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Editorial/Opinion

 

Gustavo Coronel: Venezuelan Governors
and Mayors visit Washington

 

 

This week Venezuelan opposition Governors Cesar Perez Vivas (Tachira) and Pablo Perez (Zulia) and the Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma have been in Washington presenting their case to the OAS , to the U.S. government and to U.S. public opinion. They have had a series of meetings at the OAS, the State Department and the U.S. Congress and have appeared in events at the Council of the Americas and the Heritage Foundation. Their main message is that there is coup going on in Venezuela, comparable to anything that has happened in Honduras, without the OAS taking notice. They have been in Washington to demand that the Venezuelan situation be addressed by the hemispheric organization and by the U.S. government with, at least, an equal zeal for democracy to the one they have shown in the case of Honduras. What is taking place in Venezuela, they claim, is not a coup d'etat in the traditional Latin American sense of military coups but, rather a coup promoted by the state itself (personified in Hugo Chavez) against the will of the Venezuelan people, against Venezuelan democracy. In Venezuela the governors and mayors elected democratically have been deprived by an abusive Hugo Chavez from authority, assets and financial resources they are constitutionally entitled to. Their headquarters have been invaded, their jurisdiction over state and municipal assets have been eliminated, their authorities systematically violated by the brute force of the central government.

Tachira's governor Cesar Perez Vivas describes it very coherently: “There is a progressive coup developing in Venezuela. The central government has simply ignored the electoral results that gave us a popular mandate and has taken over attributions that are constitutionally ours. Six months after obtaining the governorship of Tachira I have not been able to occupy the headquarters of the State government, invaded by government mobs. The military now control our schools and you can see the sorry spectacle of our children having to go to class surrounded by soldiers with machine guns. Sports facilities, airports and hospitals have been taken away from us. The judicial system is totally subservient to Chavez's wishes and there is no hope that they will act to uphold the constitution. They will not listen”. The Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, had to go on a hunger strike in Caracas in order to be given an audience with OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. He and the governors mentioned above presented Insulza this week with a detailed account of the constitutional transgressions of Hugo Chavez against the democratically elected governors and mayors. Although we do not have detailed information on the results of this meeting we have seen the preliminary and predictable opinion of Insulza: “We have no jurisdiction over the internal affairs of Venezuela. This is a situation that can only be resolved by the local authorities. I do not know why they (the governors and Mayors) do not try to establish a dialogue with the central government”. This a very cynical answer since Insulza knows very well that the central government, dominated by Hugo Chavez, is the one promoting the violations of the constitution. Chavez will not establish a dialogue with the elected members of the opposition. Democracy in Venezuela is dead and Insulza knows it.

It seems clear that all democratic solutions are blocked in Venezuela, although the governors and mayors still vouch to defeat Chavez through the vote. They face an uphill battle while Venezuela rapidly becomes a rogue state, in the same league with Zimbabwe, Iran and North Korea. This is as bad as it can get in Honduras, where the OAS has been very eager to pressure the Micheletti government into submission. This immoral stance by Insulza and the OAS will lead to a severe defeat of democracy in the hemisphere. this cowardly posture by Insulza and the OAS will sadly lead to bloodshed in the hemisphere since it will serve to harden the resolve of those who are fighting the forces of despotism in the region and increase the possibility of violence.


 

Gustavo Coronel is a 28 years oil industry veteran, a member of the first board of directors (1975-1979) of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), author of several books. At the present Coronel is Petroleumworld associate editor and advisor on the opinion and editorial content of the site. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views. Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.

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Petroleumworld News 07/23/09

 

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