Calling for Back-up


So I went out and messed with the Guardianistas once more.

On closer inspection, the only thing that appears to be 21st century about Chávez’s 21st-century socialism is the presidential Twitter account. The economy is still run along the same rigid lines that crippled eastern bloc economies for much of the 20th century. One after another, industries have been nationalised only to become outsized money-pits unable to produce the goods needed. The steel and cement industriescan’t produce enough to meet the country’s housing needs; electric utilities have brought chronic blackouts throughout the country; and the phone company has failed to deliver adequate internet access. Venezuelans like to joke that Julian Assange passed over Venezuela for political asylum simply because the internet is so slow there.

That did not go over well. Of course, I’m getting clobbered in comments. Come and lend a hand before it turns into a cayapa!

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Feel proud, Quico.

    In 48 hours you have accused of being an MSM tool because you bought the MSM kool aid of Romney losing the election so far, AND of being a heartless randroid.

    Man, you are my hero.

    • He’s an anti-socialist neo-liberal Obama supporter (and we all know Obama is a closet Chavez lover socialist). Quico is a walking contradiction. How he keeps it all straight in his head… it must give him headaches!

        • You know, it’s funny that so many people think Obama is *not* a socialist or make fun of those who say he is. Of course he’s a socialist, in the tradition of European socialists. Isn’t that obvious? I mean, what difference is there between Obama and, say, Rodríguez Zapatero? Anything substantive? He’s further left of center than Tony Blair, who was a Labor PM in Britain…

          I’m being serious here.

          • Rodríguez Zapatero is a European Socialist, which in other circles is called a Social Democrat, but in Europe is a Socialist. I dunno, but the label for Obama is not that far off.

          • As an advice: European socialist is not a social democrat. Many politicians that you call that live actually in the US, South America, Australia, NZ, etc. A lot of the mocking would be defused if Obama’s opponents would at least be accurate. Is not going to hurt you to call him a social democrat, it would make your points of view clearer and will make smartasses like me think harder to mock, you, instead of grabbing such mango bajito.

          • I think your argument is with how European Socialists label themselves. RZ is a member of the Socialist party, as is Hollande. Maybe you should convince *them* to stop calling themselves socialists.

          • I am not debating them. And we are trying to reach consensus in a debate. We are aware of at least one definition of socialism: The monopoly of the means of production by the state. Obama certainly does not meet that definition (And, oh, Juan, how ironic you are making me defend BHO).

            I’d say that’s the definition of socialism for most people I find. You are free of course to try to depict Obama as a socialist, no further clarification, but that brings what we discussed before: People laughing at you, thinking you are an extremist and a lengthy description of what you meant. I do not think that is a good price to pay to get using a word. But, hey, whatever floats your boat.

          • Guido, that was the definition of a socialist in the 1930. Now, people like Michelle Bachelet, Ricardo Lagos, Rodríguez Zapatero, etc., they are all socialists, since they all are (were) members of the Socialist party. Obama is along those lines. Is this really controversial at all?

            If people want to laugh at that it’s just their own ignorance they are laughing at. But you know what I’m saying, and you know I’m right.

          • I know you are right?

            Please, Juan, stop that crap. I disagree with you in many things, but I have never assumed you are intellectually dishonest. I’d appreciate the same from you. When you are right, I acknowledge it, I am not afraid of changing my mind, it is the only way to improve. I am not going to be debating you in a position I believe you are right.

            The fact that Quico and many others, and even in the US take an issue with that use of the word socialist shows that the debate is not as clear cut as you claim. If you appreciate more to be able to use the word socialist than a clear communication, so be it. But don’t try to read my mind and claim that I believe you are right.

          • I’m a bit late to this, but I think the problem is linguistic.

            “Socialista” in Spanish and “Socialiste” in French don’t really carry the same charge as “Socialist” does in England or the U.S.

            “Socialist” in English carries a distinctly Marxist flavour – which is clearly the crux of the GOP talking point –

            In English, the non-marxist brand of center-left politics of the French PS and the Spanish PSOE is much more naturally rendered as Social Democratic.

