November 4, 2006
As the "democratic" elections in Venezuela approach, the pressure on the country's citizens to Obey The Authorities is building. Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, who also serves as the head of the national oil company PDVSA demanded that the oil workers back President Hugo Chavez and his "revolution" or else quit. It seems that many of workers are refusing to grant unconditional loyalty to the jefe máximo. This speech was caught on amateur video, and it may boost the fortunes of opposition candidate Manuel Rosales, but probably not enough to win in the stacked electoral process. See BBC.
In case you've forgotten, PDVSA owns CITGO, which operates gasoline stations across the United States. CITGO recently placed a full-page ad in the Washington Post denouncing what they consider inaccurate criticisms, but they obliquely acknowledged their awkward situation by stating that "as a corporation, we cannot always control the environment in which we operate..." In other words, please don't pay attention to our idiot clown president!
In Monday's Washington Post, Robert Novak heaped criticism on the U.S. State Department for clumsily giving tacit support to Liberal Party candidate Eduardo Montealegre rather than Jose Rizo. He thinks this will tip the electoral balance in the Sandinistas' favor, "losing" Nicaragua once again. One of Novak's sources was Adolfo Calero, a former Contra leader who is associated with Ollie North, who recently visited Nicaragua to try to stop Daniel Ortega's comeback. How intriguing! (The Liberal Party became sharply divided over corruption charges leveled against former President Aleman; see Oct. 2005.)