$%*& my Japanese wife says


My wife laughed hard at the tragic, yet still unmistakably funny story of the dozens of high-society Venezuelans coming back from a throw-the-house-out-the-window, no-expenses-spared Punta Cana wedding with lobster-induced cholera on the menu.

Then, as an item on the Egyptian protests comes on the news and she sees me seething with envy at the possibility that yes, one day, Hugo Chávez may be Mubarak-ed, she turns to me and says.

“See, all that because a fruit seller in Tunisia set himself on fire. Fantasize all you want about this kind of thing happening in Venezuela, but it’s just not gonna until people show they’ll go all the way. Instead of pouring gas on themselves and lighting a match, they’re eating Haitian lobsters in Punta Cana!That’s just lack of patriotism.”

Ah, the Japanese … is there nothing they won’t try to solve with ritual suicide!?

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  1. Well….she’s right. Sorry Quico.

    A huge part of the problem is that no matter what the situation in the country is (food shortages, crime, black-outs, etc.), people just adapt and go on with their lives, and post an anti-Chavez facebook status occasionally. I’m not saying I’m any better since I left the country, but everytime I talk to my friends and family in Venezuela I am absolutely amazed at the crap people put up with, yet still managing to afford a blackberry.

  2. The bad news for Egypt that they aren’t likely to end up more free if Islamic radicals, and any “democracy” will likely be “One man, one vote, one time”.

  3. Not only that, but when people DO go ahead and essentially immolate themselves (think Franklin Brito), we grieve for a day or so (long enough for the media to report on our outrage, natch), and move on. The government just laughs it off and blames the victim.

    Chavez will not succeed in replicating the Cuban system by force, because Venezuelans do react when their comforts (however meager) are threatened, and Chavez is too much of a coward to actually provoke the civil war he constantly flirts with.

    However, between a civilian society that is content with letting the dance continue as long as they can retain the illusion of “no vale, yo no creo que llegue a tanto”, and a government content with letting the dance continue as long as they get to stay in power, the deterioration of the country will continue to the extent that, in a decade or two, Venezuela will be effectively indistinguishable from Cuba or any other fourth-word shithole. Our peculiar inertia-like criollo laziness can sometimes bring about the same results as true struggle.

    2012 is one last chance to start the slow, painful U-turn that it will take to bring our country back from the edge.

    PS– Maracaiburgh, are you by any chance a fellow maracucho in Pittsburgh? Just moved down here from New England, myself.

  4. Dude, your wife totally nailed it. Sadly we’re becoming cowards. Maybe we were cowards all along. I hope someday that people prove me wrong.

  5. Franklin Brito died thinking that by exposing the terrible injustice that was being done to him people would react with indignation and would support his cause. Well, Venezuelans could not care less. Brito gave his life and very few people remember him anymore. Venezuelans are being humiliated, bullied, ripped off (the dictator admits openly that he gives away millions of dollars to other countries, including cheap fuel to American citizens while our people starve, get killed on the streets, die while waiting for hours to get emergency health care…) and they not only don’t complain, they yell uh-ah, chabenoseba!
    Sad, very sad indeed. I too agree with your wife.

    • It is important to keep things in a positive(ish) tone. Better not say “venezuelans do not care” and just remind everyone and show why they should care. Better say something like “let’s not forget that Franklin Britto died thinking that by exposing the terrible injustice that was being done to him people would react with indignation and would support his cause” and leave it like that.

      It took 20 years since Jan Palach immolated himself and the velvet revolution!

      Perhaps sometimes we expect too much from a small act. I agree with the point though. We Venezuelans need to be more serious.

  6. “Venezuelans couldn’t care less”.
    Un momentico. Venezuelan men couldn’t care less. Meanwhile, Venezuelan women are protesting everyday, every way they can, sacrificing themselves (ask Judge Afiuni), parándole las patas a los matones rojos del barrio, inviting people to join the protests, which mostly women organize and attend. I’ve been looking at the pictures taken in Egypt. I see mostly men fighting the police and the army. Are Venezuelan men waiting for the ladies to do that too?
    (Any reply with “marialejandralopez” in it will be ignored. Ya la tengo atragantada.)

