Sunday 27 April 2014

The Procrastinator (some) Times Sunday 27th of April Edition


Hello everyone, hope you're having a nice day. This is today's edition: the most recent court decision and a summary of the Venezuelan situation for the outsider's eye in our News section; in Science, we feature a great Spotlight by Lance Ulanoff (via Mashable) on the virtual reality renaissance; in our Design, Business & Innovation section everything you think you know about the Internet is wrong; Sadie Smith and the story of our beloved Moleskines in our Culture section; In Dog We Trust  shares interesting articles about adopted squirrels and introduce us to Cesar Frenchie; and in Our Weekly Procrastination section we invite you to visit the wonderful Chris Marker's exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Happy Sunday and happy reading!


Photo: Juan Barreto via AFP.

Firstly, the most important thing that happened in Venezuela this past week was that the Constitutional Court  determined that the right to peaceful demonstration, established on the Article 68 of the Venezuelan Constitution, "is not an absolute right" as guarantees to life and health. We kind of already knew that, but now, it's legal. Read resolution here (link in Spanish).

This is how people reacted, explained by AFP: "Several thousand people took to the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities Saturday to protest education reform plans and restrictions on the right to demonstrate". Read full article here

Photo via The Objective / El Subjetivo.

And just in case any of the readers of this little procrastinator's newspaper still have any doubt of what type of government is the Venezuelan one, I translated a post wrote by Laureano Márquez in the blog The Objective (link in Spanish) because is a good attempt to explain Venezuela's situation to someone that doesn't live there or that hasn't been following the situation closely. Its oversimplified, but again, if someone wants more information I can gladly provide it or you can check the posts tagged #sosvenezuela and find loads of articles. Please excuse my imperfect English specially with technical/legal terms (any correction or suggestion will be appreciated), hope is useful for you to understand Venezuela a little bit more.

"To explain what happens in Venezuela to someone that has not live there the past 15 years is really complex, because, as the proverb goes: God is in the details. Formally, Venezuela is seen as a solid nation with a solid democratic system that contemplates periodic elections. That is appearance, of course, details tell a whole other story:

• The division of powers is non-existent. All are subdued to one, the executive, leaving the citizens in a state of legal defenselessness.
Constant practice of political intolerance to dissenting; opposition members are qualified systematically as "traitors", "fascists", "conspirators" (without ever giving any proofs), which translates in political exclusion and limitations on the exercise of citizens' rights.
• Crackdown on peaceful protestors; violations to Human Rights, torture, prison, illegal dismissal of congressman and mayors rightfully elected, opposition leaders jailed, etc.
• Lack of a reliable electoral system, as 4 of the 5 counselors are openly pro-government. Absence of an auditable elections record, evident irregularities like double voters, intimidation of voters, electoral centers with results of 100% of votes in favor of the Government option, harassment of opposition election witnesses, and a more than evident opportunism in election campaigns with blatant and illegal use of the State's resources.

Also, there is an economic crisis of unpredictable consequences, due to politics like:

Expropriations of companies that in state hands became corrupt and unproductive.
 • Exchange controls that prevent free access to foreign exchange. Governmental control in this area has generated a record corruption, the figure is close to US$ 30,000,000.
High inflation. In the official figures, which some experts say are made ​​up, it is close to 57%.
• Shortage of basic goods and food, had force the Government to establish a ration card. Queues 5 and 6 hours to get oil, milk or corn flour have become every Venezuelan's reality.

All these led to the protests that started back in February and haven't stopped. The student movement has staged peaceful protests in reaction to the violence and insecurity in the country, that leaves thousands of deaths each year, kidnappings and robberies. The government reacted violently repressing the protesters and inciting paramilitary groups to act; more than 40 victims in two months and a total of tortured, arrested and processed students never seen in Venezuela since the most cruel of our dictatorships.

Venezuela's serious governance crisis, not only have roots in the economy, deficient health system (there are no medicines), education, food, but also in the alarming insecurity that situates Venezuela as the second most violent country in the world.

In this climate, a process of dialogue between government and sectors of the opposition was initiated. So far it has generated a lot of expectations, but no concrete results.

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