Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chavez Makes a Brilliant Speech... Quico responds with ad-hominem

At the recent summit on climate change in Copenhagen, Hugo Chavez gave a brilliant speech on the root causes of global warming. He focused on the problems of global inequality and unsustainable development, both problems that are inherent to the capitalist system. He then proposed that the world take a different path, an alternative to capitalism, and suggested socialism as a possible solution. Here's video of the speech with English translation:

So what was the response from our chronically clueless friends among the Venezuelan opposition? In a nutshell, it was this: "But Venezuela also pollutes the environment, and they export oil, so Chavez has no room to talk!!"

I'm not making this up. It really was that stupid.

With this logic, no one could EVER discuss the cause of global warming and climate change, because EVERYONE contributes to polluting the environment in one way or another, and no country has a perfect record (especially the rich countries).

But not only that, their response is the definition of ad-hominem. Instead of responding to the actual arguments Chavez makes, they attack the PERSON who is making them. And, in fact, the clueless gang over at Caracas Chronicles has shown that they are entirely incapable of even engaging any of Chavez' key arguments.

Once again, our chronically clueless friends have outdone themselves.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Dumbest Development Policy Ever

I recently had an exchange with opposition commenter Torres on CaracasChronicles blog about his ideas for economic policy in Venezuela. And, as expected, Torres demonstrated the sheer ignorance and lack of serious proposals so common among the Venezuelan opposition.

His proposal basically goes like this: hand out all the oil money (about half of the Venezuelan budget) in equal amounts, to the Venezuelan population; an idea that has been proposed by the Venezuelan opposition parties before.

So, let's say Venezuela produces 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, and the price is $70/barrel, then that would mean that each Venezuelan would receive a cash payment of about $6/day every day, in exchange for nothing. Cash would simply be pumped into the hands of the general population without them doing anything in return. (Giving people an incentive to do nothing. Look out development here we come!)

Amazingly, some opposition bloggers think that this proposal would magically solve many problems in Venezuelan society. They think it would somehow eliminate corruption since the money would go directly to the people, yet they forget that government officials and other intermediaries would still be handling the distribution of funds. (Afterall, the money will not just fall from the sky!!!) And Torres even claims it would eliminate poverty overnight! (Somebody call the United Nations, Torres has found the solution for poverty!)

What they don't understand is just how bad this proposal really is, and what the real consequences of a policy like this would be. I explained all of this in detail it in a debate I recently had with Torres here and here.

In a nutshell, the results would be high inflation which would quickly neutralize the increased income of the masses. (So much for eliminating poverty!) But not only that, Torres' plan would mean that instead of using state revenue to invest in economic development, the state would be giving all this money away to consumers to spend!

In other words, the state would have drastically less money to invest in industry, infrastructure, healthcare, education, credits and subsidies to producers, agricultural reform, and all the other things that are necessary for development. So, the plan would not only condemn Venezuela to perpetual underdevelopment due to a lack of investment, but it would also condemn Venezuela to being an import-based economy, since there would be virtually no way to increase domestic production without the necessary investments!

Now, I've heard some pretty stupid economic proposals before, but this one definitely takes the cake as the dumbest policy proposal I have ever heard. That's because these guys have never taken the time to learn the complexities of development theory. They've never studied the economic theories of mercantilism or dependency theory. They don't know about world-systems theory, or neocolonialism, or the development of underdevelopment. They have virtually no knowledge of development economics, nor do they understand the extreme challenges to be confronted during the process of development. They can't tell you the shortcomings of development strategies like export-led development, or import substitution, let alone offer any ideas for how to confront these shortcomings.

No, they've got their own solution to the complex problems of poverty and underdevelopment that have troubled development economists for centuries: hand out free cash to everyone!

Sound stupid? That's because it is.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Morgenthau (and Quico) Are Lying Idiots

Opposition blogger Francisco Toro (Quico) over at CaracasChronicles recently showed his support for a ridiculous propaganda piece against Venezuela written by Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau. However, unfortunately for Quico and Morgenthau, it took the experts over at the Center for Economic Policy and Research only a few minutes to show how ridiculous the allegations are. Here is their response:

From my colleague Jake Johnston: below is the text of Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau's September 9 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela," with rebuttals for 21 statements in the text.

