Saturday, September 08, 2007

The government we deserve

Sometimes we must take a pause and think that perhaps we indeed deserve a regime to expiate all of our vices as a people. The ones I have in mind tonight are the superficiality of our everyday, that we do not care about anything as long as we get beer on week ends and money in our pockets to afford beauty salons and shoes.

A few days ago there was a great brouhaha about a proposed regulation that would limit the kind of names one could give children. That is, just as it is the case with African American in the US, many in Venezuela are very creative in naming their kids, too creative perhaps as the kid gets stuck with an unpronounceable name for life.

As usual with chavismo, even when they come up with an initiative I could agree with, they manage to screw up the best of intentions. As I wrote elsewhere, the initiative of the CNE would have been good if they would have forced parents to give a second "easier" name to their kids if they wanted to start with a crazy one. That way, as the kid grows up s/he can decide which one to use. But no, with an already acquired totalitarian reflex, the CNE initial project was for a list of 100 names! Reaction was prompt, vigorous enough that it seemed to be even stronger than for the constitutional infamous proposal. That is, many people had no care about Chavez becoming president for life or how he will educate their children in a socialist way, but they went into an uproar because they might not be able to name they children Mikel Jakson or Yusleby.

Rayma is the star cartoonist of El Universal and in many aspects she can even be better than Weil of Tal Cual. But I use her little because she is too Venezuelan for people to understand her amazing wit outside of Venezuela. Lost in translation so to speak. Yet, last Sunday she published an astounding cartoon who made me laugh aloud for a few minutes.

The text is the theme of France, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, which in Venezuela becomes giving children ridiculous names even more importance than "liberté". Yasuri Yamilé, for those late in the game, is one of these ridiculous names, in this case for the 'heroine' of a Panamanian reggaeton who made a surprising impact last year, a ditty of those that brothel attendants in Canal Zone might sing.

So why be surprised at the methodology for discussion of the constitutional proposal of Chavez: there are two methods, either nobody cares, or debate is excluded. The government has been busy orchestrating spurious debates. The format is always the same: a large hall or arena, a selected attendance filling up the benches, preferably wearing some red, some governmental agent, even from the independent judicial power if needed, and a sermon form a few chosen chavistas saying that the reform is great, nothing should be edited and Chavez is our guiding light. Apparently this scandalous way of debate is not perturbing as many as it should perturb.

On occasion some willful opposition figure (and sometimes even chavista who might get an even worse treatment than your normal opposition folk) tries to enter these "public debates" and asks for a right to speak. So far, every time such a speaker tried to speak became tantamount to risking life or limb, literally. Chavistas hordes (is there another adjective?) can be contained with increasing difficulty by their leaders who cannot decide whether to be happy for such fanaticism or concerned by the image projected (or wondering whether those fanatics could hang them someday as easily as they are willing to hang opposition figures). The sad result is of course that chavismo is simply trying to limit "debate" even more. Or as Weil tells us in this great Orwellian cartoon: some Venezuelan are more equal than other as only a limited amount of pigs are allowed to join these chavista rallies and even less pigs are allowed to speak.

Now, what worries me more and more about this situation is the normality that all seems to have, as if now it was expected and normal that someone with a different opinion than Chavez has to be physically abused. Even the victims seem to find that rather normal as they say they will continue to attend such violent red shirted events. Equally worrisome is that chavistas are increasingly willing to accept anything from Chavez, and are finding increasingly easy to impose their will on all, not realizing that this could apply to them sooner than expected. If they doubt my words they can look at the recent problems of Ameliach who went in a breathtaking few hours from a close confident of Chavez to the reason why a "disciplinary tribunal" was quickly created and installed for the PUS.

I find this rather worrisome, almost as if we were about to accept that as for next December we will be a country ruled by the pigs for good, and the opposition the necessary Jews, with victim cum Stockholm syndrome included.

Have we lost any civility, any sense of civility, any understanding of what debate is all about? Have we reached the level where the shouting of Chavez are becoming the normal form of expression. No wonder that a recent article in Spain El Mundo has so far been unheralded around here: a case is being made by Luis Maria Anson that Chavez might be gay. When we see what happens when you open your mouth to question the tiniest of Chavez desires, even if you are from PODEMOS, even if you are from PUSV, what newspaper in Venezuela would publish the article? So far only Noticiero 24 did publish it.

I suppose Chavez has already won the battle, nobody is aware, that is all. He has realized long ago that we are an inconsequential people and he has taken advantage of this brilliantly. In the next two months it is our last chance to wake up, with the luxury for chavistas that if they vote NO they will still get to keep Chavez, and his handouts, until 2012. But they will have recovered their dignity. Will they? And will the opposition stop posturing, searching for victimization pleasures, and regain its dignity. Time is running out fast for all of us.

-The end-

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