    • gold:

      “(Any reply with “marialejandralopez” in it will be ignored. Ya la tengo atragantada.)”

      bwahaha! that was a good one.i have sooooo overdosed on the marialejadralopez thing.

  7. This is down right IDIOTIC.

    So if you are rich, don´t enjoy your money, burn yourself. Good tip.

    This is downright idiotic (DESERVED A REPRISE), second worst post here EVER. I´m surprised/sad the Chavez speech has been so effective on you and your family; if I had the money I would love to have a similar wedding, a brief escape from our shit reality…

    Your luxury is an LED TV, maybe a leased BMW, theirs, a Cap Cana wedding; same shit, different size/proportions. Just because they has a “lobster wedding” in Dominican Republic it does not mean they are not patriotic, it just means they are rich.

    You/your wife? sound just like the idiots we are trying to defeat, this has nothing to do with the problem in the country, and more to do with resentment. And I respect you (a little less now, specially after this and the Merici jab at MCM)

    I also have VERY rich Egyptian friends, they opposse their government, but they also enjoy their money… Why should´nt they…????

    • Agree. Thank God for some maturity over the boho elements. The dining area looks really lovely. I wish I could afford to eat lobster there. Without the cholera, of course.

  8. Look at the bright side of things. You won’t see Venezuelans:

    Flying passenger airplanes into buildings. Strapping a stone or two high explosives and nails to their ribs. Driving truck bombs. Engaging and collaborating in ethnic cleansing and genocide. Charging with light weapons at well entrenched enemies. Jumping off cliffs at the approach of enemy troops. Flying airplanes into well defended warships. Experiencing the most horrible varieties of aerial bombing (saturation , incendiary, atomic, cluster, etc.) without a change of heart.

    And they will not do it for Hugo Chavez, rest assured. Not that I believe that Hugo Chavez is thinking actually of having Venezuelans do any of this things. His more modest objectives are nowhere in sight. If Venezuelans were able to do the above, there’s no question the fanatics would have carried Hugo away, and with the positive feedback, the war with Colombia, the U.S. and who knows which other nations would have ended badly.

    The worrisome thing is that Venezuelans will neither stand for their rights, and will not stand up to criminal violence. It is an indiscriminate, pervasive slaughter that dwarfs the handiwork of many a past dictatorship (or civil war) in Latin America. That the sacrifice of Brito, for the rights of all Venezuelans, is less than a footnote is disheartening.

  9. One of the most bizarre aspects of the Venezuelan culture is the attitude people often have with assertiveness,active self – defense or appropriate aggression.

    I vaguely recall having read a story about a a menagerie lion that escaped in the city of Merida that was terrorizing the population but no one wanted to capture it and put it back in its cage.Folks seemed to think that the lion had a right to remain free, despite its danger to others.

    I hear many say that it is antidemocratic and very much below board to belong to the military, to fight for freedom, or in anyway stand up for one’s people and country.

    Yet few people seem to be THAT enraged at the daily violence by criminals towards innocent citizens, or the daily abuses of power by Chavistas- at least they are not enraged enough to fight back.

    It’s like some sort of masochism,where there are those who have a permit to abuse others and then there are those who are just supposed to ‘take it’.

  10. Wow!
    I disagree with everybody here.
    I’m no expert on Tunisian matters but I have the impression that things are several orders of magnitude worse over there than in Venezuela. I’m pretty sure that if Venezuelans were having it as bad as Tunisian have had for as long as they have had it Venezuelans would react in a simmilar way. I believe there is no comparison between one situation and the other.

    For what I understand the Tunisian reaction is because a large portion of the population identified with the immolee. While venezuelans may be sympathetic with Brito’s suffering the majority is not in a simmilar situation. It’s precisely because they can still enjoy their blackberries and other luxuries that they can adapt and conform to the ever worsening situation and endure it for quite a while longer. It’s going to take some time until we get to the Tunisia situation (if ever) provided that we don’t follow the Cuban or N.Korean path instead.

