Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Obama-thon

I do not mean the title as a joke: I am in fact very pleased that the world is realizing the importance of today when a person of African American origin takes office in the still more powerful country on earth. There is no way to underestimate this moment, even if you are a rabid conservative. Heck, even McCain joined the chorus earlier this week.

It is wonderful to see a million and some more people gathering on the Washington Mall in spite of the freezing weather. It is fascinating to see how the serious networks in the world have special programs following on and off the different ceremonies. It is simply great to see once again the rituals associated with what is the longest serving democracy in the world, and for me the greatest, for all its flaws. The greatest because the United States of America has been fortunate to have a built in mechanism to correct its excesses and deficiencies, because even if it its dragged screaming and kicking its tendency has always been toward improvement.

The problem with most of its critics is that they are simply jealous. They are jealous of the Lincoln, the Teddy Roosevelt, the FDR, the Kennedy, the Reagan and now, we wish, the Obama that it can produce as if on call. They are also jealous of the opportunities it keeps offering, of the scientists, of the writers, the musicians, the touch with popular needs that the US has been embodying for better or for worse since the Charleston hit the dance floors almost a century ago. They are jealous that time and again for every Vietnam and Iraq it also brought Afghanistan, WWII and the end of the Berlin Wall.

But this is a blog about Venezuela and I must end this post on a rather sour note. The Obama that is sworn in today will finish his 4 years term BEFORE Chavez finishes his current 6 years term. That is right, in the next 4 years Obama will have to sort two wars and an economic crisis and a flood of other relatively minor problems. Today no body in Washington is even looking seriously at the mid-term elections in two years, and even less to an Obama reelection. From Hillary Clinton to John McCain all wish Obama to succeed because he has spent his precious transition weeks in creating a formidable if provisional coalition of good will.

Here in Venezuela we have a president that has not solved a single of the major problems of the country, who looks more sectarian than ever and who is taken the country into a mad gambit so that he can run again for office in 4 years. Nothing else matters to him, not the bloody street crime, not the drop in oil revenue, not that we cannot feed ourselves, not his unsustainable welfare programs, not that industrial production is at a plateau with no hope of growth, not that there is no serious investment coming to Venezuela. Nothing matter to him but the possibility that he can run for office in 4 years.

And what will he do during the next four years that can even remotely compare to what Obama might achieve? I do not know about you but I am willing to bet that Obama will have accumulated more merits to run for reelection than Chavez.

-The end-

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