The coming demise of the Trollibarian Republic…


I probably shouldn’t, but I can’t help but point to this web comic, which made the rounds in the hours following Chávez’s triumphal return from Cuba last Friday, rubbing our (opposition) faces in it…

Fate, she is a cruel mistress.

I’m not sure if this was made specifically as a response to his latest return, but it hardly matters. While much of the respectable opposition busily warns its own supporters to respect chavismo’s grief at this difficult time – is it too early to note the gross asymetry of restraint in our public sphere?

OK, ok, it almost certainly is.

But I’ve always been fascinated by a certain brand of chavista that seems to find it less satisfying to win than to see us lose, to be right than to see us be wrong. The politics of cizaña have been growing roots in our country for 14 years now, and they will not be done away with over night.

And while a similar dynamic sometimes plays out in the other direction as well, at least the opposition’s leaders are fully aware of how toxic this brand of playground politics can be to our public sphere, whereas the entire Communicationally Hegemonic Sistema Nacional de Medios Públicos, the whole little world of chavista opinion-making, has gradually morphed into a 24-7 cizaña machine.

The Chávez era has been like putting a particularly noxious internet troll in charge of the country.

As anybody who’s spent any time in forums online knows, it takes a superhuman feat of the will to keep conversations minimally civil in the presence of even one troll. A few manage it, but it’s practically impossible to keep others from following the troll right down the sewer whence he came. Very soon you’re in the middle of a name-calling tit-for-tat, and from then on out you can just forget it: you’ll get plenty of heat out of it, but no light.

And, when you think about it, that’s what Venezuela’s been like since 1999, isn’t it?

Which all goes towards building some context around the (laudable, but hollow) calls to show restraint in the face of the president’s misfortune. As one commenter puts it, 

While civility demands Mr Chavez opponents show no mirth or delight on his ill health and poor survival prospects , basically out of good manners towards his supporters , there is no doubt that his own past conduct has so poisoned the atmosphere of public life that it is well neigh impossible for most of his opponents to view his current predicament with anything but glee . Practical considerations may dictate that such glee remain hidden and masked with shows of ‘compassionate concern’ but the irrepressible glee is there . There is a phrase by Borges which notes how tyrannies foster stupidity in people , maybe it should also note how it also fosters dark feelings of delight at an adversary’s miseries . To indulge in those feelings is maybe the price we must pay to be faithful to our own humanity.

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  1. May i point out that the comic is less than 4 days old, not 4 years as expressed on the first paragraph. You may want to correct that.

  2. To feel satisfaction is to feed the troll.

    I do feel relief, though. A feeling that now we can change direction… at least a bit. It’s a relief I don’t have to hate myself for.

  3. I’m not partying about Chavez’s demise due to cancer. I certainly wish he would leave us by other means. What I feel is the same I’d feel if this was the 1940s and I found out either Adolf, Joseph or Benito had a terminal disease.

    The world suddenly becomes a better place when evil perishes, no matter how many people follow, worship or vote for it.

  4. How could I be sympathetic with someone who never miss a opportunity to put the military boot on you? I can’t. I feel sorry for him as a cancer patient, but not more than that.

  5. Considering how the chavista base have been emotionally manipulated about the cancer and the timing of the announcement one week before the elections, the fact that we don´t even know the type of cancer yet, that we dont have any medical report about his health, the fact that despite his announcement, they failed to declare a temporary absence and named Maduro interim President (which would benefit them as it would make him look more presidential and acceptable for the base in a upcoming elections) I remain skeptical about the true nature of his state and wonder if the joke is still on us.

    • And everything happening just one week before a very important electoral process. Hum.
      I’m betting that he’ll be there on Jan. 10th thanking God for the miracle, blah, blah, blah.

      • It might be true, the problem that everyone is taking his permanence absence as a fact, when the government has made sure that, besides what he said about being terminally ill, tthat he remains the President and no legal or constitutional step have been taken to assure a transition. Why didn’t they declare a temporary absence, which is revocable in case he gets well, in this case they would appoint Maduro interim President and would make him more palatable for the base. This facts and the timing of the announcement make me skeptical about this being another ruse.

  6. I think much of the disconnect comes from chavez seeing the opposition like slavers, while the opposition can’t even imagine being seen as slavers.

  7. Oh, for God’s sake lay off the noblesse oblige this one time, Quico. The man who declared Betancourt’s ( a better man than him, by orders of magnitude) constitution “moribunda”, in its death throes, is now very likely end-stages terminally ill,moribundo, himself -largely brought on by his own hubris.

    Good riddance to bad evil. There’s little satisfaction to the non-Chavistas, who have been outplayed by this crafty buffoon since Caracas limousine lefty chattering classes turned his defeat in 1992 into victory, doing what he himself could not do. He played Venezuela’s patholigies – cizaña, shadenfreude, envy,gossip, the culture of dolce far niente.

    He played them, you, us, like Bugs Bunny played Elmer Fudd – only we aren’t Elmer Fudd, and he ain’t no Bugs Bunny – a murderous Daffy Duck, all spiteful id, on a good day.

    And so we will be rid of him not out of better argument, nor justice, but biology. So be it. Sad faces in public, but this llanero pendejo Pablo Escobar is DOA. Now we get to watch the sycophant acolytes scurry around to gather what they can from the loot, and soon, when it’s time to tighten the belt and apportion, El Difunto Hugo will be the chivo expiatoria who will pagar los platos rotos, before he’s forgotten.

