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Report From Ground Zero Venezuela...
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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Report From Ground Zero Venezuela...

    Report from Ground Zero Venezuela...
    <P>
    Arrived last Sunday for my third trip down here to Caracas this year and was immediately encouraged to see the new optimism evident everywhere and so universally embraced that, finally, Hugo Chavez was soon to be history. And, hope everywhere that this embarrasing embracer of dictators and terrorists the world over, along with his economically devastating regime at home, could be sent packing... and soon. This attitude has been confirmed all this week by the popular marches and protests expanding well beyond the capitol to include the whole of the country this time and the successful general strike now even impacting significantly the vital petro sector.
    <P>
    Support for Chavez is now under 20%, where even the lower clases have tired of his five years of empty rhetoric and promises. All the Venezuelan TV stations, except for sole govt owned station, are now openly and eagerly anti-Chavez. One has a regular nightly comedy section as part of their news report called ¨Chavez vs Chavez¨ with Rocky theme music for the background as they show one clip of Chavez from the past making some declaration and then another, more recent, clip that is in direct contradiction to his earlier pronouncements. His lies and deceptions have caught up to him and his active support has largely shrunk to only those with a vested interest in his power maintaining theirs. With a Chavez packed/picked 11 to 9 Supreme Court, there are now over 20 strong merit Constitutional abuse and corruption cases against him languishing for lack of proper action by the Supreme Court ... Any one of which would, upon conviction, have him automatically removed from office. The people here have gone the legal route, know the facts of these cases clearly, know also what is going on in the stonewalling of those cases by his appointees, and this along with economic and military revelations (detailed below) has been the motivation for many to have now taken to the streets en mass and so effectively. The resulting anti-Chavez popular movement is made up of a large cross section of the population with many middle and upper class, clean cut and well dressed, energetic citizens and families of all ages. You would be proud to have them and their enthusiasm join in with any USA Patriot event!
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plazafolks.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plazaflag.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    Unfortunately, though, this new success, and now for-real potential for eventually accomplishing it's goals, has also tragically been confirmed last night by the desperation asserted via Chavez's unleashing violence here that is now being called the "Altamira Massacre" at the Altamira Plaza, also referred to as the Francia Plaza by some, and for those occupying it now, they call it the Plaza de Libertad.
    <P>
    At 7:10 PM local time last evening, in one of those 'never forget where you were when' moments, I heard what I figured were just some more fireworks from the festivities, speeches, energetic flag waving and loud cheering crowds so normal down below our hotel rooms overlooking the Altamira Plaza. Before I got to the window to look, and had barely got out of my mouth to my company here that 'I hope it's only more fireworks', a dozen stacatto shots came, and screams quickly followed and the first view I had was of hundreds of panicked, running, and diving for cover, unarmed civilians; the full spectrum of young and old, with lots of couples and families with children.
    <P>

    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza1.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza2.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza3.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza5.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza6.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza7.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza9.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza10.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza12.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>

    <P>
    This was the festive place I'd passed through, and paused in, numerous times each day this week here and had enjoyed sharing in it's peoples round-the-clock, energy, optimism, and pride in their country. Especially, remembering as all stood at attention riveted reverentially to their National Anthem being played, and when cheering and waving their flags in approval of the latest pronouncement from the podium, but now this Plaza clutched about 30 victims as a reminder to all that securing freedom isn't free.

    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza4.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza8.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plaza11.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>

    At this time; 5 dead and 29 wounded, is the official report, but what I'd not want to miss also having reported, is that less than 40 minutes after the last shot, and while the threat of more gunfire was clearly possible and actually happened later on, about a third of the original crowd of 2,000 local patriots, both from on stage and in the audience, came back out in the open defiantly resuming their program and loudly proclaiming that they would not be intimidated by Hugo Chavez and his cowardly hired thugs! The intense sense of historical purpose in doing so was inherently understood by all still there. What it required of them at that annointed time was evident in their energy and determination and would have surely made our own founding fathers proud! The last victims had only just been removed and the blood upon the Plaza was still wet and glistening, yet these Venezuelans had a in-your-face & up-yours message to deliver to Chavez that could not wait and only makes me more eager to see them successfully deliver it!
    <P>
    Cameras caught and relayed this scene all over the nation, hopefully it will be later seen as the turning point for the end of the Chavez regime, and no further violent escalation will surpass it, but I am afraid martial law and repressive media clamp downs and then unfettered (no camera evidence) abuses will be unleashed. Maybe, if lucky, Chavez will give it up and go retire to his home in Cuba that he has established there and been having shipments made to/for, but not counting on it, not yet anyways.
    <P>
    Four of the attackers from last night were promptly caught, two confirmed as govt employees. Some others firing from elevated positions and still others suspected of employing silenced weapons are still being sought as miles of video tape is studied here.
    <P>
    The risk of state sponsored violence was not unknown to this crowd last night (Friday). The 24/7 Plaza events and military encampment here has supporters day and night and early Friday morning, at 2:50 AM I awoke to shots being fired into the Plaza from drive-by assailants. Fortunately, no injuries reported and the capable security teams here pursued and captured them and they were discovered to be two card-carrying DIM (Division de Intelligencia Militar) agents. They were turned over to the local police, who are also overwhelmingly anti-Chavez, but with the aid of a Chavez appointed judge were promptly ´absolved´ and are now gone.
    <P>
    This morning (Saturday) at about 10 AM local time, the security teams captured another two more potential assailants coming into the Plaza. They were armed with a five shot revolver and Taurus 9mm. I examined the ID carried by both and they are Chavez MVR Party members and one is a MVR political appointee, a Comisario, which I have been told, is like a constable in the US. He was from the state of Anzoategui, which is about 6 hours away, long ways from home.
    <P>
    Altamira Plaza has rightly become the focus of this struggle because it was here that the dis-spirited and fragmented efforts left over since the April Coup debacle become whole again, focused, and re-energized. That credit clearly goes to the Venezuelan military high command that has recently been quitting Hugo Chavez's regime in protest over his unconstitutional usurpations of power and Cubanization plans. They not only quit, but then vowed to stay together and continue to occupy and protest at the Altamira Plaza until Chavez leaves. But, it gets better, all of this has happened over the last 46 days and these are the top 30 generals, plus about a hundred of lesser ranks, Colonels, Majors, etc. and they've only just recently come out from Chavez's regime and know what he's really up to that had them quitting in protest and are eager to tell us all why!
    <P>

