Today, as the journalists and students march in large numbers in the streets of Caracas, Chavez on his trip to Russia will be able to meditate on how his presidency got entangled in the biggest crisis since he came to office. Even more than the one of April 2002 where at least things were somewhat clearer: a group of people tried to remove you from office forcibly, you prevailed. Simpler, no?
Losing the battle of ideas
It will be a month this week since Chavez decided to make good his promise of closing RCTV. And he has shown no repentance no matter what the mounting political cost at home and overseas has been. Not only that, but there is no negotiation going on as to the transmission equipments that were seized from RCTV. We are talking millions of dollars in assets that were just taken from RCTV. If at least the government were offering a compensation or a rental fee, but no. The TSJ ruling appears today like a clear duplicitous act from the government and the judicial power combined to steal from RCTV all of its equipment. Legalized robbery, pure and simple, with all the implications that this might carry as to the future of private property and investments in Venezuela.
But this official descent into thuggery by the Venezuelan state was the least of Chavez concern. For the past month the student protest have not ebbed one bit and in fact it seems that they are reaching deeper withing other areas of the society. In particular the appeal of Chavez to have the barrios come down from their hills to challenge the students have felt in deaf hears.
However the barrios were willing to move, but to go to Chavez to ask him what the f**k is going on with many of his promises, why there are so many Barrio Adentro clinics closed or understaffed and under provided, why its it so difficult to find milk or cooking oil.
The result of these recent weeks is to expose the scarcity of ideas within chavismo, its inability to go outside of its congealed dialectic to reach new grounds of discussion. The same vocabulary possesses the mouths of chavista sycophancy. As a visible consequence we see a country stalled.
Gone are the talks of increasing gasoline prices, a huge burden for the state who could use that money to solve some of these barrios claims.
No more constitutional talk except for a quaint defense against leaked documents, pretending to pass them as only one of the dozens drafts circulated secretly in the committee. But the document is, we are told, a 400 pages draft. Some leak, some forgery, some dozens of other documents! that must have pass. But publishing a real draft by the government itself has not happened which has for effect to confirm that the leak is actually the real thing.
Gone are the mass meetings as Chavez runs away from a bridge inauguration or locks himself up in private military bases ceremonies where the people are not invited.
The best example of that new, shivering ?, Chavez could be seen last night inaugurating the Copa America (even though Peru and Uruguay had done a first match early that afternoon). Chavez postponed his trip to Russia to inaugurate the Venezuelan game in San Cristobal. Even if the renovated stadium looked beautiful and world class, the heart was not there. Chavez and Evo Morales sat like "simple spectators", like the "people", on the highest rows but their backs against a wall. Maybe it was better security but it did not look too good. The opening show was chavista culture. I mean, Reina Lucero in an ill fitting tacky yellow dress belting out her contrapunteo? Even the song who was the opposition anthem in 2003 was clumsily recovered by folks who were unable to sing it (1). Where are Aldemaro Romero and Joaquin Rivera when you need them? And all of that in Cadena. Exactly as if the US president decided that the opening ceremonies of the, say, Atlanta Olympics had to be transmitted simultaneously on all TV and radio stations. Can you imagine that?
Thus as it is usual with Chavez, when the going gets rough, the rough start traveling overseas. First a trip to Russia to see if the submarines, 9 of them, will be bought or not. A wit has qualified these absolutely unnecessary submarines for Venezuela as just gadget to go and rescue people that will be taken by the frequent floods of our starting raining season. Even there ridicule pursues Chavez.
And then he will move on to Tehran.
The Iranian resourcing
There is also a stop planned for Tehran where Chavez will meet his pal Ahmadinejerk. These days the Iranian president has been very busy purging universities from folks that do not toe the fundamentalist line he comes from, you know, his Pasdaram days. His government has also been diligent cracking down on dress codes, when not having his police "create" adequate fashion. If this was not enough he decided to increase gas prices which are beat in ridicule only by Venezuelan gas prices. This has started a series of disturbances that he is trying to control with great trouble. Surely Chavez will learn a lot about these controls when he will be forced to increase gas price in Venezuela. But no matter what, Chavez like Ahmadinejerk will have to face brain drain has he keeps his foolish policies.
What is Chavez doing in Iran again, when Iran is now openly involved with the Hamas takeover of Gaza, when the Iran backed Syrian interference in Lebanon is vox popili, when Ahmadinejerk is cracking down on any dissent as he faces for a tough nuclear situation? Chavez has nothing to do there, of course, since even the Iranian model of repression would not apply much in Venezuela. But he is so bereft of ideas that he cannot pass an opportunity to go to a country where at least one street will be lined with flag waving supportive people.
And now, openly questioning Chavez sanity
To end this note there are increasing reports questioning the sanity or psychology of Chavez. something quite visible to the naked ye, you know. But when even journalists like Debusmann write extensive articles on it you start wondering.
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1) the Lyrics of the song here and a lousy rendition with Spanish accent here, until I find something better on Youtube. That song was passing on TV and at any opposition march through 2002-2003. Chavismo has been trying to bring it over its side since then, after a dispirited opposition stopped chanting anything.
DB sent me this better interpretation but it is not what I am looking for. Oh well...