Points number 9, 11, 15, 20, and 8, and 4 are worth noting because they all deal with allegations made by Morgenthau that are either complete fabrications or without evidence.

Others are grossly misleading statements; most important are numbers 1, 3, 15, 18, and 19.

One other point worth emphasizing: Brazil is on the same page with Venezuela regarding Iran, as is most of the world. Brazil's foreign minister went to Iran last December, where he publicly defended Iran's right to enrich uranium, and announced that expanding commercial and other ties to Iran were "a foreign policy priority" for Brazil. And President Lula himself also defended Iran. Below are two articles quoting Lula that show his opposition to U.S. (and European) bullying, sanctions, etc. against Iran - from just the last week.


The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela

The diplomatic ties between Iran and Venezuela go back almost 50 years and until recently amounted to little more than the routine exchange of diplomats. With the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, the relationship dramatically changed. [1) In fact, the relationship deepened before this, during the Presidency of Mohammad Khatami. A meeting with Khatami and Chávez in 2004 saw the agreement for both the development bank, as well as the tractor production . With the election of Ahmadinejad, Chávez was worried the agreements might be threatened .]

Today Mr. Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez have created a cozy financial, political and military partnership rooted in a shared anti-American animus [2) This is just rhetoric, the vast majority of the agreements are economic in nature. Two large oil producers are natural allies.]. Now is the time to develop policies in this country to ensure this partnership produces no poisonous fruit.

Signs of the evolving partnership began to emerge in 2006, when Venezuela joined Cuba and Syria as the only nations to vote against a U.N. Atomic Energy Agency resolution to report Iran to the Security Council over its failures to abide U.N. sanctions to curtail its nuclear program. [3) This is very misleading: this was a vote of only the Board of the UN Atomic Energy Agency. The vote was 27-3, with 5 abstentions. Most importantly, if this were a UN vote, the vast majority of the United Nations today would vote with Venezuela, Cuba, and Syria on this point. Morgenthau makes it look as if Venezuela is isolated on this issue; in fact it is in the large majority.] A year later, during a visit by Mr. Chávez to Tehran, the two nations declared an "axis of unity" against the U.S. and Ecuador [4) Ecuador? This must be a typo, or else this is the strongest evidence that Morgenthau doesn't know what he is talking about. This doesn't say much for the WSJ editors, however, that they missed this]. And in June of this year, while protesters lined the streets of Tehran following the substantial allegations of fraud in the re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Chávez publicly offered him support [5)As did others, notably President Lula da Silva of Brazil]. As the regime cracked down on political dissent, jailing, torturing and killing protesters, Venezuela stood with the Iranian hard-liners [6) This is misleading, Chávez recognized the elections - for which no credible evidence has been provided demonstrating that they were stolen - but never said he supported jailing or torturing or killing protesters].

Meanwhile, Iranian investments in Venezuela have been rising. The two countries have signed various Memoranda of Understanding on technology development, cooperation on banking and finance, and oil and gas exploration and refining [7) Even the State Department acknowledges that each country has a sovereign right to have relations with any country it chooses]. In April 2008, the two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging full military support and cooperation. United Press International reported in August that Iranian military advisers have been embedded with Venezuelan troops. [8) The UPI article is very similar to this one. UPI, like the Washington Times, is now owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church and sometimes prints unsubstantiated allegations. This is not a reliable source.]

According to a report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in December of last year, Venezuela has an estimated 50,000 tons of unmined uranium. There is speculation in the Carnegie report that Venezuela could be mining uranium for Iran. [9) These are complete fabrications, with absolutely no evidence presented.]

