics. It's not Social Security. It is attempting to reconcile the
indisputable equality of all people with their differentness. The left
thinks if we're all equal we're all alike. Others say we're all equal
but God made us different, too, and maybe he did that to keep things
interesting, and maybe he did it because each human group is meant to
reflect an aspect of his nature. Our differentness is meant to teach
us his infinite variety and complexity. It's all about God.
But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American
universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They're like a cloister
without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed
halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist
deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands,
listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the
antichrist of a new idea, the instrusion of the reconsideration of
settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers.
These monks and nuns are the worst of both worlds, frightened and so
ferocious, antique and so aggressive. Will they exorcise Summers from
their midst? Stay tuned. But cheers to the Ivy League students who
refuse to be impressed by these relics.
Hillary. Forget her prepared speeches, put aside her moderate
for president in 2008. Ten days ago a reporter interviewed her in the
halls of the Senate (another kind of cloister) and asked if she
planned to run for president. She did not say, "I'm too busy serving
the people of
"Oh, I already have a heckuva lot on my plate." She said, "I have more
than I can say grace over right now."
I have more than I can say grace over right now. What a wonderfully
premeditated ad lib for the Age of Red State Dominance. I suggested a
few weeks ago that Mrs. Clinton was about to get very, very religious.
But her words came across as pious and smarmy, like Tammy Faye with a
law degree. Maybe she still thinks in stereotypes; maybe she thinks
that's what little Christian ladies talk like while they stay home
baking cookies. Whatever, it was almost as good as her saying, "I'm
running, is this not obvious to even the slowest of you?"
Condi Rice. The new secretary of state has been doing something both
different in public and, I suspect, not without meaning. When she
meets with the leader of another country and poses for the handshake
photo-op she never looks at the leader. She always looks at the
journalists witnessing the event instead. She gives them her warmest,
most connected smiles.
Then, when the picture taking is over, she turns to the foreign leader
with a more neutral look, makes eye contact and chats. I don't think
this is an accident. I suspect it is the administration's way of
finally fighting back against 50 years of embarrassing and
compromising pictures of American leaders meeting with leaders such as
this, this and this. The Bush White House doesn't want those pictures.
They may be inconvenient down the road. And so administration members
on meeting foreign leaders give all their jolly warmth to the moment,
as it were, and not the man. Interesting. And Rice is not alone.
The patron saint of the Internet. St. Isidore of
the encyclopedia, is said to be the leading contender for the title,
but I hope he doesn't get it. The obvious patron saint of the internet
is St. Joseph Cupertino.
century, and is my second favorite saint.
Many saints were deeply intelligent, and some were geniuses, but St.
Joseph Cupertino, God bless him, was a bit of an idiot. Great saints
like Teresa of Avila (my favorite: her common sense had a kind of
genius to it) wrote books. St. Joseph Cupertino couldn't even read
them. He had a low IQ. He was accepted to the priesthood only when a
small miracle occurred: His big final test question dealt with the one
part of the Bible he'd managed to fully memorize.
What was so special about
him modest; the fact that no one seems ever to have loved him left him
not angry but humble; the violence inflicted on him by others left him
sympathetic to their frustrations. He thought nothing of himself, and
God knew. He loved God with pure and complete ardor, and God knew that
too. And God filled him with what most others could not be filled with
because they were so full of themselves, and that was love. God poured
so much love into
It literally left him airborne.
to float. He would come to and find himself in the top of a tree and
climb down with great embarrassment. It angered his superiors--who is
this idiot to be so filled with love? Smarter people deserved visions!
They also resented the fact that the local peasants began to follow
him, for they and not the monks and nuns could see something special,
the man was a saint. (He was: he'd be sent out to beg for food for the
monastery and wind up giving the poor peasants his shoes and cloak
instead. One cold winter day he came back naked.) Instead of wearing
his shoes, the peasants saved them as relics.
Animals too seemed to understand
him like a mighty vibration. Maybe it was the exact opposite of an
earthquake vibration dogs are said to feel. They didn't run from him
but to him, and were quiet when they were with him, and put their
heads on his knee. Birds would follow him. He'd tell them to shoo but
they wouldn't, and he'd laugh. They flew all around his head. He died
in obscurity after finally having been assigned never to leave his
cell. The best essay on him is in "Saints for Sinners" by Alban
Why is St. Joseph Cupertino the obvious patron saint of the Internet?
