Live-by-the-sword Chronicles


The Venezuelan Embassy Ambassador’s Residence in Tripoli is being ransacked and looted.

Or, as Hugo Chávez would put it, it’s in the way of a “popular rebellion,” a “spark” that will ignite “the engines of a revolution.”

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  1. Hideously distasteful though it is – and hard as I find it to suppress the schadenfreude – we should probably note that messing with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is a Very Bad Thing ™.

      • I dunno, Juan. I think there’s an unwritten rule that if you put a “coletilla” like that on a statement like this you give the impression of justifying it. Obviously, you’re not explicitly justifying it, but you’re retaining enough ambiguity in the post to make it between-the-lines exculpatory, if you see what I mean.

        People shouldn’t loot embassies. That’s all there really is to say about that.

        • I don’t understand how you believe I’m justifying the looting of the Embassy. I mean, really? Where do you get that from?

          All I’m doing is pointing out the hypocritical chavista stance, whereby popular movements and insurrections are to be gloriously celebrated, except when they are used to behead your buddies and ransack your personal property.

          • It’s like ending an apology with a “but…” clause.

            You may be right on the facts. You may be sincere. Yet closing with a “but” still negates the power of the apology.

          • Basically, you’re saying “The embassy is getting looted, but Chávez has no right to complain about it because he’s a deranged lunatic who has rhetorically justified this kind of violence in the past.”

            Well, there are hundreds upon hundreds of contexts where it’s ok to point out that Chávez is a deranged lunatic who rhetorically justifies violence, and that that’s a bad thing. Hell, we do that 5-10 times a week on this blog, right?

            But in this context saying that is to waltz right up to the line, suggesting that what you mean is “so it serves him right.” You don’t have to say that to imply it.

            I really hope the MUD gets this one right. Trot out the grayest, most boring speaker in their roster, say something utterly uncontroversial about Venezuelan sovereignty, and leave the harangues about Chávez’s rhetorical incontinence for another time.

          • No, I’m saying “The Venezuelan Embassy is being looted, and … wouldn’t it be great if we had a President who could defend our territory and not come across as a hypocrite, as someone who has glorified mob rule and looting in the past but complains about it when it happens to him?”

            By the way, I thought Chavez’s defense of the Embassy to be bland, to say the least. I remember when on April 11th the Cuban Embassy was surrounded by the hysterical Marialejandra Lopezesque mob, Fidel was shown saying that the Cubans would defend their Embassy with their life.

            But I guess Ambassador Whats-his-face is probably hiding in Tripoli’s version of the Museo Militar.

          • I think three things are getting mixed up:

            A) it’s bad that the embassy (national territory) was looted
            B) it’s bad that Caracas (national territroy) was looted
            C) it’s bad that chavez complains about A, while celebrates B.

            JC seems to say it’s ok to make a post about C without explicitly stating A and B.
            Quico seems to say it’s not ok to make a post about C, even explicitly stating A and B, given the number of other examples available regarding chavez’s hypocritic stance that can’t possibly be interpreted as endorsing looting national territory.

          • Hope I am not interrupting-I wonder if the Libyan “rebels” are looting all
            ALL embassies- or just the ones that supported Quadaffy?
            Should anyone have a copy of some of the “treaties” signed by
            Chavez and Quadaffy? For example- they promised to support each
            other and always share their beds -and does Chavez like camels too?
            Finally-I wonder what happened to the 400 female bodyguards of
            Quadaffy- I heard quite a few were from Cuba? (They were known
            to hate men..)
            Francisco- a. I think Venezuela should not have had an Embassy in Libya
            and should not have been supporting Quadaffy- and I am glad it is ramsacked.
            In fact- I hope they burn it to the ground. Furthermore- I hope they do not have
            any relations with this dictatorship of Venezuela nor the dictatorship of Cuba.
            Who says “you hve to have relations with all other countries”?

