Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The stakes of April

Today I got two stories from real life. [UPDATED]

Before leaving Caracas to return to San Felipe today a customer told me this vote buying scheme from a small, really small village in the boondocks where he has his farm, the only steady source of paid jobs in that village besides, maybe, the liquor store, often the only store around.  Once a week since last year there comes a governmental trucks labelled "Carnes Venezuela " or something to that effect. They park in the main square and they "sell" a 5 kilograms set of meat in 5 distinct containers of 1 kilo each. One is ground beef, one is stew meat, etc...  No prime cut, of course.

I wrote sell in between quotes because they do ask a price to the villagers, of 100, Bs, which at 6,3 is a mere 16 bucks, for 12 pounds of meat.  Now, even if you are jobless, you can always do an odd job for a day and get 100 Bs.  If to this you add that some member of the family gets enough Mision cash grant to buy corn flour (when available) and cooking gas (when available), the family is set for a week with at least one main course a day.

What is wrong with this picture? We are not going to go into the meat quality, which is more than likely low grade. Nor will we go into how subsidized that meat is (a third of what you could get in a popular Caracas market? controlled prices since June 2011 here, and inflation about 35% since). No, not at all. We are going into my client problem in hiring people even though he is not a bad boss, fulfilling all the legal requirements, paying above minimal wage, etc, etc...  Why would people work? To make maybe twice what they can gather from the government  while sweating it? Maybe they can barely eat this way, but they do it for nearly free and no work except an occasional rally where beer of clear cheap rum is served.

I ask you: is this a social program, designed to get people out of poverty, or a mere vote buying program? Because let's make something clear, there are no jobs available in the area, only a few farm jobs or clerk jobs in the next town, about half an hour away. Even the land given to the locals have remained idle, while private farms faded, unable to resit personal insecurity and routine thievery of their products.

The second story is mine n full. I got stuck into an awful traffic jam this afternoon reaching the infamous La Cabrera tunnels in the highway between Caracas and Valencia. An hour an a half, with my car exterior thermometer indicating a 38ºC.  Why?

Well, the regime finished a long overdue re-coating of the viaduct that exits the tunnel. That re-coating should be done on a two to three year basis at most but it has been done only once since Chavez was elected in 1999, with a couple of quick touches when some potholes became too threatening. Of course the re-coating has been deadly inefficient and since last year we have been plagued with huge traffic lines forcing me too chose whenever possible to go through it on week ends (sacrificing a day out of them) or between noon and 2 PM as the time with least traffic.

Well, the reason of today's demented jam was that they decided to close the highway, the major highway of Venezuela for a little bit over an hour because they wanted to have an official reopening with the official speeches like "we have rescued the highway  when in fact it is only the routine maintenance that they would not have spent that much time doing if they had been doing it when expected. But we are at election time and the reopening should look for the idiots that vote for the regime as if a brand new highway had just been built.

What is at stake on April 14 vote is to chose between democracy an a regime turning fast into plain fascism.  It is as simple as that. Do not expect me to retain any pretense at objectivity  The people that are in charge now have absolutely no intention of taking the country out of the gutter, have no intention of creating wealth. They have all the intentions in the world of increasing dependency to the the state of the poorest segment of the population  instilling into them the knowledge that their salvation can only come from the state and not form their effort.  Indentured Mision, if you wish.

And while they do that, while they loot the state treasury either to enrich themselves of to buy votes, they throw parties at themselves without the vaguest regard on may inconvenience the people. Of course  all the Nazional Guards and cops that are supposedly ensuring the safety of the drivers were at the party to we could have been robbed at gun point while parked on the highway.

This is a regime that has clearly lost any sense of purpose, that is on automatic people in order to ensure its survival at any cost. It has to be removed from office.


NOTITARDE, a Valencia paper took up the story, though they have started self censoring. They did not mention the huge traffic line but they did show some pictures so you can figure it out anyway. I picked some for your enjoyment:
Idiot Ameliach, Carabobo governor, doing his press thing and certainly taking all the credit for a work that his predecessor would have completed long ago if credits arrived on time.  
This was taken by a stuck car in the opposite lanes. It is the moment when finally the traffic was released and we could start driving again.  