          • Thank you!, JCN, for clarifying who Obama really is, except I believe you are going too easy on him. Also, if he ever would admit to the American people what or who he REALLY IS, he would be unelectable. The approx. 10% swing vote would would go right.

          • Oh snap. Urban dictionary and a pun of my name. I surrender, I surrender! Please, no more! Your argumental superiority is overwhelming!

          • “Also, if he ever would admit to the American people what or who he REALLY IS, he would be unelectable.”

            Please let’s stop this thread lest we start hearing all about anti-colonial rage

          • In US political discourse “socialist” has become a term of abuse, a euphemism for authoritarian communism or Stalinism. Almost anyone who would call Obama a “closet Chavez lover socialist” really means “Chavez loving communist.”

            In much the same way “neo-liberalism” has become a term of abuse in left wing circles in the US and South America. As envisioned by its progenitors, neo-liberalism simply means balanced budgets and limited government. As the term is normally used in South America neo-liberalism is crony capitalism, right wing authoritarianism, violent union busting and disregard for the environment.

            If you want to enter a debate about whether socialism really means ownership of the means of production, or simply being a social democrat, fine by me, but I’ll skip it and just go with the definition society at large has decided. Similarly, if neo-liberalism has been redefined as a form of fascism, I won’t call myself an advocate of it, and instead say I favor balanced budgets and efficient government.

          • “You know, it’s funny that so many people think Obama is *not* a socialist or make fun of those who say he is.”

            My understanding was that people only made fun of those who think that he’s a marxist

  2. Reading the comments section as you proposed is an interesting exercise in understanding how disoriented europeans have become in regards to worldly affairs. It’s considered cool being a leftist in a country where everything runs properly and you can walk the streets without the fear of being kidnapped.

    • For many Europeans on the left politics outside of Europe is primarily defined, or only defined, in its relation to the United States and Europe. The far left in Europe has reached the ultimate end point of Eurocentrism. Other issues in Venezuela – or any other country – are not relevant, only Chavez’s official position on socialism and the United States.

      • If you’re from a country where everything (mostly) works I don’t think you can really picture a place like Venezuela. Even in the States with its rampant gun culture I have a hard time explaining how violence in Latin America works exactly. People can’t picture prisons run by the inmates, people so afraid that they don’t leave their homes unless they absolutely have to or the generalized chaos that reigns in the streets. I suppose it’s the same disbelief I feel when I hear about Scandinavian welfare states. What? No one’s shooting each other in the streets? And the government actually improves citizen welfare? Where’s the catch?

  3. I try to avoid arguing with european chavistas that haven’t visited Venezuela once in their lives, good luck with the cayapa.

    What I can do is leave here this video of Chávez talking about polls, and to his side is Maduro not exactly sporting a winning face:

  4. Best post of the Guardian thread,

    Sparebulb – 28 September 2012 1:32AM
    As far as I am aware Chavez was voted in democratically, when the USA and the Capitalists decided they didn’t like that they attempted coup which only resulted in greater support for Chavez since such an action suggested to the Brazilian voters that even Chavez’ more extreme opinions had merit.

    It also gave Chavez a very strong argument as regards the nationalisation of the vested interests of the Capitalists.

    None of this seems particularly undemocratic.

    The food supplies are a worry but Brazil isn’t alone in that, the USA (Capitalist I understand) has just had a devastating harvest that is going to push commodity prices up.

    The Chinese Washing Machine Syndrome will have to be resolved in the longer term, but buying consumer goods from China is hardly restricted only to Brazil and just look at the UK car market, a couple of Japanese Micras bolted together in a shed somewhere in Swindon- the UK makes next to fuck all and pisses its fast dwindling oil reserves away on vanity projects, but they aren’t socialist so it is of no concern.

    Chavez should plan his successor and look at land reform and cooperative (socialist) libertarianism.

    For sure, Chávez is the best thing that’s happened to Brazil!

    Oh brother…why do I get worked up over this stuff?

    • Wrong. Chavez is actually the best thing that has happened to Panama (in the words of a Panamanian acquaintance who works in real estate and sells apartments to Venezuelan migrants) 😉

      • I always thought Chavez was the best thing that happened to Cuba, but from your point of view, I think you are right.
        Include Miami, Houston & Alberta in that list.

