Adamant: Hardest metal

It will take time to rid Venezuela of its deep-rooted corruption

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2003
By: Kay Onefeather

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 19:10:52 EST
From: Kay Onefeather
Subject: Fighting Corruption

Dear Editor: For 500 years, those in control in Venezuela have had what is tantamount to FREE REIGN, leaving overwhelming poverty, substandard living conditions for the majority of the people, poor health care provisions for the impoverished, and bleak prospect for improvement.

Then came, President Hugo Chavez Frias.

In four years, despite battling deliberate and malicious sabotage of the economy, an attempted coup, ongoing attempts to force illegal elections and constant attempts to undermine his position, President Chavez Frias has persistently fought to stabilize the economy. He has instituted programs for food production, to ease hunger now and feed the people in the future. These programs will also strengthen the economy in the future.

President Chavez Frias has instituted programs for better health care for ALL Venezuelans, not just the privileged few.

And, President Chavez Frias is addressing issues regarding education -- uninterrupted education -- for ALL Venezuelan children.

It is mind-boggling to think how much more El Presidente could have accomplished if he had had as much assistance as he has had hindrances during the last four years.

President Chavez Frias is fighting corruption ... corruption which has had 500 years to "root" itself in Venezuela ... and 500 years of corruption can not be "uprooted" overnight!

Even without the constant bombardment of one malicious maneuver after another from the opposition, it will take time to rid Venezuela of its deep-rooted corruption.

It will require a stern, steady hand, stubborn persistence, the patience of Job and the support of you ... the people.

Kay Onefeather

Foyle goes on the record
Gwen Knapp Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Adonal Foyle, the record-shattering center for the Golden State Warriors, accepted some sheets of paper after a practice last month. Someone had photocopied a story from Mother Jones and knew that he would be interested. That was how Foyle broke a record, by clutching the article, eager to read another take on the McCain-Feingold Act, to absorb more information about campaign-finance reform.

In 16 years as a sportswriter, this was the first time I had seen a professional athlete within a mile of Mother Jones. That's some kind of record. The NBA and the Elias Sports Bureau might not recognize it. After all, Bill Bradley probably picked up a copy or two on his way to the U.S. Senate. The record still stands, if for no other reason than that Foyle deserves to be a record-breaker.

In a perfect world, he would be Shaquille O'Neal, the dominant player at his position, the biggest man in basketball. He would be interviewed constantly, invited to do Jay Leno every other week.

Sports don't work that way. The smartest, most interesting athletes generally aren't the superstars. They are the backups and the scrubs.

The point here isn't to bash star athletes. It's not to say that I think Foyle is smarter than all of his teammates, or everyone else in his business.

It's that I think he is smarter than I am.

It's that a recent conversation with him was more fascinating than the ones I have with people in my business.

"If we say that it is acceptable to invade another country because we perceive a threat from it," he said shortly before the start of the war on Iraq, "then what do we tell Pakistan? How can we tell the Pakistanis that India does not pose an immediate threat to their security?"

He went on and on, listing other tense regions (North Korea-South Korea, anyone?) where pre-emptive strikes could be rationalized all too easily. He wondered, rhetorically, why the Bush administration tolerated a leader whom many consider a dictator in Venezuela, but not in Iraq.

"Is it because he will give us oil?" Foyle said.

I wish I simply could play the entire tape for you. Quoting him is about as useful as typing up a description of Julius Erving in midair. A capsule can't do justice to either of them.

Foyle's point of view is appealing partly because it has so much range. At the time of our interview, he did not want to stake out a position on whether the U.S. should invade Iraq. He wasn't absolutely certain that a war, with U.N. approval, would be wrong. He simply wanted more information, more intelligent debate.

That is refreshing, in a record-setting way. As much as sportswriters long for prominent athletes to speak on social issues, what we mean is that we want to see more Arthur Ashe and Steve Nash. If the speakers are Reggie White, John Rocker or Charlie Ward, we want them to shut up.

Foyle does have a political bent, but it tilts mostly against apathy. He has steeped himself in the issue of campaign-finance reform, which has been championed -- perhaps not with equal sincerity -- by the left, right, Republicans and Democrats. He founded Democracy Matters in 1998 to lobby for reform, and he speaks passionately on the topic, whether he is on a college campus or sitting on the floor of the Warriors' practice gym.

"We cannot let our voices be drowned out," he said. He was referring to the corporate control of government, and to the stifling assumption that questioning war is unpatriotic.

