Toxic Arria

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Miss the good old days of never-ending, hyper-emotive, hyper-polarized political conflict narrowly focused on the figure of Hugo Chávez and ignoring the actual needs of Venezuelan people?

Do you get nostalgic for the the way that kind of politics steered even people who knew perfectly well that the government wasn’t working to unthinking, automatic support for “their” president?

Do you long for the way it portrayed the entire opposition as a shrill, unfeeling, tragically out-of-touch cabal of East Side Caracas plutocrats?

Then you’re going to love Diego Arria’s campaign to get Chávez indicted for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

1 COMMENT

    • I just hope the guy ends up polling 5% in the February primary – a decisive rejection by the opposition grassroots may be just what we need to bury this entire idiotic way of doing politics once and for all.

  1. First off it looks as though he’ll be dead before there is ever a decision on this case.

    Second it will not slow the Emperor down for 1 second. He’ll keep going full steam ahead until he is either dead or Venezuela is in ruins (more than it is already).

    The 3 new laws are his crowning glory to kill what’s left of a middle class – rental, labour & the insidious new prices & earnings law.

    Woke up to this news item this morning:
    http://www.noticierodigital.com/2011/11/la-verdad-preso-y-expropiado-si-violas-la-ley-de-precios/

    Jail & Expropriation for those that violate the new Prices Law.

    Why hasn’t there been more outrage against this law? Are they afraid to criticize?

    • I agree 100% (or 200%, to put it in Venezuelan terms).
      And the whole thing would be a distraction, space wasted in the media reporting about what Chávez said about how El Imperio is the one that should be judged, Arria responding, etc.

  2. 1) What is untrue in Arria’s denouncements?
    2) In what way are they at odds with another, locally expressed, familiar statement of purpose, namely, “writing about the compounding state of insanity that is Venezuela under Chavez since 1999” beyond the ‘next step of filing the particular writings with an appropriate forum?
    3) How does this actually constitute ‘doing politics’, in the sense of electioneering, at all?
    4) If the court filings were dispensed with altogether and the regime were to lose the 2012 election, wouldn’t the famous general’s statements of the armed forces’ not acknowledging such results be more readily imposed?

    • 1) Everything in Arria’s denuncia may be true – I don’t doubt it is – it’s trivially easy to assemble a long dossier of unacceptable shit Chávez has done. As you note, I’ve been doing that for years. The question is whether the facts describe constitute one of the Crimes over which the ICC has jurisdiction. My sense is that if you actually read the Statute of Rome it takes about 30 seconds and half an ounce of common sense to realize we’re very, very, very far from the kinds of actions the ICC is designed to address.

      http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm

      The Statute of Rome is about going after people who shell city centers with heavy artillery indiscriminately for weeks on end (Mladic) or who use mass scale starvation and rape as a political tactic (Bashir) or who turn anti-aircraft artillery on civillian demonstrators (Gaddafi, if he’d lived).

      Arria – who actually knows something about the ICC, and therefore certainly knows better – is going there with a bunch of videos of Chávez saying wacky stuff on Aló Presidente as “proof” of crimes against humanity. It’s extremely cynical and incredibly pathetic.

      • FT, since when are you a legal expert in what the Statute of Rome is about, or in legal parlance, about what the spirit of the Statute of Rome is about?

        Secondly, are you privy of the case presented by Arria to the ICC, to go on to state that it is about “a bunch of videos of Chavez saying wacking stuff in Aló Presidente”?

        What is “extremely cynical and incredibly pathetic”, trying to bring Chavez to justice, or trying to bring Chavez to justice for things you, personally, don’t think he should be brought to justice?

        • The funny thing is that you, Alex, are the one who dug up the statute for me in a thread last week!

          1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

          (a) Murder;
          (b) Extermination;

          (c) Enslavement;

          (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

          (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;

          (f) Torture;

          (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

          (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

          (i) Enforced disappearance of persons;

          (j) The crime of apartheid;

          (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

          Chamo, honestly, go through that list carefully and deliberately. Now try to look at the Venezuelan experience of the last 13 years dispassionately, as a jurist should. You really think Chávez plays in this league?!!?! Really?!!?

          I mean really?!

          • The good thing about courts is that, ultimately, the court itself will judge whether Arria’s plea carries any weight. Hopefully they will give their opinion on the matter soon.

          • Juan, as always, the voice of reason around here.

            FT, I did place Statute’s link for your information. I did also ask you where in the Statute it said that *only* those who engage in the stuff you have described are to be prosecuted, and light-versions, like Chavez, are immune from prosecution. You failed to answer. Now you come with three other examples of people that went, could’ve gone to ICC. And I ask you again, when did you become a legal expert? Are you privy of stuff re Arria’s case, as presented to the ICC that leads to conclude, just like that, that his is a cynical and pathetic attemtp?

            As per what you call the idiotic way of doing politics, feel free of getting in touch with Brito, Afiuni, Merhi, or any of the victims for that matter of chavismo in the last 13 years. Tell them, to their face, that looking for justice is, erm, well, idiotic in your view. Date mi duro mi pana!!

          • Hmmm, I see that the statute says “any of the following”, i.e. not *all* of them. I can think of a few items on the menu that fit the bill – Chavez-wise.
            Now Chavez may be in the shallow end of the “crimes against humanity” pool, although those who’ve suffered directly (or died) might argue that point, but that should not mean that what Arria is bringing up is frivolous.
            Will he succeed? Most likely not, and he knows it, but gosh-darn it at least he’s doing something about all of chavismo’s transgressions, even if you think those transgressions aren’t in the big-league of crimes.
            Leave us not forget that Arria is doing all this on his own dime and own time so what if the IIC turns a blind eye and deaf ear to his submission? It wouldn’t be the first time an international body ignored human rights violations (think Rwanda, etc.).

          • I think Arria has grounds on cases h & j of the statue. Exhibit A: The Tascon list.

            Maybe you’re right that compared to what’s happening in places like Syria or the Dem. Rep. of Congo , the case of Chavez’s violations is not that urgent. However, crimes have been committed, people have suffered because of them and justice must be pursued.

          • Sorry, but the ICC statute defines “apartheid” as

            (h) inhumane acts… committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime;

            http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm

            Also notice how the charge of persecution counts as a crime against humanity when it occurs “in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court.”

          • In the case on apartheid, maybe is not racial, but this case could set a precedent for political apartheid. Jurisprudence is always changing with the times, unless you are a follower of “textualism” like Antonin Scalia.

            I still see there’s a case of political persecution. In the end, the ICC will decide.

