All Your Parties Are Belong to Us!


Ismael García as Caption Contest Bait

PODEMOS has just denounced the TSJ’s reported plan to decree a judicial takeover of the party to hand its control to Didalco Bolívar, the former Governor of Aragua who recently recanted repentant his split with Chavismo.

For 6-degrees-of-Gustavo-Machado fans, let’s recall that PODEMOS got its start as a pro-Chávez splinter group from MAS back when MAS turned against the Polo Patriótico all the way back in 2002. They might as well have spared themselves the trouble, since they themselves split with the government in 2007 and now their caudillistic leader, Ismael García, has a prominent role inside the opposition as unity candidate for Mayor of Central Caracas.

After two years of exile in Perú, Bolívar apparently ran out of money and turned himself over to the Bolivarian authorities. Now, while facing corruption charges, he has attacked the opposition and especially his former partner Ismael García.

Now, let’s get real, Ismael García is no saint – this is a guy  who got caught red-handed asking for a foreign power to bankroll his political party, so the ick factor is definitely there. Still Didalco is a piece of work: his story is really not too different than the one of Francisco Arias Cárdenas: first a close ally of Hugo Chavez, then outspoken critic and now de facto leader of Chavismo in Zulia.

The TSJ-led party-takeover scenario PODEMOS faces is already well underway in another party with former ties to Chavismo, PPT (Fatherland for All). Following the defection of Henri Falcón to the anti-Chávez camp, a pro-Chávez splinter group known as “PPT-Maneiro” (named after late guerrilla fighter and political activist Alfredo Maneiro) has used judicial measures to take control of the party. PPT is itself a split of Causa R in 1998, a party founded by Maneiro. (Of course, both PPT and MAS were products of the 1971 split in the Communist Party.)

Meanwhile, the old Christian Democrat party, COPEI, is entering the second year of its seemingly neverending struggle for control of the party, following the suspension of their 2010 internal elections. Even if there’s no hidden government agenda (that we know of) in this case, the TSJ’s Electoral Hall has been key in keeping the conflict alive.

The old saying goes “If you can’t beat them, join them”. When dealing with former allies turned rivals, Chavismo prefers to use a Latin phrase: “divide et impera.

87 thoughts on “All Your Parties Are Belong to Us!

  1. Funny how PPT reads so different in English! Patria doesn’t have the same ring as fatherland does…

    • I still remember trying to explain ProPatria to my gringa friend…”so, that’s where the nazis live, right?” :)

      • Although historical data is sketchy, it seems the name of the development comes from that of a “ProPatria General Worker’s Association”. The López Contreras government, probably aspiring to some legitimacy among workers and unions, constructed the apartment blocks around 1940, and even included a “Worker’s House”, which still stands.

      • Shouldn’t be “Fatherland for Everyone”? I know “Fatherland for All” is the Wikipedia Standard Translation but the party’s name is Patria para Todos, not Patria para Todo.

        • Translation doesn’t work that way. You can’t translate word for word. The meanings of words are are not exactly the same and the grammar dictates that the words be used differently.

  2. Francisco,

    I’m a producer with CTV News Channel in Toronto, Canada. I read your NYT article on “robo calls” and was wondering if you would do a live tv interview today on the subject from an outsider’s perpective. Can you please contact us at or call us at 416 384 7400 and ask for Express.
    ps this is not a robo-email!


  3. Nothing beats “Vaterland”, like in
    “Sozialismus, Vaterland oder Tod” .

    On COPEI: I really don’t understand how those guys are doing that to themselves. What are they fighting for? The desk? The bookcase? The old type writer?
    As for Podemos: perhaps they did have a little house or so in Aragua. Otherwise: it’s also wasted time.

  4. This is where I’m going to loose and infuriate many Latino brothers, but it is the hard truth and needs to be said. When we talk about the opposition approaching “Chavistas in disgrace” (latest case with José Gregorio “El Gato” Briceño) and we promote the opposition to work “arrangements”, we’re not thinking of the future. We’re trading principle for convenience. We’re filling opposition ranks with “rats”. These people change alliances with the every change of winds.

