Shocked, shocked no longer…


New Year’s Resolutions are famously made to be broken. Mine, ‘mafraid, will be no exception: I’m resolving to stop writing about Entirely Predictable, By-Now Routine Abuses of the Venezuelan Constitution, Natural Justice, Simple Decency and Plain Old Common Sense As Though They Were Shocking. This “shocked, shocked!” pose is a bad blog habit of mine, I realize. It’s helped along by the fact that I genuinely don’t know what to do with my anger when I hear stories of, say, the way dissident chavistas get hounded for corruption even as the government simply ignores the large foreign corporations who’ve sworn under oath that they bribe still-chavista officials.

Oh wait, did I just manage to break my New Year’s Resolution in the same paragraph I announced it? Sigh…

Like I said, this is a losing battle. But it’s important.

The outrage I feel over things that would be outrageous in any normal democracy just shows that, deep down, I still haven’t given up the sense that the Chávez Dictatorship might behave like a normal democracy. Against all the odds, against all reason, some part of me still expects chavismo to show some minimal level of restraint, some residual capacity for shame, some vestigial willingness to place limits on itself out of concern about what others might think.

At this stage in the game, that’s neither a reasonable expectation nor a helpful conceit.

2011 is a year for shifting from an opposition mindset to a resistance mindset. Not the blow-dried, TV studio type of resistance the CNR used to specialize in way before it was time. Real resistance, of the kind democrats are forced to in despair once all other avenues are conclusively barred.

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  1. Happy New Year. I did not make a single New Year’s resolution. Personal improvement operates on continuum, not on a specific date! I’m not particularly surprised by what the government does or does not do. They tossed out the “Normal Democracy” book way back in 2002, why do you expect them to suddenly adhere to it? Any “Normalcy” you might see is a product of internal forces pushing in one direction or another. I’m pretty sure the military is one of them: Otherwise I’m not certain the 2007 referendum would have really been struck down. I still don’t believe those official results of the opposition winning by a small margin. Less than 1%? No one in the government demanding a recount? I find that interesting and what it says about that election (maybe it’s nothing, but then again we never got the 100% total published, whether through laziness or what have you, but with an election decided by so close a margin you would think it important to scrupulously count every single acta to make sure there was no error)

  2. Shame is an emotion felt when one’s actions are met with disapproval by society. I think a large part of the reason chavismo does whatever it pleases is that, for the most part, the govt knows it can get away with its actions because Venezuelan society won’t hold them accountable. I wouldn’t expect Chavez to show any restraint in his political environment. When you get a sinverguenza ex-golpista with absolutely no limits placed on him, formal or otherwise, he will bend any and all laws until they break. Most people in Latin America either lack the necessary education or are simply too oblivious to recognize corruption when it unfolds right in front of them, while those that do recognize it just throw their arms up in resignation. Although it’s a losing battle don’t let go of that outrage, as a little anger can go a long way.

  3. OT. A couple of weeks ago someone referenced the “foro” section from aporrea. I read it and have been reading it since. It is very intersting to see how the “other side” sees things. Some times completely opposite to the way “we” see, other times the same. It is intersting to read the section for complaints, etc. (this should be read by all politicians in the opposition). One example is in reference to health services. Our politicos could learn a lot about the people’s needs and whether these needs are met. There’re others on education, etc. Very enlightning.

  4. Things I would like to see in the New Year:
    1. Companies moving from Venezuela to Colombia so when their products are imported they can get freedom, protection, and a better price.

    2. Businessmen and Businesswoman forming alliances with agri-communes, because the best way to win over communist idealists, is to introduce them to entrepreneurship, taking risks, working hard, working smart, and good management to reap worthwhile rewards.

    3. A Venezuelan counterpart of “Teach America” where college students and new graduates can become teachers for the poor and under-privileged youth. They are revolutionizing education in America. In Venezuela, the college students and their idealism should reach the under-privileged youth of Venezuela and compete for the hearts and souls.

    4. Grass-roots movements of non-partisan problem-centered issues, where political debate can address the common needs of all Venezuelans and address real solutions free of partisan ideology.

  5. I am all for forming network(s) of academics, professionals, and anybody interested in non-partisan problems for our day-to-day problems, integrating visions from people living in Venezuela and abroad. The Chileans and Brazilians did so during their authoritarian years to generate the policies needed to handle the transition towards a democratic society later on…

  6. Quico, I’ve said it before, but your posting causes me to say it again: you and JC are to be congratulated for your resilience, discipline, and dedication in keeping this blog going while swimming upstream against a steady flow of shitty events in Venezuela over the past umpty-ump years. I don’t think I could handle the stress of getting up every day to confront the daily deluge of outrageous, enraging, nonsensical crap that comes out of the asshole that passes for a government down there – and you guys do it with a sense of ironic humor, and have done so over the years; amazing and congratulations, like I say.

    Ok, now that that feel-good stuff is out of the way, what now? I mean, I think ideas like Gordo’s are fine (I’m one of the thumbs up on that one, btw), but I really wonder if Chavez and his orcs would ever allow something like that be done. To explain, I just saw Daniel’s note that Chavez now wants to clear any ngo invites on foreign speakers, from which I infer he will seek to control any civil society activities of sort Gordo envisions. Assuming my interpretation is correct, this would effectively put the kabosh on Gordo’s ideas (unfortunately). It’s another case of someone in opposition trying to act in a logical and fair (i.e., by the rules) way, only to be stymied by guys who have no intention of playing by those rules, ever, and who are relentlessly ruthless in their struggle to achieve complete and permanent power over everyone and everything. (I may be exaggerating on this last point, but not by much.)

    I look at this blog and those of Daniel and Miguel and the comments of many folks who come here/there, and I agree with most of what’s said. With all due respect, though, while you guys have been talking in the station about democratic institutions, practices, and ideals, the dictatorial train pulled out a long time ago, and they’re just about to the (figurative) stationwhere they want to go…

    So… resistance. What does that mean? I don’t know at this point, but at the very least, it’s a subject for further discussion at a later date…

  7. I have to to hope that people like Lech Wałęsa who was able to speak truth to power, help form the solidarity movement in communist Poland in the 1970’s and 1990’s. Also, Nelson Mandela who spoke truth to power in South Africa during the apartheid era. Sometimes, individuals can move history.

    But also, sometimes ideas can be even more powerful. They can spread like epidemics do, or like pandemics.

    Can businesses move to Columbia? I think so.

    Can business people ask communes if they want help? Why not?

    Are there venues where Christa’s congregate and discuss problems and entertain solutions? Do you need an invitation to attend one those meeting? If you go, will they allow you to share your ideas? Maybe!

    Control, confrontation, demands, demonstrations, debates, threats… are all part of politics. Communication, respect, tolerance… are the tools for building community and cooperation.

    I don’t know what can or cannot work right now in Venezuela, but if you don’t try, you are less likely to find out.

    I want to invest my money in Venezuela… as soon as Venezuela has a future to invest in.


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