Freedom songs from Venezuela
Al loco, al loco, al loco le queda poco!!
By Aleksander Boyd
A rather unorthodox title I know, however after assisting to a conference in
Rome yesterday and witnessing how honourable members of the Italian parliament
referred to the crisis in Venezuela and its master, one must rejoice and start
singing the aforementioned song.
The introductory words were those of Simone Gargano, Regional Secretary of
UDEUR (Unione Democratici per L'Europa or Democratic Union for Europe). Mr Gargano
expressed his utmost concern about the grave situation at present arguing "president
Chavez is trying to force upon the country a hegemonic system, which has created
more poverty, unemployment and has battered the collective conscience of the
people". He followed then saying "under the present circumstances
there, it is highly uncertain that the revoking referendum will indeed take
place, for Chavez has yet to guarantee its willingness and full commitment to
celebrate said process. We have no doubt that Chavez will try to manipulate
the results, it is therefore of extreme importance that we engage with all the
tools that our democratic system provides to guarantee the transparency of the
MP Carla Mazzuca gave an account about the violations to human rights, based
on reports produced by Amnesty International. She cited "inefficiency of
the judicial institutions, the total impunity of public employees, disrespect
of indigenous rights, refusal of accepting Colombian refugees, more than 1400
detainees who have been killed (extra-judicial killings) and involvement of
the armed forces in governing the country". She concluded saying that no
one really knows who is Chavez and what does he want.
A very interesting reference was made with respect to the Forum of Porto Alegre
in which two tendencies were perceived. Special attention was focused on the
"reformists" headed by Castro, Chavez and Italian communist Fausto
Bertinotti. These gentlemen opposed staunchly the Free Trade Economic Area proposed
by the US denying the benefits that such an agreement could bring to the continent.
Instead they advocate for Mercosur (which continues to be a concept yet to be
crystallised) as the "solution for hemispheric integration to counterbalance
the ominous power of the American administration". Italian Senators and
MPs have a different perspective though, referring to the collision of the two
agreements as one of the reasons for economic stagnation of the region due to
the lack of will of some presidents to bring about much needed economic reform.
The interventions of Pierferdinando Cassini and Clemente Mastella -president
and vice-president of Congress- were just outstanding. Both elaborated on the
impending necessity of celebrating the referendum and the presence of international
observers to supervise the process. Italy will hold the rotating presidency
of the European Union commencing in July for a period of six months, during
which they will embark on a remarkable foreign policy strategy geared towards
Latin America, "we shall protect and defend democracy and we will monitor
the Venezuelan political conflict very closely for the moral debt that Italy
has with the continent and with Venezuela is too large to continue to be ignored"
Mr Mastella's dictum. Referring to the million Italians who live in Venezuela,
he stated that they could count upon Italy's total support for the celebration
and normal completion of the forthcoming referendum.
Mention of some social and economic facts produced distress and astonishment
among the participants. In 1999 unemployment was 11.5% today is 23.5%. The government
of Chavez has produced the closure of more than 6000 enterprises and 1.5 million
people have lost their work. In 1999, about 4500 people were killed in crime
related issues, the statistics of today show 11000 people being killed on a
year-to-year basis. The fragile balance that existed before Chavez' arrival
to the presidency was terminated with the approval of the new constitution.
Worth mentioning is that the draft of the constitution that was approved by
the people is not today's constitution. In effect, the text of the constitution
that was proposed for the people to decide about via the referendum of 1999
was modified three times, without popular approval, before its implementation.
In my opinion, the climax of the conference was the intervention of Donato
Di Santo (head of Latin American department of Foreign ministry). Mr Di Santo
is a reputed and well-known socialist who defends the stance of the leftists.
Unbelievably enough, Mr Di Santo said that Chavez has nothing to do with the
left or socialism, but rather a demagogue populist who has used the leftist
discourse to capitalize on the anti establishment sentiment of Venezuelans.
Effective indeed, Chavez' discourse has been also embraced by the left in Europe,
the anti globalisation movements and all the green "experts" who still
believe in his words. In a recent trip to Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela Mr
Di Santo could confirm that the Venezuelan case is reaching epic conditions
in terms of social distress and lack of coherent policies to benefit the poor.
Hearing those words from a lefty was magical for one simple reason, i.e. the
Venezuelan Messiah is losing face with the left. A good Italian adage for it
would be "tra il dire e il fare ce di mezzo il mare" meaning there's
an oceanic difference between said and done.
I would like to conclude by summarizing some events which can be perceived
as advancement in the undermining of the "democratic façade"
of Hugo Chavez, which have come to fruition owing to the increasingly stupid
behaviour of the government and the increasing ability of democratic and freedom
loving Venezuelans to unmask president Chavez in the international arena;
- The "race card" played by Foreign Secretary Roy Chaderton in Chile,
produced a counter effect on the international delegates present in the conference.
- The handing of letters asking for help in the resolution of our crisis for
the second time around to the "Group of Friends" representatives who
ignored the "affected attitude" of Mr Chaderton.
- Chavez lost the majority in the National Assembly, and his support levels
are shrinking by the day.
- The Inter American commission statement, placing Venezuela together with
Cuba, Colombia and Haiti as the American countries with the most appalling records
of human rights violations.
- The ILO statement, condemning the Venezuelan administration vis-à-vis
unions, workers rights and unlawful dismissals.
- Meetings with:
a) representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Amnesty International
b) European Commission delegates in Brussels,
c) In Paris, human rights defenders and radio commentators interviewed Mr Mohamad
Merhi (father of one of the victims of the massacre of last April).
- Conferences in Tilburg, Vienna and Rome exposing the grave violations to
human rights occurring in Venezuela.
There shall be no doubt that freedom and democracy will effectively bury the
absurd "revolution" that Chavez and his mentor want to force on Venezuela.
Leaving sentiments aside, one must recognize that there are too many vested
interests sustaining Chavez' grip to power, however the number and tenacity
of those who oppose him is in crescendo.
Therefore we should start singing again "Hugo, Huguito, aprieta ese c…"
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