WHEN the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s strongest guerrilla group, wanted to convince the government that they were serious about restarting peace talks, they tried to prove their good intentions by formally renouncing their decades-old practice of kidnapping for ransom. They also declared a unilateral two-month ceasefire when the talks began, which expired on January 20th. The country’s second-largest guerrilla force, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has adopted the opposite strategy: disgruntled that it has been excluded from the negotiations, which began in November, it has launched a new campaign of attacks to establish its relevance.
On January 18th the ELN abducted five workers for Canada’s Braeval Mining Corporation near the company’s gold and silver mining project in the department of Bolívar. The captives included a Canadian and two Peruvians. The group has also bombed an oil pipeline twice so far in 2013.
The ELN has left little doubt that the attacks are a cry for attention. “Why aren’t we at the [negotiating] table?,” asked Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, its leader, in a video posted online the day the miners were kidnapped. “That’s a question for President [Juan Manuel] Santos,” he continued.
Since the mid-1960s, the ELN and FARC have fought parallel wars against the Colombian state. Although both groups espouse a Marxist ideology and have financed themselves through kidnappings and the drug trade, they have a long history of mutual mistrust. Whereas the FARC began as a peasant-based organisation and adopted Soviet-style doctrines and a strict military structure, the ELN was founded by university students, oil workers and priests who followed liberation theology and had close ties to Cuba. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Colombian army commanders and ELN leaders actually agreed in 2006 to fight the FARC together in some parts of the country.
Mr Santos has been careful not to give the ELN the public recognition it craves. According to El Colombiano, a newspaper in Medellín, the ELN sent a delegation to the peace talks, but it was turned away because the state’s representatives were not authorised to talk with it. Although the government has not ruled out parallel discussions, it worries that the narrow five-point agenda it has agreed to address with the FARC—aimed mostly at ending the country’s armed conflict—could be diluted by the ELN’s long-standing demand for a broad national convention about all the country’s woes. Moreover, many officials hope they can simply fold the ELN, which has just 2,500 fighters, into any deal with the FARC, which boasts around 9,000.
The government is taking a risk by continuing to sideline the ELN. Felipe Torres, a former member of its national directorate, recently told El Colombiano that the group is far stronger politically than militarily. He said that just one-fifth of its supporters have taken up arms. If true, that should make it easier for the ELN to follow the FARC’s lead by ceasing its campaign of violence and freeing its hostages—steps that the government will surely demand before opening any separate peace process with Colombia’s “other” guerrillas.
IN HIS 14 years as Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez has always subscribed to the principle of après moi, le deluge. Wary of allowing any rival centre of power to emerge, he has systematically hollowed out the country’s institutions, and subtly encouraged factions within his movement to spar for his good graces. But on December 8th, Mr Chávez announced that his still-unspecified pelvic cancer has reappeared, and that he must undergo a fourth surgery. With no guarantee that he will be in suitable condition for his inauguration for a third term on January 10th, he at last anointed an heir apparent, choosing Nicolás Maduro (pictured), his foreign minister and vice-president.
Under Venezuela’s 1999 constitution, if the president dies or leaves office during the final two years of a six-year term, the appointed vice-president serves out the remainder. But before that point, if a president has to abdicate, new elections must be held within 30 days. So if Mr Chávez cannot be sworn in, the country will hold a re-run of the vote held on October 7th, when the incumbent beat Henrique Capriles of the Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance by asurprisingly comfortable margin. Assuming that Mr Capriles, currently the governor of Miranda state, is re-elected to his post in regional elections on December 16th, he would almost certainly be the opposition candidate once again, and would face Mr Maduro in Mr Chávez’s stead.
Mr Maduro, 50, has never held an elected executive post. A former student leader and member of the radical Socialist League, his only job outside politics was as a bus driver starting in the late 1980s. That gave him a toehold in organised labour, and he became president of the Caracas Metro union. His links with the president go back to the days when Mr Chávez was in jail after a failed coup attempt, and he joined the legislature in 1999, chairing the assembly in 2005-06.
