Archive for December 17th, 2009

An Open GOAL?

Chavez’s revolution has turned into a cold shower | Irish Examiner

Chavez’s revolution has turned into a cold shower

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I READ with increasing despair the recent ravings from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Despite having the spoils of an €80 billion oil boom over the past 10 years his so-called revolution has rendered his unfortunate people poorer than ever.

His latest rants have included attacking his fellow-citizens for singing in the shower, and getting fat, and he is now planning to enlist the help of Cuban technologists to “zap” clouds in order to increase his country’s annual rainfall.

Not only are the poor of the developing world abandoned to their struggles with extreme poverty, they are also cursed to endure the indignities of being governed by inhumane and inept leaders.

John O’Shea
PO Box 19
Dun Laoghaire
Co Dublin

It’s one thing to play fast and loose with the facts when you’re writing to the newspaper in your capacity as random asshole punter, but it’s another thing entirely when you’re doing so as the spokesman of an aid organisation. So why is Kevin Myers’s hero saying such untrue stuff about Venezuela? In its The Chávez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators, the Center for Economic and Policy Research has the following to say about how Venezuela has fared with Chávez as president. It says, in its Executive Summary:

  • During the current economic expansion, the poverty rate has been cut by more than half, from 54 percent of households in the first half of 2003 to 26 percent at the end of 2008. Extreme poverty has fallen even more, by 72 percent. These poverty rates measure only cash income, and do not take into account increased access to health care or education.
  • Over the entire decade, the percentage of households in poverty has been reduced by 39 percent, and extreme poverty by more than half.
  • Inequality, as measured by the Gini index, has also fallen substantially. The index has fallen to 41 in 2008, from 48.1 in 2003 and 47 in 1999. This represents a large reduction in inequality.
  • Real (inflation-adjusted) social spending per person more than tripled from 1998-2006.
  • From 1998-2006, infant mortality has fallen by more than one-third. The number of primary care physicians in the public sector increased 12-fold from 1999-2007, providing health care to millions of Venezuelans who previously did not have access.
  • There have been substantial gains in education, especially higher education, where gross enrollment rates more than doubled from 1999-2000 to 2007-2008.
  • The labor market also improved substantially over the last decade, with unemployment dropping from 11.3 percent to 7.8 percent. During the current expansion it has fallen by more than half. Other labor market indicators also show substantial gains.
  • Over the past decade, the number of social security beneficiaries has more than doubled.
  • Over the decade, the government’s total public debt has fallen from 30.7 to 14.3 percent of GDP. The foreign public debt has fallen even more, from 25.6 to 9.8 percent of GDP.
  • Inflation is about where it was 10 years ago, ending the year at 31.4 percent. However it has been falling over the last half year (as measured by three-month averages) and is likely to continue declining this year in the face of strong deflationary pressures worldwide.

Does John O’Shea have high standards or what?

The answer is probably what. Regarding the other stuff, Chávez said you shouldn’t spend too much time in the shower because you need to conserve water. And since singing in the shower means you spend longer, you shouldn’t sing. Something like that anyway. This is the sort of thing that we in Ireland might call a joke. I have no idea what he said about getting fat, but no doubt obesity is a growing problem in a country with rising consumption. The ‘cloud zapping’ is otherwise known as ‘cloud-seeding‘, as this article explains. And apparently they’ve also tried it in China, Australia and the United States. Oh, and Israel too. Does it work? How the hell should I know. But has O’Shea ever denounced its use in the US? Probably not. So what’s the beef with Chávez? How the hell should I know.

What I do know is that the facts that GOAL receives millions of Euro each year from USAID, its biggest state donor with the exception of Ireland, accounting for about one-seventh of total grant income in 2007 and that the work of USAID and its OTI in Venezuela has led to a deepening of the counterrevolutionary subversion in the country, and that the CIA uses the name of USAID to distribute funds and contracts to third parties (it’s in Spanish, sorry) in Venezuela in order to strengthen opposition against Chávez, may have absolutely nothing to do with it at all.

I also know that in the only Latin American country in which GOAL operates, Honduras, there was a coup in which the democratically elected leader was ousted, and one human rights monitor described the

militarized state with a defined and systematic practice against those who oppose the coup and anyone who takes a position other than that human rights means singing songs, while at the same time torturing and detaining people and raping women

And! USAID does stuff in Honduras too, as Narco News reported in August, when the coup was underway:

Millions of dollars in USAID funding still flowing to Honduras | | the narcosphere

So where could this USAID “elections assistance/good governance” money actually be going in that case?

Well, the USAID’s Office of Inspector General provides one hint in an audit report released this past June.

The Consortium for Electoral and Political Processes (CEPPS) was awarded a $1.8 million cooperative agreement [by USAID] that is in effect from September 30, 2008 to January 30, 2010. The purpose of the agreement is to provide technical assistance to (1) the Tribunal Superior Electoral (TSE) to effectively and transparently carry out its new decentralized vote management responsibilities and to mitigate allegations of fraud; and (2) and civil society organizations to provide oversight through campaign finance monitoring, domestic election observation, and parallel vote tabulation. …

Worth noting is the fact that TSE is the Honduran government entity charged with overseeing the nation’s elections (Honduras’ FEC of sorts) — and it is now under the control of Roberto Micheletti and company’s illegal coup regime. In addition, TSE was one of the government agencies in Honduras that played a key role in setting up the bogus legal justifications that led to the kidnapping and exiling of the democratically elected president of Honduras — Manuel Zelaya.

But try as I might, as I peruse the GOAL newsroom, I can’t find any reference to the Honduras coup. Reader, if you find some way of filtering out Google results that filter out the other John O’Shea, perhaps you can come up with something suitably redeeming.

I on Twitter

December 2009