Because he flew through the air, lifted by truth. Because no
establishment could keep him down. Because he empowered common people.
Because they in fact saw his power before the elites of the time did.
And because it could not be an accident that the center of the
invention of the Internet, ground zero of Silicon Valley, is
Was God in this? Of course. Does God do such things for no reason? He
does not. Has the church recognized St. Joseph Cupertino as patron
saint of the Internet? No. But the church was always slow to give him
his due. If you want to tell the pope that
saint, you can reach him at john_paul_II@vatican.va.
Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and
author of "A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag" (Wall Street Journal
Books/Simon & Schuster), a collection of post-Sept. 11 columns, which
you can buy from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears
Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
PMBComment: Andy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel, wrote a book
called "Only the paranoid survive", Hugo Chavez probably never read
it, but he understands that a confrontation with Bush gives him a
bigger pulpit and a wider safety net. By painting himself in the role
of potential victim and martyr, he hopes to neuter and shame the
This worn ploy has worked for decades for his mentor Fidel Castro. In
order for it to be successful again, one would have to assume that the
Bush administration is indeed impermeable to the lessons of history.
Anyone taking bets? PMB
www.venezuelanalysis.com (pro-government Web site)
Sunday, Feb 20, 2005 Print format
By: Cleto A. Sojo - Venezuelanalysis.com
President Hugo Chavez denounced that the
"new aggressions" against him and against the Venezuelan people.
"Before the world, before our people, before the Latin American
people, and before the people of North America, for whom we have
respect, I accuse the government of the
their aggressions against
crash as many times as they want," Chavez said in reference to alleged
past attempts by the
The mercurial Venezuelan leader has repeatedly accused the
government of trying to oust him. Scattered evidence has linked the
financed opposition groups in
for Democracy. Last August, twice-elected Chavez won a referendum on
his rule, which was largely organized by groups that receive funds
leader, accusing him of undermining democracy. CIA Director Porter
Goss recently said that Chavez "is consolidating his power by using
technically legal tactics to target his opponents and meddling in the
"Assassination an option"
Chavez explicitly said that the
assassination as one of the options to get rid of him. "They know they
cannot stage a coup d'etat, they know that there is no Pinochet here
because we have generals, commanders and soldiers who are patriots,
and who will not bend their knees before the U.S. empire, they know
that there is a people with conscience which they will not be able to
confuse through the media they control." he said.
"They know that the latest polls give Chavez a 70% approval rating.
They know that in the upcoming 2006 elections, Chavez is
undefeatable," he continued.
"They failed with the coup, with the economic sabotage... they know
the Bolivarian project advances victorious in the social arena, they
know the impact of the missions (social programs), they know how the
economy is growing, that we are recovering our economic sovereignty,
and they know that
gas. They know all that," he added.
The leftist president cited the resolution of the recent diplomatic
leader, as an example of the
Chavez during the dispute, a request that was either ignored or
in spite of their pressures and their attempts at blackmailing, they
will not be able to isolate
Latin America and the
Chavez hinted at a continent-wide rebellion in case he is
assassinated. "As a group of Latin American workers and indigenous
leaders told me recently, 'if something happens to you, we, who are
making an effort here to push our forces through democratic channels,
will assume that those rules no longer apply.'" Chavez assured Bush
that he did not wish for that to happen, for President Bush's own good
and for the good of the
flame will not only arise in
The leader said that "
an invasion to
killing Chavez, there will be a popular rebellion, the Marines will
Forces will accept the invasion. They are wrong on that," he said.
to patrol its jungle and its borders, where Colombian insurgents
Counting on revenues from high oil prices and an explosive economic
growth, the Venezuelan government recently approved the purchase of 40
helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles from
propeller-powered "Tucano" light attack planes from
that has been seen as a preparation against a possible attack or
attempts at destabilizing
soldiers during confrontations with Colombian irregular forces,
frequent kidnappings near the Colombian border, the discovery of a
Colombian paramilitary camp in
government as a justification for the arms purchase to renew
Chavez also threatened with the interruption of the flow of oil to the
Bush can forget about Venezuelan oil... Forget about it Mr. Bush," he
said. "Here in
is no fatherland for anybody."