  11. “Franklin Brito died thinking that by exposing the terrible injustice that was being done to him people would react with indignation and would support his cause.”

    No he didn’t. He died thinking that it was important that his children saw that he put his money where his mouth is. He had taught them all there lives a set of principles and to stand up for them, to death, if necessary. His situation was one putting some of those principles to the test, so he made a decision to show his children how strongly he believed everything he had taught them. He stated this several times quite clearly and often repeated that this was a family matter of justice, not a political one. In this sense his death could have no greater meaning, and it effect will last for generations in his family, no doubt. A truly remarkable person.

  12. I live in Venezuela, but work in North Africa. I recently spent several months in Tunisia, and except for freedom of expression being severely limited, I thought that the majority lived better than the majority of Venezuelans. Definitely the situation was not orders of magnitude worse, at least economically.
    I feel much more secure in North Africa than I do in Venezuela.

    • Thank’s for the information Clayton.
      I just checked the CIA Factbook and you’re right.
      In most aspects Tunisia is very simmilar to Venezuela and in others is definitely better like in life expectancy, inequality and inflation. Even more surprising is the percentage of people below the poverty line 3.8% for Tunisia 38% for Venezuela!

      Although both numbers seem odd to me specially considering unemployment:
      The only area where it seems Tunisia have been doing real bad is in unemployment with rates above 14% for several years now. Incidentally that’s the reason that prompted the young man to immolate himself in Tunisia.

      So what seems to be different between Venezuela and Tunisia is who is fed up with the government. In Venezuela it’s the higher classes while in Tunisia, and apparently part of the Arab world, the lower classes are out of hope:

    • Clayton,

      My point exactly.

      The total lack of security in Venezuela actually makes it much worse than under many other dictatorships, and what is mind boggling to me and totally bizarre is the extent to which the people of Venezuela are willing to passively put up with it.There comes a point when passivity increases violence, and Venezuela has reached that point some time ago.

  13. This analysis seems a little bit rushed and lacks your actual depth, Francisco. I fail to see how we can compare Venezuela with Tunisia and say that, mutatis mutandis, if the buhoneros in La Hoyada set themselves on fire the outcome would be the same as in Tunisia.
    One thing that irks me of Venezuelan politics is the lack of being able to provide any other analysis (or discussion) without having Venezuelans think out of the box, or the kantian a priori of Chávez. Once we were talking about the situation in Iran, and a Venezuelan hysterical woman said, “that’s just like Venezuela”, even though the story was about people being decapitated in a public square. Yeah… It’s like Venezuela, if you skim through subtleties like a fundamentalist theocracy based on Coranic Sharia and the like…
    I mean, yeah, I get the old siècle-des-lumières universalist assumption: Everything human is like everything else human, because man is one in the universe, etc., but I wonder if that’s the point of political analysis.
    You well know the power rapport in Tunisia is nothing like Venezuela, a country where every action must be contextualized in its contemporary political history and traumas (the 11-A, Franklin Britto, etc.) in order to understand the possible effects of its actions. The opposition has lost any ability to call for strikes due to the 2002 stints, something that takes away a huge political tool that is being capitalized on in Egypt and Tunisia. Venezuelan opposition is vehiculed by middle-class professionals, not street vendors trying to become the human flame in the Fantastic Four…
    Anyways, I could go on, I think you get my point. I think it’s naïve to think the power relations in Venezuela could be broken easily if people were willing to go “all out”. Just because that worked in a country tired of Ben Ali’s cronyism doesn’t mean it’ll work in a country where people light candles to Chávez in Sorte. So yeah, I get the argumento-de-fondo, bailoterapias on the highway aren’t as ballsy or performative as lighting oneself on fire. True that. Doesn’t mean that if the opposition went out and got massacred like the children of Budapest in 1963 in front of the armée rouge, things would “start to change”.

  14. Amieres,

    The lower classes in Caracas are mostly unsatisfied with Chavez.His rock solid support comes from the smaller population centers of the interior of the country where Chavista propaganda is pretty much the only thing you can hear.

