Our Southern Mirror

Poverty falling, and fast. A stable, growing economy, resilient to external shocks. Low, steady inflation. Inequality falling, and fast. An appreciating currency. Improving educational standards. Successive leftwing governments increasingly respected and powerful worldwide. A country on track to have First World-level social indicators within the next decade.

All of the social goals Chávez told us Venezuela could only reach once we buried “the bourgeois state” (read: pluralist constitutional democracy) are goals Brazil is achieving without gutting its democracy. And they’re goals we’re failing to achieve even as our democracy gets put through the wood-chipper.

As Brazil does what we in Venezuela can only dream of – which includes putting a brilliant economist, one-time guerrilla and political prisoner, descended from Bulgarian immigrants, in the presidency – it’s perhaps time to reflect on what our Southern Counterfactual says about our road not taken.

The Brazilian experience shows that the frontal assault on our political rights and civil liberties has been entirely pointless. The monstrous contention that our freedom was the price we had to pay for social justice is quietly refuted, day in and day out, just on the other side of Santa Elena de Uairén.

As we pause to congratulate Dilma and wish her success, we can’t help but feel, with a sting, that a glance south is all it takes to realize what a monumental swindle the Chávez Bargain has been.

60 thoughts on “Our Southern Mirror

  1. Great post! Brazil proves that no one, especially Venezuelans, should give up democratic rights “in order to achieve economic growth.”

    Of course, this has been proven time and again–ask any resident of the former German Democratic Republic or of North Korea.

    Marx claimed that political rights were limited to the bourgeois revolutionary phase–bourgeois rights only–but in fact they are a necessary building bloc for any successful economy.

    • Democratic rights… We still vote. Cubans vote. We, to gut whatever is left of our rights. Cubans, to confirm that they want to be slaves

      Individual rights rather. They are the basis of economic prosperity (meaning society minds itself better than anyone willing to “change”, even by democratic means). And they are also the basis of democracy. A democracy that kills individual rights ends up not being that, either, however democratically and compassionately it might go about the torturing them to death.

  2. Just a heads up: Kaspersky 2010 complains about a trojan ( HEUR:Trojan.Script.Iframer ) when trying to access that brazzilmag link.

  3. There is one big thing we have to remember and remind all Venezuelans time after time: what we have in Venezuela are the military in power and a pantomime of the left.

    People like Douglas Bravo and others tried to infiltrate the military for decades and they managed to do that, but the infiltration was mostly superficial and the golem they produced took its own life. Now those lefties are riding behind the golem, not driving it.
    And the lefties still hanging around are the worst of the sort-pathetic guys like the president of the PCV or Giordani, not the repentant intellectuals à la Petkoff. The Chávez regime is increasingly using the phrase “civic military” to try to let people get used to it.
    We must say no.
    Now, although Brazil is now a democracy on a path of sustainable growth, I have little faith in any support coming from that country. If the Wikileaks showed anything was the confirmation that the Brazil government is annoyed about Chávez tantrums but very happy to sell about anything to a weak Venezuela giving weapons and needing anything else.

    • Itamaraty es pragmático como reflejo de la dirigencia y del ser brasileño. Lo que les importa es crecer, si com Deus si com o Diavolo. Pero necesitan verse y lucirse como adalides de la sudamericanidad. Creo que son 2 factores clave.

  4. “A stable, growing economy, resilient to external shocks”: Actually, Brazilian economy is not that stable. It relies on one of the highuest interest rates in the world, which keeps the monstrous USD-pipe open. In the next 24 months public spending is gonna come back and bite Dilma and Lula in their behinds.

    “Low, steady inflation”: 2010 inflation was higher than the gov’t goal.

    “An appreciating currency”: For Venezuelans, this might be awesome. Ask Brazilian exporters about it.

    “Improving educational standards”: The average Brazilian high school student ranks only better than Haiti and Bolivia in math in the Americas. Most private schools also suck.

    “Successive leftwing governments increasingly respected”: Increasingly respected? Hondurans, Cubans and Iranians beg to differ.

    “The Brazilian experience shows that the frontal assault on our political rights and civil liberties has been entirely pointless.”: Who says the PT is not trying to undermine civil liberties and rights on a daily basis?

    The thing about dreaming of having Petkoff as president is just frightening, and implying that Dilma Roussef is a ‘brilliant economist’ is just a joke. The woman included a Doctorate from Unicamp in her resumée, and had to withdraw it when she was caught during the campaign. Maybe it is you, Francisco, who should pay more attention at what is going on in Brazil. Beyond the headlines, that is.

    By the way, I’m Brazilian and have been living in Sao Paulo for the last 5+ years.

    • Oh yeah, we have a standpoint disconnect for sure here. You won’t catch any Venezuelans crying over your 5.something percent inflation rate, that’s for sure!

      Listen, I’m sure there’s a lot wrong with Brazil’s society and economy. I’m certain if I were Brazilian I wouldn’t be satisfied, so I’m not asking you to declare history at an end and call it a day.

      From a Venezuelan point of view, though, what y’all have are problemas de lujo, pure and simple…

    • I agree she is not such an example and most of Brazil’s accomplishments are not even Lula’s but come from Lula’s predecessor. Still, there is no doubt Brazil is making tangible progress. About education, there was a very good article in The Economist.

      http://www.economist.com/node/17679798?story_id=17679798

      Not all is black and white.

      Perhaps we don’t need former guerrilleros (specially as none living today was fighting against a dictatorship), but we do not need a government ruled by an exclusive club of technocrats whose closest friends are mostly alumni of foreign univerities like themselves and who would not know what to say or what to ask when spending more than one minute with a person from classes C, D and E. The right mix is what we need now.

    • Quico, I agree with you. Ricardo, you have to come and live in Venezuela to understand Quico’s comment about Dilma. Just when people think there is no way the country can go lower, it goes… Venezuela fine example of this.

      People criticize too much sometimes Ricardo, and that can be a double sword. I always remember the letter of that journalist from Cuba I can’t remember his name who committed suicide blaming himself and the rest of his trade to have put Castro in power because of the way they viciously criticize everybody in the political life of pre-Castro Cuba. It is really a good read. Actually, it also can be applied to that Ledezma post… my two cents.

    • Suck Factor (SF): please enlighten me. In comparing school systems and outputs in countries like Brazil, Venezuela and the US, how and in what degree would the SF in Brazil rate against the other 2 abovementioned? I live in Los Angeles, having taught HS & College & at the university level, both in Vzla & the US, but ignore a lot about Brazil. In the US, the average highschooler that graduates has a dismally low educational level, with many graduates not knowing how to write in cursiva but only in print letters/letras de molde (and maaany drop from HS, even more now with this economy which forces them to work so as to help their ruined & exhausted parents). The level in college, and junior college is not superior to the one I remember in Venezuela from 1975-81 (UCAB, UCV), though of course the research/resource capacities of the US educational institutions is way higher, but not the level of teaching necessarily, neither the level of published output of scholars & researchers, regardless of all their lack of “tools”: the quantity of output is definitely affected but the quality remains impressive; I admit the limits of my take in as much as I have not read enough so as to make a definite statement here, and that I have concentrated on fields like history, politics, international relations. At the top, Ivy League plus Stanford/Berkeley et al, there is of course the ongoing concentration of excellence, the best teachers and students from many parts of the kosher world, but financial motivations have undermined the university system, to the point that it has become an appendix of international corporations and shadowy global institutions. One of the examples would be Summers, the ex president of Harvard, who went on to “advise” Bush & helped created the financial mess, after which he left and, through the revolving door of Wall Street, ended up… surpriiiise! back in good ole Harvard. Not to mention the torture “scholar” John Yoo.
      Maybe, just maybe lil maybe, these Ivy Leaguers have something to learn from non-kosher places, like Venezuela.

