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The wheels they keep turning, I’m fine, what about the questions we have locked up inside, somewhere, somehow we’ve been denied — Our Lady Peace

Posts Tagged ‘venezuela’

Is Venezuela’s nightmare over? Sadly, no.

Update: Venezuelan election authorities have awarded Hugo Chavez the victory, with 54% of the vote, versus 44% for Capriles — a suspiciously high margin of victory. Sadly, it looks like the nightmare in Venezuela will continue.

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Venezuelans went to the polls today in an historic election that, for the first time in 14 years, provided some hope that the country would extract itself from the iron rule of Hugo Chavez.

The results are being watched worldwide. Venezuela is one of the world’s largest producers of oil and the Chavez regime has firmly allied itself with Cuba, Iran, Bolivia and against the USA. Obviously there are wider geo-political implications here.

And the world’s Jewish community is watching closely too. As Ben Cohen writes in Ha’aretz, Chavez’s opponent, Henrique Capriles, is a Catholic with Jewish lineage and a descendent of Holocaust survivors, and the antisemitism card was widely used by the Chavez camp during the election campaign:

Chavez’s strategy in dealing with the Capriles campaign has avoided actual policy debate. He has focused instead on demonizing his opponent as, variously, an “imperialist,” a “capitalist,” a “little bourgeois,” and – inevitably, given Capriles’ Jewish origins and Chavez’s historic willingness to deploy anti-Semitism for political purposes – a “Zionist.”

These attacks have highlighted the vulnerability of the Venezuelan Jewish community, whose numbers have declined from 30,000 – before Chavez came to power – to just 9,000 now. As a September study by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted, “recent years have witnessed a rise in anti-Semitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.”

This election is about all Venezuelans, not just the small and besieged Jewish community, of course. People reportedly lined up for hours across the country, and transplanted citizens cast their ballots from around the world. The turnout is being reported at over 70%. And while some early exit polls are predicting a narrow Caprile victory, it’s bound to be close — raising questions about whether Chavez will respect the result in the event of a loss.

How to become a dictator, step seventy-three

Why, indoctrinate the children, of course.

And Venezuela continues its steady slide into repression.

Meanwhile in Venezuela

Hugo Chavez is trying again to become dictator-for-life, after being narrowly defeated last time around. Venezuelans vote in a referendum this Sunday to get rid of term limits. Observers are pessimistic that the opposition will be able to pull off a miracle a second time, but polls are close enough to think that the “no” side at least has a fighting chance.

Meanwhile, without George W. Bush in office anymore, Chavez has redirected his efforts towards the world’s favourite scapegoat: Venezuela’s Jewish community. In the past few years, antisemitism in Venezuela has reached staggering levels, and there’s every indication that things are only going to get worse.

Some hope for Venezuela

Hugo Chavez’s referendum on his bid to become a sweeping dictator was narrowly defeated, 51% No to 49% Yes. (Hmmm, what other referendum do those results remind you of?)

The defeat was astonishing, particularly because Chavez had pulled pretty much every trick in the book to stack the deck, from bribing people with promises of a shorter workday and more pensions, to shooting protestors, to shutting down all non-state-run media. Didn’t he read the chapter in the megalomaniac how-to book on how to stuff the ballot boxes?

People are breathing easier today. But Chavez isn’t one to be graceful in defeat. What will happen next is anyone’s guess.

Okay, who has Castro in the Dead Dictator Pool?

If you picked this week, you may want to start mentally planning what you’re going to do with all the cash. The secrecy surrounding Castro’s condition would seem to indicate that he’s going from bad to worse.

Luckily for Fidel, he’s already managed to pass his revolutionary torch.

What good is the U.N., part twelve million

In the latest chapter of the continuing saga of the irrelevance of the United Nations, the U.S. and Britain are co-sponsoring a resolution to deploy U.N. troops in Darfur:

The U.S. and British sponsored resolution would authorize the deployment of 20,000 U.N. troops and police in Darfur to take over from some 7,000 African Union troops, who have been unable to end bloodshed in the western Sudanese region.