    • Jejeje, probably he confuses Brazil with all of South America. Most famous country Brazil, most reknown president Chavez, put 1 and 2 togther and Chavez is president of Brrazil.

    • Yes, you’re right: nobody “from the other side” ever makes a stupid argument. Sighhhhh…
      Just a reminder not to throw stones in a glass house.
      Otherwise, your article in the Guardian is outstanding. I just love it how you got them into a pitchfork and torches frenzy and made the Übermorons show their hand.

    • well, if you consider that we have given so many contracts to brazilian companies, Chavez might have been indeed one of the best things that happened to Brazil! hahaha

  5. That Brasil thing has got to be a joke. Well, I made it pretty far in agreement without my PSF intuition kicking in, up till this: “It has taken Venezuela’s long-suffering opposition movement 14 years to decode Chávez’s intoxicating appeal and formulate a compelling alternative.”

    Yes, they suffered first from disbelief, then rage, then that strange disease which afflicted them into organizing an oil-strike to try and choke Venezuela-not Chavez, into giving up their electoral choice, then forced them to try a military coup, until finally they tried running a candidate with proven results and a positive message…

    decoded! sounds more like they had to get the message banged into their head! whoever wins, hopefully the situation will improve and capable people will be put in charge of the numerous problems detailed in the article. Chavez’s cycle may be over, but if it is, that doesn’t mean that those who supported him in 2002 will vote for a candidate who can’t acknowledge their interpretation of those events.

    • Excelent article, thanks AraguaC.
      I see the commenters (only 9, or am I not finding all of them?) as rather balanced and generally much more civilized vs. The Guardian. After all, many of it’s readers are “highbrow” (not that necessarily highbrow = civilized). But I know about the campfire romanticism many leftist “gordos rosaditos” Europeans have with the Latin American “Socialists” in general, Chavez, Fidel and yes, even the FARC as well as the rainforrest, specifically (the latter being a leftist coined politically correct expression for “jungle”), although they have never been there.


    “The Hugo Chávez cult is over” Says the well known political scientist and political blogger Francisco Toro (who used to write for the right wing papers Washington post and Financial Times). Does he write about anything else but how crap Chavez is?
    Does the nasty Mr Chavez not let your business pals run the country their way, the American way?

    The FT and Washington Post are right wing now??? jajajaja

    Please allow me to congratulate you on your excellent comment, but the other comments are hilarious…

  7. During the Libyan revolution I would read the Guardian comment sections, it was as bad as Yahoo! comment sections but with a “left wing” bent. Anything anti-America was voted up and rationality was lacking. When Capriles wins O7 there will be a lot of clueless faces there and elsewhere.

  8. This is a very good piece indeed! But i think most of the comments in there were satyrical, or at least they read that way. Look at this one:
    “I for one agree that Chavez should have let another candidate from his party stand this time, and yes its shameless populism, but compared to the shower of murderers, thieves and psychotic neoliberal ideologues fronted by Capriles, there is no contest and you will lose yet again”.

  9. That comment section is just freaking awful. But yeah, you show em, quico! Hell, next time link to this blog. Might serve for more illusion breaking!

  10. F. T.: Your article is excellent, and right on. The Guardianista comments (from a P. 1 perusal) are mostly clueless about Venezuela, and written apparently by Leftist Horses’ Arses (and, no, I don’t think they’re trying to be satirical).

  11. As a Marxist I would say as I have said here before you can’t make half a revolution and yes Venezuela is not a socialist country, yet.

  12. From Alan Woods:

    When Chávez was first elected president in December 1998, he stood on a rather vague platform that did not mention socialism. But life teaches. On the basis of experience, he has come out in favour of socialism. That is a great step forward. But it still needs to be implemented. True, there have been some steps forward: he has partially nationalized some key sectors such as telecommunications, cement and steel. He has repeatedly attacked the bourgeoisie and the oligarchy (which is the same thing) and he has stood up against U.S. imperialism.

