19.12.08

HRW v Hugo Chavez et sycophants

It must be admitted, Human Rights Watch (HRW) ha puesto el dedo en la llaga. In the past months, HRW not only managed to enrage the 'democratic government' of Venezuela, with a report that prompted the unlawful expulsion from that country of its Americas Director, Jose Miguel Vivanco, but only a few days after, Colombia's President made a series of baseless 'allegations' against Vivanco, going as far as suggesting that he's a supporter of the narcoterrorist group FARC.

Vivanco's position reminds that of Romulo Betancourt: i.e. a man equally capable of levying harsh criticism to putschists on both extremes of the political divide, for, unless some may have failed history lessons, attempts on Betancourt's life were tried by right-wing and left-wing dictators alike. We no longer live in a time of towering moral figures, of presidents that get dictators expelled from the community of democratic nations, as Betancourt did with Trujillo once upon a time.

However that report, is making some 'intellectuals' fume, success in civil rights advocacy, after all, is not measured by friends' praise but by vitriol of foes. One of HRW's errs is that it cited this article of mine, as a source in their report. The 'intellectuals,' many of whom have been exposed as nothing more than paid propagandists of Chavez, allege that "minimal standards of scholarship, impartiality, accuracy, or credibility" were not applied by HRW in the production of the report. While in the subject of strict adherence to academic standards, a concept completely alien to some of them, they venture into saying: "this report ventures even further into the zone of unreliable sources and cites a mentally unstable opposition blogger as a source. (p. 20, footnote 30)." A remarkably 'accurate' statement no doubt, and one which they had surely arrived at after applying rigorous academic principles.

It is not lost that this collectivity of Latin American 'experts' are cheering for a military caudillo that has had no qualms in conducting coups, in ordering massive killings and imprisoning political opponents while it cuddles and protects internationally wanted terrorists and is deeply involved in regional destabilization, corruption and anti democratic practices.

I guess I must be onto something. Perhaps I should feel proud that, the 'world's leading intellectual,' and a group of 'preeminent figures' from the radical left, are lending their time, 'credibility and impartiality' to provide 'accurate' conclusions about my mental state.

10.12.08

60 Aniversario de la Declaracion Universal de Los Derechos Humanos

Todo comenzó en la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII. Por aquel tiempo, tanto Europa como los Estados Unidos (EEUU) estaban viviendo procesos políticos de gran significación. En ambos casos, diferentes sectores se habían rebelado contra el orden monárquico establecido.


En los Estados Unidos, se libraba por aquellos años la guerra por la independencia. Recordemos que los EEUU era una colonia de la corona británica. Luego de una encarnizada guerra entre colonos o patriotas y la Gran Bretaña, en el año 1776, los victoriosos patriotas americanos declaran su independencia (Declaration of Independence) del imperio británico. Aun cuando este manifiesto no constituía una declaración específica sobre los derechos humanos, si contenía elementos importantes sobre derechos, provenientes de la Declaración de Derechos de Virginia del mismo año (Virginia Declaration of Rights), estableciendo la igualdad entre los hombres (all men are created equal) y los derechos a la vida, a la libertad y a la rebelión, entre otros.


En Francia, debido a las circunstancias laborales imperantes y a los abusos de poder contra la población, el pueblo parisino se rebeló: la monarquía debía ser, no solo abolida, sino eliminada; los abusos debían cesar. Así, los representantes del pueblo, en asamblea nacional constituyente, decidieron promulgar, en 1789, la Declaración de los Derechos del Hombre (Déclaration des droits de l'Homme), documento que establecía la inalienabilidad de ciertos derechos, inherentes a todos los seres humanos.


“Todos los hombres nacen libres e iguales en derechos”. Así comienza dicho documento, que habrá de sentar las bases para todos los tratados futuros sobre la materia. “El fin de toda asociación política, es la conservación de los derechos naturales e imprescriptibles del hombre. Estos derechos son la libertad, la propiedad, la seguridad y la resistencia a la opresión”, versa el artículo segundo de la declaración. Como puede verse, se habla de libertad y seguridad como derechos imprescriptibles. La constitución francesa de 1791 reafirmaría la preponderancia de los derechos humanos como doctrina.


Se ha dicho que el contenido, del manifiesto francés de 1789, estaba de alguna forma relacionado con una ley aprobada en el parlamento inglés en 1689, la Declaración de Derechos y Libertades del Súbdito (Bill of Rights). No obstante, el establecimiento del derecho a la libertad no había sido incluido en la declaración inglesa, la cual también tuvo su origen en una rebelión en contra de la monarquía británica, que culminó en el establecimiento de una monarquía constitucional, sujeta a los designios de los representantes del pueblo en las cámaras alta y baja del parlamento inglés (House of Lords y House of Commons). De hecho, la aceptación de una versión anterior, a la aprobada por el parlamento inglés en 1689, condicionó la asunción del poder de los reyes William y Mary, cuando se les ofreció el trono en 1688. La Declaración de los Derechos del Hombre guarda mayor semblanza con aquella de Virginia, que decretó por primera vez los conceptos de igualdad e inalienabilidad de ciertos derechos humanos.


