December 26, 2002

My good friend Gabe Vecchi sent along the following letter and introduction, which pretty much speaks for itself. It concerns the current situation in Venezuela, which is not getting a lot of notice here but is rapidly approaching a breaking point. The introduction follows:

As you may or may not know, Venezuela is currently in its worst political crisis in memory. The country has been in a complete national strike for the past 23 days, in an attempt to force elections in the country, and get rid of a polarizing and destructive president — whose approval rating is less than 30%. Oil output is down over 90%, as is all economic and commercial activity. Civil war seems imminent, and there have been reports of the president having brought in FARC guerrillas from Colombia and mercenaries from Cuba.

I was asked to distribute this description of why this is going on, in English, written by a friend, in an attempt to get the word out around the world of what is going on there. The person who wrote this is no radical, rather a father (and grandfather), a trained professional and a patriot.

Please read this and forward it to anyone who may be interested. There is not much the USA can do at this time, but if the American citizens are educated about what is going on, they will be less likely to support an American policy to maintain Chavez in power. All the Venezuelan citizens are asking for is to be able to determine their own fate democratically.

Oh, yeah, and happy Christmas.

Here's what my friend wrote:

Caracas, December 25th, 2002

Today Venezuela is living the worst political, economic and social crisis in its history, leading us to the greatest levels of poverty, unemployment, insecurity, violence and polarization among Venezuelans as we have never known before. To overcome this crisis democratically and pacifically, the majority of Venezuelans are asking Chavez to announce elections or simply resign. We Venezuelans are not seeking a military coup nor international interventions, nor anything else that could replace our democratic mechanisms. All we ask for is the execution of free elections.

Since 1999, Chavez unleashed a systematic attack against workers and their labor unions, political parties — including some that supported him — media and journalists, businessmen and agriculturists, the church, the government owned institutions when they declared themselves against him and other citizens. Chavez, instead of dedicating himself to solving the great problems the country is immersed in — mission for which the majority elected him — and which have worsened dramatically during his four years in term, has dedicated himself to dividing us into the good and the bad, to harass us through his offensive rhetoric and through his armed civil groups that operate with impunity with official support. By doing this he has centered all national, regional and local power on him and his followers, favoring the violation of laws and generalized corruption, ridiculing the opinions and proposals of other citizens.

Chavez is not a democrat: he uses democratic scaffolding to try and impose a revolution on us which the Venezuelan people did not vote for. The world must not be fooled by all this. Chavez and the reduced group that supports him want to impose a revolution over us that is not pacific as it has done nothing other than offend, assault, and disqualify. Said revolution is not democratic but totalitarian simply because it does not see members of an opposition, but rather enemies who must be destroyed; a revolution that cannot be considered participate because it excludes us and denies us all the opportunity to participate in the resolution of this crisis.

Since 2001 through the present date, different sectors have been undertaking legitimate protest actions that have gradually concentrated an immense majority of Venezuelans, as can be seen in the various marches and concentrations that are held almost on a daily basis throughout the country. On another level, opinion polls unsuccessfully demand the government's rectification, followed by an effective dialogue among parties, to the lead towards the electoral solution of the crisis. As of more than 20 days ago the Venezuelan people lead a National Civic Strike with the purpose of demanding a democratic solution to the current state of ungovernability. Despite national and international efforts, the government continues evading the arrival of a sincere negotiation in order to arrive at an electoral agreement.

This is not about, despite what the government may want to display in demagogic manner to the rest of the world, a media conspiracy organized by elite groups against a government at the service of the poor. It is about a country's struggle against an incompetent, lying, cynic and deaf administration that has lead us towards greater poverty, unemployment, anguish and despair than we Venezuelans have ever seen before.


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