          • Geha,
            “precedent”. Forget about it, too weak a case for precedent. Precedent you will have to give them a couple of thousand skulls.

          • Uhm:

            h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

            Circulos Bolivarianos, anyone? Lina Effin Ron? How about the systemic ignorance of murder and mayhem indices? There’s 130,000 Venezuelans (well mostly Venezuelans) who would argue with you, Quico. Or is there a numerical minimum at one time that qualifies your actions in regards to violence? So, 50 a day die, it’s OK, 500 a day not? What’s the magical number? In other words, when is it a war or guerilla action and when is it just shitty life?

            (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; And probably f) too, or do you think that SEBIN is a kinder, gentler DISIP?

            Simonovis, et alia, anyone?

            Far as I know, Simonovis is still in El Helicoide and spends weeks on end not seeing sunlight. How long did Mazuco go without seeing a Doctor? How long for Afiuni? Only when his nibs got sick did Mazuco and Peña Esclusa get to see a Doctor.

            (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health. Drug trafficking?

            You know what, Quico? I realize Chavez isn’t Bashir or Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein, but I am happy to see Diego Arria at least try to get this heard in the Hague, even if he is tilting at windmills. I am pretty sure there are going to be lots of folks saying to themselves: “Jesus H. Christ! Finally someone with a little backbone shows up and spits in Chavez’ eye!”.

            I don’t see this as Arria trying to get elected. I bet Arria himself doesn’t see this as getting him elected, for that matter. But I do admire him for trying and for speaking out and for risking his life and health to see something done.

            Paso y gano con el doble tres.

          • s”I am pretty sure there are going to be lots of folks saying to themselves: “Jesus H. Christ! Finally someone with a little backbone shows up and spits in Chavez’ eye!”.”

            Except it does no such thing, Revbob dude. There are going to be lots of folk in The Hague rolling their eyes at the south american plutocrat in a gorgeously taylored suit trying to convince them that he’s the moral equivalent of a Darfur villager who had all his relatives machine gunned, his cattle stolen and his village burned to the ground because his Hacienda got expropriated…

            And there’s going to be a lot of behind the scenes murmurring about how maybe Chávez does have a point when he says his opponents are pretty much off their rocker, given that they think the aforementioned plutocrat is on to something.

          • Que The Hague ni que ocho cuartos, bro!
            The ones saying “Finally!” are in Venezuela, not the Low Country.
            Like I said, Chavez ain’t no Bashir or Gaddafi, I’m clear on that.

            However, I still like what Arria is doing. Taking the fight to Chavez is better than sitting back and REACTING to Chavez.

      • it’s trivially easy to assemble a long dossier of unacceptable shit Chávez has done. As you note, I’ve been doing that for years.

        Bombast overload… One thing is to write without risk; the other is to put yourself and your family in the line of fire. Know the difference, FT.

        I celebrate Arria’s thorn in the MUD”s rosebush of petulant candidates. Arria may not receive the needed votes, but what he’s doing is historic and courageous. Yes, perhaps for some self-aggrandisement, and perhaps as a protective shield for his candidacy. Nonetheless his efforts serve as a reminder of the sh*t all Venezuelans have had to endure for 13 years.

        Keep tapping away from your Montreal post. Lovely little articles. Enjoyable little blog. But don’t ever think of putting your accomplishments on the same plane as Arria’s. Doing so is plainly delusional.

        • Mr. Toro I know this subject was mentioned previously and you, Mr. Toro were anxious to
          take on someone,anyone about this subject.( Specifically Mr. Boyd wisely suggested “let’s fight about this after the election”.)I enjoy the different opinions on this blog and suggest a poll
          to see how many agree with your position on this subject.
          As to my opinion,may I quote Maru Anguarita :
          “Venezuelans need help from world leaders, and the International Court of Justice, to resolve abuse of power in Venezuela and restore democracy.”

        • Syd,

          I would hardly call what Arria is doing “historic and courageous.” First,
          Arria is only trying to get the media attention, I honestly doubt he is doing this whole ICJ thing for pure sense of humanity and righteousness. However, if you could please show me some proof of Arria’s public outrage and struggle during the Tascon list episode or something similar I would be grateful and eat my own words. Oh wait, he only came back to the public world after La Carolina incident, declaring he would run for president, that is 100% generous and uninterested!

          Second, I find your final comments highly offensive towards FT. If you want to criticize FT, criticize his arguments and not his environment. When it comes to arguing about the future of our country, I don’t care if Arria is God himself. If he is uncapable of uttering something coherent, his past paper achievements are irrelevant (Hand Picked Governor of Caracas, score!). The guy has not said anything brilliant or innovative. In the past, the guy has taken advantage of his connections, now he is taking advantage of people’s sentimental adversity against Chavez . I am not sure if this is the new type of politician you want for Venezuela, but I certainly do not. I want a policy based leader, not a

          • To paraphrase Pandora, Adolf, oversimplification and the omission of subtleties, just because one wants to uphold a political banner, is unacceptable. I have no trouble pointing that out, your delicate sensitivities notwithstanding.

            Furthermore, as a few have noted, FT included, at my age, I’m able to smoke out ego-tripping, much to the dismay of 20- and 30-something readers. I maintain every word I said, including in my last paragraph. If FT criticizes to his delight, and he so enjoys doing so on a frequent basis, if he’s aiming to compare himself to a risk-taker, then FT will jolly well be the target of the same type of behaviour he employs on othere.

            We’re talking risk, here, Adolfo. Perhaps your line of work doesn’t include a risk factor, so I can understand how your appreciation of this concept could be limited.

            Risk and the variances in it. Know that it’s a factor, Adolfo. Know that it includes environment.

            Jeesh, sometimes these boards are like a guardería.

          • Syd,

            i)I am not going to fall into your trap. Want to know about my line of work and my background ? I am 2 or 222. I am a high school dropout, or a PhD/JD. I am sensitive, or I am a robot. All you need to know is that I am a Caracas Chronicles reader who made a comment. All I care about you is that you are a Caracas Chronicles reader, not your age, not your endorsements.

            ii)I stand for what I say and I appreciated Pandora’s constructive criticism, so I clicked on the “Like” button, and commented on what I meant to say. I see how I can come across as a simplifier, but that was not my intention. This is how this blog works. Think this is too much like a kindergarten? Well, you can either give constructive criticism or keep on denouncing your dislike towards learning temples (isn’t that what children’s playground is suppose to be, anyways?). It is up to you.

