nettime's_chronological_digesta on Sun, 14 Apr 2002 07:41:04 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Venezuela divided [ 2x_Hashemi, Albert, 3x_Bello, rosler]

   More on Venezuela                                                               
     Gita Hashemi <>                                                    

    Update & Venezeula Report                                                      
     "Michael Albert" <>                                               

   Venezuela: Pro-Chavez demonstrations and Other accounts                         
     Gita Hashemi <>                                                    

     Ricardo Bello <>                                                 

   Re: <nettime> Venezuela: Another Viewpoint                                      
     Ricardo Bello <>                                                 

   Venezuela: Another look, from the left                                          
     Ricardo Bello <>                                                 

   Re: Venezeula's "Chilean-like" General Strike                                   
     martha rosler <>                                             


Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2002 16:05:08 -0400
From: Gita Hashemi <>
Subject: More on Venezuela

Article by: Reuters via ProletarianNews
Saturday 13 Apr 2002

Summary:Reuters. 13 April 2002. Venezuelan Slums Seethe at Chavez\'s Overthrow.


Reference at indymedia website:


CARACAS -- The sprawling slums of Venezuela\'s capital seethed with 
rage on Saturday at the military coup that toppled populist President 
Hugo Chavez as his political backers struggled to regroup and 
organize protests.

A wildly gesticulating group surrounded a Reuters crew at a market in 
the grimy working-class neighborhood of Petare, shouting that they 
would fight back.

\"There\'s going to be a civil war here. The people are going to rise 
up,\" yelled Antonio Orellana, 65.

With the fiery former paratrooper in military custody, his supporters 
said they would try to take their seats in the National Assembly for 
a scheduled session on Monday even though the new military-backed 
interim government has decreed the parliament\'s abolition.

\"We say this is a coup d\'etat and that it is a lie that Chavez has 
resigned,\" said Willian Lara, who had been president of the National 
Assembly, talking to Reuters by telephone from a hiding place.

He said he feared for his safety and that he had narrowly escaped arrest.

There has been no word whether Chavez has been charged with a crime, 
but he was arrested and taken to a Caracas military base on Friday 
and has been kept incommunicado. Lara said he had since been 
transferred to the Caribbean island of La Orchila, but no military 
spokesman confirmed this.

The United States, which had long been irritated by Chavez\'s 
friendship with Cuba and worried about his control of the world\'s 
fourth-largest oil-exporting nation, has said that it does not 
consider his overthrow a coup. Instead it blamed his government for 
triggering its own downfall by ordering gunmen to fire on Thursday\'s 

Venezuela is now a deeply divided country.

\"Those who toppled him are thinking, decent people. It\'s the will 
of the people which was legitimized by the military action,\" said 
Adolfo Freites, a 49-year-old lawyer, speaking to Reuters in an 
elegant square in Caracas\' upscale Altamira district, an anti-Chavez 

But in the slums surrounding Caracas, spreading over dusty hillsides, 
Chavez is more of a hero than ever.

Local news media, which are passionately anti-Chavez, have largely 
ignored the reaction of Venezuela\'s poor majority.

\"What\'s going to happen to us humble, poor people? President Chavez 
helped us. The country is divided between rich and poor,\" said Jose 
Delgado, a 45-year-old cobbler.


Article by: luther blissett
Saturday 13 Apr 2002

Summary:communication with Canadian IMC from Venezuelan on the ground 
in caracas.

Reference at indymedia website:

