CAP's prophecy


Carlos Andrés Pérez was always a controversial figure, hated by some, deemed great by others. Whatever your views regarding this “Gocho”, his two terms as president paint an arc of Venezuela’s story in the second half of puntofijismo.

Now imagine dipping into Dumbledore’s pensive and heading back to August 1998. Here’s what a muggle would find (pay special heed until the 15th minute):

When the interviewer asks CAP what’s the future of Venezuela under Hugo Chávez: “A dictatorship, a dictatorship of Chávez or a dictatorship produced by Chavez’s arrival to power. This is going to bring Venezuela back to the times of dictatorship, this is lamentable and it will not yield any benefit to the country.”

Then surprisingly, the Colombian interviewer asks whats the stance of the business federation, the entrepreneurs, towards Chavez, and this is what CAP answers: “They are responsible for what has happened, because contrary to what happened in Colombia – which has been heavily battered by the guerrillas and narcotics – there’s a social structure that upholds the floor of its democracy; instead [in Venezuela] these business leaders took sides with the situation that we have lived in here, and they paved the way for this painful situation in our country to take place. They don’t support Chávez but they made it possible for this situation to develop.”

So as you can see,  the original gocho might have made costly mistakes, but in some sense he foresaw what was about to unfold in the coming 15 years or so.

Adriana Azzi and Professor Trelawney se quedaron pendejas.

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  1. Well, I think what CAP said on that was more of an observation than a forecast.
    He did a good analysis.
    I have to own up Carlos Andrés Pérez could speak much better than most Venezuelan politicians now.

  2. “These business leaders took sides with the situation that we have lived in here, and they paved the way for this painful situation in our country to take place. They don’t support Chavez but they made it possible for this situation to happen.”

    CAP doesn’t say it, but in my opinion those business leaders made such a huge mistake only out of ignorance, since they didn’t have the slightest idea about the true nature of revolutionary movements such as Chavismo or Foro de Sao Paulo.They were more ignorant than anything else. Yes, I would “accuse” them of being ignorant about politics. But who can blame them? They were businessmen, and businessmen are good at earning money and making the economy spins (period).

    “Chávez transforming Venezuela into a dictatorship! NEVER! You are crazy! You are a lunatic! You are stupid!”, I can imagine they telling the academics who alerted them of what would happen if Chávez were elected (Olavo de Carvalho being one). Differentlly from the Europeans, most South-Americans don’t know anything about communism’s vast records of human rights violations, famine and suffering, thus they don’t see it as being something as horrible as nazism or fascism, and they are very susceptible to being trapped by it. They fear fascism and nazism because of the WW2, but communism is seen as a good peaceful thing.

    They even see communism in a lightheartedly way. Some sort of system that “helps the poor”. The day that South-Americans undertand that Nazism, Communism and Fascism must be feared in the same way (as the Eastern-Europeans have painfuly learned), South America will be free.

    • Marc, you’ll receive a good shake for what you just wrote. Venezuela is probably the only country in South America where ALL parties contending/sharing/opposing the government are leftist. It is fashionable between intellectuals in Venezuela to declare themselves as socialist (with the honourable exemptions of Carlos Rangel and Uslar Pietri in the past) Do you want to be elected in Venezuela? Add social at the begining or end of your campaign slogan and you’ll get some votes.
      Business owners and the middle classes are the only ones to blame for what’s happening in Venezuela. Business owners thought they would manipulate and control Chavez because they thought they were dealing with a regular politician: not a power-hungry communist in a crusade to expand communism/Bolivarianism through the continent. And the middle classes for their poor knowledge of their own country, for allowing Venezuela to become in a “one country-two societies” nation by ignoring what was evident: the disenchantment of the majority of the population on the democratic institution. Their last sin, voting for Chavez back in 98: he got elected by middle class voters. Voto Castigo, the anti-politics and all that crap invented by the very same that want to convince naive that we have to convince chavistas to vote for Capriles to win an election to the chavista regime. Staggering….

