Few political opinions are more hardened in the Venezuelan oppositiosphere than the idea that Nicolás Maduro is just not a very talented politician. But can we be so sure? Have a look at the last Venebarómetro poll, out with data collected by IVAD from April 1st through April 8th.

De pana, can't we put together like a vaca to hire Venebarómetro a minimally competent graphic designer?
De pana, can’t we put together like a vaca or something to hire Venebarómetro a minimally competent graphic designer?

Nicolás still has something like a 30% approval rating. Think about that. THREE IN TEN Venezuelans look around this catastrophe and think “y’know what, the president is doing a pretty decent job…”

And Among the poor (class D in Venebarómetro’s oddball NSE classification) the proportion is closer to two in five:

 

Gestion Maduro 2

Look, in absolute terms, these are obviously crap numbers. But adjusted-for-economic-reality they’re…phenomenal!

Bachelet’s approval rating is at 26%, Humala’s in Perú is at 15%, Dilma’s is at 9%. Chile, Peru and Brazil have obviously faced some economic difficulties in the last couple of years, but nothing compared to the absolute shitstorm of despair that’s hit us. And Maduro is substantially more popular than all of them!

Think of it like this. On Wall Street, fund managers get judged by their Alpha: not how well they did in absolute terms, but how well they did relative to market conditions. If your Mutual Fund went down 5% this week, did your fund manager do a good or a bad job? Well that depends. If the market went up 10%, your fund manager did horribly. But if the market went down 20% and your fund just went down 5%, he’s a genius.

Maybe we need to re-evaluate our judgment of Maduro’s political chops. His Political Alpha is…off the charts amazing. We tend not to see it because in the social circles we move in, we basically never ever interact with people who think this way.

We can have a long conversation about why that is. But we should probably begin by acknowledging the simple fact.

80 COMMENTS

  1. While some of his support may be ideological, most people are guided by self intetest which suggests to me a lot of folks think that the Chavistas are for them a better deal.

  2. Just shows the effectiveness of government propaganda fed to a vast uneducated population. Comparison with other Latin American countries just tells me that the majority of people elsewhere are better educated and less susceptible to believing the BS being spoon fed to them.

  3. It’s a rare day that I disagree with you on Venezuela, and although I have no data to support this, I think the numbers reflect an ideology that’s simply in the blood of 30% of Venezuelans rather than Maduro being a genius.
    That figure may represent the floor of support for Maduro, his alpha figure only a result of those that have no conditions where they’ll abandon him, like having “amor incondicional” Regardless of how things turn out later this year with the bond shit storm, the oil market becoming stable at sub $60 or thereabouts, it’s a long way from a “price recovery” for the rest of the world, and a disaster for Venezuela. His supporters simply don’t have a measurable yardstick, where they abandon the revolution and embrace their economic condition without government saying “do this”, “we’ll give you this”… their personal independence may be lost.

    Still, those numbers are showing incredible support.

  4. You are drawing a conclusion too many. If Chavistas had put as president almost anyone else among their lot, the figures would be the same. The reasons have more to do with the fact that 30% is the eternal hard-core Chavismo that cannot admit failure because if it admitted it, the whole scam of 17 years would be too painful for them.

    If 30% of the population still thinks Maduro is doing well and the proportion among the D class is 40%, this still means there is a significant part of the so-called B and C classes that are also Maduristas.

    A lot of my relatives are actually people who are in the C and D sectors, even if almost most of them are and some have always been against Chavismo. They tell me stories, conversations they constantly have with these people…conversations you won’t see in your political books.

    These are the same people who, as journalist Oppenheimer wrote some time ago, have a much higher opinion of Venezuelans’ educational levels than Germans or Finish have of their theirs.

    If you plotted the ratio between Chavistas and oppos since 2013 based on the elections we have had since then you will see last December’s results were nothing so surprising. The trend was incredibly predictable.

    And now we are just reaching the level where the 30-33% of “estamos así porque los otros nos jodieron, jamás será nuestra responsabilidad” has been reached. They might be more abundant among the poorest but the differences are not that big.

    If Chavismos had a dog as president they would say the dog is doing fine.

    It is not about Maduro. It is about not giving up their whole set of beliefs and it is also about them still having a justification about why they collaborate and are state employees, etc.

    • I think you are right. However from a different point of view. His support comes from the D sectors whose economic conditions may have somewhat improved since they had the smallest straw allways. These folks already had it though on them before chavez so economically still the same for them. Thw difference is that the new elite have more elements now from their ranks than before. Revolutions tend to do that. The big problem in Venezuela was that social mobility was stagnated long before chavismo.

      • “The big problem in Venezuela was that social mobility was stagnated long before chavismo.”
        The perpetuation of this false narrative has to stop.The historical data is there for all to see. Venezuela spent huge amounts of money on Social programs during the 60’s & 70’s, no such much in the 80′ 90’s due to the fall or oil prices.
        Before Chavismo Venezuela was one of the few Lat Am countries, if not the only one that had Higher Education for free, a great contributor to upper mobility.
        My family lived through that and I saw it firsthand among my classmates.
        The opportunities were there. Not even USA today has such generous programs . Listen Bernie Sanders campaigning for this.

