A new member of the Venezuelan English-language (severely dysfunctional) blogosphere family


Welcome, Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. Kinda lefty for my taste, but worth reading. Your analysis of the Datanálisis / C21 polls was pretty interesting. Your discussion of the role of the church was informative.

The name of your blog, however … is boring.

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  1. My feeling is – if it doesn’t have comments, and doesn’t have active audience participation and feedback reflected on the main page, it’s not really a blog. It’s a sermon. (Yawn.)

    • It reminded me of e complaint about Oakland, California: There is no there, there.

      And why do they include the term “human rights” in their title? where are the articles about Afiuni, or the “Decree Law” signed by Chavez last week taking away the right to jury trials? And allowing for trials to be held in secret?

    • Better to have no commentaries than to have a thread full of trolls and bullies who are taking away from the seriousness of this blog, and I agree with Neddie, it is not dysfunctional.However I do agree that without feedback it is a bit boring.

      • For me is not only the lack of feedback. Its also that the faux-objective writing style, the manner of writing as if this a regular election in a democratic country (They CNE has created of the most advance systems in the world and is the must trusted institution in the country crap) that is just concealing an agenda.

        • Right, because if it doesn’t have an incredibly anti-Chavez slant like all of Quico’s nonsense then it OBVIOUSLY has an agenda.

  2. To my way of thinking, “severely disfunctional” in reference to a family would entail mutually destructive attitudes and actions with the predictable corrosive consequences: where is the evidence for that?

  3. Though it took me a while to see some validity to this blog, my first impression was a write-off. For nothing says amateur like dropped parts of a sentence in a first paragraph of the lead article, written by the “moderator”, as in: “It would probably be more accurate to say the Church has sought to reestablish relations both the Chávez government and the Capriles campaign, and has succeeded.”

    The poorly edited article shows another confusing sentence in the second paragraph: “He delivered a letter from Chávez to the Hierarchy and received two for Chávez-one from the Hierarchy and one from the Pope.”

    These observations, one that keeps capitalizing “Hierarchy”, as though it were the Oligarchy, and shared opinions with a few other commenters, here, don’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

    And yet, the article on religion provided a little insight. I liked seeing mention of the complexities in Chavez’ relation to the Church than what is normally assumed. Like life.

    The article on the CNE and how it has the highest institutional approval in the country was a little too Twilight Zone for me, or as Juan puts it, lefty.

    But I’ll come back another time or two to assess. In the meantime, David Smilde, please edit carefully, and don’t be afraid to open the forum to commenters. They could liven up the joint considerably, and really put your moderator skills to the test.

    P.S. I see that WOLA is kitty corner to Mark Weisbrot’s CEPR. Any arm’s length relationship that you wish to disclose?

    • Syd, good summary and regarding your last sentence, please call them or email them and share their replies! Absolutely they are suspicious and need scrutiny.

  4. Anyone or anything that uses “independent” in the description has my outright distrust, for example El Pais, in Spain. My thoughts could change of course. With El Pais no, they have not changed.

  5. Thanks for the berating folks. Let me just say, I have been a reader of Caracas Chronicles for years and I’m sure I will be for some time to come. It’s my favorite source for incisive often hilarious analyses from the non-lunatic (in most cases) opposition. Coverage of the 2010 legislative elections was awesome. Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights (I agree the name is boring) has a different goal: to provide careful, independent analysis of pressing issues in Venezuelan politics and human rights. The blog is neither “objective” nor “apolitical.” Rather it is guided by the values of democracy, human rights and social justice. It is, however, non-partisan; I am not going to select and spin stories to favor one side of the political spectrum in Venezuela. I don’t really seek “balance” either. If one side screws up more than the other I am going to try to criticize them more. Rather I will select issues that I think are important, and will say what I think. Of course there are no guarantees that I will get it right. If you have comments please send them along. If they are interesting (like C21 missed the 2009 referendum by 20 pts) I will take them into account and try to include them in my ongoing analyses. If they are not (like I dropped a word in the first sentence or that I’m Mark Weisbrodt’s lapdog) I will ignore them and remember why I didn’t include a comments option. Indeed I’m not looking for something to spend my free time on. I’m not looking to liven things up. I’m not looking to show my moderating skills. In fact I’m not really even interested in counting visits. The goal is to make publicly available for the next six months, the analysis I already do as a social scientist. There won’t be many scoops. Rather the focus will be somewhat longer pieces on longer term issues. So far I’ve been focusing on electoral issues (which is a human rights issue by the way). In the coming two weeks I should have ready a couple of posts on prisons and the COPP reform.

