Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yon Goicoechea receiving the Milton Friedman award

Please open this link and listen Yon Goicoechea receiving the Milton Friedman award ($500,000), on the name of the venezuelan students.

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President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has been caught

The New York Times, 25 de mayo de 2008
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has been caught.
Despite his protestations of innocence, Interpol has corroborated the authenticity of thousands of computer files captured during a Colombian Army raid on a FARC rebel camp in Venezuela. Only a small share of this trove has been released, but it leaves little doubt that Venezuela has been aiding the guerrillas’ effort to overthrow Colombia’s democratically elected government. The Colombian government released documents from the computers that suggest Venezuelan intelligence officials tried to secure weapons for the FARC and that Mr. Chávez’s government offered the rebels oil and a $250 million loan. Information in the files has already led to the seizure of FARC funds in Costa Rica.
Colombia can now take the issue to the Organization of American States, the United Nations Security Council or the International Court of Justice. But it might need further corroborating evidence, as Interpol only certified that the Colombian government did not tamper with the files but said nothing about the veracity of their content. Mr. Chávez has a more important choice to make: he can sink once and for all into the role of regional pariah, to be contained or isolated in the name of regional stability, or he can commit to becoming a responsible neighbor. All of his neighbors, and all Venezuelans, should urge him to choose the latter course.
Responsibility means that Mr. Chávez must halt all aid to the FARC — which long ago chose drug trafficking over political liberation — and use his influence to get the rebels to lay down their arms and join the demobilization process that is under way for Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary groups.
Mr. Chávez’s posturing as a populist liberator is wearing thin at home, where voters defeated his proposal to overhaul the Constitution so he could stay in power indefinitely. It is also wearing thin abroad, where Mr. Chávez has used Venezuela’s oil riches to meddle in Argentina, Bolivia and Nicaragua, among others. Latin America’s leaders need to realize that his actions threaten the stability of the entire region and that cheap oil does not lessen that threat. They need to remind Mr. Chávez of the commitment to nonintervention and democratic rule in the Organization of American States charter. And they need to make clear that he has only two possible moves from here: he can become a responsible neighbor or be ostracized in the hemisphere.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Venezuelan Student Movement for liberty

If you like how Yon Goicoechea talks see this video. Gustavo Tovar, Gerver Torres also talk. vdebate reporter
The Venezuelan Student Movement for Liberty
POLICY FORUMWednesday, March 12, 200812:00 PM (Luncheon to Follow)
Featuring: Yon Goicoechea, Former General Secretary, Venezuelan Student Parliament; Gustavo Tovar, Author, Estudiantes por la libertad (Students for Liberty) (Caracas: El Nacional, 2007); and Gerver Torres, Senior Scientist, Gallup. Moderated by Ian Vásquez, Cato Institute.
The Cato Institute1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20001
Also, if you want to see the website that Cato Institute dedicated to Yon see:

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

To the James Baker III, Rice University

I heard this speech was cancelled. Anyway, I wanted to show what Gustavo Coronel wrote, related with it He is very good.
GC wrote: This is not what Chavez has been doing. He has installed in Venezuela a government of gangsters, mostly for the political and economic benefit of the 200 or so members of the gang. Today Venezuela is in political, economic and social ruin, as evidenced by all major indices in the hands of independent analysts:
vdebate reporter
FromGustavo Coronel
To the James Baker III Institute for Public policy, Rice University
Dear Sir or Madam:
I have seen in your website the notice of an event on 'Governance of Oil in Venezuela' to be held by invitation only. I can not attend since I do not live in the Houston area but I wonder what are the requisites to be invited to this type of events, where, presumably, you would be trying to find the truth about the topic under consideration and should welcome people holding different perspectives on the subject.
Looking at the explanatory summary that accompanies the description of the event, ready to be distributed to all media, I sense an explanation for the 'invitation only', since whoever put this summary together is definitely playing with loaded dice.
In other words, the event seems to be designed only to preach to the converted and to be one more official event organized by the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC, as part of his annual propaganda campaign.
Why would I suspect this?
Let us see what your summary (see below, your program) says:
'Venezuela is undergoing a process of dramatic political and economic change of sufficient magnitude to merit the overused term 'revolutionary'.
To describe the Venezuelan process, as a political and economic 'revolution' could be acceptable only as a major caricature of what 'revolution' should mean, a radical change in the foundations of social life and in the philosophy of government. This is not what Chavez has been doing. He has installed in Venezuela a government of gangsters, mostly for the political and economic benefit of the 200 or so members of the gang. Today Venezuela is in political, economic and social ruin, as evidenced by all major indices in the hands of independent analysts: inflation, crime rate, unemployment, social inequality, corruption in government, free market practices, competitiveness, foreign investment, country risk. To call this 'dramatic'and a 'revolution' is very black humor. An institution carrying the name of James Baker would deserve better than this travesty.