    You mention a few cases in the post. Where were Raul Isaias Baduel’s principles when he helped restore Chavez in the Coup of 2002? The constitution was already compromised, PDVSA was in turmoil and Chavez had shown his the true colors. What trinkets did he receive for his alliances? Where were Henry Falcon’s principles during the first 10 years of Chavez ruling? Where were Ismael Garcia’s principles before the 2007 constitutional changes? Where were Wilmer Azuaje’s principles before he joined the ranks of “Chavistas”? It wasn’t until he was challenged for the Barinas governorship by the Chavezes that he became a whistle blower.

    Roll time back to 1826, during “La Cosiata”, and see how power struggles and principles eroded. Even Páez struggled between his alliances with Bolivar and the local interests. Bolivar’s principles changed after “la independencia”.

    In this (and all previous) election years no day goes by without news on “viviendas para el pueblo”. Chavez knows that this buys votes, and people know that it is the only time to get something out of the government – perfect symbiosis right?

    And then we have the Comandante himself, who pretends to stand by principle against the “evil empire” to then sell oil “por conveniencia y plata” to build his rat brothel.

    Nothing happens in our pueblos without buttering someone’s hands. I will never forget the number of “regalitos” that my Dad had to give to CANTV employees to install a phone in our home (it took 2 years).

    My brother had a friend that would join the famous “caminatas Chavistas” because he would get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and ….. a shirt. One day he came back early from one such caminata and everyone wondered why: “Coño noj tuvieron paraoj sin empanadas hasta el meio dia. El hambre noj jodio y nos fuimoj!”.

    I’m not saying this doesn’t happen in other cultures and parts of the world, but for us Latinos this runs on every breath of our lives. It engulfs us in an inescapable cesspool cycle. How do you advance a country like this?

    • So there, you’ve said it. Feel better? Now, what about talking about what we should do for advancing our country?

      And to be fair, Geha was not encouraging the opposition to make arrangements with Talanquera-jumpers. Quico and JC have argued in favor of lowering the cost for them to jump, which is not the same at all. We keep our principles, they can keep their pride (if it’s not illegal).

      • For the record, I’m not encouraging anyone to do anything. If the opposition, who’s now engaged to national reconciliation (which I agree with), wants to include disillusioned Chavistas, it’s their choice. If they talk the talk, they must walk the walk to prove it.

      • How can you lower the cost for them to jump without compromising something? How about not bringing these people in the governing circle at all. If the opposition does, we will be having this same discussion 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now.
        If the opposition looses the elections, are you saying they should lower their cost too and jump the Chavista train in the hopes to change it from within? Do you think Chavistas would allow them to keep their pride? Don’t think so!

    • Oh spare me the self-loathing autoracism, por dios. If you don’t think people who disagree with you politically can do so honorably and on the basis principles there’s a name for your ideology, (hint: it rhymes with sascism…)

      • Anyone can disagree with anyone’s view and it should be tolerated in any civil society (unlike Chavismo does currently). Inclusion of Talanquera-jumper into the opposition ranks is a mistake – no matter how we want to label it.

    • polifemo,

      There are many good “chavistas” in the PSUV ranks. When I say good I mean people with principles and the ability to make Venezuela a better place. Sadly, it is not their majority. Also there is people that was or is still fooled by some idea of achieving a more just society. To me they are fools and some of them were fools and are no longer. They just didn’t realize what chavismo was really about until after the fact. You will argue but how can you support a golpista, and I agree with you, to me that’s very hard to understand too. But Chavez started with a Constituyente, something a sizable amount of our country demanded (included guys like Maza Zabala and Uslar and many other respected individuals) and hopes were high then.

      Now, you can see our society as a “good vs evil” type of struggle, where everything has intentions. Or perhaps be more practical (or british) and see it as “there are problem that need solutions” type of struggle. I agree that El Gato has a closet full of skeletons, and I see very little value on having him be in our ranks, but I think there is room for dialogue.

