His tone-deafness is pathological


Hugo Chávez is traveling through South America, and as we have come to know, this is always good news for South America, and bad news for Venezuela.

Case in point: we get this little item that Chávez donated $10 million to a Uruguayan university to help the school’s hospital pay its debts. The Uruguayans are ecstatic, as you can imagine. This is a gift, mind you, not a loan.

I guess we could argue about the logic of giving to a country that has a higher standard of living than ours, that enjoys improving credit ratings which are much better than ours, that is praised for its modest fiscal policies and impressive growth performance. But the argument would be a short one – these decisions cannot be analyzed through the lens of logic, because they are by nature illogical.

Chávez’s decisions, however, should be analyzed in political terms, but here the argument falls flat as well. In the last few years, public polling has consistently shown that people don’t like the giveaways to foreign countries, so much so that certain political parties have met success by using this as a hobby horse. And just a few months ago, we were hearing of how previous “associations” with Uruguay ended up in us paying for a giant heap of nothin’.

But the President’s decision to ignore this reality and continue giving away our money while we have crumbling hospitals and rolling blackouts at home, is simply suicidal.

The conventional wisdom used to be that Hugo Chávez was an astute politician with his finger on the political pulse of the nation. Perhaps it’s time we get over that.

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  1. A little of topic here:

    Do you guys think Chavez is creating his own “empire” in Latinamerica?
    We have Ecuador and Bolivia,Argentina, and also im guessing he put some guy in Haiti too.
    Now i fear in Peru, coup plotter and corrupt communist Ollanta Humala is going to win too,of course with fraud(Sendero Luminoso comeback :S). All of the money Venezuela is producing is going to the funding of campaigns and “helping” construct a socialist latinamerica, just to keep them in power,and corrupt,immoral and sadistic.

    can the XXI Century Socialism be just another set of monarchs like those in the Arab countries in Latinamerica?

    I’d love to get some feedback,prove me wrong or prove me right. just be constructive please 🙂
    This may not be news to you but it has been going on in my mind also. I’d love to hear

    • Hi Metodex, I think there was a post here recently showing how this was indeed Chavez’ dream, but he has failed basically because his check book is running low and they have proved to be completely incapable of delivering on the promises of the fat man.
      I would not add Ecuador to the mix, Correa knows when to take advantage of the benefits of Chavez but he knows he has to get in good terms with the US and Colombia.
      I have not read anything about his position in Haiti so I can’t comment. But in Peru, Humala is trying to distance himself from him since last election he lost because of the association with Chavez and anything can happen in that election.
      Also consider Brazil, Dilma is showing she really don’t like military dictators and her position with Chavez has been less than friendly.

      In summary, yes, Chavez would love to be the leader of the region and at some point it looked like he would be able to do it, but know, everyone knows he is just a clown.

      • Chavez has been trying to create a like-minded leaders club for years now but like everything else run from Miraflores, it’s a half-assed mess. He’s given away enough money but in the end most of Latin America does whatever it wants. Nobody else has inserted neo-socialism into the economy as much as Chavez has in Venezuela and even though Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and a bunch of others are happy to get discounted, crappy fuel, they still know that the U.S. calls the shots economically. This explains why even if they join ALBA and call themselves fellow socialists they all don’t run to nationalize everything and cut off ties with the U.S. They’re not dumb and they know who pays the bills.

  2. Maybe Venezuela, “The Nation” is at large lot more ignorant, and a lot less aware of the things that determine it’s overall welfare, a lot less honest, or socially conscious than we thought. And Hugo still has it’s pulse. Maybe “The Nation” is no better morally or intellectually, and probably much worse off than what it was during CAP’s first period.

    The only consolation is that my conscience is quite clear on this matter. Not being a supporter of any kind of social-sillyness or populism in any shape or form. With “socially conscious” above, I mean, conscious of the rights of others and of being in the same society, not “willing to use money not yours to make gifts for votes”.

    You did not mention that Venezuelan universities (those that might be worthy of the name, not the Bolivarian activist factories) are not swimming in money…

  3. Juan

    The problem, I think, is that the “civic-military” propaganda machine is multithreaded but it knows the targets usually have access only to the thread specially crafted for them.

    Let’s choose one state at random outside the Zulia-Carabobo-Miranda-Caracas set.


    Even if we often forget it, Juan Pacheco in Calabozo does not know how to find the information we process every day.

    He is aware of many problems in his state, but he also gets lots of propaganda from the state about the things Chávez is -suppsedly- doing and he sees no other option. He is 29 years old, he was 17 when Hugo came to power.

    He reads Chávez has condomned the debt of Venezuelan farmers. Chavista groups had been previously spreading the news for months that the opposition would demand farmers to pay their debts right away if it came to power.

    Juan Pacheco buys – if he reads any newspaper – La Antena
    Chances are less than 800 El Universal or El Nacional copies are sold on a given day in the whole of Guárico (800 000 inhabitants). Juan goes to an Internet cafe for his Internet dosis, but there he usually chats with his nephew and sends 200 emails with jokes.