Like most of Mr Chávez’s inner circle, he has no significant political base of his own. But he has been more successful than anyone in convincing the president of his loyalty and ability to carry out orders. Mr Maduro has never been far from Mr Chávez’s side during the president’s frequent visits to Cuba for cancer treatment. He is widely considered to have the support of the Cuban regime, whose security and intelligence services play an important (though largely hidden) role in Venezuela.
Mr Maduro would have to triumph over two rivals if he hopes to take over the chavistaapparatus. The first is Mr Capriles, who won a respectable 46% of the vote in October, and showed impressive skills as a campaigner. Polls have consistently shown Mr Capriles beating all opponents save Mr Chávez himself, including Mr Maduro. However, the president’s whole-hearted endorsement of Mr Maduro would surely cause many of his supporters to back his preferred successor, especially if an incapacitated Mr Chávez remained alive to remind voters of his dying wish. “My firm opinion,” he said on December 9th, “clear as the full moon, irreversible, absolute, and total, is that in a scenario requiring the holding of new presidential elections, you should choose Nicolás Maduro as president.”
Even if Mr Maduro did vanquish Mr Capriles, however, he would still have to exert control over Mr Chávez’s fractious movement. His main challenger would be Diosdado Cabello, a former army lieutenant who participated in Mr Chávez’s coup attempt, and is now the chairman of the legislature and the vice-president of the ruling United Socialist Party. Mr Cabello lacks Mr Maduro’s bona fides as an ideological leftist. However, he wields influence in the army and the highly opaque distribution of the country’s oil revenues, and despite the president’s wishes, he may not line up meekly behind Mr Maduro. Despite Mr Chávez’s belated effort to arrange for continuity, some degree of internecine warfare seems inevitable.
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LA PAZ, Bolivia — President Hugo Chávez ofVenezuela has flown repeatedly to Cuba this year for cancer treatments, but the flight that took him back to Caracas on Friday may have been the most meaningful of all.
Mr. Chávez postponed emergency cancer surgery to return home, meet with his inner circle and announce on television on Saturday, for the first time, that he had picked the man he wanted to lead his socialist revolution when he is gone — something he seemed to suggest might come sooner than his millions of followers would hope.
He flew to Cuba again on Monday to prepare for surgery, news agencies reported.
Mr. Chávez could well recover and remain a potent force, but on Saturday night he seemed intent on smoothing over factions within his party and solidifying support for the man he chose to succeed him, Vice President Nicolás Maduro.
Mr. Chávez, 58, spoke the word “unity” several times during Saturday’s somber, symbolically weighted appearance. To his left sat Mr. Maduro, and behind both of them viewers could see a bust of Mr. Chávez’s hero, the South American independence leader Simón Bolívar (who never realized his dream of unifying a fractious continent).
Mr. Chávez, a charismatic and polarizing leader who has crafted his own brand of socialist revolution in this oil-rich country, has been vague about the nature of his illness since it was first disclosed in June last year. Since then, he has had at least two operations,chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Yet he said on Saturday that doctors had once again found malignant cells, necessitating a new operation.
The fact that he chose to go home to put his political house in order and clear up the long-unresolved line of succession — rather thanwrite about it on Twitter or report it by calling in to a government television show, as he so often has done with lesser policy decisions during his many medical absences — suggests that his doctors have told him that the news is not good.
“This is a huge passing of the torch,” said Javier Corrales, a political science professor at Amherst College.
Even if Mr. Chávez makes a strong recovery after his surgery, Mr. Corrales said, “there’s no question we are in the transition stage, and that’s always incredibly uncertain.”
Mr. Chávez, who has been president for nearly 14 years, was re-elected in October to another six years. His new term is to begin on Jan. 10.
But if he dies or cannot continue to govern before then, the Constitution states that the vice president, Mr. Maduro, would become president and finish out the last days of the current term.
