Posts Tagged ‘Che Guevara’


In this 1970 photo released by the Public Archive of Sao Paulo State, Dilma Rousseff is seen in a police photo. Rousseff, who is running for president in Brazil’s Oct. 3, 2010 elections, was a key player in an armed militant group that resisted Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship, and was imprisoned and tortured for it. She is a cancer survivor and a former minister of energy and chief of staff to the current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AP Photo/Public Archive of Sao Paulo State)




A Satirical Site Skewers Chávez and Politics
CARACAS, Venezuela — This may be a perilous time to operate a Web site focused on politics here, given President Hugo Chávez’s recent push for new controls of Internet content. But one plucky Venezuelan satirical site is emerging as a runaway success in Latin America as it repeatedly skewers Mr. Chávez and a host of other leaders.
Named in honor of the capybara, the Labrador retriever-sized rodent that Venezuelans are fond of hunting and eating, the 2-year-old Web site, El Chigüire Bipolar, or Bipolar Capybara, is rivaling or surpassing in page views leading Venezuelan newspapers like the Caracas daily El Nacional.
The rise of Chigüire Bipolar, which has already drawn the wrath of state-controlled media here, and a handful of other popular Venezuelan sites focused on politics is taking place within a journalistic atmosphere here that international press groups say is marked increasingly by fear, intimidation and self-censorship.
Before threatening to impose unspecified Internet controls this month, Mr. Chávez pushed RCTV, a critical television network, off the airwaves andrevoked the licenses of 34 radio stations across the country. Mr. Chávez has also forced broadcasters to transmit live his speeches and televised appearances, which last hours.
“Chávez is a master communicator and a natural-born comedian, but one who doesn’t realize he’s at the center of the joke,” said Juan Andrés Ravell, 28, a part-time television scriptwriter who is one of the three founders of Chigüire (Tchee-GWEE-reh).
Mr. Ravell ascribes much of their success to the use of social media like Twitter and Facebook to lure readers to the site. Once there, they are treated to satirical videos and photo montages lambasting Mr. Chavez and other Venezuelan figures, sometimes even from the anti-Chavez camp.
Other Latin American leaders are frequent targets, too. For instance, Chigüire mocks the feel-good diplomacy of Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, portraying him as a bong-smoking bon vivant with a taste for Twinkies. Another montage derides frequent visits here by Iran’s president,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, contending that he and Mr. Chávez have grown so close that they have glued their hands together.
Chigüire Bipolar’s biggest success so far arrived in February in the form of a 5-minute video inspired by the American television series “Lost,” in which Latin American leaders of various ideologicals stripes find themselves shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island, forced to fend for themselves.
The video, called “Presidential Island” and viewed more than 450,000 times on YouTube, depicts Mr. Chávez and Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales, as star-crossed lovers who dine on American bald eagle. Colombia’s right-wing president, Álvaro Uribe, comes across as a prude, and Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, as a temptress who entrances Brazil’s Mr. da Silva. King Juan Carlos of Spain makes an appearance in which his dentures fall into the sea.
Oswaldo Graziani, 30, another of the site’s founders, said they drew inspiration from American television shows like “The Colbert Report” and Web sites like The Onion and also from a rich tradition here of political satire, including defunct humor magazines named after Venezuelan fauna like Morrocoy Azul (The Blue Tortoise) and Camaleón (Chameleon).
Mr. Graziani said going after Mr. Chávez’s critics, in addition to the president himself, and critiquing certain aspects of Venezuelan society were also priorities. For instance, Chigüire Bipolar has lampooned the student movement here by showing students more interested in swilling beer on the beach than in protests.
Another frequent target of ridicule is Mr. Ravell’s own father, Alberto Federico Ravell, a strident critic of Mr. Chávez and a prominent media executive here who said he was fired this year by the television network Globovisión as part of an effort to alleviate pressure exerted on the organization by Mr. Chávez’s government.
“We make it a principle that no one is immune, not even ourselves,” said Mr. Graziani, noting that their motto is “Partial, unfounded news from a rodent with psychological issues.”
“It’s difficult for anyone to battle against the supremacy of humor,” he said.
Some here try to wage that fight, however.
Mario Silva, the host of “La Hojilla,” or “The Razorblade,” a somber nightly talk show on state television that Mr. Chávez’s government uses to attack its critics, has condemned Chigüire Bipolar, describing its founders in February as partisan anti-Chávez drug-addicts. “We appreciated the publicity,” Mr. Ravell said in response to the state-television tirade against them.
In a separate episode this year, Mr. Chávez’s information minister, Blanca Eekhout, demanded that Laureano Márquez, a humorist who writes for the newspaper Tal Cual, be prosecuted after writing a short column imagining Venezuela free from the grasp of a ruler named “Esteban,” a code name for Mr. Chávez.
“Chávez’s government unfortunately doesn’t have much of a sense of humor about itself, which is why Bipolar Capybara has become an essential fixture in the national debate,” said Andrés Cañizález, a researcher on media freedom here for the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders.
Others fixtures persist in criticizing Mr. Chávez, especially print media like Tal Cual, El Universal and El Nacional. And the surging use of Twitterhere to transmit antigovernment missives has prompted a sharp reaction from Mr. Chávez, who recently warned Venezuelans against using social networks.
Pressure is building now for political Web sites to bend to the government’s will. Noticias24, a leading news site here, barred visitors from commenting on articles this month after Mr. Chávez threatened to introduce Internet controls.
Mr. Chávez issued his threat after another site, Noticiero Digital, published in its comments section a false claim that at least one of his ministers had been assassinated.
The government has not announced any official measures, and so far Noticiero Digital is the only site under investigation. However, several pro-Chávez officials have said that site administrators should follow the law applied to broadcasters and be held responsible for comments.
Mr. Ravell and Mr. Graziani, who earn a living as freelance television producers and scriptwriters, finance Chigüire Bipolar out of their own pockets and with a meager revenue stream from advertising and sale of T-shirts printed with their logo.
They produce the site with a third Venezuelan partner based in Miami, Elio Casale, in a chaotic flurry of e-mail, instant-messaging and BlackBerry text messages.
“We don’t actually talk to each other that much,” Mr. Ravell said.
In an interview, Mr. Ravell said he remained hopeful that Chigüire Bipolar was opening the way for more multifaceted debate in Venezuela instead of representing a final burst of expressive ebullience online in a scenario in which Mr. Chávez might succeed in exerting control over a medium that until now has largely escaped his sway.

