26.6.16

That most insolent democracy...


The world at large is incensed. Livid. F%&£ pissed off. Imagine the Brits. The bloody Brits, or Little Englanders as they are now commonly known. They have dared to vote against the grain, against integration, against Christine Lagarde, Barack Obama AND The Guardian! The nerve... Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!! No joda! El coño de su puta madre con los ingleses!

Brexit's what you get when you let democracy stand in the way of the grand diktats, the Master Plan, of the PC, progressive, metropolitan, über educated brigade. "How come my vote and that of a chronically unemployed person carries the same weight?" I heard a distinguished-looking Remainer express in utmost indignation in a pub in chic Primrose Hill. Racism works only when Little Englanders decide to exercise their inalienable right to self determination, you see? The Guardianistas know better than anyone else, you dear reader included, what's in everyone else's best interest.

If an alien had landed from Mars on Friday, it could be forgiven for thinking that life in the British Isles started in 1973. For it was only after acceding to the European Economic Community that the United Kingdom's history started. Forget its rich and illustrious history. Forget the days of Empire and Magna Carta. Forget British idiosyncrasy and their sheer irreverence. Forget also their sense of fairness. Forget Britain's cultural, scientific, political, social, financial, military, academic and democratic additions to human knowledge. None existed. Ever. Eccentricity never took root in these lands. Europeans aren't, all of them, crying Heil Führer every morning because of the resolve, alliances, ingenuity and grit of Brits and Americans. No. They are the free bunch they are today thanks to that Luxembourger architect of one of the world's largest tax avoidance schemes and his sidekicks.

The experts... Where should I start with them? For almost 17 years I have been hearing "the experts" say that Hugo Chavez is the best thing to have happened in Venezuela. The same "experts" have been diligently affirming that Fidel Castro is the best thing to have happened to Cuba, after all he created one of the "world's best health system". Their knowledge reaches every corner of the world. From China to America (Yanks also riled them when they voted -twice- for W). They sit in Islington, or somewhere in the City, yet they know better than any Arab, Latino, African, Indian or a New Yorker what's in their best interest. Racism does not get any more omniscient than this.

I never thought I would see the day, to be honest. Being a radical anti chavista earned me the enmity of "the experts" a long time ago. I thought it was just something reserved to little indians and brown people born far away, like in Venezuela for instance. But no. Oh no. Born and bred Brits get exactly the same treatment by sophisticated types. Their voices don't count. That Brexit result? Invalid. Not binding. Irrelevant. Useless. "Let's have it again" they say. "A second referendum is needed". Venezuela is the laughinstock of the Americas because its government is contesting electoral results reached by the people, by the majority. Well, who would have guessed that the whole world's establishment is behaving pretty much like Nicolas Maduro, with respect to the choice voted by the majority of the British people?

Jamie Dimon and George Osborne (Reuters).
David Cameron is to go (a Brexit bonus). To be frank, he can't soon enough. Hopefully he'll take that odious and wretched Chancellor with him. I am sure Jamie Dimon will offer them a juicy package. There's also Lagarde, or a cosy half a million quid role in some multilateral or quango where they can continue applying their "expertise" on a part-time consultancy basis. Alas the political situation isn't getting any better. There's fratricide going on at the nasty people's party, while Labour is led by someone infatuated with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

Brexit will not only allow this country to get free from any constraint imposed by the likes of Juncker, Merkel, Rajoy, Iglesias, etc. It will also, hopefully, flush away some of its indigenous political turds.

The British people, however, I am willing to bet the farm on them. I am willing to see what they come up with, how their "keep calm and carry on" nonsensical approach moves this country away from the Armageddon forecasted by "the experts". Self interest of French, German, Polish, etc. impresarios, workers and politicos will prevail, and sooner than you can say Brexit they'll be queueing to carry on and keep their favourable trade balance with the UK (in deficit in most EU-countries cases).