If Mr. Chávez is unable to begin his new term, or if he leaves office within the first four years, then new elections would be called, according to the Constitution.
In that case, Mr. Chávez said on Saturday that he wanted Mr. Maduro to be his party’s candidate, and he asked his supporters to elect him.
“I ask it from my heart,” he said.
New elections could open the way for a new run by Henrique Capriles Radonski, a young state governor who opposed Mr. Chávez in October. Mr. Capriles received 44 percent of the vote and 6.5 million votes, far more than any previous candidate against Mr. Chávez.
But Mr. Capriles is now running a difficult race for re-election as governor of Miranda, which includes part of Caracas, the captial, and one of the country’s most populous states. The election is on Sunday.
He is being challenged by a former vice president, Elías Jaua, and the government and Mr. Chávez’s socialist party have made it a priority to defeat Mr. Capriles, hoping that it will weaken him politically and remove him as a threat.
“If Capriles loses, there will be a battle in the opposition, a struggle for power, and the leaders will call for a change,” said Luis Vicente León, a pollster close to the opposition.
Some polls taken earlier this year showed that Mr. Capriles could beat Mr. Maduro if they ran against each other.
But Mr. León said conditions had changed with Mr. Chávez’s endorsement of Mr. Maduro. If Mr. Chávez were to die or become too ill to continue in office, it could give Mr. Maduro’s candidacy an emotional boost, he said.
But Mr. Maduro, 50, will have difficulties of his own in having to rein in factions within Mr. Chávez’s party. That could include the military and former military officers to whom Mr. Chávez has given a major role in his government.
For the time being, Venezuelans can look forward to more uncertainty.
The country has been obsessed with Mr. Chávez’s illness since it was first revealed. It has been the source of endless speculation and conspiracy theories. Some people even insist that he is not sick and has invented the illness to throw his opponents off guard. His fiercest opponents see his cancer as a sign of hope that his days as president are numbered; his supporters insist that he will recover, and they condemn such grim speculation as necrophilia.
But the last announcement of his need for another surgery, coupled with his call to rally behind Mr. Maduro, takes the nervous focus on Mr. Chávez’s cancer and what it means for the country’s future to a new level.
Several hundred supporters of Mr. Chávez congregated on Sunday in Bolívar Plaza in central Caracas in what was an uncharacteristically subdued gathering, by the standards of his followers. But also on display was their quasi-religious connection with the president — and the refusal among many to acknowledge his mortality.
“He is going to overcome this difficult time,” said Israel Pérez, 32, a law student. “He will be with us forever.”
Nonetheless, would he support Mr. Maduro as Mr. Chávez’s replacement?
“Venezuelans would support any proposal the president asks them to,” Mr. Pérez said.
Andrew Rosati contributed reporting from Caracas, Venezuela.
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By Tim Johnson – McClatchy Newspapers
MEXICO CITY — When a naval unit recently gunned down the leader of the feared Los Zetas crime group, the clash took place in the dusty town of Progreso, 70 miles from the Texas border and hundreds of miles from any ocean, indeed, far from any area where one would expect a modern navy to operate.
But these days, Mexico’s navy is active deep inside the country’s interior, eclipsing the army as the go-to security force in the country’s war on organized crime. It is a transformation that not only highlights Mexico’s peculiar defense organization – which provides the navy its own ministry – but also highlights how the United States has worked to find dependable allies in its campaign to stop drug trafficking.
The navy’s rise is not without political risk, however. As the navy outshines the 200,000-member army, politicians supportive of the army could well move against it, even though several senior retired generals were arrested earlier this year for alleged links to organized crime.
For decades, the navy was relegated to protecting Mexico’s offshore oil platforms and patrolling its two ocean coastlines. Its unit of marines was a token amphibious force, and in a strange overlap, it vied with five army amphibious groups.
