Tick-tock

jorge_rodriguez_02In recent weeks, I came across Chavismo’s Watches,(Relojes del Chavismo) a blog that showcases the weakness that high-ranking chavistas have for pretty, fancy, expensive watches.

I think the blog, in its mere simplicity, is brilliant. Think about how difficult (let me rephrase that, downright impossible) it would be for an average Venezuelan to purchase one of those.

Want an example? Libertador Mayor and former CNE president Jorge Rodríguez Gómez makes seven appereances in the blog, thanks to his exquisitely diverse collection of watches, including the Panerai Luminor GMT (seen in the photo during a political rally).

It would take 49 years for an ordinary Venezuelan to buy this watch using his or her CADIVI (now CENCOEX) Internet quota.

No matter the occasion, whether it’s lambasting the evil empire or preaching socialism to the poor, these watches make perfect accessories for busy professionals who need to count their minutes.

33 thoughts on “Tick-tock

  1. Makes you wonder why such juice talking points do not make it to the opposition discourse.
    Donde estan los reales?! fuck that, where are my trillion dollars !!!!!!?

    Like

  2. I had a watch. A $ 70 Swatch. It was stolen at gun point by two motorizados on a Tuesday morning last October on Francisco Miranda in front of the Embassy Suites Hotel while 3 Guardia del Pubelo watch and busted their guts laughing. Pastor Malandro’s $ 110,000 watch will substitute quite nicely!

    Like

  3. my only frustration with this blog is that chabe has been left out, and I remember several occasions when I saw him sporting a Cartier that must be worth at least $10K

    Like

    • actually, I have a second gripe: it’s cool for us if they show the international price of the watches in USD, but it would be even better if they tracked down what the exact same timepieces cost in Venezuela and we could show THAT price to chavistas.

      why?

      I own a simple Victorinox Swiss Army timepiece that costs about $200-250, and I saw it retailing in Caracas this past January for some BsF 20K; hence, a $500 watch doesn’t seem too posh until you stop and think that it might represent more than a full year salary for someone who earns minimum wage in Vzla.

      (I have a feeling that a lot of these nouveau riches buy their jewelry locally)

      Like

      • I’m sort of “meh” on this topic, although I like the referenced blog. The fixation with fancy big-faced and gaudy watches has been going on for years in Venezuela (or at least as long as I have been going there). My wife’s relative that “assists” us through customs when we fly in always has us bring him a nice watch; other relatives (particularly the sub-40 set) request watches as well. Minor aside: the gift thing for 50 or so relatives makes me nutty.

        One thing I would nitpick is that the blog lists the list price rather than the actual price, which generally has a wide variance between the two points. I have one of the watches listed (Potro’s) and I paid nowhere near what they showed as the price.

        Likewise, I would expect that the $100-$500 for watches for most of these folks is likely not that big of a deal and I would bet their opposition counterparts would have much the same thing. We can talk about the “average” Venezuelan, but people who achieve these positions, by fair means or foul, chavista or opposition, do not actually represent Venezuela’s socioeconomic strata accurately. They’d likely be in the top 10% or so, have access to old Cadivi exchange and subsequently, travel and ability to buy both online and abroad.

        And before anyone says that, “well, they are socialists and anti-capitalist/imperist/x-ist”. Yes, I get that and a certain degree of hypocrisy involved, but I’d be more concerned if they all were sporting Patek Phillippe’s than watches that are typically $200 or $300. I’m actually surprised that some of those watches are relatively restrained given what are likely their resources.

        The appearance of SE status matters more than the reality; even here I know of individuals on TANF/SNAP locally that have new a iPhone 5s, the latest Nike’s and $400 watches.

        Like

        • You are right about the watch thing, but for the record, on one of my first trips to Venezuela someone gave me a big watch. Not to be churlish, but it was not like the minister of justice and interior has, but I am sure I don’t have friends like his. I still wear my old plastic watch from the pharmacy as it turns out anyway, to minimize the risk of having my brains blown out by someone who doesn’t know his luxury brands.