“Satire,” he said, “always evolves to resist the attempts to extinguish it.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/world/americas/21venezuela.html
The MasterBlog



The Castro-Chávez link: What are 30,000 Cuban advisers doing in Venezuela?

The Obama administration has dismissed Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez as a pesky loudmouth. But he imperils regional security and freedom.

By John Hughes
posted March 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm EDT
Provo, Utah —

While two wars in Southwest Asia and a dangerous confrontation with Iran dominate President Obama’s foreign- policy worry list, oil-rich Venezuela, much closer to home, is becoming more than a minor irritant.
To date, the Obama administration has dismissed Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez as a pesky, leftist loudmouth, whose verbal eruptions against the United States pose no threat. But a new era of “Cubanization” in Venezuela should warn of a crackdown against Mr. Chávez’s domestic opponents and a stepped-up drive for socialist revolution across Latin America.
Chávez has been importing “advisers” from Cuba. There are now some 30,000 of them, many of them intelligence, security, and political affairs officers, as well as medical personnel.
Chávez’s recent installation of Cuban Vice President Ramiro Valdes in a key advisory role in Venezuela is seen by Chávez opponents as a sinister move toward greater “Cubanization” and Castro-style communism. Mr. Valdes is also Cuba’s communications minister and ranks third in the Cuban hierarchy. His job in Venezuela is supposedly to handle an electricity crisis – though his qualifications are suspect.
In recent years, Chávez has established alliances with nations that could be counted on to tweak Washington. Russia has engaged in military exercises with Venezuela and signed an agreement to supply up to $2 billion worth of weaponry. China is buying more than 330,000 barrels of oil daily from Venezuela and has signed an investment agreement to develop more. China also has just completed a $400 million communications satellite for Venezuela.
Iran has been Venezuela’s most ingratiating suitor. The two nations have signed dozens of agreements in recent years to boost infrastructure, energy, and manufacturing in the South American country. Chávez has visited Tehran often, pledging cooperation with Iran in opposing “US imperialism,” liberating countries from the “imperialist yoke,” and furthering “Bolivarian socialist principles” in Latin America. Chávez has consistently endorsed Iran’s nuclear program.
At home, Chávez lauds Fidel Castro as a political blood brother, and communist Cuba as an example for all of Latin America.
His governance has become increasingly authoritarian, detailed in a blistering report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. It highlights how Chávez has undermined judicial independence, intimidated or silenced opposition media, hobbled elected opposition figures, and criminalized dissidents and human rights groups.
Last week, a Spanish judge accused Venezuela of colluding with terrorist groups including the Basque ETA rebels and the Colombian FARC.
Once lauded by his people as a reformer, Chávez is now the target of angry street rallies, especially as he has rather blatantly plotted to stay president for life.
Cuba depends on Venezuela’s cheap oil (the US is also a major buyer) and would be disadvantaged if the Chávez regime fell. Havana may be alarmed by the fissures in Chávez’s support and probably welcomed the opportunity to position Valdes in Caracas to bolster Chávez.
Cuba’s leaders may also have some concerns about their own country’s political stability. Cuban dissidents say word has been passed up the military command that the ailing Fidel Castro may not outlast this year. His succession is by no means certain. Fidel’s brother Raúl, currently managing the country while his brother is incapacitated, is credited with being a better administrator than Fidel, but lacks Fidel’s charisma.
The Obama administration, beset by major problems at home and challenges abroad, may have thought it could delay confronting lesser problems in Latin America. This may prove to have been an unwise calculation.
Mr. Obama: Don’t be surprised by that 3 a.m. call.
John Hughes, a former editor of the Monitor, writes a biweekly column.