Then, in 2007, as Mexico’s drug war raged, Mexico’s congress enacted legislation that, in the words of Mexican security analyst Inigo Guevara Moyano, allowed the navy “to operate throughout the country, even in landlocked areas.”
“Some landlocked states, such as Aguascalientes and Zacatecas, have asked specifically for the presence of the marines during times of crisis,” Guevara said.
Actions in recent weeks underscore how the navy has taken the lead in Mexico’s war on crime, beginning with the arrest Sept. 12 in Tamaulipas state of Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla, one of the top leaders of the Gulf Cartel. Two weeks later, naval units captured Ivan Velazquez Caballero, a commander of the Los Zetas crime organization so brutal that he was known as “El Taliban.”
Then on Oct. 4, marines captured Salvador Alfonso Martinez, a Zetas commander known as “The Squirrel.” Three days later, on Oct. 7, a naval unit struck the heaviest blow against drug traffickers since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006, killing Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, the founder and head of Los Zetas, apparently as he watched a baseball game at Progreso.
Curiously, despite its successes, the navy shies from foreign media. Its spokesman has declined since 2010 to speak to a McClatchy reporter, saying through an aide that he is too busy to answer questions.
“The navy is very sensitive to the fact that they are small and not as politically powerful as the army,” said Laurence L. McCabe, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
The navy’s close ties with U.S. agencies came to light Aug. 24, when Mexican federal police fired on a U.S. Embassy vehicle on a remote mountain highway. Two CIA agents and a Mexican navy captain were inside the armored vehicle, bound for a mountainside navy base.
What the three men were doing when they were ambushed has remained secret. The embassy later described the incident as an “ambush,” and authorities detained 14 federal police for suspected links to organized crime.
Somewhat uniquely, Mexico’s armed forces are divided into two separate Cabinet-level entities, with a naval secretariat overseeing the navy and a national defense secretariat in charge of the army and air force. The two secretariats rarely coordinate except on orders from the presidential office. They sometimes saw each other as foes.
“There were instances of shootouts,” said Richard Downie, director of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University in Washington.
The navy has one advantage in keeping its force free of organized crime: Unlike the army, naval infantry units have no fixed inland bases. That mean navy officers are not exposed as much as commanders of army bases to the plata o plomo (money or death) demands of crime bosses.
“They go in and out on specific missions. They are not subject to the corruption that comes when you are somewhere for quite some time,” Downie said.
Naval infantry units now number about 15,400 out of total navy force of 56,000, Guevara said. Of those, special forces units make up a brigade, perhaps up to 1,800 men.
“Given these numbers, the budget they have, the personnel they can deploy, they’ve been doing quite well,” said Guillermo Vazquez del Mercado, an independent security analyst who once worked for Mexico’s National Security Council.
Attitudes within the navy and army differ dramatically. Naval officers routinely seek graduate degrees and interact with civilians, while army officers remain deeply hierarchical and insular, experts say.
Camp, the Claremont McKenna professor who has lectured at both the navy and army academies, said naval officers pepper him with questions while army officers stay silent. Camp said naval officers are four times more likely to study abroad than army officers.
Mexico’s navy sent a permanent rotating liaison to the U.S. Northern Command, the Colorado-based unified military command that overseas activities from Alaska to Mexico, in 2006, years before the Mexican army followed suit. The navy also has liaisons in Key West, Fla., and Norfolk, Va.
Neither Mexico nor the United States has explained what kind of assistance the CIA may be providing to the navy, or indeed the level of intelligence that is offered.
“It’s no secret that we operate (unmanned aerial vehicles) on the border. We do electronic intercepts. That’s in the public domain. What is secret is what we obtain and who we share it with,” said McCabe, of the U.S. Naval War College.
“There’s a lot of folks that just don’t trust the army with intelligence,” he added.
Painted as “risk averse” in leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, Mexico’s army has battled corruption allegations for years. In May, prosecutors rounded up three retired army generals and a lieutenant colonel, later charging them with protecting the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
One of the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks last year excoriated the army for not acting on U.S. intelligence on the whereabouts of Arturo Beltran Leyva, who was holed up in a mansion in Cuernavaca close to an army base. A naval unit later went in and killed the drug lord.