    • Thank you for your comment and observations, Mr. Smilde. I’m puzzled by the hypersensitivity (“Thanks for the berating.”) from an associate professor of Sociology, whose blog is open to contributions by scholars and journalists, and written for public consumption. Clearly, opening your blog to commenters would not suit your temperament. But I see, from your own admission, that you retain ample right to criticize. Apolitically, of course. That is your right in a democracy, as it is ours.

      When a newspaper or a scholarly blog publishes poorly edited copy, readers take note. So, too, do citizens who excoriate far less educated politicians for mis-spelling, or employing poorly thought-out math. That is why editors are so critical for maintaining high standards. But perhaps those standards are an anathema in the human rights spectrum.

      I was curious about your location, so close to CEPR, wondering if there was any possible connection. You, in turn, created the image of yourself as a lapdog to Mark Weisbrodt (sic). Let’s just say, let sleeping dogs lie, even though my curiosity was not directly answered. From WOLA’s 2010 annual report, your patron organization shares several funding contributors with CEPR. Though for my money, WOLA appears better and more broadly supported.

      Best wishes in your endeavours.

      • David,

        Allow me to introduce you to CC’s village idiot, Syd. He is famous for his hilariously stupid comments and accusations. Like many here, he thinks there is a grand oil-funded conspiracy linking all people who are supportive, or even relatively uncritical of Chavez. In Syd’s mind, even you fit into this category.

        Total nut-job? Yes. Entertaining? Very…

    • most American academics have their heads far up their asses when it comes to Venezuela. Not all, there are sane lefty heads at Columbia (Dinges) for example. But most and yes money talks and bullshit walks. I know the game all too well Mr Smilde: you have zero credibility and are a rookie for you know diddly squat about Venezuela.

  6. It is left-wing… David Smilde and Margarita López Maya are well-reputed scholars, who came form critical accounts of Venezuelan Democracy (and even more critical accounts of the Venezuelan opposition during the years 2000-2006), and were pro-Chavez up until 2007, when they have become more and more critical.

    Lopez Maya even ran as diputada under the PPT blu in 2010 (I don’t know how she stands on the current division of that party). She does view negatively Chavismo’s centralization of the state and worries about the non-liberal consequences of the communal model.

    As for the CNE, among the public institutions in Venezuela, it fares well. Below the Church and the President, alas, but over the Armed Forces, National Assembly, Opposition Parties, Private Media…

    As you say: no comments, no forum. People won’t visit it that much…

    • Interesting history, GTA. I hadn’t come across Smilde’s name before, but I remember MLM’s contributions, earlier last decade; they were balanced with a leftist slant. I remember, too, a group of Chávez supporters that WOLA’s 2010 annual statements brought to mind: the U.S. religious set. Back when chavismo’s international PR was in overdrive, one letter copiously signed by members of these religious organizations, circulated. It would be interesting to find out from the better informed religious supporters, what their opinions are today.

    • I think the point of the new blog is to serve as a reference point for uninformed US journalists who have to cover the Venezuelan elections from Chicago or Seattle.

      That’s why they have all that pish about divergent polls, etc. I await expectantly their articles about the Human Rights they highlight in the title. An article about how often the Defensor del Pueblo takes issue with Chavez would be fun, too.

  7. WOLA is a very biased, fellow travelling, organization.
    Everybody has a right to have preferences. Mark Weisbrot, for example, wears his chavismo on the forehead but WOLA, being biased, claims to be independent. They are more like sandalistas.
    This blog comes in election year in Venezuela and pretends to wash CNE’s face. As you say, it’s so boring that its impact will be insignificant.