'Focused on both Venezuela domestic and international policy'.
The author of this summary is probably thinking of Chavez's alignment with the Colombian narcoterrorists or with Iran's Ahmadinejad or with Hezbollah. He is also probably thinking of the five Chavez ambassadors who were expelled from Latin American countries for their open intervention in the political processes of those countries, or in the handouts of Venezuelan oil to Castro, Morales, Ortega, Kennedy III, the Farabundo Marti Front in El Salvador and other parasites of our Venezuelan people. This could be called foreign policy, yes, but a tragic and corrupt one.
NO POLICY, on the other hand, is what characterizes the domestic policy of the Chavez's regime. There is no governance in Venezuela. No country that has had a president like Hugo Chavez and vice-presidents like Isaias Rodriguez and Adina Bastidas (one of your speakers) can be expected to have governance or a coherent set of domestic policies.

'Venezuela's vision is one of social justice that is oriented toward the provision of basic human needs to all its citizens and of political empowerment for the country' s hitherto forgotten lower social classes'.
I have no doubt that the author of this paragraph is in Chavez's payroll but I am appalled that a major institution located at a prestigious university would accept it at face value, to be used as factual information for an official event of the institution. Are you familiar, Sir or Madam, with the situation of the Venezuelan population? : The crime rate, the absence of the rule of law, the rampant corruption of Chavez, his family and his immediate collaborators (corruption defined both as stealing public funds and as the use/abuse of the public goods/ assets for personal use), the odious social exclusion of large sectors of the population that differ from Chavez's obsolete political ideas, the nepotism, the use of public funds for handouts to foreign governments and individuals, the lack of structural programs to solve poverty? These and many other characteristics of the Chavez's regime are the precise opposite of what this paragraph states.

'For the Venezuelan government, promoting social and revolutionary reforms while maintaining the advancement of the country's oil industry remains a major challenge…
' Again, this paragraph assumes as a given that there have been social and revolutionary reforms in a country that, frankly, has only been subjected to the madness of the inept. Do you know Sir, or Madam, that Chavez has received about $600 billion during his almost 10 years in total power and that the country has virtually nothing positive to show for it?
  • Have you been in Venezuela?
  • Have you seen the state of infrastructure, the situation of schools and hospitals?
  • Have you heard our 'president' speak?
  • Do you know that excessive numbers of our children die at birth in Chavez's hospitals?
  • That street beggars are routinely assassinated?
  • That the former Attorney General is a crook, just to mention one single example of the deplorable moral qualities of the Chavez's gang?
  • That abandoned children in the streets of our cities are in the thousands?
  • That commercial papers sold by the regime are fueling the greatest corruption in the history of our country?
  • That the proposed primary school curriculum is designed for political indoctrination of our children?
  • That Chavez just gave Danny Glover $30 million of our money to 'make a film' and has given Castro about $2 billion per year in subsidies for the last five years?
  • That, four months later, the Electoral Council still refuses to make public the final tally of the referendum lot by Chavez in December 2007?
  • That Chavez has said that if the opposition defeats him in the regional elections of October of this year 'there will be war'?
  • That the laptops of the Colombian narco-terrorist leader recently killed contains numerous references to Chavez's alignment with, and support of FARC?
I could go on and on, but these examples will suffice to illustrate my point. What the paragraph calls 'empowerment of the poor' is only a criminal policy of handouts that keep the Venezuelan poor acting like beggars, instead of acting like proud independent citizens, capable of being self-starters.
Chavez throws fish around but is not teaching Venezuelans how to fish.
This, Sir or Madam, is the opposite of social justice.The reference contained in the summary about 'the oil industry being maintained moving forward' will sound clearly fraudulent to any one who knows what has been going on within PDVSA: six presidents and boards in ten years, the loss of some 800,000 barrels per day of production capacity; the lack of maintenance and investment; the violation of contractual obligations and commitments; the corruption within the highest management levels; the politicization of the company; its conversion into a food importing and distributing outfit; its loss of international prestige and credibility; its financial disarray, its bureaucratic adiposity; its utilization as a political tool, all of these and more items indicate an almost total collapse of the Venezuelan oil industry.