La universalidad de los derechos humanos se establecería al concluir otro conflicto de grandes proporciones: la segunda guerra mundial. En 1948, en Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, se proclamó la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos. La doctrina de los derechos humanos se fue ampliando a partir de esa fecha, pues a los derechos establecidos en 1948 se han ido sumando otros tratados de índole civil, política y de género, entre otros.


Solo cabe esperar que este dia sirva para afianzar la universalidad, inalienabilidad e imprescriptibilidad de los derechos humanos.

1.12.08

Cuba does not allow the Red Cross into its prisons

For those who, rightly so, denounce absence of due process, brutality and inhumane way in which prisoners are kept in Guantanamo Bay, please be certain to criticize, with same vehemence reserved to US and UK authorities, dictators Raul and Fidel Castro next door, for not allowing Red Cross representatives to visit Cuban prisoners, political or otherwise.


"In May 2007, the Cuban authorities informed the ICRC orally that it was still too early to consider the organization's renewed offer, made in December 2006, to visit security detainees."

This, from a country that chairs 'human rights councils' at the UN...

24.11.08

Hugo Chavez's XXI century socialist revolution on the wane

Venezuela awoke this morning to a distinctively different political landscape: Hugo Chavez has lost in the most populated areas of the country, namely Caracas, Miranda, Carabobo and Zulia. The loss of Caracas is all the more significant, considering against whom the chavista candidate lost: an old timer, from once powerful Accion Democratica party, Antonio Ledezma.

But it gets better. In a country where the large majority of the population is urban, historically concentrated in few big, densely populated cities, filled by poverty-stricken barrios, Hugo Chavez and his hand picked candidates have lost. The argument that he enjoys massive support among the poor has been shatered by the victory of Carlos Ocariz, from Primero Justicia, in Petare, arguably Latin America's biggest shanty.

So Chavez is no longer supported by the majority of the vote in the most populated areas of Venezuela, nor have his candidates ever won a single election in any of the country's universities, therefore his future, in light of sinking oil prices, looks very bleak indeed.

El rojo, rojito se esta lavando folks. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people for some time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

13.10.08

Fidel en su laberinto...

Desde hace mucho tiempo vengo pensando, como bien dice la frase que titula este blog, que un apóstata del libre albedrío, por razones de índole político o religioso, se niega a si mismo, ya que reniega de lo único que nos diferencia de las bestias, es decir, el raciocinio. La actitud de los chavistas, y de quienes en apoyo se dicen versados sobre nuestras realidades en países desarrollados, me llevaron a esta convicción.

Para mi sorpresa, una de las figuras mas veneradas por individuos que han adoptado la actitud descrita, Fidel Castro, dijo en una oportunidad:


"Creo que cuando al hombre se le pretende truncar la capacidad de pensar y razonar se le convierte de un ser humano en un animal domesticado".

En esa misma ocasión, Castro también dijo:

"Creo que esto es bien claro. ¿Cuáles son los derechos de los escritores y de los artistas revolucionarios o no revolucionarios? Dentro de la Revolución: todo; contra la Revolución ningún derecho".

Mismo día, misma perorata...

6.7.08

Gracias Ingrid

Gracias Ingrid. Gracias por ser. Gracias por haber hecho más por los derechos humanos, al tiempo de no dejar dudas del carácter anti natura de tus captores, que el conjunto de las organizaciones que denunciaban sin cesar al presidente de tu país. Gracias por poner a tu madre en su sitio. Gracias por demostrar la inutilidad de otorgar consideración a terroristas. Gracias por acabar con la carrera política de Piedad Córdoba. Gracias por someter al escarnio público a Hugo Chávez, a Rafael Correa, a las FARC y a sus fanáticos apólogos a nivel mundial. Gracias por demostrar cuán manipulable es la opinión pública mundial. Gracias por evidenciar cuán inescrupulosos, sesgados y mentirosos son los medios de comunicación. Gracias por haberle dado el golpe de gracia a las FARC. Gracias por ser colombiana. Gracias por haberte parado al lado del presidente de tu segunda patria, y haber significado tan patentemente su mezquindad y pequeñez política. Gracias por agradecer. Gracias por dejar en ridículo al conjunto de la izquierda progresiva, democrática y participativa, al probar cuán fatuas son sus actitudes y cuán carentes son de aptitudes. Gracias por el espaldarazo dado a la derecha. Gracias por aceptar que no hay futuro al lado de megalómanos militaristas y por asquearte por sus shows mediáticos. Gracias por afirmar que identificarse con una imagen del Che Guevara no es sinónimo de rebeldía, sino de terrorismo. Gracias por reconocer las virtudes de tu presidente, el que te batió en elecciones. Gracias por proveer a los demócratas de un arsenal de argumentos e ideas. Gracias por identificarte con la razón y el humanismo. Gracias por la ayuda. Gracias Ingrid.

