Don't think of an elephant!


Hugo Chávez has a new pet peeve. Whatever you do, do not call him a dictator!

Today he showed how much it annoyed him, when he said that if the opposition behaves and stops calling him a dictator, he would be willing to meet with Zulia Governor Pablo Pérez.

I guess this is how he negotiates: stop calling him names he doesn’t like, and you get some face time with the dictator.

It’s not the first time Chávez has showed his annoyance and being called for what he is. Just a few days ago, in his address commemorating the January 23rd uprising, he tooted the same horn. He did the same in his State of the Union address. And let’s not forget this.

Chávez obviously hasn’t read many books on political framing. Nobody has told him yet that the more he repeats he is not what the opposition claims he is, the more people will associate him with the term. Do you want to see how this works? Quick: don’t think of an elephant!

So keep going Hugo. Keep saying it. All together now: “I am not a dictator!”

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  1. I have to say that Hugo Chavez seems to be forgetting what has served him so well. How many times have we in the opposition referred to ourselves as “escualidos”?

    *That* is good framing.

  2. And now that I think, why not make Hugo Chavez happy? Dictator is such a gross word with bad connotations. We can call him names that reflect his good faith and extraordinary leadership, without any sarcasm whatsoever.

    Some ideas, in part ripped off from titles (self) conferred to people he admires:

    El Benemérito
    Padre de los Pueblos
    Amado Líder
    Gran Líder
    Líder Supremo de la Revolución Bolivariana
    El Líder
    Héroe de la República (y del Museo Militar de la Planicie)
    Spiritual Son and Successor to Fidel Castro

    There, if we call him that, he cannot accuse anyone of calling him a dictator?

  3. So HCF doesn’t want the oppo to call him dictator, in exchange for face time with PP?
    Here’s a win-win for all sides: Have the ni-ni’s call him as they see him: a dictator.

  4. I don’t think Chavez is a dictator. He is authoritarian, yes. But he was elected democratically not long ago, and the legislature has a large proportion of opposition representatives.

    No, it’s not clear-cut, but I don’t think he’s in the dictator category yet.


    • If Chavez were to commit an obviously illegal act, live on TV, where everyone could see him, and no one could possible deny that he did so, what would be the response of all the parts and people in the government in charge of upholding the law?

      If your answer is “they’d do absolutely nothing to put him in jail and, in fact, they’d bend over backwards to justify his actions”, then, by definition, Chavez is a dictator. How he got to be a dictator is irrelevant. He has the power of a dictator. That is what makes him a dictator.

    • These semantic debates are barren almost by definition. So I really should know better than to even wade into this debate, but…

      To my mind, dictatorship is a characteristic of political systems, not leaders. Dictatorship is not about a single person’s actions, but about the capacity of the institutional tissue surrounding that person to push back against it, to impose limits. In Venezuela, the institutions have lost any trace of their ability to constrain the leader.

      Whether or not he governs as a dictator – arguably a subjective question – he indisputably leads a dictatorship.

    • No, the courts, parliament and bureacracy have lost most all of their checks and balances function. However, it seems to me that the media and public opinion still carry weight, something that isn’t true in full dictatorships like Hitler’s or Pinochet’s. Neither has Chavez imposed such drastic measures as those leaders did. So, I still place Chavez in the authoritarian, not dictatorial, category.


    • It seems to me that public opinion was why Chavez stepped back from the Higher Education Law. Fujimori, in contrast, simply shut down at least one dissident university.


  5. Hugo does not want to be called worse names than what he was elected to be. He should consider behaving in other ways.

    He was elected as one. But has never contemplated behaving as one and has never done it, not even by accident.

    Maybe he is still on time to begin behaving like a President of Venezuela, end his (third?) period as one, step down as one, with some respect left from Venezuelans.

    His hissy fits about being called a dictator are only a show of the ignominy that awaits him, should he insist on NOT behaving.

    Idi Amin Dada and other clowns, make a place for Hugo Chavez in history!

    • Nunca su tronco endereza…

      The guy confirms my worst suspicions. With that little conversation with the President of Banco Provincial, on a cadena, via cellphone… he just added another link of tyranny mixed with shameless clowning to an already long chain.

      Let’s keep score, so the chain will be long, long, long, and heavy, appearing on his back, so to say, the moment he leaves the office that he uses daily for toilet paper.

    • ElFeto,

      I saw that, but couldn’t get through it without falling asleep on my keyboard.

      I mean, seriously – what *is* it with these people?!

    • You can add “En lo relativo a” and “de lo anterior se puede deducir que” to the list of phrases that end up anaesthesizing a part of your brain…

    • I think Mr. Guerra should see today´s Cadena “conversation” with Pedro Rodríguez (Provincial – BBVA President). If that is not a clear show of Dictatorship I don´t know what is…

  6. So, that’s what Tal Cual was speaking of today when saying that Mr. Ch didn’t like to be called “Don Regalón”!
    Quick, people, a new store based nickname! We should call him Beco, El Tijerazo, Traki, or Dinosaurio instead?

    (To the non-Venezuelan, Don Regalón (Mr Gifter/ Mr Gift-a-lot) is a chain of Departament stores, focused in clothing and home stuff, and a popular detractor nicknamed for the presided for obvious reasons. Beco, Traki and El Tijerazo are similar, rival chains of stores, albeit Beco carry stuff of sightly better quality and higher prices than the two latter. Dinosaurio isn’t just for Dinosaur, is also because the Don Regalón stores fused with a chain named Dinosaurio, and now they announce under the two names hyphenated)

  7. “A dictator is a ruler (e.g. absolutist or autocratic) who assumes sole and absolute power (sometimes but not always with military control) but without hereditary ascension”. OK its from Wikipedia because I don’t have time!

    Whether Chavez is a dictator or dictator-in-waiting is probably irrelevant. We should call him ‘fatty’, ‘power hungry’ or whatever else we feel like.


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