I love this one. The journalist or someone climbed above the tunnel exit. You can see that the opposite line was also delayed. It was not blocked but restricted enough that the line was still 2 miles when I drove by (I checked on my counter!). You see also the stupid tent they rented for the idiotic propaganda ceremony. And best, you can see the cops and Nazional Guards waving their arms for us to speed up, as if this would make any difference....  I suppose they did realize what they had done because of Ameliach and the idiot minister from Caracas and felt better by waving their arms. Or something....


  1. Interesting stories of everyday life/ exactly what is most meaningful in the end.

    I also have a story.

    Back in the early 70's when I lived in Los Frailes de Catia, and during the 4th Republic...

    For awhile( a few years) 4 of us were living on the poor salary of my political Aunt,a seamstress who worked in Silencio for a slave-driving Spaniard who paid low wages.

    Everyday my mother in law prepared for all of us, a big Sancocho for dinner,a hearty breakfast, and an ample lunch.The Sancochos were usually fresh fish( Oriental style), mondongo,or chicken.Lunches were often fried chicken and root vegetables,and salad,or sometimes pasta, and breakfasts were most likely pan con cafe,and always, always, in every meal, a large arepa with or without cheese.Sometimes casabe was served instead of pan or arepa. The food was plentiful, and during my second pregnancy I actually gained too much weight from all the food.In the US I was used to eating very little.

    Now one of the big problems I see, is how many young people from the middle or upper classes simply do not understand that most people back then,during the 4th Republic, had more than enough to eat, educational opportunities,stolen electric, and decent clothing.The only thing lacking was the general lack of justice for anyone without money.Of course I cam sure that this quality remains and has even gotten worse.

    But how can anything be clarified or remedied when we have so many young people who have no idea of the past opining on at all with such incredible arrogance.Yes arrogance, the problem of the Venezuelan middle class.

    This problem is as big or bigger than Chavismo, and may even be part of the make up of Chavismo itself. Actually I am sure it is.

    This is my story.


  2. Dr. Faustus10:09 AM

    Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading that.

    But I think the real point behind your post is the fundamental question hanging over all of Venezuela: What happens when the money runs out?

    It surely will. That point is fast approaching. Every commentary concerning the recent end of the Chavez era is laced with various and sundry quotes from official UN agencies concerning the 'supposed' reduction in poverty over the last 12 years. Right. Got it. However, when it all implodes, and it surely will, the poverty rate in Venezuela will reach shocking proportions once again. Will the commentators who so richly praised the Chavez era begin having second thoughts? Do they understand the insanity taking place, Will any of them take the time to discover the Cassandra-like warnings written in blogs like this one? We told you. We warned you. Why did you people 'support' such insanity without looking at the underlying fundamentals? The real victims here are the Venezuelan poor. They have no idea what's coming.

  3. Dr Faustus,

    I heartily disagree that the real victims are the poor.They are victims for sure, but far more damaged are the multitude of average Joes who could go one way or the other, but who are totally corrupted by an utterly corrupt system.This creates a society that is so sick, that it will be difficult to recuperate its former self.Poverty can be remedied tomorrow.A sick soul may never recover.Poverty strengthens the character but corruption weakens it.A society full of strong people has hope.A society full of weak ones does not.f pigette

    1. Charly11:49 AM

      Firepigette, you are right, two different issues here, as for the poor, when the money runs out there will still be aplenty to pay handsomely the praetorian guard to keep these bloody no-good in check, so that's that. As for the average Joe, you really got a good point and your thinking seems to meet that of Lt Colonel Frank Slade, remember the line in Scent of a Woman: "But there isn't nothin' like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that." That poor country will eventually be in need of a brain transplant.

  4. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Daniel, can you please post a spanish version, I would like to post it on my facebook for my venezuelan friends...

    As always thanks for your analisys.



