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Pedro Leon Zapata, a Venezuelan political cartoonist, artist and editorial institution, has died.  He was 85.

Zapata was a pillar of political commentary in Venezuela. His cartoons were featured in El Nacional. The newspaper’s editor, Miguel Otero, spoke on Zapata’s death a short while ago, saying:

Pedro Leon Zapata was a fundamental part of the newspaper. His loss is irreplaceableEl Nacional had two editorials: the newspaper editorial and Zapata’s cartoon. Few newspapers in the world can say the same thing. He was as important as the editorial itself.
(…)
No one will fill Zapata’s place… at this moment, it’s impossible for someone to replace someone who has been so important for the history of this newspaper.

Zapata’s Career Spanned 60 Years

Born in the town of La Grita in Tachira state on February 27 1929, Zapata started working as an artist in 1945. Working at first with plastics, Zapata began drawing cartoons in 1947, and studied mural painting in Mexico at around the same time.

Zapata returned to Caracas in 1958, where he began teaching drawing at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and the Escuela de Artes Plasticas Critobal Rojas. He joined El Nacional in 1965, and drew his Zapatazos on a weekly basis non-stop until his death.

Below, a sample of some of his political cartoons:

“The Bolivarians are enemies of the ‘Simon Bolivar'” [referencing the hostility towards academics, specially the Universidad Simon Bolivar, sometimes demonstrated by the PSUV]

Well-to-do Partner of the 21st Century [“Socialista” means “socialist” in Spanish, but by splitting the word in half, Zapata has written “socia” (‘girl’ or ‘partner’) and “lista” (‘ready’, or “well-to-do”)]

Let’s make a revolutionary deal: I will give you my hunger for your ignorance.

God, guard me from the [National] guard!

His last cartoon was published today:

What’s happening is that, here, quality of life doesn’t get the quality it’s due

Former Judge to be Sentenced to Prison in the U.S.

Benny Palmeri Bacchi, a former Venezuelan judge, will be sentenced by a Miami court next week after pleading guilty to a number of charges stemming from his involvement with the Norte de Cali cartel out of Colombia. As part of a plea bargain, Bacchi plead guilty to obstruction of justice, money laundering and extortion.

According to court records, Bacchi was accused of taking bribes from the Norte de Cali cartel and helping the organization smuggle “thousands of kilograms of cocaine” into the United States through Venezuela.

Bacchi could face a maximum sentence of 20 years.

“Economic War” Task Force Established

February 8, 2015 EDIT: In this section, I erroneously referred to Dia a Dia [also known as “Dia Dia”] as a supermarket chain. It is, in fact, a continence store chain.

The Estado Mayor Contra la Guerra Economica [roughly, “Economic War Task Force”] met today in Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui state to tackle what the government considers to be a deliberate attempt by external and internal enemies to destroy the Venezuelan economy.

In attendance were Diosdado Cabello, Anzoategui Governor Aristobulo Isturiz, along with several other PSUV officials.

Cabello went on a lengthy tirade regarding the nature of the PSUV and its members. He said:

Whoever is truly chavista — is anyone forced to be here? I don’t believe so, because I can see on your faces that whoever is here because they want to be here. A chavista is a radical revolutionary. The Venezuelan right doesn’t have the slightest idea that we’re willing to fight for this revolution. I’m sure I speak for a bunch of people when I say that we’re willing to give up our lives if necessary.
(…)
… we don’t attack anyone. We don’t attack anyone. Really, we don’t attack anyone, nor do we want to attack anyone. We are happy in chavismo

Cabello also took the opportunity to go on the offensive against Polar. The company is now suspected of selling corn flour to Dia a Dia, a private supermarket chain that was accused of hoarding. Cabello said:

How can Polar spoil that company [Dia a Dia], so that Polar send them corn flour and corn flour while the people on the street need corn flour? That’s suspicious, it’s really suspicious. You can fill in the blanks.

Cabello accused Polar on Tuesday of sending more than 1000 tonnes of corn flour to Dia a Dia, while state-run supermarket chains allegedly struggled to receive any stock of the same product.

Later on in the day, Cabello announced the creation of “comandos populares militares” [popular military units] to police the long lines outside the country’s supermarkets. Cabello explained the role the units would play:

These group should be deployed to the different areas where people go to find products with the goal of making lines move faster, minimizing lines and eradicating the lines in these establishments.

Cabello also said that the units will be made up of militias, National Guard and SEBIN officers, although he did not explain exactly what powers they will have an how exactly they would “minimize” or “eradicate” lines.

Dia a Dia Might be Expropriated

February 8, 2015 EDIT: In this section, I erroneously referred to Dia a Dia [also known as “Dia Dia”] as a supermarket chain. It is, in fact, a continence store chain.

Speaking at a different event today, Maduro said that he had ordered the government to expropriate a supermarket chain he did not name for some reason. Maduro said:

This is a chain that I’m not going to name, but I’m going to take action. I don’t have any choice.

Although Maduro did not mention the company’s name, Dia a Dia is the most likely culprit, since government inspectors allegedly found “irregularities” at the company earlier this week and arrested its general director.

Maduro also said that the anyone who “does sabotage” will face “an iron fist”, and that executives from Dia a Dia had been arrested. The chain’s head, Manuel Andres Morales Ordosgoitti, appeared before a judge today, and was charged with refusing to sell merchandise and destabilizing the economy.

Finally, Maduro called on all Venezuelans to choose a side on his perceived struggle against Venezuela’s enemies, saying:

It’s either them – the oligarchy, the parasitic bourgeois, along with the Empire – or it’s us, the homeland, the people, the right to life. There are no grey areas here. Let everyone pick a side: you are either with the homeland and the people, or you are with the oligarchy and this Empire that wants to hurt Venezuela. 

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2 thoughts on “02.06.15: Zapata

  1. Pingback: 02.07.15: Basic Necessities | In Venezuela

  2. Pingback: 02.09.15: SwissLeaks | In Venezuela

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