    • Marieau,

      I won’t get much into the US system. My dad studied there ages eons ago (with Venezuelan scholarship) and several friends as well. They studied in top universities. I have heard and read variance in education quality is huge.

      Now, most people do not go to university. We need good technicians, we need skilled workers. Not everyone should go into research.

      I think if we want to have a hint of what development a country will take we have to look at the kind of education level virtually everyone does get and there measure the average and median. And when it comes to Venezuela estamos MAL, MAL, MAL, MAAAAAL.

      80% of Venezuelans go to state schools. That was so before Chávez already. Compared to other Latin American pupils in 1998 they were the worst of the worst, with results way under Bolivia in mathematics and 41 out of 41 in a reading and comprehension test by the IEA (sorry to repeat that, guys).

      The average US citizen at the time of independence (that is, before invading Indian territory and not counting slaves) had an excellent education level.
      The average Venezuelan citizen did not. We started to improve vastly starting in the forties of the XX century but the average education for all started to go to pot in the seventies…it was even worse in the Llanos, as you can see that from Chávez (and his parents were teachers). We need to compare similar things.

  5. I’d have to agree that Dilma sucks, that interest rates are way to high and that Brazil’s economic miracle is widely oversold. But I have to admit some really refreshing differences that Brazil brought me after so many years in Venezuela. Lula himself strikes me as a Chavez who grew up — he ran for years on old standby lefty platforms like defaulting on debt and redistributing wealth, and as a result lost three consecutive elections. He learned that this was simply not what Brazilians wanted, so he evolved into a leader who could ditch his ideological leanings in favor of steady growth policies that lifted 40 million people out of poverty.
    It was so striking to me see to people in Lula’s cabinet openly disagree with one another, to see ideas being discussed publicly rather than presented as a fait accompli and rubber stamped by a castrated Congress. And maybe what I like most of all is that people don’t carry on about what happened to them during the dictatorship or repeat stories about how they were tortured or imprisoned the way chavista leaders are constantly rasgandose las vestiduras about their suffering under the Adecos and the Copeyanos. Of course this came up during Dilma’s campaign, but your average Brazilian doesn’t care about whether or not some misdeed from 1972 went unpunished because people have more important things to think about — namely the future. Chavismo is still carrying the ideology of revolution on its back like the dead soldier that it is, and the effects on Venezuela are evident.

    • Chamín, you just went from calling Brazil’s economic miracle “widely oversold” to noting, almost as a throwaway sentence, that between FHC and Lula they’ve lifted FORTY MILLION FRIGGIN’ PEOPLE out of poverty…in less than two decades!

      Erm, calling that an achievement of world historic proportions isn’t overselling it, it’s just a plain statement of fact.

    • Yep, you can still oversell an economic miracle even when 40 million people are lifted out of poverty. This hinges on the term ¨oversell,¨ by which I mean that people are overestimating the capacity of the economy regardless of what its actual achievements are. By overselling I mean people describing Brazil as a nation that’s practically reached developed country status even though 1) more than half of Brazilians live in places without access to sewers 2) a whopping 86 percent of its roads are unpaved 3) its currency is one of the most overvalued in the world 4) its interest rates are among the world’s highest (as per the original post that sparked this discussion) 5) just about all corporate financing is now coming via the state development bank 6) the government is weighed down by 39 ministries including a Fishing Ministry (seriously) and, my favorite a Cities Ministry 7) its ridiculous pension system is completely bogging down the government budget, etc etc etc ad nauseum. Again, overselling is a relative term, mostly relating to the overarching narrative about Brazil´s economic miracle that ignores the issues that challenge it. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      In the end I think we were actually making the same point. But we can keep arguing if you like ;)

    • Yup, I think it’s pretty much the same point…but I’d never let that get in the way of a good fight, you know that!

      I think it circles around to the point I was trying to make in the original post. Serious though Brazil’s problems are, they’re normal country problems.

      That is:

      The private banking sector is ricketie: Normal country problem.
      The government throws people in jail for tweeting that the private banking sector is ricketie: Abnormal country problem.

      But then, as Voltaire didn’t say (but should have):

      I agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for my right to pick a stupid blog fight about it anyway.

  6. Ricardo, even if they are a big lie, I’d take those Brazilian headlines, and exchange happily for those of Venezuela.
    Nothing is ever perfect, but trust me, be thankful to have her, and be where you guys are now, as every Brazilian should be.

  7. Nice read Quico. A little depre for us Venezuelans. :(

    Why is it that Venezuela with so many educated people from all walks of life and social classes cannot have a Dilma or a Lula as President, Quico can you answer that to me? Why so many people in Venezuela like to eat shit so bad?

    She seems she will be a good president.

    Happy ad prosperous 2011 to all!

  8. Interesantísimo artículo y con hiperenlaces que abren camino a la constatación de datos; yo no leo esto en ningún otro medio porque no lo hallo; me gustaría que Francisco siguiera cubriendo este tema de economías “socialistas” (de régimen mixto y algunas, aunque no la brasileña aparentemente, autoritarias) y por contraste con Venezuela. Ayudan mucho los comentarios, especialmente cuando no hay consenso y se refinan los argumentos, saliendo a relucir los mejores. Como llevo muchos años viviendo fuera de Venezuela no estoy al día con el debate (ocasionalmente, con la sanpablera como dice Juan Cristóbal), pero este sitio me ayuda a enterder mejor la situación internacional, cosa que me interesa muchísimo. Y ahora finalmente tengo el tiempo que no pude dedicarle por años. Me pregunto si podrían echarle una mirada al “espejo de arriba”, the mirror up there, USA. Aquí los USers estamos un poco asustados porque lejos de escuchar buenas nuevas sobre nuestro crecimiento económico, no oímos sino de banksters, banqueros gangsters y de kabalas financieras que siempre terminan en lo mismo: bail out for billionaires, social loss paid by the masses. Una de las pocas esperanzas que tenemos proviene, paradójicamente, de ese nido de mafiosos de toda procedencia llamado Nueva York. El joven hijo de Mario Cuomo acaba de juramentarse y se le conoce por su lucha contra la corrupción; les adjunto la foto en la que aparece junto a sus hijas y a su “compañera” (es uno de los primeros políticos estadounidenses que no quiere ni ocultar a su amante ni fingir una felicidad marital como la de tantos otros, ni casarse aún porque no le da la real gana)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/nyregion/01swearing.html?_r=1

    Pero la esperanza más grande no es él sino un hombre cuya carrera se frustró a pesar (y debido a) su eficaz combate de la corrupción y persecución de los banksters, Elliot Spitzar, y todo por efecto de un escándalo sexual.
    Las cosas están cambiando en USA porque, ante el latrocinio generalizado a alto nivel y la ruina del país, pierde interés la actividad sexual de éste, ése o aquella, al igual que lo pierden las observaciones ofensivas sobre la apariencia o la personalidad. Mi familia está en desacuerdo con lo que digo y me reiteran que nada ha cambiado. Lo dudo.
    María Eugenia Sáez

  9. Dilma, pues no sé qué decir de ella, no sé casi nada de ella, pero aguanto la respiración porque si es economista y brillante, oh Dios, qué peligro; son gente que no suele servir como gobernantes de un país sino como asesores (a-la-Colbert) y tienen muchos aires de grandeza, una opinión de sí mismos demasiado alta, aparte de que suelen ser dados a macroenfoques que terminan en macroplops. Espero estar equivocadísima, no sea que lo que logró Lula, lo deshaga en un par de años Dilma. Keep us posted please.