    • First off, while I do agree with you, in principle, in this case there is a legal exception. Venezuela has not recognized the Temporary National Council, and has declared that it will only recognize the Gaddafi government. However, as of yesterday, that government has ceased to exist, and is no longer in a position to fulfill it’s Vienna Convention obligations to Venezuela. Since Venezuela has failed to recognize the new government, ipso facto, Venezuela has no diplomatic relations with Libya, and thus, would not be entitled to diplomatic protections under the Vienna Convention.

      (after some thought…)

      Actually, there may be language in the Vienna Convention that deals with transition periods in the event of a forcible change in government. Does anyone know?

      • You can’t ransack an embassy just because they do not recognize you as the government. Example: Russia does not recognize me as the government of Canada. Nonetheless, I am not allowed to ransack their embassy!

        • I’m pretty sure the Embassy’s status as Venezuelan territory isn’t the result of voodoo magic or anything of the sort, but the result of the local government granting such status to a property inside their country.

          No government means no granting of any special status to any part of the country.

          Just like the Venezuelan government can expel the Colombian Ambassador, and the latter cannot claim “I’m not leaving because the embassy is Colombian territory and I can stay here if I want to.” The new Libyan government can pretty much “expropriate” everything inside the (former) Venezuelan Embassy and kick everyone out of the country if they feel like it.

        • Quite the opposite- you ransack their embassy because you do not recognice
          THEIR government and want nothing to do with them. Maybe the message is
          clear- no more hoochie coochie with Venezuelan dicatator Chavez by Libyans.

    • Quico, I know stories of Cuban harrasment against American diplomats in Havana that would shock you. I think it’s getting worse globally,

    • No. This is absolutely not acceptable. Part of what’s at stake in Libya is the TNC seeking to establish its governing bona fides. A bedrock part of the definition of being an effective government is having the capability to conduct relations with other countries. An authority that can’t do that isn’t really a government. And an authority that can’t guarantee the safety of foreign diplomatic missions is on very thin ice on this score.

      I really don’t think there’s any room for ambiguity here. The fact that our president is a deranged lunatic is not grounds for violating our sovereignty.

      • Quico, you really have to get off your high horse here. Where the hell do you think there is any ambiguity regarding the looting of the Embassy? Are you out of your mind, or has your WordPress account been hacked by Eva Golinger? Straw man if I ever saw one.

        • Juan,

          As much as we might enjoy seeing people vent their frustration and anger on symbols of Chavismo, Quico is right here. In my earlier comment, I was trying to justify it, but there is no justification for violating international norms and conventions.

      • “The fact that our president is a deranged lunatic is not grounds for violating our sovereignty” – It is more than just a case of a lunatic- it is LUNATIC THAT WAS
        INTERFERING WITH>assisting another lunatic to hurt the Libyan people.
        What if the Libyan rebels said – we offer a million dollars for the head of Chavez?
        Don’t they have the right?

  2. Obviously, Chavez said nothing of popular rebellion: he attributed the looting to “turbas” (mobs or disorderly crowds) perhaps unaware that the term evokes “turbas chavistas” of yore. Though he did not explicitly mention the Vienna Convention, he did point out that the Embassy is Venezuelan territory. He then went on to liken the the incident to the Cuban Embassy episode in April 2002. Igualito.

  3. OK, the real question in my mind is: where the hell was the Honorable Mr. Tajeldine in all of this?

    I mean, aren’t Ambassadors supposed to defend their Embassies with their lives? I’ve read nothing of the heroic Mr. Tajeldine yet. Anybody have any info?

    • I’m so curious about the guy. What rock did he crawl out from under?! Did he have Gaddafi on speed dial? What was his day-to-day life like? So many good questions…

        • “Venezolanos en Tripoli se encuentran en buenas condiciones”

          Por supuesto, deben todos ser unos boli-millonarios!

        • Oh wow, he has a turco-argentine accent. WTF?

          Not my recollection of the “turco-argentine accent.” Or better said, not my recollection of the accent I recall from “turcos argentinos.” I had a fair amount of contact with “turcos-argentinos” when I worked in Salta province, both on the well and in town.There was a ‘Syrian-Lebanese Eating Club’ in town, which I occasionally patronized. Unfortunately, they served milanesas,not hummus or tabouli. The “Turcos” I knew had the same cantante accent of other Argentines in the area- slower than the Porteno accent.