      • “…And the middle classes for their poor knowledge of their own country, for allowing Venezuela to become in a “one country-two societies” nation by ignoring what was evident: the disenchantment of the majority of the population on the democratic institution…”

        That’s bullshit, dude, middle classes were families working to eat and live a decent life, it’s an incredible stupidity to think that middle classes had the duty to go and what? Spoonfeed the “noble poor people from ridges”? Paying their education on the most crazy expensive places? Go and give them a house or a car because “middle classes could at least share their stuff and not being sifrino douchebags”?

        Fuck that, man, I’m sick of being demonized as the fucking one to blame by those imbeciles who didn’t wanted to work to get out of the gutter they were surviving in, and by the SoB politicians and public power workers that just didn’t give a crap when it was THEIR JOB to do so. There are too many stories of people that climbed out of poverty with the helping hand of the state and managed to use that boost to get into the middle class (That is, not needing those helps anymore so other folks could be helped later) and way beyond that point, leading to prosperous and rich lives. My father wasn’t bound to give half of our family income to feed another family, that’s what taxes and oil money are for.

        The “middle class is guilty of poor folks misery” is a stupid leftist fallacy… Leftist? Nah, it’s just shit made up by aspiring dictators to craft a tailor-made enemy they can blame for everything, middle class is considered as some “people-hating-fucktards” that can’t even defend themselves.

        And middle class folks didn’t steal any thing from the poor, stop with that stupid trauma.

        • Ralph, would you deny that affirmation below?

          “Their last sin, voting for Chavez back in 98: he got elected by middle class voters. “

          • CAP himself said it in the interview, many people were going for “punishment voting” instead of voting for someone that could do it better, regardless of the party supporting them.
            That was a consequence of the antipolitics campaign spearheaded by many media that basically pictured anyone associated with politics as an innate thief, swindler and basically a SoB, regardless of their age, origin, background, past, education level or any other factor, the creed was “if they’re in politics, they’re coming to steal it all, they’re worthless as all the other ones!”
            That line of thoought persists even today, as I said it in another post, with the so-called ninís, who think they’re above everybody else just by considering every single person worse than them.
            I couldn’t agree 100% with that statement that says thet wax doll won by middle class votes, middle class were more conscious about his deeds in the past (the two coups) but were also affected by the antipolitics ideas hammered on them by the media, so I couldn’t put the blame on them alone, in any case, middle class’s been always more scarce than poor people, I could say too that abstention could play a role in the wax doll’s victory that year.
            My point in the previous post responding to venelonder was more about on how middle class has become today’s jews to nazis, black folks to apartheid southafricans, or western folks for terrorists, that is, the scapegoat for the regime to blame us for every single problem, and that many people who opposse the regime adopted that idea too.

    • I still prefer Mario Vargas Llosa. Some here should read and reread Llosa’s recent article every day, 1x after waking up, 2x before lunch, 3x after dinner and 6x before going to bed. And double the dose if they are specially hard headed.

      • No wonder you’re so ignorant, you just keep reading the same things that reinforce what you already thought again and again 10 times a day.

        Step away from the Vargas Llosa and try something that will save you making an ass of yourself in future. Maybe try starting with this:

        or maybe,

        • Quico, can you just ignore my posts? I don’t think that we will ever get along. I have been following this blog since the very beggining and I used to like your articles a lot back then. I don’t know what happened, but you just seem to be complete denial. Yes, Chavismo is not Nazism, but there are a lot of simiIarities that can’t be dismissed. Will you deny that there is a cult of personality happening in Venezuela? Anyway, that was a rethoric question. I’m not writing my comments to you and I would be glad if you could just ignore my posts. Thanks.