Preparing the terrain
He accused the
away, they start by preparing the terrain of their internal public
opinion, one of the things that worries them the most. Look at the
him of having chemical weapons, accusing him of being a menace, by
presenting evidence that resulted to be false, to justify the
aggression. That way, when the launch the attack, they obtain the
support of a big part of their internal public opinion. Almost all
media in the country support them... they look for allies in
from the U.N., they start preparing the terrain, and their current
aggression are part of this campaign."
U.S. right-leaning news network Fox News, recently ran a series titled
"The Iron Fist of Hugo Chavez," in which Chavez is portrayed as a
dictator who uses violence to stay in power, and invests the country's
oil revenue in weapons, instead of helping the poor.
frequently refer to Chavez as a "strong-man," in spite of his multiple
electoral victories certified by foreign observers.
Chavez went on to enumerate recent comments by
characterizing him as a menace, which he and other officials describe
as an intervention in the internal affairs of
State Condoleezza Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, Deputy Secretary of State Robert
Zoellick, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc
Grossman, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and CIA director Porter Goss,
have made public statements criticizing Chavez.
He said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is trying to
personalize the conflict. "They do not address the Venezuelan
government, but just Hugo Chavez, in order to personalize the
conflict. She said that Hugo Chavez is a threat for the continent, for
democracy and for peace," Chavez added.
"Instability would only come from Washington"
With regard to CIA Director Goss' recent characterization of Venezuela
as a "potentially unstable country in 2005," Chavez said that given
the economic growth of Venezuela, which economy expanded by 17.3% in
2004, any instability that may occur is being planned by Washington.
"He [Goss] acknowledged that the Venezuelan president is consolidating
his power by using technically legal tactics to target his opponents
and meddling in the region."
According to Chavez, two years ago Bush, using the excuse of fighting
terror, gave the CIA once again a green light to kill anybody
"wherever, and whenever, like Agent 007, even world leaders who are
considered a threat," he said.
"Don't make the mistake Mr. Bush, of ordering my assassination,
because you will regret it. Be assured that this people will make you
regret it. Not only this people, but many others around the world,
because the time of cowards is over, Mr. Bush, because in this era we
are living, peoples are rising everywhere, and there is no imperialism
however powerful they are or believe they are, that could stop the
awakening of the peoples that is occurring at the beginning of the
21st century," he added.
The Venezuelan leader has criticized
throughout the world, and its alleged lack of commitment to policies
that would prevent radical environmental changes. Today he went on to
the death of the world, but are executing it. They are killing the
world, our world, and our grandchildren's world ," he said.
some analysts and politicians. U.S. Democratic Senator Christopher J.
Dodd recently hinted that the Bush administration was unnecessarily
straining bilateral relations with
hearing of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Dodd urged her to
take a more moderate tone with Chavez "This is an important
relationship, it's important in the hemisphere. We need to work at
it," Dodd said. Rice had said that the government of
negative force in the region.
Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee hinted at Secretary Rice that it
might be hypocritical for the
democratically elected ones such as Chavez. He highlighted Chavez's
recent victory at a recall referendum. Chafee told Rice, "It seems to
me to say derogatory things about him may be disrespectful to him, but
also to the Venezuelan people." Rice denied making derogatory comments
about Chavez, who in turn has called her "illiterate" when it comes to
to the Venezuelan people and the recall referendum.
Some observers characterize the current
misguided, and too centered on
envoy to Latin America Otto Reich, have been accused of giving the
be able to maintain a constructive relationship, it is absolutely
necessary and imperative to respect the sovereignty and the right to
self-determination of other countries," Rodriguez said.
PMBComentario: ¿De que hablara el "Comandante Fausto" al Consejo Permanente extraordinario que hizo convocar para la próxima semana?