    • Exactly. For a number of years, various bloggers have concluded that the hard-core Chavistas, a.k.a. the come-hell-or-high-water Chavistas, constitute about 30% of the population.

    • If Chavismos had a dog as president they would say the dog is doing fine.

      Which reminds me of the term Yellow Dog Democrats. This term refers to white Southerners who, after the Civil War, would vote for any Democrat, even the proverbial yellow dog.

  5. It should be noted that any poll taken now in Venezuela is under near dictatorship conditions. As such, any positive results towards the government would have a built-in fear factor. Is the poll taker standing before you or on the phone really a poll taker or a government worker/secret police, etc.

    The last AN election is a good example. The polling numbers were all over the place. No one, not even the government in power judged the reality of the situation. Based on the last election, the current economic conditions and the eager response of the voters this week towards a recall, it is my opinion, that the real numbers should near the low-side of 20%.

    At the end of the day no one likes standing inline for hours for food and watching family and friends die for lack of medicine. Not even a red.

    • Absolutely right on. In a Petro Peon State, where perhaps 50% of the working population depends directly on the Govt., poll respondents, personally or telephonically, will not speak badly about the Govt./its leaders, for fear of reprisals. Voting is a different story, so long as the vote really is secret, ergo the Govt. captahuellas fingerprint ID machines to try to intimidate voters to vote the Party line.

  6. San Nicolas (Santa Claus) has always been popular among children of all ages!!
    You can’t be beaten given away stuff for free. (Populism 101)
    *until you run out of money.
    This is exactly the logical and expected outcome if all your policies are shamelessly focused on winning elections, and being popular rather than applying though and responsible, policies that would bring better benefits long term.
    One of the most beautiful thing about Democracy is that it allows all its Citizens to cast their opinion on who is “the most qualified” to be our President.
    However this is its biggest flaw and its own undoing. The biggest fallacy of the XX Century !
    Lets check the results, shall we?
    Chavez, criminal background, no experience in politics nor related educational background neither.
    Maduro, never finished high school, no experience.
    Lula, never finished high school, no experience.
    Mujica, guerrilla fighter, never finished high school.
    Etc.
    Frankly, I think this is unacceptable, and shamelessly unfair when you consider how much capable educated and talented professionals are out there driving buses for a living.
    Venezuela will never be more than a banana shit hole until we have smart, responsible and more demanding election laws regarding candidates with higher standards in education and experience, and also a higher bar when it comes to voting rights.

    Maria Gabriela Chavez for President 2019 !!

  7. We have understimated the power of communicational hegemony, a lot of people DO believe in the economic war, a lot of people do believe that bachaqueros and inflation are causes and not a consequence of the mess. The only difference between those countries mentioned and Venezuela is that, you can’t say on tv this government is crap and I think that the so called government influenced “equilibrium” (censorship) makes people perceived the government less bad than it really is.

    • Thta’s only because people are dumb and under-educated. And/or quite corrupt, complicit.

      Or is there another plausible explanation? Masochism?

      Of course not.

      • A lot of chavistas are balls-crazy masochist.

        Never underestimate the fanaticism that comes with artificially seeded hatred based on lies.

      • One of my co-workers has a degree en electrical engineering and runs a successful business on the side. He is Jewish and knows what persecution is about and yet he supports Trump.

        So he is not dumb nor under-educated, but he is certainly unwise.

  8. Maybe we should not take these amazing numbers at face value , they may reflect some distortions , for example . they include people who are fearful that the pollster is someone who might reveal their negative opinion to the regime which will then inflict on them some reprisal (specially if you depend on it for a job or some kind of govt dispensed benefit ) , they also include people who arent really opining about Maduro or the situation (which they dont like at all) but rather trying to remain loyal to the man or delusional narrative they once cherished and which Maduro represents, or trying not say anything which helps the enemy ( the escualidos) they have been taught to hate …..!!

    One thing we always fail to understand is that although we think that what people most prize is their well being very often people whose sense of self worth is ravaged by lives of failure and frustration or who feel resentful at their personal mediochrity and insignificance use glamorized political or religious or patriotic passions to restore a feeling of self worth which they prize much higher than their mere phisical well being .
    These passions are heavy on a politically glamorized righteous rage which makes them fee empowered and inflame their pride in themselves ……and this is precious to them ……!! important to note is that politically glamorized righteous rage make people feel empowered, full of vim and might , in other words PROUDLY POWERFUL in their identity.

    When McClelland and others first did their comparative studies on the cultural existencial values of Venezuelans as compared to the values of a hundred other countries we came out as much more fascinated and obsessed with Power than almost any other country in the world , we love Power and love of Power is often a proxy for an obsession with Self Pride , culturally we are taught that to be Powerful earns us the right to feel Proud and of course the eponimous expression of Power is violence so violence and rage are manifestations of how powerful we are and sources of great egolatric gratification . its not for nothing that we are among the most violent countries in the world , in fact hold the record for the most homicides.

    And this is that Chavez did for all those frustrated insignificant , poverty ravaged people , he gave them a sense of being Proudly enraged against a demonized enemy , a delusional narrative that filled them with proud enraged passions , a sense of vicarious empowerment which He and his brand of regime represented for them and they could identify with . This might explain why Maduro still polls such numbers despite the horrible impact of his misgovernment on peoples quality of life…..!!

