Precariousness without prevarication

Misión Aguanta

“The thing about life in Venezuela,” Katy said to me one evening, “is that everything is so …  precarious.”

It took me a while to digest what she meant exactly.

I was telling Katy the stories from my latest trip back home – family problems, issues without solution, how upside-down everything seems.

My wife, as you know, is not Venezuelan, so I always pay attention to how she sees my country – through her own eyes.

Precarious:

1. dependent on circumstances beyond one’s control; uncertain; unstable; insecure: a precarious livelihood.
2. dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another: He held a precarious tenure under an arbitrary administration.
3. exposed to or involving danger; dangerous; perilous; risky: the precarious life of an underseas diver.
4. having insufficient, little, or no foundation: a precarious assumption.

Precarious.

Today you’re alive, but tomorrow you might not be.

Today you’re free, but tomorrow, who knows.

Today you were on time for work. Tomorrow, who knows? You might be stuck in traffic for three hours.

Today you found cooking oil on the shelves. Tomorrow …

Today you own your house, your savings, your car. Tomorrow, you may wake up with nothing.

Today you are healthy. Tomorrow you may have dengue, or mal de Chagas.

Today you can travel overseas. It may be the last trip you’re allowed to make.

Right now, you’re reading this blog. In half an hour, the lights might go out.

I guess it helps explain why, in the midst of a precarious reality, one clings to family. Friends. Booze. Religion. Santería. Government handouts.

It helps to deal with the precariousness.

132 thoughts on “Precariousness without prevarication

  1. I believe it’s brilliant, create a need and then become the sole purveyor of the “fix” get it? Bolivarian politics revolve around, how do i put this, making people depend 100% on the whims of the person in charge, at the end being thankful for all the things we have thanks to Him. Sound familiar? it´s like a kidnapping a North Korean regime and a religion all rolled into one.

    I know i´m exaggerating here but, look around.

    • I was going to say the same on the North Korean example. But you can go generic just saying it is a cult of personality oriented regime.

      • From the Tao Te King…

        “Those of old who were skilled in the Way
        Did not use it to enlighten people,
        But rather to maintain simplicity.
        When people are difficult to govern
        It’s because they’ve become too clever” …

        You have to remember that Chavez is first and foremost a military officer, and that these concepts about ruling are also reproduced in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War… There is something in there about emptying the minds of the people and filling their stomachs to make them easier to rule…

        AND you have to remember that even if this illustrious forum mainly middle class participant’s families have seen a sharp decrease in their living standards and the kind of stuff previously given for granted like travel and luxury imported goods, most poor Venezuelans -the ones that do not travel abroad, that can’t afford houses of their own or new cars or private healthcare-, have actually seen a measure of improvement in their quality of life via the Misiones … or why do you think Capriles is so eager to tell everyone the Misiones are not going anywhere? The cleaning lady I hired by the day when I lived in Sebucan several years ago stopped going at one time because a Mision -I do not remember which one, but I bet she still does- paid her about half of what I paid her daily just for going to these meetings and courses WITHOUT leaving her neighborhood OR ironing someone else’s shirts. And the Barrio Adentro clinic was three blocks away, even if it did not work sometimes. So she made do, and also got a sense of belonging that the dreaded Cuarta’s governments failed miserably to provide. Remember, Venezuela is and has been for several decades an overwhelmingly poor country, despite the natural riches.

        Is it precarious? Oh yes, but it was precarious before. Nobody bought their plots on the Cerros de Caracas back when the Adeco governments allow the squatters to settle there permanently. That was also a giveaway from a populist government.

        • The following translation seems to be more consistent with the intent of the rest of the Tao Te Ching

          Sixty-five:

          In the beginning those who knew the Tao did not try to enlighten others,
          But kept it hidden.
          Why is it so hard to rule?
          Because people are so clever.
          Rulers who try to use cleverness
          Cheat the country.
          Those who rule without cleverness
          Are a blessing to the land.
          These are the two alternatives.
          Understanding these is Primal Virtue.
          Primal Virtue is deep and far.
          It leads all things back
          Toward the great oneness.

              • Yes, but the point is that by providing everything by itself -how effectively is besides the point- the Government is blunting that “pilas” edge and creating a dependence that is really hard to break… If you give something for free, it later becomes really difficult to start charging for it, or do you guys not remember what happened in 1989 when Pérez doubled gasoline prices?

        • Tom, I do see your point and I agree that it’s exactly what chavez is doing, carroting the people he wants in whatever direction he wants. I just thought I’d point out that it’s truly counter to the spirit of the TTC.

  2. There are certain elements of truth that just stick to your head when their sheer evidence suddenly opens your eyes about the realities of your own country. It’s the sort of epiphany that one often gets reading Uslar Pietri, Manuel Caballero or Luis Pedro España. The latter, in his book “Detrás de la Pobreza” explains how Venezuelans still live (and shockingly without much class dispersion in this aspect) with mindsets that are structured by pre-modern tenets. One of them is the disregard of personal agency in favour of abstract metaphysical constructs (‘God’, ‘luck’, ‘destiny’).

    It’d be amazing to see how the current political climate (and material facts in general) has sunk us deeper into this by making it further impossible to predict consequences, to feel secure, to rely on reason.

    • Which indicates the interest to the incumbent president in reinforcing pre-modern ideas and conditions, including conditions of precariousness.

  3. For many Venezuelans in the 4th republic, it wasn’t certain that you wouldn’t die from preventable illnesses or malnutrition, you didn’t own anything worth worrying about ownership of, and there was no hope.

    Today, poverty is slowly being eradicated. That equals hope for everyone still suffering.

    Then there’s all the unmeasurable positive results of the revolution. But the opposition can’t even see the measurable results!

    • Under which government did dengue become again a national plague? Which is the state of hospitals compared with before 1998? ownership? Are the people of the Misión Vivienda getting the ownership of the house they built? (Caldera with the oil barrel under 10 built more houses than Chavez) Read Venezuelan history from other source than aporrea

      • When the anarchist revolution finally comes (fuck y’all, I can dream), Chavez will be remembered as a hero, but only in the same way as Bolivar (slave owner and killer) is remembered as a champion of human rights.

        Sure, Chavez is a faliure on virtually every level, but that’s largely our fault for buying into the reactionary response that channels like globovisión still represent.

        What if the intellectual elite hadn’t given into fear and decided to make an alliance with Chavez’s movement?

        If the people like him, why not fucking work with him?

        Those questions are all moot now. The future is uncertain…

            • Incidentally, I pick child mortality here because it’s an international benchmark, with easily comparable data available over the long-run, but also because it’s a great proxy for broader social conditions – mother’s nutrition, overall state of access to healthcare, etc. There’s a long literature on that.

              • But still, it shows an improvement, unless I’m missing your point, which improvement is understandable, if for no other reason than advances in medicine.

              • How about looking at the wide range of relevant statistics?

                Access to clean water, disposable income, property titles, access to primary healthcare, educational enrollment…

                And I’m sure I’ve missed out a few important ones. This is what’s been going on behind the opposition’s back while they’ve been fixated on more politically expedient issues.

