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The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela exhumed, on friday morning, the remains of The Liberator Simón Bolívar, in a procedure announced by President Hugo Chávez at around 1:00 in the morning through this @chavezcandanga Twitter account.

"Hello, my friends! What an impressive moment we’ve lived tonight! We’ve seen the remains of the great Bolívar! I said as Neruda: Our Father who art in Earth, water and air. You awaken every 100 years then the People awaken", wrote the head of state.

"I confess we’ve cried, we’ve made oaths. I tell you: that glorious skeleton must be Bolivar, because you can feel his flame", he added.

He added: “My God, my God; my Christ, our Christ, as I prayed in silence looking at those bones, I thought of you! And how I wanted you to come and order as you did to Lazarus: rise, Simón, for it is not time to die. Immediately I remembered that Bolívar lives!”

In 2007, the President expressed his suspicions that Bolívar was murdered, so he ordered his death investigated.

"I wasn’t convinced that Bolívar died of tuberculosis," because "three months before his death, Bolívar traveled I don’t know how many kilometers to Bogotá", he said in November 2007.

Wow. Just… wow. Chávez’s obsession with Bolívar reaches a new low. I don’t even know what to say. Desecrating the bones of our forefather on Chávez’s whim… his superstitious words and religious overtones… the constant insinuation that he’s a reincarnation of Bolívar (“Bolívar lives!”)… and the rumors we’ve heard for years of Santería rituals being performed at the presidential palace makes this feel nothing short of macabre. I feel sick.

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They have no estimates of when it’ll be repaired. Ah, government monopolies are great.

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The Devil’s Excrement:

But it does mean that a message is being sent. After all, how can the CIPCC (investigative police) have so much time to look for Twitteros the same week that a girl’s finger is cut with a Machete by her kidnappers to send it to her parents as proof of life? Are they doing something about this case, or is that irrelevant to them? has the investigative police become that insensitive to people’s suffering?

The answer is that anything political has a priority over reality or suffering and Twitter may have been a battle that Chavez thought he could win or was winning, but it obviously has hurt him recently, thus some Cuban “Intelligence” official decided to make sure he slows down the spreading of putrid or corrupt news via the social network. What better way to make people think twice about saying something bad about the Dictator than this not so veiled threat?

And people forget that there is an additional implicit message in this. Not only did they arrest two people, but they had the means of locating them, after all, who puts his/her address or phone number in Twitter? The Government or the CIPCC had the technology to locate, find and detain these people. And now it says there will be fifteen more jailed soon. Thus, beware, you could be next, that is precisely the message that is explicitly being sent.

Tags: twitter
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Hugo Chávez’s Twitter Strategy

If you can’t beat them, join them, and if you still can’t beat them, arrest them.

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The CICPC [Scientific, Penal and Criminalistic Investigations Corps] are investingating another fifteen people for spreading rumors on Twitter, according to Wilmer Flores Trosel, Director of the CICPC. He said that they have “identified approximately fifteen people to be detained and they will have to explain to the country the intentions behind these rumors”.

He also said that if any message “causes public fear or is considered an act of terrorism, a banking crime or a computer crime, they will prosecute those responsible”.

We only had 53 murders in Caracas last weekend, so I’m glad the CICPC is taking care of the really important stuff. I feel much safer now, guys.

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The offending tweet: “Gentlemen, I’m warning you, withdraw from Banesco today, only a few days left, I told you.”

Out of 201 tweets, most of which are sports-related, this was the only one who had anything to do with a bank. Now, I wonder how a tweet from someone who at the time only had 32 followers and hadn’t been retweeted until the news broke today is going to “destabilize” the entire banking system.

If you’re in Venezuela and have an account on Twitter, Tumblr, or any other social network or blog, I’d strongly suggest making them private and/or anonymous, since it’s clear anything at all can be considered “destabilizing”, no matter how small. This is pretty scary.

The offending tweet: “Gentlemen, I’m warning you, withdraw from Banesco today, only a few days left, I told you.”