    Chances are the only “national leader’ from the opposition to visit his state in the last 12 months has been Leopoldo López…at least that’s what he heard.

    Chávez had his Aló Presidente in Los Tiznados on 3 of October of 2010. Chávez has been at least once or twice to virtually every state of Venezuela every year for Aló Presidente and perhaps once for the most important election.

    Chances are Juan Pacheco is not going to find the piece of news about the 10 million dollars for Uruguay or about the 400 million dollars he just spent in Russia to set up a new bank for dealing with more weapons (7 billion dollars in weapons-related deals with Russia so far).

    • Good point Kepler, I was thinking the same, there is no globovision there and the radios that could denonuce this are either closed or scared into self censorship.

    • The data says the contrary. The issue of giving money away is one of the best issues the opposition has. It might not play well in certain rural areas, but nothing plays well there because the opposition has trouble getting there. From what I’ve heard, it’s a good issue to pose to swing voters.

      • “certain rural areas”.
        I checked out the statistics. Globovision reaches 30% of the population or less. Same for internet. Most people do not have normal phones but mobiles. I do not know what data that is, but I have lots of relatives in ‘PSUV areas’ even in such a central place as Carabobo and the oppo is not getting there.

        95% of Venezuelans live in cities. 70% of Venezuelans live in cities that are NOT Greater-Caracas, Valencia or Maracaibo.
        Calabozo IS a city. Calabozo (not Parapara) is actually the average Venezuelan city, like Guacara or Tocuyito.

          • Juan, do you have information about how they interviewed people in non-rural areas such as Calabozo or Guacara, Tocuyito or El Tigre?


          • Kepler is absolutely right. Issues do not matter if people are not aware of such. If they cannot gather the complete information on these give-aways how are they supposed to have an opinion? This is no mistery, as long as the oppo is not able to get the message across the message in itself is rendered moot.

        • Chavistas are complaning about the $10M give away to Uruguay (http://aporrealos.com/forum/viewtopic.php?sid=ecee7fba40801fa4012171a2f2e7f145&p=544536#544536). Another thing they’re complaning about in this issue is that they found out about it because of a note in YVKE in reference to the trip to Uruguay. The same (almost) note was in VTV, but the portion on the $10M was deleted.

          So what Kepler says is correct, there are way too many people in Venezuela that have no clue what is really going on in the country as they do not have access to various news outlets so that they can get informed and compare what everyone is publishing so that they can make up their own minds.

          In reference to reaching every corner of the country, Capriles sayd that the only way to win the 2012 elections is by going door to door, reaching every single home ion the country.

    • And there is the other part: the identification chip.

      We have been discussing this on the Spanish blog. I disagree with Moraima on certain points but I agree on others.
      I think there is a big problem with identity, there is real resentment and sometimes there are very good reasons for that. And then there is a lack of
      historical memory and Chávez comes with his “identity” classes
      and uses time after time some myths to create a unique link betweem himself and the people.
      And let’s be clear: there IS a different profile among most UCAB alumni from PJ and that puts Chávez in a better position there. Only penniless and burnt Adecos and penniless and already old Andrés Velázquez have a similar “ethnic” profile.

      I briefly searched for some words in that Tiznado speech (they spend Venezuela’s money transcribing every word our comandantepresidente says
      I searched for “indio” and “negro”. This is one of the findings:
      “Vamos recuperando, bueno, la fuerza de la raza
      originaria, nuestra raza originaria es una raza muy fuerte,
      la raza origen. Eran unos gigantes los indios venezolanos.
      Gigantes, compadre. Guaicaipuro era un hombre como de
      2 metros. Está escrito ahí. Cristóbal Colón mismo lo escribió.
      “Oye, llegaron unos hombres ahí en unas embarcaciones
      de cien remeros, muy fuertes”.
      Never mind this is historical rubbish.

      In Lara he mentioned the Guayones, in Yaracuy he mentions the Jirajaras. I am sure he mentioned the Chaimas in Sucre and Monagas and the Karinas and patatitin patatan.

      • I’ve seen this firsthand. When Chavez came up to Honduras to celebrate the country’s entry into ALBA in 2008 he mentioned ‘La Sucia’, a Honduran folk legend that everyone can identify with. “Aqui dicen que el ALBA es como la sucia, pero solo quieren asustar con eso….” (He finds someone in the crowd) “Tu la viste? A ti te salio?” Laughs all around. He’s one hell of a showman who knows how to work over a crowd wherever he goes. It works in Tegucigalpa, Managua, Santo Domingo and it sure as hell works anywhere in Venezuela.

    • Forgive my pessimism, but…

      Given the set of incentives and disincentives, and the past experience with Juan Pacheco’s, I have a a hunch that knowing is not bound to make that much a difference. We would still have a Petrostate.

      We may get Juan Pacheco worked up that he is not getting his inexistent share because it was gifted to some foreign freeloader. Because he expects to be a successful native freeloader???

    • Juan Pacheco doesn’t think Hugo has a tin ear and that’s what Kepler is saying (I think). What ever you think of President Clinton you’ve got to say… wow… that SOB has his ear to the ground….. he did and he does. Chavez is in the same political league as Clinton (damn good) never undermistimate that.