              • Of course, as usual, Quico chooses to leave out pesky details that get in the way of his dishonest smear attempts. One glance at the graph shows you that Venezuela remains quite comparable to all of its neighbors, and that many of its neighbors have only made faster progress in recent years because they started from a worse position, not because they have surpassed Venezuela’s numbers. As with many indicators, it becomes much harder to maintain the same rate of progress the higher (or in this case lower) you go on the scale.

                Grow up Quico.

    • HAHAHA good joke! With dengue and malaria making inroads and claiming territory where they had been eradicated in the 1960s? Will you make some joke about the crime rates?

      • You must have been out of the country for many years as there was serious dengue outbraks in the late 1980′s in Venezuela. Short memory. Is it also a coincidence that dengue is rampant throughout the whole continent on a broad statistical scale.

  4. In the “4th Republic” there was a growing middle class. People owned things without worry of ‘expropriation’=theft by Government without pay, street thieves, etc. One didn’t worry about being killed or maimed by street violence. Poverty was less than today when valuing the bolivar/$ at a realistic 9-10. Disease epidemics, eradicated before, such as dengue malaria,, cholera, and even tuberculosis, are back with a vengeance, due to a deplorable lack of adequate public sanitation. As for “the unmeasurable results of the revolution”-they’re unmeasurable because they do NOT EXIST! Yoyo, try living in Venezuela for awhile, and see how long you last. And, if you’re already there, give up your Chavista perks, ill-gotten gains, and bodyguards, and also see how long you last. As frequently said by Omar Lares, “Se Cansa Uno….”

    • Nevermind the fact that the statistics that Quico just posted don’t support any of the things you just said. The middle class has a higher share of national income now than it did in the 1980s, and in fact it shrank significantly in the 1990s. That’s why by 1996 the New York Times was asking “Whatever Happened to Venezuela’s Middle Class?”
      http://www.nytimes.com/1996/02/09/world/whatever-happened-to-venezuela-s-middle-class.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

      If we look at the poorer sectors (which deserve more attention than the middle class anyway), they have made impressive gains since 2000, whereas in the 1990s they saw an ever shrinking share of the pie.

      But, as Yoyo said, you can’t even recognize the measurable results!! Instead you just make up your own reality, regardless if it lines up with the facts. That’s why I find you all so damn fascinating…

      • Oh, and Quico’s statistics show that by 2006 poverty had declined to one of the lowest points in recent history (and it has continued to decline since then), and tuberculosis has maintained at the same level since the 1980s. Any other nonsense that you want to pull out of your ass?

      • Of course, GAC, the middle class began to shrink after the massive bs./$ devaluations beginning in the 1980′s, but it had grown substantially prior to that. Today, the average real income in Venezuela at a realistic 9-10 Bs./$ exchange rate is somewhere as it was 50 or so years ago. So far as impressive gains of the poorer sector, only some gains, if at all, you take into account Mercal, et. al. , but do apply the real Bs. 9-10 exchange rate, for now, until it goes up even further. At that rate, the new minimum wage of around Bs. 2000/month will equal about $200-great Chavez accomplishment, although somewhat higher than his miserably poor “hermanos” Bolivia/Ecuador/Cuba/Nicaragua, who he is trying to help out by impoverishing Venezuelans even more. I’m glad you appeared. I was just going to write a post to FirePigette, who questions why we waste time on you. The reason is to get the real truth out there, for those who visit this Blog but may not really know it. For that, there are various Troll games to be played: !) Troll Trolling: We can put in the hook and troll, but there’s no guarantee we’ll get a bite; so, we try2) Troll Baiting: Put out a hook baited with some piece of disinformation that a true Troll cannot resist, and will leave his lair to bite (Chavez non-winning polls/ever-expanding middle class/etc).; Once we get a bite comes Game 3) Troll Foiling I- Parrying with the Troll, and his specious arguments; Then, the coup de grace, Game 4)Troll Foiling 2,where we run the Troll through. Unfortunately,Trolls seem to have more than one life, and can pop up under all sorts of new pseudonyms Warning to all players: all Game versions may not be available in your local area, and some may be hazardous to your (mental) health!

          • BTW, your whole nonsense about the “realistic exchange rate” would only apply if those poor people were buying everything they consume at international prices. This isn’t the case, ESPECIALLY for the poorest sectors, rendering your argument to be complete bullshit once again.

            • Court (I’m sorry I dignified you before as a paid mercenary partisan), most everything the Venezuelan poor buy which isn’t heavily-subsidized ( Mercal/generic drugs/gasoline/etc.) is at U. S. or higher prices, even using the realistic Bs.9-10/$ exchange rate. I guess good old comfortable you could get along well in Venezuela with $200/month thanks to these subsidies. Go to Venezuela and give it a try, but, be careful, they don’t like Musiues there, and, if you’re lucky enough to be only wounded (after you’re kidnapped), you probably won’t make it to a public hospital in time, and, even if you do, you’ll probably die anyway (as most do) from lack of proper medical care/functioning medical equipment/doctors/nurses/medicines/etc..

              • The whole point is that much of what the Venezuelan poor buy IS subsidized. And I actually DO live in Venezuela, and was actually at a public hospital yesterday. But thanks for the laughs NET. You’ve been great…

              • In the hospital for what-that eye condition, or just doing a reportaje for VTV on the marvels of Chavista Venezuelan healthcare?? If you can’t see even what’s in front of you, then you’ve got it BAD!!

              • You, too, Arturo, have been great. See you some day on your way to “El Nacional” (I prefer “El Universal” myself). You’re right about “Tal Cual”.

      • Get a clue,

        the real question is how would have been the evolution with a different government? In the past 13 years Venezuela has a enjoyed the biggest rainfall of oil money in its history. In the 80′s and 90′s we were in the other extreme.
        My take is that any government with that amount of money would have improved poverty. The problem with Chávez era is that it has done so at the expense of long-term sustainability for the country. He has been busy with short term flashy policies that insure his popularity but has not set the stage for a sustainable long-term development.

        Malaria, Dengue and Chagas, that were erradicated are back, statistics on neonatal deaths and mother health are worse than before. Personal security has reached levels that can only be found in countries with wars. Corruption is at its all time high, the society is extremely divided, skilled workers and highly educated people are leaving the country like never before in history. We are producing less of everything, thus increasingly dependent on any type of imports. We have let Cuba, a country smaller and less developed than ours, infiltrate the core of the government, the military and personal registries. The debt with China is increasingly important.

        You imply that medium class is not important. You are deadly wrong! It is the medium class what leads to a country’s development. If the country had a large and flourishing medium class, then I would agree with your vision, but what is happening is the opposite: medium class is shrinking. You have that the rich are richer and yes, the poor may be a little less poor, but in the middle people are either getting poorer, or leaving the country.

        • Bruni,

          Your comment started out interesting, but then went on to repeat many very obvious falsehoods.

          Indeed, we could discuss what the evolution would have been with a different government, and we could likely imagine a better government with better results. No one has said the Chavez government is perfect, or even CLOSE to perfect. But regardless of what we might be able to imagine, the reality is that among the available choices the Chavez government has been better. The only viable opposition to Chavez continues to be closely tied to the neoliberal economic model of the 1990s. One only has to look at the statistics to see what the results of that model were.