          Like

          • Pretty wide margin between churlish and common sense. I rarely wear watches in any event; not that many gringos do anymore since they have been more or less supplanted by smart phones as keepers of time.

            We never take any jewelry with us to Venezuela. We also take old phones, since I imagine we’d be relieved of our “regular” phones relatively quickly. We try to be as non-descript as possible and I still ended up being chased out last week.

            Funny how normal behaviors anywhere else in the world become vastly more dangerous in Venezuela.

            Respond to an email while waiting for a bus on your 5S. Wear your wedding band as part of your normal attire. Go to an ATM. Walk around with earbuds in. Have a pair of nice, new, good quality work boots. Not in Venezuela since it might get you killed. (Admittedly, I did see some brave souls with one speaker in, one out. I guess they feel that gives them some protection in hearing an assailant approach.)

            Like

            • Pitiyanqui, can you describe how you were “chased out”? We are trying to determine whether we can safely travel to visit my in-laws, who are in their 80s. We are most concerned because our handicapped daughter–with medical issues–would be traveling with us. Any thoughts?

              Like

              • Venezuela is not a safe country to travel in or to. You are a mountain climber. If you want it to be Everest risk, that can easily be arranged. If you like your risk lower, keep the watches at home.

                Like

              • Actually, Caracas was Caracas. Loud, polluted, packed traffic, nosy/friendly people asking way to many questions of this introvert; not my kind of town, but relatively normal from previous trips. My wife felt at home. Merida was far more quiet than I anticipated, although I was rather annoyed at the lack of coke/pepsi(liquid, not powder). A few other items we couldn’t find, but fortunately, we packed for a post-zombie apocalypse just in case. The guarimba going into the neighborhood was missing, although you could see the recent scars. The most noteworthy change was the general suspicion/tension level of people, which I found rather saddening. Everything now has a price and all relationships seem transaction oriented even moreso than before. I can’t recall borrowing a flat iron from a neighbor and having to put down a security deposit before.

                By and large, for you and spouse will likely be okay as long as you don’t take any displays of wealth, stick to well known public spaces when out during daylight and travel with friends who know the area. Since I’m ultragringo, I stick out like a sore thumb, but my wife blends us in marvelously and covers for me in most instances.

                As for your daughter, if she has a serious medical condition, I would be deeply concerned about the degree of medical care she would receive or have access to in Venezuela. We took my mother-in-law to some private clinics and they were short on some medicines and out completely on others with no idea when they’d be back in stock. The public clinics are pretty laughable. They doctors are unable to do much of anything as the equipment doesn’t work and they have no supplies whatsoever, which is why we went the more expensive route of the private clinics. One anecdote from this: we spent the entire day waiting for the results of a 15 minute MRI (fastest MRI ever for my MIL’s condition) because either every tech was absent, at lunch, on vacation, or any of a half dozen other reasons. When we finally had the doctor give us a list of three medicines, two were unavailable at any pharmacy we went to and the other took us four tries to locate. Maybe the situation is better in the capital, but not in Merida.

                As for being chased out:

                Well, my in-laws are split between chavista and opposition sides. I get along with about 90% of them…the remainder being the 10% ultra-idealistic anti-blahblahblah gringohaters solely off of propaganda; partially because I am American, partially because of my profession. Beyond seeing the family, other reasons we went to Venezuela was to “assist” the prosecution in the court issues regarding the young man who murdered my nephew (justice does have a price apparently) and to review the books on some joint business ventures and apply capital where needed (our own SICADI/II). So we had quite a bit of cash with us and it wasn’t exactly unknown to most of the family.

                Generally, we stay with my mother-in-law in Merida, but a couple of days after we arrived, some rather sketchy individuals started hanging out across the street who didn’t belong in the neighborhood and when asked by one of the neighbors what they were doing, they were “waiting for a friend” for two days, around the clock. This raised all sorts of red flags and the chavista side of the family who actually likes me advised us to get out with some haste whereas the chavista side who doesn’t give a cracked bolivar about me stayed curiously quiet; this was probably the most disturbing development since it is usually the other way around.