    But the lack of workers’ control in state-run heavy industries such as steel, has given rise to many difficulties and labour unrest. The workers resent the bureaucracy that is trying to elbow them to one side and usurp control of the Bolivarian Movement. All the attempts of the workers to take the initiative and introduce elements of workers’ control and management, for instance in the basic heavy industries in Guayana, with the support of the President, have been met with fierce resistance and open sabotage on the part of the bureaucracy. Taking advantage of the President’s illness, these elements are openly talking about “chavismo without Chávez.” This represents the biggest danger for the Revolution.

    Today, thirteen years after the election of Chávez that final victory has still not been achieved. As long as the land, the banks and big enterprises remain in the hands of the oligarchy, the Bolivarian Revolution will never be safe. The deep bond that exists between Chávez and the Venezuelan masses is a reflection of the fact that Chávez aroused them to political life and struggle.

    The truth is that a big section of the Bolivarian bureaucracy was never in favour of socialism. They have been constantly conspiring to put the brakes on the Revolution, halt expropriations and above all prevent the workers from taking control.

    Le Monde Diplomatique recently revealed the attitude of the right wing of the Bolivarian Movement, which has long been dreaming of “chavismo without Chávez”:

    “On a visit to Brazil in April 2010, he was asked about letting another leader emerge. ‘I do not have a successor in sight,’ he answered. But there may be a change in thinking. Last year Chávez told a former adviser, the Spanish academic Juan Carlos Monedero, who had warned of the danger of ‘hyperleadership’ in Venezuela: ‘I have to learn to delegate power more.’ During his extended medical treatment, several top leaders filled the gap and emerged as possible successors: foreign minister Nicolás Maduro (a former trade union leader), who headed the commission that drafted the new labour law; executive vice president Elías Jaua (popular among the Chávez rank-and-file); National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello (a former army lieutenant with a pragmatic approach and strong backing among the armed forces). In May, the critical Monedero remarked that formerly ‘some of us saw the difficulties of continuing this process’ without Chávez, but ‘now we have lost this fear because I see dozens of people who could continue the process without any problem’.”

    That there are “dozens of people” waiting to seize control of the Bolivarian Movement the moment Chávez leaves the scene we do not doubt. But the advocates of “chavismo without Chávez” have no wish to “continue the process” of the Revolution. Rather, they wish to “continue the process” of derailing the Bolivarian Revolution, of watering down its programme so as to be acceptable to the oligarchy, halting the expropriations and putting the whole programme into reverse. In other words, they wish to implement the programme of the Fifth Column of the bourgeoisie within chavismo.

    The key to the success of the Revolution is that control of the movement must be in the hands of the rank and file, not the bureaucrats and careerists who have done so much harm to the Bolivarian cause. It is the workers and peasants who have been the real motor force of the Revolution. They and they alone, must be in control. The only people who can lead the Revolution to victory are the workers and peasants themselves.

    •Defeat the counterrevolution!
    •Expropriate the oligarchy!
    •Power to the workers and peasants!
    •Carry out the Revolution to the end!

    • No, he has no special recipe, he just imports them from Amsterdam, not knowing what’s in them, but they taste sooo good, just like the Communist B.S. of Alan Woods, as he (Cort) lives in a nice safe workable Capitalist Democracy. Chavez is personally anti-union, and anti- any organization which might be a threat to his Personal Power. He has NO possible successors, since anyone who might be popular with the masses would be a threat to his Personal Power. Maduro is a former bus driver who gave Bernal/gang info on Metro cash shipments so they could be hijacked by the Gangster Left. Jaua, with “one dedo de frente” (maybe), is a former university “tirapiedras” and bus burner, and recently land thief in the name of the “Revolution”. Diosdado is a multi-billion $ Bolibourgeois crook. The “workers and peasants” have had NOTHING to do with the “Revolution”(sic), but have simply been “Tontos Utiles.” Without the high price of oil, Chavez would have been toast long ago (and soon will be, anyway), and even then he/his have raped/pillaged/plundered Venezuela to ruin.

  13. The Guardian readers consider themselves anti establishment, yet they seem not to mind that Chavez has well established himself beyond any reasonable limits.

    Good job!