He expresses his thoughts in a perfect blend of power and finesse. In that respect, Foyle is another Shaquille O'Neal or a Barry Bonds. He can put on displays that make an audience say: "I've never seen that before."

Foyle is an immigrant here, carrying a passport from St. Vincent of the Grenadines. He hopes to become a citizen someday. For now, he uses "we" and "us" when discussing this country.

He has become rich in the United States, after growing up in a home without electricity. Yet he understands that this country is supposed to be about more than limitless financial opportunities and consumer options.

His last words from the interview, though, are about the kind of car he wants to buy. He wants the kind that his adoptive parents drive in upstate New York.

"I wish they made one big enough for me," he said, his 6-foot, 10-inch body filling a door frame.

The car is a hybrid, a vehicle that runs on a combination of gas and electricity. I've never heard of an athlete lusting after one before. This might be another record for Adonal Foyle.

E-mail Gwen Knapp at

Gionet Todesco is only one of the many talented artists we have here in Caracas

Tatau in venezuela
Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2003
By: Thais J. Gangoo lifestyle correspondent Thais J. Gangoo writes: More than 10 years ago, a new trend came to our Venezuelan society. People decorating their bodies with expressive and picturesque tattoos and body piercing started filling the streets putting others in shock and awe because of this new and particular tendency.

The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word "tatau" which means, "to mark something."

Throughout history tattoos have been used to show a membership to a clan or society around the world. The earliest recorded tattoos were found on the bodies of Egyptian mummies during the time of the construction of the great pyramids (1200 BC).

Greeks used tattoos as a way of communication among spies. Romans, however, used tattoos to mark their slaves. Meanwhile, people from West Asia displayed their social status by tattooing their bodies.

Things have change a lot over the years, however we can't forget that some people are still impressed either in a positive or a negative way by these walking tapestries of art we can see walking in our streets.

Venezuelan talent

Gionet Todesco is a tattoo artist born 28 years ago in Caracas. He started tattooing 11 years ago and was lured into this particular world by well-known artistes such as Lucky (the first to bring the 'art' to Venezuelan culture more than 10 years ago) and some other friends too.

"I got my first tattoo when I was 14 years old ... I remember I began doing this with a machine a friend and I bought at the time ... then, I started searching for information! I asked so many people and read so many articles about it. That's where it all started," says Gi0net.

Drawing on the skin is not an easy job ... it requires practice. Gionet not only tattoos but he also designs and does body-piercing too. He says all kind of people came to the store to get tattoos and the majority come with no idea of the design they'd like, or even what part of their body they'd like to get it on. He says he refuses to copy a design from a magazine or a paper ... he'd rather create a design with his own touch and what the clients express through their personalities and taste.

"Sometimes I have people who know what they want, but they won't tell me what it means. However, I can feel it. I know the meaning of a tattoo just by looking at the person and the design. It's just a feeling. Although, sometimes, customers like a design and they don't know what it means. I know the meaning of some symbols and things like that."

Its understandable that, right now, with all the difficulties we have to get supplies from around the world, and the prices went up this year ... a tattoo in Venezuela now costs between Bs. 50.000(US$30) and Bs.500.000 (US$300), depending on the size and how detailed the tattoo design is. I was wondering how wild people get when it comes to tattooing their bodies and Gionet says the weirdest tattoo (although its pretty funny) was a 'Mafalda' and some on genitals, which are obviously the most painful of all, and the weirdest too, since not many people seem to be willing to stand the pain.

It's basically the same when it comes to body-piercing. The most common ones are on the belly-button, ears, tongue, eyebrow, and nose, genital piercing is very uncommon here in Venezuela ... not many people come to a store to say they want to get one. Besides which, the prices go from Bs.25.000 ($15) to Bs.50.000($30) although the piece of jewelry is not included.

"Saturday is the best day because usually people get paid that day and they go out to the malls and shop at the stores. A lot of young people come to the store and tell me they want to get a tattoo ... I ask their age and, if they are under 16, I don't do the job, even with their parents' consent. However, if the person is over 16, and comes with a parent, I'd do it!"

"The reason is simple. It's not a matter or maturity whatsoever ... its a matter of age. When we are 16 years old, our body still has to grow more until we are adults. If we get a tattoo when we are too young, we might have the risk of deformation and that will never look good. Besides, people must be identified with the piece and at that age sometimes we are not too sure about what we want," Gionet says.

  • When they come to get a body piercing, that's a different story ... if they come with their parents, there's no problem even when they're under-age.

