nettime's_man_in_caracas on Wed, 11 Dec 2002 10:48:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> venezuelan update digest (2) [bello, brozefsky]

"Ricardo Bello" <>
     RE: <nettime> What's going on in Venezuela??? [2x]
Craig Brozefsky <>
     Re: <nettime> venezuela's constitution

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From: "Ricardo Bello" <>
Subject: RE: <nettime> What's going on in Venezuela??? [2x]
Date: 10 Dec 2002 11:03:05 -0800

The danger is, I believe, not the riots and violence announced
by Círculos Bolivarianos in defense of the Revolution. Yesterday,
for example, chavistas burned the house of a town's Mayor - the
town is called Miranda (Estado Carabobo), its authorities are
anti-chavistas, but it has just a few thousand habitants, not
large enough to make headlines - and sacked a bakery and a supermarket);
also attacked and destroyed two TV stations (Maracay and Maracaibo),
an aggression denounced by OAS General Secretary immediately.
But that's not the danger, the true risk would be to have Chavez
resist pressure to the limit, and then provoke a violent military
reaction against him, e.i., a real coup by extremist in the opposition,
with the repression intrinsic to it. He would live then - or
die - as a martyr, keeping alive the flame of nostalgia for a
true revolutionary leader, just like Che, with a passion for
justice that rivaled his suicidal appetites. 

Gouveia, in the other hand, is a powerful enigma. There are over
300 Joao de Gouveia in Venezuela, all from Portuguese origins.
One arrived in Caracas five hour after the time when the amateur
video showed one of those Joao de Gouveia close to Bernal, the
chavista Caracas' Mayor, and his paramilitaries, hours prior
to the Altamira massacre. Another arrived several months before,
and another one had been sent to Havanna earlier this year, expenses
paid by Bernal, as the daily El Nacional reported. You have as
many Gouveia as you will, all to accommodate a large menu of
ideological options, everyone will be served, no need to desperate.

Teodoro Petkoff, a left-wing political leader who participated
in the sixtis guerrilla warfare and then divided the Venezuelan
Communist Party in 1968 when USSR invaded Prague, wrote today
the following editorial for his newspaper "Tal Cual", it shows
another interpretation on the attack on independent media by
Chavez's followers: 

Chavez lo dijo, Diosdado lo hizo

Contrariamente a lo que pudiera pensarse, los asaltos a medios
de comunicacion en algunas ciudades del interior y las manifestaciones
ante los canales de television caraqueños no son signos de fuerza
sino la evidencia del extremo debilitamiento del gobierno. Este
esta apelando a su última carta: la capacidad de movilizar pequeños
grupos de activistas para cumplir operaciones de hostigamiento
y amedrentamiento. En cada uno de los sitios donde se produjeron
movilizaciones del chavismo contra los medios se trataba de unos
pocos centenares de personas organizados y encuadrados en brigadas.
La milimétrica coordinacion horaria de llegada y retiro de los
grupos, en Caracas, habla de una accion dirigida. Diosdado Cabello,
tarde en la noche, pretendio justificar la accion aduciendo que
"el pueblo esta en la calle". No, esos grupos no son "el pueblo",
si damos a este concepto la connotacion de movilizacion espontanea
que lo caracteriza. Lo que
vimos fue una operacion perfectamente planificada y organizada.
Desde el domingo, el discurso de Chavez anunciaba lo de anoche.
Tiro la línea y Diosdado la ejecuto. Cuando un régimen llega
a estos extremos es
porque esta boqueando. Los ejemplos historicos son elocuentes.
Sin embargo, su agonía puede ser peligrosa y letal. No hay que
engañarse. La tentacion de un apocalíptico "ocaso de los dioses"
suele acompañar a
gente que pierde contacto con la realidad. Sin embargo, aún se
esta a tiempo de impedir una catastrofe social y política. Negociar
una rapida salida electoral, que dé garantías democraticas a
TODOS los sectores
políticos, para así eliminar o reducir al mínimo posible los
miedos mutuos a la venganza -que embargan a los sectores opuestos
y que explican la intensa agresividad que muestran- es la única
opcion sensata. El balon esta en las canchas del gobierno. Estas
son varias: la Asamblea Nacional, la Mesa de Negociacion... y
la Fuerza Armada


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Subject: Re: <nettime> venezuela's constitution
From: Craig Brozefsky <>
Date: 10 Dec 2002 22:32:09 -0600

"Ricardo Bello" <> writes:

> The Police Inspector who began the investigations on the Altamira
> massacre (all casualties were anti-chavez demonstrators), was
> kidnaped yesterday night, shot in the chest, and left in the
> street

I have confirmation of this as well.  I am saddened by the rise of
violence all around.

