Excerpts of column "Runrunes" (Rumors) of Tuesday, December 4
HAVANA. On his way back to Caracas after having attended the 6th Summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) held in Lima, Venezuelan Vice-President and Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro made a scheduled stop in the capital city of Cuba to greet President Hugo Chávez and learn in depth about his actual health condition following a PET scan on Friday. Maduro shared the proprietary, confidential information with Congress Speaker Diosdado Cabello. Both of them have joined efforts in the caudillo's absence, thus disclaiming the rumors of their alleged clashes. Each of them, on his own, has asked fellow party members and comrades in arms to rest assured. Emphasis has been made from Cuba on the need of inner unity both in ruling Socialist Party of Venezuela (Psuv) and the army. All of them stubbornly say that Chávez "will come back stronger than ever" and will take office in January, as planned.
IMPATIENT. "The truth will out." "Little by little, we will draw the curtains they do not want us to do all of a sudden." "As January 10 approaches or by the New Year, we will witness a dwindling, ill reelected president; we do not know if he will be able to take office for another six-year term for which he was reelected last October 7." Al these statements belong to several journalists who, in looking for the truth about the president's health, have bumped into a wall of secrecy, stealth, censorship, self-censorship, and, particularly, fear, of the red, very red authorities who, at best, have asked us for "prudence." The patient's situation is serious and delicate. They will make a tremendous effort to get him better and strengthen him in Havana. All that he wants for the time being, rather than electioneering for his candidates who, incidentally, feel like orphans- is to attend the Mercosur Summit on Thursday and Friday. Will he succeed in showing up? (...) The abuse of morphine for the pelvis pain and steroids to look like feeling good during the election campaign are taking its toll. His body has developed what doctors call "resistance" to those components.
A former minister of Information commented among his military fellows that "his (Chávez's) crotch was bruised because of the applied radiation." This has been a matter of concern in Cuba. They call it "aggressive skin development." All in all, we will barely see him once in a while, in every other TV appearance, either live or recorded; never though like the brave warrior in the battles, as labeled by him, that he would win with the help of his "hopeful charisma."
WHAT A GREAT THING! In the military drills at El Pao, Bolívar state (south Venezuela), last November 15, many officers and troops were very annoyed at Cuban generals wearing the uniform of their Venezuelan counterparts and, in addition, leading the military operations. If all that was not enough, at the Strategic Operational Command, Cuban colonels continuously check and manage Venezuela's defense plans.
RED KENIA. The Venezuelan government has appointed Jhony Freddy Balza ambassador to Kenya. Previously, he acted as Venezuela's ambassador to Mali and Burkina Faso. In that very embassy (the Venezuelan mission based in Nairobi), the Venezuelan chief of mission Olga Fonseca was murdered. Some days earlier, she had landed in the country to take care of the Embassy, following the departure of former Chargé d' Affaires Gerardo Carillo Silva. Senior Secretary Dwight Sagaray was detained for the event. The last news from Ambassador Fonseca was a call to the Foreign Office in Caracas, asking them "to stop sending diplomatic pouches." Why? Nobody in the government has taken the hint.
The can of tuna, formerly a fairly normal pantry staple, has long been missing from stores in Venezuela, especially the domestic brands. When tuna cans, imported or domestic, do occasionally show up on store shelves, prices have increased several fold.