    Personally I do not think it is only the higher classes who are the ones affected by the lack of security.On the contrary the highest murder rate takes place in the barrios.

    • You’re definitely right about who’s more affected by the insecurity, it’s the lower classes specially in Caracas. Life in the barrios is filled with tragedy and fear, everybody has someone close that has been shot or killed, everyone has been a victim of crime at least once.

      The situation is not so dramatic yet in other places and there are still many people who believe in Chavez (some believe him, some believe in him).
      Chavez still keeps the wool over their eyes, the question is: for how long?

      When a critical mass of people that are dissatisfied and angry with Chavez is reached, specially in the lower classes, then our Tunisia moment will come. Chávez knows this and will try a mix of repression, handouts and B.S. to delay that moment. Meanwhile he tries to destroy the private economy, his dream is to have every venezuelan directly dependant on the government so they don’t dare oppose him.
      It’s a race to see what happens first.

  15. Time is also a factor. I bet fifteen years from now we’ll be so soar, our skins so thickened, we won’t be as tolerant anymore.

  16. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Franklin Brito (God bless his soul) died defending his property. His protest was not some high-profile political sacrifice but a defense of his rights. It later became something much more, but that was more media driven than anything else. I don’t think his sacrifice is in the same league as those we’ve been seeing in North Africa in the past few days.

    • Juan, I think, and we’re all speculating here, Brito commit his life to set a precedent, an example. The way I see it, it wasn’t about el terruño. Rather it was about an individual refusing to renounce his inalienable rights. Punto.

      One of the parties that makes that social contract we were discussing the other day is the individual. Y si al individuo, no le da la puta gana de dejarse joder por el estado chavista, que finalmente deriva su poder de una concesion temporal que le hace la sociedad, pues p’al carajo brother, no more social contract.

      Brito, as I said at the time of his death, miscalculated big time. He thought chavismo would capitulate, and his only bargaining chip was his own life. We have known for some time that chavismo doesn’t give a toss about other people’s lives.

      In my opinion, Brito’s sacrifice is beyond the burning man in Tunisia. I think Muslims don’t have a problem with putting their lives at risk for what they believe in, but Venezuelans? And peacefully? Only Brito, he’s our burning man, he was alguien. Alas, the majority, chavista or otherwise, doesn’t give a shit.

  17. I did not get Quico’s wife’s point. Is it unpatriotic to have a wedding abroad because there’s a constitutional crisis in the country? or is it the point that if you belong to the well-to-do, you should abstain from opulent consumption (e.g., wedding abroad) because a great deal of Venezuelans are in precarious condition? What the hell was her point?

    I mean, I think there are many ways to say that we Venezuelans simply lack the courage of our convictions, but I am not sure that the example chosen in this post makes that point clear.

    • …there are many ways to say that we Venezuelans simply lack the courage of our convictions, but I am not sure that the example chosen in this post makes that point clear.

      After Quico’s wife is done “laughing hard” at the wedding guests who succumbed to cholera in Punta Cana, she might want to turn her attention to principles on the home front.

      She may want to ensure that her husband put his money where his mouth is, the next time voting takes place, abroad. For isn’t civic duty a key indicator of a nation’s purpose and maturity, where its citizens reside within a reasonable distance of a polling station?

      Civic duty becomes even more critical for those who spout politics from their constructed platform, be it ‘live’ or online. In contrast, the shirking of that duty, for whatever reason, points to irresponsibility and ‘pura pantalla’. Never mind that ballots are chavista toilet paper. Spending your time ‘vociferando politicamente’, while avoiding the peo of voting, goes directly to a lack of principle, and to ‘pura pantalla’.

      It’s the pervasiveness of the pantallero, whether pirouetting on the autopista during a political march, or pretending to be a voter, that is so indicative of the level of maturity and purpose in Venezuela.

      Normally, those who spout a particular belief are obligated to uphold their philosophy. Otherwise they become shams, when acting against the principles they make a show of believing.

      So unless the wedding party was composed of socialists, or government types, or those who write political blogs, meaning, all those who need to show that their actions and principles are one, I don’t see why anyone should judge a bride’s family for spending its money on a lavish wedding — aquí, allá o en la Conchinchina.