                We bugged out of her mother’s house and went to our favorite posada. Shortly thereafter, some of those same people showed up a couple of days later. I recognized one of the cars and its occupants almost immediately; it was a keystone cops approach to a stakeout in the most obvious way possible. The clerk at the front desk identified one of them as a police officer, but being Venezuela, who knows if it was for legitimate police business or something more sinister. Either way, we felt it best if we both departed since a best-case scenario was arbitrary detention and the worst was…well, it is Venezuela; Since I am most obviously a gringo, we split with myself heading home and with my wife journeying on to Margarita with some other family members.

                My sister-in-law told me, after I returned home a couple of days ago, that the posada owners who happen to be friends of hers, relayed the story that after we left, undetected, a day later the “police” went in and inquired directly about me by name. Interestingly, no mention was made of my wife, just me. She’s also had zero problems after I left nor any issues in Margarita since her arrival there. It could have all been rather benign; anywhere else and I wouldn’t have worried too much about it, but given the general malaise that afflicts Venezuela, the unlawfulness in general and violent crime in particular, I was concerned with leaving my children short a parent or two.

                We strongly suspect that someone in the family may have been trying to make things difficult for me, whether it was intentional or not, we don’t know. My father-in-law is part of that radical 10% and hates me with a passion and he would have known everywhere I was more or less going and he tends to get a bit belligerent and talkative when he’s had a bit to drink (which is more and more these days) so I think he either told someone that a pitiyanqui was up to no good, or said something stupid about us bringing lots of dollars into the country. I found it fascinating that when we saw him for the first time in a coupe of years on the second night there, all borracho’d up, after 90 seconds of conversation it rapidly went from, “I hope your four flights weren’t to tiring” to, “I bet you are happy Chavez is dead, you bastard.” without me ever getting a word in edgewise. As we left, he blamed me for every imperialist, neo-colonial, anti-Venezuelan thing he could think of for the past 200 years and made all sorts of accusations about why I was there. Can’t win ‘em all.

                Like

  4. Well they have clothing restrictions because of their uniform.

    They’re required to wear either a suit(wich some choose to use only in special events) or the usual generic red shirt,maybe one of those large jackets that make no sense living in Venezuela,generic pants(any color,no jeans) and mostly generic shoes (if it’s a sports event,you can wear the most expensive ADIDAS shoes you can find)

    The manual says nothing about watches so they use their watches to express themselves, them-capitalist-selves. Of course there’s also the case of Perez Carroña who doesn’t give a fuck and has been wearing Louis Vuitton,Dolce and Gabbana and just any overpriced designer stuff he can find since he got his first 20.000 dollar bribe.

    Like

  5. There is a very fancy shop in one of caracas malls where you can buy the best watches and trinkets there are ….payable exclusively in US Dollars .!! The prices are sky high even in US Dollars , only for the very very rich. !!

    Like

    • I ask people where all the money for the luxury malls dotting north Barinas come from and the answer is always the same: drugs and government. The irony is their concessions periodically have to close because of lack of water. You can get an italian sofa, but no milk….

      Like

    • Thanks for the video! I can now see why is it that our country systematically rank amongst the happiest in the world thanks to the revolution. No doubt, the imagery, music, and lyrics are very appropriate, they reflect the quality and class of our current leaders.

      Like

  6. Nicely done, whoever created that blog. There is an unspoken message that their days, hours, and minutes are numbered.

    Like

  7. Igualito que los cubanos. This watch blog highlights one of the biggest issues we venezuelans face, an entrenched political class that live like arab sheiks, with private planes, bodyguards, yaghts, unlimited expense accounts etc. I recall a story I heard that Jaua did not even have a suitcase when Chavez was first elected and had to borrow one from a friend for their first trip overseas. These guys aren’t letting go of their privileges easily, fuck everbody else, ellos pelaron mucha bola para soltar el coroto así de facil.

    Like

Comments are closed.