The Groundhog Day Revolution


Hugo Chávez first promised that the La Carlota Air Force Base in Caracas would be turned into a big urban park back in 2001. Nothing came of it.

The promise resurfaced in 2007, and this time it was going to be “a fabulous theme park with artificial waves” which he was going to call “Parque Bicentenario”.

Well, the Bicentennial was two weeks ago and, no park. So you’d think out of an elementary sense of letting-sleeping-dogs-lie, the president would refrain from calling attention to the broken promise, right?

No dice. He just promised it…again!

This time it’s going to have an “immense ecological overpass” linking it to Parque del Este.

Five years from now, when the promise resurfaces again, it’ll have a free 24-hour wet-bar and subsidized rainbows and unicorns.

La Carlota is just a very, very visible example, but it’s the same thing with housing, with “prison humanization”, with the Guaire River clean-up, with street kids…again and again, the same promises resurface, but when they do, they always resurface as though it was a bright new fresh idea.

Chávez never says “of course, we had intended to build this park some years ago but couldn’t because of X,  and Y. This time it’s different, though, because of Z.”


At times, I get this sense that he genuinely doesn’t know that the promise is a retread. It’s like he can’t process that somehow. El peo es psiquiátrico…

To my mind, a huge share of his animosity against the independent media comes purely from the fact that we call him on this kind of bullshit. To a narcissist, that’s just intolerable.

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  1. The real problem is that the patient is not alone. Half the population is as sick as he is.
    And that is no longer ignorance about the outside world, lack of studies…they have issues.
    Pero se llamará Bolívar.

  2. Unicorns aren’t real, however…. let’s discuss the rainbows and the free wet bar. Sounds do able.
    The Republic may have to settle for rainbows — but still, that’s something, no?

  3. It’s difficult to choose who suffers greater sickness, he who repeateth, or his followers who repeatedly believeth.

    But worse, it’s not just the repetition that is sick, the proposal itself is nonsensical. Think of what he’s describing. It sounds like the daydream project of a 6 year old who claims wants to be an architect like his daddy.

    Is the part about “concentrar los comandos del Alto Mando Militar” militarily sound? It sounds more like he wants them all in one contained space for better control *of* them, not *with* them.

  4. Taking a hint from Futurama and the Stupid Ages:

    I christen it the ADHD & Bipolar Era, of Venezuela.Never was a President a more faithful reflection of his era than Chavez. Or is it the other way around?

      • Indeed!

        And the scoundrels that built it still get away laughing, all the way to the bank with the bag of gold…

        On a more transcendental level, Hans Christian Andersen’s tale fits every tautological situation where the weaver of something supposedly wonderful but insubstantial tells you that if you cannot enjoy it something is wrong with you.

        For an example close to home; the peoples of the world and the wonderful system known as Socialism. Not a country has been able to attain Socialism, and every one has hated the experience or found it empty, after the inevitable boy tells them that they are naked.

        • First comes the structure of power, THEN comes the ideological justification. What socialist anarchists hate about democracy is how good it is at convincing you that it’s the other way around.

          • Democracy is a system for choosing a fraction of an organization’s officials… which in the case of government is rather small. For better or worse, you choose government officials in government elections.

            Sometimes, when there’s a referendum, you usually get to vote “yes” or “no” on laws several hundreds of pages long. For most voters it’s Too Long; Didn’t Read/Understand.

            All the rest is pure fantasy to give an illusion of power.

            Anarchists should be against the very idea of government officials…

        • It is a shame that Hans Christian Andersen’s stories are not well known here. They contain an extraordinary amount of wisdom and moral lessons.

  5. I think this quote from the article is most telling:

    “…“con una inmensa pasarela ecológica, que según me dice el ministro (de la Transformación de la Gran Caracas) Farruco (Francisco Sesto), será imperceptible para el caminante”.”

    “…”with a huge ecological overpass that, according to the Minister of (…yadda yadda…) will be imperceptible to the user”.”

    Yeah, so imperceptible it will seem like it doesn’t exist… and actually won’t.

      • Ages ago, in 1991, I remember listening to the radio during the census day.
        A journalist interviewed a high-ranking military man and asked what he thought of the whole process. The military man said he was very satisfied and saw “que hay una gran ANIMOSIDAD del pueblo hacia los funcionarios”.
        I knew by then a coup was in the making. With such military crap, my compatriots’ mentality and the economic signs on the wall I knew shite was going to furiously strike my land.

