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Venezuela rotting from inside

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes:

News of stormy weather in the hallowed halls of Venezuela's Foreign Ministry (MRE) is, of course, nothing new to this writer given the latest reports that the Chancellry has become a convulsive hive of discontent. Some even venture to say that it is in a state of total anarchy with "boys and girls" attempting to play the role of senior diplomats without the necessary experience or qualifications for the roles they need to play.

Needless to say, Venezuelan diplomacy has always been a power-play, but reports now claim that the mice are rampant while the cat, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro is most times away, clocking up frequent flier airmiles on incessant trips abroad.

All of this must, of course, play like the 'Sound of Music' to watchful ears in the US State Department, to hear that 30-year-old Eric Malpica Flores (a relative of the Foreign Minister's wife, Cilia Flores -- who just happens to be Speaker in the National Assembly) is the man in charge of MRE Human Resources, Director General of Administration & Services AND the Executive Secretariat all at one fell swoop ... it's even said that he has a 'part-time' job in charge of finances at the National Assembly to while away his morning hours.

Whichever way, it's a grinding sore on the butts of the career professionals that remain at the Foreign Ministry where many experienced diplomats have found themselves 'excluded' from the building, relegated to working from home, signing the occasional document and basically keeping their noses clean waiting for pensionable retirement from the diplomatic service.

Soul destroying, many say!

All the while, however, there's a growing resentment in the diplomatic corps as they see administrative norms and established codes of protocol disappear down the tube. Unwavering loyalty, particularly to Chavez' re-shaping of the domestic political scene, comes first before any thought of Venezuela, the sovereign country that diplomacy is supposed to serve. But the politicization of the Foreign Ministry has gone strangely askew since it would appear the 'enemy within' has been included while others are excluded solely on presumptions based on tittle-tattle more than substantive evidence.

MRE Human Resources is said to be in a hell of a mess ... publisher colleague Miguel Salazar says mediocrity is prized where professional experience is a no no!

Conspiracies abound in a climate of back-stabbing suspicions with devious personalities gaining ground, abuse of privilege upon abuse of privilige. Due process and protocol set aside at the flimsiest of excuses. Ambassador Americo Dias Nunez' appointment was, for example, published in the Gaceta Oficial (Legal Gazette) even before the National Assembly (AN) had had opportunity to approve his portfolio and there are even suggestions that the Foreign Service is being populated by diplomats selected by an Accion Democratica (AD) activist in liaison with the opposition's US-backed NGO Sumate!

Elsewhere, there are accusations of large-scale malfeasance and outright fraud with internal auditing at the Foreign Ministry. A protocol official stands informally accused of having run up massive bills of $ thousands for 'luxury services' at the Melia Caracas Hotel. Disturbing news is also surfacing of improprieties at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC which sources say will be "explosive" once/if someone with Executive courage decides to grasp the hot potato.

The now probably out-of-control problem at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry appears to be with false-flagged 'Chavistas' who only pay lip-service to President Hugo Chavez Frias' projections for a democratic and egalitarian revolution and political process for the Venezuelan people. The new cadre of suddenly well-paid government officials hase begun to take on the worst aspects of their predecessors under the Accion Democratica/COPEI pseudo-democracy which followed on the overthrow of the last military dictatorship in the fifties.

The dilemma is that the Foreign Ministry's woes are indeed repeated across the political landscape in Venezuela, having infiltrated each Ministry in turn with complacency, malfeasance, corruption and fraud.

What had begun as an army of revolutionaries fired with the enthusiasm of Chavez as their leader has now grown complacent with recent personal riches and has even found ways to secure even greater personal benefit than that they had probably imagined from the system when they had had fond memories of clutching AK47 as they defended the beaches from the invading US Marines.

What to do? Is, indeed, there anything that can be done ... for it may already be too late!

Certainly, President Hugo Chavez Frias needs to act decisively now to deal with the rot before it gains further ground ... for, undealt with, the cancer that is corruption will continue to suffocate the best laid plans of mice and men!

Roy S. Carson

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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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