          As for your obvious falsehoods: Mother’s health has actually improved continually since the 1980s, and infant mortality has continued to decrease. Corruption is measured by business executives perceptions, and thus must be taken with a grain of salt. Society has always been divided (though many middle class people never noticed) and in fact inequality is lower now than before. Venezuela produces much more food now than ever before in history. The dependence on imports is due to increased consumption of the poor. Wasn’t it nice before when those poor people didn’t consume so much and so Venezuela didn’t have to import so much??

          The middle class (not medium class) has a larger share of national income than they did in the 1980s, and it continues upwards.

          Seriously, all you guys have to do is actually LOOK at the statistics before making fools out of yourselves. I know, I know, the truth is very inconvenient…

          • Yes, Court, keep looking at the INE lying statistics (Eljuri is the Goebbels of this Government, not just laughable Chavez and Giordani).

            • And apparently Eljuri also controlled the statistics during the 1990s. Keep them coming NET, you’ve got me rolling on the ground in laughter…

          • I wonder who get a clue is? Maybe eva golilla? Anyway… A troll is a troll is a troll. My mother worked with Dr Gabaldón way back when he was the Ministro de Sanidad when governments actually worked for the common good and health of it’s population. Dr Gabaldón eradicated malaria completely using oil – as in petroleum- to cover all larva infested waterways. It was a major national undertaking. Today? We are like a burkinafaso like country. Back to the middle ages thanks to chiabe and his social resentments…. The involution has come!

            • Yes, anyone who actually uses real statistics to debate Venezuelan reality is obviously a “troll”!!! Here at Caracas Chronicles we prefer to just make shit up, and when the statistics say otherwise we just make some comparison to Hitler…

              • I’m not making sh—- up dear troller. It’s an involution to the eyes of any person with two fingers width on their frontal bone. Unless you are lobotomized. Socialism? Go looking in the Nordic countries. Autocratism? Go look in Singapore. Same guy ruling for 32 years, doesn’t talk at all, no big murals, you can’t chew gum, but the city/country is in the top list by most living standards. If a bus is more than 2 mins late, the government will send you free tkt. I wouldn’t mind an autocrat like that. But chiabe? Tiene un conuco seco entre las orejas. Cero ideas evolutionarias. 00000000 a la izquierda. Y a mi nome compras con Una lavadora ves?

          • I looked into the neonatal death index and mother/pregnancy related death while writing a post in 2008 and it was getting worse, in particular the relative position of Venezuela with respect to other countries: the gap between Vzla and the best countries in the world was getting bigger. I have not seen the statistics since 2008. Was Chávez able to reverse the trend since 2008?

            Here’s my 2008 post:
            http://cuentosintrascendentes.blogspot.ca/2008/03/de-muertes-neonatales-cifras-y-faltade.html

            As for Chagas, Malaria and Dengue, those where non-existing in Caracas when I grow up. Thanks to a serious anti-Chagas campaign in Venezuela and the work of world-class investigators, the Chagas was almost erradicated. You would find the chipo then only in very rural areas with “bahareque” walls. Now people can find an infested chipo in Caracas in their backyards. A friend of mine that investigated Malaria all his life, says that the recurrence in Venezuela is very serious. As for dengue, that was non existent when I grew up, now it is so common that everybody has someone home who got dengue, even hemorragic dengue.

            I went to Venezuela in 2010 in the middle of the electric crisis. Everything was worse than what I remembered: more ranchos than before, more people, the feeling of abandonnement everywhere, electricity on and off, fear of getting out, high prices, difficulty finding the food wanted, cars everywhere, traffic jams everywhere and every time. If that is improvement….how it would be when it is not?

            • Allow me to restate what Bruni is actually saying here:

              Bruni:
              “It doesn’t really matter that the statistics clearly show continued improvement in both maternal mortality ( http://www.bit.ly/LR8HsH ) and infant mortality ( http://www.bit.ly/LR8Jki ), because a friend of mine told me that chagas and malaria are really bad, and I went there once in 2010 and everything seemed so horrible…”

              With this kind of incisive and brilliant analysis who really needs statistics anyway, right?

              • No, I am not saying statistics do not matter, quite the opposite. I am saying that Venezuela’s relative position on those statistics have gone worse, as on 2008.
                I like to see relative positions, not absolute positions when I am looking at country’s statistics because the trend in general in the world is for improvement. The question is how a specific country has improved with respect to the rest. What was the position of Venezuela in 1960, 1980 and today, that’s what shows real improvement with respect to a particular policy.

                With respect to my feeling while visiting in 2010, you can make fun of it as much as you want, but yes, I did see that everything was worse than before. The bad was worse and I could not seen anything improved. It is just a snapshot, but it didn’t look like the snapshot of a country that was flourishing under an oil windfall.

                As for “a friend of mine told me”…if that friend happens to be a leading world expert in Malaria, I listen when he talks about Malaria.

              • The numbers still don’t support what you are saying Bruni. Venezuela remains on par with its neighbors, and many of its neighbors have made more progress than Venezuela only because they started from a worse position. With this logic we could also condemn the United States for not progressing as fast as Peru. But that wouldn’t make much sense would it, since the US started from and remains at a higher level.

              • Bruni, you can’t argue with GAC about statistics when virtually every one coming out of the Venezuelan Government is a lie. Funny, he hasn’t quoted much the U. N. statistics, which unfortunately are also based on Venezuelan statistical lies, since they usually accept the reporting country’s statistics as truth, which, in most cases works, but for Venezuela does not, since it’s Government is an an ongoing criminal enterprise whose word cannot be trusted.

              • Get A Clue :

                Venezuela remains on par with its neighbors, and many of its neighbors have made more progress than Venezuela only because they started from a worse position. With this logic we could also condemn the United States for not progressing as fast as Peru. But that wouldn’t make much sense would it, since the US started from and remains at a higher level.

                This argument coming from a Chavista/PSF is a case of changing the goalposts. Not too long ago, the Chavista/PSF were arguing that things wereSO BAD under the Fourth Republic, and that Chavismo IMPROVED THINGS SO MUCH, which shows all the GOOD THINGS that Chavismo has accomplished.

                Infant mortality statistics, which Quico points out are considered the benchmark for public health metrics, show that Chavismo’s public health improvement compared with other countries in Latin America is around the average for the region. Better than some countries, worse than other countries. That is, the Chavista/PSF claim that Chavismo IMPROVED THINGS SO MUCH is not the case. That a Chavista/PSF points out that “many of its neighbors have made more progress than Venezuela only because they started from a worse position” discredits Chavista/claims that things were SO BAD under the Fourth Republic.

                I will be glad to admit that “many of its neighbors have made more progress than Venezuela only because they started from a worse position.” Will the Chavista/PSF
                be willing to admit that “many of its neighbors have made more progress than Venezuela only because they started from a worse position.” discredits the Chavista claim that things were SO BAD under the Fourth Republic? Don’t think so.

              • Boludo,

                It depends which indicator you are talking about. Infant mortality, for example, was improving under the IV Republic, and did not change greatly under Chavez (although it continued to improve at about the same rate). But that is only one indicator. If we look at other indicators, such as poverty,(which was clearly on the rise through the 1980s and 1990s) we see a drastic change from the IV republic.

                You can’t take one indicator and say that because it hasn’t drastically improved under Chavez that that means that things in general haven’t improved so much. Poverty overall HAS indeed improved quite a lot, while the rest of the indicators have either continued at the same rate as before, or been reversed, as is the case with the rising poverty in the 1980s and 90s.

