Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The new Venezuela: Chavez or else (ideology in the making?)

One thing that makes chavismo interesting is that it is a never ending source of observation of what is evil in human nature. The past election of December 3, 2006 is no exception. In normal countries, with normal democratic leaders, an electoral victory is usually a matter of celebration, perhaps subdued, but genuine. In Venezuela, there was not much of a celebration, even more as we consider that it was a third term victory with an unquestionable 63%. Even Tony Blair reasonable but strangely frail third term victory about a year ago was more joyful than what we could observe in Venezuela. This has been bugging me quite a lot: why aren’t chavistas, and Chavez, happier with their victory? On my way to Caracas I found part of the explanation, and it starts from this poster in Morón.

Morón, or the need to be chavista

This poster is worthy of a deep psychological analysis. Too long a treatise for this blog but I will try to be brief. First, let’s discuss the obvious: all Red. It is the Red of “rojo, rojito”, the infamous slogan turned electoral manipulation that turned the tide, stopped Rosales growth and gave Chavez that rather surprising 63%.

But that poster works at more levels. I will pass on the fact that Pequiven is paying for that poster to heap lauds on the great beloved leader. After all, for all practical purposes, Pequiven now belongs to Chavez, the ultimate privatization. Now, what is interesting are the posted excruciating details on the victory. The exact numbers of votes are given (even if the CNE has not finished tallying all of the voted yet at this typing). Then the blue shadow is of Rosales as he appeared in his posters, and it is X-ed. That is right, it is not enough to praise Chavez, the poster makes sure to remind folks who has been trashed, humiliated, whatever. And we finish with the local result of 82% for the town of Morón.

A word about Morón. Historically Morón has been a wretched place. At the intersection of the roads that go to Valencia, Coro and Barquisimeto, it has always been a passage town, the only place in the area where for years you could get gas and water (and alcohol and sex). When oil came under the form of the El Palito refinery and Pequiven chemical complex, Morón became also a blue collar town, but remained as wretched as ever as the directors of the plants either lived in special housing inside the installations (with private beach) or commuted to Puerto Cabello or Valencia or Tucacas resort. In fact, many people nickname Morón “Mojón” (turd) because in spite of all the traffic that goes through and all the money that manages its way to its inhabitants, it is totally unable to improve its look, its image, its cleanliness as more modest and pauper towns do manage. The pitiful Christmas wreath speaks volume on the top of the poster.

Morón had its rough times in 2002-2003 during the PDVSA strike. Of course, as the management of El Palito and Pequiven was fired, along all the middle management and many of the qualified worker, the government had to replace many of these positions among the workers of Morón, many of them perhaps competent in their field but certainly not of the level of the people they replaced. In fact El Palito has been plagued with technical problems ever since. The creativity of El Palito/Pequiven personel can be appreciated with the decoration "de rigueur" in these rojo, rojito halcyon days.

Many of the fired workers had to leave the area and try to find jobs elsewhere. New workers came, all chavistas of course. And Morón became even more chavista than it was, to reach that 82% where I would have given it a 75% before the vote. Interestingly I happen to think that this 7% difference is the actual “fear factor” of chavismo, the amount of people who are too afraid to lose their job and even if they hate Chavez they will still vote for him, just as conservatives vote conservative because they want no change, because they are afraid of any social change. If I take out 7% to the 63% of Chavez three weeks ago I get the 56% that would have been a more normal victory, close to what reasonable folks were predicting, not the “bought election” result that surprised us.

But I digress. When we go back to the poster one cannot help but wonder why the need to stress all that is written there, the trashing of Rosales, the exact results, that insisting on Morón being even more chavista than the rest of Venezuela. The only explanation is that the victory is actually considered as insufficient by chavistas. 63% is not enough in Venezuela. 82% is not enough in Morón. They will only be happy when they get election results in the 99% range like any good semi totalitarian regime. That poster betrays this basic insecurity of the chavista die hard voter, the chavista that cannot trust anyone, that feels threatened no matter how much power it controls.

