Saturday, June 12, 2004

...and give us our daily Cadena.
Media abuse in Venezuela, and some other thoughts on middle class demise and Caracas as a slum.

Saturday evening

Chavez loss in the signature collection process, in spite of all the frauds committed from his side, all the millions spread, all the blackmailing, has resulted in an angry Chavez, doing the only thing he can do: campaign. So, instead of buying TV time like any political party would do, he gives a daily "cadena". By law he is allowed to tie up ALL the air borne media for announcements of National importance. But he abuses it for ours, discussing anything he pleases, almost exclusively attacks on the opposition, and lately on the Evil Empire of the North who has bought all of the leaders of the opposition. Tonight he is inaugurating a ketchup plant that has been recovered by the National Guard (!), which finances it from its savings association. Ribbon cut, up went the cadena and the ranting.

Amazingly during the whole cadena I have had time to wash my dinner dishes, take a shower and update my Internet reading. And the cadena continues, so I might as well write a post (France is playing tomorrow, I might not write :)

Two articles caught my attention tonight. The first one is an account of Gustavo Coronel visit to Caracas. He resides in the US now, but seems to come often. His tale of Caracas woes is hair rising. His tale of governmental resources misappropriation even worse. Which of course brings him to the following conclusion:
Words are ineffectual against poverty unless good and transparent management of national wealth accompanies them.

The other Internet item on the agenda was a new post from Val Dorta. He bemuses the fact that no real Middle Class has existed in Venezuela and that goes a long way to explain our current statement, our inability to shackle off our populism. He does make a few good points, in particular when he analyses the psychotic dependency that we have with oil, but I am not quite in agreement on his main premise.

A middle class exists (or has existed before Chavez?). It was composed of two elements: an entrepreneurial and a bureaucratic sections. Certainly the entrepreneurial was in part tainted by government easy contracts and corruption. But Venezuela until the 80 ies was able to create a few large private companies: Polar, Protinal, the Cisneros group and other not as big. Some perhaps did ride the tail of a favorable administration, but many of the smaller companies contrary to the black legend did obtain their riches the hard way. In fact most enterprises that were born out of governmental blessing eventually disappeared, lacking that je ne sais quoi that ensures the survival of business starting from ground zero: dedication. The ill fate of this sector was actually the irresponsibility of the government policies, the successive devaluations, the general insecurity that settled late in the 70ies.

The bureaucratic middle class had its worth also. As Venezuela developed a too large administration it also developed a significant educational and health care sector that did create a middle class of its own. Maybe it did not share the entrepreneurial values of the other middle class group, but it certainly share its love of democracy, its desire of self determination.

Both classes, both now severely diminished in the last decade, and on purpose by Chavez policies, are the one that set the democratic tone of the country. Even if now they are only 20 to 30% of the population, they have convinced enough of the remaining 70% of the other sector to follow them in the quest for a better Venezuela.

Wether we have learned the lesson of 40 years of populism is another question. What is certain is that we do have a core population in the country that considers that work and education are what frees us from dependence.

Otherwise we would have failed at collecting the signatures to force a Recall Election.

Euro Cup is doing me a world of good! I have not written something this optimist in a long time!

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