                Of course the picture is neither as rosy as many Chavistas want to portray it, nor is it nearly as horrible as opposition hacks like Quico and his fan-club like to portray it either.

              • Crime is of course an important exception, which definitely changed for the worse under Chavez.

              • GEC,
                You are right that some indicator have indeed improved. I once so a presentation in which presented a chart with oil income and poverty in Venezuela and showing an incredible correlation. I think any other administration could had achieve similar results without much effort, but who knows. The truth is that Chavez administration has been very ineffective. Regardless if you agree with their policies or not, it has been a poorly managed social programs and IMHO, enforced measures that are not sustainable and harmful for both the economy and democracy.

                I believe the 4th did great things for Venezuela but they fell short. Before the eighties the amount of progress Venezuela had was remarkable. Like you said, in the 80s we took a wrong turn in areas like institutional framework and economical policies. Our political elite evaded decisions that were too costly politically, but were necessary. IMO election’s reform (to elect mayors and governors) came 10 years late. I think CAP deserves big kudos for making that happen and many today don’t appreciate the political cost he assumed then. Venezuela today is a better place because of it.

                Since you seem to defend policies like exchange control and price control, I always wonder what do you guys (those who support the current administration) think of the Lusinchi administration. To me it was horrible. Terrible. Precisely for the same reasons I think this one sucks. Price control, exchange control, ineffective social programs, high corruption (not even close to today’s levels, today is way worse). The only thing is that lusinchi manage to stay, thank you god, way less than Chavez. I don’t believe as inspiring el Comandante may be, I don’t think he has the balls to get Venezuela on the track out of poverty and will remain with backward policies that will just increase people’s dependency on the government which in the long wrong, is hurting democracy. He is not willing to make hard decisions that will hurt his popularity. The fact that he has hinted to increase gas prices a few times but doesn’t dare to, is proof of it. He wants to remain in power, for as long as he can, and he will do anything to keep his popularity up.

                Also, I invite you to think, or reflect, since you are critical of CAP II administration, and particularly of his team, what results would this government had achieved if the oil was selling for $12 a piece. Truth is, is that one can only measure success is relative to what you possibilities were. I believe, that in these last 14 years, we could have achieve so much, since as you said, we had a better starting point that our neighbors. We had a head start. The fact they caught up with us shows that we slowed down. Also, these countries caught up, not by controlling the economy, but by creating more freedom and by having effective social programs.

                So, what do you think about Lusinchi?

              • Rodrigo,

                Oil prices haven’t remained high under Chavez by mistake. One of the main reasons why they were so low during the last decades of the IV republic was because the state practiced a type of “entreguismo” with the United States and did not follow OPEC production quotas. This made it next to impossible for OPEC to protect prices and led to others doing the same. One of Chavez’s first foreign policy objectives was to work to reunite OPEC again and work to protect prices by getting oil producers to follow quotas. The conventional explanation among opposition hacks is that high oil prices was just a lucky break for the Chavez administration and were a result of 9-11 and the Iraq War. This is not true. Although 9/11 and Iraq certainly caused prices to go higher, within the first 2 years of the Chavez presidency (before 9/11) oil prices had more than tripled. So you cannot simply claim that high oil prices explain everything, and claim that Chavez had nothing to do with it (or that the politics of the IV republic had nothing to do with low prices).

                Also, you repeat the false claim that other countries catching up with Venezuela on indicators like infant mortality is because Venezuela “slowed down” and because they had “more effective” policies than Venezuela. You totally miss the point that the more progress a country makes on a given indicator, the harder it becomes to maintain the same rate of progress. Just think about what you are saying. For all of the countries that made more progress on infant mortality than Venezuela you could say that they also made more progress than Norway, Sweden, or the United States. Is that because Norway, Sweden and the United States have worse policies? Or is it because Norway, Sweden and the United States started from a higher point making it much harder to continue to improve at the same rate?

                As for currency controls, price controls, etc. and the comparison to Lusinchi, it is a bogus comparison. Political economy is much more complex than simply saying that because one government was bad, and it used a particular policy, that this means that any other government that uses this particular policy must also be bad. Currency controls are a virtual necessity to counteract the ability of capitalists to veto economic policy that they don’t like by simply pulling all of their money out of the economy. Price controls are hopefully a temporary measure to combat inflation and protect the vulnerable. With monopolistic and oligopolistic control over major sectors of the economy, price speculation can be a major way for capitalists to redistribute wealth upwards and negate the gains of the poor. But this is far too complex to discuss here. If you really want to understand it, study it.

              • GAC,

                The OPEC has very little control over the oil prices as it controls little over 30% of the global oil production. Additionally, OPEC has very little flexibility on production changes as it can only increase or reduce it quotas by what it is technically possible. Oil prices have nothing to do with Chavez’s doing. If anything we would benefit a lot from producing more oil, we don’t not because we are limited by OPEC quotas but because we are just technically limited. Isn’t this obvious? Both how the oil market behaves and the quota limitations? Perhaps you should study that a bit more.

                I agree with you that political economy is complex but to me bad policies = bad government. Price\exchange control create conditions that make them unsustainable and painful to dismount, not for the rich, but for the poor. If you want to get rid of monopolies or oligopolies government must lower the barrier of entry to a market. This government has done the opposite.
                What are you saying it is true in terms of the progress made in some indicators, like child mortality, but not in indicators where no ceiling exist, such as economic growth or GDP/capita, etc. Those are the indicators I was referring to when comparing Venezuela to its neighbors. We are lagging behind badly on those.

              • Rodrigo,

                I hate to say it but, get a clue! OPEC does not “control” the price of oil, but it certainly can and does have influence over it. This is pretty much universally recognized by any serious analysts. Even the New York Times recognized in 2000 that Chavez was largely responsible for the tripling of oil prices in his first years in office:

                http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/27/business/international-business-for-venezuela-s-president-steep-oil-prices-are-just.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

                Only in anti-Chavez “La la land” does OPEC not have any influence, and does Chavez not deserve any credit for strengthening and reuniting OPEC members behind quotas. It is true that OPEC cannot increase production enough to control the price ceiling, but it definitely has considerable control over the price floor. And this is recognized by most experts on the topic:

                http://www.aljazeera.com/archive/2004/09/200841014742257809.html
                http://www.rapidangroup.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/The_OPEC_Era_of_Price_Control_is_Over_-Lets_Swing-TRG110303.pdf

                As for the rest of your nonsense, it is clear who needs to “study a bit more.” Simply “lowering the barriers to entry into a market” doesn’t solve anything. If it were that easy then we wouldn’t have any poor countries in the world would we? The reason for monopolistic control of markets has to do with the small size of those markets, which means it is only feasible for a limited number of firms to operate in each sector, and it makes it easier for one or two firms to quickly gain control over the whole market. This means that the solution is much more difficult than simply “lowering the barriers to entry.”

                And your other comments show you are completely clueless. The reality is basically the exact opposite of what you claim. Venezuela actually compares very well with its neighbors in GDP/capita, and has shown significant progress in recent years: http://www.bit.ly/SDwOdw

                Now seriously Rodrigo. Any reasonable person would take the above gaffes as a clear sign that you don’t know what you are talking about. It might be time to question your old beliefs and take a fresh look at everything you’ve been told from the neoliberal noise machines.