  14. I came late to the party. You are completely mad if you ask for help on that newspaper. After reading that political pamphlet called “New Left Project” you’ve got to understand there’s something deeply wrong with left wingers in UK, including those fortunate enough to have a public voice out of traditional strongholds, i.e. the nearest pub to SOAS or the like. Sadly, there are no many alternatives to decent journalism, would you chose the Times? Probably FT but even, they don’t have a clue about what’s going on in Chávez´ wonderland.
    @ Cort Greene: Come on mate! “Venezuela is not a socialist country, yet” Have you ever been here? Not even Chávez has the smallest similarity with what you call socialism. Have you ever seen his watches? Let me know if you see any PSUV´s nomenclature lad with less than 2 mobiles, one of them, of course, being a Blackberry, driving Chevi Tahoes around, and using the so popular among them Columbia´s shirts. It´s not YET, It´s EVER…

  15. Silly Europeans, what can they know about a country they have never set foot on?

    How can anyone, in their right mind, vote for someone who has: been directly involved with bribing judges, allowed the homicide rates increase fourfold, not enacted sound economic policy to tackle chronic inflation, seen members of his cabinet accused of drug trafficking.

    I’m sad to say that only in this lowly continent I call home, can this be considered a serious election.

  16. From the many sorry comments in the Guardian, I have learned that: the general standards of critical thinking in Britain’s education are not so worthy of emulating, and Britain’s collective experiences at the hands of earlier fascist models, in neighbouring countries, have meant nothing.

    • My experience with Brits has taught me that, for all their pomp, class and grandstanding, they aren’t that different from the Americans they so openly mock and deride — utterly matter of fact, morally relativistic, and sometimes contemptuous of intellectualism.

      Likewise, their intellectual and governing elites tend to be overly preoccupied with following fashionable and politically correct thought at all costs, even if it turns harmful the polities they are in charge of. As unsavory as I believe racism to be, I see something strangely disordered in a society that maintains a casual attitude to looming economic and social challenges while directing a lot of media fuzz and national outrage to a woman who takes her psych meds and says some tasteless stuff about immigrants in the train (and charge her for it!). Maybe that guy Orwell was onto something.

      But anyways, The Guardian is a bit of a lefty echo chamber so you have to approach it with a troll-ish attitude, lest you end up becoming embittered by the replies. You’ll get the other side of the coin if you go to the Daily Mail (though, they tend to have a more humorous attitude over there).


  17. The article was good. On the comments, I’d just say this. Many of us extranjeros’ views of latin american history and politics are informed by families we know and grew up with who emigrated from places like Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, in the 1970s and 1980s. And if your middle class extranjero family was at all socially active during this period – say in community groups or church organizations- it would have been aware of what was going on in those countries, and probably would have developed a deep suspicion of lets just say broadly, the Latin American Right. So it may be that some of us come to our prejudices…honestly.

    Not surprisingly, the selection of viewpoints on the Guardian site mirrors divisions among Venezuelans themselves. It is not just mad dogs and socialist englishmen who share these views. People are suspicious of the right for all sorts of reasons. It is just unfortunate that this suspicion drives many of them into the arms of opportunists like Hugo Chavez without further investigation, so an article like this is helpful.

    • Exactly. Any discussion of Latin America in the US/Europe brings up images of death squads, Pinochet and leftist presidents overthrown illegally. If it doesn’t fit the mental narrative it just doesn’t exist or it must be a lie. Also, people just don’t see Hugo Chavez. They may know of him and know what he supposedly stands for but they haven’t seen him firsthand. The best way to come to truly hate the man is to hear his speeches in all their offensive glory.

      Also I think in western Europe people may not understand the divergence between structure and function. For the most part European constitutions work as intended. The thought of packing the government with supporters, blatantly disobeying electoral law and a host of other illegalities is just unimaginable. (‘They can’t do that can they?’) Oh yes they can and they do.

  18. I’m just glad most of those delusional pseudo socialists in the comments section don’t vote next week. It’s impressive how people can comment so freely about issues in a country they have only seen in TV.

    I mean, I have nothing against freedom to express yourself but having such a strong position about something you haven’t lived “en carne propia” is just making a fool out of yourself.

    • And – irony of ironies- you know why more people from overseas have not seen it “en carne propria”: because its ridiculously expensive and fricking dangerous to check out the bolivarian revolution!

