IMG-20130314-00430Ever since Wednesday of last week, the Obituaries sections of the main Venezuelan newspapers look more like the yellow pages than they do a place of bereavement.  Local and multinational companies, big, medium and small, all deem it necessary to publicly communicate their respects to our departed President.

Everyone from McDonald’s de Venezuela and Fox Television Networks to Festejos Mar, and my personal favorite, El Palacio del Blumer, is jumping on the death-notice bandwagon, and oddly enough, with every day gone by since Chavez’ disappearance, the number of obits grows larger.

What’s going on here?

It’s already quite folkloric, this whole tradition of taking out funeral notices for people who aren’t actually in your family.  But the upwards trend in Chavez obits 9 days after his death begs an interesting question.

Is the private sector happily making use of this media-centric opportunity for cheap press? Or is this desperate attempt to feign solidarity with El Comandante’s passing more about fear? After all, if and when McDonald’s is up for expropriation, they can always point to the full-page ad they took out in El Nacional to assert their political alignments.

That’s gotta count for something, no?

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  1. We would have to compare it with other occasions. The death of former President Betacourt might be a helpful precedent.

    But corporate condolences are quite common. Perhaps they just couldn’t fit them all in one issue.

  2. Half-price sale on men’s briefs? Did you check to make sure they had those slots in the front where,….oh never mind.

  3. Yes, it’s fear, but not so much of those above as of those below; after all, many (if not most) employees of private firms in Venezuela are chavistas, which might be offended by the “insensitiveness” of their bosses and take revenge by shows of ill-will or even sabotage.

  4. Amazing… you buy yourself a little political capital if the dirty guys (Maduro) persist, and it doesn’t cost you a thing if the clean guy (Capriles) wins.

  5. Is Cines Unidos the company owned by Henrique Capriles’ family? If it is, there is an obituary by them among the ones in the picture

    • It’s neither fear nor jalabolismo. No reason not to be civil. Whatever the politics involved and what the guy did, he was still the elected president of the country.

      • Valid point, and I thought about that too. What strikes me is that with everyday, they seem to multiply. Its as if the CEO of Alfonso RIvas opens the paper and sees that Kellogg´s put out an obit, and decides to put one out himself lest he be left out of the loop. Peer pressure of sorts.

        • Peer pressure might trigger some of the obituaries, However, I think market presence might be responsible for others. I can see some Machiavellian marketing professionals using obituaries to position their products and brands in certain segments of the population. For example, if your products are intended to classes C, D, E where you have a significant portion of chavistas, some companies would benefit of being perceived as sensitive to Chavez’s passing. However, it assumes that a) customers read the obituaries and b) that your consumer feels your emotions about Chavez’s death are genuine. It wouldn’t work for Polar or Globovision. It could work for companies like “El Palacio del Blumer”. Furthermore, this strategy is darn cheap

      • I agree with you Maracaiburgh, certainly brown nosing is not the motivation of the Cines Unidos’ obituary. I don’t think brown nosing will take them anywhere due to their association with HCR. Furthermore, the wording used is clearly not the proper one for that type of obituary. You have good examples of brown nosing in the ones published by the National Guard and other government institution.
        I don’t really think fear is the driver either. I don’t think Vzla is Cuba (not yet). This leaves me with perception management/marketing and civility. I’m leaning towards civility for Cines Unidos. I don’t think they will gain more customers or increase customer loyalty.

  6. Emiliana, welcome, pero para mi YUK. Companies just trying to do business, not choosing sides. The President of the country died, it’s a big deal. This kind of stuff only discredits the opposition’s point of view.

    When are you all going to shed the ‘opposition’ moniker? Start realizing that success comes from change inside the movement, not outside. Quico, Juan etc…..Get a Clue.