          • venelondoner, I can fully comprehend you. It’s kind of easy to understand about what kind of people CAP was talking about back in 1999. We are in 2014 and they are still the same. Talk about being a hard head. “Foro de Sao Paulo” is a lie, they say. Right. I just hope that those guys are all in exile now and can’t influence at all the the opposition on the ground in Venezuela. There are still people in the Venezuelan opposition (LL, MCM) who know the true nature of the enemy that they are facing. All the best for you.

        • Quico, I have a first printing of “The Rise and Fall…” To be honest, I have not read the thing in its entirety but I am versed in the Third Reich. I like the way you are thinking and I know you from the start.

  3. It rankles that there isn’t a better interview than this one of CAP back then. The journo in front of him is totally incompetent. The pace is stupid, he doesn’t listen, doesn’t prod, doesn’t ask follow up questions.

    • STOP it, Quico.
      Or prove your mettle with a current Venezuelan politician, by asking better questions than what you aim to smear from the Colombian journalist. In all these years of reading your opinions on your blog, I don’t recall any single, profound interview that you have carried out on any Venezuelan politician. Come to think, I don’t recall any one interview from you. Period.

      Fortunately, what we have in this interview are CAPs words for posterity, including his vision for Venezuela. Lo tuvo clariiito — pasado, presente y futuro. Impressive. I’m glad for this audio clip, and would have been ticked off by a journo’s jockeying for position.

      p.s. I don’t disagree with your need for incisive journalism; I just question your motive when you have not demonstrated the lofty standards you expect from others.

    • Thats common enough , tired of watching an interview and just as the interviewed person is starting to say something interesting the interviewer interrupts with some totaly asinine comment !! They seem not to be listening to what is said to them and instead are more insterested in some lost bee inside their bonnet . What a shame.!!

    • Quico, unfortunately other interviews circa 1998 from CAP are as scarse as our beloved Harina Pan, toilet paper, Coffee, cooking oil, groceries……et al.

  4. The important part is not where he plays the prophet but where he in fact says that contrary to Colombia , Venezuelas does not have a social structure capable of providing a floor for its democracy !! He was I think referring not only to the class of the most influential but to the whole way Venezuela society , with its marginalized masses , its business people , its political classes did not organize thenselves so as to allow a healthy sutainable democracy to flourish. Can we say its any different now .??

    • I don’t think that the Colombians are specially “enlighted”, the social structure of Colombia is pretty much the same as in Venezuela. Actually, Colombia has always been much poorer (and still is) than Venezuela. What happened in Colombia is that the population started to associate the more leftists candidates with the radical Farc guerrilla, that everyone hated. It’s a paradox, but the Farc end up helping Colombia to create the antibodies that made them immune to a Colombian version of Chavismo.

      • I don’t think that the Colombians are specially “enlighted”, the social structure of Colombia is pretty much the same as in Venezuela.

        Now the colombians are structural nazis too…

      • Colombia has a true elite class going back to early days , not necessarily enlightened in the ;liberal’ sense , but clear in their goals , in full command of their resources , well informed and prepared , with some sense of history . They make mistakes but they provide better political leadership than ours ever has . There is nothing like this in Venezuela !! Our early social elites were wiped out during the war of independence and never recovered from the loss of their wealth and influence during that war and during the many civil wars tearing venezuela apart during the XIX century. All we had was strong men, military caudillo after military caudillo and a clique of get rich quick courtesans making money from their connections with the govt of the day. The fact of the matter is weve never had elites who wielded any influence or power on political affairs except in so far as it allowed some of them some easy gains. . .

      • Where do you get that Colombia is much poorer than Venezuela? Believe me, sitting here in Chicó I can see that Colombia is considerably better off in almost every way than Venezuela. If you want to compare GDP, it’s irrelevant in Venezuela since it all comes from oil, and not a whole lot of the revenue generated seems to find its way back to the people.

    • agree, bb. I think this goes to cultural-historical roots. Venezuela, como lo vió el Libertador, es un cuartel. Así de simple.

