Ken Crackers Over Caracas

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 114 months ago
Ken Crackers Over Caracas
2808_chavez.jpg

How envious our former Mayor must be when it comes to Venezuelan politics and the power that his erstwhile chum and budding autocrat Hugo Chavez wields. Pesky media criticising your government and daring to oppose you? Close them down. Irritating elections every four years? Heck, just eliminate your term limit. ¿Es facil, no?

Ken's love affair with the Bolivarian Revolution reached its zenith when he struck a deal that saw impoverished developing world Venezuela ship crude oil to London, one of the world's richest cities, in return for spurious "city planning" advice - a noxious affair that was swiftly abandoned when Boris arrived in City Hall. Now those lucky Venezuelans may well be the recipient of Ken's largess after all: he's signed up to act as a consultant on Caracas' municipal issues.

Urban planning, transportation and policing will be matters in Mr. Livingstone's in-tray, as he advises pro-government mayors (but only pro-government ones, mind) on how to run the city. He'll have his work cut out: Caracas' murder rate make the mean streets of London seem like a Disney set, while gridlock and pollution are endemic. Meanwhile, dear Huguito might not be around much to talk shop and Socialism: he's got regional and local elections to fight in November.

Image courtesy of ¡Que comunismo!'s Flickrstream

Last Updated 28 August 2008

Elfy

A noxious affair? London has plenty of expertise which Venezuela wants; Venezuela has plenty of oil which London wants. London doesn't have any particular influence on Venezuela generally; no threats were made to obtain the deal. If Venezuela wanted to sell the oil at a higher price elsewhere, there would be plenty of buyers. Venezuela chose to sell its oil cheaply in exchange for advice, and that cheap oil was used to give a discount on public transport to the poorest people in the city. What the hell was wrong with it?

Boris cancelling it, on the other hand, and thus doubling bus fares for the poorest, largely to make a political statement, now THAT I would call a noxious affair.

anditmakesmesmile

ehm, except Chavez didn't eliminate his term limit. He put it to the people in a referendum that suggested presidents could stand for election as often as they like (as is the case in many countries). The people decided against the changes so Chavez has confirmed that when his term ends in 2012 his time as president will be over.

esotericbadger

Elfy - did you work in Ken's press office? Sure I read that statement last year.

The fact is, Venezuela didn't do the deal, Hugo Chavez did. As the article rightly mentions and as Amnesty agree (see link below), Chavez isn't exactly on the best terms with democracy.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/regi...

Chavez did the deal for the political benefit of being able to proclaim that he's the man who gets London's bus' moving, whilst the capitalist pig-dogs ride in limousines and send the poor to die in Iraq.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of that statement, should we be giving him ammunition? Given the choice, would the people of Venezuela prefer a town-planner seconded from London, or a hospital paid for with oil revenues that they would otherwise have received?

If the trade really is fair, there's nothing to stop the deal being done anyway - in fact, as that oil is now being sold on the open market, the revenues are probably going to pay for Ken himself!

DeanN

Elfy: Boris cancelling it, on the other hand, and thus doubling bus fares for the poorest, largely to make a political statement, now THAT I would call a noxious affair.

If we're talking political statements, I don't think that we can do much better than the original oil deal, which was a nice bit of ideological one-upmanship from Mr. Chavez (he's struck similar deals in a couple of US cities, solely to piss off the White House). There's no interest here in actually helping people - it's cynical electioneering, something Mr. Chavez is a master in.

anditmakesmesmile: ehm, except Chavez didn't eliminate his term limit.

Right, so *seeking* to extend your term limits is fine so long as you lose the referendum, right? And I suppose seeking to rewrite a constitution to grant this (a constitution written less than a decade ago by one H Chavez) is fine, too. Gotcha.

anditmakesmesmile: The people decided against the changes so Chavez has confirmed that when his term ends in 2012 his time as president will be over.

If you believe that, you'll believe anything. Chavez will likely to anything in his waning, if still considerable, power to hold onto the reins of office in perpetuity.

alekboyd

DeanN, Venezuela never shipped oil to London. Rather Venezuela provided cash to cover oil expenditure of TfL contractors. For clarification:

http://vcrisis.com/index.php?c...

craigie_b
alekboyd

Craigie b, poor Londoners have to be looked after by London's government, using London's funds, implementing London's policy programmes.

You say scrapping the deal isn't fair. I say taking money from an utterly underdeveloped third world country, to fund populist programmes, in London, for political grandstanding not only isn't fair, it should be reason to shame for all Londoners.

Let our money be spent in our poor. We've got plenty of those.