Saturday, January 07, 2012

Chavez at our Lady of Coromoto: an essay on the grotesque, part 1

Yesterday's Chavez cadena from the Coromoto Basilica in Guanare must have marked a new level in the grotesque, comparable today only with the funeral in North Korea, all proportions guarded, keeping in mind that these are the tropics, after all.  But the levels in the grotesque and cynicism are quite up there, trust me.

Or if you do not trust me you can always watch this video assay which consists on 9 videos split in two parts.

They were filmed on my camera from my TV screen.  The first six ones are short affairs, less than 30 seconds all, of a few highlights of Chavez making his entrance in the Lady of Coromoto Sanctuary, the virgin patron of Venezuela (like the Guadalupe in Mexico to give you an idea though the Guadalupe is a much bigger affair than the Coromoto who has steep competition from La Pastora and La Chiquinquira).

In these short videos I am focusing on displaying the beggar culture of Venezuela which has been developed beyond limits under Chavez.  It is a strange mix of personality cult and projection of the reality that Chavez is the lone giver of this country.  But as you will see in these videos there is a price to pay for the whole thing, besides the grotesque.  The next three more "political" videos are longer and will be discussed in part 2 tomorrow.  Comments on the video are below the video.

In this one, not that telling in a way, you will observe Chavez picking up a piece of paper, a petition for some favor, from someone below the balustrade that leads to the Basilica (that you will see at the end a rather ugly concrete affair). you can see the paper in his right hand at 8 seconds.

NOTE AND REMINDER: all of this is taken during a cadena.  For those who are just reaching this blog and do not know what is a cadena, it is a MANDATORY broadcasting ON ALL TV AND RADIO networks of the country, SIMULTANEOUSLY, for AS LONG AS THE GOVERNMENT WISHES IT so.  What you will see and hear in these videos took about 15 minutes without any clear message, without any interest for the country.  The whole exercise was pro Chaevz propaganda on a personal matter of his, wishing, we are told, to thanks the Virgin for curing him from his June Cancer.  No one, of course, has any right to reply on any state owned TV or radio, and few of the privates one will dare to offer you a right to reply and criticize Chavez for such an abuse.

This second video starts a few seconds after the first one and in it Chavez pulls up a little girl recklessly passed to him by her father.  There is no way to know at this point whether this was arranged or spontaneous but we can all agree on what a dangerous operation this was for the little girl since had Chavez missed his grasp (he is in recovery after all) she would have fallen from three time her own height.  Then again Chavez may have wanted to show that he is strong again?  Inexcusable no matter what.

In addition it is forbidden by the law to use children in any political activity.  But as all laws in Venezuela they apply to everyone but Chavez.  That law, by the way, LOPNA, was voted under Chavez so he could not pledge ignorance.

Yet the move was clearly reckless and dangerous even for his entourage.  One of his body guards/helpers is seen rolling his eyes in disbelief at second 19.

 Notes: at second 12 a little boy running that we shall see in next video; the guy in grey shirt and grey hair is the governor of Portuguesa state where the "ceremony" is held.

I do not know whether the little girl in the preceding and this video was coached in asking Chavez for something for her familiy, though I am willing to bet my life on it. But in this video you can clearly see the mother holding the kid that was runnign before trying to catch the attention of Chavez and this one bothered wanting to know who is behind and why can't they control her until her turn comes. Poking is thy name.

I know and understand that Chavez is kind of a rock star for these people but you must admit with me that the level of grotesque is starting to become bothersome.  I mean, the woman is even chewing gum!

Note: there is no point in commenting the sound track as the speaker rambles about how loving Chavez is.  Allow me to spare you that additional embarrassment for those whose Spanish is zero.

In this next video there will be no further doubt as to the culture of beggary that Chavez has reinforced within his followers (and maybe outside if you want my opinion). "Lambucios" we call them in Venezuela, those that are ready to do anything for a free lunch, hardly any better than my dog haunting me always in my kitchen.

Here, as Chavez finally left the balustrade and the kids he grabbed, he walks toward the basilica entrance and he is intercepted by a woman, with the appropriate red shirt, political slogan included.  Quick enough she slips in one that you can see at second 8.

Note: you can read in the banner "ceremony of the [sacred] word in Thanksgiving in front of our Lady of Coromoto".

In this video we are really talking business.  There must be quite a despair in the humble classes who have placed their faith in Chavez 12 years ago!  At second 7 there is a man in a blue shirt, rushing to Chavez, waving a big piece of paper to make sure all know what he is going to do, hoping I suppose to avoid a harsh reaction from the body guards.  But he fails, and in front of this unexpected action as Chavez was getting ready to speak to the crowd the camera switches fast to the front entrance of the Basilica least we see more of the roughing up of that desperate man.  It is a live broadcast, after all.