    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plazabig.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    We are talking here about the overall head of all the armed services, and the Commanding General of the Army, the Commanding Admiral of the Navy, the General over the National Guard, etc., etc. See an impressive list of most of them here... <BR>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/sp/oficiales.html target=new>http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/sp/oficiales.html</A>
    <P>
    The list includes Military Attache for Chavez in Washington, Enrique Medina Gomez, Former head of the navy, Hector Ramirez, ex-U.N. attache for Venezuela, Carlos Alfonzo Martinez, inspector general of the National Guard, and nearly 30 other generals.
    In addition, the group also has unconditional support from a number of high-ranking generals who are NOT on the list because they chose to not physically live in the Altamira Plaza, however. These "non-residents" include:
    Chavez' first Secretary of Defense and former ambassador to Spain, Raul Salazar; Efrain Vasquez Velasco, Chavez' supreme commander of the Army earlier this year; Manuel Rosendo, general and commander general of the Army; Guaicapuro Lameda, general, ex-president of PDVSA the state oil company, and Chavez' former Secretary of the Treasury; Rommel Fuenmayor, president of CAVIM, Venezuela's state-owned arms manufacturer; Marcos Ferreira, former boss of Oni-Dex, the ID-card and citizen registration system.
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plazamilmen.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    In addition, there's another 15,000+ officers, NCO's, and enlisted that they've instructed to stay inside the military while awaiting orders, but, in the meantime, to continue feeding additional intel out to the officiers that have already left and are there at the Altamira Plaza. (Look for entire garrisons to renounce and dissert Chavez dramatically en mass and leave to join the anti-Chavez forces soon.) BTW, on a slow day, before this week, additional officers quit Chavez daily, came to the Plaza and gave their testimonial of conscience to the cheering crowds here daily.
    <P>
    The Venezuelan people responded quickly to the conscience-based protest these military men represented in risking arrest or worse to come out from under Hugo Chavez and reveal all. For many, too, they'd been with him for a long time and know where a lot 'of the bodies are buried'. One General related what he felt was an embarrasing story to me and that he says he regrets his actions in it to this day. He claims he was with Chavez right before he was taken into custody in the April Coup and said Chavez was so despondent that he had had to physically wrestle a pistol out of his mouth pleading with Chavez not to take his own life. He says, shaking his head slowly, that he wishes today he had not restrained him then.
    <P>
    For the public, these military officers are true heros, often signing their flags and regularly up on the stage in their pressed uniforms, giving speeches, updates, and introducing new officers and public officials now joining the cause.
    <P>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new><IMG SRC=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com/images/tx/plazasign.jpg border=0 alt=Venezuela></A>
    <P>
    Shortly after they commenced their media rich activities here in the Plaza, the TV was covering them daily, frequently and in a positive light, as well as the other splintered anti-Chavez organizations, too, that are all now represented here with their own booths. And, that military lead is what is really the behind this effective rejuvination to get Chavez ousted with this new concerted and focused effort.
    <P>
    The Venezuelan peoples' motivation for most all along, has been primarily economical complaints, such as a 40% devaluation in the local currency (the "Bolivar") since the 1st of the year, but since the military has been enlightening everyone, this past month and a half, more are also discovering how Chavez Cubanization goals are much more than just the crazy rhetoric they had written it off to before. And they see, too, that they risk Venezuela being seen by the world as a terrorist state and shunned by the USA.
    <P>
    To understand how appaling this prospect is to them, it is important to realize where the Venezuelan people stand and their attitudes. They enjoy, largely due to they being the worlds' 5th largest oil producer, the most modern lifestyle of all the South American countries. From the best interstate highway system in South America (with plenty of newer cars and 24 cent/gallon gas) to the French made modern subway system below Caracas, both of which I have personally travelled extensivelly, to the only nation-wide and cheap cell phone coverage down here, along with modern and comprehensive media (cable TV, broadband internet, satellite, etc.). Bottom Line, they are very well connected with lots of their kids going to school in the USA, too, and are eager to stop the erosion in the quality of their lifestyles from the past five years of Chavez rule.
    <P>
    Attitude-wise, we could hope here in the USA for no better allies than the Venezuelan people. According to the just published 2002 Global Attitudes Survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington; 82% have a favorable opinion of the USA, and that is amongst the highest ratings of all the 44 countries surveyed. And, in regard to supporting the US led war on terrorism, 79% favor it while only 20% oppose it!
    <P>
