Accomplices Galore

I’m with Juan here.

It’s not as if Judge Afiuni’s rape and torture story is some kind of freak exception. The dire, dire human rights situation inside Venezuelan jails has been public knowledge for years.

Venezuelan human rights bodies have researched it in detail. International human rights organizations have written about it ad nauseam. Hell, this blog has banged on and on about it at eye-glazing length.

But the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ urgent injunctions to improve the ghastly conditions on the inside were met with…a decision to withdraw from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Nobody in Venezuela who takes his or her citizenship duties even a little bit seriously can be unaware that things like what happened to Judge Afiuni – and worse – happen every day to people under the custody of the Venezuelan state. The statute of limitation on the state’s ability to pretend it somehow didn’t know about it, or didn’t have time to tackle it, or for some reason is excused from its responsibilities is well past. Well past.

And so it was on October 7th.

There are no imaginable excuses left. A vote for Chávez was, at the very least, an expression of utter disinterest towards the coliseos. Towards the casual murders. Towards the prison-administration-by-pran system.

After all, if there’s one thing worse than being raped in jail it’s being killed there, and that’s been happening to Venezuelan prisoners. On a daily basis. For years. And it’s public knowledge. And it’s getting worse. And nobody cares.

There isn’t anyone left who can pass the laugh-test as he pretends to be surprised that allegations of prison rape by high-profile political prisoners are met with calls to investigate…the prisoner. Not even Noam Chomsky.

The time for softballing this stuff is over.

64 thoughts on “Accomplices Galore

  1. “Nobody in Venezuela who takes his or her citizenship duties even a little bit seriously …”

    Wasn’t it you who did a post that almost had a QED somewhere in it explaining why the majority of Venezuelans are not citizens, but supplicants?

    Didn’t you care about the prison situation in Venezuela before it got so much worse under chavismo; weren’t the raped and killed and other conditions just as inhuman and unjust pre-chavez?

    And why would O7 be so defining? The way I see it, from the perspective of the poor, what Capriles offered *sounded* like the poor would have to sacrifice their few chavezian crumbs to improve the injustices that the not so poor care most about. Are you expecting the uneducated and hungry and poor to understand the economic soundness in Capriles’s platform and the inevitability of things getting worse under chavismo? It’s their fault? Really?

    The country may have the leaders it deserves, but it deserves them because of the pre-chavez faults. Even before chavez, the entrance exam for the armed forces was a multiple choice test of four choices. Get that, 4. Yet the percentage of correct answers was less than 20%. Forget about randomness and think monkeys. And they are responsible?!

    Use your head and stop blaming those much less priviledged instead of realizing that we are failing them; it’s not them failing us. We haven’t offered them a solution that *sounds* good enough to them, while still addressing the issues responsibly.

    You’re right about it’s time to stop softballing the stuff. You have no excuse, Quico. You’ve had at least one such proposal under your nose… I don’t know what’s sadder, really: Afiuni, or what I’m reading of late on this blog. Blaming the poor and ignorant… Qué b…s!

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    • Well said. I think we can all agree the women in that “feminist” organization deserve blame, asking for a Afiuni to be investigated for slander? That is a bad joke.

      But all Chavez voters? To assign blame to them assumes they consume media from multiple viewpoints, that they are actually looking at roughly the same information you are. For many of them, that simply is not the case. Expecting a Venezuelan without internet or much free time to go out of their way to become informed on these issues is unrealistic.

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    • I think you have made a point. Probably several…
      Nevertheless, you cannot expect the middle class to become social minded, as you don’t expect the poor to transform themselves in conscious citizens. I think this stuff is right in the sense that what it failed in the pre-Chavez era was the disinterest of the middle class on the political system.
      All the time someone says that the system before Chavez was full of faults, I feel the responsibility of saying it’s a partial truth. It’s not that we were the best country, but in perspective, nowadays we could be very well. Blaming our past political system for the Yom Kippur war, the Six-day war, the excess of dollars, the lenient lending that threw us into the spiral of debt, the Volcker shock, the Latin American debt crisis and so on and so forth… is not only irresponsible per se, it’s a demonstration of ignorance. Moreover, to say it was the political system fault to drive the country into debt and misery along the 80s, it’s as apocryphal as to say that oil prices are above US $ 100 thanks to Chavez. Do you get it?
      Obviously we were corrupt, inefficient and careless but, would you qualify just adecos and copeyanos that way? Isn’t it more a symptom of a nation, it’s actual defining character? Mind you…
      Coming back to prisons and the subject of the post. Nobody seem to remember one of the most disastrous measures taken by the previous democratic era. During Caldera’s administration the new COPP was enacted, and the reason argued by that administration was that our old Codigo de Enjuiciamiento Criminal was not a legal instrument deserved by a civilised nation. That was pure bullocks, as with the Educational system they needed to clear out some space inside the prisons, but we should also remember the visit of the Pope, and the pressure from NGOs and the Church to clean the mess a little bit; in the end everyone has a bit of responsibility.
      One big lesson the middle class has to learn is that poor people cannot go to the army other than as privates and probably Sargents, picking up on your point.

