The Air France flight had, as usual, been well-attended, comfortable and relaxing ... in stark contrast with his harrowing voyage through the usually well-oiled diplomatic channels at Caracas Simon Bolivar International airport at Maiquetia on Venezuela's Caribbean coast...
More by intelligence services contempt than by any necessity to check the identity of one of Venezuela's most visible and vocal critics of how the Chavez administration is currently in a state of collapse, Alcalay was subjected to unnecessary photocopying and microscopic inspection of each and every page of his diplomatic passport. The diligence with which the quietly apologetic and unofficially embarrassed officials overstated their border control functions was obviously in full compliance with orders "from above" to harass the hell out what the out-of-control administration in Caracas see as a 'renegade' with a capital R.
For no matter what, the desk pilots at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry (MRE) and the red-shirts in President Hugo Chavez Frias United (National) Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) think about it, Alcalay is a man of principle.
- How else do you explain that a career diplomat of many decades experience in international diplomacy on behalf of the Venezuelan people, could basically commit professional hari-kiri on March 4, 2004, to take the momentous decision to resign from the key post as Venezuela's prestigious Ambassador to the United Nations?
Just think of the career he was giving up on a matter of overriding principle: He was Venezuela's Ambassador to Brazil from 1997 to 2000. Before that he was Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs 1995-1996 and served as Ambassador to Israel 1992-1995, Romania 1990-1992 as well as representations to the European Community (EU) and at the Venezuelan Embassy in Paris. Born just a few months after myself, on November 8, 1945, Alcalay had graduated from the Andres Bello Catholic University School of Law and undertook post-graduate studies at the International Public Administration Institute in Paris, the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg and back again in the French capital at the University of Paris. He speaks several languages, including French, English, Portuguese and Italian and has published numerous articles on diplomatic and human rights issues.
Former Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Milos Alcalay
Don't think for a moment that this man -- branded a renegade by rampant radicals in the Chavez movement -- is NOT a man of confidence. President Hugo Chavez Frias had himself had sufficient cause to put patriotic credibility securely in the hands of Milos Alcalay when he secured him for the ambassadorial portfolio in Brasilia, Brazil, knowing full well that his diplomatic skills would not fail the nation.
So why the turn around?
Why is Alcalay the patriot now harassed by nit-picking Venezuelan border controllers who must, by now, have amassed a shed-load of photocopies of passport pages from Ambassador Alcalay's busy schedule of trips abroad as guest
of international organizations who want to know the nitty-gritty of what is REALLY happening in Venezuela.
Why is Alcalay excoriated in Venezuela's pro-government media for simply telling it the way it is ... that while President Hugo Chavez Frias' original government manifesto was supremely attractive and positive for the future well-being of the Venezuelan people and the nation's economy, there has been an about-face in the chaotic administration reverting to the corruption and malfeasances of decades prior to Chavez winning the presidency in an overwhelming democratic vote inI will readily admit that I have an admiration, a fondness and an deep respect for Milos Alcalay -- not just of a transitory nature -- but, rather, built up over the last twenty or so years of seeing how the man operates supremely as a diplomat and a human being. Sadly, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry of today is populated with half-baked, incompetents whose idea of diplomacy is to preen themselves in the momentary sunshine of fly-by-night sycophants who will more easily stab them contemptibly in the back as soon as the weather co*k changes direction. Their choice! Their folly!
In early March 2004, following a visit to Caracas during which he had personally witnessed how the country in which he sets so much patriotic pride was simply falling apart, he found that in all conscience he could NOT continue to raise his head without shame at the United Nations to voice support for policies which he, with years of political experience in his baggage, could NOT countenance as democratic by any interpretation of the word in modern parlance.
Since then -- and with the full weight of more negative than simply negative sectors in the Venezuelan administration against him -- this thoroughly patriotic professional in Venezuelan politics has striven to give voice to moderation between the rabid excesses of left and right in the hope that ... somehow .... sanity may be restored to Venezuelan politics and that democratically-elected President Chavez (who he still recognizes despite the latter's many frailties and inability to control the false-flagged saboteurs in the President's immediate circle of devious and misdirecting sychophantic "friends") may be able to put into practice his own much-published RRR (Rectification, Revision and Reform) policy as something more than words passing like camels in the night!
Safely in a hotel room in Brussels this evening, local time, Milos Alcalay says he still holds great faith for Venezuela's future well-being but that a long and serious battle lies ahead if any of President Chavez' better original plans are to see the light of day. "The problem is overwhelming corruption .... officials who believe they act with impunity, and can usually get away with it! There are no serious controls, no checks and balances -- THAT is what has to be dealth with .... URGENTLY!"
As for the disaster that is the Guayana region of southeastern Bolivar State with key national industries crippled for much-needed technological and machinery investment, Ambassador Alcalay sees it as part of the chaos that reigns in the various government ministries and principally at the Miraflores Presidential Palace where President Hugo Chavez must be brought to realize that the buck stops with him. "It's an incredible situation when you have 20 or so ministries that are basically bankrupt, running out of funds, unable to get what they need from central government and all the while President Chavez is acting like Santa Clause to just about every other nation where he thinks he can win advantage over his sworn enemy George W. Bush!"
"It's so ill-conceived ... Bush is a lame duck with only a few more months left in office..."
"Each day, Chavez is boasting more and more about how Venezuela is NOT affected by the World banking crisis, claiming that it is the defeat of capitalism ... but if the truth be known, Venezuela is hurting perhaps as much as everyone else."
"The price of oil has dropped to critical levels and just now he's scraping the barrel to be able to sustain key programs in education and public health that have helped him win voted from the grassroots ... he will have a rude awakening when they, the grassroots wake up to the fact that corrupt officials have stolen so much of Venezuela's wealth and there's nothing they can do! "
Milos Alcalay measures up the eventuality of November 23 local and regional elections across Venezuela as being a huge slap in the face to more radical Chavistas who had actually believed that Chavez was "the answer!"