Friday, February 03, 2017

Becoming a failed state (2): the people

Excruciating cattle line for a white plastic rectangle
Last week end the regime was organization a census of sorts for people to sign up for “carnet de la patria”. The operation was on many Bolivar Squares of cities and villages, which are 90% of the time in areas of lower income status. That is, on Eastern Caracas, to give you an example, one would not see those lines. The objective is to codify under a single object all the now defunct social Misiones of Chavez. Defunct because there is no money and/or, they failed. But did the people signing up for the latest avatar knew what they were signing up for?

I was listening to an interview made to several people in the lines. One thought that it was some kind of census and people were required to sign up regardless. Another one did not know either but had heard that it would bring some material advantages “beneficios” so he had to sign up just in case. There was the one that wondered whether it was a new social program. Not forgetting the naïve one stating that the new card would stop abuse and corruption. Etc… Nobody knew exactly what the thing was about. All had an interpretation according to their need or wishes. And there had to be of course the chavista to the bone that said that this was the very last line that el pueblo had to stand in for, that thanks to the revolution and Maduro this was the final solution to all our woes. Or something of the kind, I am trying very hard to forget that after 17 there are still people like that.

They have now two ID cards, still skinny

But that is the point, the populace that Chavez has left us with. Make no mistake, he did not created it, the AD governments of before did not mind a little bit of uncouth masses, easier to manipulate at election time. What Chavez did was to carry this to an art form, certainly guided by the extensive techniques of brainwashing and propaganda imported from Cuba. And thus it grew and grew.

It is inconceivable that after 17 years el pueblo still thinks that all of their salvation shall come from the government. It is difficult to comprehend that among the interviewed there was no sense in any one that this latest craze was doomed as all the others were. Or is it that previsible outcome is now so obvious that repeating it to the journalists was kind of redundant? And yet, even if you are a true believer of chavismo, after the three years of downhill from Maduro, don’t you have a doubt? Can you still believe that the problem is that Misiones are merely ill managed, not ill conceived?

And thus the masses standing in line for hours for a new card with a microchip that will make it easier for the regime to discriminate, to control, to organize more efficiently its political apartheid, that will exclude people like me. But I digress.

The carnet de la patria will be the only way for el pueblo to access to the Misiones, or what is left of it. Since the country is bankrupt, and totally incompetent to direct sophisticated social programs that require planning and logistics, all efforts are directed to some housing and the now infamous CLAP which is nothing else but a rationing that does not dare speak its name. The Carnet de la Patria is the ration card that does not dare to speak its name. Only holders of the little card will be allowed to enter in the new CLAP stores that will regroup Mercal, PDVAL, and Abasto Bicentenario stores. And you will be on a schedule.

A well-managed rationing system needs not be a sign of a failed state, the sign of the failed state is the people accepting with such ease a rationing program that they know in the bottom of their heart is going to fail. Otherwise would have they been happy to stand in line and sign up?

This raises the damming issue of how do we get out of that failed state status, if we get a chance to try. Emigration has taken between 1 and 2 million Venezuelans depending on who you read. But if you are middle class Venezuelan you can speak in percentage: there is no family that has no parents living outside of the country, there is no middle class family that is not expecting more of its members to leave the country. Where are we at in the middle class? 20% 30% gone? Are these people going to come back some day? No, at least not those who have managed to rebuild their shattered lives under other skies. Only a fraction may come back.

So who are we going to rebuild the country with? Those uneducated chavista masses? Those graduated from the “Bolivarian” educational system who can only find a job in the bureaucracy? Make no mistake: the bulk of the emigration is the well trained young professionals, the entrepreneurs. The best and the brightest, maybe. And they are lost.

A society that allows for such a brain and energy drain is indeed a failed society of a failed state. And now the poor are going to start leaving too. It is always the case, the elites, when they exist, are the first ones to leave. When the poor start flooding the border crossings then you have reached the failed state official status.

But the tragedy here is that if it is rather easy to figure out how chavismo has failed the people it was supposed to help, it is almost as clear to see how the elites have failed in their role.

A few days ago I was directed to a Washington Post opinion piece that actually came from Caracas Chronicles. Had I known that beforehand I would not have bothered reading. I have stopped visiting the site since around Maduro election, tired of reading them missing the mark. That is fine; they do not visit me either. We are even.