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    • I suspect many of the poor voted against chavez because they know what is going on. I do not believe that all of the 55% of the population supporting chavez does not have a clue what is going on. My guess is, internet or no internet, people know perfectly well what is going on in the justice system and prisons. Most of them would have made a choice reflecting their priorities.

      Its not a great way to make friends and influence people, or a winning campaign platform, but CC is telling in inconvenient truth here.

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      • I’m not claiming chavez supporters have no clue what is going on. I’m not even claiming they are innocent of any consequences of their choice. I’m claiming that they are not guilty, which is not such a subtle difference. I am also claiming that they are not to blame because they are a product of the past faults.

        Imagine we give 5yrolds the right to vote. A candidate dressed up in a cute clown suit and offering candy gets elected. Are the children guilty of the clown president driving the economy to the ground?

        Either you believe education is key in getting people to think critically what is best for the country, in which case you cannot blame the uneducated for not thinking critically, or you believe education is not key, in which case you must admit that Capriles’s sell on schools and education then was off mark.

        Also, from the point of view of the poor, the decision was not to far from the lesser of two evils scenario: It’s either them suffering more injustice with Capriles, or Afiuni with chavez. Can you blame them for not wanting to go give back the little gains in injustice alleviation benefits that they’ve received with chavez?

        I am also claiming that some of the reasons given on this blog’s comments section for not going towards certain platforms is because it was not necessary to be sooo populist to win. Guess what? It was. So the very accusers of the poor are guilty of overestimating the education of the poor and underestimating the need for alternatives they’ve had under their noses for years. I cut them no slack if they’re planning to continue on a bandwagon cutting the poor no slack.

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        • I think its problematic to analogize between 5 year olds and the poor, but maybe I am misunderstanding you. Let me talk about people who are more familiar to me: what about the person with the nice office job at PDVSA (or equivalent) who had a good education, reads the press (including the oppo press), and voted for Chavez? At least, they could cut the holier-than-thou b.s. and reflect a bit on the implications of handing a military man and a bunch of other criminals a blank cheque to run a country.

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          • The analogy with the 5 yrolds is about perspective. From their perspective a candy clown would be awesome. For people with high incomes, a president that promises lower income taxes, for the already rich, one that promises low capital taxes, for people under the poverty line, one that offers any kind of goods, services, or handouts. I’m not making an analogy about mental levels, let alone judgement. A democracy is precisely based on each voting for what’s most important from their own perspective. And I’m sure that with higher education (not necessarily schooling) comes a wider view perspective.

            Even if we talk about the case you present, those people’s priority could very well be keeping that nice office job because without it he knows his future propects are dire. Just because there are many people that would rather keep a job by voting for the candidate that makes that most likely, than risk their job to prevent someone else’s suffering does not mean that they are guilty of causing the suffering, especially in an election where that blackmail has been made all but official.

            Do you think most of the 20k PDVSA people who got fired would have gone on strike if they had thought that getting fired was the most likely outcome? They thought the government would cave. Bad bet.

            Let me turn it around on you: are you guilty of wishing Cubans ill just because you supported a candidate that promises to stop cash aid to them? Similarly, chavez supporters as a group are not guilty of wishing Afiuni any torture or rape just because they did what they believe is most important for their family, however misguided; their lack of education just makes it less surprising that they don’t realize the long term macroeconomic consequences of such support, and their hunger makes it less likely they would even care about anything long term when they are trying to get food in their homes.

            I’ll turn another one on you: are you guilty of Afiuni’s rape by supporting a candidate that would perpetuate the petrostate model, root cause of chavez’s existence in power?

            Breeding hate towards a group of millions who are more downtrodden in the nation just because they support a candidate that has them by the b…s is not responsible, to say the least, and possibly evidence that chavez’s speeches about the opposition are not all wrong, especially in light of not having been willing to go all the way in supporting platforms that they knew had a higher chance of gaining support. No excuse.