      Your position on that all chavistas are “rats” and they should alienated is radical and won’t allow us to move forward after all this is over.

      • I agree. And to be honest we have to lower the triumphalism. Chávez is still a popular figure with lots of cash and means to but conscience besides his popularity if he somehow recovers before October. So, any sort of alliance with regional former Chavistas that can actually get us some more votes would constitute a pretty rational, logic and justified compromise.

      • Rodrigo,
        I certainly agree with your point and yes there are reasonable people everywhere (I actually know some). My pickle is with the obvious high profile individuals who change alliances like leaves in the wind. Julius Ceasar paid dearly for allowing Brutus in his inner circle. Octavian-Augustus did not make this same mistake. Not that I agree with the end result, but there is a strategic lesson to be learned there.

        • Justice or reconciliation. Rodrigo and polifemo are both right. It is natural to want justice and to demand a standard of conduct from political leaders, and it is important that politicians show pragmatism and flexibility. You look at Spain, Argentina, Guatemala… there’s a line somewhere to be drawn and sometimes expediency is a pact with the devil. Venezuela thankfully is not in that category of dilemma.

      • I agree entirely with Rodrigo Linares. It is the nature of totalitarian movements to extract concessions from every citizen; after fifty years of communism, everyone has done something they wish they hadn’t. The same was true after Franco and Salazar. Almost every post-totalitarian society has committed itself to social reconciliation, not retroactive blaming. Capriles’ model should be Mandela.

        • You don’t have to go to far away to find examples of that, using CADIVI to study overseas. (which many of us have used)

    • How do you advance a country like this? It is impossible.

      More than a quarter century ago when I was a young student in a foreign college, my best friend and I had to suffer the innumerable problems caused by the newly imposed currency exchange. Even though the country had a healthy income from oil exports, the currency had to be devalued 100%, basically due to government overspending and mismanagement.

      One night, we were both talking about the problems of Venezuela and my friend told me that the only way to solve our problems and to kill everyone over the age of 2. Those below that age would be first be sent half to Germany and the other half to Japan to be educated with the best principles and values, and then when they reached adulthood they would be returned to Venezuela. He thought that was the only way to have a better and viable country. Of course, he told me this jokingly, but with a touch of despair and resignation, because we seem as a society utterly unable to solve any problem but to create them and make them worse.

      What was remarked as a sad joke many years ago seems to have grown into a truism. Venezuela is a failed society and sooner or later will be a non-viable country.

      Don Gustavo Coronel’s blog has an eye-popping incredible account of a town called Bobare in Lara state. Read it and you will probably agree with my friend’s “joke.”

      • What I find remarkable is that people who write this kind of screed, brimming with contempt for the people of the country they claim to love, then have the balls to turn around and slam chavistas for engaging in the politics of “resentimiento social.”

        This really ought to be a matter between yourself and your psychiatrist/probation officer, but you’ve chosen to make it public: You fantasize about perpetrating genocide. To me, the depth of resentment that betrays is a much bigger problem for Venezuela’s future than anything discussed in the post itself.

        • You really need a psychiatrist if you think my post is about genocide. FYI it is about a failed culture. What my friend was trying to say is that the “Venezuelan Way” was at the time – and I say it is “right now” – totally bankrupt and very much likely to lead the country nowhere. Fantasizing in Canada about what other people think is very brave of you. Go and live in Venezuela, together with your wife an kid, and then tell us about the “bright future” that awaits our country. I am not the problem. Even if I wanted people dead, that would not make it happen. Of course, I don’t want anyone dead. What I want buried forever is the way of thinking of half of the voting population that will surely support the “comandante in the coming election.” And, I don’t care about what Chavistas of any kind would think. For 14 years, they have – without any principles or values – supported a criminal who has utterly destroyed every institution in the country, and when it suited them, they just “brincan la talanquera.” Please. Do you think your candidate stands a chance to win the elections? Grow up, boy. And, that includes, do not censor my comment, Ok?