  10. Francisco, Feathers:

    I believe that is exactly the wrong way to compare the status of different countries. If I’m the Villarreal, I’ll only be really succesful when I can be compared to -and beat- FC Barcelona, not the Almería. Brazil is ‘better’ than Venezuela? Yes, but how’s the head-to-head when you compare it to the first world? While the Brazilian economy can still grow DESPITE Lula, it won’t get to the big leagues in the next coupleof decades BECAUSE of Lula, Dilma, and the PT. Brazil’s problemas de lujo, you call them. I call them Brazil’s future down the drain.

    And Feathers, I’m also Venezuelan, so I know exactly what the problems in Little Venice are all about. Technically, though, I haven’t been able to ‘be’ Venezuelan in the last couple of years. My passport expired, and every time I call the consulate about it, they say ‘no hay material’.

    • Ricardo,

      Then you must understand why we Venezuelans see socialist Dilma with much different eyes than any Brazilian…. right? I am telling you I wish to have Dilma or Lula as president of Venezuela, wanna exchange your president for mine? ;)

  11. Lula’s social programs are highly touted, and they deserve to be. But the biggest factor in the reduction of poverty in Brazil is its outstanding rate of growth, prompted by the combination of market-friendly policies and common-sense fiscal situation left by FHC, with the extraordinary commodities boom Brazil has been profiting from.

    Which is another way of saying that good things happen when left-wing ideologues adopt policies typically associated with the right.

    • The point, as I think Francisco Rodríguez once put it, is about the Elasticity of poverty-reduction to economic growth – i.e., how much poverty reduction bang you get for your economic growth buck. Brazil has performed exceptionally well by this measure, and it ain’t just me sayin’ that…

    • EXACTLY…

      The appreciated currency might not sit well with Brazilian exporters of raw materials. But Brazilian citizens I know find it refreshing that their money is worth more than peanuts.

      The high interest rates will probably keep business conservative (meaning cautious) and producing things that are really, really wanted. Which is not such a bad thing when you consider that a worldwide, boom just busted two years ago. It was caused by artificially low interest rates which caused production and investment in things that were not really wanted. The rest is history.

      Also, savings will be actually growing with high interest rates and appreciating currency. Which means MORE people getting out of poverty because the money is worth saving and can be saved. MORE people becoming investors, even if they not rich, and being able to manage their own future.

  12. Although Brazil may have a lot to travel when it comes to true development, it is most definitely miles ahead of the rest of Latin America. The schools may suck, the cities may be unsafe and Dilma may be a less-than-brilliant economist, but they have put down the foundations for a successful economy in the coming years and more importantly, they have a national plan for development. The economic and political goals don’t change with each gobierno de turno, which is a lot more than can be said for almost any other Latin American country. Brazil has a series of economic policies in place which build upon themselves and don’t scare off outside investors. In short Brazil is going places while the rest of Latin America, and Venezuela under Chavez appears to be leading the pack, is either staying stagnant or regressing monstrously.

    • Brazil IS a developing country. In truth. And you said it. Brazil is going towards development while Venezuela regresses towards a situation that is worse than the time when the “Benemerito” took power from his crony.

  13. “Low, steady inflation”: 2010 inflation was higher than the gov’t goal.

    Ricardo, the inflation target is 4.5 plus or minus 2 percentage points. They’ve hit it every year since 2003.

    • Hutton:

      Establishing a margin of error of 44% and claiming success when inflation ends up inside it is intellectually criminal. Twice.

    • Ricardo, I am not going to downplay the criminality factor of the Brazilian government, but I definitely do not want you to downplay the criminality factor of the Venezuelan one. :-)
      Oh, boy, if you saw the chart comparing inflation “predictions” by our comrades tira-piedras clownish boliburgueses who are finance ministers and what we actually got…just until recently (I stopped following it) there was a difference of 10%+. I mean: as we have an official inflation of 30% (we are only talking about the official one), the difference is, proportionately speaking, not thaaaaat bad…but then it is not 3.%, it is 30%!

      Chavismo also keeps repeating how now inflation is lower than in the Caldera times and several other periods. What they do not say is what inflation was at comparable times all throughout Latin America.

      All in perspective, boy, all in perspective.
      You have all the rights to nag and nag and nag about Brazil’s governments. I also nag about Europe’s governments. But when it comes to Venezuela, very sadly, even Scottish mad cows desplay a clarity of thought we would want for Venezuela’s government officials.

  14. I’ve never been to Brazil OR Venezuela, so I’m equally ignorant of the countries in the sense that I lack the on-the-ground knowledge and experience of either nation.

    Still, reading news articles and opinion pieces about the two countries, including this estimable blog, mas the links therein, it’s clear that Brazil feels much better about itself, its progress to date, and its future, all of its faults and shortcomings notwithstanding.

    Brazil and Venezuela actually confront similar challenges in poverty, corruption, education, infrastructure, interest rates and so on. The degree, or gravity, of the problems confronted (I’m talking quality here) don’t really differ that much, as far as I can tell, although the magnitude of Brazil’s issues is much larger.

    The big difference between Brazil and Venezuela appears to me to be the leadership/governance systems. Brazil under Lula seems to have operated in a reasonably responsible, open, inclusive, and collegial manner. As far as I am aware, Lula has not identified large portions of his society as “the enemy”. He has not sought to silence his critics or to imprison them. He has not taken people’s property away from them in the name of “the people”. Lula has not blamed his opponents, domestic or foreign, for any failures or shortcomings of his own administration, nor has he persecuted them.

    Instead, Lula has given his countrymen a sense of pride, accomplishment, and optimism in themselves and their country. Yes, we all know things aren’t all honky-dory down there, as witness what happened in Rio’s favelas last month. But for all those faults, Brazilians admired Lula and his leadership, and they didn’t fear him nor slavishly adulate him as a person, and they appreciated his work for the country.

    I am sure that there are still people in Venezuela who think Chavez has done a good job of, say, the Misiones, or encouraging participation in local community councils, and I think there actually have been accomplishments of this sort. The problem is that, as Quico says, there’s been a price to pay for any advances in the social areas (and I think they’ve been marginal, at best), and that’s the cost to basic democratic freedoms and indeed, the tranquility of the country. Chavez has used the classic “us” vs. “them” ploy to divide the country and engender anger, resentment, and fear throughout the country. Chavez is well on his way to creating a police state and he’s certainly created a state of mind in Venezuelans that more and more sees only two options open for the future : 1) submit to a Cuban style government and system of public and personal control wherein personal liberties (not to mention property) don’t count; or 2) leave the country.