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            • Couple of points. I don’t see that the authors here are breeding hate. And I don’t think the point is that people are literally guilty and should be convicted of something. When I see a fellow citizen suffering like this and I not only look away, but I vote for the person causing that suffering, my actions may be explained by self preservation, and they might be understandable in that sense, but I have become to some degree an enabler of those actions. I also don’t think that human rights abuses fall into the same category of the usual range of contestable government policies. I will continue to say to anyone who wants to argue with me about Chavez, that he or she is supporting a government guilty of serious human rights abuses, and they should think, for example, about this judge, and consider what else a government capable of this and similar acts is capable of. Simple as that. As for the sole family breadwinner who voted for Chavez because he or she needs to continue to support the family, I agree it is hard to be as judgmental, but I don’t think in this case we are talking about 55 percent of the population.

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              • Canucklehead,

                The hate breeding to which I’ve been pointing started with JCN, then increased with Gustavo Coronel in the comment section. They first divide people into us and them, to then speak lowly of them. They accuse them of being guilty, literally, or accomplices, literally, of a despicable injustice, which in the context of expressed outrage implies a seeking of synchronous outrage from others. Quico gets splashed by this by claiming he’s with JCN on this one. It’s wrong. It’s cheap. And it’s what we’ve been criticizing of chavismo for years.

                The same mentality with which JCN and GC were grouping and judging supporters of chavez, Quico is applying when he adds: “A vote for Chávez was, at the very least, an expression of utter disinterest towards the coliseos. Towards the casual murders. Towards the prison-administration-by-pran system.” No it isn’t. Does Quico honestly think that people who voted for chavez would vote for those things? Especially when most of them have a much closer experience to just injustices than he does?

                This kind of thinking makes least sense coming from Quico, who has readily explained on this blog how people tend to vote their pockets. I’ve never seen Quico sell us the idea that people vote their moral compass. He can’t have it both ways. What makes his stance even more unreasonable is the fact that no candidate represents all opinions of every voter. Candidates represent packages of opinions with which a voter doesn’t even have to agree with the majority.

                As to becoming enablers, you cannot have it both ways there, either. If those who voted for chavez are enablers, then so are those who voted for a different candidate. Both groups have helped validate the system that elected him. That’s democracy and that’s the argument of those celebrating 9/11 when asked about the deaths of civilians who may even have been against Bush. If you think that grouping voters of a candidate as enablers of all actions once elected doesn’t breed hate against that group when the president does something despicable, look again at those celebrating 9/11.

                You mention that you would ask people to think about the human rights abuses of a government and to consider of what else such a government is capable. That’s awesome, but you overestimate the powers of thought and consideration from a generation resulting from a failed educational system. You’re talking about considering things that are beyond short-term needs, and expecting them to make extrapolations into the future. You’re also asking them to worry about people that they consider has been ignoring their own suffering for decades, perhaps even causing much of it. So, sorry, not as simple as that. Either you believe education adds very little to people’s critical thinking, or that they have a much better education than they do.

                Words from Alex Himelfarb (out of Canada), though about taxation, have relevance here:

                “Inequality feeds and is fed by divisive and fear based-politics, what the writer Benjamin DeMott calls “junk politics”, a politics which has contempt for evidence and experts, plays to both our fear and vanity, and divides us into hard and fast moral categories – villains and heroes, criminals and victims, hard-working tax payers and free-loaders, job creators and the rest.

                “When the middle rungs of the ladder disappear, when the gap between top and bottom becomes too great, feelings of superiority and inferiority almost inevitably follow. Many at the top come to believe that they deserve all they have, that they are the ones who create the jobs and keep the economy running. The very successful too often forget how much they owe to others, including earlier generations …

                “At the other end, if the rungs of the ladder seem too far apart to climb, then those at the bottom will wonder why they should participate at all. If we think that others will exploit the system or consistently turn it to their advantage, if we believe the game is unfair, we will not want to play. …”

                Words from Tony Judt: “Inequality is corrosive. It rots societies from within. The impact of material differences takes a while to show up but in due course competition for status and goods increases; people find a growing sense of superiority (or inferiority) based on their possessions; prejudice toward those on the lower rungs of the social ladder hardens; crime spikes and the pathologies of social disadvantage become ever more marked. The legacy of unregulated wealth creation is bitter indeed.”

                I see bitterness in these pages. We need to snap out of it or be guilty of its spread.

                I don’t know the percentage of voters, but if you think the above doesn’t apply to a millions of chavez supporters, and to the reactions JCN and Quico are having here, then we doomed to continue exacerbating the inequality at the root of it all. Afiuni is an epidome of an example of the injustices in Venezuela. An unforgiveable one. But it does her no honor to be trying to further divide the nation in her name. Stop blaming the poor, and direct the energies towards eliminating poverty, then reducing inequality. This can only be achieved by dismantling the petrostate system. There’s no going around this. The longer we take the more it will continue to eat away at the Venezuelan society.