              • GAC,
                What you are saying about Chavez influence on oil is completely nonsense to the point that it is not even worth discussing. Oil producing countries these days will benefit from producing more, not less. We don’t produce more because it is not technically feasible.

                On top of that it doesn’t make sense to not produce as much as we can in the long term When you have the reserves we have today, and you have the rest of the universe trying to replace oil as the primary source of energy, our policy should be to sell as much as we can now and replace the oil industry with something else.

                On your plot on GDP. That visualization tools makes it hard to read so here is the same plot, so I think you are the clueless one:

                http://shaneleavy.blogspot.com/2011/06/economic-growth-trends-since-1969.html

                It is interesting to see the “explosive growth of Chile and the decline of Venezuela”. Also notice similar performance on Peru and others, which are showing steady growth.

                On the competitiveness, lowering the barriers of entry indeed solves, but it has to go in hand with effective incentives for the small and antitrust laws. And countries have found their way out of poverty doing this. The reason why all not country are doing this is because there is people like us who are stupid and stuck with “ideologies” and blaming other for their own failures, instead of seeing a world that has problems and solutions. Singapore, Chile, Brazil, Ireland, Poland and more recently Peru are great success stories of this. It is a rocky path but is the one the one with more success stories. One path that has not led any nation to prosperity is the path of government controls and lack of freedoms.

                I also encourage you to read this: http://univisionnews.tumblr.com/post/12204296545/a-revolutionary-way-to-predict-prosperity-in-latin

                Be warn that is a methodology developed by Hausmann’s group, who is not of my liking but I acknowledge that is a brilliant economist.

                I hate to ask again but in Lusinchi’s times where you a lusinchista? He had Recadi and price controls, great ways to deal with poverty according to your own words. How does it feel to live with such contradiction?

              • Absolutely hilarious Linares. Instead of admitting that you were totally full of shit, you just claim that what I’m saying is nonsense, without anything to back you up. Well, I guess all the links that I posted that back up exactly what I’m saying are also nonsense, but Rodrigo won’t say why… we’re just supposed to take his word for it.

                What’s even more hilarious is that the few links you DO post directly contradict what you are saying. You claim that your link shows “explosive growth of Chile and the decline of Venezuela.”

                The reality is, USING YOUR OWN FREAKING GRAPH, since 2005 Venezuela and Chile have both seen very similar growth of around 15% or 16% in GDP/capita. Do the math. If we go from 2004, when opposition economic sabotage in Venezuela ended, Venezuela has HIGHER growth in GDP/capita than Chile ACCORDING TO YOUR OWN GRAPH!!! Chile is around 25% while Venezuela has around 30%. How you construe that as a “decline” is beyond me, but we’ve already seen very clearly up above how backwards you have everything.

                The rest of what you say are baseless assertions with nothing to back them up. It does not matter how many “incentives” and antitrust laws you have when the size of your domestic market makes in unfeasible for more than a few producers in a given sector. This is so basic that even most neoliberal economists have recognized it. Don’t tell me that I have to explain economies of scale to you.

                As for prosperity requiring a lack of government controls, tell that to South Korea, Japan, or China, all of which are the best examples of successful late developers. If you think they did it (and are currently doing it in the case of China) with a lack of government controls then you’re beyond clueless.

                I think the only thing you said that made any sense is when you said “there is people like us who are stupid.” I agree with you there.

              • You would have been better off using my graph, which gives exact amounts for each year. Calculating with those number Chile has slightly better GDP/capita growth than Venezuela in the last few years, but there’s not a large difference. Peru beats them both by quite a bit.

                But of course GDP/capita isn’t the end all of economic development. A country can have rapid growth in GDP/capita, but also have rapid growth in inequality and poverty. Growth in GDP/capita doesn’t mean that the gains are being evenly distributed. In Peru inequality has remained constant since 2000, as has extreme poverty. In Venezuela both have declined rapidly.

              • The growth in the period you highlight is a bounce back after the national strike (call it however you like). Nonetheless at its peak the GDP/per capita equals that of 1980 and there is an obvious decline that you can hardly attribute to anything other than poor economic management where every single country in the region has shown steady growth. By the way, la cuarta in the 1980s started with similar economic policies as today, thus the results.

                Could you explain what has happened in the last 4 years with our growth? Also, go to the BCV website and normalize the GDP to a constant price of the oil barrel and see how much we actually declined in actual “production units” or you can send me your email and I will happily provide the plot.

                The fact that you give me links to some journos doesn’t make anything you say a fact. China, SK and Japan have achieved prosperity by increasing economic freedoms not the other way. China lacks a lot of civil freedoms but not economic freedoms. China is even a member of WTO and has signed multiple free trade agreements.

                Where is there a country that achieved growth through price controls? Good luck finding that one.

                It is funny how you start with a decent level or argumentation and as you run out of arguments then you start with the insults.

                cheers,

              • And to clarify. I think this country has been in the wrong track way before the 1980s with a brief attempt to rectify in the 1990s. I am not blaming Chavez for all of our problems but I consider the current administration incapable and unwilling to solve them.

                Chavez’s administration is to blame for the continued poor economic management that yielded poor results given the oil prices and on top of that, as you have recognized your self, as a complete failure in issues like personal safety and corruption.

              • The links I gave you quoted experts in the field who supported exactly what I argued, that OPEC can control the price floor, and that Chavez and the reuniting of OPEC behind quotas were largely responsible for rising oil prices in the first years of the Chavez presidency.

                As for your argument on China, SK, and Japan, you are simply repeating the tired old nonsense from the neoliberal sound machine. It has been thoroughly debunked in several famous works including this:

                http://books.google.co.ve/books/about/Asia_s_Next_Giant.html?id=f0hDv51qS6MC&redir_esc=y

                and this:

                http://www.amazon.com/Embedded-Autonomy-Peter-B-Evans/dp/0691037361

                “Increasing economic freedoms” is extremely vague language that neoliberals use in attempt to gloss over the issue. But political economy isn’t a simple scale in which the further a country moves towards “economic freedom” the better. In South Korea, for example, it would be difficult to argue that the Park administration increased “economic freedom” from his predecessor Rhee. In fact, Park came to power and immediately threw many of the top businessmen in jail and greatly expanded state control over the economy by nationalizing major sectors such as banking.

                As for China, one has to be completely clueless to claim that China has a lot of economic freedoms in comparison to other countries. The state controls massive sectors of the economy, and controls entry into many sectors. Foreign investment is carefully controlled, and allowed in certain regions only with very specific conditions. Of course it is true that there has been major economic liberalization since the Mao years, but this does not mean that China today is even remotely close to what neoliberals advocate. China makes the Chavez government look neoliberal by comparison.

                Citing the fact that China is a member of the WTO is laughably stupid. If you have even remotely paid attention to the news in the last 10 years you would have noticed how contentious China’s membership has been, and how often Western nations complain that China does not play by the rules:

                http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/ML17Cb01.html

                Price controls in China?