  8. Astonishing. Like you David I have been secretly reading Caracas Chronicles for the sometimes wit, often humour and varied insights. I like to keep my friends close and my enemies closer. But as with Capriles and the opposition in general, just when you think they are moving on from the disconnected b/s of the 2000s- they collapse back into their underlying nastiness. So Caracas Chronicles is in reality Maria Corina Machado and not even the Capriles of blogging. Very sad to see that unlike Capriles, these little Corinas cannot engage in meaningful debate, cannot move on from the failed narratives and hate filled language of the past. Jeez, you know you have rattled them when Coronel stirs. The WOLA blog is a welcome voice for those of us who believe in pluralism, freedom of speech, respectful debate and diversity of information sources on Venezuela. Frankly I am glad there is no comment section on the blog. The comments here are a reminder of the stupidity of people and how they have little of any meaning to contribute. I had fallen out of love with Chavez. I just remembered why I love him again now. Enough of your McCarthyism and smears. Viva Chavez and viva WOLA. CC sucks

    • Sorry Tallullah, but I found hilarious that a person supporting Chavismo comes to admonish a blog readers because they “cannot engage in meaningful debate, cannot move on from the failed narratives” and saying the she “believe in pluralism, freedom of speech, respectful debate and diversity of information sources on Venezuela. ” Its as absurd as a Nazi supporter complaining about the lack of racial diversity.

    • .”McCarthyism” involved the use of GOVERNMENT POWER to harass people for eir alleged communist ties. To equate that with what individual bloggers say about WOLA is coprolitic.

      Of course, calling things “McCartthyist” is a claim that the thoughts expressed should be suppressed, like belching at the dinner table.

      i don’t think WOLA is a Communist group, of course, but I think it has been sympathetic to populism which end up having a fascist component, as the Chavez revolution does.

      So, let’s see what they have to say about the King of Decreto-Leyes and his revolution from above.

  9. Well not really silly billy. That is illogical. A member fo the Nazi party would not complain about racial diversity would they? You just want to use the word Nazi dont you, and try and make out all like there is a prallel with the dastardly authoritarian Chavez, which is to say you are the same silly billy that you and your friends were all through the 2000s. And that was my point my little Corinata

    • The Nazi reference is very logical, and responds to your statement of “falling out of love” with Chavez, but now loving him again for (implied) his lack of “failed narratives and hate-filled language”. So far as your reading CC to “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, everyone on this Blog knows who you meant by “enemies”–“Fallen out of love with Chavez”, said the spider to the fly. Tallulah, unless you’re Ms. Smilde, any Blog which has the CNE at the top of Venezuelan credibility is a JOKE.

      • Tallulah, your comment about the stupidity of most the comments here is proven correct by simply reading the responses to it. Zero meaningful content…

    • My point is that coming here with a sense of superiority over the people who writes in the blog because of your “enlightened” values of “pluralism, freedom of speech, respectful debate and diversity of information sources on Venezuela” and whining that the intolerance of people here drove you to support the government that has done the most in suppressing pluralism and dissent and freedom of speech in Venezuela since 1958, who considers that someone who does not support Chávez is not a citizen of the country ( pluralism at its best) A government that has reduced public debate to its lowliest level ever and expressly wants a communication hegemony is either a brilliant satirist or unintentionally hilarious.

  10. you forget that you are the ones that are meant to be convincing me not to love Chavez. But you are just nasty and mean and that is why I will give me heart back to Chavez. And that is why the people will not vote for Capriles. Because from you to Capriles to Corina to Ramos Allup to gosh, lets think …. Andres Perez – a long line of sneer and arrogance. Dontcha just see it honey you cant move forward and the Venezuelan people know that. So they will keep voting for Chavez and I will read WOLA. Onwards for another 6 years

    • A world-view which attempts to explain the difference between rich and poor with cultural or lifestyle traits inevitably leads to this kind of arrogance and disdain for the poor. It is the only way that rich people in Venezuela can justify their position in society… by looking down their noses at the poor masses that surround them.

      This is exactly why poor people will continue to support Chavez and people like him, and will continue to despise spoiled brats like Capriles/Maria Corina/Leopoldo, and the many “exiled” brats that frequent this blog.