The piece is not uninteresting in that it tries to give advice to the anti-Trump crowd on how to resist, even though quite out of place considering that the US political system is, well, different that the one in Venezuela that failed to stop Chavez. To begin with, Trump cannot get the 2/3 to change the constitution. And he is too old for that president for life stunt. But he can do lots and lots of damage while his family gets very, very rich. But the problem with Rondon’s piece is that it is discussing last war, not the current one. And that is the problem of the Venezuelan opposition.

Reading the debates around the validity of the dialogue or the advice of pollsters suggesting to politicians to go and visit the masses is witnessing how all of these people do not understand what is really going on in Venezuela. Or like the chavistas interviewed at the Carnet de la Patria lines, they are burying their head in the sand. These advice may all be fine but their alleged non application do not explain all the defeats of the opposition, not its scant victories. E.g., these "weaknesses" did not stop the opposition from winning the 2007 referendum. One year after Chavez was smashingly reelected.

The problem with the Venezuelan opposition is not that they do not speak to el pueblo of what matters to el pueblo (they do). The problem for the Venezuelan opposition is that they refuse to acknowledge what is truly in front of them. And thus they cannot take the actions required to face the challenge. Are they afraid? Are they plainly ignorant? Are they corrupt? Well, some seem to be all of that and willing to wreck the opposition unity. But that is another story.

The fact of the matter is that Venezuelan current regime is a kleptocracy, deeply involved in all sorts of internationally unacceptable crimes, from human rights abuses to washing mega amounts of money obtained through corruption practices and drug trafficking. This is a regime that cannot surrender power under democratic ways because in a democracy where justice exists they will be sent to jail.

Refusing to acknowledge that fact, pretending to play by the democratic book when the other side is a fascist gang, and worse, showing for some the wish to compromise with the regime in exchange of a job is how failed states are made.


  1. IslandCanuck7:40 PM

    About many of the misconceptions of this new carnet.
    This was published in Ultimas Noticias, a government controlled newspaper.
    Based on this I can't imagine anyone lining up for one.

    Seis informaciones falsas sobre el Carnet de la Patria
    Durante el proceso de carnetización se ha especulado muchos sobre la finalidad de este instrumento

    ÚN.- Desde finales de enero inició el proceso de obtención del Carnet de la Patria, instrumento que servirá para revelarle al gobierno las necesidades de la población.

    Sin embargo, han circulado muchos rumores al respecto:

    Quien no saque el Carnet de La Patria será sacado el censo y no se le dará mas la bolsa del Clap: FALSO. El estado mayor del Clap ha aclarado que si bien el mecanismo ayudará a detectar quiénes no han sido beneficiados, el carnet no será requisito indispensable para retirar los alimentos.

    Los hijos de quienes no saquen el carnet no recibirán las canaimitas ni la colección Bicentenaria: FALSO. La educación es un derecho y debe ser pública, gratuita y obligatoria, por lo cual no existe ningún impedimento para que los escolares accedan a ella y a los beneficios que el ministerio otorga a los estudiantes.

    Jubilados y pensionados que no lo tramiten no se les pagará más la pensión > FALSO. Por el contrario, el proceso de carnetización busca detectar a quienes no han sido beneficiados para procesarles el respectivo pago.

    Se le suspenderá la entrega de medicamento por la farmacia de alto costo del IVSS a quienes no porten el carnet > FALSO. El único documento de identidad que se solicita a quienes requieren medicación, es la cédula de identidad.

    Al sacar el carnet le activas la clave y retiras Bs. 50.000 que ya están depositados >FALSO. El único instrumento de subsidio directo es la tarjeta de misiones socialistas que se otorga a las familias más necesitadas y las cédulas de los beneficiados son publicadas en listados que circulan en la prensa nacional. Puede consultar el último listado acá

    Si no sacas el Carnet de La Patria no te atenderán en ningún CDI, SRI, Clinica Popular, Distrito Sanitario, Módulo de Barrio adentro > FALSO. En ninguno de los centros de salud público se le solicita ningún tipo de documentación a quien requiera el servicio

  2. The problem with democracies is that they can vote in a dictator. Chavez used the populous to create a failed state. A state where an elite few were able to piledge and plunder for their own gain at the expense of others. Other gov'ts are not a lot different in this regard as a very few in USA have great wealth at the expense of everyone else. Difference really is the standard of living of the majority. In the case of Venezuela it sounds like very few did well prior to Chavez. Reality seems to be that humans have created a rather shitty world where few do very well and most live like dogs.