Though the resolution, likely to be put to a vote on Thursday, would state that Sudan would need to agree to the deployment, it was expected to add pressure on Khartoum to drop its opposition to U.N. peacekeeping troops.

“Our judgment here is that we think we’ve found a formulation that would win acceptance on the (Security) Council,” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters at the United Nations.

What about a formulation that would actually end the bloodshed?

This resolution – even if it passes – will be nothing more than symbolic. The U.N. is having trouble finding a few thousand troops to send to Lebanon; where will it find 20,000 for Sudan? Even if they go, chances are they’ll be equipped with nothing more than a blue helmet and a whistle. And, of course, for any of this to have made a difference, it would’ve had to have happened about four years ago.

As usual, the United Nations fell asleep at the wheel, and millions have been paying the price. If this resolution passes, it will be another case of far too little, far too late. Isn’t it time we admit that the U.N. is completely and utterly powerless to prevent, diffuse or end armed conflict and genocide?

Update: Similar sentiments from this Gazette editorial about Venezuela’s bid for a seat on the security council:

It’s not as if Chavez could make the Security Council less effective than it is now. Russia and China already take care of that, as we have seen in the case of Iran’s determined rush to acquire nuclear weapons. Sanctions? No no, say the Russians and the Chinese. Let’s talk and study for a few more months before we get to sanctions. What could go wrong?

From Rwanda to the Balkans to Darfur to Lebanon, and elsewhere, the Security Council has shown itself impotent and useless. Or worse than useless, as in approving a toothless resolution to disarm Hezbollah.

[. . . ]

Slaughter continues in Darfur, Iran becomes nuclear, Hezbollah re-arms. At the UN, meanwhile, urbane and well-dressed diplomats keep talking about process.

Venezuela on the Security Council? Hey, why not? It’s not as though other members such as Syria have exactly set the bar all that high.

A bad month for plane crashes

An epidemic of plane crashes seems to have hit the globe.

In this past month alone, a plane crash-landed in Toronto – an episode in which, miraculously nobody was hurt. But not everyone was so lucky. A terrible crash in Greece killed 121, and a devastating crash in Venezuela killed 160.

There were also smaller crashes, such as the plane that went down in Switzerland, killing 4, a crash in Acupulco, Mexico that killed two people, and a crash in Durban, South Africa that was survived by all six people aboard. And that’s not even all of them.

Then last week, a crash in Peru killed dozens of people.

Now there’s been another plane crash in Indonesia that has claimed 149 lives. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of terrorism.

And a plane crashed in the Congo, killing 7. It seems that the pilot tried to land in poor visibility and crashed into a tree.

I’m seriously starting to question the statistics that tell us that flying is so much safer than driving. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out to spread conspiracy theories or anything. By all accounts, these crashes happened due to bad weather or pilot error, and their timing is just a coincidence. But what on earth is going on here?

Anti-Chavez demonstrations in Venezuela

Now here’s something you don’t see every day: Protests against the Left. In Venezuela, tens of thousands of protesters are marching to support a giant strike against President Hugo Chavez.

This isn’t exactly breaking news. Chavez hasn’t been winning too many popularity contests for a while now. But it occurs to me that we tend to associate large-scale strike or protest movements with the Left, but in this case, they’re protesting because they consider Chavez too far left.

Pro- and anti-Chavez demonstrations have taken place almost daily during the work stoppage called by business, labour and opposition politicians on Dec. 2 to force Chavez to resign or submit to early elections.

They say Chavez’s leftist policies and autocratic style have ruined the Venezuelan economy.

With all our focus on the Mideast, it’s easy to lose sight of important developments in other parts of the world. But the situation in Venezuela is getting more out of control by the day, and certainly merits a close watch.

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