            I do appreciate your comments though, because they epitomize my point: when writing your comment, you had a choice of arguments (much as as Diego Arria did going into the debate), you could have chosen substance. Instead you went the ad hominem way. Diego Arria could have chosen the policy road, but instead he went down the easy road, taking advantage of people’s extreme adversity towards the Chavez figure, implicitly comparing Chavez to a mass murderer, the worst scumback on earth one might say. Chavez has committed crimes, a lot. I dislike the guy, but al pan pan y al vino vino. As others have already argued extensively, Diego Arria is playing Chavez’ game by giving him easy targets for him to shoot.

            There is no room for error in this historic juncture. None. I will keep on repeating this, la masa no esta para bollos, we cannot afford the Diego Arrias out there right now.

          • “Oh wait, he only came back to the public world after La Carolina incident, declaring he would run for president,”

            Though, as I already wrote, I don’t support Arria’s bid for candidacy, I find simplifications troubling, to say the least — here and on La Hojilla.

            Arria was not running for president before the La Carolina incident nor for a long while after (actually no one was at the time). However, he had long been involved in low profile opposition activities on international level, both bilateral and multilateral. He was one of the moving figures and one of the coordinators of the Grupo 400+ , honorably denounced in Aporrea: El Grupo 400 la Quinta Columna pagada por la CIA. :

            Regardless of personal dislikes or political agreement, i submit that footwork to check facts is an asset to sound argument.

          • Sorry, let me reformulate what I say: before La Carolina, he was silently being an opposition leader. Why did it have to be La Carolina the detonating factor for him to go public and run for the presidency?

            I want a president who is willing to run the entire mile without having something la that be the detonating factor.

      • Totally agree with FT, this is reverse gear and playing Chavez’ favourite game. As if Luis Moreno-Ocampo hasn’t got better things to do at the moment with Syria and Libya?

  3. AFAIK Arrias began this action with the Hague a long time ago, before he put his hat in the ring for the oppo primaries.
    Are you suggesting that Arria should just drop his claims now because he might offend the more comeflor electorate or cause a distraction?
    For the record, I think that everything Arria’s doing is good and necessary. Will it get him elected? Probably not. Is he representing a broad swath of Venezuelans who agree with what he’s doing? I say yes, and furthermore he’s working on behalf of a lot of people who have suffered, are suffering and have died due to chavez, chavistas and chavismo and to date have had no real recourse or effectual spokesperson.
    I for one wouldn’t be so quick to “pooh-pooh” his efforts, even if you’re basing it solely on the bad timing of Arria’s trip to the Hague.
    There’s a lot a stake nationally and internationally and Arria is bringing to the forefront a lot of issues that need to be part of the discussion, not swept under the rug. (Psst, don’t mention the xxxx or the yyyy or the zzzz – Fawlty Tower-like).

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. Timing is probably the worst aspect of the whole affair, and that’s an aspect that I agree with on FT’s piece. Then, I think FT got carried away and went out on a limb to call Arria’s efforts “extremely cynical and incredibly pathetic” (although this was not on the article but in the comment section). I personally commend Arria’s effort to document Chavez’s crimes and to introduce the case in an international court of law. Have Chavez committed multiple crimes against Venezuelans? I don’t think there is a single soul that could answer that question negatively. Even chavistas know that Chavez has committed multiple serious crimes, but they believe that those were “necessary and justified” as part of his “battle against imperialism” and his “efforts to achieve social equality”. Would Chavez’s crimes qualify as crimes against humanity? I’d say (admitting my ignorance on the subject) that some probably do. Only time will tell if Arria’s efforts were really pathetic as FT qualifies them. I don’t particularly like Arria, but I commend his actions for the single reason that he is putting his money where his mouth is. I think he is doing this with a conviction that Chavez’s crimes ARE crimes against humanity, perhaps not in the league of a Gaddafi or an al-Bashir, but nevertheless.

  4. “Miss the good old days of never-ending, hyper-emotive, hyper-polarized political conflict narrowly focused on the figure of Hugo Chávez and ignoring the actual needs of Venezuelan people?”

    Let me translate that into medical terms: “Miss the good old days when the doctor tried to treat the patient’s massive brain cancer instead of focusing on giving the patient a clean room, a comfortable bed to lie on, and pretty nurses to look at?”

    Everything, absolutely everything that is wrong in Venezuela is a direct and/or indirect result of Chavez. And the fact that too many people are turned off political discussions when you mention that unavoidable fact is a good part of what’s wrong in Venezuela and also a direct result of what Chavez is, and what needs to be amputated from the Venezuelan political landscape is you want to have any meaningful chance of stopping your plummeting into the Fourth World.

  5. Quico
    Arria is doing something that he set to do a long time ago. He is investing a great deal of personal energy and risk, while using a considerable amount of knowledge for a cause that is more than fair. The fact that it has come to fruition at this time is kind of irrelevant, if it not were for the primaries and the particular place Arria has taken on it, which seems to be twofold:
    1.- He promised something (which is politically sensitive) and he is delivering.
    2.- He highlighted that the elections we are going to have will not be normal elections, and there need be a special treatment of the after-election even if there is a win, as the “institutions” would still be uncontrollable.
    So far I have been following Arria for a couple of years, and even though he has good reasons for confronting Chavez, it seems to me this is not a vendetta against the regime, but quite a realistic plan to look for peace by putting some heads on a stake while planning how to manage the amnesty that will be required. So far no one (apart for El Tigre) has put this forward.
    It is very important that the opposition discuss, and even just begin realising those demons while in the primaries process. So I guess I understand your point about it being toxic, but I do disagreed as it is just recognising the toxins we have on our systems and trying to work them out, rather than a “never-ending, hyper-emotive, hyper-polarized political conflict narrowly focused on the figure of Hugo Chávez”. We do need to have a plan to attack some obvious heads of the misdeeds happening in country, while leaving exit avenues and compromise positions for a huge chunk of the country. That is something Arria has some experience with from other international conflicts, and he is trying to ensure there is a plan. The plan needs be the contrary of a witch hunt, and if not planned is quite easy to become one, and the risk of it might scare several groups on every side. Also, the response from the other candidates, either placating this approach or taking part of it is quite important.
    Remember, the news of Arria’s denouncing in the Hague will only be heard in some opposition quarters, so from that point of view they won’t do much. Also, it would take ages to be processed.
    To finalise, I understand your long standing sensitivity in regards of our dinosaurs, and even though Arria has, naturally, some customs and inclination to how things used to be done, he is also adding value to the current process.
    Regards
    DomingoL

  6. I think there will be time in the future to pursue this type of things. Some people is desperate for “justice”. There are many wrong doings in the Chavez’s regime. i.e. corruption, power abuse, corruption, nepotism, etc. (did I say corruption?). But those energies are better spent (right now) in rebuilding the nation and its institutions so we may rightfully call a republic again. I think the last thing we need right now is to start a witch hunt. Also to give that feeling away will only lead chavistas to go on survival mode and fight like an upside down cat (un gato patas pa’arriba). You have to give them an exit. Let them be gone an never return.