  5. This makes me wanna read La rebelion de los naufragos again. He predicted exactly what would happen. If only his government had been able to better sell the idea of structural reform that the country needed we might be a country like Chile right now. He had a good plan. His government just failed to convince people. Great post Carlos. I liked all the Harry Potter references btw lol

  6. Disclaimer: I have a strong dislike of CAP.

    Not impressed, why? CAP caused a great deal of the circumstances that later paved the way for Chavez.

    Yes, he tried to fix his mess in 88, despite my opinion of CAP I’ll grant him that. But the disaster he caused was by then unstoppable, as history shows.

    As Venelonder accurately points out: “Business owners and the middle classes are the only ones to blame for what’s happening in Venezuela. “

    • Singling out CAP as paving the way for Chavez is a great injustice.

      If you’re going to single out people:
      – single out Caldera who gave him political support in Congress and later pardoned him
      – or Uslar Pietri who justified the coup with other “Notables”
      – single out Santeliz who let Chavez’ speak on live TV to utter his “por ahora” despite being explicitly ordered not to
      – single out MAS, who provided the logistic support a presidential campaign needed and MVR couldn’t provide
      – single out the political old wolves like JVR and Miquilena that counseled him at the beginning of his political campaign and early government.
      – single out El Nacional’s Alfredo Peña, Venevisión’s Napoleón Bravo and several other media personalities that whitewashed him on the media
      – single out the culprits of the Antipolítica sentiment, like RCTV’s Granier (or Por estas calles’ Ibsen).

      At least CAP resisted the coup and put Chavez in jail.

      • What I am singling CAP out for is his economic policies from the 70s.

        Herrera Campins and Lusinchi carry equal blame, but he started it.

        And in his early years he was as much of a clown as Chavez, or nobody remembers when he decorated the Virgin of Coromoto?

      • Single out venezuelans that have always been a bunch of ungrateful non-responsibility takers bastards that want to shit above their holes.

  7. It was around 1970 when my cousin (a priest) told me: “Before the end of the century most Latin America will be communist or left leaning”. I was young, so those words didn’t mean much at the time. Years later, with the onset of Chavismo, I asked him about his comments two decades early. He told me he reached that conclusion based on two observations: 1) The Poor/rich socio-economic gap was too large which created the right environment for revolution and 2) our social structure lacked integrity. CAP’s comments on social structure reminded me of that.

    I will not go into too many social details because it will cause many in this blog to go into twitching spasms. My biggest fear is that, if by any miracle, we get rid of Maduro or even Chavismo, we will see people rally up together in the short term. When the situation normalizes they will again change their minds and follow the next crazy guy in the horizon who himself/herself would change political alliances depending on the winds of the day. Many will follow for personal gain, few will stand ground because is the right thing to do. And our cycle will start again. In the mean time, we would still be decades behind the rest of the world.

    • “The Poor/rich socio-economic gap was too large which created the right environment for revolution”

      I don’t think that this is very important, Chile, or the US, or Colombia have huge socio-economic gaps too and they are very democratic and possess very strong institutions, On the other hand, Eastern European countries or Iran have a low socio-economic gap and used to be/are dictatorships. The lesson learned is what venelondoner, Bass and CAP have been saying, the last word of a country always pass through the socio-economic elites, and if they are ignorant, or stupid, or naive, the country is pretty much “on their own”. Here in Brazil many analysts say that the Brazilian version of PSUV (PT) were not able to replicate what chávez did in Venezuela here because a big “elite party” called PMDB (the vice-president of Brazil is from PMDB) did not let them do it. And PT wanted to do it! if you read PT’s official documents about their initial intentions, you will think that they are worse than Chávez. Venezuela did not have the same luck, for some reason (several reasons, actually) the Venezuelan elite was in denial in1999 and in a considerable way still is in 2014.