'The Baker Institute is convening a major conference…
'Dear Sir or Madam: a major conference cannot be convoked under such biased preliminary assumptions. It should be properly convoked only by inviting people having different perspectives.
For example, I fail to see the presence of speakers from the previous PDVSA, someone like Alberto Quiros, Luis Giusti, Pedro Burelli, Ramon Espinasa, only to name just a few who could give the attendees a more balanced (and a more professional) picture of the Venezuelan energy situation than some of the chavista speakers.
The presence of prestigious members of academia such as Terry Karl and David Mares is welcome, although none of them, as far as I know, have studied Venezuela in detail during the last months or, even, years.
Let us hope that they take upon themselves to present the other side of the sugar coated fairy tale that will, no doubt be presented by Ambassador Alvarez and his entourage. As being planned, I believe your event will be somewhat incestuous.
Of course, incest is OK only as long as you keep it in the family.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chavez aided Colombia Rebels, Captured Computer Files Show

Chavez Aided Colombia Rebels, Captured Computer Files Show
(Copyright (c) 2008, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
BOGOTA, Colombia -- A cache of controversial computer files closely tying Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez to communist rebels seeking to topple Colombia's government appear to be authentic, U.S. intelligence officials say.
The trove -- found on a dead guerrilla leader's laptops during a military raid in March -- is likely to ratchet up pressure for the U.S. to impose sanctions on one of its most important oil suppliers.
The files that have been made public so far have largely confirmed Mr. Chavez's well-known sympathy for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. But a review by The Wall Street Journal of more than 100 new files from the computers suggests that Venezuela has broader and deeper ties to the FARC than previously known.
These documents indicate Venezuela appears to be making concrete offers to help arm the rebels, possibly with rocket-propelled grenades and ground-to-air missiles. The files suggest that Venezuela offered the FARC the use of one of its ports to receive arms shipments, and that Venezuela raised the prospect of drawing up a joint security plan with the FARC and sought basic training in guerrilla-warfare techniques.
"There is complete agreement in the intelligence community that these documents are what they purport to be," a senior U.S. official said. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has been sharing its assessments with the White House, this official said.
Washington's stance is likely to hurt Venezuela's already deeply strained relationship with the U.S., its biggest trade partner. It could also add pressure for the U.S. to declare Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism, alongside Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, and impose sanctions.
Mr. Chavez has repeatedly said the files were faked by Colombia. "We don't recognize the validity of any of these documents," Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S., said in a Wednesday interview. "They are false, and an attempt to discredit the Venezuelan government."
Interpol, the international police organization, has yet to give its view on the files' legitimacy. Colombia asked Interpol to perform an independent forensic analysis, and next week, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble is scheduled to travel to Colombia to present the findings.
Mr. Noble declined to comment on Interpol's conclusions. He said Interpol hasn't yet briefed foreign governments on its findings. "Anyone who has told you that Interpol has informed him about our findings has given you false information," he said.
The computer files hint at the depth of Mr. Chavez's antipathy towards the U.S., which he often describes as an "empire" oppressing Latin America. According to one document, Venezuela's interior minister, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, last November asked the FARC to train Venezuela's military in nuts-and-bolts guerrilla tactics -- including "operational tactics, explosives, . . . jungle camps, ambushes, logistics, mobility" -- so that soldiers would be prepared to fight a guerrilla war if the U.S. were to invade Venezuela.
The documents are among more than 10,000 files that Colombian intelligence services say came from three computers belonging to Raul Reyes, the FARC's former second-in-command. Mr. Reyes was killed in March when Colombia's military staged a contentious cross-border raid into Ecuador, where he was camped.
The FARC itself has suggested the files are fake. A FARC statement published on the Web site of Venezuela's Information Ministry ridiculed Colombia's claims about the computer files, saying computers couldn't have survived the Colombian army attack "even if they had been bullet-proof."
A senior staffer in the U.S. Senate, who had been briefed on the contents of the files, cautioned that Mr. Chavez is known for his bombast, and that while tantalizing, the information in the files would need careful corroboration before action is taken against Venezuela. "We need to see proof of what is mentioned in the reports," the staffer said.
There have been some recent indications that the computers contain accurate information. Police in Costa Rica staged a successful raid on a home belonging to alleged FARC sympathizers, and recovered $480,000 in cash, guided by information from the documents suggesting the money would be located there.
In addition, Ecuador's interior minister confirmed that he had met with Mr. Reyes, after an email describing the previously secret meeting was found on the laptops and made public by Colombia.
The FARC, which has been fighting for control of Colombia for nearly a half-century, funds itself mostly through drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom. The U.S. considers it to be one of the world's main cocaine suppliers.
The FARC is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., Canada, Colombia and the European Union. For the U.S., any group that deliberately attacks civilians for political reasons merits such a designation. With troop strength estimated at around 9,000 fighters, that would make the FARC Latin America's oldest and largest such group.
However, Colombia's neighbors, including Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil, don't consider the FARC to be a terrorist organization. Indeed, Mr. Chavez has hailed the group as brother revolutionaries. He has thrown Venezuela's weight behind an effort to remove the FARC from terrorist lists and instead grant the group diplomatic recognition as a "belligerent army."