      • I found a first reference to these Studies in Alberto Rials ‘La Variable Independiente’ ,(which I respectfully suggest you read, specially Chapter 2 ) , The Studies he quotes are from David Mc Clelland and Geert Hoffsted . Although the original ones are a bit dated , there have been follow up studies which can be found in the Internet. …..Hoffsted founded a research institution which is still active. Think of our history and again and again you will find this fascination with raw manly power !!

    • This jives with an observation of my high school years in Venezuela.

      A kid would act up, the teacher would upbraid him and he would still talk back. After that the kid would get expelled from school and labeled ‘enemy number one’ of the teachers.

      After all this damage, I remember talking to the kid and him taking great pride on saying “…pero yo le dije, no joda!”

      I would be amazed of him relishing such a pyrrhic victory.

  9. “We can have a long conversation about why that is.”

    Or a brief one:

    1/ Massive Corruption. World record 35 “Ministries” with ober 5 Million Enchufados.

    2/ Massive Ignorance. Brain-washed, under-educated pueblo, many of whom still buy crap like “socialismo”, Cuba is great, even ‘guerra economica’ and imperio.

    Let’s face it.

    Our “pueblo”, not all but many, are not that smart, that educated or that honest and righteous.

  10. I cannot believe it has anything to do with Maduro’s skills as a communicator, or that he is widely liked. I can’t. 30% of Venezuelans may be delusional, but they still know an idiot when they see one.

    • Maduro’s most distinguishing personal traits are his humourlessness and lack of wit, and in my observation, Venezuelans find those characteristics in a person particularly off-putting.

    • Gotta finish that comment up with the following note>

      “El Pueblo” is not ultimately responsible for its own fate, or what they do, not even how they behave, or how complicit they ARE, most of the “pueblo”, at all levels, but the poor, uneducated “alphabetized” majority is simply clueless. At least 60% still LOVE Chavez. How uneducated or dumb is that?? They do. Today.

      Or how corrupt, are they really? Not just dumb and under-educated.

      The results are clear.

  11. In my opinion it’s not only “amor incondiconal” for Chavez, a lot of people it’s getting a lot of money from the situation… from people involve in corruption inside the government (let’s remember the government have more employees in compare to the private sector), to people; mostly in the D class sector; getting 10 to 20 times their regular income from “bachaqueo” and other activities related to this crisis. That people don’t wanna lose their negocios by a change in the government.

  12. I don’t agree with the tone of some of the comments in here. Saying that Venezuela’s poor are more uneducated and more easily manipulated than in other countries doesn’t help us understanding that lead the people to vote for Maduro and it creates the idea that the opposition should see the chavistas as less than human. Don’t get me wrong, I personally believe that the goverment has done some really monstrous and horrible things, but as we are (hopefully) approaching change we have to start to think in compromises and at least understand why Maduro supporters are, welll. supporting Maduro.

    I do believe that the media plays a big role into why Maduro doesn’t have the same level of unpopularity. Essentially all public tv channels are in hands of government supporters now, those are the only channels that people that can’t afford cable or satellite tv are watching. Compare this to Brazil where some of the biggest media corporations are not only critical of the goverments but are even radical about the opposition (Some of them where at one time supporters of the right-wing dictatorship in the eighties if I’m not mistaken). But even the media thing doesn’t explain everything, I mean VTV is clearly propaganda, but some channels like Venevisión or Globovisión, while not as critical as they once were (They didn’t show many videos of the human rights abuses during the 2014 protests for example) are still showing interviews and opinions of people critical of the goverment, even with a controlled media criticism still shows up.

    And there’s also the role of Loyalty (or stubborness). I have many famliy members that are chavistas, most of them really smart and kind people (I’m bias of course, they’re my family), but when it comes to politics it’s just impossibly hard to make them hear the smallest bit of criticism. Part of the problem is that many of them were really poor during the “Cuarta Republica” and the biggest improvement they saw on Venezuela was during the latest economic boom (Their perspective, not mine). Also there’s the fact that the goverment was really good in making propagandistic and populist speeches during they’re short lived good economic run. They didn’t gave houses to the poor so they vote for them in the next election, They gave them so they stay loyal no matter what: no matter what the other side says or who is the new president or even the real state if the country. Chavismo was born as the anti-politics, anticompromise movement of Venezuela, as such “go down with the ship” mentality was their best weapon.

    Without mentioning that some of this programs, while really weakened, are still running, and people still are grateful because they see been poor in this goverment as better than been poor in previous goverments.

    I’m sorry if this rant is long and confusing (I’m not the greatest writer and I barely master english) but my point is that Maduro is not a genius, he is just lucky that he is leading a movement with a loyalty planted before he took office. Even some people that have voted against the goverment recently still call themselve Chavistas. Even if members of the opposition see Chavez as a symbol of pain, corruption and death, some people will still see him, at least partly, as a symbol of hope and representation of the poor. It’s not great, but when the opposition takes power eventually, it will to take this into account to govern the country. If the pro-democracy movements had to do it in post-Pinochet Chile and post-Apartheid South Africa to succeed, then this opposition has to do it too.