Out of 201 tweets, most of which are sports-related, this was the only one who had anything to do with a bank. Now, I wonder how a tweet from someone who at the time only had 32 followers and hadn’t been retweeted until the news broke today is going to “destabilize” the entire banking system.

If you’re in Venezuela and have an account on Twitter, Tumblr, or any other social network or blog, I’d strongly suggest making them private and/or anonymous, since it’s clear anything at all can be considered “destabilizing”, no matter how small. This is pretty scary.

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Officers from the Scientific, Penal and Criminalistic Investigations Corps [CICPC] arrested a man and a woman for being allegedly involved in spreading false rumors on Twitter to destabilize the banking system.

Wilmer Flores Trosel, director of the CICPC, said that the detained have been identified as Luis Enrique Acosta Oxford, who had in his power a cellphone with the Twitter comments that prove he was the author of the first message, and Carmen Cecilia Navas Castro, who had two hard drives, two flash drives and a cellphone seized.

Flores Trosel explained in a statement that “false rumors in social networks are clearly forbidden by article 448 of the Banking Law”.

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On Tuesday night, the kidnappers of the school teacher Jhoana Zambrano, who is 8 months pregnant, and her 7-year-old daughter, sent their family a finger, presumably from the girl, which was left near the “Volteos García de Hevia” cooperative, in La Fría.

It’s bad enough that the country is completely overrun by crime, but the abject cruelty and inhumanity of the criminals down here is what really makes this a terrifying place to live.

Tags: crime
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Venezuela is taking steps to turn into a “communal state” that substitutes the “neoliberal and bourgeois” model, by transferring power to neighborhood organizations that nevertheless will depend on the designs of president Hugo Chávez.

The Government and the National Assembly, dominated by the chavismo, are fine tuning a package of laws that enable from social property — which has generated doubts about its co-existence with private property — to the possibility of altering the political and territorial organization and division of work.

But analysts warn that even though the idea of “empowering” the people is valid, the ways to do it could end up subyugating it to the orders of the “presidente comandante”, subtracting political protagonism.

Chávez has managed to concentrate more and more power during the eleven years of his “revolution”, has increased the presence of the State in the economy, and for months has boosted legislative changes to anchor his so-called “21st Century Socialism”, a project of blurry principles, according to analysts.

"We’re trying to change the structure of the bourgeois, neoliberal, bureaucratic State that ignores the needs of the many", recently said the Minister for the Communes, Isis Ochoa.

The Minister admitted that the “socialist revolution” seeks to change the political system to cede public administration to the organized people. “Transfer all the competencies of the transformation of reality,” she said.

But government spokespeople have contradicted themselves while trying to explain if the communal State will end the descentralized power of mayors and governors, and existing institutions.

The opposition claims that the new organization substracts power from the voters of regional authorities, and that the law consacrates and privileges the socialist model and destroys plurality.

Chávez, meanwhile, claims that the “oligarchy” wants to scare the people by telling them that a communist dictatorship is coming, and that democracy is only possible in socialism and that capitalism is unfair and immoral.

Unconstitutional change

Observers claim that the changes the Assembly would make through the communal laws are illegal because they contradict the constitution. But they think it’s difficult that the Supreme Tribunal will stop them because their decisions tend to favor the government.

Chávez has said that the power resides in the organized people, and years back he pushed the creation of “communal councils”, neighborhood organizations that not only tend to the needs of their neighborhoods but have also gains supervising roles in the areas of education, economy and judiciary.

Minister Ochoa says there are more than 30,000 legalized communal councils and that they can join together in “communes”, which would have advice from the Executive to designate spokespeople, write a Communal Charter, and organize a parliament.

According to the proposed organic law of popular power and participation, the “communal organizations” can act above institutions without limiting their decisions.

"The popular power is constituent power", says the text of the law which must go to a second discussion before it can be passed.

The communes would have arbitration justice, a bank, barter markets, and a communal currency controlled by the Central Bank. They would also coordinate the “productive vocation” of its territory with the Federal Council of Government, an entity created this year and led by the vice-presidency.

That entity already has the faculty to dictate what each area of the country produces, a power that some sectors have denounced as an abusive intervention of the State in the activities of the private sector.

