VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: Recently, Venezuela's National Assembly (Congress) president (speaker) Cilia Flores got into a fret over reporting in the (admittedly anti-government) Venezuelan newspapers that the august body of legislators, rather than fighting corruption was actually a hotbed of nepotism. The very word "nepotism" sent her into a tizzy demanding that the media make immediate retractions of the calumny ... despite the fact that she, herself, is the wife of Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro (and ultimately third in line to the presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the event that the 'gringoes' succeed in wiping out both Chavez and his Veep. Ramon Carrizales).
Besides that, in reports published widely and defiantly on July 9, Flores had managed to place relatives in as many as nine of sixty permanent positions at the National Assembly ... three brothers/sisters, two nephews, a cousin, the mother of that cousin, her mother-in-law and an aunt!
Of course, she denies that any of her relatives have special benefits from their paid employment at the Legislature and, according to her, that means there is NO nepotism.
While a Venezuela Country Profile published on the Internet also advises that "nepotism an accepted practice and is considered a good thing, since it implies that employing people one knows and trusts is of primary importance", the new climate of dog-eats-dog in Venezuela's black versus white political madness doesn't let established custom get in the way of blatant butchery.
Chavez brother Narciso, an English teacher who lived in Ohio for several years, was accused of influence-peddling in the state government after he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Bolivar municipality close to Chavez birthplace at Sabaneta ... since then he has held important posts at Venezuela's embassies in Canada and latterly in Cuba he oversaw a series of bilateral agreements eventually signed between Fidel Castro and President Chavez.
To understand the origins of present-day nepotism and the ire it raises in accusations from the hate-filled opposition, one has only to look back on the 50+ years previous to President Hugo Chavez Frias ascent to power in February 1999 after a landslide election in December 1998. The then disenfranchised brotherhood of Accion Democratica (AD) and Christian Socialists (COPEI) didn't immediately get over the shock -- some say they've still to get over it! -- since it upset a well-oil mechanism of governmental power-sharing over the heads of the electorate, and it was a mechanism simply sustained by nepotism of the highest order.
The latest tally of Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro's wife Cilia Flores' relatives in gainful employ at the National Assembly has been unofficially put at more than forty, which -- truthful or not -- sheds a spotlight on a status quo which is indeed an embarrassment for both Mrs. Flores and her husband, never mind for President Chavez who has publicly committed himself to rooting out corruption at all levels of the administration.
As simple observers from the outside, we at VHeadline have seen the apparent incapacity of the President to control even the worst excesses of political and economic corruption in his administration while news leaking from the Foreign Ministry (MRE) shows that Mrs. Flores' husband, Nicolas Maduro is also having a less than successful time doing the President's bidding with regards to corruption in his own Yellow House (the MRE building in Caracas).
Insiders at MRE say that the simple fact of being a 'born-again' Chavista is all that's required to hold down even the most influential posts at the Venezuelan seat of international diplomacy and there's growing malaise among the professional cadre of career diplomats who see Chavez party activists exploit key positions such as the MRE's Human Resources Department to hire substantially untrained and wholly incapable party-loyal staffers and to give extremely well-versed diplomatic professionals backroom jobs as desk pilots until they resign to the fact that Venezuela's international diplomacy is no longer representing the Venezuelan people but rather factional interests exclusively devoted only to Chavez and his political goals.
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) theorists will say that Venezuela's foreign diplomacy should indeed reflect the will of the Venezuelan President since he has been elected so resolutely to office over a series of resounding electoral victories, but traditionalists see the current trend as going off the rails in the event of Chavez' demise or an electoral victory by another faction in the incessant political power struggle under which Venezuela has lived for almost a decade.
Questions are being asked if it is a general design to put a stranglehold on career diplomacy or if value is to be seen and accorded to diplomatic professionals who put store by representing the whole 25+ million in Venezuela's population and their desires for a very much better future.
Seen from a perspective of Washington DC's jaundiced view of all things Venezuelan, it is looking a gift horse in the mouth. While the majority of civil servants in North America and Europe et.al. know and are guarded by a line in the sand separating administrational duties from political machinations, the problem for Venezuela lies in the fact that, in the event of an alternative presidency at some time in the future, looking inevitably beyond Chavez' tenure at Miraflores, it will be not just the Ministerial line-up that'll change overnight but there'll be wholesale slaughter among the civil service rank and file ... and that'll be far from being "civil" as we might know it!
Roy S. Carson
Venezuela is facing the most difficult period of its history with honest reporters crippled by sectarianism on top of rampant corruption within the administration and beyond, aided and abetted by criminal forces in the US and Spanish governments which cannot accept the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to decide over their own future.