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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dictatorial offensive


Dictatorial offensive

The Chávez administration's population has been in a nose dive at home, the
failure of his attempt to penetrate Honduras is public knowledge, and
information abounds internationally on his support for the FARC and his
supplying them with weapons.

Faced with this adverse situation, last week the government started what
could be the final attack on Venezuela's democracy, which would take its
citizens along the path to a dictatorship that no one wants but that no one
has been able to avoid.

The attacks have been on so many flanks in so few days that it looks as
though, this time, the destruction could be total. There is no target that
the government has not got in its crosshairs or valid argument that manages
to dodge the path of its missiles.

Here are just a few of these recent attacks:

1) The criminalization of protest of any kind, from those demanding workers'
rights (the case of the workers on the eastern banks of Lake Maracaibo,
Zulia state, and of the workers of the basic industries in Bolívar state) to
those who clamor for the proper provision of public services to those who
defend public areas that they are entitled to by law, such as the
inhabitants of Curiepe, Caucagua, and El Clavo in the area of Barlovento.

2) The rushing through of an Electoral Law to align it with Chávez's
hegemonic project, which not only wipes out proportional representation in
legislative bodies but will also allow the regime to reorganize
constituencies to suit, among numerous other illegalities.

3) A proposal by the Attorney General of the Republic to enact a "media
crimes" law, which, if passed, will mean that it will be impossible to
broadcast this editorial on any radio station or publish it in any written
medium. It will also lighten the work load of the courts as they will no
longer have to invent administrative or criminal charges to put journalists
in jail (as they did last Thursday to the journalist Gustavo Azócar) or to
submit media owners or directors to trial, as is happening to Guillermo
Zuloaga of Globovisión.

4) The sudden closing down of 34 radio stations ordered by Conatel's
president, Diosdado Cabello, and the threat to shut down up to 206 more in
the next few days without granting the owners the right to a proper defense.
This attack on the media did away with five stations of the CNB circuit,
which "happens" to belong to Nelson Belfort, the president of the Venezuelan
Radio Chamber, besides being the station used to rebroadcast countrywide
Globovisión's anchor program, Aló Ciudadano, one of the information programs
with a high rating that gets on the government's nerves

5) Wearing his other cap, as Minister of Public Works and Housing, Cabello
also commanded the handing over of nearly 50% of the country's port
facilities to a Venezuelan-Cuban company.

6) Lastly, for now, this Monday, Commerce Minister Eduardo Samán
"temporarily" took control of the coffee companies Café Fama de América and
Café Madrid, with the invalid excuse that they had apparently incurred in
"monopolistic practices and/or abuses of their dominant position in the
market," which supposedly has caused coffee to disappear from store shelves.
The fact is that, owing to the government's bad policy for the coffee
sector, production in 2009 will be the lowest in 20 years.

Unfortunately, the voices of democratic society raised against these
redoubled attacks by the government are disperse, some protecting their own
particular bailiwick, others crouching in the trenches hoping to emerge
unscathed from this Bolivarian wave of destruction, and yet others waiting
for the next elections to see whether, with a bit of luck, they manage to
win some laurels.

Meanwhile, the government is encountering no obstacles as it closes the
doors to the democratic coexistence of the Venezuelan people.

Note: At the time of going to press, information was received that violent
groups of bikers armed with guns and teargas and commanded by government
leader Lina Ron were attacking the headquarters of Globovisión. This is a
sign that the government is apparently activating its shock troops that
brought it such high political dividends in April 2002

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