28.6.08

The best definition of Venezuelan politics...

... comes from an article in the The Times about Zimbabwe:

Mugabe is not unpopular in Zimbabwe today because his Government has been autocratic and brutal. He is not unpopular because the minority (but substantial) Matabele tribe have been persecuted, killed and dispossessed by a governing party whose power base is among the Mashona majority. He is not unpopular because he and his wife are greedy and flaunt their wealth, or because corruption in his Government is widespread. He is unpopular because his administration is broken and there is nothing for ordinary people to eat.

Many Zimbabweans hunger not for liberal democracy, but for food. By corollary, much of Morgan Tsvangirai's power base is either an urban minority or among the minority tribes who have received a raw deal from the distribution of resources by Zanu (PF). They too, many of them, hunger not for liberal democracy but a turning of the tables. Unless we are careful, today's TV pictures may tomorrow be thrown into reverse, and we may watch those who were once in flight, now in pursuit; and those who were once in pursuit, now in flight; the iron bars having changed hands.
Change a few names and, voilá, the perfect definition of Venezuelan politics.

22.6.08

Seguid el ejemplo que Bolivia dio

Por razones ajenas a mi voluntad, no he podido asistir, como observador electoral, al referendo autonómico de Tarija que se celebra hoy. Estuve en el de Santa Cruz, seguí con mucho interés los de Beni y Pando, y tenía todas las intenciones y disposición de presenciar el de Tarija. Lo que está sucediendo en Bolivia es algo increíblemente esperanzador, por cuanto la oposición boliviana, formada por una coalición de gente excelsa, ha entendido que la única forma efectiva de impedir el avance del totalitarismo es el ejercicio responsable de la democracia.

El gobierno de Evo Morales ha tratado por todos los medios, legales e ilegales, con asistencia y recursos nacionales y foráneos, de parar el impulso autonomista promovido por iniciativa popular en los departamentos de la media luna boliviana. Afortunadamente su intento ha tenido el mismo éxito que su proyecto de refundación del estado. No obstante, no puede minimizarse la importancia de lo que está sucediendo en Bolivia.

En lo político, los prefectos están dándole una clase magistral a todos los movimientos de oposición democrática de América Latina. En ninguno de nuestros países, salvo en Colombia quizás, ha demostrado la oposición tal madurez y eficiencia a la hora de impedir que la maquinaria castro-chavista imponga su realidad monocromática. Aspiraciones presidenciales han sigo engavetadas por los líderes del movimiento autonomista. Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil han actuado en consecuencia con el movimiento que, sin duda, traerá mayor prosperidad a las regiones, con lo cual esta oposición no es del tipo venezolano por ejemplo, donde ningún líder, aparte de Chávez, tiene el "musculo" necesario como para llenar las calles.

Los prefectos de Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija, Cochabamba y Chuquisaca gozan de unos niveles de popularidad muy superiores a los de Evo. Al contrario del presidente, comandan tropa, democrática, no pagada con petro y narco-dólares.

El movimiento autonomista cuenta con varios factores que lo benefician. Una directora de la Corte Departamental Electoral de Santa Cruz me comentaba sobre el proceso manual de votación "es que nuestro sistema es tan rudimentario!". A lo cual respondí "denle gracias a Dios que aquí se vota así y no con maquinitas de Smartmatic que nadie audita, como en Venezuela, donde nunca se sabe si los resultados son reflejo real de la intención popular".

Aparte de eso los intentos constituyentes de Evo han sido un total y absoluto fiasco. Así, el ex dirigente cocalero no cuenta con la mayoría necesaria ni en el congreso, ni en el senado, ni siquiera en la asamblea nacional constituyente. Ni en El Chapare, donde recluta las fuerzas de choque y los Ponchos Rojos que moviliza por el país, cuenta con mayoría abrumadora.

La unidad, de propósito, de la oposición boliviana en su conjunto es ejemplar, por cuanto demuestra que si se puede, que si existen lideres que pueden dejar de lado agendas personales por el bienestar común, lo cual se traduce en masivo apoyo popular, en musculo democrático, en resultados rotundos a favor de la autonomía.

Tristemente ni en Venezuela, ni en Cuba, ni en Ecuador, ni en Brasil, ni en Nicaragua existe la madurez política entre dirigentes de oposición.