    Opinion polls in both countries indicate that there’s a sense of pride in being Brazilian or Venezuelan, and that’s nice. Regarding the future, however, I’d venture that Brazilians have much, much more reason to be optimistic about where they’re going, and where their country will be in, say, 10 years. Absent any change in their country, though, I’d say Venezuelans have every reason to be pessimistic.

    Two different countries, two distinct forms of leadership and governance and two different futures, unfortunately….

    • Good comment, Tambopaxi. There is another part: although Brazil also profitted a lot from commodity prices, millions of people there do actually have to work to generate 91% of their exports and a lot of their food.
      In Venezuela, a tiny segment of the bloated 120000 PDVSA employees plus a series of tiny extra companies generate that wealth.

      In Venezuela – and this is something we need to understand – in spite our 40 years of dysfunctional democracy between 1958 and 1998 – people know little what real democracy is. More than probably any other country in South America – perhaps except Bolivia and Ecuador and a bit Paraguay (see the pattern?) – it has been ruled by military caudillos. Just in the XIX century we got 7 years of civil rule. In the XX, we got a couple of years in the forties and then the IV República.

  15. It’s been one day and you are all predicting how Dilma will fail already? tch tch tch.

    Guys,if you want to compare Venezuela with Brasil, STOP.As long as we have Chavez we will never be as good as Brazil.We have no competition in latinamerica.
    Maybe Dilma will be tougher because of her past.But we can’t be sure.
    Again,the whole foundations of a country that seeks growth,are democracy and a good leader with some area of expertise,to start with. We have neither.Lula already has us biting the dust here.And Dilma won’t be any different,she knows whats at stake.

    Depressing is what Francisco Toro said: putting 40 (friggin)million out of poverty in less than two decades.When here its been over one decade and we’re worse.It will take 15 years to get restore Venezuela and at least other 10 to make it grow substantially. That is,if the man leaves the building.

    I apologize for my previous post Francisco and Juan.Really.

  16. From reading this post one might get the impression that left wing governments bring prosperity, but this is only so when right wing techniques have been also been applied to the economy.Both in Chile and Brazil, they had previous right wing governments laying the basis of success and the left wing ones that followed reaped the benefits of these sound economic policies. By maintaining these policies and adding some to distribute the wealth more equitably, they got the best of both worlds.This can work as long as those sound policies are not abandoned and if they don’t go overboard with excessive spending and regulation.

  17. Kepler, I appreciate your comments & statistics, but when comparing “similar things” it is difficult for me to see how we can compare Brazil and Venezuela, whether the comparisson is based on the 2 countries’ characteristics (size, oil as main export, strategic value, US interest$$ & interventions), or on their history. The US and Brazil compare better: both hanged on to slavery for as long as they could; both are big at the expense of neighboring countries; both are nuclear powers; both are imperial in thrust; both experimented briefly in the 20th century with a State “socialism” (F.D. Roosevelt & Jango Goulart) but without consolidating the mixed system (as opposed to what the U.K., Germany, France did); both went back to a mostly capitalist mode of production where even if there is economic growth it only or mostly shows its rewards within the realms of the upper elite (within the under-10%); both are pragmatic countries, feel-good countries where the masses are manipulated by the media through sports & sex & cheap consumption; both are packed with dark skinned people, and topped with an elite that feels “Western White” and either has no contact with el pueblo, or the least contact possible.
    I know from my “white” friends in Venezuela, from the Academia Merici and the UCAB, how afraid they are, what a life of fear they live, the amiguitos only daring talk to each other. Let me tell you why you and I cannot see eye to eye. You are probably up to date, well informed. I am not. My own father was an antichavista and, before that, he was anti-CAP. He was a professor at the UCV & the Metropolitana —J.M. Vargas medal in Vzla, National Science award in Spain 195?— and a Rafael Caldera-copeyano like we all were, an honorable man, not a thief, a scientist. He thougt that a person like me had no place in Venezuela because after CAP the country was in decline, corrupted, full of drugs & violence, dangerous, run by homúnculos enriched overnight. He forbade me from coming back and prevented me from doing so, by all sorts of tactics (and since I was pennyless, ill-married & raising a daughter, my dad did not have a hard time preventing me to do so). Thus, 30 years later, although I feel happy living in L.A., and quite loved, I am sad and always will be until I go back.
    I am determined to go back now that my father is dead even if I have to live in a rancho full of negros in Naiguatá, I would be happy with them and learn from them and teach them and be useful. They are just like me, I am not their superior; they can survive by fishing and planting crops, something I know nothing about. I can teach them English. I love their culture; I do not consider them ignorants; my family never enslaved anybody, or exploited or robbed anybody, as far as many generations go. We are here to SERVE others with our talents and, of course, to make a good living . Chavez would do well to enable upper and middle class Venezuelans to come back, to join, instead of allowing some politicized parts of the Bravo P, to scare them. He should make sure they are restrained; but I can see how he had a hard time even with Lina Ron. The aborted coup got the Bravo on the streets, and they remember previous occasions when they were set loose: Bolivar’s guerra a muerte, Boves’s llaneros or Zamora’s. When el Bravo is set on the loose, it does not return until blood has been shed, as an offer to Canaima, to Mandinga, to I don’t know. Same everywhere.
    I want to work for my land in my land. I have never been after money or a rich husband (they are most boring men, and not very manly at all). My coming back will mean for me some cultural shock. I can tell from the few chavistas I know in Los Angeles, that, were I to come back to Venezuela, I would be treated with a veiled threat even if I said that I am chavista. I would seem suspicious to them. Their tone of voice is a hint, their remarks another hint, “mira Maríaaa, no Maríaaa”. One of the guests to a series of Venezuelan gatherings in L.A., asked ambassador Bernardo Alvarez if Venezuelans who go back encounter discrimination and intimidation, specially if they are white. Alvarez, who is white and a very amiable, intelligent, down to earth man in his demeanor, answered, of course, that no such thing is to be feared. I have my doubts, if only because of what my parents (now dead) and siblings tell me, and my Venezuelan relatives, and my banker uncle, and my ex class mate who is married to a good banker who has suffered a lot, an honorable man who went through hell in recent times. I have checked the crime index and I have seen the youtube videos of malandros. Still, I also remember the cocaine blizzard in the Caracas of Carlos Andres Perez, where crime was rampant —even before he had all those people killed in the caracazo—, and the handful of drug busts that took place got the drug tzar Thor Halvorseen arrested for not playing along (with, probably, Israel Weizman, head of the DISIP). My friends tell me “¿estás loca?” & not to come; they complain about crime, about the golden days being gone, and I do hear them all, not just the ones who lost one ranch out of three, but I also listen to the upper middle class hard working doctor whose apartment in Margarita Island might be expropiated, because she “already has another house in Caracas” where she lives with her husband and three children (it has not been expropiated, and she does not have to share it so far, but she apparently has reasons to be concerned). My own ex fiance, a very good man, a hard working engineer and vicepresident of a company, a socialist son of a millionaire, is no longer a socialist since Chavez got to power. I ponder all these.
    But my mother was a chavista, who migrated ideologically from the right to the left, and laughed at the thought that a ruler was disqualified from ruling just because he was a military man: “Bolivar, Franco, Medina Angarita, Perez Jimenez, Eisenhower, Chavez, they all did more for their native lands than any of the non military rulers, and faster”. Still, I watch videos/photos of white men surrounded by the dark and angry bravo pueblo, men as different ideologically & otherwise as Jon Goicoechea, Caramelito Branger, Thor Halvorssen, and I think that la tierra de gracia is indeed a wild place. I pause, I wonder, and feel that, despite it all, I still do want to go back, that the thieving banksters we have in the US are scarier and more pernicious than any malandro and as in cohoots with the narco.
    In vain I have tried to go back to Venezuela, even by contacting ambassadors Alfredo Toro Hardy, who answered me within minutes and was very cordial but could not help me, and Bernardo Alvarez (no response, but he did invited me to several events in L.A.) I know the mentality of the Venezuelan elites, I still hear those girls telling the teacher, a black nun from Guyana, “si uno de esos negros niches entra al rancho de mi papá a robarse una guayaba es que lo matamos a tiros” (los de su familia se decían alemanes y presumían mucho de apellido, me lo reservo por protegerla y porque éramos niñas; es hoy una buena mujer y una profesional). Como socialista quiero volver; creo que entiendo a la gente, a sus miedos; creo que puedo ayudar a que se entiendan mejor y se pierdan el miedo y colaboren por la gran Venezuela (ooops I sounded like CAP), with nothing to envy from Brazil.
    I am disgusted with you guys posting here. I am going to take my leave and let you keep on talking to each other without sobresalto. Thank anyway Kepler. I might read you guys but I won’t post. It is useless. Until I am back and know more of what is going on, I do not have the right to post here.

