Weekly Letter to the President
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INAUGURATION,   January 20, 2009

Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape

To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.

The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.

Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.

--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
---  Native American proverb
July 28, 2017 (posted July 30, 2017)

Mr. President:  The Venezuelans go to the polls on Sunday (July 30) to elect
delegates who will rewrite Venezuela's constitution.

In Latin America generally, society is broadly divided into three groups:  whites, mixed
race mestizos and the original native peoples.  The elite ruling classes, namely
whites, select and have elected white presidents.  Evo Morales in Bolivia, the late
Hugo Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro are new and notable exceptions.  The mostly
white opposition in Venezuela is peopled by those holding leadership and
management positions in business and industry, and consequently wield substantial
financial clout and the ability to inflict economic damage, even chaos.

Challenged on several fronts simultaneously, President Maduro has had problems
including a drop in the polls.  But the attitude of the Western press and its one-sided
reporting has not helped.  National Public Radio (NPR) in the U.S. calls itself an
independent voice, is deemed sober and left of center, and sides usually with
Democrats.  But on Venezuela, the mainstream press is united -- also on Russia no
matter how contrary the facts.

When the opposition decided to hold its own referendum/'consultation' (July 16) on
the proposed constitutional change, NPR reported as follows:  Headlined the following
day as, "In Unofficial Vote, Venezuelans Overwhelmingly Reject Constitutional
Change,"  the piece goes on to state 98 percent voted to reject.  And more than 7
million voted including 700,000 expatriates comprising a third of the electorate.

Here is what it fails to mention:  First, government supporters did not join this
exercise.  Second, although far short of the 14 million the opposition had said would
participate, it still claimed they tallied 7,186,160 votes.  Something is wrong
somewhere because they also state they had 2000 polling stations and 14,000 voting
booths.  Simple division yields 513 votes per booth or 57 votes per hour (one per
minute) over the 9-hour voting period at each and every voting booth.  Hardly
believable.  Clearly NPR does not stretch itself to simple arithmetic.  There are other
easily checked facts.  NPR, for example, fails to report evidence including a video
proving multiple voting.  Indeed the unusual step taken by the opposition to burn all
ballots after counting, purportedly to protect the voters, in itself should raise eyebrows.

Obvious  questions remain unasked and unanswered.  If the opposition was so
certain of its numbers and if as NPR headlines, 'Venezuelans overwhelming reject
constitutional change', why didn't the opposition simply wait until the official poll on
July 30 instead of this poorly supervised affair with questionable results.

The mainstream media in the West also declines to explore the sociological aspects
of the Venezuelan divide.  The opposition comprises the elite, predominantly white
segment; the government side is mostly mestizo.  The  population is actually 43.6
percent white, 51.6 percent mestizo, 3.7 percent black African and 2.7 percent
Amerindian.  The political divide is also social with the white population less than
willing to give up some of their share of the economic pie.  It is a tough fight for the
Chavez revolution aimed at greater social equity, given the economic power of the

To make matters worse for an oil exporter, there is a glut of oil.  Royal Dutch Shell just
put forward a pessimistic vision of the future believing that oil prices will remain "lower
forever" although Shell itself is well prepared.  Venezuela is not, and class strife does
not help.