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Venezuelan Oil is Red

During the last week, Venezuelan’s main topic of political conversation has been the new, fully red, fully chavista, PDVSA. The President of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, Rafael Ramírez, called for absolute support from all workers—from top management to line of production laborers—to President Chávez’ campaign for reelection. Ramírez’ speech was delivered in a PDVSA top level meeting, and was presented to the public by the main opposition campaign team by means of a filtered video. (The video is available at YouTube, part 1 and part 2)

The most typical reaction among Venezuelan bloggers has been to criticize Ramírez for breaking the separation between state and government (and political party) by compelling state workers to behave as activists for the President’s party.

Periodismo de Paz fully articulates that type of position,

Y lamentablemente, parece que de verdad me merezco unos carajazos por creer que Estado y Gobierno son dos cosas distintas. Y que no hace falta que alguien diga “Venezuela es de todos” sino que debe hacerse de todos, porque de los pobres todavía no es.

Unfortunately, it seems that I deserve to be punished for believing that the State and the government are two different things. And, also, for believing that there is no need to say “Venezuela is for all” but for making it true, since it still is not for the poor.

EnigmasExPress—one of the Venezuela’s most popular bloggers—opines that opposition leaders should “go to hell” since they did the same when they were in charge of PDVSA.

Lo mismo que están haciendo las altas esferas de poder con PDVSA es sencillamente lo mismo que hicieron en su momento las otras altas esferas de poder, que utilizaron dicho organismo como punto central para desgraciar el país con aquella nefasta huelga.

What the [current] elite in power is doing with PDVSA now is plainly the same that the other elite in power did in their moment, when they used the said organization [PDVSA] as the pivot for disgracing the country with that ominous strike.

(Note: He is making reference to the Dec. 2002- Feb. 2003 oil workers strike)

Open support to Ramírez’ partisan speech is not to be missed. Blogger Luigino Bracci— linked to the pro-Chávez’ group Aporrea — gives a standing ovation to the controversial speech. In fact, Bracci is so proud of PDVSA becoming red (Chávez’ party color) that he was the one uploading the video to YouTube, for the world to watch the call to partisanship and exclusion of political independents from the national oil company.

es un discurso que aplaudo de pie, y lo hoy iniciado es una clara advertencia de que los bolivarianos están en pie de guerra y no permitirán que la empresa se embochinche, como en 2002.

It is a speech to which I give a standing ovation. What begins today is a clear warning that Bolivarians are ready for war and will not allow the company [PDVSA] to get into trouble like in 2002.

Of course, other chavistas are a little bit more critical. Zona de Conflicto [ES] argues that the Ramírez’ speech is one event marked by a trend to exclude the Other that is becoming dominant in Venezuelan politics. Zona de Conflicto [ES] also highlights another event from the opposition side that shows similar intention —although maybe with a milder tone: a recent Rosales interview with a Miami TV station in which the opposition candidate labeled people who make their living totally from state social welfare without working (although they are physically capable for work) as “parasites.”

El acto a puertas cerradas del ministro petrolero Rafael Ramírez con su séquito de gerentes para invocar, de diversos modos y maneras, el apoyo que los hombres de la industria deben darle al presidente Chávez, en un panorama y escenario en el que no caben ni la oposición, ni los light ni los ni-ni. Otro evento que, al cambiar de contexto, gracias a la toma secreta de uno de los presentes, se convierte en un suceso obsceno, en el que se expone, claramente, la voluntad de colorear de un solo color, en rojo, a todo el Estado venezolano.

The closed door meeting of oil minister Rafael Ramírez with his court of managers to call, in diverse modes and manners, the support of the people of the industry must be given to President Chávez, in a landscape and scenario in which there is no place for opposition, nor light [moderate chavistas], nor political independents. It is another event which, taken out of context thanks to a secret recording from one the persons in the audience, becomes an obscene deed, in which, the will to paint the whole Venezuelan state a single color, red, is clearly exposed.

Another former Chavista Venezuelan blogger is even more critical. Vicente remarks,

Admito que hice el ridículo, que Chávez deshizo todas las promesas que en aquella época dijo garantizar (de no reelegirse más de dos veces, de tolerar a la oposición, etc.) y que, como bien señalas, vamos hacia un sistema de partido único y exclusión del pensamiento disidente.

I acknowledge that I felt ridiculous. Chávez broke all the promises that he said he would guarantee [when he initially took office in 1999]. As you point out, we are heading to a one-party system and to an exclusion of all dissident thinking.

The episode allows some bloggers to qualify Chávez’ government with a word that most Venezuelans prefer to avoid when debating publicly about chavismo: dictatorship. The politically moderate Catholic blog, Caracas y Dios says,

Las pruebas están a la vista de todos; no son decentes, ni honestos, ni responsables; son delincuentes; así se les llama a los que viola la ley una y otra vez; y cuando esto se hace desde el poder destruyendo las condiciones fundamentales de la democracia, se les llama DICTADORES.

The evidence is in plain sight for everyone; they are not decent, nor honest, neither dependable. They are criminals, that is how we call those who break the law time after time. And, when that is done from the power while destroying the fundamental conditions for democracy, we call them DICTATORS.

For a one-stop shop of favor and against arguments visit the collective blog, En Diálogo (“In Dialogue”).

[The English translation of Ramírez’ speech can be read here]

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