So here’s one thing that’s changed radically since the Comandante Supremo went to meet his maker: Politics got dull. Way boring. So boring, that it makes writing my super-tedious thesis seem like a joyous distraction. After fourteen years of bits of bread and tons of circus, this is one development I was certainly not prepared for.
Chávez is gone, and with him, all the fun from the TV Schedule. No Aló Presidente, and now, no La Hojilla either. What am I supposed to watch for shits and giggles? El Ciudadano? Can you believe Globovisión has actually taken to interviewing Cabinet Members about public policy? (Yaaaaaaaaawn.)
You know things have gone South in the excitement department when the most thrilling news of the week involves John Kerry, and his meeting with our rodent-toothed Foreign Secretary.
And if it wasn’t for this picture, even that news would’ve been just as monotonous, since all Elías Jaua did was *gasp* agree to strengthen Venezuela’s ties with the U.S. (I feel myself falling into a boredom-induced coma already).
It’s still months before another election campaign kicks off, so that might be good fun, right? Except this one’s sure to be a snooze-fest. I mean, Municipal Elections? Really? And no Chávez around to sack PSUV candidates and berate them in public?
I get that the CNE chose December 8th in order to give opposition unity candidates, who will have won their nominations almost two years ago by then, ample time for skirmishes and self-sabotage. But honestly, watching Rosales’ wife and Juan Pablo Guanipa duke it out for the Maracaibo candidacy is about as exciting as judging a vegan patacón-eating contest.
But surely some post 14A fodder is still around to tickle our fancy, no? Well, not really.
We all know the TSJ impugnación was never meant to be a sexy affair, Capriles said so. We are to patiently linger until a complicated legal process full of technical jargon culminates in an inevitable decision in favor of Maduro. That’s totally understandable, our game-plan is long-term. But, what has the MUD prepared for us in the meantime, by way of entertainment? Basically, waiting around for then next damning G2 audio leak. Which, when it comes, will be relegated to a buggy Capriles.tv internet outlet, at best.
The thing is, if tomorrow a soundbyte is leaked featuring a sinister phonecall with Maduro and Fidel Castro sordidly plotting to poison Chávez in order to seize the Venezuelan Presidency, I doubt anything much would happen given our collective stupor.
And it’s no wonder we’re getting sleepy. All we have left for fun is watching Maduro’s on-the-job training. Like his reaction to out-of hand shortages, for example: in the face of growing discontent Maduro zips erratically between vicious attacks on the private sector and tail-between-his-legs meetings with Lorenzo Mendoza. Chávez would never have done that.
Of all the things Chávez could’ve been charged with – and God knows he was charged with most of them on this blog over the years – wishy-washiness was not one of them. The guy was quite committed, he really let the crazy fly. Getting slammed by Nicolás Maduro is, in the words of David Sedaris, like being flogged with a foot-long bit of yarn: the intent is there, but the means are pathetically deficient. Where are the impromptu declarations of war? Impulsive expropriations? Public eviscerations of character?
So what are we left with, now that our mercurial Comandante has kicked the can, leaving a bland, if amiable, whiskered sack of potatoes to do justice to His titillating inefficiency? Well, we get to read the news: soaring inflation, chronic violent crime, failing institutions, you know, the usual.
Chávez’s antics, while amusing, were much more that a means of distracting from his Government’s ineptitude. His guardedly tyrannical, comically intimidating, selectively repressive tactics managed to simultaneously endear him to his base while fanning the flames that kept his opposition outraged, and thus conveniently around to blame.
Now that He is gone, socioeconomic indicators continue to decline, as does our standard of living. Yet the smokescreens are gone too, and we are no longer outraged. On the contrary. We are bored.
According to the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict ( Observatorio Nacional de Conflictividad Social), 2012 recorded the highest number of protests since Chávez’s arrival in 1999; 2.442 in the first semester. Thus far in 2013, the same NGO has counted 1353, a 46% decrease from the same recorded period last year. Mind you, after two devaluations, scarcity of foodstuffs, a contested electoral result, over 200 jailed student-protesters, added to the same overall shittyness we’re carrying over from last year.
Was Chávez necessary for us to react? or is our heeding Capriles’s calls for patience the sign of our collective maturing? I’m still holding to my stance that we should trust Capriles’s leadership to steer us in the right direction, based on my conviction that we are in the majority. But even the best leader can’t prevent a country from reacting to what is clearly beyond his control.
So while I remain bored by the current daily grind of political affairs, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve also been bored out of being the opposition. It gets old, especially when Chávez is not around to remind you of how much it sucks to be us.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.