    • Mariaeu,

      You and I have some things in common from being somehow opposite.I am a gringa nationalized Venezuelan, who lived most of her life in Venezuela, only to return to the US a few years after Chavez came to power.However my Venezuelan family is lower class and half black, not white.My family was from AD, not Copeyana.I lived in barrios for years, learning a culture that while at first was quite alien to me, later became a big part of my heart.

      From reading your comment, I must admit I found it touching, but highly naive.I can understand your yearning, your desire to participate in the culture of your roots,but please listen:

      Do not be idealistic, be realistic.Plant your feet on the ground.Go to Venezuela if you wish but go in a safe way, because it is not the country of your dreams.It is the country of the worst types of criminals dominating the government, the streets and the nightmares of millions( at this time).

      You have nothing to teach.Neither do I.People have to learn wisdom only through experience.

      Those who blog about Venezuela who are honestly coming from experience( not your case), can contribute by informing others of what they know about Venezuela.But to think you can go back and teach people living in ranchos something, is highly doubtful, but the barrio will surely let you know a world that you will be not be able to handle.

    • Mariaeu,

      You can compare any country with any country, depende de para qué.
      We could go for ages looking for differences and similarities at every level. Venezuela abolished slavery just a few years earlier and basically for the same reason as in Brazil and the US: because it was not economically sensible for the slave owners (yeah, in spite of the Civil War in the US). Education in Brazil was at a similar level as Venezuela, whereas education for the expanding US empire in 1800 was much better: almost all white (90% of the population back then) could read and write, which was not the case for Venezuela’s population of any group (which was very mixed, even if less than now).

      The absolute vast majority of Brazilians are like Venezuelans of very mixed race. That was not the case in the US. The mixing was mostly between different whites, there was the one-drop rule, etc.

      You mention “socialism” in the US. Socialism? The closest they got it were a couple of mayors in some US cities. Sorry, from most people’s view outside the US – and this is not a criticism of the system “en sí” but a clarification- Roosevelt was definitely NOT a socialist, in spite of his social measures. There is and never was a pure “capitalist” form, anyway. Germany and the UK and France are not socialist countries and they never were, even if there were periods with more statism than others.

      The proportion of African Americans in the US is about 11%. The vast majority are “white” (or something like that, albeit that is changing). That is not the case in Venezuela or Brazil.

      “Let me tell you why you and I cannot see eye to eye. You are probably up to date, well informed. I am not. ”
      Is it because of that? I don’t follow up the rest of your story and I don’t know what it has to do with understanding Venezuela or not.

      My parents never belonged to a party even if they were well informed
      and always reading and discussing about Venezuelan and world politics.
      My dad was university professor, studied abroad thanks to a scholarship during Caldera’s term, but my parents were never adecos or copeyanos, just tried to vote for the one he thought would be “menos malo”. They definitely were very weary of believing too much in one person.
      My dad, before being a professor, was above all a farmer and he would say: nadie caga más arriba del culo. We should not look down or up towards people. We are all the same and we should be weary of believing too much in simplistic ideologies.
      My dad’s parents were landless farmers, illiterate. My mother’s mother was single parent. Both my parents had to work as children.
      I had friends in the posh areas of Valencia and Caracas and I had and have friends in the barrios and in several poor towns across Venezuela.
      I think lots of other Venezuelans had such experience, some do not. I cannot talk for these others.

      About crime: I keep the statistics, but I know they are more than numbers. Several of my relatives and friends are phycisians and they sometimes count the bullets they would pull out of Venezuelans’ bodies, not just the people they lose or can save. What they tell me corresponds with those “cold statistics”:
      The murder rate raised a lot in the late 90s. In 1998 the murder rate was 19 murders per 100 000. Still, it was stabilizing at 19 for a couple of years. Beginning in 1999, the murder rate started to climb like hell. Now it is over 65 murders per 100 000 (it is probably higher, but we do not have the numbers for some states). That’s twice Colombia’s (including falso positives) now.
      I have the numbers for each month for each municipio in my region and I have compared that data with data I got from physicians. It is not “Globo” stuff. And a lot of people who get murdered don’t ever go to the mortuaries.

      “if I have to live in a rancho full of negros in Naiguatá, I would be happy with them and learn from them and teach them and be useful.”
      Why do you tell me this?
      ” They are just like me, I am not their superior;”
      So? Is that something new to anyone?
      “they can survive by fishing and planting crops, something I know nothing about. I can teach them English. I love their culture; I do not consider them ignorants; my family never enslaved anybody, or exploited or robbed anybody, as far as many generations go. ”
      So? Why do you bring this here?
      Actually, I do consider a lot of people ignorant, starting from myself. But as that old Socrates said, we first need to know we are ignorant. It helps a bit.
      Venezuelans are not an atom less intelligent than anyone else, or more. But on average they are more ignorant of things. That is the reason why Venezuela is in a mess now. I mean education and I mean education in a general way.
      I don’t think saying that is an insult. It is a reality. As I said: my grandparents were illiterate. They wanted their children to study hard and -that was the key- not for the degree but to really learn. Yes, a lot of Venezuelans can grow bananas but you cannot feed everybody bananas now in urban conglomerates where there is not enough land (no, the “magic solution” of vertical agriculture is really not enough). Venezuelans are inevitably connected to the world, so we need to do more than just teach how to fish. We need to learn how to plan, we need to learn how to analyze documents, we need to learn how to solve equations and fix electric circuits and know well anatomy (which is not taught to nurses in Bolivarian “universities” now). Each one cannot do it all, obviously. But we need to be sincere. It is not an insult to admit: we have a big problem in education and we have huge gaps. Most of our population is indeed very ignorant in many fields that do count. I am not talking here about improvisation capabilities or about how to dance or to smile.
      I speak bluntly. When I say we are the bottom of the bottom in education I say it because I want that to change and try to do my best.