    • You’ll always going to find people willing to sell their souls to the devil for money.

      The distinction I wanted to make between what I believe is the situation in Tunisia and Venezuela is that in Venezuela from the beginning the middle and higher class (I had meant to include the middle class when I said higher classes in the previous post) rejected Chavez while the lower classes supported him. It’s not true that venezuelans have been passively accepting Chávez terrible government, from 2002 to 2004 a big and energetic movement of opposition to Chávez almost brought him down but that movement was met with a passionate support to Chávez from the lower classes who believed in him.

      After the 2005 boycott and the 2006 elections the opposition movement of the middle to upper classes lost all it’s steam and has been dormant in a way waiting for the lower classes to open their eyes and join them instead of opposing them. That seems to be the situation now in Tunisia. It’s slowly happening in Venezuela thanks to the disastrous state of the country.
      The best way to accelerate this process is to help open the eyes of those that still believe in Chávez.

  18. Sorry, this has to be said in Spanish:

    Mientras seamos una nación de gente vacía, materialista, sin principios; pendientes de lo que está ‘fashion’, de la rumba del fin de semana, del próximo puente, del restaurant mas in etc… aquí no va a pasar NADA.

    En cualquier país ya habría humo en las calles ante la situación que estamos viviendo. Parte de la culpa, son aquellos infames tiempos del paro y el mal manejo de los acontecimientos del 11 de Abril. Y la otra parte es nuestra forma de ser. Los periodistas y veedores extranjeros siempre se impresionan de ‘la alegría’ de nuestras marchas. Claro, hay mas bailoterapia y tambores que en una fiesta!

    El caribeño es así. Si lo dudan.. miren a los cubanos.

    Cuando hablo de gente materialista y sin principios, me refiero a toda la gente que por un bozal de arepa le vende su alma al demonio. No sé si es que no les importa el futuro del país y el daño que se les hace a sus propios descendientes. O es que simplemente, por ignorancia, juventud o qué se yo! no ven más allá de sus narices.

    Este es un país donde la gente no tiene la perspectiva de las cosas. Se vive el momento y ya.

    Que los millonarios celebren sus fiestas a todo trapo en una isla del caribe, está bien. Esos son sus reales y que los gasten es su derecho. Pero, desgraciadamente eso refleja cómo somos -casi todos- como nación: un país donde la rumba y el bochinche están de primeros.

    Sorry for the rant Quico and Juan. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel any time soon.

  19. Amieres,

    Totally agree here:

    “Meanwhile he tries to destroy the private economy, his dream is to have every venezuelan directly dependant on the government so they don’t dare oppose him.
    It’s a race to see what happens first.”

    Everyone dependent on the government seems to be Chavez’s final goal, and the BS part is also true.He know his ‘ganado’,and plays his people like a fiddle.

    • Special emphasis on directly dependent.

      Sadly, Venezuelans are and have been for most of four decades now, with few and far between exceptions, indirectly dependent on the government, and on the President.

      The obvious explanation is oil wealth controlled by a single party, the Executive. There’s also lack of economic rights, lawlessness and arbitrariness.

      The opposition has to learn by heart yet that to really oust “Chavez”, and the governments of which he is a successor, THIS SITUATION HAS TO END. DEFINITIVELY.

  20. Quico:

    You, too, scorn honorable Japanese sacrifice.
    Yes; even I, a mere gringo, try to publicly commit sudoku – and no one cares.

    Despondently Yours,


  21. Pelao, I’ll explain my understanding of Quico’s wife’s comment.

    There is enough money in the country to throw a luxurious wedding party OUTSIDE the country for more than 500 people , and enough money for those 500 people to LEAVE the country and enjoy the wedding.

    They are probably people that complain about the sad state of affairs in Venezuela but, after all, why not enjoy life and, despite exchange controls, go to Punta Cana celebrate the wedding…

    When those that oppose Chavez are thinking about that type of parties instead of thinking how to resist the latest measures, forget it, you will not overthrow the dictator!