Me imagino que usa la excusa de una intervención en la OEA para hablar con gente en Washington del tema petrolero (recuerden que fue Presidente de PDVSA y de la OPEP, además de guerrillero en los 60 y canciller hoy en día). Se comenta insistentemente en la ciudad que tanto Patton Boggs como Collier & Shannon, lobbystas respectivamente del gobierno y de PDVSA, le han informado al gobierno que de tanta habladera de pendejadas por el mundo la gente de Washington decidió hacer algo para destetarse del petróleo venezolano. La semana pasada, Ali Moshiri, Presidente de ChevronTexaco para América Latina, hizo una ronda por Washington en nombre del Gobierno (de quien es favorita esta empresa) explicando y asegurando - a quien quisiera oírlo - que Venezuela no tiene intención alguna de cortar el suministro petrolero y mucho menos sustituir a EE.UU. por China como mercado principal. Es obvio que la acción del Senador Lugar les mando un claro mensaje a los irresponsables en Caracas de que se pasaron y ya basta de tanta amenaza. De hecho creo sorpresa y pánico la carta que envío el poderoso Senador al General Accountability Office solicitando un estudio completo sobre el suministro petrolero de Venezuela. Obviamente la revolución - roja - de Chávez es "bonita" solo si tiene como vestirse de verde dólar.
Ahora, como para ir a la capital del "imperio terrorista" ha tenido que usar el "cover" de una presentación al Consejo Permanente de la OEA hay que asumir que dirá algo ahí. Imagino que será menos gritón e insultante que los cancilleres anteriores - hombres que carecían de la seguridad, madurez y soltura de Rodríguez -pero si dejara claro que están siendo objeto de una persecución implacable de los EE.UU. y quizás repita que si algo le ocurre a Chávez es culpa de George W. Bush. Ya Fidel Castro, amigo y entrenador de Rodrigues desde los 60 adelanto esta versión "cubanoide" de la realidad. Pero ojala que haya algo mas interesante, pues el Sub-secretario Zoellick ya se encargo de desenmascarar la estrategia al decir que "Chávez busca convertir esto en una lucha entre David y Goliat"...distracción que por patética y trillada no merece mas comentario. PMB
PMBComment: convoluted indeed…but it does contain a small splattering of half-truths*. With the underlying problem between
PS: on the matter of
Council On Hemispheric Affairs
Venezuela-Colombia Crisis: Where was
February 16th, 2005
By: Gabriel Espinosa-Gonzalez—COHA
Bush Administration Should be Embarrassed as Brazil, Peru and Cuba Help Broker Compromise while U.S. Policymakers, led by Noriega, try to whip Colombia into a Frenzy
• Washington’s Latin America policy continues to be afflicted by a severe case of short-sighted tunnel vision that makes it unlikely that the many ruptures with hemispheric nations that developed in Bush’s first term will be mended during his second term.
• U.S. policymakers’ failed attempts at isolating Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez from the rest of Latin America as a result of a diplomatic crisis between Venezuela and Colombia—which was resolved on February 15—sullies Washington’s already tarnished image and constitutes a serious misappraisal of the prevailing diplomatic atmosphere throughout the region.
• The total dearth of effective and positive
• The severity of the now mended crisis between Venezuela and Colombia can be attributed to the fact that it concerned two issues of utmost importance for each country’s respective president: Chávez’s mobilization around the issue of national sovereignty on the one hand, and the integrity of President Alvaro Uribe’s war of attrition against guerrilla forces operating in his country on the other.
• Ultimately, diplomatic assistance provided by other Latin American governments, in conjunction with bilateral economic pressures, encouraged both sides to arrive at a resolution yesterday in which Caracas agreed to resume bilateral trade and economic projects and both governments committed themselves to cooperate on border security issues in such a way as to guarantee that “sovereignty is not affected.”
