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Venezuela has simply become a mirror image of what went before ... corruption and malfeasance is at an all-time high!

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: Quite frankly, I believe Venezuela's legitimately-elected President, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias has lost the plot! Either that, or we have to believe that incredibly motley crew of government ministers he has in his entourage, are nuts!

What a way to run a country!

Dare I say, that it gives credence to the terminology often used against Latin American countries = Banana Republic! since its clear that one or more of the presidential advisers is, quite frankly, "bananas"!

If the intent of the Venezuelan government, a.k.a. President Hugo Chavez Frias' declarations of intent at the beginning of his administration -- way back in February 1999, or even more so during his election campaign in the run-up to December 1998 -- was to implement a "peaceful Revolution" true to the political transformation dreams of The Liberator, Simon Bolivar ... if indeed there was any such ambition ... it is now sadly proven to be up the creek without a proverbial paddle!

My colleague editorialist, Oscar Heck, speculated some months ago, that the reason for President Hugo Chavez' seeming lack of governmental control over his herd of ministers, ambassadors and other administration wannabees, was simply down to a conspiracy among the top echelon (Praetorian Guard) of his Presidential team to keep him out of the loop by projecting him into the international arena while they get on making "moohla" behind the scenes, under the pretext of actually delivering "government of the people by the people" from the grassroots up!

Evidence plainly to the contrary, almost ten years into 'Chavista Venezuela' the sad truth is that Venezuela has simply become a mirror image of what went before ... corruption and malfeasance is at an all-time high!

And it's easy to see why, if indeed he is one of the last remaining adherents to the original 'Chavez-1999' political philosophy, Interior & Justice (MIJ) Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin jumped ship on Monday ... much in the same was as Simon Bolivar himself gave up completely on Caracas' impossible politics in 1830, and headed for self-imposed exile and his deathbed in Santa Marta (now Colombia).

With Chavez Frias headed soon for Beijing on yet another foreign jaunt, just lately returned from pressing the flesh with Mbeke in South Africa, and only a couple of months since he clocked up additional frequent flier miles on his presidential jet to Europe, Russia and Belarus, Chavez is again leaving the little mice to play while the cat's away ... and the 'ratones' certainly do get down to serious business (even while the boss is around), although by 'serious business' it most times is taken up with creating political and economic confusion, through which friends and family can reap huge financial benefit.

You certainly don't see any of these 'personalities' taking a 'por puesto' microbus while a limo and a heavily-armed protection squad stand by to save them from the ignominy of having to deal with the plebes.

You wouldn't find former 'por puesto' driver, Foreign Minister (MRE), Nicolas Maduro dead in a microbus these days and, as for his wife, National Assembly (Congress) speaker, Celia Flores, one could easily imagine that nothing less than a private jet from the Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) fleet would need to be on standby to take her and her payrolled family of congressional employees on weekenders to Miami shopping malls.

Venezuela's Vice President Ramon Carrizales may be sufficiently astute to hold down the job, but the obvious incompetence of his wife, Environment (MinAmb) Minister, Yubiri Ortega de Carrizales is already historical legend after she first pulled the plug on open-cast mining in Venezuela and was then forced to put the plug back in again after she got a rap over the knuckles from other ministers and Chavez himself.

No former beauty queen 'a la Palin,' Ortega de Carrizales was sent packing to end her ministerial duties inspecting drainage ditches and sewers across the capital, Caracas, while slightly less incompetent ministry officials fumble to "revise, reform and reactivate" the manifold problems she created. Small wonder that her already-designated successor is loathe to assume office until the whole mess is swept under a convenient administration carpet and he, as a new broom, can set about screwing it all up again.

Meanwhile, acknowledged professionals like Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG) president & CEO, Rodolfo Sanz -- who also ties down the role as Minister of Basic Industries & Mining (Mibam) -- is at least attempting to emulate Hercules in the tasks he has committed himself to resolve i.e. to wrest control over the state-owned industrial conglomerate of iron & steel companies, aluminum producers, forestry and mining interests.

It would be easy to claim that Sanz has taken on an impossible task which left his predecessor, Jose Khan, a nervous and physical wreck before he reluctantly resigned from office.

On the plus side, President Chavez has had sufficient control and confidence in Sanz to deal with the monstrosity of his task. although Sanz' major problem is how to prise open governmental purse strings at a time when President Chavez seems happier doling out $ billions to buy political influence throughout the Spanish-speaking world (and then some!) under the guise of "international aid" thinly disguised as sticking up a middle finger to George W. Bush, as long as 'The Devil' occupies the White House.

Sanz wants to think that he's scored major brownie points by luring the Russian Agapov Group to invest heavily in Venezuelan mining -- especially in gold -- although Venezuela's china clay resources are also in Agapov's line of sight. The purchase/takeover of Idaho-based Hecla's workings near El Callao and overtures directed at Gold Reserve and other residual speculative players in Venezuela's currently-paralyzed gold mining sector seems schoolbook for the Russians, who are no longer the ravingly red communist allies that Chavez may fondly think they remain in his many-years friendship with Fidel Castro Ruz ... but that's another day's story!
Like Agapov's George Salamis, Crystallex International executive, Robert Fung, extolled the virtues of Venezuelan mining at a Denver Gold Forum yesterday (Monday, September 8), while for his own part, silently, regretting the current impasse on the company's final EIS (environment) yet unable to explain the incompetence and the vagaries of a government administration that basically allows tens of thousands of unemployed small-scale and artesanal miners to remain critically unemployed and in incredible poverty ... all at the whim of the Vice President's renegade wife, whose exposure to their (the miners') scales of abject poverty is basically ZILCH!

Small wonder then that Chavez Frias' personal-profit-making 'nearest and dearest' are making hay while the sun shines, and while El Comandante flies off on yet another foreign jaunt!

Quite simply they realize that Chavez' declared 5th Republic ambition of returning power to the people was already shot to pieces on the runway before it even had a chance to take off, and that any thought of government from the grassroots up has already been consigned to the garbage as half-baked ingenues emerge from the political oven committed to a return to ... a reincarnation of the corruption and malfeasance that to infected 4th Republic that brought Venezuela to it's knees in virtual bankruptcy a decade ago!

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.



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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)
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