Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Mision Cultura, the bolivarian cultural revolution

All authoritarian governments, and some not so authoritarian on occasion, have the need to become cultural "effectors", to launch a cultural revolution, be it from the extremes of Mao's ill named and disastrous Cultural Revolution, to the German Kulturkampf of Bismarck's Germany. There is always that need to regenerate the ideal citizen by a return to some old values that are more often imagined as having been that what they actually were. Thus it was only a matter of time for our local El Supremo to fool around with his own cultural revolution. However this being a bolibabanana revolution, any result far from the norm can be expected.

The latest initiative that Chavez pulled off his hat in his Sunday's comedy show is "Mision Cultura". Joining Mision Barrio Adentro that cures the body with aspirins, now there is a new mision to cure the soul, I suppose.

What is that "mision cultura"? From Chavez announcement:
The Revolution cannot limit itself to the economical transformations. A powerful shot of a transforming culture that gathers the strongest of our values [deficient translation of the impossible orwellian revolutionary language]

The Kultur minister gave us some more detailed explanations (accompanied by pictures of the attending culturees), the actual words from the minister in blue as per the official media:
…traditional institutions such as museums, libraries and the like “incapable to accompany the people in its cultural development as they just fall short” [this from the minister that sleeps well at night as public cultural treasuries are looted by the indigents in search of metal parts to build their shacks].

... to solve the problems "we have created an organic network of folks that are down there, that live with the people and that can reach everywhere" so as to compile, promote and lead the culture among the Venezuelan people [now, that is quite Kultural, as I suppose those people will be the arbiters of what is genuine popular culture].

"we need an army of people to prepare itself" he explained. Thus at first about 28 000 activators (students) will start preparing in “a novel university system, very economical” which in addition over time will give them an university degree: Bachelor in Education, mention Cultural Development. At the nation wide level, about 300 facilitators will be those who will direct their classes.

As of now, 9 515 activators have been selected through consensus in the popular assemblies at the base in their own communities.

The system will be very cheap, each student costing only 232 USD a year, compared to the Universidad Simón Bolívar, which has a cost of 5580 to 7440 USD per student. And no tuition. [except that the minister fails to mention that USB is the top public university in Venezuela and forms the best engineers, but why would a revolution need engineers?]

And also the folks living in the Country Club and the South East part of Caracas will benefit[main opposition lairs]: “This process is all inclusive: anyone of any tendency can join, hopefully disconnecting from the Miami culture, but they can make it

So there you have, a mixture of support group, folklore and reeducation camp.

Chavez completed the picture indicating that the influence of the United States and other countries through TV and other media tried to eliminate our cultural values, which this mision tries to revert:
"They tried to erase the indian, the black, the white too. We are a mix!” [I am not making this up, the textual words: "Trataron de borrarnos lo indio, lo negro, lo blanco también. ¡Somos una mezcla! "]

I need not comment a lot, this speaks for itself. My only question is what will happen to the 18 year old scotch guzzled at chavista parties? And what about baseball, our national game, such a vile and US identified sport that the Olympic Committee has dumped it form the games a few days ago?

On a personal level I feel intellectually quite insulted by this. I invite the minister to visit my home where he will be able to appreciate all the Venezuelan artisan pieces that I treasure, the 50 or so Venezuelan CD that do not include Salsa (another foreign Kultural import), my books on Venezuela arts and history, while I treat him to a choice of one of the 4 Venezuelan rums that I have in my shelves (as many as the different scotch I have, none more than 12 years old). And if he wishes to spend the night I can let him use one of my Venezuelan hammocks [I have both chinchorro and hamaca, his choice] while I discuss the very different merits of the Margariteño, Tintorero, pavilo, and moriche which I have all used and worn out through life (6 so far).

=== === === === ===
And for some real hammock culture.
The exquisite Wayuu hamaca (from the Colombian side according to the German site, though they are the same each side of the border).
How to use a chinchorro, with diagrams.
The Tintorero variant, with baby.
How we lived with chinchorros, 1848; or as a crib.
The Orinoco Bare chinchorro, the Ye'kuana, and the Hiwi.
And much more but no pic at hand (margariteño, Bocono, cocuiza, Monagas...)


  1. Raquel9:49 AM

    I think that despite youre venezuelan collection of arts and rums, you are lacking to understand the basic needs that many venezuelans have, and that they are not able to purchase youre wonderful collection.
    I think you have missed the point on Venezuelans, and you are being intellectually insulted because you are not wise enough to understand their issues, do not criticize when you are not aware of the reality Mr collector.

  2. Rachel

    The one that does not understand the issue is you. This is not a matter of what the Venezuelan people need. This post was written in 2005, check the date, and since then the needs of Venezuelans have not only not been met, but they became more pressing. On this respect alone your comment misses the mark, widely.

    As for the point of the post, we are discussing here what the culture of Venezuela is. Is the one that Chavez wants to impose more valid than the one that I already practice? Is it because Chavez was elected that we also should abide by his cultural taste? Since when does an election confer cultural taste on a single man and his sycophants? Last time proposals like yours happened, we got an exposition on degenerate art in Nazi Germany. Think about that for a minute.


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