The Bush administration’s counterproductive and unfortunately predictable response to the severe diplomatic crisis that erupted in January between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, reaffirms that Latin America’s leadership cannot count upon Washington to serve as a stabilizing, mature and positive force in the region. The Bush administration’s decision to unequivocally and enthusiastically side with Bogotá, even before the details of the dispute could fully be examined, and its call for other Latin America leaders to join it in isolating Chávez—many of whom see Washington, not Caracas, as their main regional nemesis—was transparently Machiavellian in its intent. The administration’s demarche also was grossly unsuccessful since it subsequently went unheeded. Instead,
The abduction in Caracas and later delivery to Colombia of Rodrigo Granda of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) on December 13, which precipitated the diplomatic row between Venezuela and Colombia, led officials from both neighboring countries to swap charges with the other regarding violation of national sovereignty on the one hand, and neglect of and even collusion with guerrilla activities on the other. Despite Colombian Minister of Defense Jorge Alberto Uribe’s insistence that
When it finally was established that Granda’s capture in
A Wasted Opportunity
With the dispute between Venezuela and Colombia escalating to a level far beyond that of a simple diplomatic spat, the Bush administration had a unique opportunity to begin to make amends for its mostly unilateral, arrogant and, at best, neglectful first-term Latin America policy. With Chávez and Uribe—respectively the Bush administration’s nemesis and staunchest ally in the region—involved in a serious confrontation that appeared to require third-party mediation, Washington should have offered to help broker an agreement between the two countries rather than pour vinegar on an open wound. A conciliatory policy, as previously followed by U.S. ambassador to Caracas William Brownfield, could have proved highly beneficial for the Bush administration’s stained reputation, as it would have exhibited a newfound willingness on its part to serve as a constructive force in the region at a time when a new generation of left-of-center leaders in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay had come to the fore. Moreover they demonstrated themselves to be inherently wary of
Furthermore, such a move would have entailed very little political cost because regardless of how the dispute was eventually resolved,
Attempts Fall Flat
Old habits are always difficult to shed, and all the more so when the administration in power does not take kindly to constructive criticism or often admit and move to redress past mistakes. Instead of steering a course toward mutually beneficial and potentially a more successful diplomacy, the Bush administration’s policymakers reverted to their customary hard line, viewing Caracas’ dispute with Bogotá as just one more opportunity to further their goal of isolating Chávez within Latin America. One can argue, though, that considering
What transpired next was a concerted effort led by Noriega to attempt to line-up the rest of the region on
Noriega, in essence, implicitly admitted to his diplomatic miscalculation when in a February 4 interview on the publicly-funded U.S. overseas’ radio network, Voice of America, he lamented the fact that certain Latin American governments had decided to adopt an attitude independent of Washington (appropriately enough for the Bush administration’s low expectations for its diplomacy in the region, the day before this interview it was announced that Noriega would remain at his post during Bush’s second term). The Assistant Secretary blithely referred to these governments’ unwillingness to be party to Washington’s self-righteous confrontation with Chávez in a sanguine way, categorizing it as “a sort of fatigue among the countries in the hemisphere” that he hoped would soon pass. He promised to continue his Cold War-era inspired campaign, adding that
Latin American Initiative
With Washington’s contribution to placating the Venezuela–Colombia dispute consisting almost solely of barbs directed at President Chávez, other Latin American governments rose to the occasion. As Ambassador Wood and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher spoke of the need to pressure
Perhaps most surprising of all was
Uribe, careful not to embarrass Washington but at the same time trying to seve his own country’s authentic national interests, which are far from identical to those of the U.S., has kept Castro’s prominent role in the negotiations mostly under wraps, although he is known to be grateful for it. Chávez, of course, held no such qualms and on January 30, while participating in the World Social Forum in Brazil, thanked Cuba, Brazil and Peru for their assistance in resolving his country’s dispute with Colombia, referring to its leaders as “worried friends.” Castro’s decision to help mediate, though, was not based solely on altruistic intentions. In fact, not only does the manner in which the dispute was ultimately resolved provide the Cuban strongman with an honored place to hang his diplomatic hat, but more importantly, it also benefits Castro that Chávez, his closest hemispheric ally, has been able to maintain constructive relations with the rest of the region and come out of the incident with increased prestige. In any event,
Two Bulls Stand Down
To understand why the recent crisis between Venezuela and Colombia mushroomed into the most intense diplomatic dispute between the two neighbors in decades, one must first understand that it was primarily a confrontation between two men with very strong convictions and the wherewithal to defend them. Because the Granda affair dealt with two issues that both Chávez and Uribe consider as being of paramount importance to their respective nations and their hold on power, the dispute was able to escalate far beyond that of the usual diplomatic spat. Both presidents, despite subscribing to diametrically opposed ideological positions, share many similarities: both lead highly personalistic governments whose popular mandate is based on the fact that a majority of their constituents perceive them as strong and willful leaders who operate in ways that distinguish them from their predecessors.
