UPDATED. Sometimes after so many posts I have the strange feeling that I have already used a given title. But I am too lazy to check it back. Besides with Chavez it is a never ending recycling of clichés we must respond to.
However this week is particularly rich in provocations which can mean only one thing: Chavez is desperately trying to set the agenda so we do not discuss here or abroad what must be really discussed. A few gems.
Zimbabwe. On the ridiculous side we learn that Venezuela goes out of its way to invite and make sure that Mugabe attends some summit in Venezuela late September. Among other matters discussed with the Venezuelan envoy there was the need (I am not making this up) to strengthen the links between Zimbabwe and Venezuela. It gets better, there is a wish to promote tourism. Yeah right, with the meager USD allocated by the Venezuelan government I am going to be able to afford expensive safaris in Zimbabwe..... I mean, they still do safaris there or is it over? Or was that because Zimbabweans supporting Mugabe cannot go to any resort without being harassed and Chavez wants them to go to Margarita?
Benavides. On the sinister side we have the colonel who directed the repression last Saturday being granted swiftly the "Libertador order" of Venezuela. The first thought that crossed my mind of course was that once Chavez leaves office we will need to create new medals in Venezuela because I for one, would not want to wear the Libertador order. Not that my life is conducing to gain state medals and honors, but if it were so I would need to decline anything coming from Chavez. At least now we know for sure that the fascist harangue Benavides gave last Saturday was not destined to his troops but to Chavez. That Benavides crossed a line that should never be crossed by a military: to support a political side openly, with violence implied. Of course he received his fascist reward from Chavez promptly and we can expect him to become a general anytime soon. The revolution needs its repressive agents, you know... Note: what struck me most in Benavides harangue was his poor speech ability, amen of his grammatical weakness (rompido, as if some lout in the US army officer corps would use 'brokened'). Truly, fascism requires a certain brutishness form its agents.
Colombia. On the graver side Chavez deliberately pursues his policy of breaking up with Colombia. He announced that relations will be broken soon (amazing that he must say that instead of breaking them once and for all). Of course Colombia is not staying quiet about it, accused Chavez of meddling, goes to the OAS and says that at the UNASUR meeting not only the military "bases" of the US in Colombia will be discussed. Meanwhile we learn that border trade already fell 30%. The consequences of this craziness is, well, war. The way things are going it is becoming not a question of whether there will be war but when.
Why so many provocations? Very simple: things are fast becoming unmanageable inside Venezuela. Last Saturday unexpectedly large demonstration of the opposition, in the middle of school vacation period, showed Chavez that what polls were telling him was true: his support has been going downhill for the past three months, and in a qualitative way that bodes ill for an easy recovery, even if oil were to find its way back to 100USD by next year. Thus the need for distraction, at any cost, until the Chavez team find a way out of its quandary. Unfortunately it will not work because they are not addressing the root of the problem: the heliocentric nature of the regime around Chavez, with the classical mistake of trying to control more and more as the ability to control decreases. The last time we had a somewhat related situation in Latin America was when Galtieri of Argentina decided to invade the Falklands.
Update: in his Tal Cual editorial today Teodoro Petkoff ALSO uses the Falkland analogy. So it is not yours truly alone that is suffering of stream of consciousness.