      Old saying…. You can fool all of the people some of the time and you can fool 48 percent of the people all the time and usually that is sufficient.

      Get to hustings, and raise rural hell. Kepler has made me a believer.

  4. Virtually no chance for Ollanta to win. Peru’s presidential election requires majority vote (+50%), upcoming election will only decide the 2 runoff candidates.

    Although he is likely to be in the 2nd round (as he was 5 years ago), pollsters project him losing against all other candidates. In fact, the chavez association is being worked to the max by his opponents. Every time chavez talks about ollanta, ollanta’s chances for a 2nd round upset drop.

    so hugo keep talking, 28M peruvians will thank you.

    • ajmm – what a short emeory you have and it is short just to comfort your politcal standpoint.

      In the last Peruvian elections when Garcia won, Humala won almost all the Peruvian provinces but failed in Lima where there was a huge fraud against the Humala vote.

      People have not forgotten this and just as in Venezuela, pollsters are against anyone left wing. You cannot believe the pollsters.

      I see a run off between Humala and Toledo with probaly Toledo winning by a small margin….but I would not bet on this.

      All thios talk about Chavez wanting to lead South America is pure BS. Why? Unasur exists and is cohesive. ALBA exists and works and is now trading with the SUCRE. What did you expect Chavez to do or to accomplish? lead an army of liberadores south as Bolivar did or something similar.

      The face of South Ame4rica has changed drastically since the 1990’s and much of this is down to Chavez.

  5. I think we are missing the point here. One main characteristic of an authoritarian regime is its disregard for public opinion. He is not giving money to Uruguay because it is what Venezuelan want or need, or because it will make him popular inside the country. He is giving the money to buy favour with the Uruguayan government for himself (and himself only). Who cares how does that poll in the next election. He is planning for contingencies: not recognizing results of elections, shooting at crowds of demonstrators, that sort of thing. He thinks that spreading money around will keep these countries quiet in those circumstances. And he has been proven right…

  6. What mean souls you are. This donation was to a hospital. It’s a pity more countries such as UK, US and France do not give more money to such worthy causes instead of spending money on bombs and missiles to kill innocent Libyans in the last couple of weels.

    • Arturo, are you really trying to get people to do a quick search to find out how much money countries like UK, US and France give to “such worthy causes”? Should I? Do you really want me to take a look?

      As to the killing, do you really want me to compare the number of “innocent” people dying violently in Libya versus how many are dying violently in Venezuela? Should we go there?

    • I got this by reading the news. You should try it.

      How can America accelerate the world’s efforts to defeat infectious disease? For starters, our policymakers must ensure that research and development are included in three major U.S. global health and development efforts currently underway.

      The first is President Obama’s new Global Health Initiative, which is slated to devote $63 billion to improve health worldwide over six years.

  7. “What mean souls you are. This donation was to a hospital. It’s a pity more countries such as UK, US and France do not give more money to such worthy causes instead of spending money on bombs and missiles to kill innocent Libyans in the last couple of weels.”

    My dear tool,
    Have you ever heard the saying, “charity starts at home.”

    • Maria,
      It would be nice, wouldn’t it? My brother-in-law almost died a few months ago because the hospital couldn’t get the medicine he needed.
      My mother-in-law couldn’t also couldn’t get the medicine she needed last year.
      My son needed surgery, but the hospital didn’t have the surgical supplies needed.
      We had to buy them in the United States and bring them back.

      These were private hospitals.

  8. I just want to say that I applaud some of the things Chavismo do for the very poor. However, I don’t know for sure, but efforts for the poor probably pale in comparison to all the money spent on weapon systems.

    • Gordo,

      To me, it’s not so much about money for poor versus money for weapons; it’s more about the amount of money available before chavez versus the amount available to chavez. And it’s not just that there’s 5 times more money. Even that doesn’t skim the issue. It’s that with 5 times the money, the first time is enough to run the country and still have some left for development, call it D, which implies that the last 4 times are more than 50 times greater than D. That is, with the first 20% of chavez’s budget, costs are covered. With over 80% of his budget being only for development, what chavez has done for the poor, relatively speaking, is an insult. He is actually investing *less* on the poor, percentually, than any of the previous governments.

      For example, before chavez, the cash distribution proposal I support took a huge chunk out of the national budget just to get people out of critical poverty (i.e., 1USD/day). To get everyone out of poverty (i.e., 2USD/day), the redundant welfare type programs would have to be diverted to this proposal, or it couldn’t be afforded. With chavez’s budget, however, 100% of all citizens could have been taken out of poverty 5 times over without budget cuts!

  9. Yes Arturo, things are not so bad, when Venezuelan students go on strike for more funding, a Uruguayan Univeristy, a rich country, when compared to Venezuela, gets 10 million dollars, while Chavez travels with an entourage of four passenger jets, there is no electricity, we give gas away to Colombia, no sanitary napkins or diapers.

    I hate to see it whne things get “bad” and you are still here telling us how cool things are.

    Oh, there is also 30% inflation the worst in the world, not so bad indeed. Worse.


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