  6. Wait wait, Chavez is saying the landing strip will remain for emergencies and for “minor uses”… so it’s going to remain operational? In the middle of a park? How does this even work?

    Man, these guys are total hacks.

  7. Simple (yet obviously impossible) solution to most political problems in Venezuela (especially Chavez):

    Certified Promises.

    A Certified Promise is a promise made by a politician that’s either explicitly certified (with signed documents and everything) or implicitly certified (when expressed in a public scenario and/or transmitted/recorded through open media). It is technically a contract, and failing to fulfill the promise counts legally as a violation of contract. The punishment depends on whether it was implicitly or explicitly certified, the number of promises broken in a 6-month period, and the number of people affected by the promise, and it can go from a fine of several monthly salaries, to the immediate removal from his post (in case of non-elected officials), immediate activation of a recall referendum (in case of elected ones), to even jail time if the lie is big enough.

    “Thou shall not promise in vain”, so to speak.

    Of course, there’s no way a politician of any pedigree will actively support this, so unless you pass it as law directly through a referendum, it’s not going to happen.

    But it would be great if it happened, wouldn’t it? Whenever a politician goes to the local barrio to promise heaven and castles in the sky, the people will immediately ask him “are you willing to certify that promise and risk jail time if you don’t fulfill the promise, or can we safely assume you’re just talking out of your ass?” That’s be a great day for democracy.

  8. There are several explanations of why the poor chavista saps fall for these promises over and over again, but I think I’ll go with the one from evolutionary psychology: people need to believe in something. Our brains just need that. Some guys believe in Jebus, some guys believe in marxism, some guys believe in the invisible hand of the market and, well, these poor chumps believe that Chavez is their savior. The one who is gonna bring back the old glory of the Venezuela Saudita and the “‘ta barato dame dos”.

    The thing is, that we as human beings are programmed to believe in something. Venezuelans lived happily for a long time with the certainty that the state and our oil revenues would be always there and that we had no reason to worry about the future. Althought that belief collapsed over our heads, there are still some guys on denial about the inadequacies of the petrostate model. Those are probably the guys supporting Chavez.

    Under this perspective, Chavismo is nothing but a cult. You can use any checklist and you will discover that the Chavismo fits perfectly in the description. So, the question is: how can you persuade someone of getting out of a cult?

    It doesn’t matter if we find their belief stupid or not. What matter is that they believe in that and that makes it real for them. If it is not working, it is never Chávez’s faults. It cannot be. Because if it is his fault, they have nothing left to believe in, and they just cannot stand it.

    So, how do we get Venezuelans out of the chavista cult?

  9. Pardon my french… but here it applies. My grandmother had a saying:
    ”Prometer para meter, después de metido… nada de lo prometido!”
    I’m not even gonna sign in after saying this 🙂

    • Nothing to pardon, because there’s nothing to excuse, except your being prudish.

      What part of a demagogue’s behavior isn’t exactly identical to the behavior of a deceptive seducer? Answer: NONE!

      Chavez, Berlusconi and the like… A big hit with gullible lovers and voters, and with whores (who know what the game is, and I am not speaking only of the sexual kind). Why would that possibly be?

  10. Exactly Jsb. The Venezuelan oppo continuously wastes these opportunities. They should saturate the media with direct, simple ads about failed promises, forgotten misiones, wasted resources, etc. They don’t even have to mention corruption. It’s that easy. I mean, HC has been the most mediatic Venezuelan president by far. There must be an endless supply of video, sound, and images to chose from.

    My question is why the oppo is not doing it? It seems so easy. Maybe I’m missing something.

    • You are not missing anything, Cesar. I think it’s a question of money and timing.

      They don’t have a lot of money, and the timing is probably a bit too early.

    • One structural imbalance of the Venezuelan public sphere is that the oppo rank and file genuinely doesn’t realize how broke the oppo parties are. The government leans hard on anyone who backs them locally, and has banned funding from abroad: pinzer movement. It’s only when you realize that they do what they do on a near-zero budget and that most media are scared to give them too much access for fear of retaliation (hello RCTV!) that this sort of thing makes sense.


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