    • Oh, OK…I did get it, but I still think this is a poor bone to pick. The well-to-do in Venezuela have the amazing ability to “camburear” with any government. That is why they are well-to-do. And if some go, others come. So, really these guys are inconsequential when it comes to opposing the government, whatever its colors be.

      I am more concerned that the poor seem not to care about the state of affairs, but then again, they are probably still going with “Con Chavez me rastreo.” So, things are not sufficiently bad for them.

      As much as we might not want to face it, the issue to me is that repression in Venezuela is still on the light side. The economy sucks, but the masses are living on borrowed time and money. So, all is good compared to Tunisia, Egypt and the former soviet republics, where revolts against authoritarianism has been much more evident.

      Things will have to get worse before we see what is going on now in Tunisia and Egypt. And that has nothing to do with patriotism. While we Venezuelans are shallow, we are not less patriotic than other nations.

  22. This discussion reminds me of the video of Onechot, Rotten Town that got attention a few months back, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADEZX9ryrME

    It is all there, the vanity, the constant effort to ignore reality, the culture of beauty pageants, the blackberrys, all the silicone, the dinners in the best restaurants even though the country is at war, one where only one side has the guns.

    But I agree with Amieres, there is a difference on how people are experiencing this disaster. Middle class and rich people are suffering this level of insecurity for the first time. For poor people things have gotten worse, but not much different than they have always been.

    Yes, poor people are getting angrier, but you have to remember: they still have not voted Chavez out. Chavez has not yet lost an election that is 100% about him. That’s why I still believe the point of inflexion will be when the people that put him there tells him, you know what, we had enough, we want another guy running things, you had your chance, now is the turn for someone else. IF he loses big time and he forces his hand to stay, then you can talk about going all the way out, remember we are still paying the price of using those tactics at the wrong time and sometimes stupidly (i.e. strike, guarimbas).

    The question is, is the country as a whole too dependent on him (bribes, misiones, jobs, etc) that even if they don’t like him, they will keep him there in hopes of benefiting a little longer from him? Or is there a way to break that cycle and create an alternative that can really unite people of all classes and beliefs? If not, then prepare yourselves to really be like Cuba, because for better or for worse, there aren’t that many Franklin Britos in Venezuela and I put in that sack all of us that “waste” our time analyzing the situation and complaining comfortably from our computers.

    To your wife Quico, I would recommend Letters of Iwo Jima, amazing story about the culture of self sacrifice and how some times, it is just stupidity. We don’t have that, sometimes I wish we did, but most of the time I am happy we don’t. And as I always say, con estos burros hay que arrear. To wish than Venezuelans were different is just that wishing.

    • Moraima
      I agree with most of what you say except with one detail. It’s not necesary to have martirs or people with suicidal tendencies or great courage to topple a government. What’s necessary is a great concensus between the citizens that the government needs to go. When that concensus is achieved there are many ways to increase pressure on the government at all levels until it can’t handle it anymore and it gives out. Now, I’m not talking about violence, although depending on the dynamics it may break out partially or even out of control, specially if people believe that there is no other way.

      The government will try to block the possibility of that concensus by silencing any voice in that direction, by instilling fear so people won’t communicate, by trying to convince people of the great achievements of the government by buying them with gifts or handouts and by distracting them with external and internal “enemies”.
      It has worked in countries like Cuba and N.Korea where people depend totally on the government and fear is prevalent, where any dissidence is quelched immediately. In Venezuela fear is not as prevalent and many people do not depend on the government directly, yet. But there are still too many people that don’t see how bad the government is and way too many people that believe that the only solution is with violence or a military coup. Unfortunately this latest view is paralizing because normal people are not willing to rot in jail or die fighting a hopeless cause or lose their job, etc.

      Nothing so drastic is needed from the common people, but simply to speak out to others and carry the message that this government needs to go and that it is possible to make it go without violence, without going into a civil war or a massive guarimba. As this message spreads across it will snowball and at a certain point a critical mass of people fed up with Chávez will be achieved and that is unstoppable.
      But that message needs to spread before fear does and before all private economy is destroyed.