      • I would argue that Colombia and Chile have a much larger middle class that acts as buffer. The middle class in the US much larger (% wise) than any other country in Central/South America; nontheless; I agreed that this single factor would not cause the Venezuela effect. It is probably the combination of the two (or more).

        I know very little about Brazil so I would be guessing at best, but it sounds like members of PMDB have a backbone and are united. How often do members of PMDB switch to the PT party and viceversa? It venezuela it happens often.

        • Actually, Colombia has always been much poorer and always had a smaller middle-class than Venezuela. Last time i checked, Colombia still had half of the GDP per capita rate of Venezuela, and these figures were AFTER more than a decade of chavismo ruining Venezuela and more than a decade of good and responsible governance in Colombia. Despite all that, I think Colombia has a lot in common with Venezuela.

          And politicians tend to changeparties a lot in Brazil too, but PMDB and PT are complete opposites and you will not see politicians from these two parties changing much, while PT wants to expropriate farmers, PMDB is a party composed of farmers; while PT wants to expropriate newspapers and TV channels, PMDB’s politicians are TV channels/newspapers owners. Their “luck” is that had always known the true nature of PT, and they screamed “FIRE” very loudly when PT tried to set fire on the country. I believe that that is fundamental to understand why Brazil and Venezuela diverted ways despite having similar populist/fascist parties ruling both countries. What I think is that the elite in Venezuela started to understand what was truly happening when it was already too late, when they were already exiled in Miami and Madri and could not do anything. See SEBIN now kidnapping political enemies in broad daylight. If I say that GESTAPO used to do EXACTLY that, some here will call me an idiot. But we can’t lose the hope and faith.

          • Do note the fact that in venezuela the distribution of oil wealth and populist policies have allowed for a lot of social mobility so that many families in one genertion jumped from being poor to being middle class and its very common for middle class people to have poor origins and to retain close relatives and friends which are poor or fringe poor making class divisions less marked than in most other latinamerican countries . At the same time the social economic elites have seldom had that much interest in entering the world of politics which is colonized basically by people from the lower middle class or of fringe poor origins . Because the country until oil wealth started flowing was poor , even high class people were generally not that much richer that middle class people and lead relatively modest lives. History and Culural conditions have cushioned Venezuela from developing the kind of social chasms that divide people in one class from other classes . Traditionally at a personal level exchanges between middle class people and poorer people can be fluid and friendly . When visiting other lat american countries ( were I sometimes have relatives) I ve been struck by the marked social distance separating people from different class strata , so different from Venezuela .!!.

            In the country side there was also a kind of medioeval paternalism which bound the better off to the worse off through a web of proto affiliative relationships , the poor had rich compadres who found pleasure in giving their poorer compadres protection during hard times or an opportunity to improve their life or educate their children .!!

          • So, in theory, a class struggle in Venezuela should not even be happening, right?! I wonder what amount of political problems in Venezuela can be blamed on the massive oil revenue…

            Actually, without oil-based populism disguising their bad administrations and incompetence the likes of Saddam or Gaddafi perpetuating in power for so long would never have been possible. It’s mind-blowing, but If the Chavistas had just managed to curb inflation, crime and avoid the food shortages, their reich would probably have lasted for a hundred years, and we would not be watching this nationwide civil unrest.

            Yet the Chavistas couldn’t help but commit stupid mistakes that not even Evo Morales was stupid enough to make (check this excellent post: And yes, the lack of socioeconomic elites in Venezuelan politics is very visible, what brings me back to what I had stated in my other post above, they started to “care” when it was already too late. And the ones who “cared” back in 1999 didn’t understand how ugly was the monster that would later try to eat them. But I do think that the Colombian lower class associate radical leftist politicians with the Farc and avoid voting for them, and that has been playing a role on the elections results for several years now. That’s something that doesn’t occur in other Latin American countries, it’s an advantage that the Colombians have.They had empirically “learned” that if touch fire, you get burned.

