Friday, July 09, 2004

Orson Welles on rice packets
A strange twist in the food chain wars

Friday 9, July 2004

After the General strike of 2002/2003, chavismo decided to protect itself from food shortages "imposed" from the opposition (even though basic food items were always present through the strike, thus a rather hollow claim for chavismo). Thus was borne MERCAL, a distribution system managed by the state whose mission was to buy, import and distribute basic staples at lower prices than the private sector could do. In theory, as no accounting of the system is made public, prices are not that lower and quality seems under par.

Nevertheless this was yet another golden opportunity to make some propaganda. This one was inserted inside the food packages and eventually the diverse slogans found their way to the label itself. Miguel reports on two of these labels.

What struk me beyond the simplistic tone, an almost child like way to "educate", is one example they chose: Orson Welles famous radio show about the Martian Invasion. I am not so sure whether the popular sectors that supposedly are with Chavez know about this famous moment in broadcasting history. Still, someone within the chavismo propaganda machine came up with the idea that it could be used as an example on how media can lie to manipulate the people, the never ending chavista recrimination against private media in Venezuela. In other words, as an example on why control and regulate the media, (the unbelievable text in Miguel's post).

Unfortunately it did not turn out so well. In the label they dated the famous broadcast in the 50ies, when it is actually on October 30 1938, Halloween's eve. Which makes me wonder about a couple of things: 1) No one bothered to check out the real date? 2) "the 50ies" is good enough for the hoi poloi?

What is wrong with this picture?

1- It shows how they actually despise their own people that they do not bother to have the facts clear to educate them. The only thing that matters is the propaganda message.

2- It shows how sloppy chavismo works. How incredibly sloppy if you ask me. This story by itself illustrates perfectly well what the main problem of chavismo is: permanent improvisation, expediency, day to day management (if we can call that management). And I could keep going on.

This is why the Chavez star has been fading: some people are finally realizing that they actually are just used and that Chavez is unable to deliver, no matter how much money the oil industry will provide him with. I never thought that the proof would be on a cheap rice package.

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