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  2. It all comes down to whether you believe in collective guilt or not. Personally I believe that any electorate that reelects a government that traffics drugs, fails to stem one of the highest murder rates in the world, steals everything that isn’t bolted down and treats citizens like subjects is at least partially responsible for what occurs.

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  3. It also comes to asking yourself AGAIN whether you believe the polls results or not. When the government used all resources to bring votes in, legal and illegal, even fraudulent means, you need to read the results with a bias.

    Venezuela is being held hostage by its own democratic tradition, and the new rulers from abroad. The cubans have been able to control all institutions and continue to plunder the country until implosion day! ….

    Try explaining most things that go on everyday and you can find better meaning to many of them under this prism.

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  4. Quico and Juan. I am a loyal reader and a big fan. I almost never comment because I seldom see the need to, but ever since our debacle on October things have changed a bit. Your brains are in the right place, as always, but you guys have stopped feeling with your heart, and have replaced it with your liver! the bile has infected your brain. You are so eager to blame someone for this catastrophe that you don´t even stop to think before taking aim and pulling the trigger.

    I have felt that way too. I almost celebrated Chavez´s win thinking that now he would surely screw the bloody blokes who voted for the guy. The rest of us? we are priviledged enough to have had an education, we have far more choices that most, and more or less we have survived up until now, and I am certain that we will live to see the end of this.

    But you guys… you guys have been a beacon -at least for me- up until now. I have laughed out loud, I have scracthed my head, I have spent a great deal time thinking about what you guys have written. But now the bile, the resentment, the utter disappointment, the total and unforgiving urge for revenge… it is so unbecoming of you, and unfair to your readers.

    take a break, rethink what you are doing, take time to refocus, and give Venezuela a fair look. You will see that most people who voted for Chavez did so out of benign stupidity at worst. they are as much victims of this (maybe even more so) than anyone else.

    You may not be aware of it, but you have kinda earned a responsibility, you cannot just rant here and bash the first guy that comes across your crosshairs. Please take stock, rethink, reload, and then calibrate your aim carefully. You have a mighty mighty weapon. Do not misuse it.

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    • I agree with you Eduardo. Since we lost in October, Caracas Chronicle’s bloggers have completely fallen in the trap of resentment.

      For instance Juan, an intelligent, normally fair , educated person, how can you blame 8 million voters for the state of Venezuela’s prison?

      It is like the problem did not exist before, like we lived in Disneyland and just because 8 million people decided to vote for Chávez, all of a sudden this happened.

      What is striking to what happened to judge Afiuni is that it happened to someone like us. It is no longer a prostitute, a battered transexual, a robber, a drug dealer or an assassin that gets abused and raped in a Venezuela’s prison, it is a nice middle-class judge, that just happened to decide against the wishes of Chávez. This is what is new, but the rest has been there for years Juan, even before Chávez, in the 70’s, in the 80’s, in the 90’s…It is just that before we had a lower probability of being hit. What has happened is that Chávez has increased the probability for everybody, in particular for those that oppose him. And, yes, given the incompetence of the Chavista goverment, the prison system is totally out of control. But human right abuses of the worst type, those have always happened in Venezuela’s prisons, yet, you and I and million of people kept voting for the candidate of our choice.

      It was unacceptable then, as it is unacceptable now, but if you blame the voters now, you should as well blame us all before.

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      • Bruni, there is huge difference: before, it wasn’t the President on TV ordering somebody locked up just because he felt like it. Afiuni is Chávez’s doing, not the system’s. And Chavez’s doing is empowered by the people that vote for him.

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        • It is exactly what I am telling above. The difference is that now is Chávez the one that is sending Afiuni to hell, just because, but hell existed before, nonetheless.

          I am very bothered by the idea that you convey in your post that this is just Chávez’ doing because of the empowerment of the voters. It bothers me because it produces the impression that the system was fine before and once Chávez, or Chavismo disappears the system will be fine again.

          Well, Juan, my point is that the system is not fine and it never was. Venezuela’s penal laws are restrictive and abusive per se. In Venezuela it is extremely easy to send someone to jail and once in jail, it is extremely easy to leave you there for years and years, even without trial. Venezuela penal sentences are extremely severe and people that are incarcerated are not even considered by the general public. It is like they do not exist, or are subhumans, or deserve whatever sort..