                “The whole policy-making process involves extensive consultation and negotiation.[61] Economic policies and decisions adopted by the National People’s Congress and the State Council are to be passed on to the economic organizations under the State Council, which incorporates them into the plans for the various sectors of the economy. Economic plans and policies are implemented by a variety of direct and indirect control mechanisms. Direct control is exercised by designating specific physical output quotas and supply allocations for some goods and services. Indirect instruments—also called “economic levers”—operate by affecting market incentives. These included levying taxes, setting prices for products and supplies, allocating investment funds, monitoring and controlling financial transactions by the banking system, and controlling the allocation of key resources, such as skilled labor, electric power, transportation, steel, and chemicals (including fertilizers). The main advantage of including a project in an annual plan is that the raw materials, labor, financial resources, and markets are guaranteed by directives that have the weight of the law behind them.”

                Currency controls in China??

                “Foreign trade is supervised by the Ministry of Commerce, customs, and the Bank of China, the foreign exchange arm of the Chinese banking system, which controls access to the foreign currency required for imports.”

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China#Government_role

                It is absolutely impressive how you can get so many things completely backwards in such a short conversation.

            • Dengue is swahili for “bone crushing”. That pretty much sums up how it feels. It is common in Barinas, where I spend time. It can be controlled and eliminated with proper public health measures. Not amphibious assault vehicles from China purchased for the revolution. Every time you get it, I am told, your health becomes a little more…precarious.

          • Hey my chavista friend, do you really have the nerves to say this is false? (I quote Bruni)

            “Personal security has reached levels that can only be found in countries with wars. Corruption is at its all time high, the society is extremely divided, skilled workers and highly educated people are leaving the country like never before in history. We are producing less of everything, thus increasingly dependent on any type of imports. We have let Cuba, a country smaller and less developed than ours, infiltrate the core of the government, the military and personal registries. The debt with China is increasingly important.”

            Dude, I must ask: what is the government giving you? Or are you just having a good time discussing with people in this blog?

            • I already said up above which parts of this statement are false. It is really easy to see for yourself too by simply looking at the statistics.

              • Wow! I guess your blog name says it all… Get a clue!

                You are either knowingly sowing Chavista propaganda, or so so deluded as to make one wonder what drugs you are using allow you to avoid seeing reality.

              • I think “Get a clue” and all the others are missing the key of the discussion. All of you are discussing based on Macro Economics data and scope. The issue is that regarding medical data for more than five years, there are no epidemiologist in most hospitals in Venezuela. So even if Blood Analysts see an increase or decrease in any disease, viruses, etc there is no epidemiologists to whom inform let alone there is no way to keep track of data. The devil is in the details in life and this government is no exception. Just talk to doctors and they could tell you there is a decrease in public health care quality in general. No epidemiologists no data. Go to the JM Casal Ramos now which is the hospital of Acarigua-Araure. Do not read the Doctor list there or go to the web page. Just request talking to the Doctor. You will not find anyone. Do the same in any Hospital in Venezuela and you will be impressed the lack of doctors doing this work.

                I do not trust this new statistics.

                Do you trust violence statistics? When you have to go to the Morgue to count corpses you cannot trust the government. But you just have to feel the gun in your head to realize that violence is in another level different to ones in the late 90s. My family was the never a victim of violence in the level they had (I am talking about grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins), but my cousin was express kidnapped and another was shot, -thank god not to death”- my dad was kicked out at pistol point of his 1-hectar-now-invade lot in Guarico (I sorry I had forgotten that my dad bought it with this UCV latifundist salary) and my uncle was robbed in his house. I do not have to turn to friends stories to be sure that violence is a mess in this country. The only moment in which this Chavista government had a significant decrease in violence was when they decided not to add “ajuste de cuentas” to the general statistics.

                I do not need your statistics based discussions.

                Keep yourselves alive, that is how many people say bye now. Few years ago it was take care of yourself.

                Viva Chávez no joda !

        • Bruni – how is life in Canada? Long way from Venezuela that’s why you have little odea of what is happening here. One thing that will happen is that Chavez will win the lection with around 10 million votes.

          Your comment is full of falsehoods which GAX dealth with on the whole. However, just to correct you on one thing, dengue, chagas (remember the cases in Chacao school four years ago) and malaria are all endemin to Venezuela. So if something is classified as endemic it means that it has not been erradicated. Thus, your claim that these diseases had been erradicated during the IV Republic is just another piece of fantasy from the fantasy world you live in up there in th forzen north. You must love the conservative Canadian government you now have.

  5. Well said. One of the symptoms of precariousness can be fatalism. The sense that nothing can be done. I understand the fatalism. As an outsider, I am hardly in a position to judge. But it is something which causes me no end of grief, this shrug you sometimes- not always mind you- see. HCR is at war against this shrug and I think he is doing a brilliant job so far.

  6. I realized a long time ago that quoting prices from any former time in Venezuela is a meaningless exercise, unless you happen to remember how much that was in dollars then. In any sane economy, what makes ordinary people middle class and not poor is not being able to find a job or be entrepreneurial, but actually being able to earn to live and save even on a shitty job or simple enterprise, in peace and minding one own’s business.

    It’s so sad a picture, that the idea gets into your head that rather than mere management of what exists or even enabling development, the government of Venezuela has the task of nation-building.

    And by nation building you don’t mean you have a destroyed infrastructure, or lost a war, or some other natural catastrophe, and that you have a population that can by itself build affluence through their daily activity. It’s about cutting loose so many suckers from the teat of oil, from the smallest to the biggest, getting them to produce something, and surviving the revolt of many confused people egged on by their very (now red, hopefully former) slavers. Of taking out of circulation so many criminals without harming civil rights and about eradicating so many little behaviors widespread on the population, which in a sane society would get them sent to jail at least for a night or two.

  7. Had Katy been exposed to Vzla in the 4th, she would have seen plenty of precariousness then, as well, among those who wanted some of la vida loca, particularly during the 1980′s, a decade that was infected with the general excesses from the ‘first world’. So one found legions who preferred to put on a bluff, to live beyond their means, and to sustain indebtedness to the point of not having ‘dónde caerse muerto’.

    Chávez brought chaos to this formula, but the sociological seeds, in my opinion, were already there.

    • Yes, Syd, since CAP’s “La gran Venezuela”. We were all rich.,, or we thought we were… Values, human values, went down the drain. Such a pity. But reality is what it is, Sir, No use looking back.

      CAP and Chávez are just the same bullshit… only Chávez has more money.

      No way out of this maze.

  8. >I guess it helps explain why, in the midst of a precarious reality, one clings to family. Friends. Booze. Religion. Santería. Government handouts.<
    Using the local [cda] community gym, treadmill cardio workouts, pedaling stationary bikes, listening to manu chao, qbanito, ak-bron, etc ayuda :-)
    cheers

  9. Why does the troll base his debates on statistics? Where is he living? in Tasmania? Isn’t Venezuelan reality slapping you in the face everyday?

  10. Again, el Dr Gabaldón erradicated malaria from the whole country in a major national campaign, before I was born in the fifties. Now we are suffering from malaria… Again. And from the delusions of a montonera. Again….