The Iranians have also opened International Development Bank in Caracas under the Spanish name Banco Internacional de Desarrollo C.A., an independent subsidiary of Export Development Bank of Iran. [10) This was agreed to before Ahmadinejad became President] Last October the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed economic sanctions against both of these Iranian banks for providing or attempting to provide financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and its Armed Forces Logistics--the two Iranian military entities tasked with advancing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

My office has been told that that over the past three years a number of Iranian-owned and controlled factories have sprung up in remote and undeveloped parts of Venezuela--ideal locations for the illicit production of weapons [11) No evidence has been presented that such plants are being used for anything other than what they are supposed to be used for]. Evidence of the type of activity conducted inside the factories is limited. But we should be concerned, especially in light of an incident in December 2008. Turkish authorities detained an Iranian vessel bound for Venezuela after discovering lab equipment capable of producing explosives packed inside 22 containers marked "tractor parts." The containers also allegedly contained barrels labeled with "danger" signs [12) Many chemicals are dangerous, so this is not proof of anything. Note also he uses the word "allegedly," making this an even further stretch. ]. I think it is safe to assume that this was a lucky catch--and that most often shipments of this kind reach their destination in Venezuela.

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reported a high level of corruption within the Venezuelan government, military and law enforcement that has allowed that country to become a major transshipment route for trafficking cocaine out of Colombia. [13) There is no news here. Venezuela sits between the largest cocaine-producing nation in the world, Colombia, with which it shares a 1300-mile-long border, and the largest cocaine-consuming nation, the U.S. Venezuela long has been, and invariably long will be, a major transshipment route for cocaine simply due to geographic proximity.] Intelligence gathered by my office strongly supports the conclusion that Hezbollah supporters in South America are engaged in the trafficking of narcotics [14) The largest narcotic traffickers in Latin America are based in Mexico and Colombia. Note also the non sequitur here: what does this have to do with Venezuela?]. The GAO study also confirms allegations of Venezuelan support for FARC, the Colombian terrorist insurgency group that finances its operations through narcotics trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. [15) The GAO report does not confirm any allegations - it merely presents allegations. To date, the U.S. government has presented no evidence that Venezuela has provided any material aid to the FARC. Since the State Department has repeatedly demonstrated that they are no fans of Hugo Chávez, we have to assume that they would present evidence if they had any.]

In a raid on a FARC training camp this July, Colombian military operatives recovered Swedish-made anti-tank rocket launchers sold to Venezuela in the 1980s. Sweden believes this demonstrates a violation of the end-user agreement by Venezuela, as the Swedish manufacturer was never authorized to sell arms to Colombia. [16) Chávez addressed this directly: the weapons had been stationed at a military outpost that was raided in 1995, whatever was there was stolen. For the last 40 years, guerrillas in Colombia have stolen weapons inside Venezuela. There is no evidence that this has increased under Chávez.] Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami, a Venezuelan of Syrian origin, lamely called the allegations a "media show," and "part of a campaign against our people, our government and our institutions." [17) It is racist for Morgenthau to mention El Aissami's heritage. What if someone wrote, "Morgenthau, an American of Jewish origin, has written a diatribe against Iran and Venezuela?" That would rightfully be considered anti-Semitic.]

In the past several years Iranian entities have employed a pervasive system of deceitful and fraudulent practices to move money all over the world without detection. The regime has done this, I believe, to pay for materials necessary to develop nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, and road-side bombs. Venezuela has an established financial system that Iran, with the help of Mr. Chávez's government, can exploit to avoid economic sanctions. [18) Morgenthau does not distinguish between UN sanctions, which target the Iranian nuclear program, and U.S. sanctions, which are broader. Venezuela is under absolutely no obligation to abide by U.S. sanctions.]

Consider, for example, the United Kingdom bank Lloyds TSB. From 2001 to 2004, on behalf of Iranian banks and their customers, the bank admitted in a statement of facts to my office that it intentionally altered wire transfer information to hide the identity of its clients. This allowed the illegal transfer of more than $300 million of Iranian cash despite economic sanctions prohibiting Iranian access to the U.S. financial system. In January, Lloyds entered into deferred prosecution agreements with my office and the Justice Department to resolve the investigation.