      “negros de Naiguatá”
      What’s the point? What’s the big deal?
      I have African ancestors. They did not arrive to Venezuela by plane. I also have Indian ancestors. And I have European ancestors. Actually, I am like virtually everybody in Venezuela, including most of those “negros de Naiguatá” and those sifrinas you mentioned.

      “Bolivar’s guerra a muerte, Boves’s llaneros or Zamora’s. ”

      This is crap and it is based on the bloody pseudo-history the bloody milicos had fed upon Venezuelans from the start. Bolivar was and always was an undemocratic conservative who was mad for power (history was rewritten starting by him) and who in spite of some writings was actually more racist than many know (I won’t go into that here, but I will put some references one day in my blog). Bolivar had very good things and also very very bad things.
      He was just a guy and one who knew how to do a lot of PR about himself.
      Boves was a red-haired psychopat and both he and Zamora were thugs who used race and the ignorance of Venezuelans for history and their identity (poor and rich, darker and lighter skinned) to try to get more power.

      “a rich husband (they are most boring men, and not very manly at all).”
      Hm…I don’t know, I am a man myself and Middle class. I am getting the impression, though, that this simplification is very typical pattern emerging from some middle-age ladies I have read about on Venezuelan blogs recently: going back to Venezuela to find the real macho in the “hombre de la calle” and a lot of references to how manly Chávez is supposed to be. I tell you that because a German woman who just retired came to my blog recently and started to insult me and mentioned in almost erotic ways how manly Chávez was. The same thing came from another middle-aged European some years ago, a woman longing to go back to South America. En fin…

      “Bolivar, Franco, Medina Angarita, Perez Jimenez, Eisenhower, Chavez, they all did more for their native lands than any of the non military rulers, and faster”.

      A very common statement from people longing for great “caudillos”, people who often do not see more than a couple of trees in the forest and ignore and do not want to learn about relationships and contexts, even if anyone can do…if he or she wants.

      Had Bolivar not been born, we would have got the independence about the same time, a bit later or a bit earlier, like everybody else in Latin America. It is all a guess, but my strong suspicion is that we would have got independence earlier, much earlier (because of a lot of big errors he did).
      Besides: had we not got the pathetic personality cult we have had and had we not got the pseudo-history books we got, not so many bloody milicos would have used the Bolivar cult to portray themselves as the new heroes.
      Had Bolivar not been so obsessed with being the first one to get to Bolivia, that region would had got the independence a few months later, but we would have saved a lot of lifes.

      As for Franco: he brought Spain back decades. As for Pérez Jiménez: that’s a myth. The amount of debts and other problems he left were considerable. Most people remember the buildings and the security, but there was no proper sustainable development.
      A lot can be done when the country has 6 million people and is not yet into drugs.

      “In vain I have tried to go back to Venezuela, even by contacting ambassadors Alfredo Toro Hardy, who answered me within minutes and was very cordial but could not help me”
      Do you need a passport or what? I suppose you can get one once you get back if you have a US passport and then can prove you are a Venezuelan.

      “I know the mentality of the Venezuelan elites, I still hear those girls telling the teacher, a black nun from Guyana, “si uno de esos negros niches entra al rancho de mi papá a robarse una guayaba es que lo matamos a tiros”
      I know them as well. I also know racism comes from every sector, which is particularly pathetic as they are all more mixed than they think.

      “Como socialista quiero volver;”
      Are you socialist? What flavour? I am pretty tired of the whole “socialist-capitalist” discussion I read in the Americas. Listen: I do not consider myself socialist, but I will probably be considered a Marxist by some people’s standards. Still, I have to say: Chavismo has nothing, NOTHING to do with socialism, but for the red berets and the red shirts and the red panties.

      Chavismo is about Chávez and the boliburgueses. It was first supported by people from the extreme left like Douglas Bravo who worked for decades to infiltrate the military. What they got was a bunch of military thugs to take power. Now some of those lefties are trying to play along because they know without the milicos they have no future and this is their last chance.

      In reality Venezuela goes on being what it was: a Medieval country where warlords try to reign, a land that still needs to learn what democracy is but is far from it. The only problem is that now there are many more weapons, population has increased enormously and the social tensions keep going up.
      To top it all, the milicos won’t want to give the power democratically.
      They have always hold Venezuela hostage, well before the independence and now they are fully prepared to do anything to keep themselves in power and not just as privileged caste as they were during the 58-98 period.

      Venezuelans still believe in El Dorado, as I wrote in my Spanish blog, and they all think Venezuela is rich, when it is definitely not. Venezuela will be rich when the average Venezuelan becomes productive and has an average education for global standards. Some work a lot, some work little, but those who work a lot are not very skilled – which is not out of lack of intelligence but because of the miserable education that the average Venezuelan – people like my grandparents – had.

      “creo que entiendo a la gente, a sus miedos; creo que puedo ayudar a que se entiendan mejor y se pierdan el miedo y colaboren por la gran Venezuela”
      Do you think it is so difficult for other people here to understand them? If so, perhaps you should actually wonder if you are not overestimating your understanding. You want to do something for Venezuela? Fine. So do many people, including people who are present in this discussion. And some are actually doing it already and not by blogging.

    • “I am disgusted with you guys posting here.”

      What’s so freaking disgusting about this convo between fellow Venezuelans, Mariaeu?

      I bet you have nice intentions as a Venezuelan but there is something in the tone of your long rant that doesn’t click to me. Perhaps very naive like Firepiggette mentioned.

      I would have like Mariaeu to say “As a Venezuelan I would like to go back”, not “As a socialist I like to go back” wtf.

      And like Kepler mentioned what’s up with the negros comments ma’am? We all know there is racism in Venezuela, but contrary to what Chavez and Danny Glover think of this topic, it’s NOT the biggest problem in Venezuela. Things have change too, I think people are much less racist now than before, am I wrong? Like how many people are truly racist in Venezuela? How many “blacks” doesn’t have job because of their skin tone? I don’t know. We all are mixed anyway. We never have dixiecrats nor jim crow laws, etc. The slave history in Venezuela is different than the one in the south of the USA, and the Indians were not put to kill but there were put in the hands of the catholic missions. The only thing I see is people measuring how white they are, etc, but that’s really culturally and anybody can clean their ass with the stupidity of it, you know?

      I see a lot of bad companies in LA Mariaeu, perhaps the LaRaza idiots, who love to contaminate every single discussion into a hatred – racist – socialist topic? A lot of those liberals here in the US seen what’s happening in Venezuela with rose colored glasses and try to understand south america with their gringo or mexican vision and not only that, they try to enforce that stupid view of south america to everybody like it’s the gospel.

      Americans need a lot to learn in my opinion, and you know guys I am a conservative, republican voter, there is so much about conservatives in this country that piss me off. They need a lot to learn. Not to mention liberals. Pff

      Like we Venezuelans do need a lot to learn as well.

      “Are you socialist, what flavor?” LOL that is funny Kepler. Reminds me when I write in Venezuelan blogs I am seen as very conservative, but when I write among Americans I am this liberal pinko moonbat… sigh… anyway I might reserve the true flavor of my socialism :P

      “Venezuelans are not an atom less intelligent than anyone else, or more. But on average they are more ignorant of things. That is the reason why Venezuela is in a mess now. I mean education and I mean education in a general way.”