      • Perhaps “disdain” is too strong a word. I don’t doubt many here do actually care about the poor people in Venezuela. But their ideology inevitably leads them to feel that they are intellectually superior, or at least superior in terms of work-ethic, than the poor masses that unfortunately cannot escape the problems of underdevelopment by fleeing to a rich country like they did.

      • Seriously, now, GAC: I believe virtually everyone on this Blog wants the BEST for the Venezuelan people, which means the poor, who are in the vast majority. I personally convinced a lot of family and others to vote for Chavez initially, believing it may have been Venezuela’s last chance for Democracy to work correctly. But, put simply, Chavez blew it. Mainly because he was/is too ignorant/incompetent/corrupt. He has brought economic destruction, worsened social inequality (forget the lying Government statistics/GINI Index/etc.), reduced most to marginal existence/income, squandered record oil revenues, and it will take a generation to dig out from under when he goes. Due to an immense amount of external debt of one kind or another (at least 100% or more of GDP calculated at a realistic Bs./$ exchange rate) plus a bank-breaking amount of Bs.debt/assets forced on Venezuelan banks, Venezuela is basically bankrupt, and at a time when it’s major oil-consuming clients are also. You supposedly live in Venezuela, or were there recently, as per one of your recent comments. Unless you’re wearing those rose-colored Mision Milagro glasses of the kind given to ARTURO, THERE’S NO WAY A RATIONAL PERSON CANNOT SEE THE TRUTH OF THE vENEZUELAN situation. SITUATION.

        • Exactly. Which is why the majority of poor people in Venezuela who continue to support Chavez are simply not rational people. You just said this. Thanks for so beautifully demonstrating my point.

          • Perhaps, but my point was addressed to you, a presumably rational person. So far as the Poor, if they are really so irrational as to not be able to see how miserable/dangerous their day-to-day living conditions are, then they desperately need rational/intelligent/competent/non-corrupt leadership to be able to improve their lot, which is diametrically opposite to what they have now. If their current condition persists for too much longer, it won’t result in a Civil War, it will result in a Mass Pillaging/Burning which will make the Caracazo look tame by comparison. There is no “Oligarchy” really left in Venezuela, there is only a filthy rich Boliburguesia with their private planes’ motors running and a few greatly-diminished middle-class leftovers.

          • Sure, there’s no oligarchy. Even though opposition politicians admit that the top 1% of landowners still control nearly 50% of the land:


            Oligarchy? No way!! And of course Cisneros, Mendoza, Zuloaga, Vollmer, Phelps, Polar and the rest of them must have all magically disappeared!!

            Thanks for the laughs once again NET. You are my favorite of the Caracas Chronicles idiots.

          • Big deal. What good does it do to have a “Latifundio Oligarchy” who can’t make any money from agriculture and don’t produce anything because they have to sell at below-cost Government-controlled prices and compete with below-cost Government-controlled imports (which system will only hold up as long as the price of oil does). When the poor take over the 50% of land they already haven’t, then production finally falls to zero for lack of financing, and the Country will be importing 100% of foodstuffs (As in the case of Angola, which went from big cacao exporter to cacao importer after “land re-distribution”). Anyway, when the Masses rise up, they won’t be going after the absent “Latifundistas”, nor the handful of real Country producers like the Mendozas/ZuloagasVollmers/Etc.(not sell-out ex-pat Cisneros), they will be tangentially going after the Evas/Arturos/Get-A-Clues who ideologically support the “Robolucion”, but didn’t have enough pull to wangle a seat on one of the BoliBurgueses’ planes out, and are trapped in the raging mobs (I’ve been there/done that).

          • Wrong again. Statistics have consistently shown that small and medium agricultural producers are more productive than large producers. In fact, the very definition of latifundios is that they are characterized by low productivity:

            “Aparte de la extensión, existen otros elementos característicos de lo que se conoce como latifundismo: bajos rendimientos unitarios, utilización de la tierra por debajo de su nivel de máxima explotación, baja capitalización, bajo nivel tecnológico, mano de obra empleada en condiciones precarias y, en consecuencia, con bajo nivel de vida.”


            But I know, it would be horrible if the “poor take over the 50% of the land they already haven’t,” as you say. Those stupid, irrational poor people!

