Friday, January 24, 2003

Hugo Chavez is at it again
The Miami Herald reports Chávez supporters converge on Caracas:
In what was dubbed ''the great Caracas takeover,'' hundreds of thousands of people descended on Venezuela's capital Thursday to support President Hugo Chávez in the eighth week of a nationwide strike aimed at ousting him.
Masses of people waving flags and chanting ''Ooh, ahh, Chávez no se va'' -- `Oh, Chávez won't go!'' -- filled major highways and boulevards. Government officials asserted that ''millions and millions'' of people attended, most of whom were bused in from the nation's interior.
Hey, wait a minute. How did those "millions and millions" of people get there?
While the government tried to paint the rally as a spontaneous offering of support for a beloved leader, the marchers arrived on hundreds of buses from around the nation, apparently financed by the government despite a crippling strike that has sapped the country of gasoline and $4 billion.

''This march shows there is gasoline -- the government has it,'' opposition negotiator Rafael Alfonzo said. ``All Venezuelans paid for this march. It came out of our pockets.''

Asked who paid just how much for Thursday's demonstration, a presidential spokesman said, ''That's impertinent. That's not informing,'' and hung up.

José Vegas, a city administrator from Barranca, insisted that nobody received ''one cent'' from the government. The buses from his city, he said, were paid with ``personal money of the mayor and his friends.''
They must pay mayors and their friends a lot down there.