          • Absent Chavez incendiary rethoric and histrionic demonization of the middle class and its values (which perpetuated by his predecessors propaganda speeches) there would be but a glimmer of class discontent in Venezuela . Originally the enemy was not the middle class but the corrupt political class which Chavez later identified with the middle class ( escualidos oligarcas) and transformed into an Iconic Enemy the better to make the lower classes narcicistically enjoy feeling part of a glorious uber powerful marching army bravely moving to avenge their many resentments and explot their rage in his favour .

            If oil prices had held in the 80’s or Chavez hadnt come into power in the late 90’s the increase in oil prices would probably have allowed the existing political class to maintain the clientelar model alive and thriving and everybody would be discontent but basically tolerant of those politicians .

            Agree with you that in Colombia people became innoculted from leftist discourses because they came to identify it with FARC terrorist abuses.

            I sometimes am surprised at how Bolivia and Ecuador despite sharing much of Chavez authoritarian speech have economicaly done so much better than Venezuela despite lacking its oil wealth .!! Which makes me wonder if Chavez and Maduro had managed to follow sane economic policies so that the current economic crisis hadnt happened while maintaining the same Poltical agenda , would the protests have ocurred ??

            In other words Is our crisis primarily economic ( about the consequences of the bad management of the economy and govt resources by the regime ) or primarily political ( about the regimes deliberate elimination of the institutions of democracy and suffocation of civic freedoms ) ??

            I suspect that another factor spurring the protests are the incensed rage of people who feel constantly bombarbed day in day by a barrage of speeches which insults and threatens them in the most brutal way imaginable and a policy of silencing any voice which expresses peoples anger at what the regime does and lies about .!!

          • If you want to understand the “failed” policies of Chavez and later, Maduro; you should know the real intentions behind that, in the mind of the worst, craziest “fnancial expert” I have known about: Jorge Giordani. He expressly said he wanted to keep the people poor to change venezuelan social-economic structure within THREE generations and for the govt officials to keep in power…

            So, they’re deliberately destroying the country to keep their people miserable and to manipulate them better and for the ones in Govt. to take all the money and power possible from the oil revenues.

          • “Which makes me wonder if Chavez and Maduro had managed to follow sane economic policies so that the current economic crisis hadnt happened while maintaining the same Poltical agenda , would the protests have ocurred ??

            I think the answer is “no”.

            The Chavistas were naive about the impact of a 56% inflation rate and food shortages. Evo Morales or Correa did not make this epic miscalculation. Sicad 2 shows that they want to change that in the future. If people don’t have food to eat, they get mad (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

      • Most US Americans were middle class and had a high level of living from the start. The clear majority of US Americans could read or write in 1800, in 1900.

        The Russian Empire was an extremely unequal country. Serfdom was abolished only in 1861. It was still mostly a feudal feudal nation when the Czar stepped down, literacy was the norm when the Melcheviks and others brought the revolution. Without German support – equivalent to many of millions of euros-, Lenin might not have been able to replace the revolutionary forces that preceded them.
        Lenin then Stalin didn’t manage to spread their system to other Eastern European countries through support of the commies there or
        actual invasion (Poland). It was only when the Soviet Army took control of those areas at the end of WWII and supported local commies that communism took hold of those countries.

        Romania was in a similar shape at the beginning of WW2 as Czarist Russia. Bulgaria the same, as well as other countries in the Balkans. Eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia and other areas had a large middle class but they were completely in ruins, so it was easy for the Soviets to put their revolutionaries in place.

        Ceteris paribus, other than those Eastern European countries with a large or relatively large middle class and widespread education (Eastern Germany, Poland), communism has been able to get hold of countries where the middle class was a minority and illiteracy widespread.

        Venezuela is, of course, a bit more complicated: high official literacy numbers even if actual illiteracy is huge – very much so now, high mobility in spite of social injustice but that mobility was mostly fueld by oil, which was a highly volatile instrument…and the worst timing ever…

  8. Plenty of people were saying this back then. It was not surprising then and it shouldn’t be surprising now. A communist dictatorship plan was always evident.