    Clearly, no country in South America holds more promise for being a strong and effective ally and supporter of the USA, perhaps none better in this entire Hemisphere, *when* Chavez is gone and remnants of his regime are fully rooted out. Also, though,there is no current government in this hemisphere that is a more "Clear & Present Danger" to the USA with the continuation and expansion of Hugo Chavez type innitiatives...
    <P>
    #1 - "Free" oil to Castro 'in trade' for Cuban advisors running secret 'internal security' training camps here.
    <P>
    #2 - FARC/ELN Columbian revolutionists, that US is fighting, are supported materially in exchange for lucrative drug trade that's transported via official health dept vehicles here across Venezuela with Puerto Rico as the foreign destination.
    <P>
    #3 - Relationship with Gaddafi has secured Katushka missles and their Libyan technicians here.
    <P>
    #4 - Relationship with Saddam Hussein has produced both support and material trades with his regime.
    <P>
    #5 - Chavez donated 1 million $'s to Al Queda in Afganistan shortly after 9/11. He also publicly excused his Chavista supporters burning USA flags then by saying USA brought 9/11 upon itself.
    <P>
    #6 - Has deposited 4.5 Billion $'s into Chinese banks and has visited China more frequently than any US President. Also, China has made larger ¨investments¨ in Venezuela than in all other South American countries combined, even if Mexico is also included.
    <P>
    #7 - Thursday, military informer reported, small unit of National Guard ordered by Cnel.(EJ) 2do. Comandante of the Reserve Orlando Zurita Ramirez, who was following orders originating by Chavez, to go to an armory to load up 750 FAL's along with 1.8 million rounds of ammo and transport them to poor neighborhood west of Caracas called "23 de Enero". There they were distributed to local gang of about 1,000 strong called "Caraoaica y Tupacamaro". The Generals told me here that this sort of desperation agitation to create additional street violence by Chavez is to be expected as the precursor and excuse for eventual martial law. This is clear insight and indication of why Chavez is so comfortable with the likes of Saddam Hussein, and Chavez is a whole lot closer!
    <P>
    #8 - Remember brief mention in media recently about accusations Castro had a bio-weapon lab in Cuba? Well, don't bother looking for it there anymore, it was airlifted out by a Chavez C-130 in a rush/hush mission shortly after that news story broke. It's here, still largely crated and being watched, awaiting final destination along with Cuban technicians that came with it.
    <P>
    #9 - As if all the above wasn't enough, and now after Chavez has embraced all the worlds greatest living dictators and their regimes as something to emulate here in Venezuela, he has found, yet another 'hero of the people' to serve up. He has been petitioning the French government to give him 'Carlos The Jackal', currently incarcerated there, so he might 'serve out his term' here in his home country and where his brother resides, Raphael Ramirez, who is Chavez Minister of Energy & Mines.
    <P>
    Most of the above stories with details, and many more related to govt corruption and political shenanigans, can be seen now or will be soon published here...
    <br>
    <A HREF=http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com target=new>http://www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com</A>
    <P>
    Currently only in spanish, but english version web site being worked on right now, and coming very soon. Live web cam overlooking the Plaza is going in soon, too, and when up/running it will be announced on front page there, too. I've asked them to also add sound via the web, too, this crowd is impressively vibrant and just plain loud.
    <P>
    The Plaza, scene of the massacre less than 24 hours ago, as I write this here now, is again filling up for this evening, too!
    These folks are willing to risk it all, for me an awesome and indescribable inspiration, and personally I am humbled and consider myself fortunate to be able to help in their effort in any small way.
    <P>
    Regarding oil, many have inquired from US about export situation, tanker movement and refinery production here; Current breaking story here is a contingent of National Guard was just sent to take over and drive the tanker trucks at a refinery in Carabobo State and owners deferred to Constitionally protected property rights in refusing them and Commandant tried to get a judge to issue some sort of emergency order overiding the Constitution and, in the meantime, his rank/file soldiers decided now was as good a time as any to dissert and proclaim that they refuse to act unconstitutionally and they did so en masse and the cameras caught it. Quick as I saw it on TV here, I could hear the crowd erupt below in the Plaza as they announced it from the stage there, too.
    <P>
    In other oil news, all but two of the PDVSA board of directors has quit in protest and the strike within the oil sector will go on at least through a good part of next week, though many members of the industry could carry on much longer.
    <P>
    Regarding the stalled tankers, 11 of the 14 are still halted in-place. The Navy has boarded many, but is not convincing their capitans/crews to crank them back up and the Navy is shy about taking the responsibility themselves and piloting them, so no movement.
    <P>
    Events and developments from across the country continue moving ever faster here now, will update ASAP, also check that web site above for latest/best info, too.
    <P>
    Never boring here...
    <P>
    -Shane
    <BR>