          • One thing I do know: Venezuelans will not vote for people who treat them, their culture, their identity, with contempt. El resentimiento goes both ways.

            Thankfully, hay un camino.

            • Quico, are your ‘juanetes’ sore?

              Those who dare to express, with honesty, their views on certain societal imbalances in Venezuela, should not cause you to zestfully stand in judgement, from Montreal, on tne need for their psychiatric assessment. Unless, of course, WLCI’s view comes close to reality, and you’re trying to avoid it, in order to promote a romanticized vision of the future.

            • Racism, Quico? Rascim???

              Two friends get together and wonder aloud, between themselves, on how to improve the centuries-old disaster that is Venezuela. They cobble a sci-fi and apocalyptic proposal, for which you’d have to be imbalanced to seriously consider, or psychotic to roll-out. Their idea is to send one group of toddlers to Japan — no, wait, that’s racist! — another to Germany, presumably because these societies, in spite of vast damages to their social and geographic landscapes, have managed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and rise again. And not only rise, but rise high in economic world indices. How does one explain it, if not by the makeup of each of these societies?

              I’m not in favour of fantasies over killing people. Nor should one take literally the suggestion of educating one society, from an early age, using two proven models of certain excellence. However, the suggestion should spawn a consideration that there are societies out there that have applied resolve and have overcome very serious challenges. That consideration is worth a thought, rather than a dismissal, particulary from one who has made a conscious decision to live and to raise his family, in a society, that offers more even economic opportunities than that society about which he writes, from afar.

              I do hope for ‘un camino’. Nothing would lift my spirits more than that. Particularly after my last visit to family and friends in Caracas, now a decade ago. My God, the polarization among different socio-economic groups was so palpable. But more than that, the chaos had become so permanent-looking. And the filth! Worse than ever before. So, chaos, polarization, and filth. Can Wonderman really improve all three, in three years? Yes, if you’re toking up, or dreaming in technicolor, or creating a journalistic agenda.

              And here’s a slightly related vignette. Back in 2000, I travelled to just a few locations in Germany and Spain. It was my first visit to Europe as an adult. Since I mostly stayed with friends, I had the opportunity to see much more than had I been a tourist. In southwestern Galicia, I walked about the hills, the topography reminding me of southern Caracas of old, prior to much of its development in the early 1960s. When I saw papelitos, here and there, I smiled and felt at home, though I’d never been to Spain before. But I was also sad. For I kept wondering why two countries with a shared language and with many shared customs were so vastly apart on the organizational scale. And it’s not like Spain has always had a strong economic engine. It was for a very long time, abysmally poor.

              Just some things to think about …

            • I don’t think that this type of view is more realist or honest, nor I think is Racist. But is obvious that when he speaks about all Venezuelans under the age of two should be killed he doesn’t mean all Venezuelans, but the majority who are not as enlighten as he is is , and probably he refers to people living in Bobarte and Barrios. In the Proyecto Pobreza of UCAB they proved that the type of mentality related to a short sighted vision of a country is not divided by class lines, so this type or arguments apart from offensive are bulls**t.

            • I don’t know if this cobble is racist or sci-fi. But it is definitely useless. I find it amazing that those that seemed to have dropped the towel on Venezuela, still bother to make those comments encouraging others to drop the towel too. I really don’t get it. It could be that they feel guilty about it and they get comfort in others doing the same? Beats me. It is just annoying to hear people give away hopelessness.

          • WLCI,

            You have an overly pessimistic and cynical view of Venezuela. Which is not to say that I am an optimist. I am not. But you can go wrong with either of the extremes.

            In the case of the Venezuelan society, the average Venezuelan is simply playing by the rules of the game. They didn’t invent the rules. The rules, as they currently stand, reward what we consider negative behavior… cheating, stealing, etc. Change the rules, and people will change their behavior.