          I had a math professor in the US whom I correctly tagged as a Portena , when I heard her speaking Spanish in her office. She was also a “Turca,” Again, I didn’t detect any difference between her accent and other Portenos. She certainly didn’t talk like the ambassador, whose accent I would never associate with Argentina.

          It is possible that Arab immigrants to Argentina had an accent like the ambassador. But their descendants do not. While there was an “Italian accent” of Italian immigrants to the US- very well parodied by Chico Marx in the Marx Brothers movies- Italian-Americans of the second and succeeding generations spoke like other Americans.

          • Sounds like a good explanation. I am not as good a judge of accents as a native speaker is. A native speaker can readily detect “second language,” but I cannot. Without careful listening it sounded to me like a slightly off Caribbean accent- eating the S. Here is one of his non-standard pronunciations from another video: “deciendo” became “dechendo.” From this video: “día” pronounced with a hard “d” not with “th.” Like you said, he did not grow up speaking Spanish. (Or did he grow up in Chile? 🙂 )

            Very few adults who learn a second language can come across as a native speaker. I worked with a German national in Bolivia and Argentina who sounded as if he were from Alabama or thereabouts. He learned English on the rigs from Texans, and his off-kilter Texas English sounded like a Southern accent.

  4. A bit of information about “our” ambassador:
    “Writing of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s condemnation of the police raid of the Hebraica Club in 2004 (see ASW 2004), for example, journalist Afif Tajeldine claimed in the article “A Zionist Challenge to Venezuela,” posted on Aporrea online (16 Jan.) that it was farcical that this “instrument of international Zionism” [the Wiesenthal Center], pretended to defend the Jewish people.”

    • “Attacks of any kind on diplomatic missions are to be unreservedly condemned. End of story.”=Not so fast! Unreservedly condemned- no. If your country is ruled by an
      evil dicatator- Quadaffy and his evil dictator-brother friend Chavez has a so called
      embassy and the dictator- Quadaffy is overthrown- then rightfutlly -the rebels-
      sweep up the trash associated with Quadaffy including other evil dictators habitations and offices – burn them -chase them away. Who wants to keep an “infection” around
      when you are trying to cure your country of the scourge of dictatorship? Not I, do you?

      • I couldn’t disagree more. The rules of diplomacy are not just legalistic niceties, they are what make civilised relations between nations – and hence international peace – possible. Your attitude takes us back to the days when emissaries from ‘enemy’ nations ran the risk of being sent back tarred and feathered and tied to a horse .. if not put up against a wall and shot. The Venezuelan diplomatic mission in Libya is not a ‘so-called embassy’. It is an embassy, and as such is covered by all the relevant diplomatic treaties. If you’re serious about ridding the world (not just one country) of the scourge of dictatorship, then abide by the rules of civilisation. Getting rid of barbarism by acting like a barbarian is like getting rid of head lice by shooting yourself in the head.

      • Right Charlie. It’s just too bad for U.S. diplomatic staff all around the world. Because you do realize that there are millions of people all over the world who consider the U.S., say, an plutocratic dictatorship.

        So does each individual mob get to decide if a given Embassy represents a dictatorship and is fair game for looting? Or do they have to send you an email to get permission ahead of time?

        Sorry, buddy, but your brand of reactionary extremism refutes itself.

  5. cuerda de burritos:
    “Afif Tajeldine, según @Trapieleaks, el embajador de Venezuela ante el régimen de Gadaffi es un venezolano nacido en Siria, con 40 años en el país, específicamente en Maracaibo donde procreó 4 hijos venezolanos. Según la misma fuente acepto ser embajador en un país árabe por sus conocimientos en la zona y por las características políticas de ese país.”

    • Al tipo le calculo unos 50 años, si apenas. Y si tiene 40 años viviendo en el país, según Trapieleaks, quiere decir que llegó a Vzla aproximadamente a los 10 años. Por ello pregunto, por qué tiene ese acento turco tan fuerte cuando habla en español?

      • For me he looks older than 50, but he couldn’t have been 25 as I thought firstly..still, he was older than 10.