  2. #2
    Shane, thanks. Getting reliable information and insight means a lot. Will go now back and read the details. suzy

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Thanks for the eyewitness report Shane!!!

    Really brings home the problems they are facing!

  4. #4
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    The Tree of Liberty has been watered with the blood of Patriots: Chavez should remember that eventually, it will demand the blood of Tyrants. Godspeed that day to the people of Venezuela.

    St. Marc

  5. #5
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    Four of the attackers from last night were promptly caught, two confirmed as govt employees. Some others firing from elevated positions and still others suspected of employing silenced weapons are still being sought as miles of video tape is studied here.

    sniff . . .sniff . . .sniff . . .

    yeah, thought i caught a whiff of that. C-I-A. classic.

    hell, we even pull this sh*t in this country. we surely won't hold back in a third world country with a whole bunch of oil.

    let the people of venezuela make our FFs proud (like who cares) by using the ballot box.

    and now for the real news:

    http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?o...B9B4A6134F9228

    Police arrested seven people in connection with the attack. Government prosecutors say one of the gunmen has confessed that he was paid by a dissident military officer to do the shooting.

    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Con...l=968705899037

    Dec. 7, 2002. 05:52 PM

    Chavez supporters march in Venezuelan capital
    Demonstration comes a day after 3 people shot to death at opposition rally


    CARACAS (AP) — Thousands of people wearing red berets marched today through the capital of Venezuela to support embattled President Hugo Chavez a day after three people were fatally shot at an opposition rally.

    Demonstrations by both sides of Venezeula's political conflict had police worried of increased violence after gunmen opened fire Friday night into a plaza crowded with opposition demonstrators. In addition to the three deaths, 28 people were wounded.

    The killings caused the opposition — until now seeking only a referendum on Chavez's four-year-old government — to demand his resignation. Leaders declared three days of mourning, calling for countrywide protests and the extension of a general strike that has already shut down Venezuela's giant oil industry.

    Police patrols in Caracas were drastically cut a month ago when Chavez seized control of the city force. Citing the threat of violence, the U.S. State Department on Saturday urged Americans not to travel to Venezuela.

    The United States depends on Venezuela for more than 10 per cent of its crude oil imports. A prolonged shutdown — coupled with the threat of war in Iraq — could drive up U.S. energy prices.

    Pro-Chavez crowds chanted "Chavez drives them crazy!" — referring to the opposition — as they marched to the presidential palace.

    "I had to come to show my rejection of the way the opposition is always blaming innocent people for the violence," said Peggly Martinez, 19, a university student. "There's no dictatorship here and we want the world to know it."

    Chavez, a former army paratrooper who led a failed 1992 coup, was overwhelmingly elected in 1998 by promising to eliminate a corrupt democratic system that failed to distribute oil riches to the poor. He was re-elected to a six-year term in 2000.

    His popularity suffered as his "peaceful revolution" against poverty produced few results. Venezuela's economy shrank seven per cent this year, despite relatively high oil prices. Inflation is at 30 per cent, unemployment at 16 per cent. More than half the work force does not have a full-time job.

    Chavez's approval among the poor — his core constituency — has slipped to about 45 per cent in recent polls, while his overall support hovers around 30 per cent. He has the support of Bolivarian Circles, neighbourhood groups that carry out social projects and other government-backed actions. In the past, radical armed members of the group have attacked opposition marches, politicians and journalists.

    Chavez appealed for calm after Friday's shooting at Plaza Francia, an opposition rallying spot since dissident military officers occupied it in October.

    He denied claims that he was behind the attack, which occurred moments after the opposition said it would extend its strike. Chavez asked former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who has tried to mediate in Venezuela, to help calm tensions.

    The Organization of American States called for emergency talks between the two sides late Saturday. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell phoned mediator Cesar Gaviria, secretary general of the organization, to express his support for the talks, U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro said.

    A stumbling point is the opposition demand that Chavez call a nonbinding referendum on his presidency. Venezuela's constitution says a binding referendum may be held halfway into his term, or next August.

    Chavez said Saturday that the national elections council, which has approved a Feb. 2 referendum, must be changed "so we have someone impartial" to conduct elections. His government insists a constitutional amendment is needed to call an early referendum.

    Timoteo Zambrano, an opposition negotiator, said the opposition would now demand Chavez's immediate resignation at the talks. The general strike was non-negotiable, he said.

    Chavez, whom dissident military officers ousted briefly in April, accused the opposition of trying to provoke another coup.

    At a news conference Saturday, Chavez said he could decree a state of emergency if the strike was extended. "It's a possibility, depending on the evolution of the situation," he said.

    Inside Venezuela's oil industry — the world's fifth largest — all seven directors of the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. oil company offered their resignations to protest the board appointment of a Chavez ally, Alfredo Riera, said dissident manager Juan Fernandez.

    Chavez said his government was in the process of replacing striking oil company managers and tanker crews. He said ``international clients haven't been affected, although there are some delays" in shipments.

    The president warned that "some television stations are very close to committing crimes" for their overt support of the strike. Just before he was ousted in April, he shut down private stations.