    You want classy? “Happy Days Are Here Again” rather than “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead”. But, please, don’t let Venezuela’s answer to trust fund Hamptons lefties screw this up. Get your head in the game. Think Vince Lombardi, not Uslar Pietri.

    This is where it gets interest,

    Oh, and those whose gravy train is dyin’? Say buh-bye to the low-hanging fruit…

    • Well said. It always amazes me how Venezuelans don’t like/usually refuse to call people/things by their right names. A thief, for example, is an “amigo de lo ajeno”–for God’s sake, the thief who just robbed you is an “amigo”!! And this is just one example of a cultural aversion to call a spade a spade, and, above all, to take responsibility for one’s actions. At this rate/wishiwashiness, the Country will never get rid of the Chavezes/Chavismos. The Country needs hardball (a la Betancourt), not the softball that got it into its current sorry state. Chavez and his minions are thugs/crooks/murderers if necessary, and will show no mercy to continue being as such. The Opposition has to be TOUGH, and not sell out for a pot of porridge, as many in the past have done. The cleanup at street level alone is a daunting task. Chavez is the worst evil to befall Venezuela in its history. At least Juan Vicente Gomez was a real patriot.

  8. As I said in my blog, I can not have compassion for someone who has none. I can not show compassion for someone who has shown so much hate and has laughed at Venezuelans. Again, I will not miss Hugo Chavez and I am glad he was so stupid about knowledge, education and training that he killed himslef by trying to stay in power forever.

  9. I don’t rejoice on the fact that someone’s got cancer (I’m trying hard, actually, since that’s what morality dictates us, but it is easier said than done given the nature of the person of this particular case), but without a doubt I feel relieved to know that it is almost certain that he will (dead or alive) leave the presidency of Venezuela. If this happens, what I will regret is that only a disease could beat him and wasn’t defeated through a democratic, fair process, which was the best way to prove him and his party wrong and pave a new road for real change. If he dies like this, we can expect him becoming something close to a legend for many, and his ideals pervading Venezuelan politics and society.

    Nevertheless, that Chavez gets out of the picture doesn’t necessarily means that things will change for better or worse; the fact that over 8 million people chose this guy revealed me a more distressing, worrying problem with Venezuela’s society and psyche that the mere disappearance of Chavez won’t cure.

    Anyway, is too soon to feel completely relieved (or hopeless, if you’re chavista) because he might as well step out of power due to the illness, but keep pulling the strings for a long while from a hospital bed pretty much like Fidel Castro does.

    • Alejo:

      How many cheeks do you actually have? You are taking Christian charity way beyond Christ… Más papista que el Papa, caramba…

      He did no good, having the support and the money to do it. He stood up just for his own, egotistical ideas of his own importance. He had no thought for the country or its future. And he did a lot of harm, knowingly… Pity? No way, José. He never showed any towards anyone, not even towards his own ill body…

      Won’t waste good feelings on someone who doesn’t deserve it. If you want to do that, it’s your choice… But the quantity of dead bodies in the morgue this last FOURTEEN years, claiming at least for justice, weight more in any balance you decide to use…

      And forget his becoming a legend in a country like Venezuela, a land without memory of it’s own history… Pérez Jiménez (known in his time as “the ballerina”) now is a kind of hero… the bastard… The “people” voted for CAP for a second term, and then, to show their lack of memory, for Caldera’s second… And, after 14 years, they still buy the “the-last-government-is-responsible-for-all-that-is-happening” story.

      Legend? At best, a footnote in a century… History is long, you know? Who remembers Ignacio Andrade today, except domino players, that call the double five for that name? Get real!

  10. what Venezuela’s been like since 1999 … (for me)
    Lived in ccs til 2003, took off , came back in 2004, went off in 2006, came back, took off in 2009, and never looked back. “If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.
    You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
    Know when to walk away and know when to run.

  11. I did realize that trolls, Trollibarian trolls, from their moribund leader downwards, are obviously, first and foremost, trolls. They are out to get you to hate them. I, for my part will never give them such a poisonous (to myself) gift. So I don’t hate them. And will not wish them woe, personally.

    But I DO want them to stop trolling. I DO want them to cease and desist.

    However, I cannot be but relieved, and a bit sad, that it has come to this. If their leader has to die and there’s no other way to end it, let him have a painless and quick passing. It would have been much preferable for him to retire and seek therapy, be with family and recover in peace. Just at it would have been much preferable for him to grant some mercy to political prisoners with illnesses and to offer proper severance to fired PDVSA employees, and not to have used deadly thugs against manifestations. It was obviously nowhere in his soul to seek peace for anyone. If this is the way to end all of this, the price is quite low. It’s of little consequence whether he suffers horribly or not at all. Enough that he is gone, and that his henchmen disband. So please have a quick and painless passing and be forgotten.

  12. Generally people who start out and always respond by yelling insults are considered to be trolls. People who cannot debate and invent absurd exaggerated talking points that are intended to derail the discussion (CHAVEZ IS STALIN, CHAVEZ WANTS TO TURN VENEZUELA INTO CUBA, CHAVEZ HAS RUINED THE ECONOMY BY MAKING IT TRIPLE IN SIZE) also qualify as trolls. So by that standard, which I believe is generally accepted online…a large majority of the Venezuelan opposition are in fact members of the species.


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