    • “…Saying that Venezuela’s poor are more uneducated and more easily manipulated than in other countries doesn’t help us understanding that lead the people to vote for Maduro and it creates the idea that the opposition should see the chavistas as less than human…”

      No one here is saying that chavistas are “sub-human”, only the chavistas themselves believe that fallacy because it serves them to justify the hatred they have to hide their plain and shallow envy for the achievements of the rest of people.

      It’s a proven fact that less educated people are more likely to be manipulated by baseless propaganda, and that’s why every dictatorship is interested first into destroying the education system to turn it into a propaganda machine to brainwash people.

      Besides, it didn’t start with chavismo in the 2000s, it started with cuban castro communist agents that infiltrated Venezuela in the 60s that aided by the leftists proceeded to gnaw at the people’s brains to make them suceptible to support the eventual invasion that was fulfilled with Chávez’s seizing of power.

  13. he is most definitely not a political genius, just that his supporters are really, really, reeeeeally dumb

    But I understand that is not a PC thing to say

  14. Elisaul your rant actually repeats part of what other bloggers have said using different words, Chavez did represent for many of the poor a symbol of hope and empowerement , not so much for people whose dreams of a good life had already been at least partially realized e.g the middle classes.

    Still deep poverty is not only capable of ravaging and damaging many peoples lives , but also their mentality and psyche in ways that are not so favourable , predisposing them to certain weaknesses and flaws which existence it would be puerile to deny ……!!

    Poverty itself doesnt make them less human , but simply makes them vulnerable to weaknesses which are ‘all too human’ , which middle class people would likely fall for if they were raised and lived in the same impoverished environment .

    I would agree that those poor who fell for Chavez delusional soul corrupting rants should not be dehumanized because of their flawed outlook and behaviour , but neither should we delude ourselves into thinking that those flaws dont exist ….or that they deserve our respect and not our censure !! THAT would be INHUMAN, you judge people for what they ARE regardless of how guilty or innocent they are in becoming what they are…….because of the circumstances that surrounded their upbringing .

    Sentimentalizing the poor ‘cantinflas’ style , holding their sometimes obscene or infantile emotions sublime because they are ‘victims’ of an unfair existential turn of the dice is both farcical and morally self serving , they are no less nor more human than we all are , and they should be judged same as any other human being that perpetrates the same misdeeds and incurrs in the same failings…….!!

    • “Chavez did represent for many of the poor a symbol of hope and empowerement…”

      Actually, he represented the symbol of revenge against the “middle class fags that were guilty for their poverty”, the whole “it’s not my fault that I’m poor” fallacy that kept so many people sunk in misery in the past years (And still keeps most of them mired in that gutter today)

      • Symbols sometimes mask or beutify some very dark passions , which of course can share space with other more enlightened passions , hope and poisonous resentment may coexist in a persons mind even if we see them as morally incompatible ……., we are all prone to cognitive dissonance …….!!

        But your right that what some call ‘thirst for justice’ others might credibly designate as ‘revenge against the middle class fags that are guilty for my poverty’ in both case the subject of those emotions feels great about having them because they flatter his moral vanity and by making him feel passionate and enraged allow him a false sense of personal empowerement…!!

    • First of all, thank you for the reply.

      Second, it wasn’t really my intention to sentimentalize poverty or any “obscene or infantile emotion” of the poor. I’m not saying that the people that support Maduro, his terrible policies or his irrational hate are in the right just because they’re poor. And I do believe as a fact, like you do, that poor people sometimes don’t have as much access to the information as many in other classes and that poverty can have terrible consequences on your mental health.

      That’s why perhaps like you said it sounded like I was saying the same thing with different words. That’s why I didn’t said “I disagree with all of what you are saying”, I said “I don’t agree with the tone”. That migth seem like me trying to be “politically correct” (A term I hate by the way) but the truth is that how we say things is just as important as what we are actually saying.

      Specially because if the opposition wants to combat the spirit of anti-politics that distinguish this government, then it must act, well, more political, even with people with actitudes with particularly dislike or even despise. And in my opinion, we must act like we are shocked with the popularity of populist politics, and be careful that any criticism we have doesn’t come as if we are attacking the poor, even if that is not our intention.

      Think of President Obama, even if you disagree with his actions (And I have disagreed with him in some important things), the wauy he talks and directs to different people, even people with radical thinking is a lesson on how to behave with different factiosn in politics. he didn’t just with a “What!? Are you insane!?” no matter the radical idea he was facing. Even if you don’t like the guy, that’s somethign we can learn from him.

      Not understanding how to do politics this way is the reason why many populist policies keep coming back and why some practical policies or free market measures that could help a country continue to be rejected. The poor are not gonna listen to those who call them dellusional.

      Like it or not, Tone Matters.

      • Elisaul Guevara – But the clear tone you reflect, is hard to accomplish for most. We need some practice. Diplomacy is far different from “political correctness.” The former requires considerable skill, reflects consideration for another’s views, without agreeing with them, and reflects one’s own views, without forcing them. The latter, “political correctness” is most often a thoughtless and definitely thought-expressionless agreement with views forced upon one and requires all the skill of a parrot.

  15. The way I see this:

    * 13.9% (the regular-hacia-buena crowd) is the kind of people who would say “well, this guy’s doing the best he can, it’s not his fault!”
    * 16.7% is the hardcore chavista and the enchufado (the true 1%er!)