> "The third reason the pro-coup forces are in a hurry is found
> in their doubts about being able to win a recall referendum.
> Article 72 places three conditions to revoke the term of the
> president." 
> All the conditions were met and the President has not submit
> to the will of over 2.000.000 signatures, checked not in a aleatory
> manner, but one by one.

You are *very* confused here Ricardo.

They were talking about the three conditions to revoke the presidency,
not just the condition to call a referendum upon an official's
mandate.  Yet, you are claiming that the conditions for the referendum
where met.  *Neither* of these have been met.

  "Article 72: All magistrates and other offices filled by popular
   vote are subject to revocation.  Once half of the term of office to
   which an official* has been elected has elapsed, a number of voters
   constituting at least 20% of the voters registered in the pertinent
   circumscription may extend a petition for the calling of a
   referendum to revoke such official's mandate.  When a number of
   voters* equal to or greater than the number of those who elected
   the official* vote in favor of revocation, provided that a number
   of voters* equal to or greater than 25% of the total number of
   registered voters* have voted in the revocation election, the
   official's mandate shall be deemed revoked, and immediate action
   shall be taken to fill the permanent vacancy in accordance with the
   provided for in this Constitution and by law.  The revocation of
   the mandate for the collegiate bodies shall be performed in
   accordance with the law.  During the term to which the official*
   was elected, only one petition to recall may be filed."

The condition "Once half of the term of office to which an official
has been elected has elapsed"[1] is not met, since Chavez's term is
not halfway over.  While I'm not a constitutional lawyer, IMO the
explicit use of the term "Once" indicates that referendum cannot be
called prior to half of the term passing.  Chavez has agreed to the
referendum halfway thru his term.

I have seen discussion of the Venezuelan Supreme Court Decision to not
honor the premature call, which provides an alternative view [2] but
nothing has addressed the crucial "half of the term" clause.  

As for the signatures being checked "one by one", it should at least
be noted that one of the election board members abstained -- feeling
the signatures were not sufficiently checked.[2]

> Chavistas walked out and abandonned several days ago the Negotiating
> Table put together by Gaviria at the Hotel Melia, and in a radio
> talk announced that even if he lost the referendum by 90% he
> wouldn't leave his post.

That "90%" quote is being used all over the place, and never does it
include the whole of his speech[3] which details his opposition.  As
we see in Article 72 the percentage does not matter, opposition would
need 4 million votes -- the original number of votes he received-- to
revoke his presidency, and they could only do it in a "revocatory
referendum" which Article 72 says cannot happen until halfway thru his

PS. The language barrier between Venezuela and the U.S. is critical to
the presentation of current events in Latin America.  It makes the
crime of omission much easier.  Machine translation in it's limited
capabilities does not omit annoying political facts the way human
translators do.  My Spanish is rudimentary, several years in H.S. and
years in several Spanish speaking neighbourhoods of Chicago, so I use
machine translation in my research to check basic factiods, always
referring to the original and native speakers when possible.  I
encourage everyone to learn languages of course, and do not advocate
the use of machine translation as a crutch.  However, there are many
languages, and it can take years to master reading in any one of them,
so in the mean time I appreciate the clumsiness of machines.

[1] Venezuelan Constitution in English

    Obviously this is translated, the original is "Transcurrida la
    mitad del período para el cual fue elegid funcionaria".  Any
    spanish speaker can confirm the translation does not obscure the
    intent of the Article.

    Venezuelan Constitution in Spanish


    and Google translated

Craig Brozefsky <>
Free Scheme/Lisp Software

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