Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Delirium tremens in Venezuela?

Quo non ascendet?

On August 15 1805 legend has it that Simon Bolivar swore on some Roman ruins that he would fight until death to free America from European yoke. Or was that Caracas from Spain? Nobody really knows for sure as it was only reported decades after the death of Simon Bolivar, by the only alleged eye witness, Simon Rodriguez, to someone else who waited a few years until saying it so himself. But no reference of this scene in Bolivar’s own hand writing.

It does not matter: it is a tall tale worth exploiting and as a child I remember cartoon books on Bolivar with a dashing young Simon swearing in Rome, with romantic ruins in the background. Very Goethe.

Nobody dwelling much on the fact that to be traveling as a tourist in 1805 Rome one had to be rather rich, in addition of adventurous. Which of course speaks of the high class background of one who these days some would love to pass as the first Marxist in history.

One of those who could not resist to have his little own Roman holiday was El Supremo. But it did not work out, probably after somebody told him that Rome in August 15 was not the very best place where to go and do campaign as only carloads of Japanese tourists would be there to welcome him. Add to it the expensive youth festival and a rather pitiful electoral showing on Sunday 7 for somebody hoping to gain 10 million a year form now, and Chavez decided to do his own little Monte Sacro party at home.

So, taking advantage of adulating and well paid youth hanging around in Caracas streets, courtesy of Venezuelan petrodollars, Chavez had his little party at he Panteon church hill in lieu of some Roman hill. At least he had the remains of Bolivar a few feet away from the podium.

But the honors really were not going to be for Bolivar. In his speech (1) Chavez announced to probably a few bemused faces that he was planning to do better than Bolivar, that he would not plow the sea and retire late enough to make sure that his work would be accomplished. In short, Chavez will lead personally the fight to vanquish the US imperialism, the worst that ever existed on earth, about to commit genocide on who knows what. You got to love that free use of such burdened words as genocide and imperialism: in his supreme ignorance of history recent speeches seem to indicate that Chavez has decided that it would be simply better to rewrite it.

I suppose that in some deranged minds US imperialism is worse than, say, the Holocaust or the Gulag. Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that there is indeed a relation between Bagdad and Buchenwald (as my fingers just hurt typing this blasphemy). But when one reads that Venezuela is buying bad Ecuadorian debt, one is allowed to ask the following question: “and what about Venezuelan imperialism?”

In aeternum

Unfortunately it seems that Chavez is getting ready to stay in office until now 2030. at which time he would be 75 years old. So conceivably sometime along the way he could pull a Castro and push the envelope until 2035 or later. There is already talk of 9 year presidential terms and unlimited reelections. Probably with Rodriguez directing the farce all along, vis comica at the CNE

Of course, the real question here is how come someone can think of himself as so indispensable? Even the longest “serving” tyrants of our history were more careful with appearances. Guzman Blanco retired for a while to France before coming back. Gomez did put puppet presidents, and even left the country without a president for a little while. But now El Supremo is shamelessly planning an “until death does us part”. If there were ever an opportunity for people to start wondering about Chavez good intentions and metal balance, well, that is the one. Quosque tandem at Miraflores?

Sustine et abstine

Indeed this new development is quite worrying. I think that Chavez is smart enough to realize that not only his words are silly, but that they spread unnecessary alarm here and abroad. Not because it is necessarily a bad thing to have a president for life if he were really doing a good job, but someone who already survived a Recall Election with 40% of the people truly opposing his stay cannot possibly assume 2030 as a dead line, even more after last Sunday not even half of his folks bothered going to vote in spite of all his entreaties and CNE cheating. Castro does not seem to have such problems when he calls for elections: he gets his 100% participation and yes. So, what’s the deal?

Perhaps that braggadocio is actually a way to pretend to ignore what happened last Sunday. A betrayal of his subconscient? Or actually an announcement of things to come? Meanwhile we might as well get ready for even wilder speeches to come as we are reaching a few bicentennial events.

(1) Special treat today: all links to articles in English!

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