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November 23 may well go down in history as Venezuela's 'Night of the Chamelions' when true colors are struck to the mast

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: A colleague has been admonished, in a rather friendly manner, to "be careful" what he says or writes, since no one knows on what blacklist he could end up! ...and its something that we at VHeadline can speak of with a greater degree of authority since, very much to our regret, we are already on so many blacklists that we've lost count!

It's all very much part of the Venezuelan political-economic scene, grounded in an obstinant rejection of the thrust and parry of civilized democratic debate; entrenched in the wholesale slaughter of Venezuela's sectarianism with neither side giving ground to the other for any thought of attempt to understand.

VHeadline has found itself on opposition blacklists because we defend democracy, constitutionality and the rule of law ... simply because we recognize that the current government has been democratically elected, abides formally by the 1999 Constitution and at least attempts to enforce the imperfection that is Venezuela's current Rule of Law.

We have also found ourselves on a whole series of government blacklists because we've told uncomfortable truths about prevailing conditions at some government ministries and the pervasive culture of corruption that still infects the machinery of government despite President Hugo Chavez Frias' fervent desire commit it to correction.

We've seen how snooty minor officials have sidelined VHeadline and actively worked (without significant success) to prevent us from gaining access to information; we've seen how government-paid hacks waste their time and energies spouting hot air to impress similar highly-paid hacks further up the food-chain and, on occasion, of course, we've highlighted the obvious truths of how sychophants lull their master ministers into a sense of infallibility ahead of controversial decisions, only to take to their heels in self-aggrandizing exculpatories when things go patently wrong.

We've seen ambassadors and others engaged in malicious tittle-tattle behind closed doors, oblivious (or wholly ignorant) to the fact that that their every word is eavesdropped by security services in just about every corner of the world where Venezuela has diplomatic representation. Negativity pervades the air which, otherwise, could otherwise be refreshed by clean air in recognition of 'the democratiuc process' per se, human values, humility at least.

We've recognized the fact that President Hugo Chavez Frias is NOT omnipotent ... he's far from being an all-seeing god ... and this human frailty can easily become his undoing for he is surrounded by a almost impenetrable 'Praetorian Guard' of Yes-Men who release him only from his assumed quasi-deity to flounder occasionally with carefully-chosen representatives of 'the general public' on his colorful 'Alo Presidente' television show.

Our correspondent Oscar Heck, perhaps rightly, concluded that the President's 'managers' are making sure that, already a workaholic, Chavez should NOT be given sufficient time to think too deeply on mundane matters of how to run his government. By filling his schedule with trips to world conferences on this and that and a myriad of televised openings of factories, hospitals and education establishments, the President's could be contained to generalized policy matters while leaving the nitty-gritty to a succession of more or less capable ministers whose political ambitions are always greater than any commonality with the Venezuelan man or woman in the street.

Now, with only months to go before vital November 23, regional elections across Venezuela the infamous 'blacklists' are gaining greater importance although their nefarious implementation defies logic and is counter-productive to anything that can even remotely be described as the democratic process.

To join a blacklist is easy!

To get off a blacklist isn't easy either ... and that's the truth!

Let's start by defining what and who you are: If you're a foreigner in Venezuela you're initially suspected of being an undercover CIA. This will definitely put you on a pro-government political blacklist but, on the other hand, it will raise your profile on the opposition's political radar since (if you come from north of the Mexican border) you will often come with an already in-baked pre-conditioning that the United States of America is everyone's goal in life. Disappoint the opposition by even expressing an interest in forming your own opinion of what's happening in Venezuela, and you'll run headlong into the buffers of a blacklist that you will never shake off! You're branded for life as a bleeding-heart liberal, a Castro-commie or some other excoriation unworthy even of a flea-ridden mongrel dog.

It's the same thing too on the opposite side of the political barricades ... express any understanding, much less dare to associate with a professed member, of the political opposition and you're immediately sidelined to oblivion since it is only the born-again Chavistas that have the inaleniable right to freedom of expression ... and that's the twist!

Democracy is made of sterner stuff!

Extremists of either persuasion, unfortunately, rule the roost in Venezuela today. Perhaps they think it is the only way in which they will be able to protecct and defend their own particular bias on what life is all about; perhaps it is because they are just learning what democratric freedoms are all about after decades of political-economic abuses and distrust.

What we are left with, however, is a scenario where ears are closed, shutters slammed down and doors slamemd shut to any attempt at objectivity. Hatred is spewed by both sides, one against the other, without really getting to grips with the differences that divide but which could so easily be removed if reason were to be regained.

Already we are facing a situation where, ahead of November 23 regional elections across Venezuela, the aspirations of 25 million Venezuelans will most probably be thwarted by a cadre of amateur-professional politicians in a carve-up of Venezuela's new-found democracy. Who will profit? The question answers itself for it is 25 million Venezuelan who could, ultimately, be the losers...

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) with a claimed national membership of 6.5 million was able to get approximately 2.5 million out of their Sunday morning beds to go vote in recent primaries for councillors, mayors and State governors. Out of a registered electorate of approximately 16.5 million is is not possible, by any stretch of the imagination, to claim a potential electoral victory come November 24, but with the huffing and puffing of the pro-government lobby you'd think it was already done and dusted.

On the political opposition, its patently clear that politicians have learned vital lessons from the routs of previous hustings and they;re determined not to make too many of the same mistakes again. It is also patently clear that they will NOT resort to futile abstentions as a means to express their individual dissatisfaction with Chavez policies but they will have a difficult time to persuade millions of Venezuela's poor that their hopes for a better future lie with the less left-of-center pro-economy solution they represent.

Of course, it goes without saying that the dying embers of the Bush dictatorship will be doing its damnedst to thwart or even kill President Chavez in the run-up to November, and perhaps there will be renewed acts of desperation from the lame duck in the White House before McCain some in for the kill ... but President Chavez and the inner echelons of his 'Praetorian Guard' had better sit up and face the fact that a flurry of blacklistings never did anybody any good.

For when it comes to the crunch, how many of those redder-than-red Chavez-to-the-death Chavistas will pick up their AK47s and rush to the defense of the Republic when the clock strikes midnight!

For that's what will ultimately be determined at the close of November 23 ... which may well go down in history as the 'Night of the Chamelions' when true colors are struck to the mast for Venezuelans and all of us to see.

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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