No es poco lo que está en juego en Bolivia, la expansión comunista y narcoterrorista, dirigida desde La Habana y Caracas, ha encontrado un obstáculo insalvable en ese país. Cuánta razón tienen los prefectos en tratar con desprecio a la OEA y su secretario general. Su lucha es admirable, su determinación inamovible.

Bien haría el conjunto de demócratas latinoamericanos en seguir el ejemplo que Bolivia dio.

15.6.08

US should lift embargo against Cuba

In the course of this year I have visited Cuba in two occasions. I have always felt certain attraction to the island, perhaps this was compounded by the fact that my grandmother was Cuban, from Caibarien. To be frank the initial feeling, upon spending the first few days, was one of utter disgust: at the civilized world’s conscious decision to ignore the plight for freedom of 11 million Cubans, who not only have had to endure a brutal dictatorship for half a century, but on top of it, the world’s ignominy. At times I wondered why, and couldn’t please my discomfort. What have Cubans done to deserve such ostracism? It’s as if they don’t exist, as if their voices don’t count, as if they belong for some cruel and deranged reason to a sub human category, whose rights can be disregarded and violated with total impunity. Human rights advocates the world over can't help themselves from attacking, and rightly so, the US for violating due process and rights of Guantanamo Bay's detainees. However not one word of criticism about what goes on in Castro's many jails is uttered. The estimated 100,000 Cuban prisoners, political and otherwise, can only dream about, for instance, the quality of the drinking water given to those held Guantanamo. Representatives of the Red Cross, for one, can not set foot in Cuban prisons.

The embargo has provided Castro with the perfect excuse to maintain his repressive dictatorship and gain much international sympathy, at times when anti-Americanism is gaining traction globally. The fact that 135 countries voted in favor of electing Cuba to the UN’s Human Rights Council in 2006 just goes to show how successfully Castro’s 'foreign policy' of tapping into the very deep pool of anti-US resentment has been.

The all-purpose blame-America formula has shielded the communist tyrant from criticism. Add constant propaganda with an effective information blackout --that works both ways-- and the end result is, internally, a population that is largely ignorant about their inalienable rights; externally, an international community unaware of what is taking place and reluctant to listen to perfectly legitimate criticism vis-a-vis the world's favorite dictator. It's a tragedy of monumental proportions, a humanitarian crisis, yet everyone acts as if nothing is happening in Cuba.

The US-imposed embargo should be lifted for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that its presumed intended purpose, that of isolating Castro and diminishing his capacity to maneuver internationally, has been an utter and complete fiasco. Contrary to what the gringos initially thought, the measure boosted Castro tremendously and provided him with the perfect guise with which to present himself as the underdog: the valiant David that keeps laughing in the face of Goliath. It's an incredibly cruel showcase of a policy that instead of damaging its target ended up being used as the culprit of all problems in Cuba, as propaganda organs and useful idiots have maintained since it became law. The collateral damage in this instance amounts to 11 million victims, a humanitarian cost far too high for keeping it in place. The US political establishment's stubbornness and unwillingness to accept its failure is no longer a valid excuse, even less so considering the increasing trade between the two countries.

Impressions of Cubans in Cuba are totally different to those of the expatriate community, mainly centered in Miami. Many people I spoke to in Cuba, not just regular folks but opposition and civil society leaders, see fitting that it is lifted immediately. In fact, Oswaldo Paya, Marta Beatriz Roque and Vladimiro Roca, for instance, have declared that the embargo should be lifted. Put this thought to the expat community though, or the Republican establishment, and one becomes a pro-Castro, Che-loving, communist in a matter of milliseconds. In this respect I think that it's rather easy to have such opinion, while not having to put up with its alleged consequences every minute of the day.

Remove the embargo-rug under Castro's feet, and Cubans will start thinking “hang on a minute, how come we’ve suffered this tremendous ordeal owing to the embargo, and it turns that it has been lifted and yet we continue living in hell?” The current restlessness is likely to expand like wild fire.

The US has an historic opportunity now: call upon Raul to negotiate an end to the embargo, whereby sanctions will be lifted provided a set of conditions --such as freeing all 300+ political prisoners, make recently signed civil and political rights treaties into law*, allow for free and transparent elections to take place, lift travel bans, etc.-- are met. The Cuban regime, still ruled by Fidelistas, is likely to refuse.

The US should lift the embargo nonetheless, making a lot of noise about it, for it stands to regain lost leverage, respect and credibility, putting its many critics to shame.

But more importantly doing so will unleash forces within Cuba that could well end up bringing the changes initially intended by the measure, which, most certainly, will force Raul's hand to open up much quicker.

*The contents of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights remain unknown to the Cuban population. The Castro brothers duped the international community about a democratization or liberalisation of sorts by announcing a series of half baked measures destined for foreign consumption. In reality nothing has changed internally: this year alone 22 dissidents have been arrested, 13 are in prison, condemned on trumped charges.