    Clearly there’s not too much inroads to make in the second group, but the first one is a constituency severely influenced by the government narrative (parroted incessantly on the government media).

  16. Bill, I agree on most of what you said here. However I am not so sure about the typical characterization of Chavez as a corrupt soul.
    Maybe I am being naive but at times it seems to me that Chavez as a person was deeply passionate about Vzla to a fault and wanted to do the best for its people rich and poor, specially the later. To his credit he also dared to go beyond Vzla.
    I think he turned radical once he found the absolute rejection and ridicule from the educated upper, middle classes. For good reasons, but it seems as if he took this personally given his insecurities.
    Chavez major problem? he was unfortunately woefully unprepared (no related education) and inexperienced (no public office job) to handle the important and complex job of a President, no less !
    It is tragic-comical to watch many of his televised meetings lashing out at his subordinates in frustration for why things weren’t working well or projects never finished.
    Obviously, most of his policies were extremely naive and simply wrong however well intended.

    It all boils down to an naive king with no clothes, people laughing at him in ridicule and he hitting back in vendetta.

    It is a very sad story that continues with Maduro who is even more incompetent.

    • And that’s why a “naive, well intentioned soul” would hit a coup that murdered hundreds of innocents in a couple of hours, right?

      Also -> http://www.caracaschronicles.com/2016/04/18/dilma-jesus/

      “In retrospect, Urdaneta’s naiveté is almost touching. But Chávez, he soon realized, HAD NO INTEREST IN ACTUALLY FIGHTING CORRUPTION. He was far more interested in building up files on each of his associates, files he could later use to extort loyalty from them. Chávez, he soon figured out, was interested in corruption not to make the world better, not as a way of getting rich, but as a way of getting powerful.”

      Naive that turned sour because some sifrino gave him a bad look, yeah, sure, the most chavista of all excuses, dude.

      “We destroyed Venezuela because you looked at us funny! NNNYYAAAARRRGGHHH!11!! Dx”

      • I am not trying to justify Chavez. I actually hate the man from the beginning. However I can separate my feelings from the reality and understand his intentions were not to destroy Venezuela or torture the middle class or that he is the devil or a curse sent by God and what not.
        That is all.

        • But those were his intentions from the beginning, exactly to destroy the middle class and destroy Venezuela, because Chávez had a communist upbringing influenced by the cuban dictatorship and all that bullcrap.

          His intentions were to “destroy the evil capitalist system that shunned him and his family”, he was a criminal who spent years of planning how to take over the power to fill his pockets while gutting Venezuela at the same time.

          He hated Venezuela because Venezuela represented all what he was taught to hate and despise, and because the Venezuelan government defeated and humiliated him on his masterwork the 4fiasco.

    • Sure … policemen will tell you that criminals are really little angels at heart, uninformed, uneducated, desperate. This is a very big issue in life: Forgiveness / Vengeance. Clearly Forgiveness is the correct choice. If it is not, then we accept that God is evil. There are all manners of demonstrating in our experience that man tries to do good. That is his aim. So say: Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad; Socrates, Plato, Aristotle; the police, and yourself. To argue with that is more insane than

      “Aca no se ha activado nada!!!!!!!!!!!”

      http://www.maduradas.com/quien-lo-llamo-estalla-jorge-rodriguez-contra-el-revocatorio-aqui-no-se-ha-activado-nada/

      (Obviously, he is referring to his own brain.)

      But in the face of evil, idiocy, blundering, incredible stupidity, harm, hurt … if man is good, then are you not doing a man a favor when you prevent him from “making mistakes?” There is NO need to get complicated and certainly NO need to get political and fascist about how everyone must follow only one law and those who do not are witches and warlocks and must be dispensed with. That, too, is stupid. It’s the practical thing every mother knows: you don’t let your kids do bad things. It’s a personal thing, all of it. It IS “one-on-one, baby!” It’s the next person you meet when you get your nose out of the monitor, it’s your cat innocently walking across your keyboard because it seemed like a nice place to stroll, and your keyboard simply gets in the way … like your newspaper that you are reading on the kitchen table simply got in the way of where it was a great place to lie down and stretch out a bit. Conchale!

      Chavez was a good guy … sure … the best of human intentions … no doubt …. He just ACTED like a-complete-asshole-and-destroyed-the-lives-of-millions-with-his-conceited-notions-of-how-great-he-was … that’s all.

      It’s forgivable. It HAS to be forgiven. There is no other choice. But that does not mean we turn a blind eye to what an evil little, little, man he was in his actions.

      I have pondered in my philosophical travels about this great big world, between the throne and the shower and morning coffee … work and evening prayer, that if it is necessary to kill a man, what you owe him is a reason why. You have to tell someone what they are doing, or have done wrong, so he can understand. If you have the opportunity to do so, if you are able to. If he does not already know. Then you shoot him. Occasionally the thought of shooting someone dead crosses my mind. That’s not very high-level logic or argument. It’s kind of dumb, like me. And I try to get smarter. That’s hard, for someone who’s dumb. I try to imitate men who are smarter than I.

      A smart man would reply to your post thusly:

      “Groan!”