    • We saw Letters from Iwo Jima. It’s stunning, really brilliant. How Clint Eastwood managed to direct it without speaking the language is one of live’s little mysteries. It’s not as though my wife and Japanese People in general haven’t gotten the memo about how badly wrong things went 1933-1945, y’know!

      I’m a little surprised that everyone took the original post – really a glib little throw-away phrase around the breakfast table – as a basis for serious analysis. But the thread’s good, so I’m happy.

    • Letters of Iwo Jima is, indeed, a beautifully filmed story that resonates. The subject matter is treated with the reverence it deserves by a true artist. Clint Eastwood’s behaviour, in Japan, upon the introduction of the film, is also revealing. (See the film’s Special Features.) Those who produce great works, are humbled by their gifts. They are never glib, just to get a rise. That’s the stuff of mediocrity.

  23. Thanks, Moraigma. A lovely post. I never would’ve guessed that Kanako’s glib line at breakfast might set off such an interesting debate.

    More tomorrow!

  24. And yes that was very glib and insensitive. I believe all parents have a right to love their children and give them everything they desire and if it is within their means (and the means of their children) to celebrate such a unique and joyful occasion with such opulence, because it is what they want, who are you to say they should be shameful for it? That they are somehow unpatriotic? Ridiculous.

    I’m sorry, but MAJOR FAIL.

    • “right to love their children and give them everything they desire and if it is within their means (and the means of their children) to celebrate such a unique and joyful occasion with such opulence, because it is what they want, who are you to say they should be shameful for it? ”

      Um … you forgot about the part about the Venezuelan government, through Misiòn Cadivi, subsidizing the wedding, the guests’ trips to get there, and who knows, maybe even the purchase of the cholera-infested lobsters.

      So yeah, I think it is plenty of my business to opine.

    • Sure, JC. Because CADIVI is totally how Venezuelans (especially the super-rich) get their foreign currency. Cuentame una de vaqueros.

      All this pearl-clutching is ridiculous. Rich people acting rich, film at 11. Tacky? Probably. Reprehensible? Why the hell should it be? Unless they came by their wealth illegally, who cares?

  25. You know what though? Let’s be glib, what the hell. What Venezuela needs is its own version of V for Vendetta to wake it up from its stupor!

  26. Moraima,

    “IF he loses big time and he forces his hand to stay, then you can talk about going all the way out”

    This is a TOTAL impossibility because:

    1. Chavez is a dictator
    2. Chavez always steals votes to turn big time loss into small or marginal losses, or he will steal the whole election outright
    3.Chavez rigs the elections before they are held with gerrymandering, intimidation,lack of freedom in the press, reducing all funds to the opposition so that practically all the propaganda and news on TV will be pro Chavez especially those accessible to the marginal areas, jailing oppo leaders, and on and on
    4. it is inconceivable that the Chavista CNE would ever announce that they lost big time.

    I am surprised that you made this statement at the stage of the game.

    • firepigette we have had this discussion at other times, and this one I am only going to say I am glad you are not the one directing the strategy of the MUD. Or we would have abstained in the election in congress. Oh sorry! I forgot we ALREADY did that. Then we have to go all into a big strike, demonstrate, attack the police, burn things to cause chaos, oh sorry, we ALREADY did that too. So we have to get rid of him, let’s have a coup. oh sorry, we ALREADY did that.
      Read the last essay from Alejandro Tarre. That is our strategy right now in the opposition. I believe in it, the same way I believed the strike was a mistake and wasn’t very happy when Carmona dissolved all the powers. So, please don’t keep telling me that voting is useless. So far this strategy seems to be working

  27. Amieres,

    Sorry but it does take great courage to topple a dictatorship.It takes small and large acts of daily heroism.
    Heroes are examples of people who put their money where their mouth is.Heroes can be the great leaders who lead their people into freedom and who galvanize groups into action.But we also need heroism: People who give their all to team effort.