According to the senior U.S. intelligence official, the Colombian government delivered "thousands" of the controversial documents to Washington in March. Since then, American technical experts have studied them for signs of forgery and to assess whether they correspond to the methods the FARC typically uses to communicate.
"There are no indications whatsoever that they've been fabricated by the Colombians," the official said.
The official said that the most troubling information in the files suggested the FARC's willingness to purchase virtually any type of weapon from any source. The official said Mr. Chavez's government has increasingly been willing to help the FARC reach international buyers. The official cited the FARC's particular desire to acquire surface-to-air missiles, although he said there weren't any signs of the guerrilla movement succeeding.
During a speech Wednesday on Latin American relations, President Bush brought up the FARC situation. "Colombia faces a hostile and anti-American neighbor in Venezuela, where the regime has forged an alliance with Cuba, collaborated with FARC terrorists, and provided sanctuary to FARC units."
According to a study last week from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sanctions against Venezuela could backfire if done poorly. The U.S. would need to rally significant regional support or risk that sanctions become "counterproductive" by stirring nationalist or anti-U.S. sentiments.
Venezuela has mounted a vigorous diplomatic offensive to block any move by the U.S. to declare the nation a terrorism sponsor. Such a declaration would prompt U.S. economic sanctions, disrupt $50 billion in annual bilateral trade and jolt the already jittery global oil market, since Venezuela is a major oil producer.
In a speech last month in New York, Mr. Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador, warned the U.S. would pay a heavy economic price if it made any such move. "There will be very grave economic consequences," Mr. Alvarez said, adding that some 230,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs depend on U.S. exports to Venezuela, which in turn sends some 1.58 million barrels of oil daily to the U.S.
The documents suggest Mr. Chavez is personally involved in helping the guerrillas. In a September 2007 message to the FARC's ruling body, a commander wrote: "Chavez is studying our documents and has said that just like Fidel [Castro] has decided to delegate his other responsibilities to concentrate on the Venezuelan situation, he [Chavez] is ready to do the same to dedicate more time to Colombia."
Colombia has long accused Venezuela of letting the FARC operate on its side of the border, allegations the Venezuelans have denied. But according to one 2005 email, from Jorge Briceno (known as Mono Jojoy, a top FARC military commander), the rebels at that time had some 370 guerrillas and urban sympathizers operating inside Venezuela.
One email, apparently sent by a FARC commander known as "Timochenko" to the guerrillas' ruling body in March 2007, describes meetings with Venezuelan naval-intelligence officers who offer the FARC assistance in getting "rockets." The Venezuelans also offer to help a FARC guerrilla travel to the Middle East to learn how to use the rockets.
Colombian military analysts believe the reference is to shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, a weapon that the guerrillas desperately need if they hope to blunt Colombia's recent gains. "The FARC realizes that its military problem is air power," says Gen. Oscar Naranjo, who heads the country's national police.
In another email dated early 2007, FARC commander Ivan Marquez describes meetings with the Venezuelan military's intelligence chief, Gen. Hugo Carvajal, and another Venezuelan officer to talk about "finances, arms and border policy." Mr. Marquez relates that the Venezuelans will provide the guerrillas some 20 "very powerful bazookas," which Colombian military officials believe is a reference to rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
An officer reached at Gen. Carvajal's office said the general was the only person authorized to comment and he couldn't be reached because he was traveling.
At the meeting with Gen. Carvajal, another Venezuelan general is described as offering the port of Maracaibo to facilitate arms shipments to the guerrillas. The general suggests piggybacking on shipments from Russia -- from which Venezuela itself is buying everything from Kalashnikovs to jet fighters -- to "include some containers destined to the FARC" with various arms for the guerrillas' own use.
A spokesman at the Russian embassy in Washington declined to comment.
The proposals to obtain weaponry are part of a broad program of economic and political support for the FARC from Mr. Chavez's government, some of which was detailed in emails that were made public in the days just after the cross-border military raid that yielded the computer files.
Another email describes a November meeting between two FARC commanders and Mr. Chavez. The commanders, Ricardo Granda and Ivan Marquez, report back in the email that Mr. Chavez gave orders to create "rest areas" and hospital zones for the guerrillas to use on the Venezuelan side of the border.
Many documents talk about how to fit generous offers of Venezuelan aid to the FARC's long-term "strategic plan" of taking power in Colombia. In one document dated January 2007, one top FARC commander speaks of a "loan" for $250 million to buy arms which the FARC will pay back once it has reached power. "Don't think of it as a loan, think of it as solidarity," says Mr. Rodriguez Chacin, the interior minister, in another document.
Mr. Rodriguez Chacin's press office didn't respond to a request for comment. Earlier this week, he dismissed Colombian newspaper reports that Interpol had confirmed that the computer documents were authentic, according to an Interior Ministry press release. "Imagine somebody taking [evidence] home and manipulating it as he wants, and afterwards presenting it," he said. "What court in the world will accept that evidence?"
While the documents indicate that the FARC is appreciative of Venezuela's efforts, privately the guerrillas occasionally make fun of the Venezuelans' work habits. "It hasn't been easy for us to adapt to the way of being of the Venezuelans," complains Mr. Reyes in one document. "It doesn't seem as if they are conscious of their boring lack of formality." Mr. Chavez "always leaves things until the last moment."