    • I did watch that video. It´s also great, but Im not related with the former Carlos Rangel, although I enjoyed reading “Del buen salvaje al buen revolucionario”; Im related to other famous Venezuelan Rangel, but its 180 degrees utterly different story (on the political compass) from Carlos Rangel.

    • Thanks for Sharing!

      How different would Venezuela be if we had ever applied a free market economy instead of the parasite-creating system we’ve been suffering for 60 years.

      • First we need some form of transition from the Middle Ages to a capitalist society, just like Britain and Germany did (the US didn’t need to pass through that as it was basically an extension of said societies on American soil, and yet the US did carry out protectionist but well planned measures throughout its rise to power – the devil is in the detail but neither believers in one or other extreme ideology want to read about those well-documented details – from the US, Britain, Germany and the rest)

        • True, I accept that. But no one have had the intention of implementing a truly capitalist system in Venezuela. In Venezuela there has always been a fight to control the oil revenue, that’s what the real goal of each and every political actor in the latest 80 years.

          • That is true but you cannot pass to capitalism directly from the society we had in 1935 or 37 or 73 or now….ever, and those I hear all the time to propose “true capitalism” just do not seem to understand the whole transformations that every single developed capitalist nation took. Before “free market” (which has never been pure ever anywhere) there came a lot of policies for development…and those I have heard so far haven’t talked about them. And that’s why every attempt would just be a repetition of the comprador mentality China had at the end of the XIX century or Japan before the Meijin period.

          • You cant have a capitalist economy and system where most of the people are not capitalists in their mentality and preferences . In Venezuela people are venal as in any other place but for the most part they are also laid back , comfy , disorganized , indolent , more interested in benefiting from some freakish stroke of good fortune than in slowly building personal wealth, live for the day without a thought to the morrow , like enjoying themselves dancing ,gabbing , drinking , eating , watching games , dont appreciate the virtues of disciplined hard work that much . etc. You do have a percentage of people that make good capitalist material , who have all the capitalist virtues but they are not necessarily the mayority . The notion that everyone is naturally driven by the capitalist ethos is naive and unralistic.

            If you look at the mestisaje origins of most Venezuela you find indians who never understood or cultivated the virtues of hard work ( when the spaniards tried to force them to work hard they died by droves) , africans who came as slaves and who never could appreciate the virtues of hard work under conditions of servitude ( and culturally learned mental habits die hard) and the white castillians who were mostly adventurers , get rich quick profiteers , rascally picaros , or self proud conquistadors come to profit from the pillaging and ravaging of any local resources.and who felt that hard work was demeaning .

            You cant force feed a capitalist mentality on an indifferent or hostile population !! On the other hand they are even less socialists , solidarity is tied to family bonds and conections not to abstract political or moral principles , venality and love of connivance inbreed deep , consumerism rampant .people might joint a manifestation because people love a bochinche but when it comes to settlng down to some disciplined organized effort towards achievement of some hard to accomplishy goal , then there are not many volunteers .

            These things need discussing intstead of just assumming that come the revolution all will be good revolutionaries or that when every one is invited to join a life leading to a capitalist heaven every one will want to join .!!

          • Bill Bass, most of what you have said about the Venezuelans can be said about all other Latin American Mediterranean peoples. But the good news is that the king forges the character of the plebeian, if Venezuela somehow manage to have LL or MCM as presidents some day, the Venezuelan people mentality will slowly start to change again and the country will start to heal. Do you think that the lowest economic strata of Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Portugal, Spain, Peru or Panama are any different from their peers in Venezuela? They are not.