Mexican experts said the naval intelligence unit is honing its own skills in analyzing and gathering information.
“It’s on its way to (being) recognized as the most successful intelligence agency in Mexico, although I would not discard the Federal Police intelligence capabilities,” Guevara said.
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How Playing Tegucigalpa as a Proxy is Undercutting U.S. Influence
Honduras is becoming notorious. The country now has the highest murder rate in the world. In 2011, more people were killed per capita in the industrial center of San Pedro Sula than in Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez, where the drug war rages on the U.S. border. It has also become one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist: At least 23 have been killed in the past three years. And according to the World Bank, 60 percent of the population lives in poverty, a statistic outmatched in the Western Hemisphere only by Haiti.
It is not difficult to spot the sources of the problem. A handful of entrenched elite families control the government in Tegucigalpa. They were never completely clean to begin with, but the June 2009 military coup, which toppled democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, threw the doors wide open, and the government is now corrupt from top to bottom. The judicial system is broken. According to Marvin Ponce, the vice president of the Honduran Congress, 40 percent of the country’s police are involved in organized crime.
When Roberto Micheletti took over as de facto president, he faced enormous resistance. Micheletti and his successor battered it down with an iron fist. Since early 2010, there have been more than 10,000 complaints of human rights abuses by state security forces, according to the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras, the country’s leading human rights group. As chief of police in San Pedro Sula, Hector Ivan Mejía oversaw the tear-gassing of an opposition demonstration on September 15, 2010, when security forces broke into and threatened an opposition radio station; today, he serves as national spokesperson for the Honduran police.
In many ways, Washington is responsible for this dismal turn. From the earliest days of the coup, the United States made poor decisions. The Obama administration was willing to call Zelaya’s ouster a coup, but it refused to ever use the term “military coup,” which would have legally triggered a cutoff of all military and police aid. Instead, U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton legitimated Micheletti as an equal player in negotiations. They never denounced the repression that followed.
In November 2009, presidential elections proceeded under Micheletti. Most of the opposition boycotted them because it was impossible to campaign freely and the electoral process was controlled by the same army that had perpetrated the coup. International observers, including the Carter Center and the United Nations, agreed and refused to monitor the vote. Porfirio Lobo Sosa (known as Pepe Lobo), from the traditional ruling elite, claimed 56 percent of the vote, but most countries in the hemisphere refused to officially recognize his victory. Nevertheless, Washington praised the election and went on to call Lobo’s administration a “government of national reconciliation.”
It has been anything but. Upon taking office, Lobo reappointed many of the same figures who had perpetrated the coup. There are reasons to believe that many top officials in his administration are intimately tied to the illicit drug trade. Honduran Defense Minister Marlon Pascua has spoken of the “narco judges” and “narco congressmen” who run cartels. Alfredo Landaverde, a former congressman and police commissioner, charged that ten percent of the Honduran Congress and “major national and political figures” were involved in drug trafficking. He was assassinated last December.
Regardless, the U.S. State Department has deepened its commitment to Lobo, reinforcing his government with an expanded U.S. military presence in Honduras and signing a new security pact last month. U.S. military funding, after an initial drop immediately following the coup, has increased every year since. Washington will send more than $50 million in military aid to Tegucigalpa this year, much of it as part of the $200 million Central America Regional Security Initiative. The Pentagon is spending $24 million more to make its barracks at Soto Cano Air Base permanent. Washington justifies this escalation in the name of fighting the war on drugs, although it is finally beginning to acknowledge the crisis.
