Sunday, February 06, 2011

Aedes aegypti

I do not know about you guys but even though I am delighted at a democratic reflex appearing in some Middle East countries I cannot but help to be worried sick at the same time.  I am not going to write a treatise on the recent events because for one I am not a specialist and for second I am somewhat biased as being anti fundamentalist and pro Israel, though anti Israeli religious right, of course.

Still, when I see how easy cliches are thrown around and how some Venezuelans think that Chavez is next in line after Mubarak I think that I should go on record.  So here, some personal observations that you can take as you wish.

I support the Tunisia upheaval fully because Tunisia is perhaps the most modern Arab state.  Secularization there went well and I think that right now the odds of a fundamentalist take over are limited.  If the French have failed in their colonial ventures Tunisia is probably their lesser failure.  Watching TV it was impressive to observe how many Tunisians had a perfect command of the French language even though with a local accent.  Not that I am proud of that colonial inheritance in any respect but at least it indicates a reasonably high educational level and the ability to access to all sorts of information.  That is, the outgoing regime could not filter it all. I allowed myself to wonder whether the educational level of Tunisians is actually significantly better than the one of Venezuelans.

I am of two minds as to Egypt because there is no guarantee that it will avoid a religious fundamentalist take over.  Egypt was always ambiguous on many things and its cold peace with Israel always seemed to me a purely pragmatic act paid for by US of A help.  We will see if decades of peace and Israeli tourists made eventually a difference, but I remain pessimistic.  Not that Mubarak should not go, he should and the risk needs to be taken.  After all the worse is not always certain and Cairo 2011 is not Tehran 1978.

Finally I cannot help but observe how the international press and opinion are supporting so easily the anti Mubarak protesters even if on occasion some journalist cannot hide their doubt.  Contrast that with what happened in Venezuela in 2002 where most international press tended to support Chavez even though our marches and rallies had little to envy the Egyptian ones today, all population proportions considered!!!!!  They know now how wrong they were and how right people who started blogging then were.

I am pretty sure that when Venezuelans go back to the streets to demand Chavez departure the international press will be more sympathetic, but the question remains: how many years do we need for a dictator to screw a country before finally CNN, BBC, AFP, AP, Reuters and the like finally decide that he should go?  Are journalists so devoid of critical spirit, so uneducated about the country they cover not to be able to analyze early enough that things are not what they are supposed to be?  That the worst is quite possible?


  1. The press supported Chavez because he is a socialist. Period. That is all the reason they need.

    So yes, with the press being so biased they become combatants.

  2. UCC

    I would not throw around the word socialist as easily as you do. When we forget about graduations and accurate vocabulary that is when we play into the hands of people like Chavez.

  3. Anonymous9:38 PM

    Hi Daniel since you know plenty about the agricultural sector I thought you might be interested in these two articles.
    The implications for Venezuela are terrible, just awful.

  4. Anonymous11:09 PM

    as a percentage of the population the protest in Venezuela were significantly large. It is not even close. in CCS alone we approached 1mil out of 23 mil. in Cairo you would need 4mil.

  5. anonymous 2

    well, you made my point against the international press even more telling....

  6. Anonymous,

    Comparing the events of 2002 in Venezuela with those of Egypt makes very little sense.

    Most of the people who went to protest in Venezuela did that in Caracas. Almost all of those I know from Valencia and places further away from Caracas, places that are as far from Caracas as Alexandria from Cairo went to Caracas. People in Alexandria protested in Alexandria.

    Venezuelans protested on 11 April and that was about it.
    Egyptians have been doing that for days and days.
    And then you have that Chávez had been in power only since 1999.

    Mubarak has been in power for 30 years already. Pears, apples...this is not a "lefty media conspiracy", for Goodness sake.

    Regarding education in Tunisia: the average Tunesian definitely has a better education level than a Venezuelan.

    This just gives you a hint:
    The Venezuelan government refuses to take part in the PISA programme, but if it did, Venezuelan pupils would definitely score well below Kyrgyzstan.

    Tunisia is definitely much more secular than Egypt.

    The West keeps financing Saudi Arabia's regime, which is financing big time some of the most radical islamist everywhere else.
    This should be priority, but I reckon oil trumps it all.

  7. Kepler

    You are wrong: in 2002 there had been days of protest before April 11. In fact there had been almost a weekly protest day since October 2002.

  8. Well, it definitely wasn't "lefty media bias", since the revolutions in, for example Ukraine and Georgia
    found broad support in the media, and they were ousting quasi-communist governments.

    I think the keys are that 2002 wasn't long after 1999, and the question of popular support for Chavez within Venezuela was an open one, not obvious as in Egypt.

  9. Daniel,

    Can you tell me those protests were nearly as large as those in Egypt?

    Besides, the main point is this:
    It's been 30 years of dictatorship. As much as Venezuelans are fed up with Chávez, you can't compare 2002 Venezuela with 3 years of Chávez government and the media as it was back then with Egypt in the last decades.
    It's not worth it and we don't have to.
    Venezuela has a dictatorship that is getting worse and its crimes stand on their own.

    Have Venezuela with a situation similar to that of Egypt in ten years and you will see. The world's reaction would be swifter to support a change.
    We hope the change for good happens in two or three years, of course.

  10. Lemmy Caution10:09 AM

    I have and had quite a few very good working relationships with guys & galls from Tunisia, Marokko and iranian expats here in Germany. Our position towards arab countries was way too cynical.
    Any Middle East expert I consider serious says, that the islamist threat to Egypt is highly exagerated in western media.
    We have a very successfull islamist light Government in Turkey. Guess that in the last 4 years I haven't met one turkish german person, who didn't tell a story about a cousin who went back to Turkey and is thriving there.
    Also there is this shii/suni thing.
    There seems to be a moderate branch in Muslim Brotherhood.
    They have smart bloggers like sandmonkey.

    The Mubarak Government sucked big time. Appears to be like Chavismo without the Che Guevara bells and whistles (good), but much more violent against opposition (plain evil).

  11. yes kepler, they were big, they happened all the time and i managed to attend several of them even though i lived in san felipe and i did not know what a blog was then.

    i will also quote from the above post in case you missed

    " our marches and rallies had little to envy the Egyptian ones today, all population proportions considered!!!!!"

    which is an elegant way for me to say that in 2002 the marches might have been even bigger than in egypt.

    in fact the biggest march in venezuelan history to that date was the one held in october 2001 in caracas which i attended, making the trip just for that one, even though at la cabrera the nazional guard started stopping buses for the first time, something that became routine in posterior marches.

  12. I think there is an ideological bias, but it is a subtle one.The mainstream media is not in favor of dictatorship nor communism, and in clear cut cases it is easier for them to take a stand.

    In Chavez's case he was first democratically elected on the platform of helping the poor, redistribution of wealth in an unjust society, and overcoming all kinds of short comings of the previous governments.As he started to encroach upon liberties, he was given the benefit of the doubt because of his " lofty" goals.

    It is always hard to be the first one to break consensus and the media basically accepted Chavez's version of events that the protests were done by the middle class protesting their loss of privileges.

    Of course by the size of demonstrations you would have to think that Venezuela had an enormous middle class :)

  13. 1979 Boat People12:33 PM

    An interesting news from Iran

    Iran's 'Day of Rage'


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