    The three days of mourning began with hundreds of opposition protesters in black clothing gathering at Plaza Francia. Confusion increased as protesters wrested handguns from two people in the crowd they called "infiltrators."

    Enraged by the pro-Chavez march, the opposition Democratic Coordinator political movement issued a statement accusing the government of having "declared war against the people."

    City heath department chief Pedro Aristimuno said Friday's attack killed a 17-year-old girl, a 70-year-old woman and a 44-year-old man. Twenty-eight people were wounded, all by gunshots.

    Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez said seven people were in custody, including a minor. Authorities said one suspect confessed to shooting at the crowd. Accusations against other detainees — including British citizen Frank Pietersz — were not clear.
    Last edited by bigwavedave; 12-07-2002 at 08:11 PM.

  6. #6
    Thank you so much, Shane, for the excellent and well-written account.

    The photos are incredible.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Wonderful commentary, Shane. Be safe

    SR

  8. #8
    This is an interesting site in light of the polarization of the media in Venezuala.

    http://www.vheadline.com/p1/latestedition.htm

    Interesting take on the attacks at the "Rebel HQ" plaza.
    Looks like at least two of them had forged Military ID's and one is a Brit.

    F

  9. #9
    Thanks shane!!

    Now get the hell out of there!!

  10. #10
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    If I didn't read news online I wouldn't even know anything was going on in Venezuela; it isn't a top news story on TV or the Sunday paper.

    Anyway, a fascinating read. Thanks.
    "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:3

  11. #11
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    I wish the generals would have kept there ground in the coupe attempt several months ago.


    BWD, is there any dictators that you do not surpport?

  12. #12
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    Shane,

    Thank you for your powerful, first-hand report.

    Please, KEEP IT COMING!

  13. #13
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    What an experience. You are watching history in the making. Please be careful.
    Happy is the Nation whose God is the Lord. -Psalm 33:12

  14. #14
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    Link to Official Venezuelan Defense Ministry website...<BR>
    http://www.mindefensa.gov.ve
    <P>
    The current (Dec 8) screenshot of the above hacked website:
    <P>
    <img src=http://www.militaresdemocraticos.com/images/hacked-mindefensa08dic2002_th.jpg></A>
    <P>
    The Defense Ministry is the Venezuelan equivalent to the US Defense Dept. <br>
    Hacker kept the logo of "Ministerio de la Defensa" in there.
    <P>
    Translation:
    <P><B>
    "Damned Killers.
    Minister Prieto </B><I>(He is The Secretary of Defense in Venezuela)</I><B>,
    how much does Chavez pay you to be the lackey of his revolution?"
    <P>
    </B><I>[picture of Chavez on toilet paper, with text below reading:]</I><P>
    <B>"You are full of it, Chavez for you little time is left"
    <P></B><I>
    Below picture it reads: </I>
    <P>
    <B>"This is for the fallen of Plaza Altamira"<BR>
    Signed: "Ratahackz y the tankers"<BR>
    "We've got you crazy!!!"<P></B>

  15. #15
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    The world's largest oil refinery, "El Palito", in Venezuela,
    has reportedly been shut down (orderly shutdown),
    by its management at 1 AM local time -- 15 minutes ago.
    <P>
    We have this information from the Gerente de Operaciones,
    operations manager. No current time to commence operations
    again has been stated. BTW, when they do, to restart this
    refinery will take between 4 and 5 days under normal
    conditions and with a full crew.
    <P>-Shane

  16. #16
    shane, stay safe and have a safe return home.

  17. #17
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    Originally posted by truthseeker
    I wish the generals would have kept there ground in the coupe attempt several months ago.


    BWD, is there any dictators that you do not surpport?
    what do you mean? please explain.

  18. #18
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    Shane, thank you for that excellent report and the pictures that make it come to life! As much as we appreciate a first-hand report, I'm sure I won't be the only one to breathe a sigh of relief when you're back home! Take care!
    Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/TheCrochetFarm

    If we aren't showing love, His love, then what are we doing calling ourselves Christians?

    Psalm 73: 25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
    26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

  19. #19
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    Shane,
    I told you before you left to be carefull and that it wasn't a good time to be out of the country. Guess that was an understatement!
    Stay safe

  20. #20
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    Shane, thanks for the report. I was taken back by the following article that appeared in today's Boston Sunday Globe, about SUPPORT for Chavez:

    http://www.boston.com/dailynews/341/...o_suppo:.shtml

    Thousands demonstrate to support Venezuelan leader after deadly shootings at opposition rally

    By James Anderson, Associated Press, 12/7/2002 20:56

    CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) Thousands of people wearing red berets marched Saturday through the capital of oil-rich Venezuela to support embattled President Hugo Chavez a day after three people were fatally shot at an opposition rally.

    Demonstrations by both sides of Venezuela's political conflict had police worried of increased violence after gunmen opened fire Friday night into a plaza crowded with opposition demonstrators. Besides the three deaths, 28 people were wounded.

    The killings caused the opposition until now seeking only a referendum on Chavez's 4-year-old government to demand his resignation.