>Good morning, I\'m still Ok.
>Thanks for your support, as you recommend I\'ll try to get as much
>information as I can. Until now there\'s only me but i\'m getting in touch
>with some other people that where in that march and saw the same stuff that
>I did. I\'m also going to try to take some pictures it\'s a difficult task but
>I think I can accomplish it. I\'m trying to get some different pictures from
>the march, different of the one the medias are showing. I don\'t know how to
>program computers but I can find someone to do it, why is that important?
>How will that help? I do have technical skills though... I can write to you
>in spanish, english and french, what ever you like...
>This is the last news I got:
>According to some sources I got yesterday night and this morning there have
>been some revoltes around the country, people have taken the streets of the
>poverty areas and thousand and thousand of people went to Fuerte Tiuna,
>where they are holding Chavez, to manifest their support to him and the
>National Guard repress them they force them to move away, some gun shoots
>where heard but I my source couldn\'t get an accurated information about it.
>This is the same National Guard that said they are against repressing the
>citizens and take sides in favor of some group of people. Clearly the
>National Guard it\'s taking somebody\'s side here now.
>The media still without showing any of this information they haven\'t even
>show this march. Now I\'m thinking, Is this a fair way of inform??? I\'m still
>saying this is a media strike...
>I just got a last minute rumor, according to someone that call me, they are
>holding all of the ministers in the Supreme Court House and they are
>supposed to be running their trials and pressing charges agaisnt them
>without anybodys presence or any TV or radio coverage. Now I think isn\'t the
>citizens supposed to press the charges agaisnt them and find them guilty or
>not of those charges??? Remember this last paragraph it\'s just a rumor...


Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 07:37:52 -0400
From: "Michael Albert" <>
Subject:  Update & Venezeula Report

This is a ZNet Free Update -- you can alter your relations via the links
on ZNet's top page (

Of  course, as usual, ZNet has major new essays and content in many
areas. The most activity bears on the Mideast, with a major new piece
from Chomsky and pieces from Monbiot, Bhargouti, Prashad, etc.

Cynthia Peter's essay on the upcoming events in Washington tops various
new contributions in that TNI Vieques protest, Kagarlitsky
on anti-Americanism, and many many more.

But...I am writing to convey to you the following two pieces. The first,
arrived moments ago, describes today's coup in Venezuela. The second,
which went online on the 10th, predicts it and provides context. This
coverage is so informative, and such a needed counter to confusion, that
I hope you will not be put off by the length of including two pieces
rather than only one.

- ---

Coup in Venezuela: An Eyewitness Account
By Gregory Wilpert


mod note:


- ----

An Imminent Coup in Venezuela? 
by Gregory Wilpert 
April 10, 2002 
It appears that the strategy of President Chavez’ opposition is to
create as much chaos and disorder in Venezuela as possible, so that
Chavez is left with no other choice than to call a state of emergency.
This, in turn could either lead to a military coup or U.S. military

Given that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the western
hemisphere; it is distinctly possible that the U.S. government is going
to intervene overtly, if it is not already doing so covertly. This means
that the current crisis in Venezuela is probably a planned conspiracy to
topple the Chavez government with the support of the U.S. 

As I write this, on April 9, Venezuela’s largest union federation, the
Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV) has called for a
two-day general strike. Venezuela’s chamber of commerce, FEDECAMERAS,
has joined the strike and called on all of its affiliated businesses to
close for 48 hours. 

This was the second time in four months that the two federations, of
labor unions and of business owners, decided to join forces and strike
against the leftist government of President Hugo Chavez. What is
happening in Venezuela? Why are these and many other forces uniting
against Chavez? 

Chavez took power in late 1998 in a landslide electoral victory, calling
for a “Bolivarian Revolution,” in reference to Latin America’s hero of
independence and Venezuela’s favorite son, Simon Bolivar. Since then,
Chavez has tried to root out the entrenched powers of Venezuelan
society, represented by a political and economic elite, which had
governed Venezuela for over 40 years in a pseudo-democratic form by
alternating power between two entrenched political parties. 

Chavez first reformed Venezuela’s constitution, through a constitutional
assembly and a referendum, making it one of the most progressive
constitutions in the world. The old elite were nearly completely driven
from political power in the course of seven elections, which took place
between 1998 and 2000. However, the old elite of the labor unions, the
business sector, the church, and the media are still in power and have
recently begun making life as difficult as possible for Chavez. 

Although Chavez originally had popularity a rating of around 80%, his
popularity has steadily declined in the past year, supposedly reaching
the low 30’s now. Whether the reason for this decline was the slow pace
of his promised reforms, the lack of significant progress in reducing
corruption and poverty, or if it was because of the incessant media
assault on his government, is not clear – most likely it is because of a
combination of these factors. 

The conflict between Chavez and the old elite has recently come to a
head. First, when Chavez passed a slew of 49 laws, which, among many
other measures, were supposed to increase the government’s oil income
and redistribute land. The chamber of commerce vehemently opposed these
laws and decided to call for a general business strike on December 10. 