Think about this, 5 petitions recorded on camera in barely 10 minutes, allowing us to wonder how many more were not recorded......

Note: I do not think the man was dangerous.  Entry to this sort of Chavez activity is restricted to the faithful; and those who have a chance to get near, accidentally or not, are searched, or scanned or something.  Of course, Chavez needs his body guards, but he is more in danger of having petitions stuffed down his throat than any real attempt against his life.

This last video has Chavez already inside the basilica.  Incredibly in the surrounding hysteria someone hands him over a baby strictly in diaper.  The baby seems to be crying, at least on TV, the camera not picking up the sound as well.

This is not only dangerous for the baby that could fall and be trampled, but I would even suggest child abuse for the mere fact of holding a quasi naked baby in such an event where heat, humidity, danger, discomfort make the poor creature miserable.  And of course, yet another violation of the LOPNA law on the use of children for political activities.

Notes: you can also see there people with papers in hands (one in this segment at second 16) ; the speaker was mentioning Kirchner and Lula, reviving mildly the suggestions of Chavez as to these cancers being provoked (though Kirchner today came clear from malignant cells after her surgery, another slap to Chavez conspiracy theories).


So there you have it, your own material evidence to make your own conclusions as to how Chavez has created a society of dependency on purpose.  And as we saw with the crying folks in Pyongyang, it comes with its heavy does of ridicule and circus quality grotesque.

And this is corruption, by the way, of the crassest form, creating the impression that some are beyond the pale of the law; and that you must get close to them for your lone hope for salvation.


  1. Glenn9:19 PM

    The juxtaposition of such a resource wealthy country against a society of beggary is overwhelming.

    And the handing of babies is a wish for a blessing from God via the hand of Chavez.

    So sad.

  2. Glenn9:24 PM

    Your ability to convey an image continues to truly impress:

    "ready to do anything for a free lunch, hardly any better than my dog haunting me always in my kitchen."

    Very well put!!!!

  3. Beggar Culture interesting, is this the end result of the Dutch Disease (not the elm one)?

  4. wowww.. talk about massive brain wash.. clearly coordinated and deliberate by this oppressive government.

    Between the unavoidable "cadenas" and the repetitive rhetoric of this regime, never-ending public displays and speeches: it's nothing short of Opium for the People.

    And yes, the way to reinforce such massive brain-wash, is to reward the uneducated, faithful followers with all kinds of freebies and gifts, and reprimand the free-thinking opponents with draconian rules, expropriations and such.

    Sadly, it does create a "beggar culture" on the long run. But it's a carefully orchestrated strategy based on corruption, avarice, deception and power trips.

  5. halfempty

    i wish our problems could be summed up as a mere bad case of dutch disease....

  6. hadn't seen photo opps of Chavez for a few weeks. Face is looking severely bloated in these videos. Wondering about the state of his kidneys ...
    Strange, too, I didn't see much of a crowd in Guanare. Or perhaps it was a case of vantage points/wide-angle close-ups.

  7. Daniel, tronco de reportaje vale!

    Happy New Year to you and everybody.

    Look, I went to the Basílica 17 years ago, it was almost done but not quite... anyhow, I was impressed at the moment with the hordes that practically assaulted us as soon as we came out of the car.

    I say hordes, cuz they were so many. But they were hungry and skinny children wanting money for telling us the story of the virgin.

    What I'm trying to express here is that this is just our idiosyncrasy. Beggars by nature.

    About the building: you are right. It's a strange place made of cement. Not a fan of modern architecture but the Church for the Guadalupe in Mexico is very modern and it's a very interesting place. I just wonder, having so much space around the basílica and they built such a sad church. I'm not even catholic, but I guess la patrona deserves better.

  8. Liz

    This is different. You just cannot approach Chavez like that, no matter how much he would like us to believe. these are public employees, people with some sort of job, that are ALSO born again beggars, so to speak.

    It is trues that in third world countries there is a tendency for many people to look for whatever they can get, beggary style maybe, but in Venezuela it is being institutionalized at all levels of society. If you are poor you ask for a job. If you are more than poor, then you ask for a house. If you can afford a house then you ask for a governmental contract. etc, etc...

    In short, whatever it is that you need, you depend on Chavez to get it, not on your work and sacrifices.

  9. Syd

    VTV has become quite proficient at managing the close up to hide the holes in the crowds...

  10. Daniel,
    desgraciadamente, chávez vino a magnificar lo que ya era este país. Y -hay que decirlo- ha hecho un excelente trabajo... la gente ahora no quiere hacer nada, sino que el gobierno les regale TODO. Da pena!

  11. Anonymous4:02 AM

    Off Topic:

    This is just despicable. Just think the man responsible for this and who Hugo calls friend will be in Venezuela shortly.


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