    • But its PRECISELY because they want to keep doing business that they´ve had to engratiate themselves with the govt. Why would Venevisión feel the need to change its editorial line? or why was Chevron´s LAtAm President Ali Moshiri present in greeting Chávez at the airport whenever he came back from traveling? I know for a fact that the Cámara Petrolera de Venezuela actively asked its members to publish obits. I´m not by any means undermining the significance of a president dying, but I Do think there´s something to be said for the climate of cautious fear that operating in the private sector entails. And as far as Im concerned, this is not an opposition stance, it is a mere observation.

    • Lobo, are you saying to change Chavismo you musty become chavista and attempt change from inside? That’s as ridiculous as the British politicians claiming the UK should be in that Western Soviet bloc called the EU to change it…not gonna happen.

  7. I think is kind of exaggerated conspiracy theories…That is common practice if a person like the president dies… Now how many published an obituary for the ex presidents? The other side…how come the public government are not publishing and the better one, you know comprando indulgencias…Anyways…If you are doing Business in a country it would be the norm to do this for a president… Now the comparison with Betancourt, is that he was not the president when he died…but it would be good to compared obituaries of Romulos, vs Cap Leoni, and Herrera…especially those that die during Chavez era ( ok the living part of the era )… And corporations do a lot of things to CSR, collaborate with good causes, and that is for what , good heart? well sometimes, but Nothing worst that the guy from TOMS shoes…..(sorry csr research, he is such a #$%#, and people just saying of he is so good, so nice…that is really good CSR….). Only one thing you would not be a good corporation if you don’t do these things…it is like explaining how to do due dilligence in latinamerica and Bunch of american kids say, I go to the website and read ( LOL LOL) sorry I haven’t slept in 2 days

  8. Common practice?

    There was nothing like this in the U.S. when Kennedy died. Nor, as far I know, when FDR died. And certainly not for any ex-President.

    Maybe it is commonplace in Latin America. But I suspect that it is the result of what might be called the cult of nationalism, where every leader is a Great Man (while in office), every national success is a glorious triumph and every mishap an epochal tragedy.

    Under the chavernment, it is a natural consequence of the cult of personality. It is also a form of “Gessler’s Hat”. (Gessler was the legendary tyrannical Austrian governor who provoked the rebellion of the Swiss. He set his hat on a pole in the town square, and required all passers-by to bow to it. William Tell refused.)

  9. OT: has anyone ever read the comments section of this blog on an iPhone? Sometimes it narrows down to an endless one-letter-wide column. (Usually involving a self-perpetuating loop of back-&-forths with Cort Green.)

    • LOL Cort is really great for comic relief… more site jester than troll
      You have to respect someone who, despite the evident shortcomings of his ideas, pursues the common good. It beats the truly dangerous cosa nostra of the boligarcas who make ideological chavistas seem like a congregation of girl-scouts.

  10. Speaking as a man who has his name emblazoned on a million pairs of expensive underpants, I am heartened to read that in Venezuela this essential item is becoming more affordable for the common man.

  11. Have you seen the full page obituaries of Brazilian food companies? To me that can only be genuine gratitude from the folks that have benefited the most from this government largesse.

    For the record, Cines Unidos is not afiliated with the Radonski family.

  12. Y Franklin Duran también puso su obituario de media página. Los del Universal no han hecho tanta plata desde antes del internet.

  13. It is far fetched to say that companies would do this to get the good will of their chavista employees, or for publicity purposes. The universe of chavistas that read newspapers and happen to read the obituaries section on the same day the “add” was published is probably minimal.

    I think companies are just trying to be on the government’s good side, or at least avoid being blacklisted for the time being.

  14. Chavez math and government efficiency, 3.577.000 death threats to be investigated.

    Maduro might have to create a new Ministerio de la Investigación del Asesinato de Hugo Chávez.
    Chávez claimed the he received over 700 death threats daily over the last 14 years. Although, he never gave details and obviously was not killed. This means that someone has to look into the secret details of each of the 3.577.000 death threats to see which one actually succeeded. I see an oficina of around 3.000 empleados oficiales taking about 30 years and $6 billion to complete the task. Maduro’s family will participate to assure an unbiased yet still secret result.


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