    Adding a bit of philosophical complexity, many of the “injustices” are though to be fair by many (not by me thou), such as nationalizations, price regulations, etc. If such actions are unjust is a complex questions as justice is a very intangible concept. Is it just what the majority agrees is just? Or those actions that agree with fundamental values? But then, what values? . Or perhaps just is that thing that is better for the majority? There is a great book on the topic

    http://www.justiceharvard.org/

    Now, I agree with FT in that none of those wrong doings will qualify for crimes against humanity. This Arria thing started when the INTI took his ranch (unfairly, yes). So his motivations are quite personal. He is a very savvy pol and he is using a compound feeling for that cause. It is not clear to me how much of this fight is personal or truly altruism. Also I am not sure how much is he willing to risk in this battle. And by risking I mean to completely trash the opposition’s image and alienate completely a big chunk of Venezuelans.

    • Arria did not start his international campaign against Chavez after La Carolina was expropriated. He’s been doing that for a long time.

      Also, guys, this is not a personal denuncia by Arria. He is presenting evidence that has taken years to compile. This is an effort of several lawyers and human right activists who are using Arria as their spokeperson. Many of the human right violations he is denouncing are not know by the public.

      Arria may sound cuartorrepublicano and he may be “chavetizando” the debate. But these are serious abuses by Chavez’s government. Rodrigo is right in that we should be focusing on winning the election, that’s why it’s so great that Diego Arria is doing it without trying to involve the MUD or the rest of the precandidates. Whether he is successful or not, I don’t think it hurts the opposition to have yet other subjects of opposition debate in the media. We are gradually shifting to having the opposition on the spotlight..

      • Right, it’s precisely because we’re getting more and more of the spotlight that we need to be concerned about which face the opposition shows. Are we going to put forward an optimistic, forward looking, future-oriented face or are we just going to wallow in the stereotype of the viudas-del-puntofijismo fat-cat that Arria so neatly embodies?

        Guys, when a guy who so visibly lives and breathes East Side Traditional Elite Status as Diego Arria is the spokesman, we do 99% of the work of painting our (legitimate) grievances as the noxious ranting of a displaced elite. Painting us as such was the one lasting success of the Chávez propaganda machine. And here we are cheering a guy walking us straight back up that road? What are we suicidal?

        Arria is toxic. For every voter he’s re-energizing in the aggrieved middle class he’s turning off 3 NiNis. It’s just losing math.

        • “For every voter he’s re-energizing in the aggrieved middle class he’s turning off 3 NiNis. It’s just losing math.”
          (Oh dear, here I go again, with other pressing things to do but . )
          Quico, do you really believe that DA´s message and the Chavez/Sllva/Herrera/etc rants will get to and convince all those NiNis? Methinks that the former will, among the aggrieved middle class that watches Globo, more likely to betray MCM than HCR; the latter latter are likely to rally hard core Chavistas who watch VTV and don´t turn off the cadenas. Each might take a bite off the NiNi pie slice but I doubt your math. Maybe you have data; I don´t…

          I also wonder whether you are referring to the primaries, that DA is sure to lose, or to the far distant presidential election? The DA initiative may well reveal a more divided oppo field in the primaries but how much and what it forsages will depend on the behavior of all of the candidates as well as the ability of the MUD to smooth feathers in the ensuing months.

  7. I fail to see how saying you’re going to undertake a ludicrous project, paying for it yourself and sticking to it, qualifies as something positive. But I guess I’m alone on that one.
    The day the ICC lowers its standards, so but so low, as to have Chávez sentenced for crimes against humanity will be the day every one starts parading towards the Hague: Sarkozy (the Karachi incident), Aznar, Berlusconi and ol’ W for Irak, Blair, etc…
    For the record, I’m appaled by Chavez’ administration, but I’m not so drunk so as to compare the guy to Eichmann or what have you. Let’s be serious, for once. I’d like an opposition that doesn’t ridicule itself with extreme, drastic interpretative stretches like this. The whole, “lets get our pitchforks and run ’em outta town!”, approach is delusional.

    • Just to be clean Virtok, it’s Arria doing it, not the opposition.

      Also clear is that there’s no place in Venezuela to go for justice on these matters so Arria is simply taking it to the next level. Where else? Ghostbusters?

        • If a candidate holds a radical and non-sensical view and gains traction with a certain sector of the electorate, then said electorate cannot come out unscathed. Less so in Venezuela.
          Mutatis mutandis, if Cain proposes to electrocute mexicans, it’s very difficult for Republicans not to come off as chauvinistic conservatives, for exemple.
          Cheers

          • I beg to differ, Vinz. If Cain proposes to electrocute Mexicans, He comes as a nutcase. Only if Cain were to won the Republican primaries can you say that the Republicans are chauvinistic morons, and even then without absolute certainty.
            The fact ist, that there are crazy “Chávez-vete-ya” opposers, just like there are crazy chavista nutjobs shooting at innocent bystanders. There’s nothing we can do about it. Wouldn’t life just be simply better if we’d you just roll our eyes or put them behind bars accordingly?

          • There is another option: if he were to propose that, the Republicans should exclude him from their party, period. That’s the democratic way.

  8. Epa Vinz, so justice is a “radical and non-sensical view”? Mutatis mutandis then, los cubanos en el exilio son gusanos, right? Talk about radical and non-sensical view…

        • You, indirectly, by supporting Arrias’ preposterous attempt to use Den Haag to take revenge for his lost hacienda.
          Crimes against humanity…for Goodness sake, Alek, take your beloved Blair there firstly.

          • Kepler, place here for the benefit of the reading audience one example of my equating Chavez with Al-Bashir and Gadaffi. While at it, try and find also my support for Arria’s attempt to bring Chavez to the ICC. Good luck.

