Monday, February 24, 2014

Remembering the Revolutionary Tourist

I am pleased to welcome back for what I hope will be a few posts Alex Beech who once upon a time was arguably the best English language blogger on Venezuela, until she decided to take her writing skills elsewhere. Too long ago she did write a few posts until time and New York absorbed her. But she has never been far from her people and I asked her to let us know what does it feel to watch with the impotence that comes with the afar what goes on here.


“There was a whiff of Ozymandias to it all, but foreign supporters applauded the fantasy. Oliver Stone, visiting Caracas to make a documentary, looked blank when I asked about the distortions and corruption haemorrhaging the economy. Shrewder observers – writers and academics – would visit and confide over rum that, yes, it all seemed a bit chaotic, then return home and publicly laud the revolution's progress.” - Rory Carroll, The Guardian

Had foreigners who profited from the revolution not ignored signs that Venezuela was in free fall, had they lived and worked there, enduring horrific violence, food shortages, and the sheer exhaustion of listening to a government spew hatred, perhaps their consciences wouldn't have allowed them to make films and write books that confused the world to this day.

A racist, colonial mentality is one that accepts and condones conditions for Latin Americans that would be untenable for their own children. The defenders of the revolution confused the foreign news media, students, academics, policymakers, intellectuals, think tanks, and those around the world who could have led a healthy discourse on the merits and shortcomings of the Chavez regime. Considering the growing chaos, they could have supported Venezuela's battered and exhausted opposition. Instead, they applauded the abuse, calling Chavez's opponents "oligarchs," and other denigrating terms, borrowed from Chavez's own vocabulary.

When by 2004 the opposition had collected enough signatures to trigger a presidential referendum, (multiple times and each one rejected by the government), these foreigners were merciless and unrelenting. They continued to blame foreign powers and the CIA for conflicts in the country. Further, as time passed, they didn't blink when the balance of powers eroded, when the judicial system was purged of judges who didn't cater to the government’s will, when generals who didn't bow to Chavez suddenly disappeared, when opposition lawmakers were both verbally and physically attacked at the National Assembly, and the list goes in.

While the number of revolutionary tourists has diminished considerably, I'm amazed that even today, with a 56% inflation rate, more deaths per week than almost any country, and severe food shortages, there are still foreigners who blame shadow forces for what is due to the Venezuelan government's own mismanagement and incompetence. Admitting that the government failed would mean that their books and films were wrong, maybe making them question their worldviews. More importantly, they would have to face the fact that they created the international atmosphere that resulted in bloodshed and a monumental brain drain that starved the country of its finest minds. Because of their complicity in the regime’s horrors, “Venezuela is a shambolic, crumbling, dysfunctional ruin," according to Carroll. Perhaps an apology to the opposition is in order.


A Note by Steven Laing, poet and musician

An Open Response to the Occupy Member Who Called Me a Fascist for Criticizing the Maduro Government in Venezuela

In my life I have been called many things, some deserved; others not. “Fascist” is a new one. Apparently, according to a certain Occupy member, my criticism of the Venezuelan government for shooting civilian protesters with live ammunition (remember how everyone was cool with it when the Ohio National Guard did the same thing to students at Kent State?) makes me a CIA stooge defending the Global Oligarchy. Normally this name-calling-as-argument logic would be pretty easy for me to dismiss, but the anti-authoritarian/philosophical anarchist in me is exceptionally pissed off about the “Fascist” handle. So, I want to take a minute to address why I’m supporting the Venezuelan protesters and talk about an enormous logical fallacy I am seeing pop up regularly in the arguments of many Americans defending the Maduro regime. 