The Castro-Chávez link: What are 30,000 Cuban advisers doing in Venezuela? / The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

The MasterBlog


Venezuela murder-rate quadrupled under Chavez: NGO
Reuters
Thursday, March 11, 2010; 12:52 PM 

CARACAS (Reuters) – Homicides in Venezuela have quadrupled during President Hugo Chavez’s 11 years in power, with two people murdered every hour, according to new figures from a non-governmental organization.
The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), whose data is widely followed in the absence of official statistics, said the South American nation has one of the highest crime rates on the continent, with 54 homicides per 100,000 citizens in 2009.
That rate is only surpassed in Latin America by El Salvador where 70 in every 100,000 citizens were murdered last year, the OVV said, citing official statistics from that country.
Crime repeatedly comes first on Venezuelans’ list of worries. It has also begun to drag on Chavez’s traditionally high approval ratings as well as scare tourists who come to Venezuela.
“The problem is not so much the criminals, but rather the government’s inaction and lack of policies,” OVV director Roberto Briceno Leon told Reuters.
Chavez says he is doing his best to combat crime, which he blames on wealth inequalities caused by former governments.
He accuses foes of exaggerating the problem to foment fear, and has recently hiked pay for police officers, as well as launching a new national force.
The Interior Ministry, which last gave official crime statistics in 2004, declined comment on the OVV’s new figures.
Briceno, a criminology professor at the Central University of Venezuela and at the Sorbonne in Paris, blamed a weak judicial system and ineffective and corrupt policing in Venezuela, where he said 91 percent of crimes go unsolved.
He collates his figures from police sources and media reports. When Chavez came to power in 1999 there were 4,550 homicides whereas in 2009 there were 16,047, the OVV said.
That means Venezuela experiences every month about as many deaths as occurred in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s early 2009 offensive, Briceno said.
With a murder rate of 140 per 100,000 citizens, Venezuela’s capital Caracas has the highest murder rate in South America, only exceeded in the hemisphere by Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez.
Most of the deaths occur in crowded slums, but crime impinges on all sectors. In richer residential areas at night, cars shoot through red lights on often deserted streets and few people are willing to risk walking outside.
(Reporting by Eyanir Chinea; Writing by Charlie Devereux; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

The MasterBlog


VIVA LA REVOLUCION!!! … or rather …

LONG LIVE CHAMPAGNE SOCIALISM!!!

The New York Times

Venezuela Positions Itself as a Salon for the Left


November 11, 2008
Caracas Journal

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Nepalese Maoist smiled as he glanced around the lobby of the Hotel Alba Caracas. To his left, West African delegates to the World Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity chatted in French. To his right, the Egyptian author of a book on President Hugo Chávez puffed on a cigarette.

“This has been a most enjoyable forum, allowing us to learn from the glorious heritage of socialist revolution in Latin America,” said the Maoist, Chandra Prasad Gajurel, 60, a Politburo member of the Communist Party of Nepal, which put an end to that country’s monarchy in elections this year.

Mr. Gajurel joined some 200 other leftist thinkers from around the world who convened here for a few days in October to discuss transitions toward socialism, even as many people in advanced Western countries were losing sleep over the spreading financial crisis of global capitalism.

