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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

VenEconomy: The ‘Hot Chair’ from Oscar Yanes

From the Editors of VenEconomy

Venezuela had a terrible human loss on Monday with the passing of Oscar Yanes, one of the wittiest journalists and writers the country has ever had. He was a pioneer of television journalism and quite an inventive man when in front of the TV cameras.

Yanes led a team that Venevisión, a privately-run TV station, sent to Vietnam in 1966 as a war correspondent, a gig that resulted in six special reports that were distributed across Latin America: La Guerra en el Mar (War in the Sea), La Guerra en la Selva (War in the Jungle), El Vietcong (Vietcong), La Religión (the Religion) and La Mujer Vietnamita (Vietnamese Women). Among other well-deserved awards, he received Venezuela’s National Journalism Award in three opportunities.

With sharp analysis and ironic humor, Yanes dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on politicians from all political parties in the country, whom he sat on his La Silla Caliente (The Hot Chair) for an interview, a popular TV show broadcast by Venevisión in the late ’90s. Back then, when the freedom of speech had not been curtailed in the country, several personalities from Venezuela’s political life such as Eduardo Fernández, Claudio Fermín, Miguelito Rodríguez, Henrique Salas Römer, Carlos Andrés Pérez, Irene Sáez, and even Hugo Chávez, “took a seat” there.

They were all confronted by him with burning issues involving each one of them, such as the case of Carlos Andrés Pérez, who ruled the country in two terms between 1974-1979 and 1989-1993 and who was questioned about the acts of corruption that took place back in the times when he was sentenced to house arrest for 2 years and four months.

Chávez, for instance, was confronted by Yanes as well when he attempted to fill the heads of the population with impossible dreams. Yanes also lambasted Chávez for his oath to defend the Homeland after a military uprising led by him in 1992 against the constitutionally legitimate government of Carlos Andrés Pérez.

Chávez was also confronted by him regarding the “Constituent Assembly” issue in 1999.

After reviewing that specific TV interview thanks to YouTube, Yanes was clear enough when he called Chávez a liar in his own face due to the doubts raised over the legitimacy and constitutionality of that Constituent Assembly, which he interpreted as hyper-dictatorial.

Yanes reminded Chávez and his audience that Venezuela already had 26 constituent assemblies in its history and that any of them did any good to the country, especially the last two: That of 1948, convoked by democratic party Acción Democrática after ousting President Isaías Medina in order to legalize a new government, and that of 1952, convoked by Marcos Pérez Jiménez in order to legalize his dictatorial regime.

Yanes pointed out that the Venezuelan Constitution of 1961 did not contemplate the convening of a Constituent Assembly. He rejected the manipulation that Chávez was doing to the National Constitution. He told Chávez he was “lost in space,” because neither article No. 4 of the Constitution authorized the convening of a Constituent Assembly or article No. 181 authorized to modify the Constitution.

Yet, as history has already proved it, Chávez was not as lost in space as Yanes told him since the then-candidate running for the president had a card up his sleeve. Somehow, Yanes figured out what Chávez was up to and said on his show that “with a Constituent Assembly you can do whatever you want… from changing the Republic’s name to extend the presidential terms indefinitely…”

Unfortunately, the people of Venezuela gave power to Chávez in December of 1999 and 72% of the population approved his Constituent Assembly, with which Venezuela was renamed to Bolivarian Republic, the parliamentary model became unicameral, presidential terms were extended to 6 years from 5 years, and indefinite reelection was authorized…Venezuela’s time zone was changed, an extra star was added to the national flag and the horse from the National Shield is now facing left…, the bolivar (the national currency) became the Bolívar Fuerte (strong bolivar) despite losing value every single day.

That’s the way it is, as Yanes would have put it with his immortal phrase…

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

Click here to read this in Spanish


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