The world didn't end. I can still see the gliterrati happily drinking in London's fashionable areas. City bankers will find new ways. Dodgy money will keep flowing, probably more so after Brexit. George Soros likely made another pile shorting the Sterling... But this country, in my opinion, gave a lesson, another rather, to the world: Brits do things in their own unique way; Brits do not take orders; elegant irreverence is in their nature; no one should have the temerity to think that it knows better than an Englishman what's in his best interest. It may work with Russians, Chinese, Cubans or Venezuelans. With Greeks even. It worked with the Turks, with a little €6 billion bribe. Not with the Brits, who at the first opportunity gave two fingers to "the experts", to their racism, scaremongering and hatred.

The Brexit outcome was evident, to this foreigner at least. But then again, what do I know right? I am the guy who spent the last 17 years opposing that most wonderful revolutionary called Hugo Chavez, according to "the experts" the best thing to have happened in Latin America since Che Guevara...

4.1.16

My beef with #DerwickRamosAllup

Some folks are calling it a triumph of politics. Others are singing the praises of a politico whose greatest achievement, to date, is to have outmaneuvered a bunch of green, hapless politicians that are totally unaccountable to their constituents. And yet others are just fawning. In Venezuela's absolutely destitute and desperate society, even people who should know better are happily spreading the HenryPonlesunParao hashtag...

My beef with Henry Derwick Ramos Allup is quite simple. About two weeks after some chavista thugs broke into my flat, in London, to steal my laptops and to leave pictures of my daughters to terrorise and silence me, Mr Ramos Allup thought fitting to use his position, as Secretary General of Acción Democrática, to attack me, claiming (highlighted in picture):
...blogueros delincuentes prófugos de la justicia nacional e internacional por delitos de narcotráfico, atraco, violación y lesiones...
Translation:
...delinquent bloggers, wanted by local and international justice for drug trafficking, assault, sexual abuse and injuries...
Though Ramos Allup did not mention it explicitly, every one knew he was referring to me. Why would Ramos Allup write that I was allegedly wanted for drug trafficking, etc.? What was the basis, where was the evidence?

Ramos Allup had been fed highly defamatory, and totally spurious, claims about me. The source of those claims, which Ramos Allup presumably had no reason to question, was his own family. For it has to be said and repeated, loud and clear, that Henry Ramos Allup, newly elected president of Venezuela's Congress, is the brother in law of Francisco D'Agostino, one of the Associates at Derwick. Henry Ramos Allup is married to Diana D'Agostino, Francisco's sister. The patriarch of the D'Agostino family is Franco: one of the most corrupt contractors of the period now known in Venezuela as "la cuarta republica", i.e. the 40 years that preceded Hugo Chavez's election.

 

I challenged Ramos Allup to show evidence of his claims, and I am -still- waiting for a reply. Ramos Allup loves to claim that his use and command of the Spanish language is "impeccable", and yet, he wrote a libellous piece that does not contain a single shred of verifiable evidence, admitting that it was based on an anonymous report that he had received in an unmarked envelope. So here we have, the incoming Chair of Venezuela's Congress attacking innocent people on the basis of anonymous reports received from unknown sources.

In his utter chutzpah, Ramos Allup even claimed that he knows what has gone on with media acquisitions in Venezuela (first exposed here, and here), going as far as saying that those selling may have problems explaining source of funds when trying to get them out of Venezuela. He even mentions a Portuguese bank where Derwick has stashed some of its ill gotten money. Surely, he must have issued similar warnings over the years to his brother in law and father in law, right?

Is this the kind of politico that will get the new Congress to put a stop to rampant corruption in Venezuela? I shall wear as a badge of honour that both outgoing Chair of Congress #narcodiosdado and incoming Chair #DerwickRamosAllup have blocked me on Twitter, for in my view corruption has no political colour, it's like human rights and it admits only one stance: for or against.

20.12.15

Roberto Rincon arrested in Houston for money laundering

The news in the Venezuelan Twitter sphere last night was the arrest in Houston (unconfirmed by official sources as of this writing) of Roberto Rincon and Abraham Shiera.