The situation brings back haunting memories of other U.S. involvements in Latin America. Washington has a dark track record of supporting military coups against democratic governments and then funneling money to repressive regimes. In 1964, the United States backed a military coup in Brazil; in 1973, it supported a military coup headed by Augusto Pinochet in Chile; and during the 1980s, it threw millions of dollars at the leaders in El Salvador. All of these U.S.–backed governments ruled with enormous brutality. In Honduras today, the United States’ hands are already dirty: A botched drug raid in the Moskitia region on May 11, carried out by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Honduran security forces, left four civilians dead, two of whom were pregnant women.
The State Department is pursuing such a misguided policy for larger strategic reasons in the region: to push back against the governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, and others, which have moved considerably to the left in the last 15 years. Above all, Washington’s Honduras policy is a deliberate message to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Endorsing the coup served as a not-so-subtle threat that the others could be next. Paraguay only proves the point further — in June, the State Department looked the other way when Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was overthrown.
On the day-to-day level, Obama and Clinton have reportedly ceded Latin America policy to lower-level officials in the State Department. Sources suggest that appointees who do care about human rights are boxed in by holdovers from the George W. Bush administration and conservative State Department career officers who are running the show. On the Hill, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.), bolstered by her congressional allies who serve the Cuban-American right, overtly celebrated the coup. So does Mitt Romney, who recently criticized Obama for not backing it.
Forces in Congress, though, have been pushing back. On October 2, Representative Howard Berman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, wrote a letter to Clinton calling for a fundamental “re-set“ of U.S. policy in Honduras. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), and Jared Polis (D-Col.) have led a group of nearly 100 members of Congress calling for the immediate suspension of U.S. police and military aid to Honduras. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and others have challenged the White House on human rights abuses by U.S.-funded police and military.
Congressional pressure notwithstanding, in early August the State Department reported that Honduras had met conditions for improving human rights and the rule of law required by the 2012 appropriations bill. In effect, the administration was officially declaring that the human rights situation in Honduras is acceptable. Yet it speaks volumes that funds were withheld from the new Honduran national chief of police until he could be investigated for allegations of overseeing death squads. The U.S. embassy in Honduras was reluctant to explain or defend its position when it did so, however, suggesting that the funds were suspended only because of congressional pressure.
But this strategy is undercutting Washington’s approach to its allies throughout Latin America. Brazil, the region’s economic powerhouse, condemned the coup as a threat to “the rules of democracy“ and allowed Zelaya to take refuge in the Brazilian embassy. In defiance of the U.S., Brazil and other nations agreed to admit Honduras to the Organization of American States only after a May 2011 agreement that allowed Zelaya’s safe return to the country.
A wiser approach would change course completely: The United States would distance itself from the Lobo administration, speak plainly about its deficiencies, and immediately cut police and military aid to Honduras. Short of that, it could use partial suspensions as leverage to force reforms. An international commission, led by independent regional powers and the United Nations, would carry out investigations of Honduran security forces and the judiciary. The nation’s vast army of private security guards, who now outnumber the 14,000 police by as much as three to one and operate almost entirely without state supervision, have to be reined in. Honduras, moreover, is in desperate need of meaningful agrarian reform, as land-rights activists continue to be assassinated. Newly proposed “model cities,” which would allow non-Hondurans to create enclaves in which neither the Honduran constitution nor its entire legal system would apply, should be stopped entirely. The U.S. should aggressively and publicly support these positions and those who advocate them.
In the longer term, backing the democratic process is paramount. Primary elections are set for November, in preparation for a presidential election in November 2013. The United States should throw its force behind free and fair elections, knowing full well that in an honest election process Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the former first lady and now the presidential candidate of Libre, the new opposition party, would likely win by a considerable margin. Recent polls show Castro far ahead in the polls, with the traditional ruling parties, including Lobo’s, well below. Washington, consistently hostile to Manuel Zelaya and critical of his links to progressive governments in Latin America, presumably feels the same way about his wife, whose candidacy emerges out of resistance to the coup. It should nonetheless refrain from privately backing an alternative candidate more of its liking.