The opposition has warned about the risks of changing the political division of the territory, arguing that the communes would have discretinary financing from the Government, and that the governors and mayors would be forced to give up part of their budgets.

"The law doesn’t give more power to the people, it takes it away", said Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, spokesman of the Democratic Unity Table of the opposition.

In any case, in the transition stage that would start with the apporval of the package of laws the traditional and communal models would co-exist, which many claim would be messy.

"There’s a duplication of the State, and in the institutions you can’t have duplication because they take away transparency and credibility, and all of that is necessary for society to function", said analyst Claudia Curiel.

Chavista organization

The opposition had to join the wave of communal councils that the government started years back and that it ardently protested. However, it maintained its cricitism of the government because they consider it has difficulted the legal organization of its representatives and the decisions they take.

"Every commune will have to register at the ministry", said the mayor of Baruta, Gerardo Blyde, who was part of the opposition minority that took part in the creation of the 1999 constitution.

"Registering the communal councils has been an odyssey […], imagine what it will be like with the communes", he said at a meeting of mayors of the capital, alerting about the law.

The subject, which has generated concern among analysts and the opposition, has been debated in the media, but it’s complicated that it will be at the center of the electoral campaign for the National Assembly on september 26.

"This is the first step to destroy the federal democratic established in the Constitution. It’s the first serious step by Venezuela, from the institutional and legal point of view, towards communism", said the mayor of the capital district of Chacao, Emilio Graterón.

In Venezuela, governors and mayors are elected by direct, universal elections, while the communal organizations proposed in the new laws are named in citizen assemblies and decided by Chávez.

Do you want to know how much of a democrat Hugo Chávez is? This was all proposed in the constitutional reform of 2007, and the people voted against it with a resounding no. This is illegal any way you look at it.

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A man who was murdered inside the men’s restroom in the Autopista level, close to Plaza Jardín, at Sambil Shopping Mall in Chacao, was identified as Euclides José Silva Pérez, 32 years old.

Officers of the Scientific, Penal and Criminalistic Investigations Corps (CICPC) and Chacao Police cordoned off the place while they inspect the body, which received two gunshots.

Silva Pérez was with his wife in the shopping mall. He decided to go to the restroom and left her outside. Suddenly, two men went it after him, presumably to rob him. Once they were inside, they subdued him and shot him twice. They took his belongings and fled.

Security cameras in the mall recorded the moment when the subjects went in and out. The CICPC will determine their identities.

The malls were one of the last places that felt like a safe haven from crime in Caracas, where you didn’t feel exposed or in danger. Not anymore, I guess.

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Speaking of the World Cup, the way Chávez seems to jinx every single sports team he roots for has been a long-running joke here in Venezuela for years.

Speaking of the World Cup, the way Chávez seems to jinx every single sports team he roots for has been a long-running joke here in Venezuela for years.

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Can’t say I’m heartbroken over Maradona getting a lesson in humility from Germany in the World Cup.

Can’t say I’m heartbroken over Maradona getting a lesson in humility from Germany in the World Cup.

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Reuters: “Venezuelan young professionals flee Chávez’s revolution”

(Abridged translation of this article by Patricia Rondón Espín.)

Laura Bolívar, a marketing professional, is afraid of venezuelan crime, can’t find a future in president Hugo Chávez’s “socialist revolution”, and wants to offer a better future for her baby.

That’s why she’s moving in August from the sunny, warm country to the cold of Quebec in Canada.

During the eleven years of Chávez’s government, tens of thousands of young venezuelan professionals have moved to Europe, the United States, Australia, Canada, and a few sto latinamerican countries such as Panama and Costa Rica.

"What worries me the most is crime. My husband is a cop and he knows, he lives with it, works with it. You’re exposed anytime, anywhere", Bolívar told Reuters, a 35-year-old marketing professional who works for the oil services company Schlumberger.

"I could stay here and fight for my country. But what about my son’s education? What happens when he grows up? Will he stay locked up at home playing Nintendo because it’s safer than being outside?", she said.