Journalist Casto Ocando said on Twitter that Rincon had been arrested for money laundering in association with Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), adding that members of a "Homeland Security's elite unit of financial of crimes had been investigating Rincon for years" prior to his arrest.

Sources consulted confirmed, extra officially, that Rincon and Shiera had indeed been arrested.

Journalist Cesar Batiz did a thorough profile on Rincon and his business empire.

Further leaks to this site reveal an interesting detail: right after Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Aruba by the DEA, Rincon (an long time partner of Carvajal) started traveling on a diplomatic passport, no 0841947189, as shown in picture (below). Furthermore, when Dutch authorities in Aruba decided to release Carvajal, (since 2008 in OFAC kingpins list for "materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a narco-terrorist organization") on some technicality (more on pressure from chavista regime) Rincon's plane (N9GY) took Carvajal back to Venezuela.


And who do we see, as a regular passenger since Feb 2010 of Rincon's N9GY jet? None other than Abraham Shiera, also arrested with Rincon. For a backgrounder on both Rincon and Shiera (and other respected members of the chavista Boliburgeoisie) and their virtual spin doctor of choice, Setty has a thorough investigation here

Venezuelan immigration records show Rincon and Shiera using a fleet of N-plate jets for their travels: N999GY, N91GY, N9GY, N723AA, N200CV, N604RR, N112WJ, N840TC, N713SA, N900DL, N727AT, N556HJ, and N245MS. Lots of trip between Maracaibo and Bogota, Aruba, Panama, Ft Lauderdale, and Miami.

8.12.15

#speechless

Still trying to come to terms with the enormity of what happened in Venezuela a couple days ago. Still difficult to believe that a bunch of thugs, otherwise knows as chavismo, with so many skeletons in their closets, with so much to lose, with their immediate freedom in great peril, sort of gave up, conceding an election. An election, in Venezuela, just like that.

Now I'm on the record, railing against the fairness and transparency of what's come to be known as the "world's best electoral system." I am perhaps the Venezuelan blogger that has written more on the topic. My investigation into the way in which Smartmatic came to be the provider of choice for electoral processes in Venezuela started sometime in 2004, and is still ongoing. The website I created and used to run, vcrisis.com, published in 2006 perhaps the first ever audit, in English, of Venezuela's electoral roll. In 2007, Hugo Chavez thought he would become Emperor of Venezuela. He proposed such far ranging amendments to the constitution, that even his own followers turned their backs and didn't back it up. We are still waiting for the final results of that vote, the only one Chavez ever lost. In August 2004, there was a recall referendum on Chavez's stay in power. After years of negotiations between opposition parties' representatives, government and international mediators, Venezuelan electoral authorities announced, in the early hours of the morning as it has become norm, that Chavez had won by an almost 20% margin. No one checked that results announced were correct. No one could. As a matter of historical fact, no observer, international or otherwise, was allowed to witness the final tally. Opposition representatives did not have a clue of what was happening within the bowels of the Ministry of Elections. Carter Center and OAS representatives fucked up, big time, in safeguarding ballot boxes in the places where they were stationed, and in further guaranteeing that the joke of an audit conducted three days after was done properly. In 2005, an opposition technician showed during an audit in front of international observers that the secrecy of the vote was compromised. Another audit, of the electoral roll organized by the electoral body, ended up concluding that the roll simply wasn't fit for purpose.

All of that hung in my mind, like a hanged body. Like something you just can't ignore when trying to inform a decision on whether the electoral, under such circumstances, was ever to become a viable solution to get rid of chavismo's power stranglehold. I became an advocate, and wrote countless words about how the opposition, armed with nothing but current legislation, should demand conditions, as dictated by law. I railed against the opposition, endlessly, for accepting the unilateral, and illegal, imposition of unfair electoral conditions. Time and time again I argued what I thought was only fair, and self evident.