David Gauthier-Villars in Paris and David Crawford in Berlin contributed to this article.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Venezuelan President Chavez' family accused of corruption

Power+Money=Corruption=Hugo Chavez+Hugo's Family
vdebate reporter

Venezuelan President Chavez' family accused of corruption
Posted on Mon, Apr. 28, 2008

Hugo de los Reyes Chavez, the governor of Barinas state and father of President Hugo Chavez, at a ceremony honoring him in the city of Barinas. His wife Elena Frias de Chavez is to the left.
BARINAS, Venezuela -- Group after group -- seven in all -- climbed onto the modest stage, each one bearing a plaque honoring a man known throughout this western plains state as ``El Maestro.'' Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, father of Venezuela's president, is winding down a 10-year tenure as Barinas' governor.
But by the time the two-hour ceremony had ended in a sweaty gymnasium here, half of the party loyalists in red T-shirts had departed.
It was a symbol of the trouble the Chávez family is facing outside the gymnasium. One of President Hugo Chávez's brothers is no longer assured of winning the election in November to succeed their father, a hometurf defeat that would badly wound the president and his socialist ``revolution.''
Besides the governor, four of President Chávez's five other brothers play a key role in the state.
Argenis is secretary of state and the real power in Barinas since a stroke enfeebled El Maestro, analysts say.
Aníbal Chávez is the mayor of Sabaneta, the town where the president and his brothers were born.
Adelis Chávez works for Banco Sofitasa, which handles the banking needs of the state government, and he was responsible for building a soccer stadium.
Narciso Chávez is politically active behind the scenes in Barinas.
Adán is the one brother who doesn't live in Barinas, but he is the president's minister of education and is seen as the one most likely to run for governor, given the corruption accusations tainting the other brothers.
Barinas residents have become fed up with what they see as the heavy-handed and arrogant ways of the Chávez family, analysts and average citizens alike say.
One example that rankles widely: The governor and his wife travel in a caravan of SUVs with a police escort that halts all traffic to let them pass.
Governor Chávez spent millions of dollars to build a sugar refinery that has yet to open, and millions more for a new soccer stadium that remains unfinished, a year after it was inaugurated for the America's Cup tournament, analysts said.