  11. tongue in cheek, guys…
    don’t bash me too hard -
    hysterical pseudodementia is a well known consequence of this coming 7-O.
    lighten up on self pity, and concentrate on EXORCISING the chabastard instead.
    cheers

  12. More on Troll Games: While playing Game 2, Bait The Troll, to be true non-suspicious bait, one must simply lay it out there for all to see, then don’t touch it, but certainly don’t backtrack, especially repeatedly, as Quico did with the child mortality graphs,because the Troll will then suspect, perhaps rightly so, that you have made a mistake and supported his cause, and he will then pounce on you, demolish you, and you have lost the Game. Remember, Trolls spend long lengths of time, usually alone, in their fetid lairs, and some have developed a sense of smell, almost a sixth sense, for weakness, and they will not hesitate to go for blood. As for Firepigette’s comment on Trolls and their Groupies, well, yes, there does exist a kind of perverted Stockholm Effect, where a mutual sense of admiration can develop. I think this has to do with the close confinement in which Troll and Troll Hunter must live due to the limited number of Blogs available for their habitation. I see that Dr. Smilde is trying to help remedy this, but, as per GTAveledo’s comment, all Troll Hunters should be aware, because, this new Blog may be a Troll Hunters Trap, run as it is apparently by “Ex-Trolls” (…Just trying to help, DDCH).

  13. The entire economic/ political system in Venezuela has been and still is based on oil. Their theory is if you want a socialist state, just drill some holes in the ground and don’t bother with the rest of the economy. The goal seems to be to create a non-workers paradise run by a few very rich people. Whether one likes socialist thought or not, this is stupid and leads to disaster. This is not like China where millions were dragged into the 20th century yelling, screaming and many dying to get the nation where it is now. One can also point out that the problem is democracy that the government uses as a cover. In a totalitarian regime, those who do not comply are executed or sent to work camps and re-education centers. Nobody but nobody complies in Venezuela.

  14. Precarious? All the things JC writes about can apply to other countries. We all suffer from the threat of a meteor strike but not necessarily a sismo. And Net…….you don’t even know what a troll is based on your last comment. The fact taht someone disagrees with your fantasy world means, in your perception at least, that the writer must be a “troll”.

    • BY definition, Trolls are those who are divorced from Reality, and cannot see the forest for the trees(too long living in dark places “where the sun don’t shine”). Arturo, are you ready to step up without Mision Milagro and see, or must you wait for Oct. 7, or its aftermath??

    • Venezuela does not need a natural disaster. It’s already a wreck in slow motion, bad under previous administrations, noticeably worse under the present joke thereof.

      Precarious as double digit inflation running for years and no possibility to convert your savings into a currency that keeps worth from year to year.
      Precarious as not finding basic necessities and having to go round the town, maybe finding it at last at some place, rationed as if we were at war and losing it.
      Precarious as knowing that you cannot repair or replace easily some of your possessions easily should you lose them thanks to currency controls and their being so expensive.
      Precarious as not being able to ever rely on electricity, fixed telephone lines, internet connection, highways and flowing traffic, etc. etc.
      Precarious as not knowing where and when will come out a psycho with a gun and take away what you have, and then wound or kill you nevertheless.
      Precarious as not knowing where and when, when complaining because exasperated, some psycho will pull out a gun and shoot you because likely they will face no consequences.
      Precarious as knowing that many will steal from you should you turn your back, just for the hell of it.
      Precarious as knowing that you cannot ever buy housing or even rent housing where you live.
      Precarious as not knowing where and when will come out a thief with a badge, to shake you down for all they can get.
      Precarious as knowing that if you don’t have very good private health insurance (even govt. employees syndicates demand it) or are very rich and have something serious and demanding immediate medical attention, you are screwed.
      Precarious as working a job or having a business, and suddenly having none thanks to crime, corruption or our own President on a confiscation spree.
      Precarious as knowing that there’s no concern for environmental preservation anywhere, and that includes many things that will directly affect your health.

      No realistic amount of stuff distributed by your Master & Commander can change the situation. Not even expensive stuff. Not even if some get lucky.

  15. Our situation might be described as precarious, but I guess it is something we share with many other poor countries. Precariousness is bad, but it is worsened when you also have arbitrariness on top of that.
    And although Chavez regime might come as a perfect example of what arbitrary means, this arbitrariness is seeping out from every corner of our country: crooked cops, shady workers unions, drug/food/gasoline smuggling military officers, negligent bus drivers and whatnot.

    Precarious, arbitrary. You might as well add prone to mood-swings for sure… That’s life in Venezuela.

  16. Would it be that the precariousness is a consequence of the improvisation?
    Nothing is planned but improvised. In construction for example, an estimate is not good after a week, prices are not guaranteed, so nobody can plan ahead. And one can see that improvisation everywhere.
    Remember that saying from Eudomar? “Como vaya viniendo, vamos viendo?”.
    The sad part is how many people consider the improvisation an asset, a skill. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to last long, because nothing is meant to last long in Venezuela.

  17. One of the first impressions I had when visiting Venezuela is how “precariously” housing was perched on steep hills, seemingly ready to collapse and slide downhill in the next storm.

  18. Anyone care to comment here on Capriles’ publication of a forged document in an attempt to smear Chavez??? Anyone? Anyone? I suppose we should expect more of this kind of dishonesty and fraud from the Capriles campaign…

      • Haha, thanks for demonstrating that just like many Chavistas you are incapable of criticizing your “maximum leader” when he does something manipulative or fraudulent.

    • Meh, I find much more interesting to talk about the topic that Juan discusses in the post. But if you want to talk about that, in aporrea you’ll probably find like-minded friends…

      • There’s really nothing to talk about. But its fun to watch you all squirm and pretend that it doesn’t matter…

    • Smearing Chavez does not take a forged document. Just run Alo Presidente and count the lies per minute. Even Chavez cannot keep his lies straight anymore.

    • Yes, the document was dated 31 julio de 2012. The signature was that of ex Minister of Defense Mata Figueroa. And we can expect more dishonesty such as the concentration in th Av. Lecuna. There were 300,000 people there??????? The same as there were 3 million votes in the primaries. Amazing these 3 million votes when no controls were used and the documents were burned after the event.

      • If it has a date on it, it must be true. Has someone notified SEBIN????!!! WIll there be arrests and searches????!!!! Can we get a FISCAL and the TSJ on it PRONTO???! Will the responsables sit in prison awaiting trial for YEARS??????? WIll their cars be confiscated and stripped by the authorities of their audio systems while the owners await trial…forever????!!!! Can I write some more question marks?????????