  9. I have mixed feelings with this situation.
    On one side, I think Arria is doing something very gutsy that needed to be done for a long time against Chavez. I’m sure we all concur that Chavez has been abusing the system, the people, the state money, and he has been doing it not in the “cleanest” of ways. Arria has been working on the case for over two years and has more than 500 people testifying. I am sure that there are many, many details on those files that are unknown to the public and that most likely are giving him ground for his case. I seriously doubt that someone with his experience in the UN would do something without knowing if it has ground or not. He has all my respect for this.
    On the other side, if there is anything wrong with it, it might be the timing. I’m a little concerned of the consequences regarding the MUD and the October elections.
    That being said, this might be the perfect distraction for Chavez’s presidential campaign, who cannot take anybody confronting him so directly and because many bad things will surface that he will have to deal with while the other elected candidate campaigns without getting too involved. it’s like Arria is setting himself up as a “cortina de humo” or “carne de cañon”.

  10. The proof of how dangerous and counterproductive the Arria approach is can be seen all through this comments thread: we’ve retrogressed 8 years to the self-sabotaging debates of the hyper-polarized era in an instant, just discussing Arria’s initiative.

    I have a private theory that this debate itself makes people stupid. I have a lovely aunt (who shall remain nameless) who is CONVINCED I’m a closet chavista because she once heard me say in public that chavismo probably isn’t quite as bad as stalinism. En serio!

    Why on earth would Arria want to inject this debate into the MUD primary? It’s like he saw that sleeping dog lying there and decided to whack it with a newspaper. Hard.

    It’s an act of amazing irresponsibility.

    • Ok, guys, Quico is right. Let’s give Chavez a gold watch when he retires, and let’s let him use La Orchila to rest up after he cedes the Presidential Sash to whoever wins a free and fair election where no element of the state, including public money and public airwaves have been used in favor of Chavezito.

      SI vale, we’ve all gone back to 2002 here.

      Coño Quico, sorry pana. It won’t happen again chamo…………De pana y todo…..

      NOT!

      I see nothing wrong with Arria trying this gambit. IF he fails, he falls on his sword, and he, not the MUD, not the other candidates, not democracy, nor puppies nor little green apples from Indianapolis in the summer time will suffer.

      If it gains traction, it distracts Cabeza e’ Chorlito and gives him a headache or three. If Arria gets lucky, Chavez will really suffer, on top of all he has to suffer yet. All the better.

      This is not 2002, Quico, that’s where you are wrong.

      • The best thing for Venezuela would be that Chavez suffers the same fate as Perez Jimenez. In exile, humiliated, a loser, but a silent one, unable to raise a ruckus. Probably not la Orchila. I would prefer to see him go to Cuba and let him be a burden to that nation and not to ours.

        Venezuela is not yet the Balkans or Libya. Nor I expect to see (or want) a NATO intervention around here. When the time comes, when a strong case is built we could take him to a Venezuelan tribunal. Although I believe (as much as it hurts) that the best for our nation is obtained by having him out of this place. It will be easier for people to move on than if we have long trial with the media focusing a ton of attention on him (and Chavez exceeds under those circumstances).

        • Rodrigo, La Orchila was part of my sarcasm bro. Perez Jimenez got to spend his exile in Madrid, nice and comfy and complete with right wing ass kissers who never stopped the adulation or the favors.

          If I had my druthers, it’s be the Gobi Desert, Siberia or somewhere similar for Mr. Chavez, not La Orchila.

          You are correct in that forgetting him is better than a long trial, however my sense of justice says he MUST PAY, somehow, somewhere, some time……………….

          • Roberto N,

            Justice would make us feel really good. Agreed. That’s easy. But we must do what it serves the nation. That’s a sacrifice we must make, all of us. And then, move on.

            The penitentiary system are meant for two things, to either reform those that could be reformed or to keep from society those that cannot be reformed in order to protect society. I think we agree that Chavez cannot be reformed, thus he must be kept away from our society and that is better accomplished far, far away, not in jail.

      • There’s just a category error here. Of course Chávez is a criminal. You try criminals in domestic courts. He’s just nowhere near ICC status. It doesn’t seem that hard to me.

        • Quico: “He’s just nowhere near ICC status.” Not that I disagree with you, but I must disagree with your intolerance with those who do. Arria is such a person, and has worked diligently to put together a set of materials that he (and not just a few others) believes are sufficient to get chavez into ICC status. I think, perhaps he should have taken it to the ICC quietly, let them determine if it’s right for the ICC, and only if it is make the big noise. That would have made your post a little different. Imagine if the ICC does take it. Are you going to change your mind about the category, or are you going to criticize the ICC?

          As to the comments on this thread, hey, you started it with the post! You shouldn’t complain. Or maybe we should take it to the CCC (Caracas Chronicles Court) to decide. Nah, it’s not a big enough deal…

    • Quico, now I fail to keep your train of thoughts.
      On one side you have been quite concerned about the “Unity fetish”, and on the other hand you are now concerned about us in this comment thread being able to discuss the nuances and effects of Arria’s Hague efforts calling them “self-sabotaging debates”. I find they are quite a healthy debate, and not hyper-polarized at all. Yes, commenters have different views, but is there a problem with it?
      Furthermore, putting things into context, from all things Arria said in last week debate, The Hague was almost a passing comment. The point about a Contituyente should get more debate and energy than this that is a fait accompli
      DomingoL

  11. At this point, I am less interested in Diego Arria´s fate at The Hague than in his effect on the opposition campaigns. Mario Silva´s and Chavez´s reiterative rants will be able to offer one more “proof” of the opposition´s treasonous, coup-monging wickedness but it seems unlikely that his Lone Ranger radical stance will taint (or retaint?) the opposition as a whole. He may hurt MCM in the primaries but he may actually be doing the others, especially HCM, a favor in the larger scenario.

    The other candidates´s messages are clearly different by juxtaposition. The difference could be stressed more in the future but avoiding the pitfalls personal attack — a luxury only blogs can afford. In the campaign sphere, that is better left to the Republican fauna.

    Though I consider motivations OT and would not vote for DA, I cannot help but mention that I have followed him for a long time and am convinced that his fervent opposition is not revenge for the confiscation of his farm, La Carolina. Indeed, the latter is a likely consequence of the former.

  12. I would disagree with Mr. Toro on this for I feel the political apartheid this regime has implemented is in fact, a Crime under the ICC jusrisdiction.
    It has made any oposition memeber identifiable, by publishing and distributing databases on CD quemaditos on the streets, so that basically everyone with a PC can maintain copies of Maisanta, tascon lists, and have a snap view of everyone’s political standings.
    This is de facto no less to what nazi germany did to jews by making them wear David Stars sowed to clothing (Etnically, jews and other europeans may have not been that easy to tell appart initially!)
    So, the Venezuelian “marked opposition”, would progresivelly lose jobs and other poilitical and civic rights, and begin “starvation” unless many decided to leave the country.