Venezuela’s labor union federation, the CTV, decided to join the strike,
supposedly out of concern for the harm the laws did to the business
sector and thus to employment in Venezuela. 

More likely, though, the CTV’s support of a general strike was in
retaliation for Chavez having forced the unions to carry out new
elections of the CTV’s leadership and for not recognizing its
leadership, due to charges of fraud, when the old guard union leadership
declared itself the winner of the election and refused to submit the
official results and ballots to the government. 

The second major issue, which has resulted in a serious challenge to
Chavez, occurred when Chavez appointed five new members loyal to him to
the board of directors of the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, the
largest oil company in the world and the third largest supplier of oil
to the U.S. 

Also, he appointed a prominent leftist economist and long-time critic of
PDVSA as its president. The management of PDVSA cried out in protest,
arguing that the appointments were purely political and not based on
merit and thus threatened to undermine the company’s independence and
its meritocracy. 

Chavez has since countered that board members and president have always
been political appointments and that the state needed to regain control
over PDVSA because it has become increasingly inefficient, a state
within a state, whose top management is living a life of extreme luxury.

Furthermore, and less explicitly, Chavez wants to assure that PDVSA
adheres to OPEC’s production quotas, so that the oil price remains at a
stable and profitable level. PDVSA, however, has a history of
undermining OPEC quotas because its management places a higher premium
on market share than on a good oil price. 

Following a two weeks of protest and of labor slowdowns within PDVSA,
mostly on the part of management, the labor federation leadership of the
CTV, who all belong to the discredited old elite, decided to join the
conflict in support of PDVSA’s management, arguing that it was acting in
solidarity with PDVSA workers in its call for a day-long general strike.

The chamber of commerce rapidly followed suit, seeing this as another
opportunity to humiliate and perhaps topple Chavez, and supported the
strike as well. Considering the first day a complete success, the CTV
and the chamber of commerce have decided to extend the general strike
another 24 hours. However, as PROVEA, Venezuela’s human rights agency
has noted, even though Venezuela’s constitution guarantees the right to
strike, the strike is completely illegal because it bypassed the legal
requirements for democratic legitimation of such a strike. 

Given that a large majority of private businesses are members of the
chamber of commerce and oppose Chavez, the strike has appeared to be
quite successful. Whether workers actually believe in the strike and
intentionally stay away from work in protest to the government, is
almost impossible to tell, since most businesses were closed by

Many businesses were open and most of the informal sector was actively
selling its wares on the streets as usual. Of course, all government
offices and all banks, whose hours are regulated by the government, were
open. Together, these sectors account for about 40% of Venezuela’s

The conflict in Venezuela has come to take on epic proportions, if one
listens to the rhetoric of the two sides of the conflict. Both sides
make extensive use of hyperbole, alternately calling the strike either a
complete and total failure or a complete and total success. 

Other examples of how passionate and heated the debates have become are
reflected in the opposition’s repeated references to Chavez as a
“totalitarian fascist dictator” who wants to “cubanize” Venezuela.
Chavez and his supporters, for their part, refer to the opposition as a
squalid (“escualido”) corrupt oligarchy. 

Both sets of labels are caricatures of the truth. Certainly, Venezuela’s
oligarchical elite opposes Chavez, but the opposition to Chavez has
become quite strong and has grown far beyond the oligarchy, to include
many of his former friends and supporters. On the other hand, even
though Chavez uses a lot of inflammatory rhetoric, the opposition has
yet to find a single instance in which he has violated Venezuela’s very
democratic constitution in any way. 

Chavez’ greatest failure, from a progressive point of view, probably
lies in his relatively autocratic style, which is why many of his former
supporters have become alienated from his government. Whenever someone
opposed his policies he has tended to reject them and cast them out of
his government circle. 

The result has been a consistent loss of a relatively broad political
spectrum of government leadership and a significant turn-over in his
cabinet, making stable and consistent policy implementation quite

This loss of broad-based support has made itself felt particularly
strongly during the recent crises, making Chavez look more isolated than
he might otherwise be. Other than his party supporters, who are quite
significant in number and come mostly from the poor “barrios,” the
progressive sectors of civil society have been neglected by Chavez and
have thus not been active. Instead, the conservative sectors of civil
society, such as the chamber of commerce and the old guard union
leadership are among the main mobilizers of civil society. 