In hotel corridors where oilmen in business suits once hatched deals over glasses of whiskey, delegates in Birkenstocks and guayaberas discussed Marx and Antonio Gramsci, the leftist Italian writer. Such meetings have become a staple of life in Caracas, with Mr. Chávez’s government flush, at least for now, with petrodollars that can be used to attract sympathetic members of the chattering classes the world over.

Officials here have organized international encounters for philosophers, women’s rights advocates, the government spokesmen of nonaligned countries, poets and, in September, specialists in body painting.

Another event, Venezuela’s annual international book fair, began with fanfare here last week with the theme, “The book in the construction of Bolivarian socialism.” That was a bit toned down from the previous year’s fair, which had delegates pondering the question, “The United States: a possible revolution?”

Amid all the variety, few of these conferences offered as much optimism about shifting international events as the meeting for intellectuals a few weeks ago, which involved guided tours of Caracas’s slums for the delegates and panel discussions examining the evolving financial crisis.

“We must help the current capitalist model collapse, for on its own this will not happen,” José Déniz Espinós, an economist from Madrid, told attendees. “I do not know of one system that has collapsed on its own. For this reason, we must not succumb to euphoria.”

The conference, like most of the others, was held in the Alba, a luxury hotel taken over by the government last year from the Hilton chain. It is this country’s equivalent to the Hotel Habana Libre in Cuba: a drab complex once associated with American power that serves as a symbol of revolutionary change.

Not far from the welcome stand in the hotel lobby, the Alba’s curio shop featured souvenir statues of Mr. Chávez for 315 bolivares, about $147 at the official exchange rate (about twice the black market rate).

Those on a tighter budget could also stroll outside, where sidewalk vendors could regularly be found hawking a range of Chávez-emblazoned knickknacks for under $10. For the more daring, there were T-shirts championing Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the Venezuelan terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, who is serving a life sentence in France.

“It is wonderful to be in Caracas,” said Mostapha el-Gammal, 56, an Egyptian and author of a new book, “Chávez: Charisma, Revolution, Dialectics.” “The city has some nice nature, and less traffic than in Cairo.”

Revolutionary tourism notwithstanding, Mr. Gammal said a highlight of his trip was the opportunity to debate his book, which he said the Venezuelan government was planning to translate from the Arabic and publish here. “Is Chávez a mere populist or a genuine revolutionary?” he asked, rhetorically, in an interview. “I dismiss the first idea.”

And he got a call-out from Mr. Chávez himself when the president addressed the conference. “Chávez spoke my name into the microphone and told me, ‘Thank you,’ ” said Mr. Gammal, beaming.

Venezuela’s government also earns high marks from some foreign scholars for its creation of the Miranda International Center, a policy research outfit in a high-rise across the street from the Alba, and for prizes like the Liberator Prize for Critical Thinking. Franz J. Hinkelammert, a German-born theologian living in Costa Rica, was the first winner of the $150,000 prize in 2006.

The conferences, the prizes, the slum tours with a government security detail: it is all too much for Mr. Chávez’s doubters, people like Fernando Mires, a Chilean historian and philosopher who was here for a separate conference at the Central University of Venezuela.

On his way out of town, Mr. Mires, 65, was detained by security forces and exhaustively interrogated about his visit before he was allowed to board the plane. Mr. Mires, an outspoken critic of Mr. Chávez, who described the incident in an article in a local newspaper, said he viewed the conference at the Alba with resignation.

“Yesterday it was Mugabe or Castro; today it’s Chávez,” Mr. Mires said in a telephone interview. “Many of the attendees to these events are emerging from political frustration and see a chance for their ideas in an impoverished country that has been democratized through intimidation.”

Still, some in attendance at the Caracas conference seemed prepared to cast a critical gaze on their host, but maybe with a wink.

“It’s admirable, but there are also so many questions to see whether this process is sustainable,” Vinod Raina, a theoretical physicist from India, said of Mr. Chávez’s Venezuela. “The important point is that he has taken on the mantle of crystallizing forces in opposition to the empire.”

Thom Walker contributed reporting.


VIVA LA REVOLUCION!!! … or rather …

LONG LIVE CHAMPAGNE SOCIALISM!!!

The New York Times

Venezuela Positions Itself as a Salon for the Left


November 11, 2008
Caracas Journal

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Nepalese Maoist smiled as he glanced around the lobby of the Hotel Alba Caracas. To his left, West African delegates to the World Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity chatted in French. To his right, the Egyptian author of a book on President Hugo Chávez puffed on a cigarette.