    Leaders declared three days of mourning, calling for nationwide protests and the extension of a general strike that has already shut down Venezuela's giant oil industry. Oil exports account for 30 percent of Venezuela's gross domestic product and half of government revenue.

    Police patrols in Caracas were drastically cut a month ago when Chavez seized control of the city force. Citing the threat of violence, the U.S. State Department on Saturday urged Americans not to travel to Venezuela.

    The United States depends on Venezuela for more than 10 percent of its crude oil imports. A prolonged shutdown coupled with the threat of war in Iraq could drive up U.S. energy prices.

    ''I call the country to stand up and defend the oil industry, which belongs to our children,'' Chavez said in a rambling address, during which he sang a folk song and often paused for enthusiastic applause.

    Chavez accused the opposition of planning a second coup he was overthrown briefly by dissident officers in April but said they would not succeed.

    ''This fascist, violent and irrational opposition is planning the same thing,'' he said. ''If last time they caught me off guard and managed to surprise me, now they are very mistaken, because I'm ready to respond.''

    Chavez said he could decree a state of emergency if the strike was extended.

    ''It's a possibility, depending on the evolution of the situation,'' he said.

    Chavez, a former army paratrooper who led a failed 1992 coup, was elected overwhelmingly in 1998 by promising to eliminate a corrupt democratic system that failed to distribute oil riches to the poor. He was re-elected to a six-year term in 2000.

    His popularity suffered as his ''peaceful revolution'' against poverty produced few results. Venezuela's economy shrank 7 percent this year, despite relatively high oil prices. Inflation is at 30 percent and unemployment 16 percent.

    More than half the work force does not have a full-time job.

    Chavez's approval among the poor his core constituency has slipped to about 45 percent in recent polls, while his overall support hovers around 30 percent.

    He also has the support of Bolivarian Circles, neighborhood groups that carry out social projects. In the past, radical armed members of the group have attacked opposition marches, politicians and journalists.

    Chavez appealed for calm after Friday's shooting at Plaza Francia, an opposition rallying spot since dissident military officers occupied it in October.

    He denied accusations he was behind the attack, which occurred moments after the opposition said it would extend its strike. Chavez asked former President Carter, who has tried to mediate in Venezuela, to help calm tensions.

    The two sides began emergency talks late Saturday, mediated by the Organization of American States. Secretary of State Colin Powell phoned mediator Cesar Gaviria, the OAS' secretary general, to express his support for the talks, U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro said.

    Gaviria emerged from the talks Saturday night and indicated there were no agreements, but said both sides agreed any solution must be ''electoral, democratic and constitutional.'' He said talks would continue in the coming days.

    The opposition had demanded Chavez call a nonbinding referendum on his presidency. But Timoteo Zambrano, an opposition negotiator, said Saturday the opposition team was demanding Chavez's immediate resignation. The general strike was nonnegotiable, he said.

    Inside Venezuela's oil industry the world's fifth-largest, all seven directors of the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. oil company offered their resignations to protest the board appointment of Chavez ally Alfredo Riera. Chavez indicated he would accept the resignations.

    ''I have given instructions to the minister (of energy) ... that tonight in the palace we won't sleep until a plan to restructure the board of Petroleos de Venezuela is ready,'' he said.

    Chavez said his government also was replacing striking oil company managers and tanker crews. He said ''international clients haven't been affected, although there are some delays'' in shipments.

    ''Beginning today, the national guard will secure oil installations,'' he said.

    The three days of mourning began with hundreds of opposition protesters in black clothing gathering at Plaza Francia. Confusion increased as protesters wrested handguns from two people in the crowd they called ''infiltrators.'' The protesters then marched through Caracas in silence.

    Enraged by the pro-Chavez march, the opposition Democratic Coordinator political movement issued a statement accusing the government of having ''declared war against the people.''

    City heath department chief Pedro Aristimuno said Friday's attack killed a 17-year-old girl, a 70-year-old woman and a 44-year-old man. Twenty-eight people were wounded, all by gunshots.

    Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez said seven people were in custody, including a minor. Authorities said one suspect confessed to shooting at the crowd. Accusations against other detainees including British citizen Frank Pietersz were not clear.

    Police confiscated a pistol from taxi driver Joao Goveia, a 39-year-old Portuguese citizen living in Venezuela, said Leopoldo Lopez, mayor of the Caracas district where the plaza is located.

    Goveia admitted firing about 10 shots into the crowd, Lopez said.

  21. #21
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    Update Caracas, Sunday 12/8, 11:15PM Local Time