Still, Chavez’ policies have been almost without exception progressive
in that they have supported land redistribution for poor farmers, title
to the self-built homes of the barrios, steady increases in the minimum
wage and of public sector salaries, and the enrollment of over 1 million
students in school who were previously excluded, to name just a few

In terms of international issues, Chavez has been on the forefront in
working for greater intra-Third World solidarity, in opposing
neo-liberalism, and in supporting Cuba. 

Figuring out what this epic conflict is about has been somewhat
difficult for an outsider. Passions are so inflamed that it is
practically impossible to find calm and reasoned analyses about what is
going on. Are the chamber of commerce, the labor federation leadership,
the upper class, and significant sectors of the middle class really
primarily concerned about the “politicization” of PDVSA and the
appointment of a pro-government board of directors? 

Perhaps. But does opposition to these appointments justify a general
strike? Definitely not. More likely these sectors are concerned that
politicization of PDVSA means a loss of access to Venezuela’s cash-cow:
oil. Not only that, the most common complaints one hears about Chavez
have more to do with his style than with any concrete policies he has
implemented. There often is a racist undertone to such complaints,
implying that Chavez, because of his folksy and populist style and his
Indio appearance, is sub-human, a “negro.” 

It does not help that almost all of the media, except the one
government-run TV network, out of about five major TV networks, and one
out of approximately ten major newspapers is completely opposed to

The media regularly cover nearly every single opposition pronouncement
and rarely cover government declarations. Chavez, out of frustration
with the media has relentlessly attacked the media for belonging to the
old guard oligarchy and for printing nothing but lies, occasionally
threatening them with legal action for slander. 

The media has, of course, responded in kind, by accusing Chavez of
intimidating journalists with his pronouncements and of sending gangs to
threaten journalists with physical violence. The media has tried to
embarrass Chavez internationally by taking its case to the Organization
of American States and to the U.S., which have responded favorably to
their complaints and have criticized Chavez for his supposed lack of
respect for human rights. 

The other thing Chavez has done to combat the media is to exploit a law
which permits the government to take over all of the airwaves for
important government announcements. All TV and radio stations are
required to broadcast these announcements. 

During the general strike Chavez decided to go all-out and interrupted
all TV and radio broadcasts numerous times during the strike. The
government’s use of the airwaves has now provided additional ammunition
to the opposition and constituted an important factor in their deciding
to extend the strike from one day to two. 

Chavez’ greatest error has been his truly fundamental neglect for
cultivating a culture which would support his “Bolivarian Revolution,”
one which progressive sectors of civil society would support and promote
amongst the population and internationally, even against a strongly
oppositional media. 

Despite this grave fault of his presidency, Chavez continues to deserve
the support of progressives because the only alternative that has
presented itself until now is a return to the status quo ante, where the
upper class, together with selected sectors of the labor movement and
the government bureaucracy share Venezuela’s oil pie amongst themselves,
leaving the poor, who constitute three quarters of Venezuela’s
population, to fend for themselves. 

Currently, however, the most immediate and most likely alternative to
Chavez is either a military coup or U.S. intervention, since Chavez
definitely won’t resign and since he is legally in office at least until
the 2004, when a recall vote can be called. This means that progressives
around the world should act in solidarity with Chavez’ government and
support him, if another Chile-style coup is to be avoided. 

Gregory Wilpert lives in Caracas, is a former U.S. Fulbright scholar in
Venezuela, and is currently doing independent research on the sociology
of development. 

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Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2002 13:38:48 -0400
From: Gita Hashemi <>
Subject: Venezuela: Pro-Chavez demonstrations and Other accounts

Does Venezuela, April 2002, remind anybody else of Iran, June 1953? 
It may just be that bloody smell of oil...