The number one problem that I want to address--and as some one identifying as libertarian-left, with emphasis on left, this is a big one—is what I am seeing as the Left’s tendency in this case to allow *policy* to excuse lack of *legitimacy.* While I am willing to accept that the policies of Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela have lessened income inequality and reduced the oligarchic influence the extremely wealthy in Venezuela enjoyed prior to 1999, those policies cannot excuse the fact that the government of Venezuela surrendered its legitimacy when it refused to allow a recount of an election with a result margin of less than 1%. It further destroyed its legitimacy as it destroyed the ballots of that election to ensure a recount would never happen. It completely annihilated any remaining trace of legitimacy by killing demonstrators, who under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are entitled to peaceably criticize their government. These are not the actions of a democratic government and the policies of any such government cannot excuse such atrocious actions. 

Recall the arguments that the right-wing pundits of Fox News et al made following the death of Augusto Pinochet when they made excuses for the horrific abuses of his regime because he, according to these apologists, saved Chile from the scourge of Communism and helped Chile maintain a market economy that is now one of the strongest in South America. It doesn’t matter! The policies of such a government become irrelevant when the means to achieve them demand the destruction of the rights that government was created to protect in the first place. That argument was garbage when the Right made it in 2006 and it is no less absolute, festering, stinking garbage now that the Left is making it today. 

The anti-authoritarian in me bristles when witnessing those with whom I have marched in advocacy of social justice making excuses for autocrats. As members of the Left we have a responsibility to speak out against the abuses perpetrated by the Left in the name of social justice. Policy cannot absolve a government that is in breach of the Social Contract. The government of Venezuela, regardless of its policies, has lost its legitimacy.


  1. Anonymous4:08 PM

    What can I add to this, absolutely right on! Daniel, this is an old poster of yours who just can't be bothered with the re-logging in process. Every day I am expecting your blog to be taken offline. Have you had any inklings of danger?

  2. Boludo Tejano4:34 PM

    Glad to have access to Alex's writings once again. I remember years ago commenting at Alex Beech's website, where we exchanged stories about Anaco.

  3. Anonymous5:06 PM

    A big moment on Twitter coming up soon! Just checked the stats and...

    @chavezcandanga = 4.15m followers
    @hcapriles = 4.14m followers


    1. Anonymous8:05 PM


      What would probably be more meaningful would be the growth of followers over say the last 6 months of Chavez, Caprilez, Maduro and Lopez.

      After all Chavez is dead and most people will not bother and unfollow him.


    2. Anonymous8:57 PM = daily average -369 = daily average + 21083 = daily average + 7,544 = daily average + 32,805

      Maduro has a total of 1.79m followers
      Lopez has a total of 2.43m followers

      I remember the big fanfare when chavez made it to 4m, national cadena and everything. I think Chavez's high was around 4.25m if I remember correctly.

      If you want the graphs and other stats just visit the links for each person above at


    3. Anonymous9:08 PM

      For a view of things soon after the election in April last year check out this post.


  4. Sorry Alex, But I have to take issue with the following statement:

    "A racist, colonial mentality is one that accepts and condones conditions for Latin Americans that would be untenable for their own children."

    When making accusations against others for their political reasoning, you should take care not to use such flaming and categorical thinking that you cannot prove to be true, and that when observed by an apolitical outsider as myself looks plainly absurd.My impression of their nonsense is simply that :Conservatives support Conservatives, Leftists support Leftists and tend to excuse the cognitive dissonance. Being far away from the situation helps, because they also have the excuse of ignorance.Ironically Liberals are especially prone to kind of authoritarian thinking that demands legal proof,and academic certification.

    The other thing I would like to remind everyone, is that focusing on what foreigners say (or do not say) about the Venezuelan situation is secondary.It is much more important that many Venezuelans do not know what is going on in Venezuela than on what gringos think.Otherwise it is second cousin to the deadly scapegoating.

    You should know how it goes.When will a Liberal admit that Fox News got it right from the start ?

    Politics left and right keep people from seeing what is right in front of their faces.


    My guess is most people in Europe and the US think people in Latin America are poorer and need more help, and that anyone who promises that help is good in their book

  5. The fascists like to call others fascist. The author should never be surprised that people like Oliver Stone and Sean Penn applaud everything this regime does. It gives them wet dreams.

