Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ominous overtones...

Update: 04/05/07 - Now it's the banks and steel manufacturers [BBC Link] "...steel firm Ternium-Sidor should supply the local market with cheap products"... "Private banks have to give priority to financing the industrial sectors of Venezuela at low cost," Mr Chavez said.
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I hoped to post this yesterday but spent more time on the phone than expected. I've been talking with my friends and business contacts in Venezuela; there is consensus; I have been talking with my 'in-law' family, many of whom were 'Chavistas', only a couple remain so. Since December more and more people are leaving, everyone I spoke to is either renewing/applying for/have already got their passports sorted...just in case. "While upper-class Venezuelans have been trickling out for years, the exodus appears to have stepped up after Chávez's resounding electoral victory in December" (photo) The president has since ramped up his divisive rhetoric and began purging the government, his political party and even the military of anyone who is not aboard his project for "21st Century socialism.'' [Link]

"At all levels, it is required . . . to raise the flag that says 'fatherland, socialism or death,' '' the president told a military audience last month, adapting a phrase from one of his mentors, Fidel Castro. "If anyone doesn't feel comfortable with this, it's better they retire from the [military] service.''

This is worrying, I mentioned the other day about the tame militia that has sprung up everywhere but he has also 'indoctrinated' the armed forces: Phil Gunson of Open Democacy writes..."Venezuela's revolution is leaving democracy behind":

"He has unchallenged personal authority over the armed forces, which now bear the name of his own movement ('Bolivarian', after independence hero Simón Bolívar)and whose generals now routinely proclaim 'motherland*, socialism or death!' (in violation of a constitutional ban on their involvement in politics)."

"21st century socialism"....again, from the beginning of this year [FT link] ...he announced that the main telecoms company, CANTV in which US-based Verizon Communications and Spain’s Telefónica hold stakes, will be nationalised. Also Caracas' power company may also be nationalised. Last year multinationals pumping oil in Venezuela submitted to state-controlled joint ventures, [Owsblog link] clearly they did not want to abandon the profitable operations; yesterday, Chavez's government took over the last of Venezuela's privately run oil fields Tuesday, intensifying a power struggle with international companies over the world's largest known single petroleum deposit, reports Natalie Obika Pearson (AP) [Link] However many oil analysts have questioned whether the state firm (Petroleos de Venezuela, PDVSA) is ready or able to oversee the development of projects/ exploration/ new oil wells etc.

"Newly bought Russian-made fighter jets streaked through the sky as Chavez shouted "Down with the U.S. empire!" to thousands of red-clad oil workers, calling the state takeover a historic victory for Venezuela after years of U.S.-backed corporate exploitation."

"Down with the U.S. empire!"...note the common element whenever Chávez speaks...about anything! Amusingly even his own hypocrisy is blamed on the USA: first we had the ranting against biofuels and ethanol, Castro recently called the US ethanol project a "genocidal" plan that would spawn world hunger" and amigo Chávez concurs, [Reuters]

"Substituting the consumption of gasoline with ethanol, produced from corn - it's true madness,"

...but now, almost immediately imports are arranged [Link] no doubt just to spite the US; Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said, "They've tried to use (biofuels) for intrigue, to divide our countries, our leadership"!!! ...Doh!

More strife: you've probably read already that he has set in motion Venezuela's withdrawl from the IMF and World Bank, although these represent the international economic community it seems the main concern is that they are part of, or in bed with, 'the Evil Empire'. (btw Venezuela has paid in full any outstanding debt, one of the first good things Hugo did...back in 1999) [Reuters]

He wants to build a socialist state based on policies rejected by the institutions in Washington

"Chavez also said Venezuela may withdraw from the Organization of American States [OAS] if the group approved a resolution condemning his plans to shut a television station"... RCTV. So, if they dare to criricise him he spits his dummy!

Yesterday being May Day/ Workers Day you would have thought the workers would benefit, but no: The Devil's Excrement tells us: "For the first time since Venezuela’s last Dictator was overthrown in 1958, the May Day march by the Confederation of Workers was not given a permit to march. Symbolic no?"... But that is Venezuela nowadays, there are two classes of people, those with Chavez and those not with him or against him and the pro-Chavez group certainly receives preferential treatment. Those not with him or against him are discriminated against, ignored, persecuted and treated differently as this case shows.

Anyway, I could go on but all this "Fatherland*, Socialism or Death"...he's going the whole way (see photo below) isn't he?...Marx, Trotsky, Lenin...Castro...all apply.
S.O.

* In case you wondered, both Fatherland and Motherland apply to La Patria.

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