    The modelling and demostrative effect is also not lost in all the ones that were not “marked” and that otherwise depend on the state for their livelyhood (empleados publicos, contratistas, etc.)

    This is well documented in many books and other sources.

    Is it inhuman? yes: is it with the purpose of maintaining the regime?, yes. Is it fdone systematically? yes; is it targetet to identifiable groups? yes.

    Chavez et al, will get worse. The violence will escalate. In a couple of months and/ or years, I will hear you and many other say, thanks to Arria this dossier was handed in in November 2011 and we have a case open with the The Hague International Crimes courts….

    • I’m sorry, LuisF, but you do realize yours is like a parody of your own position, right? I mean, really!? “This is de facto no less to what nazi germany did to jews by making them wear David Stars sowed to clothing”…are you insane!? You did hear about, erm, the whole bit with the gas chambers, right? THE NAZIS WERE NOT TRIED FOR FORCING JEWS TO WEAR STARS OF DAVID, DUDE, THEY WERE TRIED FOR MURDERING MILLIONS OF THEM! I find it staggering that I need to write that…but, again, I think the debate itself makes people take care of their senses a little…

      • If you read waht your guest write, and not waht you want to say, you would have realised I did not go into the results of marking jews… that is another story.

        I am discussing waht this regime did to venezuelians and the results, so far, of it.

        Please!…

  13. And as per the effect on the Pirmaries and eventually the presidential elections! , let Arria and his 5% carry this message ,and let the other candidates playing the conciliatory approach carry theirs.

    Whatt is not acceptable is that we abstais from fighting all the right battles that need to be fought to win this war.

    Case in point Electoral system trustworthiness. Dios nos salve from reaching the presidential elections with this CNE and this electoral fraud.

    Elecciones manuales and a clean REP, streamline new young voter registration and registration for voters abroad. otherwise we will loose again.

    Te apuesto Quico, fuertes a lochas, this regime will not accept this, and the question to ask is, why? why not?

    Spain proved yesterday, that manual elections can provide trustworthy results within hours, and I would dare say at a much lower expense. (how much was the budget for yesterday elections? how much did it cost Spain to update their voter franchise database for this election? how many equivalent “Unidades tributarias” did each poll station cost?)…

    Vamos a elecciones, si. Vamos a votar, si. Pero no seamos pendejos!

  14. Quico,

    Great post. I think this Hague thing is bad politics, although I have no opinion on whether it’s going to fly wit the ICC.

    One caveat. whether DA single-handedly takes us back to 2004 depends on what the leading candidates/parties/media people do with this. I dont see HCR, PP or LL stepping on that rake. Nor do I see Ramon Guilelrmo Aveledo buying a KLM ticket anytime soon. And hopefully globovision will not make too much of a fuss about it either (I’m less confident about this one).

    Of course, Chavez and his minions will try to milk the story for all its worth. Again, whether they succeed depends on what the mud candidate says and does next year.

    – Rafael

  15. I think it’s fair to say, judging by the comments to this post, that Arria’s move is not what one would call “big tent.” It’s fairly divisive, even among opposition voters.

    • It depends on what you call “divisive”. Up to this point, the proportion is 75% in favor and 25% agree with Quico, give it or take.

    • Quico’s “no true comeflor” posturing is divisive. Arria’s gambit is not universally supported, but it’s nowhere near as controversial as Quico is making it out to be.

      FT, paradoxically, is making Arria’s cause more visible by giving it more import than it’s due. The Streissand Effect is in danger of being renamed the Toro Syndrome.

      PS– Personally? I’d be livid if Capriles or Perez took up this banner, but Arria is the perfect man for it. His goal has never been the presidency, but to bring attention to issues that may not be politically convenient right now, but that nonetheless need to be addressed.

      • It’s not that it’s controversial. It is that is a waste of time, a waste of space in the newspaper, a waste of attention. This Arria thing might be a catharsis for all those rabid people in Caurimare, but it doesn’t bring us an inch closer to getting Pedro Pérez (or actually José González, to be more exact), who lives in Guacara and has never been abroad and has no Internet connection and is the median Venezuelan, to our side.

  16. Es que acaso no podemos bailar y comer chicle?…

    I dont see wahy this should be divisive.

    Let Arria play his role, keep the primary candidates telling their stories,
    focus all the communications and strenght to win big in October, and to have the force to collect.

    BTW, Chavez has been preparing for over 13 years to deal with whomever comes to him to collect…. So hopefully you also have some planning done to what you will do with el coroto on the first day of office and then some!…

    Oiste EudomaR!?

  17. There are them as write of the regime’s not having committed X, Y or Z atrocity in the terms of the usefullness of the Arria initiative. One thing that that initiative achieves is formally to put the “Venezuelan Situation” smack in the middle of the ICC radar, possibly contributing to the regime’s NOT undertaking precisely those atrocious decisions that others who ultimately finished up there did. In other words, the Arria initiative may well work to the benefit of many Venezuelans prompted to active opposition to the regime in the future. As noted by another poster above, if not the ICC, then where? Also, if under the eagle eye of an ICC, will the PresMan feel inhibited from travelling in some areas? Would it be heplfull to Venezuelans if he began to get that uncomfortable ‘Einkreisung’ feeling?

    • Neddie there are cranks from every corner of the globe parading through the Hague every week asking for a prosecution on their pet concerns. That’s all Arria is…one more crank.

  18. This post is totally crazy! How is it irresponsible to seek justice in a court? We don’t have proper courts in Venezuela so why not try our chances somewhere else? Quico you really think Chavez will leave como perro por su casa if he is defeated?? Keep dreaming!

    • See, this is the thing. People think the ICC is just another court…it’s not: it’s a very particular kind of court designed to deal with a very particular type of crime.

      We shouldn’t flatter ourselves. Chávez isn’t one of history’s great criminals…he’s just a garden variety autocrat thug.

      • Then why is the Court so slow in gettingaround to dealing withCastro
        for example, or Mugabe. Just before Quadaffi’s death -a warrant was issued…

  19. 1. How many times these kinds of motions have been delivered to the ICC before by Venezuelan lawyers (either well-meaning or not)? Many times.

    2. How many times has the ICC turned them down? As many times as they’ve come.

    3. Is there a strong case for Hugo Chavez to be tried at the ICC? Arguably, no, given the previous attempts to do so, and the ICC’s refusal to see the facts at hand in that light.