1.6.08

An encounter with Yoani Sanchez in Havana


Havana, 26 May 2008 | Much has been said about Cuban blogger extraordinaire, Yoani Sanchez. Her blog, Generacion Y, has caused quite a revolution, among opposition to and supporters of Castro's dictatorship alike. She recently was granted the important literary Ortega y Gasset prize. Furthermore, Yoani has also been named as one of the world's 100 Most Influential People, by TIME magazine. Little surprise then that I was going to make the most of my visit to Cuba and make the necessary arrangements to meet with her, to determine, on my own, whether what's been written is true or not. So we met in a cafeteria near her building, whose elevator marks in its floor dial two fives, two tens and the eleventh button took us up to the thirteenth, maybe so as to keep bad luck away. Her husband, writer Reinaldo Escobar, shared a few thoughts as well.

Yoani is just another example of a regular citizen, as she calls herself, having a tremendous impact in society, even here, in this beacon of repression and authoritarianism. She said that not once has she written the words democracy, human rights and freedom, though her blog is precisely about that. I had many question in mind, however the first one was:


- People are saying that you're a Cuban agent. What do you have to say about that?


- Yoani Sanchez (YS): Well, I have been accused of many things, but mainly I am perceived as been either an agent of Castro or a pawn of 'The Empire.' With regards to both I have the same approach, that is, I pay no heed to unsubstantiated gossip. I welcome people who come forth and debate ideas. However one must understand the reasons that prompt, both sides, to come up with such opinions. Those opposing this regime may feel threatened in a way, uncomfortable that I am doing something from here than most haven't dared. Clearly, this insecurity, or lack of imagination and resourcefulness if you will, has to be understood in its proper individual and collective dimension. Regarding accusations coming from the other camp, I guess they just proved my point by forbidding my trip to Spain to get the prize. It would have been awkward to travel there and face questions such as "Ms Sanchez, how do you reconcile your argument about lack of liberties in Cuba and the permission granted to you to travel to Spain?" Not only the regime proved me right, when I have argued that civil and political rights are systematically violated here, they've oxygenated me and my cause, and for that I am grateful. Reinaldo adds that some have argued that Yoani has been subject to manipulation. In his opinion, the moment anyone decides to abandon the privacy of its own life, by entering the public sphere, is subject to manipulation by the very exchange of ideas and debate.


- Do you honestly think the Castro brothers are as clumsy as that?


- YS: I applied for travel permission and mi visa wasn't granted based on a technicality, we think. Every Cuban living continuously outside the island for more than eleven months loses the Cuban nationality. Or so the law says. Upon return from living in Switzerland I decided to stay and communicated to the authorities that I had lost my travel documents. That placed me in a legal limbo: although born, raised and having lived all but two years of my life here I, technically, lost my Cuban nationality, which is the only one I have. Therefore it was not a surprise that the regime did not allow me to travel. Reinaldo and I took all the necessary steps to do so, we even alerted the authorities of the scandal that forbidding my trip would cause. The Ortega y Gasset prize and TIME magazine contributed to prove what we were arguing. However the regime would have none of it, the decision was taken at the highest level and not by some obscure bureaucrat.


- Why do you think that this decision was taken at the top?


YS: I reckon they fear that hanging out with other journalists, bloggers and media savvy people would have potentiated my communication abilities and, certainly, would have enhanced my network of contacts and the attention people are paying to my cause.


- So what's your cause?


- YS: I am all up for debate, for the creation of a space where Cubans and interested parties can debate about issues affecting us in a mature, respectful manner.


- But doing so could open a can of worms. You know in Venezuela someone created a website called noticierodigital.com and that platform became just that, a place where people of all walks of life ranted about bread and butter issues and politics. Its founder ended up selling, its new editor ended up quitting, mind you considering the difficulties you face to get online, how will you manage to keep the fanatics at bay and moderate comments?


- YS: funny you'd say that. The site has brought interesting things, among which a group of extraordinary collaborators that, from around the world, keep the peace in the comment section. I assigned them with three tasks: no copy paste is allowed, read not reprinting stuff from other places in order to benefit from the millions of visitors; no stealing of net-identities is allowed and moderators can not post comment for that would create a conflict of interests. Often I post something and the comment section derives onto discussions totally unrelated to my original article, though I like that, I enjoy debate as much as any true democrat.


- I read recently that you couldn't access the site and that it had been hacked.


- YS: the Cuban regime has many good hackers that's for sure. As per accessing the site from here I don't mind. We have developed a way to have my posts published regardless of hackers attempt and every few days I get sent a digest of comments and screenshots of the site so that I can keep track of it all. With the help of the citizen network that we have developed I will beat whatever they throw my way. Blogging is a totally new phenomena here and the regime does not know how to compartmentalize me, but I guess when they do I will be at risk as all other democrats.