This feeling is especially evident in
The Granda affair served to highlight abiding and contentious issues on both sides of the border, which to an extent precluded them from adopting a more conciliatory and proactive approach to resolving the ensuing crisis. Such a position could have allowed each leader to be perceived as weak and could potentially have risked undermining some of their sources of support. This reality exacerbated a situation that normally could have been resolved through the type of open face-to-face discussions that, in the months preceding Granda’s capture, had led to a noticeable improvement in Venezuela–Colombia bilateral relations. Following yesterday’s meeting between Chávez and Uribe, the latter acknowledged as much, stating that when future disagreements arise the approach should be “prudent” with “more direct communication” and less yellow journalism.
In the end, foreign mediation helped to induce both
This analysis was prepared by Gabriel Espinosa-Gonzalez, COHA Research Fellow.
February 16, 2005
Original source / relevant link:
Council On Hemispheric Affairs
PMBComment: earlier this week I sent you my commentary on Robert Zoellick’s confirmation hearing in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Below you will find the critical passages – from the unofficial transcript - referring to Latin America in general and
HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: NOMINATION OF ROBERT ZOELLICK TO BE DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN)
419 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING,
9:32 A.M. EST, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2005
…..at around 11:50 A.M.
SEN. LUGAR: Senator Dodd, I think you have another question.
SEN. DODD: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate your spending an extra couple of minutes. …..
….having just spent a few days in
So I wonder if you might give us some sense at all if you have at this point of when you think these matters may move along.
AMB. ZOELLICK: Well, first, Senator, I want to thank you for your support. I remember as we start the negotiations with Central America I called you, knowing of your strong interest in this, and I think we probably both feel that in addition to the economic opportunity given the suffering in that region and the lack of democracy, to finally have a moment where you have democracies with the Dominican Republic sort of struggling together is a moment you don't want to lose, so we have these cycles sort of we ignore, and then it goes downhill again. And as you and I know, there's difficulties in some of those countries, particularly
SEN. DODD: You bet.
AMB. ZOELLICK: I met just yesterday with the Guatemalan vice president. There is an issue that we need to remedy with
But, Senator, I'll give you 100 percent assurance I feel very strongly about trying to get these agreements done. It's very important for the economy of these countries, it's very important for democracy, and it's an important signal to the overall hemisphere, because we're, to follow on, we're negotiating -- we're very close with
SEN. DODD: And I hope you would as well, in conjunction with this -- and I mentioned earlier the question of these offset agreements and so forth -- there is a significant job loss that's occurring in the manufacturing sector in this country, and our concerns are that we're not being as strong about some of the highly developed countries that take advantage of us and the drain that's occurring in those areas. The message in both areas I think could be tremendously helpful.
Let me mention as well if I can very quickly the -- and, again, I know Senator Nelson raised this with you. But
And on the matter of Chavez in
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Dodd. Let me just follow through while you're here on the
AMB. ZOELLICK: Chairman, if you and Senator Dodd have a minute, I'd be pleased to give you a view of how I see the context of this, but it's up to you. I know you're --
SEN. LUGAR: Yes, please do.
AMB. ZOELLICK: Because I think -- and I did read closely the transcript, and I know from some of our conversations, one of the problems I see is there's always the issue du jour. So whether it be the Venezuelan oil or whether their rifles or so on and so forth. And at least in thinking about the region, I think one has to look in a little bit deeper context of what I think is going on, because I think one of the things that's going on is that one of the problems in Latin America is that sort of the upward mobility of many indigenous and poor people have been basically kept out of the system, because it's been corrupt, it's been oligarchic. It's basically rigged against the poor. And what I think we're seeing now is that the people who are on the margin of the traditional society -- the indigenous people, the poor -- are using some of the democratic openings, and they're saying, Look, I want my share. I want my piece of this. And I think it is critically important -- and I hope to work with you to do this -- the
Now, we can't do it for them, okay? And so part of this will be what combinations of trade agreements, what combinations of our democratic support, microlending -- a lot of it is creating the legal infrastructure, if people don't have basic property rights. I mean,
Now, bringing this to Chavez, I think what you're seeing happening throughout the region is there's a new Pied Piper of populism that's going on, so I would -- whether -- I don't look at it, Senator, as left to right, because the first person to do this was Fujimori. Okay? So I don't know, is he right or left
I think one of the challenges -- and I'd be pleased to talk with you further about your thoughts of this is that we need to work with the OAS and some of these other parties to try to say, Look, if we mean what we say about democracy and we want to try to help some of these people, we have to try to set some standards on this. Now, the reason I partly make this point is that I personally believe that Chavez sort of feeds off confrontation, and you know he wants to set this up as David and Goliath. And my own view is that what we can do effectively with him -- is we shouldn't be afraid to say when he's taking away liberties -- not at all -- and we should stand for that. But at the same time, we also need to stand for some of the people that created the resentments that he has been tapping, because frankly the Venezuelan governments of the past, whatever their party, they didn't serve the people. So part of what we need to do with the assistance that we have, with trade, with other programs, with exchanges -- I talked to Senator Alexander about maybe creating something new in this -- is that we need to be able to get ourselves associated with what we truly believe, which is helping those poor people have a chance. And so that's at least -- I, you know, wanted to give you some preliminary thinking about how I would approach the problem, but I think in the meantime we also shouldn't fool ourselves. You know, Chavez has done some terrible things, and we should say that. And, in the meantime, we should try to help those, frankly -- I'm sure you visited
So I apologize for going on, but I know the senator has -- both of you have the strong interest in this. And I just want to give you the context at least in which I would be approaching these issues.