  5. Dr. Faustus11:59 AM


    No, my point is very simple. I completely agree with Daniel here that this is the 21st century version of fascism. It is. My hostility is directed toward the commentators, the enablers. Those persons who merely shrug their shoulders at the grotesque spectacle being paraded in front of them. The death of a very simple, uneducated megalomaniac has elicited widespread praise from around the world. The jaw-dropping images of the Chavistas turning his death into a macabre religious experience should have been repugnant to all journalists who understand history. It is fascism. It has similarities to Lenin (embalming) and the cult of raising a human being to that of a deity. There's an element of paganism in it as well. Neville Chamberlain had the good sense to pass away during the progress of the Second World War. King Edward the VIII and Charles Lindbergh did not. They all witnessed the growing cult of the fascist movements of the 1930's, both Mussolini and Hitler, and never blinked an eye. I wonder if they felt any guilt after the carnage of the Second World War? Similarly, do any of the 'enablers' of the Chavista movement today feel any responsibility to the consequences of the insane economic policies being implemented in Venezuela? I doubt it. Who cares if it all collapses into violence and bloodshed in the end, so long as someone can point to those UN statistics showing the reduction of poverty in Venezuela. It's kinda like Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson showing-up at the Berghof and praising its resident for bringing Germany out of the financial mess of the 1920's. In their eyes, the end always justifies the means.

  6. we have so many young people who have no idea of the past opining on at all with such incredible arrogance.Yes arrogance, the problem of the Venezuelan middle class.

    Would you care to provide examples, firepigette, of that middle-class arrogance, presumably in Venezuela, where you no longer live?

    I wonder what kind of parallel universe you inhabit? For ascribing a human trait shared by what I perceive to be a minority of any given population, the world over, to apply en masse to the Venezuelan middle class, is, well....What I can say without exaggerating claims, which is just another form of arrogance by those who lie to the unsuspecting.

    1. Syd,

      I would be happy to give examples of middle class arrogance to anyone but you, but I think you already gave one so there is no need :)



    2. Although Syd may have been unnecessarily snide-ish in her comment, it remains that her request is valid.

      I suggest that both of you cool it, please.

    3. Don't provide examples just for me, firepigette. Do it for anyone who reads these comments, and who have wondered, as I do, where on earth you come up with your labels of an entire social class in Venezuela. :-)

      That is, unless your dictum is part of your 'resentimiento', or a personal trait that you're trying to cover. For I find airy exaggerations without a slew of examples on "the middle class" to be the epitome of gall.

      I suspect that gall is not your intention. But it comes across as that, or a dire need for attention. And just like no one in the serious world gets away with statements that can't backed up, so too, should it be on this serious blog, where the earnest gather.

      Waiting for your multiple examples...

  7. Boludo Tejano1:05 PM

    Even the land given to the locals have remained idle, while private farms faded, unable to resit personal insecurity and routine thievery of their products.

    So sad.Personal initiative destroyed, replaced by government handouts. Farming fading in response to theft- this is an example of crime helping Chavismo's goal of destroying private enterprise, to be replaced by government control/handouts. Which helps explain why Chavismo has been ineffective regarding crime.

    What would happen if a farmer were to shoot night time raiders? Would the farmer be prosecuted?

    When I worked in Trinidad, I was told that a lot of people had stopped farming because of night-time produce raids.

    1. Of course the farmer would be prosecuted!!!!!

  8. Michel Garcia2:52 PM

    This may not be the place or time, but I really would like to know. Why the insistence in linking chavismo with fascism when it's (marxist-stalinist) communism? The fascist elements that have been mentioned in the last posts are actually of communist origin; remember Hitler modeled the Nazi State after Stalin's Soviet Union.

    1. Your are confusing final product with the way to go. Fascism and Communism all end up in a totalitarian state, but they go there under different modalities. What I see these days is more a fascist approach than a communist one.

      Fascism tend to be a "just do it, pass the law after", communism sorts of pretends to pass the law first. Fascists also change the laws with more ease than commies, because indeed commies tend to be more careful about writing their laws so repression is all encompassing and durable. Communism has personality cult, of course, but the party is first. In fascism there is a central figure, linked or not with a party. The PSUV can hardly be qualified as a Communist party, the best proof being that the PCV refused to join in such an amalgam kept in line only by Chavez.



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