So count me among those who were skeptical about elections in Venezuela, among those who denigrated an opposition leadership that never stood up for our electoral rights. But then Sunday happened (6D). With all of the above, against a State that bracenly used all power available to it, legal and otherwise, Venezuelans voted massively against chavismo, against the hunger, violence, misery and, above all, against the hardship that chavismo has unleashed like a curse on Venezuela. I will be hated for this, but I will call it a punishment vote (voto castigo). Venezuelans, chavistas or not, voted against chavismo. The monumental clusterfuck that Venezuela has become is chavismo's, and chavismo's only, legacy. But within it, in its defined political context, I admit I was never expecting such a quick, zanahoria, give up. People with so much at stake aren't supposed to give up without a proper fight. In all honesty I never thought this would happen, and oh have I been proved wrong!

As some people heard my rants against electoral authorities, I heard an endless stream of arguments against the opposition's lack of a program, a manifesto, a plan: "you can't beat chavismo without a plan... you have to win hearts and minds... warm up to chavistas so they vote opposition..." and on, and on. Well, it wasn't the opposition. It was all chavismo, and THEIR plan. It was THEIR utter destruction of every fabric of Venezuelan society which pushed the majority to the opposition's arms.

Still speechless, but tremendously happy and slightly hopeful, I am eager to keep being lectured, and proved wrong, for that'll mean further steps towards a democratic, peaceful and progressive Venezuela for all. There are gargantuan problems ahead: corruption being, in my opinion, the most important. As I write this, there's already talk about Henry Ramos Allup becoming President of the new Congress. I don't think a man like him should even be considered as worthy of that kind of responsibility, and that's what makes me a lifetime-member of the opposition. But for now, I can only be grateful towards my compatriots.

15.9.15

Chavista propaganda brings disrepute to Foreign Policy

Got late to the party, must admit. The discussion at hand is -yet another- exhibit of yellow journalism, this time by the otherwise reputed Foreign Policy magazine.

In short, a propagandist of the Maduro regime was caught, as we say, "cagando y sin papel". Before anyone thinks that my use of the term propagandist is inaccurate, or unfair, here we have Mr Rob Lovato, described as a "writer and scholar", who does not find relevant to disclose to publications that presumably commission jobs to him, to reveal professional relations that bring unavoidable conflicts of interests.

So let's say that the editors of Foreign Policy got a "profile" of Leopoldo Lopez (Vzlan opposition leader recently condemned to nearly 14 years imprisonment) from Mr Lovato. Given that the piece was meant to have been "reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, with support from the Puffin Foundation", one must presume that necessary editorial consideration was given to the facts presented by all editors involved.

After publication, information about Mr Lovato's professional relations with TELESUR surfaced. To those who may have missed it, TELESUR is a Pan-American, Venezuela-funded, chavista "news" channel, as trustworthy and objective as Putin's Russia Today. It remains to be seen whether Lovato disclosed to Foreign Policy and The Nation that he had been previously contracted by TELESUR to do some programs, and later produced the "profile" on Lopez.

According to Lopez's lawyers and Pedro Burelli (mentioned throughout Lovato's piece) the article contains several inaccuracies, which Foreign Policy seems to be aggregating as "clarifications and corrections" at the end of the article.

But now we know that Lovato has been taking cues from Venezuela Information Office propagandists in Hugo Chavez's employ since, at least, September 2007, when Mr Lovato was a writer for New America Media and The Nation, and was being asked by chavistas to, basically, "publish oped": read regurgitate propaganda.


The two images above come from FARA reports filed by the now-extinct Venezuela Information Office, a Venezuelan government-financed and Venezuelan embassy-managed "information office" run from Washington DC. Did Lovato ever disclose this to The Nation and Foreign Policy?

Chavistas are having a ball with U.S. media these days. Whether is Bloomberg, Forbes or Foreign Policy, it seems to be getting easier for sly operators to get past clueless editors that can't be bothered to apply a minimum of editorial rigour to demonstrably unsubstantiated BS.