    Update Caracas, Sunday 12/8, 11:15PM Local Time
    <P>
    Roughly half of the gas stations are closed for lack of re-supply with fuel tank truck drivers also striking, long lines at ones still open. Military is trying to drive some of the big rigs with limited success because strikers are blocking access to trucks and fuel tank farms. Most all gas stations, open or closed, have 3-4 armed soldiers in-place. Stopped earlier in the day and walked up to a pair of them and they got 'real focused fast'. Asked them to pose for a photo with a gringo touristico and they were pretty edgy saying 'no way', probably didn't want to risk getting into trouble.<P>
    <img src=http://www.militaresdemocraticos.com/images/tx/mp-gas.jpg></A>
    <P>
    Memorial to one of the victims of the massacre Friday night, where fallen, at Altamira Plaza...<P>
    <img src=http://www.militaresdemocraticos.com/images/tx/altar-altamira.jpg></A>
    <P>
    Plaza Altamira photo I took this afternoon...<P>
    <img src=http://www.militaresdemocraticos.com/images/tx/altamira-08dec2002.jpg></A>
    <P>
    General Enrique Medina Gomez, highest ranking officer here, at TV conference held in our hotel adjacent to the Plaza. That's me on the right with my back to you. BTW, the most dangerous profession here for the last few years has been to be a journalist or TV reporter/crew. Dozen shot at, several killed, all wear body armor on the street.<P>
    <img src=http://www.militaresdemocraticos.com/images/tx/press-conference-08dec2002.jpg></A>
    <P>
    Banks here, for the next two days at least, have announced tonight that they are joining the strike.

    <P>

    Marisabel de Chavez, First Lady of Venezuela, was on TV here tonight in a interview Q&A setting...<P>
    <img src=http://militaresdemocraticos.com/articulos/20021208-08.jpg></A>
    <P>While she is still married to Hugo Chavez, they live
    separately now. She has filed for divorce on grounds of
    physical abuse. She refused to discuss politics and when pressed, told anyone thinking all his normal here in Venezuela need only <I>"...open the window and listen to the clamor of the people."</I> She is referring here to the trademark of this movement to bring out and bang pots & pans in support of opposition to Chavez. She also said tonight...<I>
    " - The country can not drown just because of one person, but one
    person can also not save the country alone."</I> ...and...<I>
    " - Presidente, please, in the name of your daughter, in the name of
    your family, in the name of the country, listen to the people."</I> Surprizing stuff, never heard anything close to this from her before.
    <P>-Shane

  22. #22
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    An except from the WSJ and Stratfor.
    Fair Use, information purposes only.

    Venezuela Strike Pushes Nation
    To the Brink of Martial Law

    A WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE NEWS ROUNDUP


    CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez sent troops to open gas stations and commandeer private gas-delivery trucks Sunday amid increasing signs of scarcity as Venezuela's economy and critical oil sector suffers under the effects of a protracted general strike.

    Meanwhile, law-enforcement officials began probing a weekend shooting that killed three antigovernment protesters and wounded 28 others.

    Under Mr. Chavez's orders, the national guard seized at least three gasoline distribution centers and hired civilians to drive commandeered tanker trucks to gas stations. Last week, Mr. Chavez sent soldiers to protect oil wells and refineries from possible sabotage by strikers.

    Lines of cars stretched for blocks in Caracas as panic-buying at gas stations began on the general strike's seventh day. Under the watchful eye of the military, people filled up their gas tanks.

    The oil strike could raise international benchmark prices by $2 or $2.50 a barrel if it continues for two more days, said one foreign oil-company executive here, adding that prices could jump by as much as $5 a barrel by later this week unless industry leader Saudi Arabia raises production. U.S. oil supplies, for now, remain adequate despite the cut in the flow. Venezuelan crude and gasoline represent about 14% of U.S. imports of those products, industry experts said.


    Stratfor (for public, information purposes only)

    A general strike at PDVSA immediately would remove about 2.5 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products from world markets, causing global oil prices to spike by several dollars per barrel. The state oil company's action also will have a strong impact on U.S. gasoline and jet fuel prices, since the United States imports about 1.5 million bpd of crude and refined products from Venezuela.

    A substantial amount of this crude oil is refined by U.S. refineries owned by Citgo, which is wholly owned by PDVSA. Overall, PDVSA has 100 percent ownership of five refineries -- with a combined capacity of 739,000 bpd -- in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, New Jersey and Illinois. For instance, PDVSA supplies 80 percent of the crude oil that runs through Lyondell-Citgo Refining's facility in Houston. Lyondell-Citgo is a large producer of aviation fuel, diesel and reformulated gasoline (RFG); a majority of the gasoline is piped to the midwestern United States.

  23. #23
    Hmmm
    Watching this situation unwind (first hand no less, thanks Shane!) gives me a strange almost Dejavue feeling.

    What would happen here if the people suddenly woke up and tried to get Bush etal to resign by blocking the streets and the flow of oil and food?

    I suspect we would see the same things happening or worse .

    This is like watching our own future IMHO.

    F

  24. #24
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    "U.S. oil supplies, for now, remain adequate despite the cut in the flow. Venezuelan crude and gasoline represent about 14% of U.S. imports of those products, industry experts said"

    So at what point are we looking at long gas lines here? How many more days of this strike? Doesn't venez oil/gas mainly go to the east coast USA? ( I am in NJ). Hope Bill P or somebody else would know......
    "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:3

  25. #25
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    "Doesn't venez oil/gas mainly go to the east coast USA?" Lynnie, that is my recollection. Filled up this weekend.

  26. #26
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    Lynnie,

    Venz gasoline imports go direct to Citgo stations as I recall.

