HEROES – Part II

Abe: “Back in the fifties they were renovating the White House and President Truman was living in Blair House across the street.  A group of Puerto Rican nationalists  disrupted the Congress one fine day and one of their number shot the GSA guard at the Blair House and started up the front stoop to assassinate Truman, who was napping within.  The guard, dying in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, brought the guy down with his service revolver, firing from the prone position, before he died himself.  Probably a wage board three in salary.  Don’t know what sort of pension his widow got, if any.  I have measured everybody put up for hero status by this man from that day to this.  Not many measure up.”

VENEZUELA – UPDATE

My friend writes:

Update one week later.

Venezuela continues in a real state of tension and discordance.

A wave of persecution has broken out against public employees (including teachers, doctors, police, government clerks etc) who are suspected of having voted for the opposition candidate Capriles — which obviously many many did.  People may lose their jobs, and houses are being searched, violently and in some cases planting incriminating evidence.  Sporadic government violence continues, some of it even perpetuated by people disguised as opposition.  The short term looks grim, even while a semblance of a “vote recount” slowly proceeds.

On the evening of the election (April 14th), and the next day, the current government agreed to a recount, given the closeness — 235,000 votes out of 15,000,000 — remarkably close in a system that totally favors the government in every way.  They agreed to this in order to get all the presidents of Latin America to come to Maduro’s inauguration, which many of them did, on the pretense of a recount. Most of these governments owe Venezuela varying amounts of money owing to Chavez´s petroleum largess over the boom years of high oil prices — loans, aid, all with the condition of supporting his government, very effective (This was called Chavez’s Petrol Checkbook.)  Very few of these heads of state now want to stop receiving these boons, much less have to pay back what they owe the people of Venezuela, so they were inclined to allow Maduro to assume the presidency, which happened, more or less.

But now the electoral commission and the government is putting all kinds of creative limiting conditions on the agreement about the recount, as it is becoming increasingly clear that there was methodical fraud, and that Capriles indeed won the election by a significant margin.  These officials have even stated that legally, no matter what the results of the recount, it will not change their proclamation of Maduro as the winner.  Of course, all this only increases the conviction of fraud.  The opposition carefully monitored the election with very different results which are beginning to come out.  The government cannot afford to open this Pandora’s Box, as it will directly reflect upon earlier elections as well.

The United States (among others, including the European Union) has correctly not recognized Maduro as the legitimately elected president of Venezuela to date, unless there is an adequate recount.  Venezuela is threatening with oil and business sanctions against the USA – their usual style against many lesser countries – but we all really hope this non-recognition continues — it is the right thing to do.

As many people say here, if the government committed fraud to keep Maduro in power, then this is no longer a democracy.  And these comments, incidentally, are coming from the “pueblo,” low income people in the “barrios,” very many of whom finally rose to vote against this oppressive, ineffective government.  They now use the word dictadura = dictatorship.

It is unlikely that Capriles will be able to turn this around, despite the clarity of fraud, but on the other hand, he has already turned it around.  Chavismo will never be the same, and we can anticipate its steady ungracious decline into the future, possibly (hopefully) dramatically.  This is one situation where the United States can play a significant benign role, simply by not recognizing an acting president unless and until a careful vote recount establishes who really won.  The USA has an opportunity to gain real stature in the eyes of the democrats of Latin America, especially given its dubious past of unfortunate interventions down here.

CULTURE CLASH

For a laugh.  (Thanks, Alan.)  The one about the substitute teacher — three minutes.

 

 

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