Where’s Waldo? (Hint: Not in Brazil)

Can history suggest what happens next ...?
Can history suggest what happens next …?

The point of my “Where’s Waldo?” posts, which I started a few weeks back, was to keep track of Hugo Chávez’s increasingly rare public appearances. These posts, however, are no fun if the President simply vanishes.

As of today, Hugo Chávez has not tweeted, been seen, or been heard from since November 15th. That’s three weeks with no word of the man.

Today, we learn that a much anticipated summit in Brazil – one which he had vowed to attend – will not be graced by his presence. This begs the questions: is he even alive still? Is he conscious? Who is running the country?

My wife Katy recently had to take over as chair of her university department after the official chair was in a car accident. Although he emerged from his three-week coma, he has been slow to recover, and will not take up his duties in the near future.

The other day, however, he showed up at the department, completely incoherent but wanting to retake his position, talking about the people he was going to fire. All hell broke loose, and higher powers had to intervene to solve the problem of the two chairs.

Multiply that by a million and you probably have Venezuela. As we sink deeper and deeper into a power vacuum, one has to wonder what the outcome will be, and who will become the final arbiter.

The public is obviously being lied to, and it’s a fantasy to think that the transition within chavismo will be smooth. Furthermore, what legitimacy will any Chávez-appointed successor other than Maduro have … if we don’t even know if the man is coherent?

It’s amazing that the majority of the nation has thrust the rest of us in this untenable, highly uncertain situation. A teetering economy, a soaring crime rate, a veritable narco-state … and no one is at the helm.

People sometimes say that when voters elect the wrong person, the nation has “committed suicide.” By tying their fate to that of a dying man, Venezuelans may well have done that … literally.

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  1. “A teetering economy, a soaring crime rate, a veritable narco-state … and no one at the helm.A teetering economy, a soaring crime rate, a veritable narco-state … and no one at the helm.”

    you just said who is at the helm: narco trafficking.

  2. wow, 3-wk coma. I was physically ok after an express city bus crashed into my driver’s side, but mentally (anxiety levels) I was not normal for a good 2 years, with memory affected as per psychological testing. I hope there’s a legal clause in the chair’s contract responsibilities so that Katy can perform interim duties without experiencing further outbursts.

    • OTOH, may this experience serve to develop better criteria on the psychological profile of accident victims. My experience with mental health professionals in that regard left a great deal to be desired. P.S. I recommend serving the official chair ‘un té de tilo extra fuerte’ the next time he comes round.

      But getting back to Waldo … For someone suffering from aspects of bipolar disorder (who must appear to be in control and who needs to be the centre of attention), there’s nothing quite as delicious as creating uncertainty around him. Leaving people in the lurch, be they family members or a country’s population, wondering what’s happened accomplishes Waldo’s twin objectives, whether or not he’s sicker than a dog. Add to the factor that Waldo is in the hands of a master manipulator (Castro), and well, you get the picture.

  3. There is much ‘tela que cortar’ in the matter but I just mention another aspect, namely, the use of “sitting chair”: of course we get it but the term does rather expose one to a hoary observation from Grumpy in the back room, “Sitting chair? HMMNN”.

    As for the matter at issue, the maximum ‘sordid-opinion-manipulation period’ has not yet expired: he cuoud surprisingly show up anywhere. That said, another day or so of absolute silence would raise the ante to heretofore untrodden heights. To coin a phrase.

  4. “People sometimes say that when voters elect the wrong person, the nation has “committed suicide.” ”

    Remember, though: a large tranche of voters for Chávez were coerced.

    • Oh, I am not going there. People are responsible for their actions, I’m gonna treat them as adults even if they have a second-grade education, ten children, live in a shack, and have no front teeth.

      • JC,

        We can make up a million excuses why none of us are ever at fault – from poverty, to mental illness, to a sad childhood and an abusive husband or a mean boss…..but……….that would end up meaning that nobody is ever responsible at which point..why vote at all, ever?

        However Juan, that does not excuse Chavez from having attempted to coerce voters.So one has to be careful to walk that fine line of difference.Chavez is undemocratic in his methods, and yes people are responsible for having weakened enough to accept it.So in
        the end we must be honest and say: elections were not fair or democratic, and the people
        just accepted that fact.

      • Is the vote still secret in Venezuela? I would highly recommend that you read Daniel’s blog on the matter. Vota Entubado. PSUV poll watchers can tell how you voted by how far you bend over in the voting booth. Really. It’s gotten that crazy. Also, the finger print stuff scares the hell out of the one~toothers. Secret? Manipulating the vote has become a science around the world.


          • I may have been secret, but it is easy to determine with the algorithm used to randomize, and a no brainer if you have the randomnization seed. Considering Tascon and Maisanta, I’m betting their putting a new list. Since they’re probably not going to share the list this time, I guess you can call it secret, still.

          • One, it’s not so speculative. Even without the seed, the randomnization was only of the running latest 5 cédulas and 5 votes. If the sequences of cedulas and votes are merged with the tascon/maisanta databases, you can determine with a high probability who voted for whom.

            All random number algorithms try to replicate random patterns. But all non hardware based ones produce identical results given the same conditions. The only ones that will be truly random depend on external unpredictables, like electric fluctuations, to influence the software. But these Smartmatics have nothing of the sort. With the seeds and the softwares, the whole randomnization process could be reversed. You would have a 100% probability of determining the vote and cédula orders.

          • I wonder if, then, people will take as much time to take back all the naysaying as they took to naysay to all those who simply mentioned the possibility.

          • Exactly, and if they go to your house at 3 pm, saying you haven’t vote… ni que te lo juren de rodillas, you think they would not see who you vote for!

  5. the nation has “committed suicide.” By tying their fate to that of a dying man

    How can we add more to your words, without gilding the lily? Congrats on this incisive analysis.

    • From the article:
      ” Luego insup facto (sic) la invitaron a abandonar el país, la montaron junto a sus acompañantes en un vehículo de Miraflores, los pusieron de patitas en Maiquetía y en vuelo directo de British Airways fueron regresados a Londres.”
      British Airways ceased its operations in Venezuela in 2005, there has been no direct flight between Caracas and London ever since.

      • Whoever wrote this has no idea how media works. The whole notion that *journalists* would have witnessed something like this, been sent out of the country (where they can’t be pressured) and still kept it secret is totally insane and moronic. This would’ve been a huge juicy scoop for AJ – it would’ve been all over the news if it had happened.

        • If we only had good journalist who could give us real scoops and unveil whats actually happening, but all we have heres is Bocarandas, Dr. Marquinas and the like. So, for me these rumors and the whole speculation is pointless , even masochistic, we will only know when it happens.

  6. True enough: He committed suicide by campaign. Let me state it again: We are in the 21st. century, not the 25th., medicine does not cure cancer like it was a strep infection. The only chance Hugo Chavez had to live was to retire and go full-time on therapy and recovery, on May 2011, if he had one. I thought that that would have spared us his presence and spared his life. Did not? He is dead. No tears from me for a hateful fool, just wish him the least painful passing.

    But Chavez is not Venezuela. Nor Socialismo del Siglo XXI is a halfway decent meme, much less an ideology that can pass a laugh test on paper and most Venezuelans who can tell you the date of the month know that.

    Though a majority of our fellow citizens showed themselves to be dumber than a box of rocks and at the same time crookeder than a pig’s tail, they have condemned Venezuela just for the near future. The man’ll die, his show will end.

  7. I think the nation committed suicide be Chavez sick or not. Freakin country is going down the drain anyway as long as any of those delinquentes run the game.


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