      I beg to disagree, although like I said before a lot of Venezuelans like to eat shit I still don’t know why, you can pick any Venezuelan from any social class and have an interesting and smart conversation with them. Venezuelans are curious and open to listen much more than for example, some Americans. And they have a much rounded knowledge of things, people, countries. Even Chavistas from the base, they know what’s going on. They just have a different vision of what it needs to be done. That has been my experience anyway.

      Now with this indocrination from the book of el Ché in schools, I don’t know. Vamos pa’tras como el cangrejo.

  18. Firepigette, I must thank you for this and, although I still want to come back I do take what you say with utmost seriousness as I think you do not lie. And yes I’m naive. I cultivate it, as a matter of fact. At my own risk. And yes, I pay a price for it.

  19. Mariaeu,

    I just read your long…. I’m not sure what to call it, dream? hope? paean to what you think is Venezuela is or could be? It’s probably all of those things and more, and I can tell from the way you write that you’re sincere in your feelings and wishes for Venezuela and what your life might or could be like there.

    Still, I agree with firepigette in that I see your comments – and I mean this all courtesy and respect to you as a person – as being charming in their naivete. I say this not because of Chavez, or Venezuela, per se, nor how it measures up with Brazil or the States, but because of your reference to having lived in the U.S. for the last 30 years.

    An American author of the early 20th century, Thomas Wolfe wrote the short and meaningful line, “You can never go home again.”, and I mention that quote because it applies very much to people like you (and me, btw, but in reverse) who sometimes think of returning to a place where they haven’t lived for years.

    Assuming you’ve been gone from Venezuela for 30 years (and short visits don’t count), you should know that trying to return and make a go of it, of adapting, of coping, of dealing with those around you, whether you knew them from before or not, all of this, everything will be universes different from whatever it was or whatever you remember from 30 years ago. I don’t know how many Ecuadorians I’ve met here (i.e., Ecuador) who’ve returned from the U.S. with savings, thinking they can make a new and successful life here, only to find that they can’t (re)adjust to the local lifestyle with all of its imperfections (like, corruption, lack of punctuality, lack of respect for others, etc.).

    It’s culture shock in reverse, it’s real, and it’s not just a matter of national leaders (although Chavez sure hasn’t made things any easier); it’s a matter of a REALLY different set of cultural values, and I’m not talking about movies or Burger King, I’m talking about how people deal with each other, what they expect in terms of social behavior from each, and what they expect from their country and government.

    I’m stating the obvious here, but Venezuela is NOT SoCal, most definite, so please keep that in mind. I have no idea how well set up you are in terms of investing in Venezuela and/or bringing back your belongings and funds from the U.S to Venezuela, but before you make any/any of those moves, I would advise that you go down to Venezuela for a few weeks and really check the place out to see if you could fit in and make a go of it, as I say. Making a change of the sort you’re contemplating isn’t easy under any circumstances, and you really, really should investigate the place and look around before leaving LA. It’s not a Chavez thing (or a Bolivar thing, or whatever) it’s a lifestyle/cultural thing and you need to appreciate that (via that visit I suggest) before plunging in. Anyway, that’s my two cents, good luck and stay safe, Mariaeu…

  20. @Kepler: I think that I have to admit that the crime statistics in Venezuela, which have been horrible for quite a while tripled under the cocaine blizzard during CAP times, and created a malandro barrio culture that is quite tough to dismantle, and that tends to recycle crime in an exponential increase, and that despite the increased busting of drug transactions and narcotrafic the Colombian source remains pretty much unaffected. In Colombia narco production has not decreased, it has just changed routes (now operating through a Mexican cartel) and hands (now increasingly under the paramilitary), getting closer and closer to the US control of the narco production and routes of distribution, without hampering its access to the main consumers, the USers.
    As for Socialism, I must clarify this:
    1. In Germany, England, France, and other western European powers, the leading non-Socialist parties vying for power, implemented the main Socialist ideas in order to prevent the Socialist parties from accessing power by means of elections.
    a. In Germany, it was no Socialist but the Prussian aristocrat Von Bismark, el canciller de hierro, the mind behind the 1st Reich, who first offered workers’ compensation (188?), sickness insurance & unemployment insurance. After Germany was unified under Prussia, the political parties of the 1st half of the XXth century had to follow suit and compete in the field of ideas so as to offer the voters some social benefits, i.e. retirement age at 65 (I don’t remember if they also included laws against child labor, but anybody could google it). Thus in the Rhineland & Bavaria there emerged parties like the, if I can only remember its name (no, I can’t)… All I can remember is that in Bavaria there emerged a Catholic party which implemented some “socialist” ideas (not the original Socialist ideas, which were mainly anti-royalist in thrust, more political than economic in thrust), and later, as many non-Catholics joined, it became the Christian Democrat Party (CDU). Adenauer, as Catholic Rhinelander, was influenced by the Church social thought, which emerged as a response to Socialist thought, and incarnated in the encyclica Rerum Novarum (to renew the world). Remember: if they had not offered these “socialist” ideas, people would not have voted them into power.
    Adenauer, mayor of Cologne, brave opposer of the nazis, whose wife died imprissoned by the nazis, became after WWII chancellor of Germany. The Social Democrats were more to the left, of course, but neither party had to fight for the acceptance of ideas that long ago had been mainstream. Later on more progressive ideas would be implemented, such as the Treuehandt (I don’t know how to spell it), which assured that in each corporation decisions would be made by 3 groups —management, government and workers— through their representatives. Germany remained a country with a capitalist mode of production, able to dismantle some programs with a degree of flexibility as long as the workers were consulted and their wellbeing taken into account (no free market of slaves there). After the Reunification, regardless of how much the “free”marketeers tore their robes and decried “the morning after” etc, Germany remained united, strong, and with a mixed economy that includes the main socialist ideas, now considered moderate and center (darn it, I think the name of the Bavarian Catholic party was precisely the Party of the Center). Germany produces almost as much as China, but the difference is that the German worker makes some 3,000 euros/month instead of a 100. German economy is based on productivity and exports not on financial bubbles that benefit the financier merchants, privatize their gain, allows them not to pay taxes if they big & corporate enough, to count their losses as gains in Credit Default Swaps, and socialize their casino losses (socialism for billionaires, in short, which is what we have here in the US). Angela Merkel warned the EU against the banksters (the ones that Lehman Bros for example, translation Goldman Sachs/Rothschild), but could only avert the worst domestic effects; other countries like Iceland succumbed to the avaricious financiers’s advise and to their kabalistic finances; Greece and Spain are on their knees; and now, when it is a bit late, prime minister Zapatero recognizes that the Merkel he so much critisized was right in her views, and he concludes “we have to follow the German model”, but of course Zp.
    2. In England, while young Churchill was still open to progressive ideas, under David Lloyd George, his friend, helped him implement a Welfare State permeated with socialist ideas to protect the workers, including children, and later the veterans. When later on Churchill became a conservative he lost the election right after World War II, to his shock because he was the great fighter against the nazis. But the English electorate wanted social benefits. When later advised by young Tories like Lord Fraser of Kilm0rack, whom I met personally in Parliament, and bought me some chips and beer, which we consumed together by the Thames after he showed us the House.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-lord-fraser-of-kilmorack-1328496.html

    May I recommend the book “The Opposition Years: Winston S. Churchill and the Conservative Party, 1945-1951.”