SEN. LUGAR: I think we appreciate very much your taking this time. That was a very important statement, I believe, and one which we have a lot of common feeling and ability to work together. But I appreciate especially the thought we need to identify with the poor who are outside the spectrum, because whether it is the countries you mention, or even Bolivia comes to mind as a dramatic case in which a good number of people who are outside the pale of government could create extraordinary dilemmas for governments at all, and even if this is not at the forefront of the interests of the press or some in even this committee, why it's important to those who are following Latin America, and the senator from Connecticut has been the foremost among the members of this committee for a long time in doing that.
SEN. DODD: Mr. Chairman, I thank you. Well, I can't thank you enough for that statement. That's the most encouraging statement I've heard about Latin America in a long, long time, and I'm really heartened to hear you say what you did, and I look forward to working with you on this as well, and I certainly don't disagree that where people do things we disagree with we ought not be shy. We get the legitimacy of saying that if we're doing both. That's all you're doing. Then it becomes -- it doesn't work, you know? And Chavez shows up in
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Dodd. Let me just mention also the mention of Hernando
…end of references to LA, please contact me if you are interested in the entire transcript of this hearing.
Senator Richard Lugar’s opening remarks:
SEN. LUGAR: (Gavel.) This hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is called to order.
The committee meets today to consider the nomination of Robert Zoellick to be deputy secretary of State. Ambassador Zoellick has served the last four years as President Bush's
American credibility in the world, progress in the war on terrorism, and our relationship with our allies will be greatly influenced by the effectiveness of the State Department in the coming years. The department functions best when it has the benefit of a talented and experienced deputy secretary who is trusted by the president, the secretary of State and the Congress. Ambassador Zoellick is highly qualified to meet this challenge. He will bring to his new job not only the experience in international affairs which he has gained as our trade representative, but also intimate working knowledge of his new responsibility at the State Department.
Under the first President Bush, Ambassador Zoellick served as undersecretary of State for Economic and Agricultural Affairs, as well as counselor to Secretary of State James Baker. During that time, he played a major role in many important developments across the globe. He was a senior official at the Two-Plus-Four talks, which helped bring about German unification. He was the lead State Department official involved in launching the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. He played an important role in the State Department's efforts to bring peace to
Ambassador Zoellick has also displayed an excellent capacity to work with Congress. In 1991, he, along with other officials from the first Bush administration, spent many hours briefing Congress on what was then called fast track authority to enable the president to negotiate trade agreements. However, years later, as the
I'm pleased to note that he has worked also with Congress to expand the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which I introduced, and to pass the Vietnam Trade Agreement, and the free trade agreement with
The committee expects that Ambassador Zoellick will bring to the deputy secretary's job the same energy and hard work he has devoted to his role as our chief trade negotiator. In four years, he's successfully negotiated free trade agreements with
The issues involved in the Doha Round, particularly the goal of changing the current worldwide system of agricultural subsidies, are very significant, but also very sensitive for the
During the last four years, the Foreign Relations Committee has enjoyed a close relationship with Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, who has been a good friend to the Congress, and appeared before us many times. He testified on many of the most critical policy topics, including
Ambassador Zoellick, we welcome you to the committee, we look forward to a dialogue that will illuminate your thoughts on the direction of the