Venezuelans with university degrees with an average of 30 years of age seek legal ways to migrate with their young children. They have money to sustain themselves for some time, and they’re willing to lower their salary expectations to enter the job market, explained the director fot the website mequieroir.com, Esther Bermúdez.

Venezuela has a short history of emigration, and there are no official figures on the subject. On the contrary, during the past century it attracted foreigners.

Spanish, italians, and portuguese moved to what was a growing oil company in the 1950s to improve their quality of life. They were joined by unqualified workforce from Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru during the 1960s, and political refugees from the southern hemisphere during the military dictatorship.

Even today, colombians displaced by the violence — affected by almost half a century of leftist guerrillas and drug trafficking — cross the common frontier.

But some venezuelans, trapped between rumors and bad portents about the future, want to escape the constant reduction in their quality of life with a growing inflation and shortages of basic foods like milk and sugar.

Migrating out of uncertainty

In the country, which imports over 70% of its products, there has been a foreign exchance control for the past seven years, and price controls that fail to stop inflation.

Also, the biggest oil exporter in South America has suffered and electrical crisis that caused harsh rationing, and businessmen have progressively restricted their investments.

But those who migrate don’t do it precisely for political reasons, and very few can claim refugee status, or economic reasons, because they leave their jobs and take money with them to start their new lives abroad.

The reason is fear, of the economy gettting worse, or of being a victim of the violent crime, explained Barrios, professor of the Central University of Venezuela.

"There are people afraid of the political process that’s going on in the country. And that fear produces great uncertainty", said Barrios to Reuters.

Chávez, who says he wants to drive Venezuela to socialism to benefit the poor, has nationalized broad sectors of the economy, from huge oil projects to stores that according to him hoard food to inflate prices.

But, despite an economic recession and the highest inflation in the continent, polls show that crime is seen as the most serious problem in the south american country.

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Quinto Día warns of impending dollar crisis

A report from the Quinto Día newspaper:

I’m warning you, so that you’re not caught off-guard, about the impending crisis in several industries because of the dollar shortage. The latest measure the government came up with is in the text of a letter the Ministry of Light Industries sent to several mobile carriers. In the letter, they tell them very clearly that they won’t receive dollars from CADIVI [Commission of Currency Administration] because they’re not considered an essential service. They’ll have to resort to the monthly $300,000 they’re are allowed to exchange at the Central Bank. But, they forget that this doesn’t cover the minimum needs from these companies. If this isn’t worked out in the following days, we might lose Blackberry services and international mobile phone communications. There’s something more. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson require $1.5 million each month. Toyota has spare parts until October. Does Chávez know about this? In total, the three mobile carriers require at least a billion dollars each month to function, according to documents they sent to the Central Bank and the Banking Association.

Makes sense. It’s obvious that a backwards government that wants to bring back barter as a legal form of currency is not going to consider mobile phone communications an essential service.

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Government admits it has 89,120 tons of “non-conforming” foods

When you were a kid, did your mom ever tell you not to waste any food because lots of people don’t have any? Mine used to tell me that all the time, but apparently no one in the venezuelan government must have had a mother, because the government has admitted in a report it has 89,120.22 tons of “non-conforming” food in its inventory, meaning foods that possess “special characteristics of age, expiration dates and others that preclude their sale in normal conditions”. In other words, it’s a fancy euphemism for “spoiled”.

Let’s read that again: This despicable government let 89,120.22 tons, almost 200 million pounds of food spoil in its warehouses.

According to the report:

Among the spoiled foods that the state company admits it has, there are 42,700.37 tons of milk, 16,254.25 tons of milk formula, 14,849 tons of oil, 7,545.04 tons of rice, 3,458.58 tons of sugar, 1,668.35 tons of wheat flour, 800.53 tons of black beans, 363.1 tons of beans, and 1,481 tons of other foods.

If you stacked those 42,700.37 tons of milk, which would be roughly 40 million cartons of milk, one over the other, you’d have an 8,000 km tall tower of incompetence.

Can you imagine how many people could have been fed with all that food? Can you imagine the scandal this would represent in any decent, civilized country?