    Edited to add this from today's EnergyResources Digest:

    Subject: Re: Re: Narconews summary of the latest from Venezuela

    Shell has never left Venezuela, though they were on the chemical side only
    for many years, until 1994/5. Now, they are engaged in gas stations, around
    300 (15 % of the Venezuelan market), lube oil manufacturing and distribution
    and oil production ("marginal fields").
    BP is also in Venezuela with gas stations and crude oil upgrading and oil
    production (marginal fields).
    I will check and get back with more specific details. In any case, I am
    sure, they have been more behind exploration/production stuff
    Last edited by Bill P; 12-09-2002 at 11:21 AM.

  27. #27
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    What would happen here if the people suddenly woke up and tried to get Bush etal to resign by blocking the streets and the flow of oil and food?

    Fred, why in the world would you speculate on this? the liberals are being perfectly quiet little sheep, supporting bush on the only issue that matters - homeland security.

    little inflation, only 6% unemployment, every imaginable consumer good in abundance. nothing is happening here.

  28. #28
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    Bill, if the oil embargo in the 70's with long gas lines was because of losing 5-7% of our oil, then if Venz is 14%, isn't that twice as bad if this keeps up? Or are other ME nations going to pick up the slack? Suppose it went on for months; at some point aren't we looking at gas lines as bad or worse than in the early 70's?
    "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:3

  29. #29
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    Lynnie, one potential problem I see is whether the slack can be made up of the refined products we get from Venezuela. Maybe the Saudis can provide the crude, but would there be enough U.S. refinery capacity to handle it? Plus the turn-around time.

  30. #30
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    Exactly, Brooks. Somebody here said recently that Saudi crude is "sour" and harder to refine than some other oils. And venz sends us finished gasoline, right? or at least really nice quality oil.

    Regarding reconfiguring refineries, it's come up in discussion that its a big job and a real pain when the specs change ( such as using oil from our strategic reserve)....so I assume they'd also have to reconfigure for saudi oil, instead of venz......

    I haven't looked at downstreamers oil forum in months, I'm going to check it out and see if they are talking about this.

    A brief very brief mention of venz on BBC tonight, nothing on national news....

    from maher's post.....
    "President Hugo Chavez has ordered the National Guard and the military to keep PDVSA's operations running, but analysts say it will be difficult for troops to undertake complex refining and loading operations. "

    If the guys with the expertise keep striking I'd think the army can't do much good other than risk causing explosions, ha.....
    "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:3

  31. #31
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    Here's the link to downstreamers forum. Some interesting stuff over there. I asked about gasoline shortages if this keeps up.

    http://pub38.ezboard.com/fdownstream...troleummarkets
    "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:3

  32. #32
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    The shootings of the protestors made the national news on tv in Canada last night (Sunday). Wasn't a long piece, but it was there. Hope they continue coverage.

  33. #33
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    Hi All,
    Just got back last night, their domestic carriers joined strike Saturday, so figured it was time to skadaddle, still catching up on everything here at the office, but will post update soon with new info from contacts still there on the ground. They tell me this morning that...
    ________________
    Last night, masses of Chavez-supporters were mobilized by MVR-congressmen to attack all the privately owned media outlets. This was a coordianted action that took place at the same time all over the country, and at every TV stations (except the state owned channel) plus many radio stations and newspapers.

    In most of the cases, they just broke windows and sprayed graffiti. But in a couple cases, they went inside and destroyed everything: Cameras, computers, monitors, furniture, etc.

    The govt security forces (police, National Guard) had orders to stand down, and did simply not appear. Workers of the TV stations called 911 but did not get any assistance. This was all filmed and on TV. The instigators of the violence (MVR politicians) were also filmed, giving orders to the mob with megaphones.
    __________________
    Thank you everyone for the best wishes and prayers while I was down there!
    -Shane

  34. #34
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    Shane,

    Welcome back to the USA.

    Do you have any inkling that this could be a set up?

    By that I mean a coordinated shut down to put pressure on the USA in light of imminent attack on Iraq. This coincidence and the previous shuttle diplomacy between Venz and Iraq and china all seem to be too much a coincidence.

  35. #35
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    My 2cents worth says you nailed it Bill......

    The closer we get,the more of this we will see in areas that directly affect the US.

    When Nigeria blows up,you will know we are very close.

    The Global implications of this "Iraq event" are beyond most folks comprehension.


    James

  36. #36
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    bill...james...what you said...

    and wasn't cuba involved in those meetings too???

    o)<

    mike
    black is white...

  37. #37
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    Originally posted by Bill P
    Do you have any inkling that this could be a set up?
    By that I mean a coordinated shut down to put pressure on the USA in light of imminent attack on Iraq. This coincidence and the previous shuttle diplomacy between Venz and Iraq and china all seem to be too much a coincidence.
    Bill, The actions of the opposition such as the www.militaresdemocraticos.com (the 'good guys', IMO) protesting Chavez, including petro shutdowns, are de-stabilizing to the Chavez regime. The USA, IMO, needs to help vigorously, if only surreptitiously, in thier efforts to get rid of him or risk oil blackmail or worse later on if he stays. Done right, he could be forced to retire to Cuba tonight forever. Otherwise, escalating violence and repression will continue and nobody will be able to count on oil from there till it's resolved.
    -Shane

  38. #38
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    Shane

    You are calling it correctly.

    This is a pre-emptive strike against Chavez,before he can get the US by the cajones.

    James

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