        • WLCI,

          May I know how your father managed to send you to the US to study school? Would he had been able to do the same thing had he tried to do the same business here in Northern-Central Europe? (I am not talking about the fact he would not have seen the need to do so, just whether he could have been able to afford it doing the same kind of efforts and same “skills” – or skills-)

          You are part of the problem because you are part of those Venezuelans who keep talking or implicitly referring to others as culturally inferior and think you yourself are somehow more enlightened due to some higher values intrinsic to/earn by you.

      • And in your “joke”, they would not kill you, right? Because you are actually Japanese-German material? In reality you are one of the biggest part of the problem: those with the feudal mentality who think it is only the others who are culprits and don’t see most of them mostly prospered in Venezuela because their parents were the one-eyed in the land of the blind, or not even that…because their parents happened to be closer to the petrostate’s udder.
        A devaluation, unlike what most Venezuelans think, is nothing but an adjustment. The governmentS definitely mismanaged the economy, but they did that for decades on end. Venezuela should have had some kind of really free currency.
        In a Venezuela where people didn’t have a clientelist-feudal mentality the government would not have favoured importers (most of whom comprise one way or the other the rich in Venezuela) or terratenientes, but provided for really good education for the AVERAGE Venezuelan in Calabozo, El Tigre, Los Guayos, Punto Fijo, Cabudare, Maturín, El Ejido, San Felipe, Acarigua and yeah, Caracas. For the vast majority of Germans in the eighties or nineties sending their child to study abroad on a permanent basis – not an exchange – would have been too expensive and also pointless (not an exchange, which they often do). The moment you start thinking about the education of the average Venezuelan and the moment you start to wonder if you are really that productive and if your family would have really prospered in Germany or Japan with your attitude, you make start making some progress. Meanwhile, people like you are as much a part of the problem as Chávez

      • I read Coronel’s article and is a vapid and offensive piece. He mocks the people of the town because they don’t know how to pronounce Shell. And then he is outrage because there is no running water 55 years after the first time he went there and that’s the eye-popping evidence that we are always going to be the same because it shows the mediocrity and hopelessness of the town and the Venezuelan people.

        • I went looking for this article, CACR, not because I value Coronel’s writing, but because I couldn’t believe that he was making fun of people for pronouncing Shell as likely ‘chell’, and how that was such an important marker in the socio-economic development scale of a place.

          I couldn’t find the article. Would you be good enough to post the link?

          • Here is the link.
            The other thing that I really found offensive and baffling about the article is how flaunts how better educated he is than the people in the town. Considering that he probably learn how to pronounce Shell and not Chell in the US with an education paid by the government and this people can’t even get running water paid by the State is the evidence of someone who is too entitled to realize the privileges and advantages that they have.

            • Thank you, CACR. Unlike you (and perhaps it’s an ageist thing), I found Coronel’s opinion to be valid. After taking the trouble to go out on a limb from his work for la Chell (and Coronel was merely describing the long-standing pronunciation of the word, in Venezuela) he manages to have implemented (presumably by what was then known as INOS), in Bobare, cisterns to collect rainwater, and to at last provide the town with what they demanded: fresh water and the opportunity to live a life without the laxative effects of less than potable water. How hard can it be for a town to manage the cisterns, and thereby ensure the benefits of fresh water, for years to come? Evidently, very.

              Coronel concludes that there exists in Venezuela … “una constante que mantiene a grandes segmentos de la población en un atraso compuesto por la apatía ciudadana, la ignorancia, la resignación, la comodidad y la espera del milagro.”

              News flash. I agree.

              Coronel then mentions his comipassion but admits to feeling culpability, as well as disdain. (“Les tengo compasión pero me siento culpable de mezclarla con desdén.”)

              I think it’s an agest difference in view points, CACR. Yours are youthful; Coronel’s are experienced. I understand Coronel;s poiint of view. What he writes, from experience, is unwelcome but has to be heard. When solving deep socio-economic problems, it is best to do so with a cold eye, not coloured by fantasy.

            • Coronel then mentions his comipassion but admits to feeling culpability, as well as disdain. Coronel then mentions his compassion for the town, but admits to mixing that compassion with disdain.