When the time comes and you decide what design you want and where you want it tattooed, a whole process is started:

First, needles are bought either already assembled or the parts; so, they can be put together by the artist. Then, everything is sterilized from 30 minutes to an hour or so. Solutions like soap and chlorine are used in some cases, however some other sterile substances are used too. Moreover, different methods are used to sterilize the needles, but its just a matter of what the artist prefers. After the instruments are sterilized, the needles are packed individually, so they are ready to be used. Gloves and needles are new when a tattoo is being done and, after that, they are thrown away. During a good month of work, over 1,000 needles may be used by Gionet.

When the tattoo is done we should not forget to follow the recommendations a tattoo artist gives. Its forbidden to go to the beach, the pool and even the gym. It's a must to use sun block at all times the tattoo is exposed to the sun and it must be washed at least twice a day with natural soap and be coated with medicinal cream such as Bacitracine (it may vary from one tattoo artist to another).

The type of ink is a very important aspect we can't forget. Depending on that we have a long-lasting tattoo or we'll have to retouch it after a few years. "The best inks," Gionet says, are French and American ... American ink is well-known because it has the best black and brown colors.

Although tattooing is not something we need in order to live, it seems that people still go to get tattoos done ... "it's just a matter of playing with the price," says Gionet.

The process to get a body-piercing done is very similar ... when we talk about the sterilizing process and the after care. However, we must say that people are advised of the advantages and consequences of certain body-piercings and the chance there is for the body to reject them. Gionet says that most of the time that happens when there's not enough tissue to hold the piercing ... such as on the hand, neck and back.

Gionets point of view is that when I'm getting a tattoo, it is just like expressing likes, love, pain, etc. We can't live alone, and expressing all these things is a need of tribalism in the union of which there is the strength.

"Throughout my life this job has given me a lot of satisfaction ... it pulls you away from the rest of the world ... this is my lifestyle, this is what I do for a living and I love it."

"I am very impressed by women, they are much stronger than man in so many ways, and even when it comes to getting a tattoo or a body-piercing, it seems they were born to endure pain."

After I left the store, I asked what makes people with tattoos and piercing different from others: "the difference is that we don't talk about people who don't have any ... but they do talk about us.

Will our minds ever change? I remember when I got my tattoos. Everyone in my family thought I'd lost my mind ... and I'm pretty sure they talked a lot about it. But, I think its silly. Nothing you do to your body changes your feelings or your personality. I will soon turn 24, and I believe I'm the same person I was before my tattoos. Up to now, I have four tattoos and one body-piercing, and I see how my family has changed their point of view ... now they accept it more, and see what the truth is about people who have this type of art on their bodies.

  • Its art walking in our streets. Everywhere we go there we have it. A piece of art that will be in our bodies until the day we die and even after.

Venezuela has many good tattoo and piercing artists and Gionet Todesco is only one of the many talented artists we have here in Caracas. "We truly are very proud of our people and how they represent us around the world!"

Case Against Chavez Sent to U.N. Court

"Washington lost"
MADRID -- A Spanish judge threw out a terrorism case against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez because he has immunity from Spanish prosecution, but the case was forwarded to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

A group of Spanish citizens brought the case against Chavez, alleging terrorism and crimes against humanity based on violence during a protest in Venezuela last April in which three Spaniards were injured and one died. The case also refers to injuries suffered by two Spaniards in Venezuela on Nov. 4. The allegations against Chavez were presented by lawyers acting for some of the families of at least 19 people who were shot dead during a large anti-government march April 11 that came close to the presidential palace in Caracas, the capital.

Janet Kelly, editor at The Daily Journal in Caracas

March 24, 2003

Janet Kelly, editor in chief of The Daily Journal newspaper and a political analyst, has died. She was 56.
Kelly, a native of Philadelphia, was found dead Monday in Caracas. The cause of death was under investigation.

A graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Kelly had lived in Venezuela for more than 20 years.

Kelly served as dean of Public Policy at the Institute of Higher Administration Studies in Caracas, where she had been a professor since 1982. There, she strengthened the institution's curriculum, research programs and publications in public policy.

In February, Kelly led a group that purchased The Daily Journal, Caracas' English-language newspaper.

Kelly was considered one of Venezuela's most respected political analysts. She wrote numerous books, academic articles and newspaper columns on Venezuelan politics, and she served on the board of the Venezuelan American Chamber of Commerce.

Kelly is survived by two children, Juan Pablo and Daniel Escobar.

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