From a reading giving a good reflection on our reality
Wednesday October 15, 2003
Today my offering is the translation of an article published last Sunday (10/12) in El Universal by Carlos Blanco. Mr. Blanco is as close as we get to an analyst/politician/writer/op-ed columnist that could be classified as belonging to the democratic right. He used to host a TV show called Blanco y Negro (White and Black) with Aristobulo Isturiz, a very dark African Venezuelan who is now the education minister of Chavez. I wonder if they still talk to each other, though during the times when they explored the two political faces of the country they seemed to appreciate each other well enough. But Chavez went over all of us.
At any rate I got permission to translate the article and there it is. But be warned, there are some comments that are border line scatological. I deem them quite appropriate though as our climate as become quite scatological per se, not to mention the mounds of detritus that can be found in downtown Caracas these days. Zeitgeist.
The degree of destruction of society is very high, to the point that the emigration of Chavez would only be a small episode considering the task that the country has in front. Many wonder why the hierarchs of the regime facing such a gigantic disaster are so unmoved; but the truth is that they do not see the disaster and they might be proud with the results.
An extensive flaw of analysis is to assume that the vision of the critics of the regime is the same as this last one. When the opposition sees calamities it is thought that the universal gaze also sees them, and that is not always true; the relative positions are the ones that allow evaluation of successes and failures.
An essential victory of the regime has been the destruction of the social fabric; that is, the values, the institutions, the affections, the ways, with which the country built itself. Indeed a few of these elements had to be modified or overcome, but the larger part that constituted the canvas upon which was drawn the Venezuelan essence, today is destroyed. The country that we had, complex, contradictory, full of seductions and also of abysms, has been lost. Now it is a territory where loathing has set shop; where differences have become dilemmas and opposites enemies. The grimace produced by the Bolivarian hatred could last longer than the memory of this time.
The country has been taken apart. The Venezuelan business man, as a class, has disappeared. Not that the business people do not exist; they do. A few still powerful, a few less so, many ruined and a few fattening their accounts by their putrid adhesion to the government. But, the business class as a social group, diverse, able to influence and develop alternatives as a partner to the state, does not exist anymore. It is over. There are owners, directors and managers of business, but there is no social class able to share projects and exert their might. Many of those, that helped to dig the grave of the imperfect Venezuelan democracy, are today the victims of their works.
The Venezuelan middle class is another casualty; this one was the daughter and owner of the political system, the most powerful of Latin America. The one that decided the political line of Venezuela, that brought to the top AD and COPEI(1), was disenchanted with these parties and opened the door to Chavez. This class that made and unmade governments, that represented the prosperity of a society in expansion, today lays exhausted waiting for the 15 and last day of every month. It is impoverished, victim of the revolution’s greed, a revolution to which birth it assisted and to which demises it dedicates every minute.
The workers organized in trade unions are also the martyrs of the folly. Without a doubt, the CTV is the only institution that has withstood standing up the assaults of the autocracy, but the parallel Unions, the betrayal of the bought leaders and the shrinking of the productive structure have transformed organized labor into a minority.
The dynamics of the destruction of the business class, of the middle class and of organized labor are seen, from the perspective of today’s ruling class, as immense victories in view of the objective or a society of disjointed citizens, only linked to each other by the regime and its chief.
The essential achievement of the autocrat is to have dynamited the value of private property. This one has ceased to be a basic concept to organize a society, to become diluted in urban and rural squatting inspired in an accommodating concept of justice. All have a right to property provided that there is no group in front that thinks otherwise. It is a right that has become relative and it only depends of the humor of the chiefs of the local National Guard battalions. For the governmental chiefs there is no destruction of private property but the empire of the street justice. It is another victory that they believe they gained. One of the conquest of today exalted ones is to think, and made many think, including notorious opponents, that their raison d’être and essential objective is the fight against poverty. The revolutionaries worthies have managed to propagate with quite a success the idea that until the arrival of the Bolivarian Messiah there was no concern whatsoever for the poor and their fate. This vision is what prevents the measuring in all its scope of the massive devastation that has reproduced like a virus out of control, coming in the name of the fight against poverty.
When the street vendors appropriate for themselves as private heretofore public spaces, not only is society expropriated but a precise logic is built to obtain property: brute force; of which Sabana Grande, Baralt Avenue and the Los Andes building (1) are simple metaphors in Caracas of the revolution: streets, squares and buildings conquered for the Bolivarian Romance at the same time as they become public urinals. The result is not that the poor live better, but that the citizens are ensnared in the new social fabric that is being built in the name of a fake fight against poverty, which result is a decrepit social life for all. It is not that a collective ruin has happened but that those who are not in total calamity in their private lives, are besieged by the ruthless march of the catastrophe, in their neighborhood, in the street, in the square, where they are now estranged.
The democratic social tissue that Venezuela had built has been followed by another one, swollen, decomposed by hatred, with organs hanging without a single healthy membrane that support them. This one, and not any other, is the victory of the Revolution; it has destroyed Venezuela because it considered that it belonged to the rich, to the oligarchy or to the political parties. In its progress it brought down those that it pretended to free.
The task to come is not only to recover a political system, a relatively easy task; we have to rebuild, from its entrails, a country.
Are those that aspire to rule us up to the task?
(1) AD and COPEI were the two alternating parties of the regime before 1993. Center left and center right, in theory. Equally populist in reality.
(2) These streets have seen their sidewalks colonized by street vendors that have set shop in front of the commercial venues that previously existed. To the point that they have driven to ruin the legal tax paying business, while avoiding taxes themselves, stealing electricity from illegal takes, dirtying all the area, destroying the side walk, making transit nearly impossible and what not. Two Caracas districts have been the main victims of this disaster, the two districts held by pro Chavez mayors.