            • Syd,
              Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve found that is more rich when the discussion in centered on the actual arguments and not the age of the people making them. Coronel’s position about that the Venezuelan problem is caused by the termermundista mentality of poor people is shared by people of all ages. In Coronel’s article he just said that he read that people were protesting about water and you and he assumed that the people were in the same situation as50 years ago getting water from trucks. Actually the town of Bovare does have running water now, the protest was over the shortages So maybe it would be better that, before writing this type of apocalyptic nonsense he would actually be sure about the hopelesness and stupidity of the persons he’s talking about.

            • It is true. I took Coronel’s viewpoint and the conclusion to relate to a problem that had not changed in 50 years, when it had. Evidently, Coronel was bypassing the facts to weave a story. And I was fooled into thinking that he had better quality information, upon which to relate his account.
              By the same token, much of what Coronel was sayin — in a general sense — was not really off the mark. Or so I think. And like I suggested before, this could be an ageist thing.
              Thank you for your mild reprimand. But do consider that your earlier comment on Coronel’s story also was not based on the facts of the story, but rather, on the presumptions that Coronel was making fun of La Chell (which is how I always referred to it, in spite of using both languages at an early age, in Caracas). After all, the the ‘sh’ is not a commonly heard sound in Spanish. Not that that means anything to either Coronel’s story, or the opinions on it.

            • He was not describing the pronunciation, he begins the article by saying he worked in SHELL. Then how people believed of the town believed that la CHELL was going to solve their problem, I interpret that as he mocking the fact that they didn’t know how to pronounce or probable what it actually was.
              He feels compassion for those people but mixed with disdain. We hear stuff like this and then people wonders why we have chavistas

          • Syd,
            You know how the average German would pronounce North Carolina, the average Spaniard Washington and the average French Hollywood. There are certainly nationals of those countries who have a flawless English and would make comments on how others say those words. And you know what most people, even many others with a high level of English, would say about those enlightened ones?

            How come our better-educated need to make those comments about the people and we should see things as “not so bad”?

      • The reference to eugenics and those particular countries is, I’ve got to agree with Francisco, a problem. I don’t know whether it was indicative of some strange racial beliefs or just smoking too much pot and thinking he was smart.

        Its not the people. According to some, its the oil. This is a thought provoking opinion from Thomas Friedman:

        • But it IS the people. Or rather, the leaders in government that INVEST, consistently for the long term, in the societal infrastructure of the people. Meaning, the leaders invest in the quality of education — across the board — with support from the communities and the families, so that the youth, who display the results of those investments, are competitive with any country in the world.

          It’s time for the romantics to lift their veils.

          • Syd,
            One of the things that stroke me the most was the reference to the dollars.
            This guy was sent to the US for school. Now: he was all mad because of the dollars his family couldn’t get. It seems as if most of the upper-middle class concern is about that.
            “Con mis dólares no te metas” as well as “con mi universidad (para mí o mis hijos)
            no te metas”.

            In reality Venezuela has been a state-does-everything nation since always…state-does-everything for its clients, not for the average population. When I start analysing the background of most people from the upper-middle class who managed to send their children abroad for studies I see a lot of them didn’t do it because they were working much harder than anywhere or they were geniuses but because for one reason or the other they were closer to the state’s petro-udder. Their parents had importing houses or a monopoly on something.

            Lack of concern about progress is one thing that has been present in Venezuela since time immemorial. But if one knows a little bit about history, a little bit more than what one gets to know at high school, one realises that that is not just present in Venezuelans.

            Francisco de Miranda was puzzled at the desdain and backwardness of complete regions in Europe…even in blue-eyed-populated Germany…it was funny how he commented on the difference between Catholic and Protestant regions in Southern Germany and Switzerland, for instance. Go around Bavaria now and think about it.

            If an upper part of Venezuelans think the land property problem for the majority should not be solved, if they don’t see it’s in their own interest to promote top basic education for the average Venezuelan, we are in trouble.