          In Venezuela there is no empathy for prisoners. Society seems to forget that, even when guilty, those are human beings. Quite the opposite, the general opinion is that more people should be incarcerated, even for minor crimes and, as I said above, the penal laws enhance that feeling.

          Venezuela’s penal system is structurally unjust and that is what has facilitated the abuses that we have seen in latest years.

          Afiuni’s case is inherited from that injustice, compounded by the lack of institutionality.

          So my point is that you should not blame the voters for what happened to Afiuni. Many of them have lived all their lives in a system that is unjust to them and do not care about sophisticated concepts like separation of power. Blame Chávez, blame the lack of strength of our democratic institutions, blame those that allowed the system to become what it is today.

          Sure, without Chávez, someone like Afiuni would have never been in jail.

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          • (Finishing my sentence)…but jails would still be what they are today, and people, men, women, would be raped, tortured, and abused, and would live in deplorable conditions.

            So Juan, I wish you refocus your energy towards the solution, which is not to blame the voters, that will take us nowhere, but to change the system.

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            • Food for thought:
              Dalrymple: “The Ultimate ‘Freedom’: Choice without Consequences”

              http://www.newenglishreview.org/bloga.cfm/blog_id/45015/Dalrymple-The-Ultimate-Freedom-Choice-without-Consequences

              and, also very interesting:

              http://www.newenglishreview.org/bloga.cfm/blog_id/45007/Dalrymple-in-Intelligence-Squared-Debate-Legalize-Drugs

              where an audience decides whether to keep the war against drugs going by weighing the consequences of the war against drugs UP TO NOW against one another; to wit, a 50% reduction of drug use in the USA in the last 30 years vs. an over-representation of young blacks and latinos in prison who have committed no crime other than using drugs and who must share the prison cell with violent offenders.
              In Venezuela we have: Apartheid (guaranteed judicial injustice/abuse) against half of the population vs. keeping the government subsidies going for personal profit. Not that the Venezuelan judicial/prison system was ever fair/humane, but **guaranteed** injustice/inhumane treatment for people in the apartheid list is not the same thing as more of the same old rotten system. This is **guaranteed injustice/abuse** for the purposes of political control. The apartheid list includes potentially half the population, but the issue is the same if it only covered a percentage comparable to the black population of the US, say 11%.
              The only possible excuse for choosing apartheid is: there is no knowledge of the consequences. But is that the case in Venezuela?

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          • Bruni:
            I guess it is only fair to ask: In what circumstances is the electorate EVER ethically liable for the actions/choices of the government they chose to elect? If the answer is never (if you are Venezuelan) vs. always (if you are from the USA), isn’t this double morality?

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        • Juan, my friend, do you really think that the capricious (or vendetta) imprisonment of civilians is something that has just arisen during Chávez’ reign? Read the pages of El Nacional after January 23rd, 1958 and you’ll find torture techniques in prison that would make your stomach hurl. Hate to break the bubble, but you should know that the creative minds of degenerates does not simply exist in today’s prison world in Venezuela. I’m sure you do know that. But stating it thus would make less dramatic copy. Not that we should not be outraged by Afiuni’s torture. It’s just that the person describing it should put matters into proper perspective.
          And if not, then those who did not bother voting against Chávez or his referendums, in prior years, should also be guilty. And you know that if so, the blame would lead closer to the author of this, not post, but blog. You see?
          Btw, I’m not criticizing your position, or Quico’s support of same, if it gets the small universe on this blog to discuss, even in heated tones. I just want you to be aware that taking a fringe position such as what you and Quico have done, is as someone else explained, a slippery slope, one that I might add, has some elements of hypocrisy, at least for one of you.

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    • Quote from above: “I have felt that way too. I almost celebrated Chavez´s win thinking that now he would surely screw the bloody blokes who voted for the guy.”

      But he WILL screw ‘the bloody blokes,’ and he’s doing so with each passing day. Pay attention to what’s happening. (1) Even the lowliest farmer, with the barest of incomes, toiling in the most God forsaken corner of Venezuela understands what a devaluation means. It affects his ability to sustain himself and his family. (2) When it happens, and not if it happens, all those ‘bloody blokes’ who voted for Chavez will understand that they’ve been lied to. (3) That devaluation will occur shortly after D~16, probably before the end of the year, but no later than the end of January. (4) The resulting anger at the deception perpetrated by the Chavistas will cause 15% or more of the 8 million, one hundred thousand voters (the bloody blokes) to change their support to the opposition. It should be a greater percentage, but let’s just leave it at 15%. (5) With an imminent health crises bringing to an end the career of one Hugo Chavez, and in my opinion it’s day~to~day, how many of those 8 million, one hundred thousand, will now throw their support behind Maduro for President? It ain’t gonna happen. A new Presidential election is coming,…and soon.