    4. Can that happen while he’s Chief of State? It is very, very unlikely.

    5. Does Diego Arria know all this? I don’t know; even though he is a noteworthy diplomat, he’s not a international jurist.

    6. Does this action help to distract from the general opinion held by many Venezuelans that the opposition is undemocratic? Not much. On the contrary…

    7. Does this help the mainstream opposition candidates? Not in the least: they cannot go on and refute Arria (in fear of losing the necessary radical vote) nor can they endorse this action; and yet, all the ill will commanded from it will harm them.

    8. Whose presidential aspirations does this seem to help? Diego Arria’s (who believes, quite firmly, that he has gotten a poll boost from this) and of course, Hugo Chavez’s (who is deploying his “embattled” cry; let us remember that the Government has never abandoned its “2002-2004” mode).

    9. When has the government been at its most popular and powerful? Right in the aftermath of the political radicalisation of the opposition between 2001 and 2004. It took a major realignment within the opposition’s strategy, as well as a major political blunder by Chávez, to counter the effects of those years.

    10. Is Arria’s position legally just? I’m unsure of that, but I doubt it is on the grounds proposed.

    11. Is Arria’s position politically responsible? No, not at all.

  20. In any case: which are the news today? Arria’s gambit and Chavez’s plea. The MUD made an important announcement regarding the smear campaign against the opposition within the armed forces, but the noise will drown it. To whose advantage?

  21. I agree with FT and GTA and I think the crux of the matter is that Arria should not be doing both things at the same time – running for president and doing the ICC thing. He could be doing the ICC thing without running for president, and that could possibly politicize it less and it would have much less media attention. He could be running for president and not doing the ICC thing and that would just be a normal ego-trip, no harm. But the combination of doing both is potentially lethat. Hopefully, someone from the MUD – Ramon Guillermo Aveledo amongst them – has to go talk to him seriously and tell him dude… don’t steal the show, because we are going to lose it, the media is already losing it, and we haven’t won this thing yet. We could still lose it, for all I know… that’s what we should all suppose, for our own sake, What happens is that when the opposition is doing well and riding high like it is now, it’s more conservative and reactionary forces start gaining prominence and dominating the discourse, y nos terminamos autojodiendo. That, and not fraud, is what happened in 2004 (sorry si estoy poniendo sal en la herida de algunos…). This time, it is in the power of very few people to keep history from repeating itself.

  22. I haven’t had the patience to read all the comments, so I don’t know what the reaction’s been to your oh-so typical CC snark-fest, Juan, but you’re sure out to lunch on this one. Arria in general is the only one telling it like it is. Everyone else is pretending that we’re in a sorta normal election season. If you live here, and have your feet on the ground, and actually listen to people outside your own little circle of friends (get it?) then you realize he’s touching a strong chord. Every day HCR and PP and LL look more and more like Boy Scout candidates for student body president with populist pretensions. Talk about being out of touch with reality. You guys, really….

    • Eric, that was very Rafael-Poleo-like.
      Let me be clear: I like Poleo’s analysis and I partially agree with Arria’s stance and your opinion: any post-Chavez scenario won’t be a piece of cake. We have crippled institutions, corrupt judges and military officers that are allegedly helping FARC and drug traffickers. Those are problems we’ll have to address. HRC, PP and LL know that, even if they don’t talk about it.
      Why they are not talking about it? Because we cannot forget that Chávez supporters exist. You can just govern a country when a third of its inhabitants is against you and are willing to do crazy stuff for a guy willing to sacrifice and kill people to achieve his own goals (remember 13 de abril?). Candidates need to play nice, not show themselves like “Chávez-vete-ya” guys, even if that most of us anti-chavistas want to listen. They are trying to go back to the democratic game because the alternatives (general strikes, conspiracies, polarization, etc.) failed.
      Yes, it seems pretty crazy to try to talk your way out of an armed robbery, especially when the armed thugo is kinda crazy, but what else can we do? Try to grab his gun?

  23. Let’s focus: What is our objective?

    Winning, by a landslide, the elections on 7Oct. Will DA’s accusation at the ICC help or hinder us in achieving this goal?

    DA has every right in the world to introduce accusations at any local or world court. However, he has decided to participate in a primary process, so he is on board with the stated objective. Introducing the accusation at this particular moment, and using the debate to publicize it, jeopardizes the common goal, and is irresponsible.

    In order to be successful, we must now judge all of our actions by asking ourselves if it furthers our objective. This is particularly true of the Precandidates.

    • Equally OT: a search function would help masochists awkwardly re-wading through some 90 comments Maybe a zoom out option to better identify indents, too.

      • Oh, and also the possibility to both like and dislike a post. Usually, + and – should = 0 but sometimes, when the reactions are strong, one would like to register both :S

  24. wow, insane comment thread!

    Like we say were I come from: que yema tan azúl! I think I am going to go denounce Diego Arrias at The Hague for crimes against humanity by making us waste a day talking about this shit.

    Because seriously, my humble personal opinion is that having to discuss this guy and at the same time realize that a nontrivial chunk of oppo folks reading this blog take his crap seriously is a cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment!

  25. Wow! So this is THE Wedge issue in the primary election. Like I said over there, there are crazy people on both sides, and they will not change their minds, no matter what happens. Whether that has some influence in the middle, i.e. ni-ni, undecided voters and repentant chavistas is hard to say.
    Yes, Arria’s media hype won’t help MUD’s effort of avoiding polarization, but it’s not like the guy is occupying Plaza Altamira, screaming “Chávez vete YA”, quoting Art. 350 or burning tires. THAT was the spirit of 2002. Compared to that, Arria’s effort is rather bureaucratic and civilized, even boring: he files a complain and waits for an answer from an international court.
    Yes, probably the timing was not the best: he’s stealing MUD’s thunder, but you cannot blame the guy for rallying his base. And there’s some upside to this: by having a batshit crazy super radical candidate like Arria, whoever wins the primary will look like a very palatable alternative for the ni-ni, repentant chavistas and undecided voters.
    And don’t worry about Arria: economía del voto will kill any chance he has…

  26. Mark my words. Diego Arria is just being a good troll. GTAveledo understands what I’m talking about.

    DA knows he’s not going to win the primaries, he’s just saying things that others wouldn’t dare to -at least not in public.

    The Hague will serve as an international testimony of chávez’ wrongdoings, nothing else. Pero algo es algo!!