Trying to keep up with the latest news coming from Palestine and 
elsewhere, but there seems to be a news blackout about Venezuela. 
Here are a few items that provide a different account from what 
little we've been getting through the mainstream media.  Please fill 
in the blank if you find more info.
Latest news from pro-Chavez demonstrations in Caracas
This a RealAudio programme from Democracy Now 
Coup in Venezuela: An Eyewitness Account
By Gregory Wilpert


- -- 


Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 20:42:07 -0400
From: Ricardo Bello <>
Subject: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Venezuela,_from_Petkoff=B4s_standpoint?=

This URL will take you directly to Petkoff´s editorial:


Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 20:02:25 -0400
From: Ricardo Bello <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Venezuela: Another Viewpoint

	Your argument ( ) is rather strange. An 
extreme opposition party "Bandera Roja" (Red Banner) was shooting a huge 
crowd demonstrating against the government, that is, shooting itself.  You 
will excuse, but Chavez close down private TV stations just when those 
snipers started shooting, and they have been indentified and filmed, 
members of the chavista City Council, very close to the President. They 
were shooting from the side of Chavez supporters, you must have seen them, 
as you were there. Your are right about the military however, they are 
disgusting. They enjoyed the money from an incredible corrupt government 
who did nothing to stop so much plundering of the nation´s budget and now 
they stand as judges of that corruption. They are a menace and Chavez was 
their leader for four year until civil society took him out.
	But there is something, if Chavez was so good, as you said, why three 
sucessful national strikes were called that stopped the whole nation, on 
December 10th and February 28th, 2001 and the one that finished today, that 
paralized the whole country for three whole days in protest, every town, 
every city one million squares kilometers? A peaceful march of half a 
million people was too much against him. Even the corrupt military brass 
couldn´t failed to see that. Unenployment was rampant, investment had 
dissapear and for the first time in Venezuela, hundreds of thousand were 
emigrating to the US and Europe looking for jobs and a better future.
	That fundamental land reform you talked about started the strike on 
December 10th. I own a farm, and work and live in it. His policy  made me 
sell 600 tons less of oranges that in the same period a year before, and 
that year was worse than the one before. You can´t imagine the poverty such 
senseless ideas can produce. But he said he was from the left, so must you 
excuse all  his errors.  Facist military didn´t put Chavez out, the people 
did, protesting and giving their life against fascist military headed by 
Chavez. That they called themselves progressive doesn´t make any 
difference. At least now, I have a better option for a future. I will stay 
in  my country now, and surely  my children won´t feel the need to 
emigrate. You can have a large number of independent scholar looking and 
studying the country for year, at the end they will see, just as you, a 
confirmation of their own ideas, not reality.


Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 20:37:50 -0400
From: Ricardo Bello <>
Subject: Venezuela: Another look, from the left

Anastasio, as you must know, Teodoro Petkoff has written several books, 
some of them very good, on Latin American politics. He broke with the 
Soviet Union in 1968, as a member of Venezuelan´s Comunist Party Central 
Comitte and has always been admired, even by his enemies, for his 
independence and intelligence. Now he is the Editor of a national 
newspaper: "Tal Cual". Read today´s Editorial, written by him (Viernes 12 
de Abril) on the nature of the "coup" against Chavez.


Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 17:31:01 -0400
From: martha rosler <>
Subject: Re: Venezeula's "Chilean-like" General Strike

>From: Louis Proyect <>
>Subject: Re: Venezeula's "Chilean-like" General Strike
>Mime-Version: 1.0
>Precedence: bulk

>Please post:
>Colombia/Venezuela Update
[ by Anthony from Bogota]