          • GAC, can you demonstrate that the Chávez government has redistributed land and given FULL OWNERSHIP of ‘parcelas’ to families with very limited financial resources?

          • You yourself said above that the people who support Chavez aren’t rational. As for unsupported land re-distribution, it has never worked. And if you think it has worked/will work in Chavista Venezuela, then whatever you’re smoking is too powerful for your own good.

          • “Land redistribution” apparently has worked for the Chavez family and certain well placed militaries.

    • you forget that you are the ones that are meant to be convincing me not to love Chavez.
      …I have been secretly reading Caracas Chronicles…

      FYI: Tallulah, or Sybil,
      We’re not here to serve you, honey, or to convince you of anything. If you want to love Chávez, if you want to put up his poster next to Hello Kitty, knock yourself out. And if your cult doesn’t allow you to view CC to the point that you need to “secretely read” this blog, then clearly you should stick to the Stepford Wives Club, or the FLDS.

      Come October 7th, the country needs Venezuelans to exercise their civic responsibility, for whomever they choose, with a modicum of seriousness. What the country doesn’t need are foreigners with puppy love issues who, in turn, throw out a coupla names from the Vz political landscape, so as to pass themselves off as being endogenously aware of a complex scenario.

  11. I’m afraid that GAC is simply an unrealistic intellectual hopeful who, while stating that the “poor” are irrational and therefore support Chavez, thinks by some absurd absurditum that the Chavez economic disaster will somehow help them out and allow them to live in an Egalitarian Proletariat Society, probably the likes of that in Cuba, from where GAC may likely come. As such, he has an agenda which is not in the end for the real benefit of Venezuela, as opposed to the majority of the contributors of this Blog, and doesn’t really merit our serious consideration.

    • Allow me to translate what NET is saying here:

      “GAC just destroyed all of my arguments up above, so now my only defense is to attempt some sort of childish attack on him and hope that no one notices the stupidity of all the shit I just said here.”

  12. “Reality-based” is code for very left of center in the U.S. blogosphere. Two poorly edited entries were all I could stand to read. But who has time for editing when you’re “guided by the values of democracy, human rights and social justice.”

    • GAC’s musings like “A world-view which attempts to explain the difference between rich and poor with cultural or lifestyle traits inevitably leads to this kind of arrogance and disdain for the poor.” shows more than an editing problem. What in the heck is s/he talking about? I’d call it presumtuous if I had any idea what the point was…

      • I’d call it pretentious hoodwinking. But who among the readers from the WOLA love-ins would ever know the difference? Or would even understand enough to ask critical questions? Oh wait! No critical questions are allowed. They’d be rebuffed as “nasty and mean”, or “McCarthyism” or “X sucks”.

        It’s unfortunate that the left and both extremes on the political spectrum attract those with such low levels of criteria. Doesn’t bode healthily for pluralism, in my view.

    • I was the same way, John. I thought ‘basta!’ after tripping up on two poorly edited comeflor entries in what passes off as a serious blog. By Smilde’s defenses, I concluded that the standards in the social sciences at U of Georgia, where he teaches, are on the low side. That is, for an institution where undergraduate tuition and fees, alone, over the academic year of 7-months (not including reading month), are just under $10K for state residents, and just over $28K for those out of state.

      Perhaps after the love melt-down by one of his supporters, Smilde reconsidered our advice. I’ve noticed at least one correction. But it’s too late. Between the hyper defenses, the comeflorismo, and the veiled leftist slant, I’ve moved on.

  13. ‘What the country doesn’t need are foreigners with puppy love issues who, in turn, throw out a coupla names from the Vz political landscape’

    There you go again honey, you are just sooooooooooooooooooo 2000, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05

    You have no meaningful discourse other than abuse, and always those gleaming fascist inclinations: hatred of debate, alternatives, foreigners, reality

    I know its complicated sweetheart. And one of the reasons it is so complicated is because the opposition to Chavez are completely and utterly incapable of being rational. The problem is not the irrationality of voters, but the anti-Chavistas, an irrationality that makes innevitable six more glorious years

    I think I love Get a Clue now. He really tries very hard with all you pompous children of the counter revolution.


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