In April, we also announced the indictment of a company called Limmt, and its manager, Li Fang Wei. The U.S. government had banned Limmt from engaging in transactions with or through the U.S. financial system because of its role in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to Iran. But our investigation revealed that Li Fang Wei and Limmt used aliases and shell companies to deceive banks into processing payments related to the shipment of banned missile, nuclear and so-called dual use materials to subsidiary organizations of the Iranian Defense Industries Organization. (Limmt, through the international press, has denied the allegations in the indictment.) The tactics used in these cases should send a strong signal to law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and military commands throughout the world about the style and level of deception the Iranians' employ. Based on information developed by my office, we believe that the Iranians, with the help of Venezuela, are now engaged in similar sanctions-busting schemes.

Why is Hugo Chávez willing to open up his country to a foreign nation with little shared history or culture? I believe it is because his regime is bent on becoming a regional power, and is fanatical in its approach to dealing with the U.S. The diplomatic overture of President Barack Obama in shaking Mr. Chávez's hand in April at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago is no reason to assume the threat has diminished. In fact, with the groundwork laid years ago, we are entering a period where the fruits of the Iran-Venezuela bond will begin to ripen.

That means two of the world's most dangerous regimes [19) Good luck finding any knowledgeable foreign policy expert, even in Washington, that would call Venezuela one of the most dangerous regimes in the world], the self-described "axis of unity," will be acting together in our backyard on the development of nuclear and missile technology. [20) This is ridiculous - no evidence has been presented that this will happen.] And it seems that terrorist groups have found the perfect operating ground for training and planning, and financing their activities through narco-trafficking. [21) What about Mexico, where drug cartels are running large parts of the country and is directly south of the U.S.? Or Colombia, a narco-paramilitary state, with drug-dealers high up in the government?]

The Iranian nuclear and long-range missile threats, and creeping Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere, cannot be overlooked. My office and other law-enforcement agencies can help ensure that money laundering, terror financing, and sanctions violations are not ignored, and that criminals and the banks that aid Iran will be discovered and prosecuted. But U.S. law enforcement alone is not enough to counter the threat.

The public needs to be aware of Iran's growing presence in Latin America. Moreover, the U.S. and the international community must strongly consider ways to monitor and sanction Venezuela's banking system. Failure to act will leave open a window susceptible to money laundering by the Iranian government, the narcotics organizations with ties to corrupt elements in the Venezuelan government, and the terrorist organizations that Iran supports openly.

--Mr. Morgenthau is the Manhattan district attorney. This op-ed is adapted from a speech yesterday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

As you can see, Morgenthau provides no evidence to back any of his wild accusations, yet Quico and other sycophants of the empire gladly offer up their support for this nonsense for its propagandistic value and as a way to slander Venezuela.

What is perhaps the most obvious contradiction of Morgenthau's logic is that it is apparently okay for the US to have close relations with many nations in Iran's proximity including Israel and Pakistan, (who they have supplied with nuclear weapons), Saudi Arabia, and of course Iraq and Afghanistan (which they have invaded and taken over.) But for some reason it is a grave threat if Iran has relations with any country in the U.S.'s "backyard" (yes, he actually calls Venezuela the U.S.'s backyard!).

But the logic of imperialism is so ingrained in the psyche of sycophants like Quico and gang that they are incapable of perceiving what is so obvious to the objective viewer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Letter to Opposition Author Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson is an author and professor at John Hopkins University. He recently wrote a book about the 2002 coup d'état in Venezuela, which gave a very one-sided account of the events, and left out some very important pieces of evidence. After hearing him on the radio recently, I decided to write him this letter:

Mr. Nelson,

I listened via web to a radio interview that you did on public radio a couple days ago. I couldn't help but notice that many of the things you said are factually wrong. I don't have time to go into each and every one of them right now, but I thought I should at least point out to you the most obvious one (and perhaps the most important to you) regarding the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela. Since you wrote a book on the topic, it surprises me that you could ignore some of the most basic pieces of evidence surrounding the events.

You said in the interview that the military decided to overthrow the Chavez government after they learned of the civilian deaths in the street. This is false, and even the coup leaders themselves have said as much. The day after the coup, the coup leaders discussed on national television their "plan", and how they had been planning it long before any deaths occurred. You can see parts of that video here.