Latin American and Caribbean heads of state, faced with overt U.S. support for a regime that threatens the constitutional order and rule of law for which their countries have fought long and hard, are drawing ever closer together and declaring their independence from Washington. The United States’ anachronistic position on Cuba at the April Summit of the Americas in Cartagena only made matters worse. As Washington opts for escalating military might over prosperous economic partnerships, the likes of which China is increasingly developing, it risks alienating its allies even further. In Honduras, Latin American and Caribbean leaders have a clear example of what the United States has to offer: the underwriting of a human rights disaster.
Presidente anunció, sin mayores detalles, la Misión Mercosur y las micromisiones
MARÍA LILIBETH DA CORTE
CARACAS, jueves 11 de octubre, 2012
Tras recibir de manos de la presidenta del Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, la credencial que lo proclama Presidente de la República para el período 2013-2019, Hugo Chávez se comprometió a “consumirse gustosamente al servicio del pueblo sufriente para tener patria”, anunció el lanzamiento de las “micromisiones” y nombró al canciller Nicolás Maduro, Vicepresidente Ejecutivo, el octavo que ocupa el cargo en los 14 años de su Gobierno.
“Ha sido un excelente Vicepresidente. Gracias Elías, noble, trabajador, honesto entregado, inteligente y humilde sobretodo. Gracias Elías Jaua Milano por tanto”, así despidió el mandatario a su actual Vicepresidente, quien asumirá la candidatura por el chavismo a la Gobernación de Miranda.
Luego bromeó: “No le recomiendo a nadie que sea Vicepresidente de la República” al afirmar que no es “cosa fácil” aguantarlo. “Por eso, quiero que le demos un aplauso de apoyo, de estímulo al nuevo vicepresidente que es Nicolás Maduro”, anunció.
El Presidente no reveló quien sustituirá a Maduro en el Ministerio de las Relaciones Exteriores ni a Jaua en el despacho de Agricultura y Tierras, cartera que también preside.
Maduro es el octavo Vicepresidente de Hugo Chávez. Han pasado por esa instancia ademas de Jaua (2010), Isaías Rodríguez (1999- 2000), Adina Bastidas (2000-2002), Diosdado Cabello (2002), José Vicente Rangel (2002-2007), Jorge Rodríguez (2007-2008) y Ramón Carrizales (2008-2010).
Chávez resaltó que Maduro “ha sido un gran servidor público en distintos frentes de batalla, en la Asamblea Nacional y luego en la Cancillería (cargo que ocupa desde el 2006)”. .
“Mira dónde va Nicolás, el autobusero. Nicolás era chófer de autobús en el metro y cómo se han burlado de él, la burguesía se burla”, señaló el Jefe de Estado, refiriéndose a los inicios de Maduro, quien presidió un sindicato de conductores del Metro de Caracas.
Ayer Chávez reiteró su disposición al diálogo con algunos sectores de la oposición. “Yo los seguiré invitando al diálogo, al debate, a la propuesta, a mí me llamaron la atención declaraciones que leí en prensa del presidente de Fedecámaras, diciendo que sí, que están dispuestos al diálogo. Bueno, al diálogo, claro, pero no a la imposición, que son dos cosas muy distintas”, subrayó.
Se quejó que “la campaña adversaria, burguesa, de la derecha política, la cual utilizó mucho el recurso de sobredimensionar o utilizar las fallas, las necesidades, los reclamos de un pueblo que carga todavía sobre sus hombros 500 años de dominación, de capitalismo salvaje y de saqueo”.
“Pero la derecha es muy hábil: Te das cuenta no tienes casa todavía, vota por mi que yo te voy a dar casa. Te das cuenta que no te llega el agua, vota por mí, que yo sí te la voy a poner (…) Te das cuenta que te mataron un familiar, te das cuenta la inseguridad y yo sí voy a arreglar todo eso. Ese fue uno de los recursos que utilizó el marketing de la derecha, sin embargo allí está el resultado más de 8 millones de conciencia dijeron ‘no te creo, yo creo en el socialismo”, soltó en el discurso, para luego reconocer que ese “aspecto tiene dos caras y al otra cara es que nosotros como Gobierno y Estado estamos obligados a acelerar las respuestas eficientes y la solución a los moles y miles de problemas que aun perduran en el pueblo”.