        As for his accent: it doesn’t surprise me at all. For Italians it’s much easier to learn Spanish. Still, I know both extremes: Italians with 40 years in the country and a very poor command of Spanish and Italians who speak like any Venezuelan, with Valenciano or Barquisimetano accent or even like a maracucho.

        It depends on how much you wanted to integrate
        I remember this Italian on Venevisión or Televen telling people how lazy Venezuelans were. She could not conjugate the third person plural in Spanish, she actually used quite a lot of Italian forms, not to mention the accent…and she had been most of her life in Venezuela.

      • Syd: the guy is actually 63 years old. If he has been for 40 years in Venezuela, that means he was, after all, 23 years old. So I got it wrong for 2 years.

        As for the one person here who said “Italians with 40 years in Venezuela are Venezuelan”: it all depends on whether they have the Venezuelan nationality, period.

          • His cedula almost matches mine. I got my cedula number in 1982, so that’s how long he’s been Venezuelan, barring any quiquirigüiqui.

          • He got the Venezuelan nationality 10 years after he arrived in Venezuela…pretty standard for someone who is not from Latin America, Spain, Portugal or Italy, I think (or was it 7 years residence back then?). He arrived in Venezuela at a time when women were -presumably- getting pregnant twice as much in the month of January. Those were the golden years.

  6. I think both Juan and Francisco have a point, but Francisco’s is the more pertinent at this time. After all, it is our embassy, not Hugo’s, and that’s more important to me than pointing out another moral inconsistency from Hugo. It reminds me of the famous “Por qué no te callas” episode a few years ago. Hugo, out of his permitted speaking time, was spitting insults about former Spanish president Aznar, and current president Zapatero was trying to correct him. Zapatero was clearly not defending the person of Aznar, still his political enemy at the time, but rather Aznar as the ex-president of Spain. The institution of the ex-presidency, if you will. I remember Zapatero was later praised by Aznar himself.

    The other point I wish to make is that I hope the new Lybian government apologizes for the attacks to the embassy because otherwise it will be yet another excuse for Hugo to be critical to it.

  7. IMO, you’re all missing the point.

    The Vienna, Geneva, etc., Conventions, within the Libyan and Venezuelan current contexts, are as worthy of respect by rebels as attention dispensed by governing thugocracies to international-bodies rulings against them.

    Those conventions are a white men playbook. Time and again, we see how islamofundamentalists, terrorists, communists, dictatorships, etc., the world over, basically wipe their behinds with such protocols, whose authority and rules they don’t recognise.

    Rebels looting the Venezuelan Ambassador’s residence in Libya, amounts to an act of retaliation against Chavez, for his support of Gadaffi. For all they care, Chavez and Gadaffi are one and the same, and international conventions considerations will not be dictating their actions, in view of similar behaviour, for 42 years, from the other side.

    Lo que es igual, no es trampa.

    • Exactly correct. Protocol shmotocol. Chavez saying anything is a contradiction-
      not to mention the things he does. How can he look at himself in a mirror?

    • So let me see if I understand you correctly. You don’t see even the teensiest contradiction between demanding that Chávez respect international law and applauding when his enemies flout it? Just want to be sure.

      • Well, first of all I am not applauding anything, I just gave my opinion on the comments of this post.

        On the one hand Juan entitled the post “Live-by-the-sword Chronicles” so it is not me who is pointing at the obvious.

        Then FT gets all worked up because the Libyan rebels aren’t respecting the Vienna Convention. But how can they respect a convention, against a guy who’s never respected any conventions?

        So I guess I am with Juan in his “el que a hierro mata no puede morir a sombrerazos”. Be sure that that’s not applauding, that’s pointing the obvious, and under the circumstances, to be expected. No contradictions whatsoever there.

        On getting Chavez, or Gadaffi, or any other thug, to respect international law, I gave up on such flimsy and unworkable demands a looong, looooong time ago.

        • well, I just read the Belgian embassy was plundered as well, even if it’s not clear who did it. Belgium has been taking part in the NATO actions, specially with bombers.
          It’s absolute chaos right now in Tripoli.