Not only that, but you also ignore the testimony of Otto Neustadl and Mayela Leon, both journalists which were present when the military generals renounced support for the Chavez government on national television. Both of these journalists have given independent statements which reveal that the military generals were discussing the deaths in the streets hours before they had actually happened. Otto Neustadl even says that they told him the night before that there were going to be deaths at the march on April 11th. Those testimonies can be seen here and here.

An honest look at the available evidence shows that this coup was clearly planned in advance by opposition forces, and it also seems quite probable that the civilian deaths were planned and carried out by opposition forces. There is evidence that indicates members of the Metropolitan Police force, controlled at that time by opposition mayor Alfredo Peña, had infiltrated the La Nacional building and were, in their own words, neutralizing "los talibanes." Those audio recordings can be heard here.

As a scholar and professional, one would think you would be interested in including all relevant evidence about the events that day. However, I notice in your book that you fail to even mention any of the evidence above which contradicts your account. You also fail to mention anything about the media manipulation regarding the shootings on Puente Llaguno, or the overwhelming role of the media in the coup. I would be interested in hearing your explanation as to why you did not address these key pieces of evidence in your book, and why you continue to give a false account of what happened on April 11th, 2002 in your public appearances.

Thank you,


So, In my mind there are only two possibilities here. Either Mr. Nelson was unaware of these key pieces of evidence that refute his version of events, or he is simply dishonest, just like his friends over at CaracasChronicles. What's your guess? Wanna bet he doesn't respond?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Opposition's Idea of Free Speech

This is what you get for openly expressing your support for the Chavez government in Venezuela today. Chavez supporters have been violently beaten, and even killed simply because they dare to express their political inclination in public.

Despite all the opposition's pro-democracy slogans and protests about free expression, they have clearly shown their disdain for free expression over and over again. When the opposition briefly took power in 2002, they immediately closed pro-Chavez TV stations, while all opposition media maintained a total media blackout of pro-Chavez demonstrations. And more recently, they have shown their disdain for free speech as they have lent their support to the Honduran coup regime as it shuts down media across the country.

Can you imagine what opposition forces would be capable of doing if they ever got back in power in Venezuela?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Imaginary Repression... The Opposition's favorite game

Those who have followed events in Venezuela the last couple of years might have noticed what has become the Venezuelan opposition's favorite new game. I like to call it "imaginary repression."

The game basically goes like this: when the Chavez government does something that the opposition does not agree with, they use the occasion to act out, like a game of charades, dramatic scenes of state repression. They pretend that they are being repressed by the Chavez government, that all of their rights are being taken away, and many times try to model their charades after popular forms of resistance used in the past in other parts of the world. But their most recent charade, an attempt to imitate the Iranian protest movement, is perhaps the most ridiculous of them all.

To better illustrate how it works, let's take a look at a few examples. As far as I can tell, this whole game of charades began in 2007 surrounding the removal of RCTV from public airwaves. Leading up to this event, the Venezuelan opposition began pretending that the government was "closing down" the TV channel, when in fact everyone knew that RCTV would not be shutdown, and would continue to broadcast its programming by cable and satellite, as it does to this day.

However, this did not deter the opposition's game of charades. Employees of the TV station pretended the channel was going away forever, making an emotional scene to make the innocent viewer feel sorry for them, at times even using fake tears, clearly demonstrating their propensity to manipulate the emotions of the viewers to achieve political goals.

Opposition protesters began acting out dramatic scenes of "resistance" in the streets of Caracas, attempting to conjure up memories of events like Tiananmen Square in China, pretending that they were being silenced, even though, ironically, all the media (much of it under opposition control) gave their actions very detailed news coverage.

The largely white, middle and upper class opposition engaged in creative on-camera stunts to give the impression of a country under the control of a brutal dictator. In the photo, for example, you can see a lady who has chained herself up, covered her mouth, and is pretending to be repressed as the police attempt to get her out of the street. The lack of police repression forced the opposition groups to engage in violent acts of provocation, hoping to illitic a response from the authorites, but they were largely unsuccessful.

