March 29, 2005

Spain, Brazil and Colombia today in Venezuela

Last month a Spanish Senator, Alejandro Muñoz, qualified as “dangerous” the relationships of the government of his country with Hugo Chávez. Muñoz, accused Chávez of having transformed Venezuela into a “terrorist sanctuary”, of being guilty of destabilizing neighbouring nations and of been embarked in an arm race that contributes to the uncertainty of the Latin American region. Similar alert has thrown by Mariano Rajoy, president of the Popular Party of Spain and Gustavo Arístegui, part of that same political organization, who speak of commandant Chávez's links with Fidel Castro's and of its never hidden intention of exporting the Bolivarian revolution. (Further information in English can be found at "http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4391615.stm")
The Chief of the Spanish Government, Rodríguez Zapatero, justified the signature of a new defense treaty with Venezuela and the subsequent sale of military weapons, since they will generate 900 new employments in Spain.
Charles de Gaulle once said that “countries do not have friends or enemies, they just have interests”. This phrase is a good portrait of how the Spanish government is manipulating situation that is likely to be very beneficial from the monetary point of view to Spain, but a serious threat to the region.
Then again, “money talks” whilst ethics are left behind. Once again, we are facing an example of how an “ethic” decision is made: "show me the money, I will show you how ethic I am”. In any case, each country should do whatever is good for its own interest, even if it is detrimental to another…isn’t the history full of examples like this?
The truth is that the International politics world is not what it used to be. It is known that International Laws exist in order to establish responsibilities when one country helps, directly or indirectly, a group that is known to have the intention of committing a crime. Hugo Chávez links with the Colombian Guerrilla are know well known and documented…is Spain aware of the fact that, by selling guns to the Venezuelan government, they are indirectly helping the guerrilla??

One hypothesis will be that Spain is now trying to enter into the Latin American market in order to compete with the United States, after all, the globalisation process is imposing a new order and the Anti Bush attitude of Chavéz will help not only Spain, but China and India to enter to a market monopolised by USA. The situation, of course, is not bad considering the amount of money that is going to be generated by this incoming commerce. But the real fact is that, Spain is negotiating with a government is not democratic and that has proven to be not only non efficient but also incredibly corrupted.
Today, the presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Spain are in Venezuela. The political agenda is very complicated. Spain is going to get a lot of business but at the same time, is going to have to convince Colombia that the weapons that Venezuela is acquiring are not going to support the guerrilla. Brazil, on the other hand, sooner or later will be pushed to take a position…will it recognized the guerrilla as “terrorists” groups and help Colombia and the USA to fight them, or will still support the Venezuelan autocrat and Castro´s leftist ideology?

Chávez to woo foreign allies at summit

By Andy Webb-Vidal in Bogotá
March 28 2005 22:52
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/1eebb946-9fd0-11d9-b355-00000e2511c8.html
Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president, will on Tuesday host a summit with the leaders of Brazil, Colombia and Spain an occasion that will allow Caracas to court foreign allies and offset deteriorating relations with the US. The summit in the Venezuelan city of Puerto Ordaz comes amid US worries over Venezuela's plans to buy a range of military weapons. Mr Chávez, leader of the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, says the arms will shore up national defences.
Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence, said in Brasília last week that he was concerned as to why Venezuela had to acquire 100,000 Kalashnikov automatic rifles from Russia. There are fears the weapons could fall into the hands of Colombian insurgents.
But Tuesday's summit is more likely to show that Mr Chávez's government is far from isolated internationally. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain's prime minister, are expected to try to soothe the concerns of Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's president, over Venezuela's arms procurement plans. Brasília and Madrid also plan to sell military hardware to Caracas. Mr Lula da Silva's government played a key role in brokering a settlement to a dispute between Bogotá and Caracas this year.
The meeting will show Mr Zapatero's desire to rekindle Spain's relations with Latin America, neglected under José Mar´a Aznar, his pro-US predecessor. “Each of them wants to show that they are leaders beyond the boundaries of their own countries and can play co-operative regional roles,” said Julia Sweig, Latin America expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank based in Washington. Mr Zapatero will signal support for Mr Chávez, but is also expected to make warm overtures to Mr Uribe, who wants to build bridges with Europe. Mr Zapatero this week will visit Bogotá, where he is expected to commend Mr Uribe's domestic security policies.
Mr Zapatero is likely to use the Franco-Spanish campaign against Eta, the Basque separatist group, as an example of the effectiveness of cross-border co-operation against terrorism.
The four are expected to discuss drug trafficking. A quarter of the cocaine exported from Colombia, the world's top producer, is transported through Venezuela, largely en route to Europe. Spain is Europe's largest consumer of cocaine and Europe's main port of entry for drugs. Brazil is the second-largest cocaine-using country, after the US.