        • ‘how can they respect a convention, against a guy who’s never respected any conventions?’
          That’s the same line of thinking that justifies lynch-mobs. Laws (and that means rights as well as obligations) apply to those who break them just as much as to those who abide by them. That’s why it is wrong, for example, to torture prisoners, whatever their crimes. Recent years have seen huge strides towards making the likes of Chávez and Gadaffi accountable in international law. I can see no good reason for declaring those efforts ‘flimsy and unworkable’.

  8. Boludo Tejano,

    “Very few adults who learn a second language can come across as a native speaker.”

    I would agree…but a lot depends on the age when one moves to the country.I was young, but not that young when I went to Venezuela, so I retain a very tiny accent….I am not an obvious super gringa but most Venezuelans can hear my accent.The strange thing though is that people from Spain often peg me as Venezuelan.

    Here in NC we have loads of Russian immigrants…so many that our ATM machines are now in English, Spanish and Russian….About half of them speak English without accent.I run into them at the grocery store and think: just a typical country gal…when to my surprise they say: “I am from Ukraine”

  9. Can there an ethical philosophy associated to looting and general chaos in the streets of Libia? That might be something like debating the ethics of animal behavior in the jungle!

    However, the 21st Century Socialist Revolution of Hugo Chavez is nothing like that. Chavez took power by popular election. There were government and political institutions in place and a constitution that provided for change.

  10. you are venezuelans well? can you say it clearly: is normal life of ordinary venezuelan worse than 20 years ago? and in what? is your government against people? is it oppressing you anyhow? are they hurt the weak and help the rich who don’t need it? are you personally middle-class boys situated in city? do you really have any idea how and in what conditions libyans lived 40 years ago?

    • “can you say it clearly: is normal life of ordinary venezuelan worse than 20 years ago? ”
      Worse. You as poor are more than 300% more likely to be murdered now than 20 years ago. You as poor are attending worse public schools now than 30 years ago (I know, I attended public schools back then…in a very poor area…and I know lots of teachers in public sector and I know how the government decided to get Venezuela out of open evaluation programmes like Unesco’s because it prefers to tell useful idiots how Unesco “certifies” this and that than show the truth). Venezuelans between 2003 and 2007 were getting more crumbles from the petrodollars than 20 years ago, which is not surprising given the fact oil prices were over 600% what they were back then, but that trend has stopped now and more worryingly: Venezuelan poor are going to pay it very dearly after the elections in a worse way than Belorussians now after Lukashenko promised them a lot of things. Chavez has sold off in advance and well beyond the price oil to the Chinese just to get some cash now as his honchos have stolen most of what we had.

      and in what? is your government against people?
      Surely. It steals most, it rejects open debate, it gives money only to those loyal to Chavez.

      is it oppressing you anyhow? are they hurt the weak and help the rich who don’t need it?
      Very much so. The real rich are as rich as ever. The Boliburguesía has taken away a lot of resources. The Venezuelan regime prefers to give subsidies to the rich who drive cars
      than to the poor and majority who do not have any car;

      are you personally middle-class boys situated in city?

      Do you know what middle class is in Venezuela? Do you think Chavez’s honchos are working class, middle class or upper class? Do you? Do you know 52% of Venezuelans last year voted against Chavez? Do you know the percentage of poor in Venezuela?
      Do you know what was the percentage of poor people in Caracas who voted against Chavez?

      do you really have any idea how and in what conditions libyans lived 40 years ago?

      Do you have an idea about what Amnesty International has been saying about Libya for decades now? Do you have any idea about how Venezuela was 40 years ago? Or you heard it all from the Useful Idiots Tour through Chavezlandia?

      • Opinions can be debated.
        Facts can be validated, refuted or corrected.

        Fanatics believe that they can change the facts because their narcissistic leaders (pick anyone from Castro, Gadhafi, Mugabe, Sadam Hussein or Chavez) believe that they can change reality and that anything that comes from their mouths becomes automatically a fact.

        You can have an opinion about whether the looting of the ambassador’s residence is justified or not. You cannot have an opinion about whether it is legal or not. The illegality under current international laws is a fact.


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