- It strikes me that the reasons that prompt you to start your e-crusade are are very similar to those that prompted me. Do you feel represented by any of the political actors in Cuba?


- YS: no, I don't. The decision to start with this simply stemmed from my utter frustration at not having anyone raising the issues that bother me and a great deal of other Cubans. Mine is a citizen initiative. As I mentioned earlier I have never written the words democracy, human rights and freedom in my blog, however the lack thereof and the nonexistence of interlocutors commenting effectively what I consider relevant brought me to this (Reinaldo jokes saying how humble his beloved wife is).


- Talking of which, how many hits does your blog get?


- YS: In the course of this month it's gotten more than 9 million visitors.


- That's pretty good. However do you not think that the curve will eventually flatten out and people will lose interest, as is normally the case with blogs?


- YS: Indeed, undoubtedly articles in major newspapers, the Ortega y Gasset prize and TIME have contributed to the success of the blog. However none have done more to make it a
cause celebre as the decision of the regime of impeding my trip. Frankly I would have thought they were more clever.

- So what are you planning to do with
16,000 price money?

- YS: we are looking at possible ways to bring it.

- I understand the regime imposes a 20% 'fee' on all dollar denominated transactions.

- YS: yes, that's the case. Given that what I was awarded is in Euros is different though, but not easy.

- Lastly, how could other bloggers collaborate with you/your cause?

- YS: by linking to us; by making thoughtful and coherent comments; by spreading the news. Unfortunately Cubans in general are computer illiterates and is difficult for them to grasp the sheer power of internet. That is why most people don't understand what I am doing or how I do it. I wish more Cubans would start blogging but for that to occur IT-related handicaps need be overcome, and that's not easy considering restrictions imposed in that respect. In any case we are trying to educate others so blogging would become in Cuba a permanent feature, a means of democratizing citizen expression, as in the free world.

I left thinking that I had met two remarkable people. Regardless of the asphyxiating life conditions in Cuba, Yoani and Reinaldo are but two of many individuals here that demonstrate with every day deeds that no amount of repression can dissolve human beings intrinsic determination to live in freedom. For Yoani and Reinaldo are free, even in Cuba.

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16.5.08

Hugo Chavez: sponsor of terrorism

Quito 15.05.08 | INTERPOL just announced what has been a foregone conclusion: Colombia did not fabricate files and data contained in laptops of slain narco-terrorist Raul Reyes, killed in Ecuador on 1 March this year. Since, information contained in said laptops have led Colombian authorities to seize Uranium in Bogota and cash in Costa Rica. President Uribe’s all out eradication policy against drug dealing terrorists from FARC will likely be boosted, given the wealth of data, much of which points to Caracas. That Chavez has been in bed with Colombian narco terrorists is nothing new. What will become truly interesting is how President Uribe out-chavezes Chavez with the intel he’s got now: FARC top leaders move freely in Venezuela where they have presidential protection.

So what INTERPOL’s findings mean? It confirms that Chavez’s relationship with FARC has been, as many of us have maintained for years, close and deep. It shows that the Venezuelan caudillo, at the back of its constituents, has been arming, protecting, providing sanctuary, granting citizenship and using for political purposes members of an organization considered terrorist by 27 European countries, the USA and Canada. Chavez’s terrorist allies have killed, maimed, tortured and kidnapped Venezuelan citizens. For that he should be tried for treason, and sooner or later he, and his collaborators, will have to face justice.

INTERPOL’s conclusions also means that anyone who has collaborated, praised, apologized and distributed propaganda in favor of someone who aids and abets with terror is, by association, a supporter of terrorism. Readers sent emails to learn about my impression on Ken Livingstone’s defeat in London’s mayoral vote. And I was patiently waiting for INTERPOL’s report to be official, to say that London does not deserve a mayor who, by association, supports terrorism. Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, Lula, the Kirchners, Daniel Ortega and the Cuban dictatorship are also supporters of terrorism. Joe Kennedy, Bill Delahunt, Jose Miguel Insulza, Sean Penn, Piedad Cordoba, TransAfrica Forum, Larry Birns and his motley crew of associates, are equally guilty. From this day on, anyone openly siding with Chavez is, by association, a supporter of terrorism and should be treated as such by authorities and public opinion worldwide. The honey moon has ended.

10.5.08

La segunda muerte del Che Guevara

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 6 de mayo de 2008 | Che Guevara, el icono de los resentidos y revolucionarios del mundo, fue asesinado en La Higuera en octubre de 1967, no muy lejos de aquí. Aunque han pasado más de cuarenta años desde entonces, un proyecto de corte totalitario, dizque pro indigenista, que crea y exacerba tensiones raciales, acaba de ser asesinado, otra vez aquí. Algunos pensaran que los dos hechos no guardan relación. No obstante, históricamente este departamento ha tenido un rol preponderante en la política boliviana, y aun cuando solo tres Cruceños han logrado ascender al Olimpo político del país, no deja de ser cierto que actitudes e iniciativas emprendidas aquí han cambiado el panorama departamental y nacional. Así pues, la aprobación del estatuto autonómico el pasado domingo no solo constituye una bofetada a Evo Morales y sus patrones venezolanos y cubanos, sino que demuestra que el proyecto hegemónico conjunto no logra salvar obstáculos democráticos.