    • “Listen, proclaimin’ continuation from century-old dead strange army leaders is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical historical ceremony.” Paraphrasing Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

  5. Poor sods; down to the last empanada; kon ambre key hodey and probably un sol abrasador into the bargain. Who’d begrudge anyone a dodgy political party or two to a regime down on its luck?

    In another order of ideas, the complaint i values that prevail in practise can, I think, be trace directly to an advancing, nay galloping, breakdown of family cohesion, helped along now by extra payments to teens giving birth. Maybe it is as well that it’s Friday today…

  6. Just who are these people in the AN who vote for things like
    supporting Syria, or previously Libya? Who are these people
    who are nuts about Iran? Who among the chavistas really
    believe in ALBA-does Cabello?

  7. Lots of rumours flying around this afternoon.

    May be an interesting weekend.
    He’s supposed to be returning on Sunday, and may well do, however there are reports that the tumor was not removed & is growing at an alarming rate in his colon and is affecting other important organs. There are reports of high officials removing their families from the country.

    It could all be paja but then again who knows. Certainly not from official sources.

    • I was driving last night and caught the cadena on the radio. He spoke extemporaneously, not from a prepared text. His voice sounded strong, but the speech was brief. He must have used the world “discipline” at least ten times. I will leave it to others to read the tea leaves.

      In a news article, Roger Noriega claims (via reliable sources) that he decided to not have the new tumor removed because that would have left him out of action for too long. Instead he has accepted his fate and will work on the succession issue with the last of his strength.

      What do I think? No tengo ni puta idea…

      • He came back to put order inside his ranks and set off the campaign.
        About his health, I dunno. I trust no one. Of course, he won’t govern whatsoever.
        “The water is super clean… Bring me the head of Salas Feo.”
        He will speak again today at noon, from the Balcon del Pueblo.
        To be honest: Discipline is not Hugo Chavez’s strong suit.

        • To be honest: Discipline is not Hugo Chavez’s strong suit.

          Now there is an understatement. Though he does have the discipline to speak for hours on end- or does that reflect a lack of discipline? :)

          • He can talk for hours, but he has no message discipline. One minute is telling a childhood story, then attacks the opposition and then creates another mission.

            He talks and talks, but he never settles about what he wants to talk about.

            • If they are, they have done a horrible job, because he changes the script constantly.

            • Not scripted, that’s why you don’t notice it. But Chavez’ speeches are masterworks of rhetoric and communication. You think he’s a raving lunatic? That’s one objective met.

            • I admit that Chavez has great communication skills and a good sense of empathy with the average Venezuelan. However, his best years are way behind him. Like what happens with professional athletes, his performance diminishes with the passing of time.

            • Gustavo,

              Hugo has indeed outstanding communication skills for the masses. He has a good memory. The fact he can embed story upon story and then rewind, backtrack, without losing the order, is remarkable. He knows how to manipulate people. But I wouldn’t call that empathy. It looks like empathy for many but it is not, I think. He is a psychopath. He cares only for himself.
              He was lower middle class in the Llanos, not poor, but he spent a lot of time with the poor during his military time, much more than most politicians. Capriles has spent a lot of time in the last few years but only in Miranda and doesn’t know and wouldn’t sound natural if he were to try to talk local issues of other regions…at least for now.
              Chávez? He has spent a lot of time in the interior, years. Caraquenos and Maracuchos and Valencianos know very little of the rest of Venezuela, specially about the small cities and rural areas.
              Chávez has read a lot for Venezuelan standards. He has read without any system, but he has read some stuff that helps in the political discourse, even if almost all of what he says makes no sense. The others, even with a university degree, haven’t done that

              If Chávez were empathic, he wouldn’t have done what he has done to Venezuela. Last year over 10000 people were murdered who wouldn’t have been murdered had we still the murder rate of 1998.

          • The manic half of Chavez is what propels him to talk and talk and talk. There is no discipline to the veborrea. None whatsoever. As a result, there is no defined arc, there are no back-up references — no need. He’s president and he can do and say what he wants. ,

          • Maybe empathy wasn’t the right word to use. Somehow he has some kind of connection.