      • Btw, the “Groan!” is not intended as a hit. It’s a “You’re obviously a good guy, just funny how you said that, nice try, but you got parts of it a bit (hopelessly) muddled – in your overriding enthusiasm for all mankind and our future! In my opinion, of course.”

      • Maybe I am being silly today but I am trying to keep a more level head view about Chavez, even if it is hard.
        As much as I hate him I can’t say that he had a preconceived plan to destroy Venezuela or that he was pure evil. Humans don’t leave in isolation and people are part of our creation, so I wonder into what extent we radicalized his monsters.
        I don’t forgive him though, and if he was still a alive, he would have to face justice and paid for his misdeeds, the coups just as starters.

        • And Lenin and Marx and Engels. The way to make these people pay is to show the idiocy of their ideas. They have caused far too many deaths, Imagine if someone could sue them for damages, lost productivity, pain and emotional suffering? I think we’d all like that – for a minute or two (letting our own monsters run for a bit), before we wrote it all off and got back to enjoying life (or trying to). What we really want is a cessation of harm, a conversion of the bad guys into being good guys, on their own recognizance, an apology, some manner of making up for it, even if it’s no equivalent to the damage. That would satisfy me (especially if somehow I could say, “See, I was right!”). And that gets into the whole mess of mankind: we all want to be right, we all have that capacity, all races and cultures and trades or professions and all economic brackets, so how can we so frequently make such a disaster of things? (I have never forgotten, as a little kid I made a mess, and our maid, criada, came into my room and saw it, put her hands to her head and said, “Ay! Que desastre!” I never did it again, and actually made an effort to keep my room a little cleaner.)

    • Chavez was afflicted by a diagnosed personality disorder psychologists call malignant megalomania or narcicism which required him to cultivate a self image of someone omnipotent , grandiose , heroic , apotheosic , cloyingly tender (plus all the boyscout virtues) anything to seduce ignorant peoples attention and personal worship to feed his unquenshable thirst for vainglory and attention !! he also made himself into a very charming man , humorous , plain tongued when talking to his fake intimates ,a humble man of the people and so forth.

      Of course he convinced himself of professing all those wonderful saintly patriotic and heroic operatic passions to be able to see himself as worthy of all that love he felt for himself …….

      He had also the temper of a thug , he liked dealing pain , making other people he branded as enemies feel humilated and hurt , he obscenely enjoyed atacking other peoples dignity , because it made him feel strong , mighty , invincible !! half the fun in destroying peoples lives and taking away their property and livelihood was how mighty and grand that made him feel , remember the day some rival suffered some mishap and he said before the cameras ‘tonight ill have myself some ‘dulce de lechoza’, clearly showing his inner cruelty.

      He only loved the country and the misfortunate to the extent he felt he owned them, that to the extent they loved him they vindicated his sick adoration for himself..!!

      He was worse than ignorant and incompetent he was hubristically convinced of his own unparalelled wizdom in all things , many of the disasters we now suffer derive from grandiose decisions he made and which have now come to haunt us with their nefarious consequences ..

      His inborn narcicism and thugishness made him corrupt …….worse still being a practiced and accomplished seducer of the simple he corrupted them with his own vices and obscene hatreds and delusions ……!!

      • Well, Chavez was bad enough to serve jail time. No doubt.
        But I don’t think he was this sadistic devil as many describe him, otherwise you would have much more political prisoners, tortures and murders by the State like in Sadam’s Irak, Assad Syria, etc.

      • lest ye forget….many thanks for the succinct account of the “comandante eterno”, who simply added to Venezuela and where it finds itself today.

      • Regardless of his intentions the results of Chavez actions damn him.

        I often give this example to explain Chavez’s fault:

        I understand that appendectomies are a rather simple medical procedure.

        Given that I have no medical training and if I performed one it would certainly end with death of the unlucky patient

        Even with the purest intentions, this actions indict me of incompetence.

        So history should hold him as a criminal.

      • Bill, Your description of the narcissist really helped. Not only in confirming our perceptions of serious mental imbalance in Chávez, but also serving to better understand a lay profile of another person, apolitically and less afflicted. It was remarkable for me to tick off the profile points you noted and finding several “yep, that fits.”

    • Chavez was a megalomaniac who had only one thing in his mind: power forever.
      He always used lies and manipulation to reach his objectives.
      He could not care less about the people that followed him.

  17. this is similar to post the other day saying that the tsj is dragging the whole country with the sinking chavista ship.

    That number can be explained not because 30% people think maduro is good, they just think that the opposition is way worse. The hegemony’s greatest acomplishment is the demonization of everyone who is not them, polar, capriles, leopoldo etc. Even opposition people is frecuently part of the hatred.

    People have been tought an unconscious fear of the political right wing,

  18. Can someone from Venezuela please explain to me the contrast between the politics of Venezuela and Colombia?

    Like in Colombia, I have met poor people who are total Uribistas and wouldn’t be ashamed to espouse far-right anti-communist views. I just don’t see how 2 countries that are right next to each other and have a shared history can diverge so much.

    Is this just a recent thing that was all Hugo Chavez’ doing or were the politics always so different? I know educated/ Center-Left Colombians that support wiping the communist rebels off the face of the earth. How can what consitutes the center of the political spectrum be so far apart? Like even the US and Canada aren’t that far apart even though they think we are super right wing.

