Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Religious wars in Venezuela

Readers familiar to this blog might remember my tenet that chavismo has become more like a religious cult than a political movement. The latest battle between the Catholic Church and chavismo illustrates this again, and quite well I must add.

It all started with the logical observation by the Catholic Church synod in Venezuela that it was about time that discussion about constitutional change become more public. The church was simply underlining what anyone with half a brain could have observed: it was simply becoming obscene that the government kept discussing constitutional deep changes behind closed doors for months. That is, until a leaked document made it clear that we were not talking amendments, but a deep overhaul of the constitution, an attempt to change the basis of our government. Such profound change cannot simply done because Chavez said so, just because he wants to become president for life, our new Juan Vicente Gomez who changed constitution at will to perpetuate his power. We have overcome those days and we do not want to go back to the Barbary that Chavez wants us to go back again.

In other words the Church simply worded a concern that too many citizens, including this blog, were voicing out loud. Specially when the proposed changes lead to an irreversible dictatorship which leaves opponents only with violence as an option. (note: all links to English texts today!)

What was the reaction of Chavez? Hysterical, out of all proportion, bringing the church to start accusing the government of harassment, with plenty of justification. But this was only the start, it seems that there is in fact a concerted policy to silence the Catholic church, exactly as what all authoritarian regimes end up doing when they ground their legitimacy on crass materialism or sect like credo. Chavismo qualifies on both counts.

For example today the foreign minister, nothing else, and one wonders why, went ahead and accused the Church to establish a new "inquisition" against Chavez. I agree that Chavez should be burnt to the intellectual stake of misplaced ideas and end up in jail the rest of his days forced to understand what he keeps quoting unconfronted; but to think that in the XXI century the Catholic Church could even establish a judicial tribunal reflects only the empty head and absolute lack of formal education and culture that Maduro suffers but seems to brag about.

I suspect that the Church was seeing this coming. Ominous signs are everywhere that the hard core chavismo is on the war path to destroy whatever stands on its way. Since the students are currently a stumbling block they decided to tackle someone else and the Church, for long a target, got its hour of reckoning advanced (after all, the Cuban G2 is organizing the silencing of Venezuelan dissent, they are the experts) .

A few days ago we had an interesting event that tells much about the mental state and not so hidden objectives of Chavismo as a religion. There is an old hospital in Maracaibo that had benefited all these years of a special status. It had been given to the city by Creole, the old oil company in the 50ies. Thus it must have had some form of endowment/rental situation that sort of protected it partially from the neglect that all state hospitals suffer these days when only the Barrio X centers benefit form any governmental sympathy. Something for which details are not clear happened: PDVSA, the heir of Creole, decided to take over full management of this reasonably well functioning hospital when the rental contract expired. Rumors circulated fast, such as that all the MD that do not enter into communion with the "rojo, rojito" political credo of PDVSA can pick up their pink checks whenever they feel like it.

But PDVSA did not stop there: apparently they were planing to rename the hospital. The hospital was originally named for the Coromoto virgin, the saint patroness of Venezuela. Believe it or not the new name was going to be Ernesto "che" Guevara. That is right, the chosen name was for one of the holiest saints of the chavista cult to violence and death. The statue of the Coromoto was even removed and a new pedestal built. However in front of the outcry the new hospital management refused to comment and the new pedestal has remained empty! While the Coromoto waits on the side. It seems that the hospital will not change its name after all, "por ahora".

I ask you, if you were half dead in a hospital, who would you pray to first: the mother figure of the Virgin or to a well established assassin? My bet is that in such circumstances most of the hard core chavista would chose the Virgin Mary before the Che.

You think perhaps "poor Daniel, he is losing it, he is going from agnosticism to Catholic fervor just to piss off chavistas". Well, look at the picture below.


If you enlarge it you can read that the rubble behind the poster (pic taken this very last week end in San Felipe) is the future renovated medical eye center of San Felipe (strangely built for once in a town hall held by the opposition, go figure). That center will be named for Che Guevara. Coincidence? Me thinks not. He is everywhere these days, chavismo never bringing up all the thousands of people that died through his direct or indirect actions. Religions have this strange way to turn mass murderers into saints.

But the war will be an all out assault this time as chavismo will even poach into the church fields to gain more propaganda. Pope Benedict just approved the beatification of a second Venezuelan, Madre Candelaria de San Jose. So, what did Chavez do? His administration decreed a three days national holiday in honor of the new beatified nun (in Spanish here, sorry, the only non English link today). That is right, the church gets a saint and Chavez tries to pull her to his side without even taking a breath after grievously insulting the Venezuelan synod. By the way, does anyone recall when was the last time that Chavez attended a religious service, except for his Sunday preach at Alo Presidente?

So there we are, an increasingly erratic but strong willed chavismo is attacking the church. Evangelical churches surely cannot be far behind: after all someone someday will point out that many of them are supported from the US. The bolivarian revolution again shows the unmistakable signs of falling into your average repressive regime. How unoriginal.

Added 24 hours later: Weil has this to the point cartoon where the Devil endorses the policies of the Chavez crowd against the Catholic Church. It is that simplistic for chavistas.



-The end-

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