    • I was going to write the same thing about the coincidence of opinions between the Bull and the Baptist. In other matters, it is interesting that compiling documents and evidences of human right violations and submitting them to the ICC is considered a “radical” action by some people. You can consider DA actions strategically or politically wrong or simply stupid, but not radical. Radically stupid, perhaps, but not radical.
      My third and last comment: a possible outcome of this is the quick dismissal of the case by the ICC because of lack of grounds (assuming that FT and GTA are right), with terrible consequences for the opposition. This would be seen as a resounding triumph for Chavez as he could argue (falsely) that he has been released from any wrongdoing and that “it has been proven his innocence in an international court of law”. Imagine VTV, Telesur, etc. (the government propaganda machine) repeating institutional videos relentlessly announcing that the ICC has made justice for our beloved comandate presidente. Serious potential damage…

  27. In order to understand that “the entire opposition as a shrill, unfeeling, tragically out-of-touch cabal of East Side Caracas plutocrats?” is incorrect, rather than media hype and extravagant characters,

    I am interested in understanding what is the opposition’s platform with respect to several initiatives and programs that the Chavez administration has undertaken, with varying levels of success but undoubtably a level of innovation unseen across South America and Latin America in the last 50 years, mostly related to South American and Latin American/Carribbean integration, which the opposition seems to dismiss all in the same bag as more of Chavez’s “lunacies”.

    1. UNASUR – would this be entirely abandoned, sidelined behind OEA, CIDH, etc.

    What about using it as a tool against the drug trade.. or would the opposition simply follow the failed script implemented by Colombia and Mexico of kowtowing directly to the dictates of Washingon and the DEA. (Yes the FARC seem to be on their way out, but only a simplistic analysis could say that the drug war is being “won” anywhere in the world, much less in Colombia)

    2. Unprecedented bilateral cooperation for development and regional policy with Brazil, especially the Brazilian states neighboring Venezuela.

    3. ALBA – answer which on this blog I can guess, nonetheless it seems the opposition is ignoring a part of the electorate which may disagree with the implementation, posturing, rhetoric, and what could be considered the general give-away of Venezuela’s wealth to its needier political allies… but this part of the electorate could still be in favor of the general idea.

    4. The empowerment of the sector of the Venezuelan population which has received free or subsidized education, health services, food, etc. Put aside the political and economic aspects, in the social aspect will this group of people basically be shoved aside when such programs are cutoff in an Opposition government? Will their newly acquired skills be ignored by both a anti-Chavez government running the public sector and also the private sector, which is more likely to employ middle class Venezuelans who have their own economic problems but mal que bien, obtained health, food and education by their own means before Chavez?

    5. Free Software – Linux – Telecommunications. The Chavez government has undertaken a variety of initiatives aimed towards technological independence based on the free software / free knowledge movement, which has largely failed due to inept/incomlete implementation, but which a sector of the Venezuelan electorate favors greatly and is highly trained to collaborate in. Would the opposition implement this better, or simply follow the Microsoft-enforced and in my humble opinion- wrong- paradigm of proprietary technological/computer development?

    6. Telesur – Would an opposition government ignore what is positive of this new regional cable news channel, discard it completely, set in on a back burner with limited budget (starve to death slowly), or turn it into a new CNN en espanhol with only the same pro-market pro-empire politics?

    7. Mercosur – Would the opposition government decide to withdraw Venezuela’s bid to enter Mercosur, if so on what basis?

    • “free or subsidized education”
      What’s new here?
      We have now subsidized petrol and subsidized dollars for the rich, but free education? I got that decades ago, like everybody else who wanted. I was born in a public hospital that still is the only general public hospital in my one-million plus city.
      What I did not get back then was a “scholarship” to go to a downgraded INCE to spend half of the time hearing about Che Guevara and Chavez.
      My whole family went to public (free) schools before Chávez came to power. Most of the children of Boliburgueses go to private schools.

      “Would the opposition implement this better, or simply follow the Microsoft-enforced and in my humble opinion- wrong- paradigm of proprietary technological/computer development?”

      The national government doesn’t need to go either way. It should focus on giving enough money for universities and above all primary schools and secondary schools to thrive and make their choices. The open source model is not either or. If everyone developed open source only (and I have), someone else would need to pay the bills for those developers. It’s either mixed scheme (as done everywhere now) or it’s a completely state-directed economy (and we know how “well” the socialists developed software)
      The funny thing is that it is in capitalist societies where you more open source software being developed right now. It has its place. So? Chavismo has done nothing more than buy overpriced laptops from Portugal.

      As for Telesur et alia: I remember how sometimes Canal 5 and Venezolana de Television had some decent programmes…sometimes. Now it’s mostly rubbish…I wish at least they had something as the Soviets had…it is rather banana republic broadcasts they have now.

    • I think this comment deserves a post of its own, something like what Fareed Zakaria did for Newsweek in 2007-08: “What Bush Got Right.” Are some or all of Ch’s initiatives worth keeping, with major or minor tweaks?

      • Let me add that the state-directed, centralized model under which all of those initiatives sit needs to vanish before any consideration is given for their continued existence.

  28. Well, if trolling is not being rabidly anti-Chavez…. interesting answers Signiore Kepler, but did not answer the question: what is the Opposition candidates formal position on these issues? methinks they have none, and that is a problem from where i’m sitting.

  29. At the core of this whole discussion lies the need for justice. That, I’m sure many Venezuelans can agree on. We have witnessed and in many cases been subject of continuous horrible abuses. We feel frustrated and helpless to the point that any attempt for justice feels good, no matter how farfetched it may seem.
    I rationally understand that DA’s case will be dismised. However, I feel a bit of fresh air knowing there’s a file with valuable information in it to make our case, ready to be exposed.

    • Although the thought of Chavismo using the dismissal of the case (as described by Virtok) as proove a of inocence, gives me the creeps…

  30. I find this post and the ensuing debate fascinating. Where I come out is that FT is right. Radicalism and politics of division never gets anybody elected (lest anyone forget, Chavez was barely “left of center” when he was running for the first time). Arria’s point is well taken though: I for one, do not intend to forget that Hugo is a criminal who should be judged for his criminal actions and abuses. The laundry list is enormous. Justice, as Arria says, is a key part of the transition back to a nation built on democratic values. Failure to deliver on justice in Nicaragua is perpetuating the child molester Ortega in power. I do not want that for my country.

    Any one of the MUD candidates will be my candidate. Including Arria.

  31. Anyone undermining and exposing Chavez is doing a good thing, even former Crooks like Arria. How many of the millions does he have left? My guess is he’s starting to feel guilty in his old age.

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