I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to write about Venezuela without sounding either alarmist or flippant, (or even worse, an odd combination of the two.) It’s a sign of the times here, that’s for sure. These days, what I find it hardest to convey to my friends abroad is the strong undercurrent of farce that permeates public life here.
I wrote these words in the very first post I put up on Caracas Chronicles, all the way back in September 2002. Nearly five years on, they’re just as topical.
Now, I know full well that translating a funny article is a fool’s errand…all too often, humor just doesn’t translate at all. But still, nobody conveys the undercurrent of farce that still permeates our public life like Laureano Márquez, and I found his Tal Cual editorial on the purge of Jesús Eduardo Cabrera and six other magistrates from the Supreme Tribunal too delicious to ignore. So here goes nothing:
by Laureano Márquez
How baffling can baffling get? Lets review the bidding: the National Assembly, after handing almost all its powers over to the President, gets pissed off because the Supreme Tribunal, which has been known to alter constitutional provisions with nary a peep from anyone, struck down one article in one law, and accuses it of “usurpation of powers,” even though the decision in question doesn’t have anything to do with indefinite reelection, which is the only thing the government cares about.
Meanwhile, someone somewhere is working on a constitutional reform that nobody is allowed to know anything about. Really it’s an extreme situation, totally bizarre, as if someone accused the Human Rights Ombudsman of being impartial.
Congressman Ionesco takes the floor, calmly saying, “how curious, how strange, what a coincidence,” and then adds that the group of 7 magistrates constitutes a “mafia.” For someone in this government to accuse someone else in this government of being a mafioso, we have to be talking about something massive (watch your back!)
Because nobody is going to convince me that a bunch of deputies who haven’t investigated cases of corruption that even the cats that bum around the capitol know about are suddenly soooo worried about the change of one article because it “harms the public purse.” What about the rally in Argentina? Things are loopy here.
But like those gringo infomercials say, “there’s moooore!” Dr. Carlos Escarrá, constitutional law expert, asks for a bunch of magistrates – coincidentally, from the Constitutional Chamber – to be jailed because they changed an article in a law, even though – to say it in juridical terms – paragraph six of article five of the Supreme Tribunal Framework Law says that one of the powers of the tribunal is “to declare null, in whole or in part, laws that are incompatible with the constitution.” Ejusdem… ejusdem! (sorry, got something got caught in my throat there.)
Meanwhile, the president urges his supporters to break with him, and they respond that daddy is right to kick them out of the house, that they know they deserve a few whacks and, like the prodigal son, tell him: “we don’t deserve to call ourselves your children…treat us like you treat the worst reactionary, but let us stay by your side.”
Folks, you’re not pulling the wool over my eyes on this one: all of this must be part of some sort of strategy. The words being tossed around here clearly mean something different from their usual meaning. Any dictionary is useless, any communication is impossible and each head is a world apart.
After all this has passed and only ruins of the state police headquarters remain, a hard rain will come and wash away the layers of pyroglyphs. But I will stop hear, because this stof seams toobe shyly contra gious. Good buy.