Sunday, 23 December 2007

Sem Chavez, Londres seria ainda mais cara

A noticia nao eh nova pois ao longo do ano o futuro acordo entre a prefeitura de Londres com a Republica da Venezuela ja ouricava opinioes e, de fato, em agosto passado concretizou-se. Porem, ao ver os cartazes espalhados em varias paradas de onibus de Londres estampando a bandeira e a frase Governo Bolivariano da Venezuela nao pude conter a gargalhada. Se aquele capitao do filme Tropa de Elite soubesse do que se trata a questao, provavelmente diria: Presidente Chavez, o senhor eh um fanfarrao! Ou talvez diria isso ao prefeito Ken Livingstone.
Genial! Chavez, em voz alta e clara, afirmou que subsidiaria petroleo para os “pobres de Londres”. E fez mesmo! Os preco de uma passagem de onibus em Londres que (sem Oyster Card) custa duas libras passa a custar 50 centavos para cerca de 250 mil pessoas de baixa renda, maes solteiras, pessoas portadoras de deficiencia e idosos de uma das cidades mais ricas do mundo (e tambem uma das mais caras do mundo). E isso gracas ao acordo firmado entre ambos em que a Venezuela ira prover petroleo com 20% de desconto para Londres para ajudar a galera que anda apertada de grana por aqui.
Estou seguro que alguns dados, apontados pelo The Times inclusive, nao foram esquecidos por Hugo Chavez para tal decisao. O PNB per capita de Londres eh de 49 mil 992 dolares; o da Venezuela eh de 6 mil 606 dolares. A populacao de Londres que vive com dois dolares diarios eh zero; a da Venezuela eh de 27.6%.
Ora, Chavez nao eh bobo... Claro que, em retorno, Londres emprestara seus tecnicos fantasticos e seu conhecimento de excelencia em gestao de cidades, planejamento urbano, turismo e politica ambiental.
E nao eh que alguns ingratos da oposicao a Livingstone reclamaram malcriadamente? O bobinho do Angie Bray, lider dos conservadores na Assembleia de Londres, saiu bradando que o acordo eh uma vergonha moral, que soh porque a Venezuela eh mais pobrezinha o Chavez nao poderia ajudar os irmaozinhos londrinos e que Livingstone nao poderia fazer acordos com ditadores que violam direitos humanos de maneira monstruosa. Ditador e violador de direitos humanos?! Esse eh um cliche que merece, e tera em breve, um post especial destacando o trabalho do documentarista John Pilger, a quem ouvi falar esses tempos no Prince Charles.
Esbravejos a parte, Chavez entrou de sola no processo eleitoral de Londres que ocorre ano que vem e espalhou um pouquinho alem-mar a revolucao bolivariana. Alem de, novamente, provocar ranger de dentes e boas risadas!


London's Third World Subsidy
21 August, 2007
Details are finally emerging of the deal Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez struck with London's Mayor Ken Livingstone on providing subsidised fuel for Londoners. According to a report in today's Guardian, low-income Londoners will get half-price bus travel thanks to a 20 percent discount on fuel provided to London transport by Mr Chavez.
In return, London will provide Venezuela with its "expertise" on town planning, tourism, public transport and environmental protection. As anyone who has ever experienced London's town planning, tourism, public transport and environmental protection will testify, this is a fairly shitty deal for Venezuelans.
According to the deal, Oyster Card using single parents, carers, and long-term sick and disabled will pay just 50p per bus journey (still more than Parisians pay...). This will fall to 45p in winter.
The deal has been touted for some time, since President Chavez's visit to London last year. The President received a heroes welcome from London's Mayor and bien-pensant left, who seemed untroubled by his plans to revise the Venezuelan constitution in favour of his "socialist revolution" and his crackdown on critics in the media. His close friendship with controversial figures such as Iran's Holocaust-denying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad worried more reflective left-wingers, but Chavez's fierce criticism of President George W Bush seems to outweigh any such worries among those on Livingstone's team.
EURSOC wondered earlier this year why one of the world's most prosperous cities needed to go cap in hand to one of the world's poorest countries for handouts. Venezuela's opposition agreed: Opposition leader Manuel Rosales said last November,
"I ask the (London) mayor not to commit that injustice to Venezuela... For me, it’s a crime that there is hunger, unemployment, poor services, hospitals that don’t work, roads that are a disaster — and the Government is giving away our wealth...Both the person giving it away and the person receiving it are sinning. Ethically, [Livingstone] should not accept it. In the name of Venezuela, we would ask him not to ruin the country any more.
“If London needed [the cheap oil], that would be one thing. But we’re talking about London here."
For a while earlier this year, it seemed that the Opposition's pleas were noticed: Chavez was widely expected to win the forthcoming election, but it did the "champion of the poor" no favours to be seen to be featherbedding Londoners when nearly forty percent of Venezuelans lived in absolute poverty. Low-income Londoners having trouble affording bus tickets are one thing: The millions of Venezuelans who don't know where their next meal is coming from would be a more pressing problem for a President, one would imagine.
Sure enough, the deal went cold for a while. A planned trip by Ken to Caracas to sign the deal was cancelled, though once Chavez got his landslide, the deal went ahead.
What's to gain from the deal, if financially it doesn't make much sense and there is little that rich, diverse, decrepit London can offer in terms of advice to Caracas? Well, Chavez gets another feather in his cap as an anti-imperialist, demonstrating that he cares for the poor of the west even where their own leaders let them down. As for Ken, he gets to smarm another real-life macho revolutionary. We wrote in February that the "shameless" Livingstone "has sucked up to left-leaning thugs for much of his political career: Chavez is just the latest in a rogue's gallery of Ken's Comrades which ranges from senior IRA terrorists to homophobic Islamist preachers. Even though his opponents in London have loudly criticised his deal with Chavez, Ken doesn't listen. It's another romantic-left poster boy for his collection."
What will Londoners make of the deal? Are they more or less likely to vote for Ken in the forthcoming elections because of his deal with Chavez? Conservative leaders attacked the Mayor, arguing that he should have gone to Britain's treasury if he needed cash for transport.
Most Londoners know little about Chavez or Venezuela. On the left, as we noted, there is some admiration for a man believed to be standing up to the US and reshaping in nation; on the right, he is seen as an irritant, by no means the worst threat out there and certainly not the worst leader to use oil money to cause mischief overseas. However, the next Mayoral election could be a close-run thing, as likely Conservative challenger Boris Johnson has captured the public's imagination like no other candidate since Livingstone did first time round.
Ken's people (and Labour in general) are rattled by Johnson's run. The public sees him as the acceptable face of Conservatism, an "affable buffoon" who doesn't play by the usual rules of politics. Labour doesn't like this, and has produced a Johnson File listing his gaffes, voting history and off-colour statements. Rather than the lovable rogue many believe him to be, they say, Boris is an establishment right-winger with archaic views on race, immigration and sexuality. Labour left wingers plan to "alert Londoners to his true nature" between now and the election. Will this scupper his campaign - or make him even more popular?

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