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  5. I think there is a lot of truth in most of the comments here, from F.T. on down. A recent “El Universal” article by Elides Rojas (11/21/3-6) blames it all on DNA, from the Caribes, followed by Military despots, with the broad population as “Tiramealgos”. The O7 Election majority is arguably an extension of this historic tendency; I think that the majority of those who voted for Chavez did so only for self-preservation, in their respective very difficult economic situations–i. e., they voted for their: heavily-subsidized Mercal foodstuffs ;monthly pensions; Mision payments; promised housing; and, above all, for their/family members’ Government jobs (2.7 million). Capriles offered this and more, but, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Any other promise/argument to this largely uneducated/undereducated majority flies right over their heads. Yes, they all (virtually) know the downside of insecurity/lack of job opportunities/injustice system, but their day-to-day economic survival is paramount. Finally, the concept that those who vote for a Party/Person are underwriting all of their past/present/future actions is simply untrue/impossible; also (not in the case of O7), sometimes people may have to vote for the perceived least-damaging of two unattractive candidates (my opinion of the Bush-Gore election, for example).

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  6. You know that no one really gives a shit about what happens in Venezuela, unless it affects the price of a barrel. Not the US, China, Brazil, or the Russians could give a rat’s ass about what Chavez and his minions do to a Judge or anyone else. So I would argue that the fundamental problem is that the Powers have decided that Venezuela was is and will always be a banana state and are quite content that it remain so as long as the burros keep pumping

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  7. I think it’s a mistake to think that all who voted for Chávez are poor, or worse, that all poor are idiots. Of course, some of the poor are lambucios, waiting for free stuff (more like free promises), but there are also well-off lambucios hoping for a rather different level of free stuff from the State (cheap dollars, guisos, maletines, etc). The point I’m trying to make is that we should not forget the true chavista voters, those who really do support this kind of agressive government and like the kind of Venezuelan society it has created. These are people perfectly happy with the insults and the injustices, and who don’t really care that in 14 years nothing of importance has been created in Venezuela, except that which caters to their deep resentments. They don’t care that there have been no new highway systems, no new world-class health care system, no new ports, airports, only one new commuter train from Caracas to Cua, etc. Granted, the pre-Chávez governments didn’t do much either, but Chávez had FOURTEEN years to set things straight. That’s almost three “previous governments”! The real Chavistas don’t care about that, because they now finally have a government that thinks like them and has their same priorities. My disappointment on October 7th is that it turns out so many fellow Venezuelans have those priorities, and that’s why I lost all hope in the near/mid future of Venezuela.

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    • Wrong, wrong, wrong! Your beef is with Chavez and his government. Stop blaming the voters.! Many here have explained why your reasoning is fallacious. I can find fault with every Venezuelan administration since the nation inception. You, Sir!, have voted in many of those elections. Shall I hold you responsible for the actions of those you elected to represent you, to obey the constitution, and who failed to do so? Your position is simply untenable, not to mention utterly hypocritical. I am singling you out, Sir, as I did with Juan in his earlier post, because unlike others here who are mere readers, you are a blogger of some standing. You do have responsibilities, and should measure your opinions. I hold you, Sir, responsible, not your readers, or those who might not hold you responsible.

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      • hgdam

        Of course Gustavo is responsible and so am I.All involved, but most especially those who have not stood up for the simple truth from the start are responsible.

        People who see the Chavez government as just another government with basically the same problems as its predecessors make it impossible to get rid of Chavez .By not confronting the magnitude and the essential ways in which Chavismo IS different from the 4th Republic we keep alive the pretension that things are just business as usual and perhaps we will just get lucky one day and just win the elections” fair and square”.

        Precisely the attitude of your denial is the attitude that has created the continual failure of the opposition in the past.

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        • Excuse me–I am the goddamn opposition. I voted against Chavez, So, let’s get off the moral horse here. OK? I am totally clear on and totally against what Chavez and his government represent. My only bone of contention here is that I won’t take the attitude that those who do not think like me are then exactly like Chavez. Gee, that is a page straight out of the Chavista book on fascism. I will not pretend to enter the mind of millions of voters and pass judgement on them because thy do not act like me. I will not call them rapists because they do not appear to share my indignation about the Chavez government.