      • not for east-german born Rudi, who works at the call centre in Belgium, and saves every penny to fly to Vz, during his vacations, thus being able to report on his bolivarian-inspired findings.

  19. Ignorance is part of it. So too, is poor messaging by Chavez’ earlier opponents, combined with Chavez’ own excellent public relations skils. I have spent the last few years talking about Chavez with non-Communist leftists. (It is not worth talking to the CPers–once Chavez gave oil to Cuba, he bought their unconditinal support.) The others have one single idea; Chavez favours the poor; his opponents are the oligarchy, which lived on oil money properly belonging to the people. It doesn’t work to attack this desire to help the poor, which is enshrined in The Sermon on the Mount, and thus, deeply ingrained. Instead, one has to show that Chavez does not represent. The poor. he represents a new Party oligarchy. He hasn’t helped the poor, he has made their lot worse. inequality is up, not down. etc.

    It is the genius of Capriles’ campaign that he has moved beyond the old discourse; and this is ha ving an effect internationally. Caracas Chronicles was the first blog site I am aware of that made progressive points empirically, and thus, unanswerably.

    • I completely agree with you, but I’ve had a difficult time trying to argue this case:

      Instead, one has to show that Chavez does not represent. The poor. he represents a new Party oligarchy. He hasn’t helped the poor, he has made their lot worse. inequality is up, not down. etc.

      Which is true, but there’s an elaborate media machine devoted to portraying this government as a marvelous example of socialism and direct democracy in the third world, ironically manufacturing consent while denouncing the MSM and claiming to be ‘independent’ and ‘alternative’. And then you have a bunch of statistics out there, always presented in comparison with the 1990s (which were indubitably bad for us).

      In the end, the only thing you can do with true believers is to politely invite them to visit the country so that they can see for themselves. And if they do not return at least a bit skeptical, then there’s nothing to do.

  20. Jeffry House has hit the nail on the head and please do not think all Europeans are like the Ciffers: most have no clue others just spout ideology over all. I sometimes believe they allow “enemy” articles like yours just to allow them to go into a feeding attack frenzy.

  21. Quico – you cannot write for disociated Venezuelans and then expect Guardian readers to swallow the BS and agree with you. In fact most Venezuelans do no agree with you or Latinos for that matter. Only 8 days to go before reality hits you smack in the face together with your cohorts. I suppose you can then start planning another 6 years of whining from October 8th.

    One part of the Guardian rubbish they published was the referring to “chronic food shortages” – when there is a chronic public health problem of obesity in Venezuela now due to lack of dietary education. You can be so idiotic at times.

    • Let me guess.
      You might be one of these yuppies bolivarianos that wear a Columbia shirt, use Blackberry and has never done so much money as with this government, and still say that socialism is the way Venezuela is transiting through!
      You are deadly right, I agree with you Chavistas are majority, albeit a marginal one nowadays. We have to dissect the concept though. Most Chavistas are a bunch of functional illiterates that can read, but cannot understand what they have read. A logical consequence of successive left wing governments, including those of COPEI and, of course, Chavismo. A tiny nomenclatura is full of yuppies like you that believe they are the incarnation of social consciousness. Every apparatus has its own nomenclature, so it´s not surprising to find well educated people like you praising a regime like this.
      I lived several years in Britain and let me tell you that there is no something more dysfunctional than the British left, and it happens as in Venezuela. You go to their meetings and is like going to a squat party: full of junkies and people with tattoos and body piercings and wearing ridiculous memorabilia from Black Sabbath and the Soviet Union. It´s not that I have something against tattoos and the like, nor the fact that I´m doing a very classicist comment for the sake of releasing my anger. It´s just a matter of fact that the left in Europe, and in the rest of the world (nowhere else more than in Venezuela) has completely lost the sense of direction. So your comment about Guardian readers is just ludicrous. You can find in the Guardian anything you like including these libertarians you pretend don´t eat BS. All of them DO eat them from the Fabian Society.
      As for your comment regarding waiting another six years, and the hit on the face the 8th. It´s true, I have also warned them; to no avail.
      Venezuela is the paradise of ignorance and ignominy!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here