    3. France, yawn, I am bored & tired, though I know the case of French socialism as my dad did post-doctoral research at L’Institut d’Optique, back in ca. 1968-70

    Long live Socialism! but may it live within a Christian framework or at least not interfere with freedom of religion, of any abrahamic religion first & foremost (I have Jewish relatives), and not interfere with freedom not to have a religion (as in separation of church and state, or as in atheists & agnostics, a great big chunk of my paternal family). I abhorr the persecution of any religion by communist (such as the Chinese PC agains the buddhist Falung Gong), by socialists, by fundamentalists etc.

    Lo siento por esta larga explicación, especialmente risible tras decir yo que no iba a postear, pero estoy un poco grandecita para que me den leccioncillas. Danke.

    • Mariaeu,
      I don’t know why you wrote all that, nothing of it is new to me.
      In a sentence: it is true socialist ideas promoted a lot of change specially in the XIX century in Germany and elsewhere and those ideas spilt into Catholic movements and so on, but those ideas do not make a govermnet, be it CDU or even SPD after WW2, a “socialist government”. Thanks God we have pluralism and most people are a little bit careful about believing in parties or ideologies as others believe in what some Christian or Muslim or Jewish fundamentalist tells them.

      “Long live Socialism! ”
      Well, you may be very “crecidita”, but that kind of stuff doesn’t show it, the same as “long live capitalism” or any other -ism. I think we are well over that kind of simplification. You are sticking more to what Kundera called imagologies.

      As for drugs: it is clear the government of Chávez has made things worse. Even if drug production is basically triggered by consumption and that consumption is mainly in the US and Europe, Venezuela is right now more than just “crime because of cocaine”. You really have no idea. But as you keep writing, I would advice you just to go right away to Venezuela and see for yourself. Ah, and try to make a living without becoming a propaganda worker for the government, because that is an easy job. There are less and less people who can write in a foreign language and are willing to support the Chavez regime.

      And I repeat: Chavismo is anything, absolutely anything but socialist. It is a milico regime, one for the Boliburgueses who, as usual, claim to be doing it all for the people. My foot, the state of Texas, with all its conservativism – a conservatism I dislike very much – is more socialist than the crap we have at home. But just judge by yourself. Have fun.

      Cheers

    • The reason I visit this blog and Miguel’s is chiefly for what I call political entertainment. For I can’t consider opinions without fact-checking, or apologias when errors are written, as very serious. In the amusement that follows, a grain of truth will occasionally emerge from all the ideas and opinions expressed by bloggers and commenters alike. Unfortunately, I don’t find much truthiness in mariaeu’s confessional ramblings. Like citizenfeathers, I’d have to ask mariaeu, what is your point? I’m lost. In the absence of a clearly expressed argument, I am left with the need to apply a label. As such, I award you, mariaeu, with that of grade A romantic.

      The romance of your confessionals further puzzles me, since on the one hand you admit to cultivating your naïveté (are you under 20?); on the other hand, you identify yourself as being “un poco grandecita” para que te den leccioncillas. One wonders then if your naïveté is a manipulation.

      I wonder if manipulation isn’t part of your embroidery. For I’m referring to this: “… the crime statistics in Venezuela, which have been horrible for quite a while tripled under the cocaine blizzard during CAP times …”

      You appear to downplay the crime statistics in Venezuela (“for quite a while”) by using vague measures, insofar as time frames and severity are concerned, while not having any difficulty pointing to a “tripling” of crimes under CAP times.

      I realize that academicians of romance languages live in an orbit that does not require attention to numerical realities. Just know that the lack of attention to backed-up figures, the inability or unwillingness to apply that information and balance to a discussion of A and B, gives way to doubts over intentions.

  21. “Lo siento por esta larga explicación, especialmente risible tras decir yo que no iba a postear, pero estoy un poco grandecita para que me den leccioncillas. Danke.”

    No deberias de tomar la discusion de esa manera, Mariaeu.

  22. ‘Toy perdida otra vez Maria. What’s the point you r trying to make?

    I still don’t get why you r disgusted @ this conversation and/or the people talking in here.

  23. Social programs that work are for sure great and very important. And here Brazil may have something to offer for others to copy.
    Of course the same might be true for chilean public asistence for housing and chilean catch up process in PISA.

    At the same time I guess that Brazil is somewhat overhyped these days. And this could haunt the current Government in the future.

    Here are longer term BIP growth rates of South American countries. Even if brazilian growth rates were very high in the last 2 or 3 years, over the time 1998-2010 it hasn’t been THAT impressive and in the 1990-98 time period under average.

    (took the data from Cepalstats.
    Constant prices -> Does take into account inflation
    Does not take into account population growth.
    )

    Argentina
    1990-1998: 56%
    1998-2010: 46%

    Brazil:
    1990-1998: 23%
    1998-2010: 49%

    Chile
    1990-1998: 79%
    1998-2010: 50%

    Colombia
    1990-1998: 25%
    1998-2010: 45%

    Mexico:
    1990-1998: 27%
    1998-2010: 33%

    Paraguay
    1990-1998: 25%
    1998-2010: 33%

    Venezuela
    1990-1998: 26%
    1998-2010: 31%

    All Latin America
    1990-1998: 31%
    1998-2010: 44%

    • fantastic. thank you, Lem. To simplify, you could say that the change in the rate of growth, from 1990-98 (8 years) to 1998-2010 (12 years), is as follows:

      Argentina
      -10%

      Brazil:
      26%

      Chile
      -71%

      Colombia
      20%

      Mexico:
      6%

      Paraguay
      8%

      Venezuela
      5%

      All Latin America
      13%

      It’s unfortunate that the comparison in time frames were not more equal, i.e., 1998 – 2006.

    • And of course: population growth is definitely a very important factor.
      I don’t know about total demographic growth with all the exiled Venezuelans, but I suspect it is high. Venezuela has one of the highest birth rates in South America, after Bolivia and Paraguay.

    • Syd,

      my idea was more like to compare growth rates of the astoundingly long time period of Chávez being president of Venezuela. Then I aded the 8 years before (those statistics start in 1990). If a country does comparatively very well for a certain period, its often due to a catch up process, because it grew very little in the period before. Or vice versa.
      Venezuela was among the least growing countries between 1990 – 1998. And the least growing country in the 1998 – 2010 period.
      A dire picture.

    • Both periods were different in the terms of trade conditions. 1990-8 was a time of low copper, gold, oil, soja and what-not commodity prices. 1998-2010 was a time of high commodity prices. Under both scenarios Venezuela did do comparatively worse than nearly all folks in the neighbourhood. .

  24. Lemmy, that’s neat. I’m lazy, so: Do you have the very link for that doc of Cepalstat? Or it is all spread around the site?
    Danke.

  25. Hm. BIP is GDP in german.

    Kepler, you need to to a bit of handwork.
    Its this link:

    http://websie.eclac.cl/sisgen/ConsultaIntegrada.asp?idAplicacion=6&idTema=131&idioma=i

    a) Highlight national income
    b) Select Countries in “Countries and Regions”
    c) Select “Constant Prices” under “Prices”
    c) Choose “Gross Domestic Product” unter “Item”
    d) Choose Years you are interested in unter “Year”

    Click html or excel button. I calculated the growth rate of 1990-1998 like
    ((GDP_1998 – GDP_1990) / GDP_1990) * 100

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