La maquinaria propagandística al servicio de los gobiernos de Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador y Cuba se encargo de crear una matriz de opinión, que le dio la vuelta al mundo: la guerra estaba a punto de comenzar. El ejercicio de la democracia a través del voto, sin duda, aceleraría el desenlace apocalíptico. Misiones dizque diplomáticas del gobierno boliviano fueron despachadas al organismo hemisférico a impedir, entiéndase bien, que los bolivianos expresaran su voluntad en las urnas, y no retornaron sin antes hacer las paradas consultivas respectivas en Caracas y La Habana. Vaya demócratas. En vista del fracaso diplomático, cambio la morfología del mensaje: ahora el referendo era “ilegal”, nótese el error conceptual, no inconstitucional sino ilegal. La prensa internacional si compro este concepto y lo repitió hasta la saciedad.

Periodistas del mundo acudieron a la cita, probablemente a reportar la “guerra” que se cernía en el departamento de Santa Cruz. A nivel interno Evo Morales se aseguro de fomentar la inestabilidad enviando a brigadas de “movimientos sociales” que se opondrían a la consulta. De igual forma, el jefe del ejército y algunos altos personeros de su gabinete llegaron al lugar.

Llego el domingo. Brotes esporádicos de violencia ocurrieron. En el Plan 3000, barrio habitado por 250.000 personas, grupos de radicales masistas robaron material electoral de dos centros de votación y destruyeron una efigie de la Virgen de Urcupiña. El altercado no duro debido a la rápida acción de efectivos policiales del Plan Cerco, dirigido por el coronel Ramiro Valdivia. La Corte Departamental Electoral repuso el material electoral, lo cual permitió que muchas personas votaran. No fue ese el caso en San Julián, donde grupos de facinerosos pro gobierno impidieron la votación en varios lugares, lo cual impidió que 46.000 bolivianos inscritos en esa circunscripción electoral participasen. Algo similar ocurrió en Yapacani. No obstante los sucesos, que en su conjunto no llegaron a afectar a más del 4% de los centros de votación, la jornada transcurrió en un clima de calma. No había bajas que reportar al final de la “guerra”, la única muerte anunciada, de Benjamín Ticona, no se produjo por ingesta excesiva de gases lacrimógenos sino por causas naturales antes de que comenzaran los disturbios, según declaraciones del ministro Alfredo Rada.

El espíritu guerrerista del Che fue asesinado por vez segunda en Santa Cruz, con el arma más efectiva que tiene la democracia: el voto.

Morales subvierte la democracia en Bolivia

Santa Cruz, 2 de mayo 2008 | Coincidí en el vuelo Miami – La Paz con el ex presidente de Bolivia Jorge Quiroga. Habiéndome presentado al iniciarse el vuelo, quede con el sabor amargo de no haber podido conversar con el largo y tendido sobre lo que está sucediendo en Bolivia, adonde me dirijo para realizar una observación del proceso del referéndum sobre el estatuto autonómico. No obstante, la suerte estuvo de mi parte. Se suponía aterrizaríamos en La Paz, para luego seguir a Santa Cruz de la Sierra, sin embargo, debido a condiciones atmosféricas poco favorables, niebla, el vuelo siguió hacia Santa Cruz, mi destino final.

Aproveche para sentarme al lado de Quiroga y hacerle todo tipo de preguntas. Note los libros que estaba leyendo: uno sobre Obama y otro sobre Chávez, de Bart Jones. Al respecto, y refiriéndose al libro de Chávez, me dijo "yo he hablado mucho con Chávez, pero hay que conocer bien al enemigo". Desde luego el ex presidente de Bolivia no es uno de los tantos fans que Chávez parece tener en Latinoamérica. Me dio la impresión que tiene un concepto claro de la crisis política venezolana y de lo que Chávez representa, habiendo sido víctima directa de la petro-diplomacia chavista.

