It is interesting to note the perspectives that people have on life. The following are two letters which I recently received from two readers. Both appear to be American. One is a US businessman and the other is a researcher in his early 20s working for a think tank in the USA.
"Dear Oscar, I just read, and enjoyed, your recent piece on US media depictions of Chavez and the state of Venezuela. However, I am concerned that you overstate the positive aspects of Venezuela's current state and thus do a disservice to your analysis ""
The article was not intended to be an analysis regarding the situation in Venezuela and was precisely intended to bring out some of the positive elements regarding Venezuela, elements which are far too often completely neglected by the North American media.
""I have watched, written on, and studied Venezuela for about three years and I think that an assessment of Chavez requires an extreme sense of balance. US media is a joke in this sense, with little to no coverage of Chavez' humanitarian missions and the democratic mechanisms in place. However, there are major problems with Chavez' administration, most notably civilian violence (homicide rates) and corruption""
As I have mentioned in many previous articles, the homicide rates in Venezuela are usually reported completely out of context. The vast majority of homicides do in no way affect the general population. The vast majority of homicides happen between armed gangs. About 5 years ago, when these crimes were reported weekly by certain newspapers, I had counted that about 90% of homicides are gang related, about 5-7% have to do with fights, commonly over women and/or family feuds or vengeance.
It was only about 2-3% of murders that involved "innocent" people -- depending on one's point of view. Of that 2-3%, most had to do with resisting armed robbery.
Yes, there are some cases of truly innocent people getting murdered, as happened to someone I knew. There was some shooting going on outside at around 11 p.m., he opened the door to look outside, and he received a stray bullet in the head. If there is shooting going on outside (which happens sometimes in the shantytown where I live when in Caracas), I don't stick my head out to watch. Most people don't.
There are also other types of innocent murder victims in Venezuela, and they happen mostly in the region where I live, south of Lake Maracaibo, near the Colombian border. Last year, for example, only a few days apart, a group of 8 youths were assassinated at around 10:30 p.m. in a small village called Onia and five youths were assassinated in another small town not far from Onia, called La Blanca. A few months ago, not far from where I live, a group of 12 young people were kidnapped and ten of them were executed.
Although most of these assassinations are said to have something to do with revenge, nobody seems to know exactly why these mass assassinations really take place, but they often appear to involve officials such as police, National Guard and Colombian paramilitary.
Some people suspect, as I do, that these group assassinations are orchestrated by the US government for purposes of destabilizing Chavez' government. I would not doubt it since I personally knew one National Guard assassin-for-hire (a complete psychopath) who worked for Colombian paramilitaries, and as most people in the region know, Colombian paramilitaries (like the "former AUC) work for the Colombian elite (large land owners and drug traffickers), some of which are also top-level government people and well-known politicians (such as Uribe, Colombia's President), who in turn work with the US government (and its assassins) through Plan Colombia. In the region where I live, we sometimes hear of posted signs, apparently written by the Black Eagles (Aguilas Negras), threatening to assassinate people. Here are some interesting links:
""Though elections are both fair and common in Venezuela, Chavez has undoubtedly taken measures to undermine their results at times. Most notably was his reaction to the election of an opposition Mayor in Caracas. His creation of a police force above the Mayor's was a rather blunt expression of power""
I don't know exactly what the letter-writer is referring to. How exactly did Chavez undermine the election of an opposition person? As far as I know, that opposition person is still there as Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma. I don't know about the police force which the writer is referring to, but if such is the case, I don't see how it relates to undermining an opposition Mayor or using blunt expression of power.
For the last several years, the Venezuelan government has been in the process of revamping its police forces, its military and its National Guard due to out-of-control corruption and anarchy. I know some of the people who do corruption (in the National Guard) and I also met someone who heads some of the infiltration teams (teams which infiltrate the police to gather evidence against corrupt officers).