>Hugo Chaves was just overthrown by a military coup d'etat, according to the
>Colombian news media.
>I am sorry I haven not written more, and more frequently about the rapidly
>developing situation in Colombia and Venezuela. The crises in the two
>countries - parts of Gran Colombia afterall - are becoming more and more
>entertwined by the minute.
>The crisis in Venezuela, is in my opinion, a key part of the world oil
>crisis, and of the USA's struggle against Latin American indepence, and
>against European imperialism.
>It is also very closely related to the crisis of Colombia.
>In my opinion the CIA had been orchestrating - for a long time - an effort
>to dump Chaves. This effort involved four basic elements: 1) efforts to
>organize an 'officers movement' against Chaves. 2) Efforts to mobilise
>'democratic'; public opinoni against Chaves, especially through the
>privately owned bourgeois press. 3) efforts to pit the aristocracy of
>labor, especially the oil workers against Chaves. 4) efforts to isolate
>Chaves internationally.
>Chaves was a leader of the populist and nationalist military in Latin
>America. A Peron type. He was an opponent of the pro-imperiliast military
>cliques, which have been dominant in Latin American politics, but not
>always among the rank and file of Latin American soldiers.
>For a long time chaves was able to deflect and hold at bay the efforts to
>get rid of him. Control of Venezuela's oil revenues gave him tremendous
>The breaking point came when the Colombian army alleged that the FARC had
>retreated from the despeje to safe havens in Venezuela.
>Chaves denied these allegations in very strong terms.
>But his generals, active duty generals, told the press that the FARC did
>have bases in Venezuela. This was the first time that active duty generals,
>in the inner circle, had defied Chaves.
>The house came tumbling down. Chaves's wife - who left him in a scandal a
>month or so ago - fled the country in the presidential jet.
>Soon after the coup was announced.
>Where Hugo Chaves is is unknown. Whether he is alive is not known.
>Venezuela and Colombia - and really all of Latin America - are at a dark
>turning point.
>The bourgeoisie here - emboldened by imperialism's total abondonment of
>'peace processes- is marching backward to military dictatorship and worse.
>But they are not united, and indeed are badly disuinted and confused. In
>fact, they are very weak.
>Where their  march will lead to, is anybody's guess.
>Latin America is in deep crisis. One aspect of that crisis is that the
>'neoliberal' solution has so obviously and completely failed -e.g.
>Argentina, and Ecuador, that the imperialists and the local capitlaists
>have no real idea of what political and economic strategy to try next. They
>are in an internal crisis. Globalization has failed before they even
>created a free trade area throughout the Americas.
>Politically this has led to a rebirth of sorts of nationalism, and of
>social democracy, in Brazil and the Southern cone.
>This rebirth in my humble opinion, is strongly supported by the European
>Union, which would like to attach South America to its trade zone, and
>detach it from the US's trade zone.
>What the nationalists and social democrats in Latin America dream of, is a
>Latin American free trade zone, independent of the US, and linked by
>alliance to Europe. such a trade zone could even become a reality if the PT
>(workers Party) wins the Presidential election in Brazil, and the
>'nationalist' Peronists take over in Argentina (momentarily prevented, but
>who knows for how long).
>This possibility is the real fear of US imperialism in Latin America.
>All of this is connected to Colombia and Venezuela.
>The coup against Hugo Chaves, the elected president of Venezuela,  an
>ardent supporter of a South American union, indepedent of the USA, and
>linked to Europe and OPEC, is certainly a major blow againt Latin American
>independence, and against Europe.
> Keep in mind that Venezuela is the most important supplier of oil to the
>USA, and that Colombia supplies 10% of US oil imports. Chavez had allied
>Venezuela with the 'nationalist in OPEC, Iraq and Iran.
>All of this is closely related to the presidential elections here in
>Colombia - where Alvaro Uribe Velez who has close connections to the
>paramilitaries - is almost certainly going to be elected. (Please see my
>post about the recent Colombian congressional elections.) Velez in power
>here, with increased military aid from the USA, and with more US troops
>(openly or in Colombian uniforms) is an incendiary formula.
>Velez is the US candidate. He is for more war, less social reform, and more
>police state powers for the military. He would like to be the Fujimori of
>Colombia. With Chaves gone in Venezuela, the FARC will almost certtainly
>lose what was a more or less neutral safe haven in Venezuela. The option of
>a 'military solution' in Colmbia - soemthing like what is now happening in
>Palestine - could become the near future agenda.
>Last week there were hundreds of raids on the homes of leftists in Bogota -
>allegedly because they were suspected of having connections with the FARC -
>in fact, simply because they were connected with the Communist Party, or
>were belived to be connected with the Communist Party.
>The shit is hitting the fan.
>What will happen next is anyone's guess. But there is one thing that I
>believe to be true - bourgeois reaction does not have popular support, but
>neither does Chaves, and neither does the FARC.  What is playing itself out
>is mostly a drama of armed minorities. The masses have not entered the
>pciture - and may not enter the picture - in this episode. Stay tuned.
>All the best, Anthony


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