March 28, 2005

About Freedom of Speech in Venezuela

Writing about web page http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5755-2005Mar27.html

Amazed by how little of the “Revolutionary process” that Venezuela is going through is known by some of my fellow colleagues and reckoning that I am not, and that I CAN NOT be objective about it, I am going to dedicate blog to talk about to Venezuela’s politics. Here is something very interesting about “freedom of speech”. Its interest comes from the fact that, months after the Anti-American Press Association has been denouncing Mr Hugo Chavez attempts to eliminate all possible comments against his government (autocracy, caudillismo, or social-chavismo) international journalist are now aware of the implications of the laws that are meant to silence the political opposition in Venezuela. However, some questions still remain open: Does this mean something for the International Community? A regime that actively prosecutes the political opposition and has the power to censure can be called a Democracy?

Chavez's Censorship
Where 'Disrespect' Can Land You in Jail
By Jackson Diehl
Monday, March 28, 2005; Page A17
Venezuela's minister of communication and information, Andres Izarra, recently accused The Post and several other American media of being part of a campaign to defame Venezuela directed by the Bush administration and funded by the State Department. Apparently I drew Izarra's attention by writing several columns and editorials lamenting President Hugo Chavez's assault on press freedom and the independent judiciary and his support for anti-democratic movements elsewhere in Latin America.
One of the journalists libeled by Izarra pointed out that he had no evidence to back up his accusations. According to the newspaper El Universal, that inspired the following outburst, in Spanish, from the cabinet minister: "Mister gringo, be sure that we are going to come back to defeat you . . . because we work with the truth, we have spirit and above all something very special, a leader who unites and inspires us, the commandante Chavez!"
It's easy to laugh at such buffoonery if, like me, you have the privilege of working for an independent newspaper in a capital where demagogues such as Izarra aren't taken seriously. In Caracas, however, the minister's rantings — and those of his master, Chavez — are no longer funny. Beginning this month journalists or other independent activists accused by the government of the sort of offenses alleged by Izarra can be jailed without due process and sentenced to up to 30 years.
To be sure, much of the Venezuelan media has aggressively opposed Chavez's populist "Bolivarian revolution," though not without reason: The former coup-plotting colonel is well on his way to destroying what was once the most stable and prosperous democracy in Latin America. Some newspapers and television stations openly sided with attempts to oust the president via coup, strike or a national referendum. Having survived all three, a strengthened Chavez is moving to eliminate critical journalists and create in Venezuela the kind of state-controlled media environment in which a minister of information such as Izarra is all-powerful.
The first step was a new media content law, adopted by the Chavez-controlled legislature last December, that subjects broadcast media to heavy fines or the loss of their licenses for disseminating information deemed "contrary to national security." Its impact was soon felt: Two of the most prominent anti-government journalists lost their jobs as anchors on morning television shows, and Venezuelans quickly noticed the appearance of self-censorship among those who remained.
Ten days ago Chavez handed Izarra a still-bigger stick: a new penal code that criminalizes virtually any expression to which the government objects — not only in public but also in private.
Start with Article 147: "Anyone who offends with his words or in writing or in any other way disrespects the President of the Republic or whomever is fulfilling his duties will be punished with prison of 6 to 30 months if the offense is serious and half of that if it is light." That sanction, the code implies, applies to those who "disrespect" the president or his functionaries in private; "the term will be increased by a third if the offense is made publicly."
There's more: Article 444 says that comments that "expose another person to contempt or public hatred" can bring a prison sentence of one to three years; Article 297a says that someone who "causes public panic or anxiety" with inaccurate reports can receive five years. Prosecutors are authorized to track down allegedly criminal inaccuracies not only in newspapers and electronic media, but also in e-mail and telephone communications.
The new code reserves the toughest sanctions for journalists or others who receive foreign funding, such as the election monitoring group Sumate, which has been funded in part by the National Endowment for Democracy. Venezuelans or foreigners living in the country can be punished with a 10- to 15-year sentence for receiving foreign support that "can prejudice the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela . . . or destabilize the social order," whatever that means. Persons accused of conspiring against the government with a foreign country can get 20 to 30 years in prison. The new code specifies that anyone charged with these crimes will not be entitled to legal due process. In other words, should Izarra determine that my Caracas-based colleagues continue to collude with the State Department against Venezuela, they could be summarily jailed.
Chavez and his propaganda apparatus don't feel compelled to live by their own rules. The president has directed crude epithets at President Bush and even more vulgar sexual innuendo at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. His government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund Americans in the United States who write articles and letters glorifying Chavez and attacking the Bush administration. Izarra himself could be charged under his own slander law for his false claims about American journalists. Lucky for him his adversaries here are a democratic government, and a columnist who merely thinks he's ridiculous.


February 05, 2005

About Me

Leonor Stella Rodriguez Mora
Date of Bith: 28/02/1974
Nationality: Venezuelan

Academic Background:

The University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom.
PhD Candidate.

The University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom.
MA in Social Research, 2005.

Catholic University Andres Bello, Caracas, Venezuela.
Sociologist (Hons), 2001.


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