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          • hgdam,That is exactly the problem, there are too many people who do not ride the moral horse: people equating the 4th Republic with Chavismo ( collapsing hierarchies), people who don’t rise up and protest the stealing of votes,and people who do not denounce with total clarity the horrors of the Chavez government…yes, yes:

            the unwillingness to stay on a high horse, and instead make excuses for the Chavez government.

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          • It terrifies me that not one contributer to this blog has the slightest reservation about calling over 8 million fellow Venezuelans “rapists”. Nevermind that it is a unjustified claim–esp. considering that Afiuni’s allegations of rape may not even be true–what does anyone hope to gain by employing such name-calling?

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              • I was distinguishing “blog contributer” from “blog commenter”, although your comment is surely itself a valuable ‘contribution’. In fact, if not for people like you in the comments section I might have stopped reading long ago.

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            • I hope that people are not comforted by the idea that voting is a meaningless decision with no consequences. That’s what I hope.

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            • Really? Some overheated rhetoric on a blog terrifies you?

              600 prison murders a year don’t terrify you. But some guys in pajamas venting does.

              Good then, priorities well in place.

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              • Woah! When did I ever say that “600 prison murders a year don’t terrify [me]”? See, it’s mistakes like this–where you stuff words into the mouth of a long time reader–that indicate to me that the authors of this blog are becoming increasingly unhinged.

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          • hgdam, people who sermonize on the Vzlan voter but who do not vote in Vzlan elections, are not to be taken seriously. Period.
            Firepigette is an American in transference mode, who once lived in Vzla. After stating that she has 1000 family members, mostly living in barrios, she was forced to admit that she “mis-spoke”.
            Never voting in Vzlan elections, she has her finger on the pulse of the Venezuelan voter psyche, thanks to her personal facebook page (….) Her fb contributors either don’t want to post their innermost thoughts, or they are truly as naive as are all Venezuelans. Or so we are repeatedly told. Firepigette has been unsuccessful in whipping us into shape with her frequent condescension, her self-righteousness, and general mumbo jumbo. Thank you for your observation. It matches mine.

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    • I also 100 % Agree….it looks as though some people are 100 % black and white on their insistence on grey :)Also there seems to be a reluctance to take a clear moral stand.

      This is not an isolated incident, but has to be seen in the context of the enormous abuses and repression taking place on all levels by Chavismo.The situation is such that many people now believe that Venezuela actually belongs to Chavez.

      The only historical comparison would be when Gomez treated the country like his private hacienda, but even that was on a much more limited scale and did not involve the horrors of narco- trafficking, and radical extremism.

      If the voters are not responsible, nobody is, and the fact that people claim that it is a normal situation and therefore excuses the voters(or better said citizens) makes a mockery of responsibility.It takes away from the only power to rid Venezuela of a bad situation, which has to come from a sense of indignation towards all that Chavez stands for.

      These are not unfortunate side effects of a well meaning government , they represent the essence of rottenness, injustice and corruption.

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    • No, Gustavo. It’s not that black and white do not exist. It’s that in the real world, shades of grey seep through the high-contrast palette. ALL factors must be weighed and considered, before flipping out to sermonize, this stance often covering up one’s own inadequacies.

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    • Gustavo Coronel, have you wondered how justice may seem to some that Afiuni is not in prison for letting a poor thug out after being imprisoned for too long without charges, but for letting out a business man, Eligio Cedeño?

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  8. “No more softballing” What does it mean? Just to change the people in charge and pray for the best, or to change the system, taking away from the state the “extra” income by which the state keeps our country in this pitiful state?

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    • “”No more softballing” What does it mean?”
      Uh-oh, dog bites man. A reader demands accountability for the too-facile lingo from one who tries to be hip.

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    • Many say they would want to do away with the petrostate model, but few are willing to even discuss possible steps towards acheiving it. sigh.

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  9. It was mentioned on the prior post but it bears repeating that blaming all voters for the acts of an elected government is now known as the “Bin Laden Defense.” That is because Osama bin Laden used it to justify the Twin Towers attack, saying everyone in the US was responsible for the US troops in Saudi Arabia. The same concept is now used by both Hamas and Israel, assigning responsibility for the actions of the Israeli state or the Hamas factions to entire population of Israel and Gaza, respectively. To bring it home, as a US citizen who voted for Barrack Obama’s first term, do you think I am personally responsible for the drone strikes in Yemen?

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    • “. . . as a US citizen who voted for Barrack Obama’s first term, do you think I am personally responsible for the drone strikes in Yemen?”

      If you knew about the drones, and you knew Obama’s policy on war, then you are definitely partly responsible. You are a citizen, not a subject!