Nuestra conversación se centro principalmente sobre el tema del estatuto autonómico y la constitución que Morales está promoviendo. El proceso boliviano se parece mucho al que se vivió en Venezuela con la llegada al poder de Chávez en el 98. No obstante Morales nunca ha contado con las mayorías requeridas para asegurar el avance ininterrumpido de su proyecto político: ni en el congreso, ni en el senado, ni siquiera en la asamblea nacional constituyente, la cual deambula de un lugar a otro para evitar que los asambleístas alineados con Quiroga impidan la aprobación de la constitución. Cuando le comento que me había sorprendido que el texto aprobado contenía 408 artículos y que el texto presentado a Morales contenía 411 artículos, Quiroga responde "ese es el menor de los problemas. Existen 3 versiones diferentes de la constitución, es decir las producidas el 23 de noviembre de 2007 en el Liceo Militar, el 8 de diciembre de 2007 en Oruro y entre esa fecha y enero de 2008 en el edificio Lotería. En los dos primeros casos grupos de choque y policías impidieron a asambleístas de oposición acceso al recinto donde estaba por aprobarse el texto. De hecho, un puñado de personas en el edificio Lotería, carentes de las credenciales necesarias, han modificado el contenido de 254 de los 411 artículos a aprobarse". Saca entonces una copia de una presentación titulada "Bolivia 2008: Bonanza desperdiciada, democracia golpeada… Esperanza frustrada", y procede a explicarme en detalle las numerosas violaciones a procedimientos acordados cometidas por Morales, lo cual vicia de nulidad su nueva constitución política y, en consecuencia, su intento de refundar el estado.

Es obvio que Morales no la tiene fácil. No ha podido disolver los poderes constituidos con la facilidad que caracterizo el proceso chavista; no ha podido introducir la maquinaria electrónica electoral de Chávez (Smartmatic); no tiene a todos los militares consigo, de hecho parece existir una puja entre aquellos que manejan tropa y los de más alto rango, que son los que finalmente se han beneficiado personalmente de las dadivas venidas de Caracas, pagaderas en cheques a cobrarse en la embajada de Venezuela; no cuenta con la mayoría requerida en ninguna de las cámaras; y, finalmente, tiene a los prefectos de 6 de los 9 departamentos que conforman el país, elegidos a través del voto y que cuentan con un enorme capital tanto político como económico, en su contra.

Ya se habla aqui en Santa Cruz de presencia militar venezolana y cubana; de mobilizaciones indigenistas, de militarizacion, etc. No obstante, el proyecto continental de Hugo Chávez se ha encontrado con un férreo movimiento de oposición en Bolivia, y tal parece que ni sus petrodólares, ni su OEA –así definida por Quiroga- ni su ejército imperialista, ni los medios lograran impedir el deseo federalista y descentralizador, que no secesionista, de las regiones.

10.4.08

Has Hugo Chavez thrown a lifeline to Ken Livingstone?

10.04.08 | There are so many reasons why Londoners should boot Livingstone out of City Hall that is hard to enumerate all of them. In my opinion, near the top of relevance list, is Livingstone's cuddling of Venezuela's petro-caudillo Hugo Chavez, a failed coupster soon to be declared supporter of a terrorist organization by INTERPOL. Mind you, one key element in Livingstone's bid to win London's mayoral race is meant to be the environment. It does not bother him in the slightest, nor does it alert his daft opponents, that his militaristic chummy has pledged to build a 8,047 kilometers oil pipeline, through South American wilderness, from Caracas to Buenos Aires, which will destroy thousands of acres of rain forest. Neither does it trouble the communist mayor that Hugo Chavez heads one of the world's biggest, most polluting oil companies.

In February last year PDVSA and GLA officials signed an oil deal. Livingstone's propaganda arm reported "The historic deal means London's bus fleet will use subsidized oil from Venezuela - leading to a massive 20 per cent reduction in the price of fuel." This is a blatant and demonstrable lie, for Venezuela is not providing subsidized oil to London's bus fleet (TfL), but rather it pays TfL, in cash, a 20% 'subsidy' of oil expenditure incurred by its contractors. Alas Chavez's charity gets Venezuela absolutely nothing; GLA and TfL officials can't even explain coherently what it is expected of them in return, though they praise Chavez's fake achievements with total conviction. Livingstone's publication also lies about the total number of beneficiaries of the programme. The pdf linked is worth a read, for it shows how those in charge of implementing the programme have, in the words of Tony Arbour, discriminated against poor Londoners: "the Mayor is distinguishing, as they did in Victorian times, between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. You have made it quite clear in the way that this money is being allocated that people who are on Jobseeker's Allowances are undeserving but people who are not looking for work are deserving."

Livingstone however, in his desperate bid to cling to power at any cost, has pledged today that "he will seek to use £14m of funding provided by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to subsidize public transport for failed asylum seekers." Does this new announcement means that a consultation process has been held with either Hugo Chavez or his cronies? If so, how come British and Venezuelan media have failed to report it? Who gave Livingstone the right to use Venezuelan money for political gains?

Londoners should note that despite the political capital that could be obtained, Livingstone failed to register his directorship of the Venezuela Information Centre, a propaganda outlet operated by GLA staff in City Hall, which is, presumably, oil deal's quid pro quo.