Recordó que la revolución que encabeza es “un proceso de largo aliento, que va por etapas, que avanza por ciclos. Que es imposible solucionar en un corto plazo solucionar los miles de problemas que aquejan al pueblo producto del modelo capitalista que se instaló aquí”.
Chávez insistió que se lleva a cabo “la transición al socialismo”, por eso -dijo- el próximo período de Gobierno “debe ser un período de mayor avance, logros y eficiencia en esa transición del capitalismo al socialismo”. En ese sentido, el mandatario anunció, sin mayores detalles, la creación de la Misión Mercosur y las micromisiones. Indicó que el programa de la Patria será el rector del nuevo período.
De traje negro, corbata roja, acompañado por su hija Rosa Virginia, Chávez arribó a la 5.15 pm, a la sede del CNE. En la carpa habilitada para la prensa durante los pasados comicios, el Jefe de Estado, su gabinete Ejecutivo, la directiva y funcionarios del CNE, el jefe de Estado fue proclamado como el ganador de los comicios del pasado domingo por un 55,26% de los votos frente al 44,13% que obtuvo el candidato de la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, Henrique Capriles.
El Jefe de Estado retomó la promesa que lanzó el 15 de febrero de 2009, cuando ganó la enmienda que permitió la reelección presidencial indefinida, pero esta vez la dedicó especialmente a los pobres. “Me consumiré gustosamente al servicio del pueblo sufriente para tener patria”, dijo.
La poderosa maquinaria roja, capaz de garantizar el triunfo de Hugo Chávez en las elecciones presidenciales, ayer no trabajó y la Plaza Diego Ibarra, adyacente al Consejo Nacional Electoral, se quedó a medio llenar para celebrar el nuevo triunfo del mandatario.
La gente que acudió a la fiesta popular era esencialmente espontánea. Algunos funcionarios púbicos, aún con su carnet colgando, asistieron después de terminar su jornada laboral a la concentración. No hubo presión ni listas, eran seguidores indiscutibles de Chávez.
Otros asistentes no eran trabajadores del Estado, era gente llana y sencilla, jóvenes de los barrios, señoras de la tercera edad emocionadas con el triunfo del “candidato de la patria”, como se hizo llamar Chávez en la campaña electoral.
Los edificios que rodean la Plaza, como las Torres del Silencio, donde funcionan oficinas estatales, mostraban en sus ventanas afiches del presidente reelecto.
Abajo, en la Plaza, estaba una tarima con tres pantallas donde el público pudo ver el acto de proclamación del mandatario que se llevó a cabo en el CNE.
Hany Kauam, los Cadillacs y Omar Enrique, el trío artístico que animó las concentraciones chavistas durante la fase electoral, estaban anunciados para la fiesta roja.
“Será Presidente desde el 2013 hasta el dos mil siempre”, aseguraba una cantante del grupo Madera en la tarima, palabras que ocasionaron una ovación, mientras una urna de cartón era paseada por la Plaza donde se leía “enterramos a Capriles y al capitalismo”.
Pero el aplauso más sonoro se lo llevó el mandatario cuando apareció de repente en las pantallas tomado de la mano de su hija Rosa Virginia y entrando a la sede del ente comicial.
Una joven al pie de la tarima lloraba y repetía “te amo, Chávez”, mientras, una señora de apariencia septuagenaria que vendía golosinas en un carrito, se mostraba emocionada y aplaudía intensamente mientras veía con mirada iluminada la pantalla.
La de ayer no fue una de las celebraciones más multitudinarias de Chávez, pero la gente que estaba allí -en su mayoría de bajos recursos-, aupó intensamente a su líder. La mejor imagen para entender porque fue reelecto.
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