  3. Trump doesn't need to change the constitution - he just needs to enforce our current laws. 63 million American strongly support our President.He is not a dictator he is enforcing American law already on the books. A great President.

    1. Except that 66 voted Clinton and judges are already all over the questionable executive orders. But for Trumpians those are small details.

      And please, next time you bomb drop have the courtesy of bothering with a handle better than unknown.

    2. Considering there is over 300 million in the USA and almost 200 of them are eligible voters,63 million is a solid minority. Of them maybe 20 percent strongly support him but thats a guess.

    3. Ash

      I understand very well the US system. Trump has been indeed elected president. But he lost the popular vote by a very significant margin. This has consequences.


    4. You wrote that Trump could not get the 2/3rds to change the constitution. In the US, no political party can do that. Nor does Trump want to change it. He wants to enforce the existing constitution.

      The left in the US wants to ignore the US constitution by putting in more and more leftist judges who will say that what the constitution clearly said is not what it says. The left are the US version of the Chavistas but still in their infancy. Millions of Trump voters voted for Trump for one reason. To put in conservative judges who will rule on the constitution based on what it says which we hope will slow down the infant US version of the Chavistas for another 20 or 30 years. Nor will Trump get rich from being in Government. He is a billionaire. While in office, he won't make new deals. They will just run his current real estate business and take his $1 dollar a year in salary. Instead, Trump wants to get things done in government to make changes that will allow the US to remain a strong global power into the future.

      As far as Venezuela, your scenario is exactly correct. The question is how does Venezuela recover. The answer in my opinion is that the current government will eventually get voted out. A new government will be voted in and at that point, can try to change things. The big question is whether the new government will be willing to do what is necessary to fix things? Those on the left in Venezuela will yell, they will protest, they will absolutely despise the type of change that is needed. For example, less government spending, less welfare, more private enterprise. Perhaps selling off part of the government owned oil fields. All those on welfare getting less for a time while the country rebuilds. If there is not enough support for such changes or Venezuela does not elect a person who is willing to put up with protests, hatred from leftists, burning of cars and getting lectured by left wing elites, then Venezuela can't change for the better. You need someone determined, a free market person and someone who is very thick skinned

    5. Sorry but Trump can't read, that is why he watches FoxNews! He doesn't know that the government is divided between three branches for check and balances. There isn't 'One Supreme Leader'!

      This has been a shitstorm month for him. Expect to see more stormy months!

  4. "The fact of the matter is that Venezuelan current regime is a kleptocracy,"

    Refreshing. I've been writing that for Years. People talk about 'socialism" or "failed democracy" or "authoritarianism", or "dictatorship". (My favorite coined term before Kleptocracy was 'disguised dictatorship".) The fact is Venezuela is none of the above. It's a blend of narcotics trade, criminal thugs in power, ignorance, lack of education, and, above all, Massive, Inter-Galactic, Unimaginable Corruption. And at all levels, everywhere, not just the top enchiladas, nope, not just the politicians, nope, the "pueblo" has a big hand in stealing too. The average Pedro, Jose or Josefina for any barrio.. and their little bosses, and then up. Almost Everyone is in some chanchullo, guiso, izquierda or tigrito. At the very least, to just survive in Kleptozuela, you must bribe and grease-up lots of people around.. "Cuanto hay pa'eso?"..

    Venezuela is nothing more than a failed petro-narco-malandro state of sorts, where not only Chavistas and the "government" steal, but almost everyone else left in that mess steals too. Thus the more accurate term of anarchic Cleptocracia.

  5. Anita4:25 PM

    Thank you "unknown". The people that read this blog did not say a pip when a few days before leaving office Obama changed the rules for Cuban true refugees leaving thousands in limbo, hey the media they read and influences their opinions didn't even mention it so it is not their fault.
    In their own minds they are the smart ones.
    But Trump (or any Republican for that matter) wants to tighten the rules regulating who comes in from countries with cultures that want to cut our heads off and throw gays from 10 story buildings, hey this guy is a tyrant! And the guy who publishes this blog is gay! Go figure...