  6. I am so grateful for this article, in a very selfish way, because it expresses the same frustration I have with members of my own party. I am a liberal democrat in the US, and as such, social justice has been one of my top priorities. For years I have had to listen to pro-chavismo rants in the US media by people who claimed to be interested in democracy, freedom and human rights, wondering how they were able to disconnect themselves enough to excuse the abuses and corruption going on in Venezuela.

    I am not satisfied to know that the hypocrites on the left with me are wrong. It does not console me to see the house of cards coming down, because it terrifies me to wonder how people will ever get through this. Even under the best circumstances, there is nothing but miles of hard road ahead for Vzla.

    Ultimately, what I think or feel from my home up north doesn't matter or impact the big picture. I am no more than a leaf on a tree. Still - those of us who have family and friends who hope to emerge on the other side of this - the LEAST we can do is support the truth and social justice for all.

  7. The idea that Marxist socialism is the only salvation of Latin America had been etched into the libtard brain in the US and Europe since the 1960s. We know what is best for you so shut up and obey. I can't count the times I have heard this crap in college. Now after 15 years of Marxist madness the economy is in tatters, the national guard is in the street killing students, there is no toilet paper, and the rich communist-lover idiots of Hollywood are defending the murderers.

  8. For those truly interested in 'Social Justice' , I suggest they think twice about accusing others of racism unless they have the proof they often demand from others when it is to their convenience.

    1. Anonymous5:50 PM

      Firepigette you have it wrong. Alex Beech is not accusing Sean Penn, Oliver stone, Noam Chomsky et al of overt racism per se. What she is saying is that they are guilty quite unconsciously (because they are unconscious) of allowing the suffering of people who are they are conveniently insulated from and can thus afford to objectivize. This is if anything worse than simple racist thoughts; it is actually abetting murder and repression. To preserve their pathetic ideals they will actually stoop to that. That is despicable beyond belief, and right on line with Fox and Pinochet, I would say worse because they should know better. They are supposed to be humanitarian people. By the way the racism referred to is directed to all people who are 'not us' and never have the chance of being us. It is wide ranging and complete.

    2. I tend to agree. Oliver Stone and his friends make think they think I'm a small termite.

  9. Anonymous7:44 PM

    Interesting times near you, Daniel!

    Roberto N

  10. "... the policies of Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela have lessened income inequality..."

    I guess you can say that if making everyone poorer counts. On the other hand the 4th republic was pretty good at making people poor too. The more things change the more they remain the same.

  11. Anonymous9:17 AM

    Didn't Castro once say "socialism doesn't even work for us any more." And this revolution is worth killing for?

  12. Always funny to see social-democrats trying to balance all the cognitive dissonance and double-thinking of the "the state seems bad but it can be great if it follows my ideas". I once was one, but by being intelectually honest to myself and stopping juggling concepts, I became a libertarian.

    Spare me of the "libertarians are radical loonies". Go check Ron Paul, try to find any social-dem, neo-con or communist politician that comes close to match his honesty and integrity. You won't. Give up the platonic ideal of wise leaders, if voluntarism/anarchism is utopic, at least chose the one that doesn't promise magical solutions via state. Learn sound economics even if they contradict your dreams.

  13. Anonymous8:01 PM

    In the 80s they were called sandalista: (FSLN, led by Daniel Ortega) mostly Americans that went to Nicaragua to support Sandinista's (FSLN, led by Daniel Ortega) mostly psuedo-hippies


Comments policy:

1) Comments are moderated after the sixth day of publication. It may take up to a day or two for your note to appear then.

2) Your post will appear if you follow the basic rules. I will be ruthless in erasing, as well as those who replied to any off rule comment.

This is an anti Chavez/chavismo blog, Readers have made up their minds long ago. Trying to prove us wrong is considered a troll. Still, you are welcome as a chavista to post if you want to explain us coherently as to why chavismo does this or that. We are still waiting for that to happen.
Insults and put downs are frowned upon and I will be sole judge on whether to publish them.