  19. “He’s just dumb! Did you hear about the bird?!” Just like with Chávez, specially in the early years. If you ask me, it’s thinly veiled racism. Specially when you consider it’s usually followed by “our president is a fucking bus driver!!”

    This by itself already accounts for much of his popularity. The guy is smart if you look at how he handled his image (which, considering Chavez’ insanity, is all he could do since there was nothing socialist to be done about the economy).

  20. Maduro at 30%, the “revolution” is probably over 50%. They are mad at Maduro, not at the system.
    Speaks loud and clear of the quality of people we have. Hate and resentment fuel the revolution.

  21. It’s complicated. Both countries actually have a lot in common. They both fought for indepedence against Spain and during the 20th century, while the majority of the region was under dictatorial rule, both countries were part of the few who had democracies (They were really unstable and really corrupt democracies but still). They both even had two-party systems for most their electoral history. But Venezuela always embraced socialdemocracy more, although separating it from radical socialism and communism. The far left meanwhile was never that politically relevant until the 2000s when they had power during a huge economic boom that sadly is no more.Venezuela is now close to economic collapse, and the far left is using the popularity and power that it gained during the economic rise to try not to lose the prensidency.

    In Colombia, meanwhile the far-left wasn’t as silent because they were part of a decades long armed conflict that continues today. The rebels you mention are really unpopular in Colombia because of their involvement in terribe human rights abuses. During the 2000s Latinamerica’ s economic boom, Colombia had a right-wing governent that fought very efficiently against the rebels (while been involve in corruption and human rights abuses, nothing is perfect) which along with the economic growth has made right-wing ideas relatively popular. Now Colombia is under his own financial crisis and there’s a lot of problems with inequality but the economy is still growing, unlike Venezuela.

    Basically both countries had huge economic growth for a brief period of time, which made the ideologies of their respective goverments really popular (left in Venezuela, right in Colombia) despise human rights abuses and bad policies in both cases. That’s the REALLY short oversimplified explanation, but I hope it helps.

    Sorry for any mistakes, english is not my first language and I’m writing from my cellphone because I don’t have electricity in this hour in my house (Like I said, Venezuela is having a rough time)

  22. Colombia from colonial times has a ruling class , economically and politically dominant , which wield enormous influence in how the country is run and organized , they impose a kind of social order which is absent in Venezuela were the colonial ruling class was decimated and destroyed during the war of independence and where a more anarchic and equalitarian system took its place ……, There is a part of Venezuela , the Andes , which culture although more equalitarian than is the case in Colombia resembles in many ways the culture of the colombian high lands , families are more stable and densely structured and authority is granted more respect than is the case in the rest of Venezuela, people tend to be more conservative and in the past more religious than the rest of Venezuela , they are the most fierce protestors against the govt in the whole country. Because Venezuelas colonial social structure ( a racial caste system) was largely destroyed (together with the economy) during a very destructive and lenghty war of independence and the civil wars that essued , Venezuela suffered almost continuous uprisings and civil strife until the beginning of the XX century . This led to a system where regional Caudillos frequently of humble origin took over the country and ruled it with iron hand . In 1908 a very strong Caudillo from the Andes took over the country and begun the creation of institutions like a career army force which made Venezuela a very stable and orderly country , with the help of the income produced by a growing oil industry the country slowly transformed itself into something close to a Modern state, after 1945 (after a 10 year hiatus in which a military dictatorship ruled the country , democracy, (in the view of some something of a model democracy) took root in the country , until sometime in the 80’s when a fall in oil prices made the maintenance of a heavily subsidised and populist system increasingly difficult ……when things begun to fall apart one president tried to purge the country of its populist clientelar habits to complete the transformation of Venezuela into a Modern Self sustaining Economy , this transition however was not well handled politically and the country became a cauldrom of discontent which lead to this presidents legalized ouster and to increasing dysfunctional political govt which were finally thrown out of office when Chavez riding a wave of inmense popularity rose to president in the 1998 elections . Chavez was a very charismatic man and started preaching an increasingly radicalized left wing discourse that because of his popularity gained a lot of support , meantime he used every opportunity to destroy the democratic institutions the country had substituting them for a system of institutions that while retaining a democratic fachade really operated as part of an authocracy which he headed …..his popularity among the poores never waned as he was able to shower them with all sort of munificent albeit irresponsable social programs using the recources produced by a huge rise in oil prices . A few year ago he was struck by cancer and died naming Maduro as his political succesor , since his death many of his terrible decisions made the country start having serious financial problems which after the prices started falling some 2 year a go have led Venezuela to the frightful crisis it faces today , The government he left which inherited his despotic outlooks and ambitions has lost most of its popularity but has retained enough control over the institutions to engage in all sort of fraudulent manouvers to sabotage an Opposition which now has the mayority to topple it using constitutional means..!!

    • That’s actually a really good recap of Venezuela’s history. Although I would say that Colombia also had a really unstable political landscape after independece. After all the current Civil War is the consequence of the crimes commited during the time of conflict between the 50s and the 60s in Colombia (“La violencia”). And that period of violence was itself consequence of many violent fights between the Liberal and Conservative party (Including a previous civil war) going all the way back to independence.