  19. More On Troll Games: Surfeit And Morphology Of Trolls: Lately on this Blog we have seen an incredible increase in the number of Trolls: For example, there’s Yoyo, who innocent thing that he is, is not going either up or down, but out (of it); there’s Tallulah (presumably Blankhead), talking like and named after that great Southern actress Bankhead; then there’s Arturo, the older Fellow Traveler visiting his daughter Eva in Los Palos Grandes, and accompanying her and his grandchild to the local supermarket; there’s Get A Clue, presumably recently visiting a local public hospital, probably to assure that their periodic shipments of medicines was properly labeled for trans-shipment to Cuba (as was recently seen by a relative of mine in the delivery van parked in front of his local CDI); and, not even pretending that this is a complete inventory, there’s newbie FenQuing (now 1979, to show that he’s been around for awhile), to defend the “Chinese Connection”, not to be confused with the “French Connection”, although I’m sure there are more than one similarity. One might logically ask, how so many, and so different? Well, as a starter, Trolls are reputedly long-lived, so maybe they’re just part of those several tens of thousands of centenarians+ on the Venezuelan electoral registry (RE), and they have come out in the open, because they need now and then to collect their multiple pension and various Mision monthly payments, until they get their REAL payoff at election time, voting with their multiple Cedulas. But there may be another answer. Living as they do, in the dark, probably under a collapsed bridge whose repair has been budgeted and paid for several times, but to no avail, their only entertainment is DirecTV, which, with its atrocious Cisneros-founded Venezuela programming, just keeps running the same movies over and over, month after month, year after year. As such, the Trolls have grown up with such movies as “The Three Faces Of Eve”, “The Man Of A Thousand Faces”, Terminator” with that Quicksilver Guy, and even the new version of “The Thing” (where, gasp, they can even appear like you or I- i.e., Normal). In short, the Trolls have learned to MORPH (as opposed to the Morphology of Trolls), and there may only be one or a few on this Blog constantly morphing (“Catch Me If You Can”)…

    • You know honey, maybe it aint that sinister. Maybe there are just people looking around and reading lots of things because…there is a really important election coming up doh! So they come back and read through Caracas Chronicles after being slightly encouraged by some excellent (sometimes) insights when they last read it, you know, just to pick up on where CC readers are thinking on the election. And guess what! us ‘Trolls’ return to find you have warped back into your posh kids in da ghetto hysteria. Nosferatu battles WOLA. So last decade.

    • Correct! As there is another predictable Chavez win coming to slap some sense into you on 7 O.

    • Wow, there’s a new pseudonym in Da Ghetto. I’m surprised you didn’t use a high number like “FenQuing”, to count the number of morphs you’ve undergone since the French Revolution.

    • Wow, Luis F., we used to think more highly of you–better stick to Gustavo Coronel’s Blog where you’ll be safer!

      • Safer?
        What is your problem NET? At this point this blog has turned into trolls , troll groupies, and troll junkies….bore!

        • Why read it then, much less, why waste time with your occasional/ boring comments??? Boring are those that don’t comment, then criticize those who do (from their self-appointed supercilious perch).

          • NET,i don’t read much, i just check from time to time hoping the mess will go away……I leave you to your insults…chao

            • Yeah, agree with Firepigette on this one…
              And, btw, I use twitter to connect to the comments forum (although the point of filtering comments seems useless, seeing the quality of said flame wars). So I’m Ghetto parisien, sometimes, if you really need to know. Not that it matters, I won’t be commenting here again in a long time.
              Release the Flame-kraken!
              Chao

              • This is as problematic as trolls:
                People who come to these boards, not in earnest, not with a serious (or sometimes jocular) need to discuss the posts or the threads), but with pretense. They pretend to be someone they are not, either through flights of fancy or multiple handles. They pretend to be engaged in the posts, when in fact, they come for a social outlet, seeking to alleviate their boredom. They use these commentaries to bolster their self-esteem or to promote their own agendas. They pepper the commentaries with critique. All this on readers’ time. It’s as tiresome as the trolls that hover and swoop to disrupt a given thread..

              • You’re right, Syd, the funny wannabes with patrician last names (perhaps real), who are really an integral part of the Country’s (not just a Blog’s) problem. At a sit-down dinner at the Caracas CC some years ago (my gracious host probably reads this Blog), the kind I do not frequent, I asked the host, “Don’t these people see what’s happening to the Country??” But the answer was painfully obvious–they were having too good a time, or were making too much money, to care.

              • NET, I laughed when I attended my first pow wow, in my neck of the woods. For when it came time for what’s called ‘intertribal dances’ (where the audience is invited to participate in the arena, the drums and chanting in the background), the MC called a spade a spade.

                “All right now, wannabes,” he said. “It’s time to join the dancers and show us what you’re made of.”

                The wannabes followed, mostly children, but not all.

                Yup, there are many wannabes on these blogs. Wannabe Venezuelans. Wannabe I-have-a-social-conscience-now, sabes? Some wannabes are legitimate, carving out a life in Venezuela, dealing with the chaos that they might not have expected, when they first arrived, years ago. Others, who once travelled to or lived for a number of years in Vzla, relieve their boredom and come to these blogs, expecting to be entertained. (Cuestión de er imperio.) Some fabricate certain realities in order to feel like they belong. O sea, se vuelven más venezolanos que el venezolano. En fin una variedad de historias tristes.

                The CCC is a museum of archetypes, especially during the soirées. (I only attended one of these, back in the late 60s — saw lots of petrified wood.) I understand the boliburguesía has made inroads. That must be a spectacle, too.

  20. Thank you, NET, for hammering the multi-headed hydra. Until then, I was not as astute over the impersonation that was going on. Clearly, there’s desperation among foreign lefties who don’t even cast a vote. Anonymity could also provide a weird cover for Eva who desperately wants to ensure bookshelf prominence for her Chávez notebooks. Whatever the case, I’m sure the flying fur will settle, and that by tomorrow, we can all get back to discussing the new post. (Bloggers, hint!)

    • Un Abrazo, Syd. My point is that there are different ways of treating (usually paid) Trolls, and that each one may have its merits/adherents. Up to now, the majority simply ignore them, calling them PSF’s, which is OK, but for those (I assume many) readers of this and similar Blogs, who don’t really know true Venezuelan reality, many of their points, especially like those of Get A Clue which are backed up by usually spurious/mistaken references, will be taken as fact . For this reason also, the fact of the multiple Troll identities had to be exposed, so that the casual reader does not believe there are many dissenting opinions to the Truth (which is usually expressed very succinctly on this Blog), but rather just one or very few trying to sabotage the Truth. Rather than calling Trolls PSF’s as a dismissal, I choose satire to do the same, while at the same time interjecting some truths of living Venezuelan reality day-to-day as I do (and, apparently, as many on this Blog do not).

      • Yawn bloody yawn, foreign paid agents. Dull, dull, dull. You have insulted and harrangued anyone who has come to this blog looking for information and views. Your Toro’s et al go pastin and preening to you know, like serious mags and blogs, so we come here to look and catch up on your views. And you are just vile, conspiracy waffling, paranoid fools. So dumb. Cut the tweeter / hyperlinks people. No news here.

  21. JC,

    This post is very profound.

    I think Katy was onto something there.When life is precarious,usually there is a lack of planning involved.A lack of planning keeps us in the eternal ” now” on some level( not a higher one), and elevates the sense of aliveness and magic- which Venezuela is famous for by the way.We get addicted to that kind of aliveness- adrenaline and then have a hard time giving it up.

    Yet on the other hand,this same precariousness makes life unstable, or easily wounded, and this is the price that is paid.A very heavy price indeed.

    • Very true, Fire, the “magic,aliveness,adrenaline” are not usually available in the developed countries, where day-to-day life is constrained by enforced laws. The tradeoff is greater personal security. I was asked on a trip to the U.S. recently by a physician why I live in Venezuela, and my answer was that it’s always changing/interesting, but that every time I leave my dwelling, I don’t know if I will get back in one piece, or even alive. On some future Blog discussion, I may mention real hair-raising personal “precariousness without prevarication”, but this time I didn’t want to scare the sifrinos on this Blog, especially those who sniffle (even in jest) at Troll discussions as “precarious”.

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