Gehard Cartay, who was Barinas' governor 1993-96, said the state government spends its money in secret and no longer seeks public bids for big infrastructure projects. Even Governor Chávez's salary is hidden, he added.
''They are not the same poor family as before,'' Cartay said. ``It's hard to hide wealth in a small state like Barinas.''
An ambitious congressman from Barinas has broken with President Chávez's political party by trying to capitalize on the disenchantment, at a time when the president has lost public support nationally as well as his aura of invincibility after suffering his first electoral defeat when voters in December rejected expanding his power.
The congressman, Wilmer Azuaje, has launched his campaign for governor by accusing the elder Chávez and two of the president's brothers of using public funds to buy ranches in Barinas and using straw men to hide the purchases.
''Everybody knows this has been going on,'' said Angel Díaz, whose brother Frenchy, a local mayor, is also a candidate for governor. ``That the accusations came from someone within the Chávez camp has been a bombshell.''
Elena Frías de Chávez, wife of the governor and mother of the president, is known for her flashy jewelry and for reputed visits to a plastic surgeon. She had a quick response when asked about the accusations.
''It's all about envy,'' she said on her way into the gymnasium ceremony. ``These people are uneducated. They want to pull us down to their level. They are pitiful lowlifes. They're not used to a single family holding such power.''
No one disputes that El Maestro -- a nickname dating to his days as a schoolteacher -- and his children wield enormous power in Barinas, which is both a state and a city.
Barinas could be an underdeveloped version of West Texas, with its cattle ranches, country music and stifling heat. Open-air thatched roof restaurants serve meat carved from flanks of beef cooked slowly on poles around a campfire.
Barinas is one of Venezuela's poorest states.
Hugo was born in a shack with a dirt floor in Sabaneta. The family's home in the city of Barinas, where they moved when Hugo was a teenager, was a modest upgrade.
Older residents remember him dreaming far more about pitching for the San Francisco Giants than trying to turn his country into a Socialist paradise.
Hugo de los Reyes Chávez was a state leader with Copei, Venezuela's center-right political party.
About 30 years ago, he bought a ranch called La Chavera and raised pigs and chickens.
''It was a very simple place,'' recalled Antonio Bastidas, a neighbor of the Chávez clan and now a political foe. ``I helped them slaughter the pigs and chickens. They earned just enough to keep it going.''
La Chavera has doubled in size to 150 acres, now has milk cows and is a state-of-the-art ranch, said Bastidas. Asked how the elder Chávez paid for this, Bastidas replied, ``Well, he didn't win the lottery.''
Congressman Azuaje has been more direct in his comments. He has accused the governor and Argenis and Narciso Chávez of secretly buying up to 17 ranches in Barinas. He notes that records on one of the ranches, La Malagueña, list the longtime watchman at La Chavera as having paid $400,000 to buy it.
Locals seem to believe that the ranch belongs to the Chávez family. On the way to La Malagueña, Azuaje repeatedly pulled over on the two-lane country road to ask small-time farmers if they knew how to get to the ''Chávez ranch.'' Seven of eight people told him it was just a little farther down the road.
The governor and his sons ''see Barinas as their own personal hacienda,'' Azuaje said. ``They're exploiting their last name. But Barinas doesn't belong to them.''
Azuaje has presented ownership documents on five of the ranches to the national prosecutor and a congressional committee.
He would not have been welcome at the gymnasium, where 2,000 of the Chávez faithful gathered for El Maestro's annual state of the state speech.
''He's a good person,'' said William Herrera, who, like several others interviewed, said he worked for state government. ``He listens to the people and is accessible.''
But the good will seemed to seep out of the gymnasium while the elder Chávez read his speech in a monotone so uncaptivating that even his sons soon ignored it to talk with seatmates.
''I haven't lied,'' Hugo de los Reyes Chávez said at one point. ``I haven't violated any ethical principles.''
In Caracas, party leaders have called for an investigation of Azuaje and for his expulsion from the party.
One party stalwart said on a television show that Azuaje frequented prostitutes and abused drugs. Azuaje promptly tested negative for cocaine and marijuana and displayed the results on his own show.
The congressman has been careful not to implicate President Chávez.
The president has refrained from attacking Azuaje, instead saying that his brothers deserve the right to defend themselves.
Azuaje, 31, has been a political leader in Barinas since 2000 and was elected to Congress in 2005.
He likes to drive fast, with one hand on the wheel of his SUV and the other dialing his cell phone or changing the channels on the small dashboard TV. His 20-year-old girlfriend was a candidate for Miss Venezuela last year.
Azuaje said he had no choice but to go public after receiving information about the ranches.
''The president says that revolutionaries have to tell the truth,'' Azuaje said. ``If you don't denounce corruption, you are an accomplice.''
Others ascribe less pure motives.
''It's like pirates fighting over the booty,'' said Jesús Alfonso Sánchez, a law professor and former congressman. ``They are turning on themselves. Everybody's talking about it.''

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blog of Yoani Sanchez

Interesting blog from Yoani Sánchez (1975). She lives in Cuba and write about how is life there.

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