      • My understanding is that while Colombia has experienced a large amount of civil strife throughout its history , the people leading the factions involved in all these strifes were for the most part members of their very powerful upper class , who to these days still wield a lot of influence …..that may seem bad , but their highly proactive and ambitious traditional upper class has made it possible for Colombia to follow a more phocused long term development strategy than is the case for disorderly Venezuela.

        While political violence was struck down almost totally by the system of suppression created by General Gomez who ruled Venezuela for 27 years and had his more moderate succesors rule for another 9 years until 1945 Colombia had no such luck and experienced a very violent XX Century which violence we all hope is soon to end sometime this year.!! If you look at a list of Colombian presidents you will be surprised to see the same last names repeat themselves many times (all being members of the same tangle of interreltated upper class families) while if your read the list of Venezuelan presidents you will find more varied last names because as explained before in Venezuela the upper class was almost totally decimated during the wars of independence.

  23. The principal reason for the (apparent) 30% support has to be the massive propaganda offensive on TV and other mass media.

    Incidentally, after the Soviet Union collapsed of its own obese weight, its Communist party’s support still hovered around 25 – 30%.

  24. There’s a school of thought about Honorius (he who presided over the sack of Rome by Alaric) who questioned whether he was actually that bad of an emperor, or was simply incapable of resolving Rome’s problems, or whether he actually realized he simply wasn’t up to the task and the best he could do was…doing nothing. Let the world burn and do the minimal amount of damage to the status quo by not trying to do anything.

    For those students of the classics, I think J.B. Bury said it best:

    “The Emperor himself did nothing of note against the enemies who infested his realm, but personally he was extraordinarily fortunate in occupying the throne till he died a natural death and witnessing the destruction of the multitude of tyrants who rose up against him.”

    Different time, different kind of emperor, different sort of barbarians at the gate. Yet the guy keeps just plugging on and on and doing nothing.

  25. As whole, we Venezuelans have low expectations and high tolerance to incompetence we are used to it. “Esto es lo que hay”, “Vas Pa’l Cielo y Vas Llorando” , etc. Those who think different (and are able to) leave. And the lower you are in the scale, the more common it is.

  26. More important than how much support a pol is able to gather is what he does to gather that support , for there are foul and fair ways of gathering political support , and if foul and fraudulent means are used to gather such support then the latter represents nothing worthy of our applause or admiration.

    Part of the support may be a reluctant support , like that of someone that is extorted to giving it because it fears otherwise being hounded and deprived of his employment or other govt dispensed benefits .

    Then there is the support of those who support a pol for purely mercenary reasons , because he has been bribed to give that support by corrupt promises or rewards.

    Third there is the genuine support of those who are not motivated by any real primary concern for their own welfare or future prosperity but because they find emotional identification with the supported pols passions and delusions an intoxicating ego flattering experience !! So much so that the gratification to their fanatized conceit is such that they are turned blind to the failures and misdeeds of their supported banner.

    Associated with the last motive is another often neglected appetite in many men for feeling exultantly ennobled and invigorated by their enraged hatred for a satanized enemy , an appetite which Nietszche condensed in the phrase ” how well does bad music and bad speeches sound when one marches against an enemy’ or by Antonio Leocadio Guzman (Venezuelan founder of the Federalist Party) historically recorded statement ” If our enemies had shouted Federalism we would have shouted Centralism” .

    Finally there is a very venezuelan tendency of people to align themselves with whoever proyect the most might and power , we are after all a Power obsessed people as determined by cultural value studies by both foreign and national scholars (Mc Clelland , Axel Capriles)

    I myself suscribe to the idea that much of the support which the regime still retains is born of the passional attachment many of the least fortunate among our people continue to profess to the memory of that snake charmer Chavez , and which image the regime still tries very hard to embody. Not because most of them are under any illusion that the Maduro regime is the equal of the regime which Chavez headed but because they cannot bear to lose their last fraying link to their old illusion…..!!

  27. Resentment based socialism has an appeal because it justifies the appropriation and distribution of other peoples property as well as satisfying the needs of risk adverse people, often the poor, who actually prefer monthly government benefits even over more lucrative private employment, people who could care less about economic growth of an economy. They just want the security of that payout, accounting for a lot of that 30% support. Maduro is no genius but he does understand human nature.

  28. Machiavelli had some thoughts, too. He wrote that a politician can get support from the only two real classes in a society: the nobles, who just want to oppress, and the people, who just want to not be opressed.

    The thing about support, which Machiavelli very well understood to be the most important fact of government (with or without democracy), is that the people who give it are really just that simple at bottom. Of course, there are complicatimg issues, as has been pointed out above, like preferring those who are already established in power and old lineages. But politicians (again, democratic or not) have ways of overcoming these if they are able to focus on the will of whichever class they chose to get support from and how to satisfy it.

    Economic theory and actual policy outside of oppression or the avoidance of oppression, or rather even the perception of it, falls into the category of what Machiavelly called “that shit you do once you get to power and are able to maintain it.”

  29. All of my inside sources say that almost nobody likes Maduro.Only a few ideologues here and there still support…i doubt anywhere near 30 % .I find it typically naive of the opposition to be believing in numbers and what- not that only serve to bolster the plague they are living under…

Leave a Reply