In other words, we come back to the truism that fanatics are insecure people and will convince themselves of their rightness when all think as they do. Anyone who has battled fundamentalist Christians in the US, communists in Europe, as I have done, will understand exactly what I mean. And in godforsaken places such as Moron, it becomes pathetic.

Chavismo as the all encompassing creed

Another facet of that Morón drive to uniformity can be read in the words of Varela and Tascon of the infamous list name. They represent Tachira, and Tachira was almost lost by Chavez. Of course, probably prodded by the fear that Chavez might call them on this “failure”, the two vocal representatives have been lashing at their underlings in the state. They were just passing the buck, failing to realize that they are themselves a very poor representation of a state full of hardworking folks that are getting tired of chavismo.

But while these scum run for cover, chavismo was thinking about a more joyful Christmas (something that writing today, a December 26, I can vouch has failed). That new take on Christmas is rather interesting and illustrates well how things work in the chavista insecure mind. But first let’s admire a couple of campaign posters.

In this first poster we can see Chavez with the main slogan that has been the motto since the Recall Election. One must wonder about a political movement that can produce only a “Uh Ah, Chavez no se va!” since it reached office in 1998. Though perhaps we can add now the “Rojo, rojito” but it has other connotations, not merely electoral. Thus we were stuck on this primitive slogan (Uh Ah, Chavez is not leaving) turned primitive electoral adds.

But some one must have realized that Chavez has something in common with Venezuela: the V (in red in the apposed pictures). And thus we got this new set of posters of which I found this particularly inane one. But still, inasmuch as educated minds are offended by such mediocrity this poster does serve a purposes: it tries to instill in the brain of folks that we are all going the Chavez way, that the people in its immense wisdom is realizing that Chavez is the way, he is the leader, there is nothing else, and the sooner we unite around him and do as he wishes, the sooner we will start feeling better about ourselves.

Thus a Victory for ChaVez was transmuted into a Victory for Venezuela.

But the election intellectual offenses would not end on December 3. A few weeks ago there was a strange rumor (which happened in diverse forms in recent pre-Christmas seasons) that Venezuelan should celebrate Christmas in the Venezuelan way. That is, off with Santa, the tree and a few other items, even if they are the rage from Sapporo to Cape Town. Elections at hand, they quickly decided to squelch these rumors to avoid scaring the good people about to vote for Chavez. But these were not so unfounded rumors as the picture below clearly tells us.

And thus we see now that chavismo is trying to make its move even on Christmas. Never mind that this might be the saddest Christmas since 2002...

Why chavismo is unhappy

And thus we see that chavismo is showing all the classical symptoms of these regimes that inexorably must evolve into uniformity. The reasons are many, but one is basic: uniformity of thought is the best tool to secure power for a tiny elite ruling through the "beloved" leader. Chavismo, if not yet an open dictatorship, if still quite far from totalitarianism, has already people diligently working at intervening all aspects of the Venezuelan life. The 63% that have been in large part cowed into voting for Chavez must be secured once and for all, must be made felt as if they belong tot he "right" tribe, the true Venezuela. And of course, folks such as this blogger will be pointed out by fingers until the powers that are decide to do something about them. It is just a question of time.

But before that time comes we can understand better that insatisfaction observed among the victors. We can comprehend why Chavez was scowling at his post election press conference instead of beaming as he should have been (what? Only 63%?). We also see why he had so much trouble getting people to attend his electoral rallies ("we are already all chavistas, they control us, why bother going to the rally?") We also know why any celebration was an organized thing on Monday evening (streets were empty on Monday 4th in the morning, and even if Yaracuy voted for Chavez, the only chavista celebrating formed caravans on Monday evening, rather odd in a state were very few chavistas have cars to begin with).

Simply put, the cult of uniformity kills natural joy. If I need to explain to you why, then you are probably a chavista yourself (or watch a lot of shopping TV channels late at night).

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