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      • So there are 50 million murderers in the US. Given the unlikelihood of criminal justice holding these murderers responsible, would Yemenis/Pakistanis/Somalis etc be justified in imposing some manner of revenge on San Francisco or other Democratic Party strongholds?

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        • I think it’s clear that Juan’s original title was a bit of attention-grabbing hyperbole, rather than a literal contention that 8,191,132 Venezuelans should be criminally prosecuted for the crime of rape. As a general rule, I’m all for hyperbole as a rhetorical trope, but in this case it does seem to have muddied the waters somewhat.

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          • To answer Setty’s question: the issue of the drones in Yemen is not analogous, because Romney would have launched even more drone attacks (and other stuff). Furthermore, drone attacks *could* be justified as self defense, part of the ongoing “war on terror.”

            But deep down, yes, Obama voters are responsible for the drone attacks. It is a moral choice they will have to live with.

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              • Sure, but I didn’t say chavista voters would have to be tried in a court of law either. It was hyperbole to use that title, but boy, it worked!

                Personally, I believe we will all be tried some day, just not in any human court.

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            • “It was hyperbole to use that title, but boy, it worked!”

              There’s a difference between using hyperbole and trolling that you may want to look into.

              Troll: “an internet user who sends inflammatory or provocative messages designed to elicit negative responses or start a flame-war.”

              It worked, just not the way you may think; there was loss of respect.

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  10. Might I further suggest that we ponder the case of one Francisco Javier Ramirez.

    Remember him? He was killed on a bus this summer by a common thief because he refused to give up his backpack. His death was swift, violent and completely random. Few people on that bus knew that he was the nephew of one Rafael Ramirez, arguably the second most powerful man in Hugo Chavez’s government. Within a few days of that incident I was struck by a photograph of Rafael standing with a group of businessmen. There he was, business as usual. How could he? Within just a few days. I often wonder what HE was thinking? What were his thoughts on the matter? That was his brothers’ son! I could only conclude that Rafael Ramirez is typical of most socialist/communist ideologues of the 20th century. They are so utterly convinced of the righteousness of their cause, that human life is seen as expendable in the quest to their religion, even that of the life of your own nephew. Never look back. Never question the core beliefs. We are, and always will be, committed to the cause.

    Here is the CC link to the story:

    http://caracaschronicles.com/2012/07/20/rafael-ramirez-nepotist-y-pichirre/

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  11. Maybe one of the ingredients of the heavy guayaba you guys have is that, on one side, you want smart, transparent policies from politicians who love the craft for the right reasons and, on the other, you supported a campaigning line with a focus on selective use of information that sometimes even bypassed information to get to feelings.

    In a country where the balance of campaigning power was remotely fair, that might be an accusation.

    Here, it’s just an uncertain observation.

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    • A good one nevertheless. In My personal case, my guayabo came from the fact I also saw a clash between my more naive ideas of good politics, with the realities of the opposition political apparatus… Chavismo I knew well as the typical arribismo.

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  12. i think/fell that the title of the book says it all: “la presa del comandante” does anything else need to be said??
    of course her rape and torture was sanctioned by the chavernment… to set an example. which other judge would dare to go against him? hah! this is a country run by pranes and the pran mayor is chavez. of course all those 8 million y pico sold their soul to the devil for $$, a washing machine y una bequita. why else? none of them could look a the PP in the eyes. much less into afiuni’s. why expect a country that behaves like a pran ruled hell hole of a prison be accepted in the UN security council is really beyond me. and why can’t you guys understand that while voters here look the other way while they cash on their prize for voting for this worst of the worst evil pran mayor they are accomplices to the deeds that not only happen at prisons but around the country everywhere. in every street.

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  13. Funny, as much as Toro and JC rag on the government for the prison problems, they never think to ask the prisoners themselves what they think! In this recent election, prisoners voted massively in favor of Chavez, something that quite remarkable if you think about it. You know a government has to be doing something right if prisoners are voting in favor of it despite the fact it keeps them locked away!

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  14. I’m not surprised no one here is even bothering to consider the possibility that Judge Afiuni may not be telling the truth. She definitely has a motive: she is trying to sell a book. Look, I am not saying I believe she is lying, but we don’t know. I am as sympathetic to victims of rape as anyone, but I am curious to know if there is medical evidence available to verify her allegation.

    The reason I demand evidence before buying into this allegation is the same reason I demand evidence from the government before believing there is truth behind their allegations.

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    • Hey if they threaten to kill her again, as they’ve been doing, she might retract, and then we wouldn’t need Sherlock Holmes.

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