        • I took that as a call for internal discipline within the party. He wasn’t criticizing himself. Of that you can be sure. His narcissism would not allow for that sort of public display of self-doubt.

          • Himself above all. That’s his priority. Always has been. Even in 1998, that can be seen. He fooled many, but he didn’t fool me. And I was 17 at the time. I sorta knew what’s coming. I didn’t saw how bad things went, are and will be. We haven’t reach rock bottom yet.

            • Sadly no. Venezuela still has a quite ways to fall yet. Usually, the majority have to get to the point of starvation before their attention is focused enough to learn the important lessons.

              But, if you take the long view, “This too, shall pass.”

  8. Ismael Garcia is an opportunistic scumbag. When senior chavista officials were hatching the plot to take down the April 11, 2002 march, he was one of the most insistent that the military just open fire on the protesters and get it over with. There should be some interesting revisionist history coming out soon, now that we’re ten years down the pike.

  9. Gustavo, major props on the All your base are belong to us reference….. I´m still debating whether I´m an unfortunate nerd for having caught that, or if I should instead be proudly elitist about it… :)

        • I don’t eat them, but I’m interested in them. They’re a form of expression.

          BTW, Cadena on. Atardecer Llanero en Miraflores.

            • The FA Cup game I was watching took a tragic turn: Fabrice Muamba, a player of Bolton Wanderers, collapsed on the field. He’s in the hospital, where is fighting for his life. The game was called off. My prayers are with Fabrice’s family, teammates and friends, hoping that he can survive this. Sad day for football fans everywhere.

  10. In spite of myself, I watched the cadena this afternoon. Morbid fascination, I suppose… Here is what I took away from it:

    1. It sounded a lot like the launch of his campaign.

    2. One of the themes was “Toman los calles. Los calles no son por la burguesía.” He blamed all the violence on the Opposition, but seemed to be inciting violence against them. Not good…

    3. He referred repeatedly to “la unidad” within Chavismo. So, he is simultaneously sending the message that there is no in-fighting going on within Chavismo while co-opting one of the Opposition’s own symbols. Very clever…

    4. He lauded Juau and Ramirez, but didn’t mention Diosdado Cabello (at least I didn’t hear it).

    • He looked haggard and tired. The whole thing looked anticlimatic. He tried, but failed to present an optimistic image. The improv concert at the start was depressing.

      The content: The same old stuff of forever. Insisting on unity in his own ranks is an admission of internal problems. Attacking the opposition (unoriginally) doesn’t hide it.

      All he got left for this campaign is money and fear. The vitality is no longer there.

  11. These debates always lead nowhere.

    Starting from the premise that Venezuela and Venezuelans are just rotten to the core will never lead to deep questions about ‘porque estamos como estamos’ and will never inspire anyone to look for ways to overcome it.

    I invite you to read a fantastic article by Angel Alayón about Fernando Enrique Cardoso and Brazil. The takeaway is that last paragraph:

    “Brasil es un país con desafíos importantes, pero que sin duda ha encontrado una interesante senda de crecimiento y desarrollo. Un país al cual muchos condenaban a un eterno subdesarrollo por su herencia, el carácter de sus personas y la corrupción —con el facilismo propio de las explicaciones culturales— ha demostrado que los países pueden cambiar, para bien, cuando el conjunto de reglas institucionales permiten que las personas desarrollen su potencial”.

    I’l say it again, if Brazil, Colombia, Panamá and even Peru could do it, why can’t we?

    • El facilismo propio de las explicaciones culturales is not about analysis, it’s about dressing up class hatred in language acceptable in polite company. El resentimiento social is a two way street.

      • la respuesta de Toro es facilismo encarnado.
        No, I don’t think cultural explanations discussions are all about class hatred, if reasoned. It’s a whole lot more than that, of which a (small) part has to do with class distinctions and disdain.

  12. Hahahaha if only people who writes this “cultural” arguments were honest enough to use this type language and not the mentality/cultural one.

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