While the RCTV example is perhaps the most famous, opposition groups have since engaged in many other similar acts. Leading up to the 2007 vote for a constitutional reform, opposition students violently attacked pro-Chavez groups at the Central University in Caracas, only to later lead international media to believe they had been attacked by Chavista gunmen (all carefully detailed in the documentary Nuevas Caras). The event gave the false impression that the Chavez government had been involved in the shooting of anti-Chavez protesters.

Protests continued later that year against the 2007 constitutional reform, with the same pattern of imaginary repression, and similar attempts to illicit police repression. The charade continued with violent protests before the 2009 constitutional referendum, in which opposition students were caught with an arsenal of Molotov cocktails, later making the false claim that they were planted by the Chavez government. Another example is opposition mayor Antonio Ledezma's recent hunger strike.

But perhaps the most ridiculous and desperate attempt to give the impression of state repression in Venezuela has been the opposition's recent use of the internet communication tool Twitter.

Twitter became famous as a tool to subvert censorship after disputed electoral results in Iran last June. As protests erupted around the country, state repression was fierce, with hundreds of opposition politicians, activists and journalists jailed and tortured, shots fired on peaceful protestors killing dozens of people, and major media virtually blacked out around the country. Foreign correspondents were arrested, deported, and prevented from taking footage of the protests.

In this context of an almost total media blackout, the Iranian protest movement was forced to turn to other communication tools, such as Twitter, to organize further protests, get the message out to the world, and keep the movement moving foward. Under such total state repression of the protests, alternatives like Twitter actually made sense. In Venezuela, however, the use of Twitter is just another of the opposition's charades; this time in an attempt to emulate the Iranian movement.

In Iran, the use of Twitter was a last resort when protesters had no other means of getting the word out. In Venezuela, it makes no sense at all. The Venezuelan opposition still controls several major television stations, the nation's most well-known newspapers, multiple radio stations and internet news outlets where they have complete freedom to voice their criticisms 24 hours a day, and which obviously give them access to a much wider audience and much more freedom to express criticisms than the 140-character limit of Twitter. In addition, the international media has totally unrestricted access to the country, and its reports continue to be almost entirely critical of the Chavez government.

Twitter, if anything, would reach much less people than the regular avenues available to opposition voices through their very own media outlets. And while the Chavez government has made recent moves against some media outlets, the opposition still controls a relatively large portion of the media spectrum; easily enough to get their message out to most of the country.

So the use of Twitter in Venezuela really doesn't make any sense at all. That is, unless we consider the possibility that the Venezuelan opposition is not really interested in reaching out to Venezuelans, but more interested in creating a false perception of Iranian-style repression in Venezuela. Then it makes perfect sense. In other words, the only conceivable reason that the Venezuelan opposition would be using Twitter, an internet application that limits communication to 140 characters, and which is not very widely used in Venezuela, is because, once again, the Venezuelan opposition is playing their favorite game.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Supporting a Military Coup....In the name of "Democracy"

What a perfect example of the ridiculousness of the Venezuelan opposition. A little over a week ago, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped by the Honduran military and forced out of the country, in what has been condemned almost unanimously as an illegal military coup d'état. The United Nations, the Organization of American States, the European Union, and virtually every nation in the Western Hemisphere condemned the coup and demanded the reinstatement of Zelaya to the presidency.

But, remarkably, the Venezuelan opposition pundits have shown their enthusiastic support for this illegal coup. They hate to be labeled "golpistas", yet they support "golpes" with enthusiastic support, and a total manipulation of the facts. Here are a few examples:

"How can a coup where it seems that the coupsters may get away with it be a bonus for democracy in this continent? Very simple: for the first time perhaps in our troubled history, South of the Rio Grande there is grudging acknowledgment that there are three powers of state which in theory are equal. If anything the Honduras coup would have been worth because it touched to our sacrosanct presidential superiority, a danger that even the US must on occasion be reminded of."