    But let’s ask ourselves,how has Venezuela treated her heroes in the past?Not too well.You can see this not only in the grand occurrences of life but in many of the small ones as well, at least in the public sphere- because in the private sphere, heroes, and heroism abound in Venezuela: the old lady in a small town caring for her retarded son, the cousin who does well and sends money back to his small village, the single mother working like a dog to support her children, the wife who puts up with a miserable husband in order to keep the family together…..in this private sense, Venezuelans are often full of heroism !!
    But in the public sphere it is altogether different.The concept of sacrificing in a less personal arena is less understood, and accepted.Yet this fact doesn’t mean that public heroism is any less needed.

    But what can turn the tide? Many things: suffering, and defeat are 2 internal reasons.One external reason could be the emergence of a great and charismatic leader-One who is willing to sacrifice and dedicate his life to his country.In other words a hero.Timing is always important, and he or she must be a channel for the needs of the people.Charismatic leaders are not good as governors of a country but are excellent in leading a people out of a quagmire.

    In a certain instant , and in a flash, ANY direction can turn, if the right kind of leader/hero can emerge.But something has to change.The way Venezuela stands now there is little hope.

    • You’re right it takes courage to topple a dictatorship but is not the determinant ingredient. It doesn’t require people to burn themselves or starve themselves to death, those are just catalyst, a spark that may, or may not, ignite the prairie. It also doesn’t require leaders of the stature of a Gandhi or a M.Luther King jr. or a Mandela.

      The determinant ingredient is the will of the people convinced that the regime must go. With that sole ingredient acts of courage large and small will appear and multiply and become common. Just the weight of a large majority spanning all walks of life demonstrating in various ways it’s determination it’s enough to dissipate all fears (and instill them in the government heads) and bring down any dictatorship. Of course it does require leaders, lest it become a disorganized and violent revolt. Many of those leaders already exist, others may come from unexpected places (like Walesa).

      The distinction I’m trying to make is that it’s not necessary to wait to have before hand leaders with 4 testes (cuatriboleados) to even think of toppling a government. In this endeavour, instead, you need the old weak grandma or grandpa, the auntie, the young student, the union worker, la secretaria, in other words: everybody and everyone spreading the message everywhere, by word of mouth, by demonstrations, with marches, wearing colors, in situ strikes, operacion morrocoy, etc, etc, etc.

  28. Moraima,

    Forgot to add at the end of my comment that by requiring the opposition to have as its goal , a big time win, you are making a next to impossible requirement.Making impossible requirements works to Chavez’s favor.

  29. Syd,

    As a highly visual person the image of “pirouetting on the autopista during a political march” has been cracking me up for hours.

    • Perhaps a better word, for its alliteration, might be “arabesquing”. And really, when you see so many pantalleros gesticulating their extremities, these appear closer to the arabesque. Who can take any that seriously? Or, a great many of these posts? That’s why I come here, purely for the entertainment, never for serious content.

  30. Too late for this thread, but so it goes.

    Even if Quico’s post was written as glib comment, I agree with Bruni and Juan’s comments. It is natural for loving parents to want to throw a nice wedding for their children, but the grotesqueness of this particular affair cannot be denied.

    As to bravery and willingness to risk one’s live for a cause, country or religion, much of it has to do with how a given culture (or, more starkly, a given generation) has internalized such willingness as an essential value–to the extent that to act otherwise is seen as dishonorable to the individuals themselves. Also, different cultures have different triggers. The circumstances under which individuals feel morally compelled to risk their own lives vary among cultures. For example, in more clannish cultures a man may not feel it’s too dishonorable to tolerate the depredations of a local warlord, but he may well be filled with shame if he does not take up arms against foreign infidels–even if those foreigners treat him no worse, perhaps even better, than the local warlord.

    This reminds me that abused family members often rally behind and defend the abuser against interventions from outside the family. Perhaps that’s one of the keys in Venezuela. Perhaps the poor tolerate the chavistas to such an extent because they perceive them as “ours.” Unfairly or not, the opposition is not as easily seen as part of el pueblo. This, of course, is not limited to Venezuela. Populists everywhere take advantage of this ingrained distrust for those who are “not like us.” Chavez is still seen as part of el pueblo, which is very different from the people’s perception of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt.


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