“This has been a most enjoyable forum, allowing us to learn from the glorious heritage of socialist revolution in Latin America,” said the Maoist, Chandra Prasad Gajurel, 60, a Politburo member of the Communist Party of Nepal, which put an end to that country’s monarchy in elections this year.

Mr. Gajurel joined some 200 other leftist thinkers from around the world who convened here for a few days in October to discuss transitions toward socialism, even as many people in advanced Western countries were losing sleep over the spreading financial crisis of global capitalism.

In hotel corridors where oilmen in business suits once hatched deals over glasses of whiskey, delegates in Birkenstocks and guayaberas discussed Marx and Antonio Gramsci, the leftist Italian writer. Such meetings have become a staple of life in Caracas, with Mr. Chávez’s government flush, at least for now, with petrodollars that can be used to attract sympathetic members of the chattering classes the world over.

Officials here have organized international encounters for philosophers, women’s rights advocates, the government spokesmen of nonaligned countries, poets and, in September, specialists in body painting.

Another event, Venezuela’s annual international book fair, began with fanfare here last week with the theme, “The book in the construction of Bolivarian socialism.” That was a bit toned down from the previous year’s fair, which had delegates pondering the question, “The United States: a possible revolution?”

Amid all the variety, few of these conferences offered as much optimism about shifting international events as the meeting for intellectuals a few weeks ago, which involved guided tours of Caracas’s slums for the delegates and panel discussions examining the evolving financial crisis.

“We must help the current capitalist model collapse, for on its own this will not happen,” José Déniz Espinós, an economist from Madrid, told attendees. “I do not know of one system that has collapsed on its own. For this reason, we must not succumb to euphoria.”

The conference, like most of the others, was held in the Alba, a luxury hotel taken over by the government last year from the Hilton chain. It is this country’s equivalent to the Hotel Habana Libre in Cuba: a drab complex once associated with American power that serves as a symbol of revolutionary change.

Not far from the welcome stand in the hotel lobby, the Alba’s curio shop featured souvenir statues of Mr. Chávez for 315 bolivares, about $147 at the official exchange rate (about twice the black market rate).

Those on a tighter budget could also stroll outside, where sidewalk vendors could regularly be found hawking a range of Chávez-emblazoned knickknacks for under $10. For the more daring, there were T-shirts championing Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the Venezuelan terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, who is serving a life sentence in France.

“It is wonderful to be in Caracas,” said Mostapha el-Gammal, 56, an Egyptian and author of a new book, “Chávez: Charisma, Revolution, Dialectics.” “The city has some nice nature, and less traffic than in Cairo.”

Revolutionary tourism notwithstanding, Mr. Gammal said a highlight of his trip was the opportunity to debate his book, which he said the Venezuelan government was planning to translate from the Arabic and publish here. “Is Chávez a mere populist or a genuine revolutionary?” he asked, rhetorically, in an interview. “I dismiss the first idea.”

And he got a call-out from Mr. Chávez himself when the president addressed the conference. “Chávez spoke my name into the microphone and told me, ‘Thank you,’ ” said Mr. Gammal, beaming.

Venezuela’s government also earns high marks from some foreign scholars for its creation of the Miranda International Center, a policy research outfit in a high-rise across the street from the Alba, and for prizes like the Liberator Prize for Critical Thinking. Franz J. Hinkelammert, a German-born theologian living in Costa Rica, was the first winner of the $150,000 prize in 2006.

The conferences, the prizes, the slum tours with a government security detail: it is all too much for Mr. Chávez’s doubters, people like Fernando Mires, a Chilean historian and philosopher who was here for a separate conference at the Central University of Venezuela.

On his way out of town, Mr. Mires, 65, was detained by security forces and exhaustively interrogated about his visit before he was allowed to board the plane. Mr. Mires, an outspoken critic of Mr. Chávez, who described the incident in an article in a local newspaper, said he viewed the conference at the Alba with resignation.

“Yesterday it was Mugabe or Castro; today it’s Chávez,” Mr. Mires said in a telephone interview. “Many of the attendees to these events are emerging from political frustration and see a chance for their ideas in an impoverished country that has been democratized through intimidation.”

Still, some in attendance at the Caracas conference seemed prepared to cast a critical gaze on their host, but maybe with a wink.

“It’s admirable, but there are also so many questions to see whether this process is sustainable,” Vinod Raina, a theoretical physicist from India, said of Mr. Chávez’s Venezuela. “The important point is that he has taken on the mantle of crystallizing forces in opposition to the empire.”

Thom Walker contributed reporting.





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