-- Daniel of Venezuela News and Views blog

"Sunday's coup in Honduras has been portrayed as a throwback to the bad old days when Latin American armies got drafted in as the ultimate umpires of political conflict. But in arresting president Manuel Zelaya in his pajamas and putting him on the first plane out of the country, Honduras's generals were acting out of fear of a genuine and growing threat to Latin Democracy: the looming prospect of unchecked, hyper-empowered executive power held for life by a single, charismatic individual."
-- Francisco Toro of CaracasChoronicles blog

"The Honduran constitution clearly states that Zelaya ousted himself from the presidency the very moment he proposed to reform the article of the constitution. The military carried out an arrest warrant dictaed by the supreme court. The unconstitutional act the military committed was to take the arrested ex-president out of the country (i.e., paraphrasing, the constitution states that no citizen shall be forced-handed to another nation). Legally, the moment of the arrest was not unconstitutional, and was not an ousting. The moment the ex-president is handed over to another nation was unconstitutional, but still not an ousting. Naming the head of congress president was the constitutionally correct act following Zelaya's self-ousting."

--"torres" at CaracasChronicles blog
Now, let's deconstruct this mountain of nonsense with verifiable facts and evidence. The Venezuelan opposition pundits have made it sound like President Zelaya had committed some serious abuses, or had walked all over the Honduran constitution, which justified his ousting by the military. All of this is false, of course, as we will see.

What was the horrible act that Zelaya committed that created the political crisis than resulted in his overthrow? Well, Zelaya's crime was that he wanted to hold a national vote to consult the Honduran population about their constitution. Pretty horrible huh? And, even worse, the results of the national vote wouldn't even be binding, and would have no effect on the constitution no matter what the result. Zelaya simply wanted to guage public opinion, following a 2006 law, to see if the Honduran people were interested in having a constitutional assembly to re-write the national constitution. The question to be asked was the following:
"Do you agree to the installation of a fourth ballot [box] during the November 2009 general election to decide whether to convene a National Constitutional Assembly to approve a new political constitution?"
In other words, Zelaya's poll would only ask the Honduran people if they wanted to vote in November about having a constitutional assembly. It didn't even ask if they supported a constitutional assembly or not. It simply asked if they wanted to vote on it.

This man must be stopped! How dare he ask the Honduran people to decide if they want to vote about their own constitution?!?!? Well, as the opposition pundits argue, Zelaya was going to change the constitution without approval of Congress and the Honduran Supreme Court had already ruled the vote illegal, yet he continued forward with it anyway, disrespecting Honduran institutions.

But, as usual, the fact say otherwise. Zelaya was not going to change the constitution in any way (as you can clearly see from the question being asked above), not to mention the fact that the referendum was non-binding, so no matter what the result, no action could be taken.

As for the Supreme Court ruling, well, they only said a binding vote was illegal. They never made a ruling on a non-binding vote. And how can the Supreme Court rule on something that has no effect on Honduran law or the Honduran constitution anyway? The answer is, they can't. Not only that, but this kind of referendum is allowed for by Honduran law, so the Supreme Court decision was illegal, and unconstitutional. (not to mention undemocratic as it would prevent consulting the people)

But, the Ven oppos claim, Zelaya was trying to change the constitution to remove term limits so that he could be reelected and magically become "president for life"!!! Again, as anyone with eyes can see, that is not what the referendum (posted above) was about. It had nothing to do with term limits, and would not change a single letter of the Honduran constitution. So where do the oppos get this stuff??? Simple. They make it up.

So, as can be clearly seen, Zelaya broke no laws, did not go against the constitution, and did not abuse his power in any way. He was acting within Honduran law to consult the people, and the Honduran Congress and Honduran Supreme court were deathly afraid that real democracy (one where the people's will is actually carried out) might take over Honduras. As we all know, this would be terrifying for our chronically clueless friends among the Venezuelan opposition, so support for a military coup, "in the name of democracy", is the position they are holding on to.

Welcome to Chronically Clueless

Let's face it. The Venezuelan opposition is clueless. From continuous fraud claims, to failed coup attempts, to continually losing elections, to faking their own repression (sometimes even with fake tears), these guys have a knack for getting everything wrong. But what is most surprising, and fascinating to me, is their utter obliviousness and unenlightened view of the political process currently underway in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.

This blog is dedicated to them. Inspired by their most well-known English blog, Caracas Chronicles, I have built this site to analyze, make fun of, and thoroughly enjoy the Chronically Clueless viewpoints of the Venezuelan opposition. Enjoy!