Dog-bites-man Chronicles


The BBC is shocked, shocked that in Cuba things don’t work.

The New York Times is appalled, appalled that there is corruption at the highest levels of the petro-state.

AFP shows its leftie bent, managing to weave a glowing headline for Chávez out of a story that, actually, says quite the opposite.

These stories are kind of obvious – but it’s still fun to read them.

(HT: La Ceiba, and Syd).

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  1. The positive thing about these articles is that it shows Western audiences just how corrupt the vast majority of the world is. Time and again I have to explain to American friends that corruption in Latin America is a misnomer because corruption implies deviancy, that there is some sort of normal set of procedures which are broken when a state employee is corrupted. However, what do you call it when the de facto set of rules to do business in government are what the more scrupulous among us would call corrupt practices? There are institutions in most Latin American governments where following any basic semblance of ‘the rules’ would get you laughed out of the room or worse. Deviancy has become the norm and this is unimaginable to people from more developed countries. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “But what about the police? Aren’t there laws against that kind of stuff?” I’d be one rich bastard.

  2. A true Cuban story: a friend got a job as the receptionist for a factory. She has worked there nine years. However, six years ago, the factory closed. But because receptionists are provided for and paid by a different Ministry than the one involved in the factory’s
    production, she still answers the phone there, though it is always a wrong number. She told her boss, but he said she should stay on until they receive a complaint.

    She has not been told that her job will be terminated under the new reforms, either.

  3. The worst part of the last article is: “Desde las legislativas de septiembre de 2010, cuando el chavismo logró un 60% de diputados pero, SEGUN DATOS EXTRAOFICIALES, no consiguió la mayoría numérica de votos…”
    I guess CNE results are “Extraoficiales” nowadays

    • Viste la vaina? Chamo a los de la AFP los tengo fichados desde hace rato. Y no es solo porque el fotografo se llama “Juan Barreto”…

      • Hehe. Veo que lo notaste también. Una vez estaba buscando datos sobre el gordito rojito y la mayoría de las cosas que salían, aparte de algunas referencias a sus “clases” en la Universidad de París y fotos suyas en el Quartier Latin eran fotos de AFP. And what if he does work for AFP now?

  4. A Caracas traffic police officer once shook my hand because in his 6 years service he had never met anyone who had the golden set of documents (cédula, licencia, certificado médico, seguro, y título de propiedad) and none were expired. Then we started talking about how long it took me to get them all, and whether I had used a gestor (I hadn’t), but, mostly, why I had bothered.

      • I did, in 1997, en route to CCS from Merida, between Acarigua and San Carlos, there was a guy with a radar gun, a RADAR GUN, underneath a tree. When I went past him, I thought “bloody hell, my mind must be playing tricks on me… a guy with a radar gun, in Venezuela, between bloody Acarigua and San Carlos, nahhh, this must be some kind of flashback or allucination…”

        Some 3km ahead, there was an alcabala movil, and about 25 cars on the side of the road. A few policemen were handing out speed fines to every one of them. We got there, and the policeman asked: “ciudadano, a qué velocidad circulaba usted?” I, as the rest of the people stopped for the same reason, could only laugh at the surprising situation. I said I wasn’t paying attention to speed limits, got my ticket, and off I went.

        Torres, I was another one of those ciudadanos with every single paper “en regla”, for I loved, just loved, being stop regularly, showing all papers to the authorities, looking down on them, and saying “vayan a martillar al CDSPM…”

      • I got a ticket when I was there, not for speeding, but for running a yellow light. Yes, yellow (and turning right, no less) at an intersection in Las Mercedes where I have seen more than once up to three cars run the red straight through the entire intersection.

        The cop (who was on a bicycle and caught up to me thanks to traffic) clearly had me pegged as a gringo from the start, and even told me that I should be an example to the Venezuelans. WHAT?!?!? When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Caracas, do as the Caraquenos should. But won’t, even if they were paying attention to one lone gringo as he drives.

        • AIO,

          The opposite happened to me.Every single policeman in Venezuela was kind, tolerant and helpful to me.Just one example:Once, when learning how to drive stick shift in Puerto La Cruz, I accidentally knocked a policeman on a motorcycle over a cliff.I had no license.He just said: go on your way, but make sure you get your license.

          Whereas here in the US at airports, homeland security treats me like a common criminal.After all, they have to make sure they stop an older white woman with no criminal record,harass her and show her she is a suspect so that nobody can accuse them of racial profiling. I mean God knows an mature white woman can be treated like hell, and that means nothing 🙂 We don’t belong to a race 😉

      • I got mine going from CCS to Guarenas. I was stopped after the tunnel on the way down by 2 Guardia Nacionales, who without any radar gun, told me I was going too fast. Not 140 or 150, but “ibas a cientoquinientos, catire”

        All the guy wanted was “p’al cafecito”, but he was way too arrogant, so I balked and said: “Give me the ticket, and I’ll be on my way”

        This went on for almost an hour, me insisting on getting a ticket and he insisting that wasn’t necessary. Just like in the first world, right?

        In the end, someone I knew saw me and stopped to ask if I was OK. The GN then grumpily gave me a ticket, which I promptly threw away when I got where I was going.

        As far as I knew, the only radar guns had been deployed in the hill at Tazon, but nice to know that in the “llanos” they lurk as well. Thanks!

  5. A good trio of tales. The bad news is that they will be a surprise to many people. The good news is that those who are surprised by such reports will become more knowledgeable. We hope.

    The traffic cop tales from Venezuela remind me that when I first arrived in Venezuela, one of the first things that management told me was how to finesse bribes to traffic police into expense reports. I found out that there was a reason why they so informed me. I paid a couple of bribes.

    I also had a very positive experience with the police in Anaco. I arrived in Anaco in a por puesto from Maiquetia at 2:30 in the morning, after flying in from Santa Cruz, with no phone or address with which to contact my company’s people in Anaco. I went to the police station, wondering if they had the home phone for my company’s manager. They did not have his phone number, but let me sleep in the police barracks. The police drove me to the company office in the morning. I later gave the police some bottles of rum, in appreciation. As far as I am concerned, Anaco cops are tops.


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