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Aggression! Violence! Fascism!

It was really heart rending hearing J.V. Rangel’s speech yesterday. The passion in his words, the anger in his eyes, the humanist zeal! In a tone of high moral righteousness, the Vicepresident complained bitterly about the abhorrent treatment meted out to General Eugenio Gutiérrez, the chavista head of the National Guard, on his Sunday night outing to the Lee Hamilton Steak House, that bastion of the east-side bourgeoisie. It appears that Gutiérrez was hanging out peaceably eating his steak when, the fascist shock troops from Plaza Altamira somehow heard he was there and showed up armed to the teeth to intimidate him. The aggression! The violation of basic human rights! And these people call themselves democrats!

Of course, Rangel had to obviate a few inconvenient details for this account. He had to skip over, for instance, the fact that the fascist shock troops were basically middle class housewives and the arms were just pots and pans. Sure, they were angry, and sure they beat their pots mightily, and granted, they were joined by some fairly scary, belligerent men who would love to beat the bejeezis out of Gutiérrez, but they were never allowed in the restaurant, so none of them even got close to Gutiérrez. Was he stranded there for three hours? Well, yes. Is this the end of the world? You tell me.

Now, obviating the question of what the hell this dude is thinking going to a casual dinner at the Lee Hamilton, not three blocks from the permaprotest, and ignoring the burning question of where the hell J.V. Rangel gets the idea that eating meat in silence is a basic constitutional right, there’s the fact that he was eventually bailed out by the opposition mayor of Chacao, Leopoldo López, who showed up past midnight and urged the crowd to let the guy out. Which they did. No one laid a finger on Gutiérrez. Still. Fasicsm! Aggression! Violence! The rhetoric Rangel used to describe the incident suggests a blood bath…when what we saw was a mildly quirky political protest. Hell, López bailed him out! When was the last time we saw Freddy Bernal lift a damn finger to bail out an opposition member on Puente Llaguno?

The thing that really riles you up about this is the blatant double standard. Ten days ago, when chavistas shot their guns into Metropolitan Police lines we heard nary a peep out of the VP. When two sets of chavista thugs ambushed two different groups of opposition demonstrators heading for Caracas on October 10th, the government not only didn’t move against him: every indication is that the National Guard actually protected the gunmen, at least on the Central Regional highway. In August, when chavista thugs started shooting against the PM in Catia, the government blamed the PM!

We’re talking guns, real bullets, plomo as they say here. Six people (including three Carabobo state police officers) took gunshot wounds in the Central Highway, a bystander was killed in Guárico. Several PMs were hit in August. This, apparently, is perfectly acceptable to the government. Didn’t merit even a press release. But a loyalist army general forced to hear the sounds of pots and pans being struck with ladels over dinner?! Fascism!

How do you negotiate with people who think this way? Honestly…

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Known to friend and foe alike as Quico, Francisco Toro is Executive Editor at Caracas Chronicles.

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