These past few weeks rich in bizarre events have managed to be outdone by today's offering.
This week CEDICE (1) in Venezuela held a symposium on occasion of its 25th anniversary. So it invited intellectuals, economists and politicians of the Liberal wing of Latin America to participate. NOTE: the is NOT Liberal in the US sense but Liberal as in the rest of the world sense, that is free markets, capitalism, democracy, etc, something that does not apply even to the US GOP fully as the US is in its politics as well as its sports, unique... Let's use the term neo-liberal to simplify things, very different from neo-con, though neo-liberal does not describe the CEDICE attendance in full.
So far so good, except that chavismo quickly showed how upset it was at CEDICE being able to gather so many prominent figures of neo-liberalism, or not (Vargas Llosa, Krause and Castañeda among other luminaries). Quickly we saw an amazingly discombobulated Vanessa Davies alerting the Venezuelan people about all the lies that would be said at the CEDICE symposium. Apparently only the Latin American left is allowed to proselytize everywhere....
I will pass on the details, like the harassment at the airport of such figures as Mario Vargas Llosa, ex runner up Peruvian presidential candidate, on the short list for the next Nobel Literature Prize for Latin America, author of the "Fiesta del Chivo" about the demise of the Trujillo dictatorship and thus a "bête noire" of the Chavez regime.
Chavez in his 4 days marathon Alo Presidente challenged the intellectuals attending the CEDICE event to come to his Alo Presidente and debate ideas. CEDICE thought for a while and accepted the debate but on one condition: it will be held between Mario Vargas Llosa and Chavez himself, in equal conditions of time and responses. After all as Castañeda pointed out a day earlier, to debate underlings of Chavez he does not need to come to Venezuela, he can find them anywhere. And he is right, as the occasional appearance of a PSF brings to this blog: experience showed that debating extensively PSF is a waste of time, so for people way more involved than Castañeda I can understand that debating, say, Monedero or Ramonet is simply not worth his time while in Venezuela. Surely he will bump into them someday at home or elsewhere with more leisure.
The reply of Chavez was rather quick and I saw it almost within minutes from CEDICE announcement, live on TV. He replied from his running Alo Presidente, mocking CEDICE and eventually reaching extreme lameness by saying that he was not in the same league as Mario Vargas Llosa. I agree with Chavez, all that Mario Vargas Llosa is he owes it to his work, his mind, his intellect and his genuine life experience with the necessary evolutions included in the life of someone who has functioning neurons. Chavez is stuck in a time warp and anything that he thinks he can boast of he got it solely on one merit: getting the Venezuelan people to entrust him with the key of the vault so Chavez could spend the last ten years buying sycophantic good will.
Let's not be afraid of words: Chavez run scared and refused the debate with Vargas Llosa, not even as a private meeting at Miraflores that Vargas Llosa would have probably accepted, even posing for a picture that would have benefited more Chavez than Vargas Llosa as smartly observed by "el ciudadano".
But see, after so many years of being surrounded by sycophants that laugh at any of his stupid jokes or inane vulgarity, Chavez is simply afraid to be in a real debate, with equal opportunities for both sides. Just as the PSF here refuse to debate in a format where all participants are limited to three entries to make a single point. They prefer to write elsewhere that this blog is not worth reading, their right of course though I will observe that I do publish my ratings while they do not publish theirs in case they want to compare "leagues" as their beloved leader.
When free insults, when intimidation are not tools that can be used by chavistas, they simply back down and run as Chavez did tonight. Just as it happened a few days ago when the Presidents of the UCV and Simon Bolivar University were greeted with a heckling mob at the ministry of universities where a dialogue was supposed to be held; just as the dissident students where entrapped at the Nazional Assembly summer 2007. In each case, as well as others, the only reply was to walk out or refuse to go. Chavistas can only "discuss" when they control all and thus can drown any uncomfortable truth with crowd screams. The coward method.
PS: closing this post we find the interview that CNN did to Vargas Llosa after the Chavez put down attempt. With video included, but in Spanish, sorry. The dignity of Vargas Llosa compared to the truculence of Chavez is just amazing. Not to mention that Vargas Llosa showed that Chavez lied once again about his passport. By the way Vargas Llosa reminds us that Chavez NEVER debated anyone, that he is ALWAYS as a monologue, even an autistic one (dixit Vargas Llosa).
PS2: "arrugó" is a colloquial term in Venezuela used to describe those who launch a dare and then excuse themselves.
1) CEDICE = Center to Divulge Economical Knowledge (Centro de Divulgación del Conocimiento Económico)