    1. Anonymous7:52 PM

      Trump can just issue another executive/temporary order to let the Cubans in but I doubt it.


    2. Anita. This blog is about Venezuela and things that may or may not affect Venezuela. Cuban refugees issues are not in this scope. Never mind that there are blogs on Cuban affairs that this blog has the courtesy to mention on the right side. Such blog would do a much better job on Cuba than what I can do.

    3. Anita stops spreading the ignorance. You cannot change the fact that murders and many of them multiple people happen in many parts of the USA daily. That when a radical Muslim does it it is called a terrorist act and plastered all over the media for weeks. The rest basically go unmentioned. The so called terrorist acts happen out of the thousands of often brutal killings in the USA about 5 to 10 times a year. Your too ignorant to realize gov't uses these publisized acts to pull the wool over the eyes of the ignorant. That it allows the focus of the average joe iq less then 70 to focus its hate so it is not on the gov't. Same way as Chavez and the existing regime uses the big bad evil USA such that its supporters are ignorantly blind to the economic mess in Venezuela. Wake up!

    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Anonymous8:00 PM

    A very well written piece Daniel. If the opposition had balls they would let the populace know that the majority of them are not too bright. But no politician ever has gone that far. As a democracy Venezuela will be a failed state for a generation or two. Unfortunately under a future dictatorship probably the same. But simple people need to be told what to do with only enough bread and circuses to keep them in line. The vast majority of the people left in Venezuela are simple people, the plebs.


    1. I have the feeling that when you become a failed state you cannot get out of it without a strong help. Dictatorship or colonial rule come to mind d.

  7. Unfortunately, Venezuela is doomed, and will keep getting worse. We're already #1 in murders, inflation, worst economy, scarcity, robberies, kidnappings, lack of medicines, mortality rates, epidemics, massive corruption.. And every young person who graduates, or almost every experienced professional leaves the country fist chance they get. 9/10 of us, you the reader or me, will never return. Too dangerous, plus the economy is so messed up and indebted, it will take decades to go back to the mess it was in the 80's or 90's. The damage is done. And the remaining "pueblo" is not getting educated Oil is cheap, and heavy. And will continue to get cheaper. And Venezuelans can't even grow tomatoes, or fish for export, can't even grow food for themselves, let alone become technology leaders or compete internationally.

    Tragically, the only solution for Venezuela would be a right-wing dictatorship. Mano dura. A Pinochet or a Perez Jimenez. A lot less people would get murdered (250,000 dead in 18 years of Chavismo, not counting those who die for lack of medicines). Under such regimes infrastructure can be built, and corruption is contained, compared to current levels. Crooks are kicked out or sent to jail. Few at the top steal. Just look at what was built in just 5 years under the infamous MPJ, more than AD/Copey and Chavismo combined have built in 60 years.. google it. And the economy started getting great. Sure, opponents are jailed, freedoms are lost, but how many people were killed in 17 years by Pinochet? About 3000. That's the death toll in a couple months in Venezuela..And look at Chile today, doing great. Sadly, the only salvation for a complete disaster like Venezuela would be a tough ruler, a Pinochet of sorts. The "MUD", Capriles or MCM or Ramos Allup or even Leopoldo will not be able to rescue Kleptozuela. The corruption, massive debt, lack of production, brain drain, are too deep. Too many ranchitos, too much crime and drug trade. Everyone is corrupt, starting with the military.. So good luck..

  8. Roberto Carlos3:59 PM

    Sledge I agree 100% what is going to follow this disaster is a swing of the pendulum to the right.

    However ... a strong man of the right might be against "gay marriage" and Daniel will hate it even more than he hates the current tyrants because he "will not be able to marry who he wants to marry".

    Or it might put the gay marriage thing into perspective once and for all.

  9. The US is a representative republic - popular vote does not matter - Trump won 306 electoral votes and the legal challenges will not stand. I am well educated and well off - I voted for Trump and he is doing exactly what we wanted - PUT AMERICA FIRST. The rest of the world can deal with their own problems and we won't fund it anymore.

    1. No, it is a federal republic. And legal challenges have nothing to do whether he got 306 electoral votes. Fortunately there is a separation of power in the US. Just as Clinton was impeached, so will Trump. At least the way he goes around begs for impeachment.


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