          • Marc: There are difference between Venezuela and those countries , Caribbean indians are very different from Andean Indians, Many of the latter are really very hard working and some of them are born traders and entrepeneurs , Chile and Brazil has large percentage of people who came in as European Colonizers , to work the land and build businesses .In Venezuela many of the Spaniards and Portuguese who came later were very hard working and excellent entrepeneurs and traders ( the history of those that emigrated to Venezuela in the 50’s is impressive of how they helped the country grow ) . But the important thing is not that everyone share in full the capitalist ethos but that a country develop a critical mass of people who have enough of that spirit that they can act as the locomotive to make the country move ahead in that direction . The external conditions also have to be right for those who have the ethos be able to take maximum advantage of their natural talents and inclinations and help move the whole country ahead. Our closest ethno cultural cousins are probably people in central america , the colombian coast , the caribbean islands and central and northern brazil !!

          • This post makes me shudder…

            “Africans who came as slaves and who never could appreciate the virtues of hard work under conditions of servitude”

            … and awakens the little chavista inside me.

          • Welcome bleeding heart.
            Lazy thinking fits the label. So does the failure to parse sentences, followed by the defense mechanism of jumping to conclusions.
            I suggest you more carefully read the sentence that “awakens the little chavista” in you, especially the last phrase of the compound sentence. (Look up what you don’t understand.) If you apply a little unfamiliar effort, you just might avoid misinterpreting, as you have. You’ll also be able to raise the level of comprehension among those who can’t live without exotic political labels that they don’t really understand, beyond the propaganda that they regurgitate like parrots.

          • I knew of an international company , thousand of employees woldwide , all had their potential assesed using the same methodology , they had some 2000 workers in this place were all came from former slave stock , their potential ratings were almost universally poor , people very ingenious at trying to get off work using all the ruses in the world , In Venezuela big contrast , lots of people from all origins got high potential ranks , they couldnt understand it . conditions for personal growth and remuneration very similar. someone figured out it wasnt racial , if your ancestors for generations where brought up as slaves they developed mental habits , an inbred culture that saw labour as servitude , as alienating ,if you work for nothing you dont look at work as rewarding . slavery died but the way of lookink at work stayed in the subconscious for several generations , this phenomena object of serious anthropological study , can find example of it in one of Malcolm Gladwells articles.
            Another example , historians always wondered at the high rate at which ancient romans freed their slaves , they discovered that slave work for the most part was uneconomic for their masters , slaves sloughted off , made silly mistakes , werent very productive , so romans found a way to make it productive , they offered slaves a chance to start their own business using their masters money , and to keep part of the profits until they could buy their freedom , slaves became extremely productive , worked very hard and were freed in throves becoming freedmen , bound to the former masters by bonds of patronage and paternalistic protection , what we now know as the clientelar model . Slaves in ancient rome werent africans , its nothing to do with race but with how mental habits become ingrained and persist for generations .

            The original spaniards were no less lazy that african slaves , they looked at phisical work as demeaning , they were warriors not workmen . the arawak and carib ideans same mentality , work was for women, they tied their dignity to occupations such as warring and hunting . In time conditions change because cultural models change . its nothing genetic. .

            Cultural patterns outlive their origins !! but its not automatic , and it takes a lot of time.

          • Bill, some questions for you…

            1: More than 150,000 Japanese people emmigrated to Brazil escaping from famine and poverty in 1905, But according to what you’ve said, that should not have been possible because the Japanese have “better mental habits” than we do. So, what happened? Why was Japan a poorer country than Brazil back then?

            2: How come a country like Colombia, which has a similar population composition of Venezuela, can have a better economy than Argentina, which in turn is a country where 95% of the population is European/”better mental habits”?

            I would be really glad if you could answer this two questions. Thank you.

  9. Can anybody point me to evidence that Uslar Pietri “justified” the Chávez coup? I’m reading this here like for the third time and I just dont remember it. At all. But I may be mistaken.

    One thing is to recognize the decadence of the system and how it was very much in risk due to the magnificent incompetency of the Punto Fijo democracy, another is to be a supporter, and I dont really think Uslar Pietri and Chávez would have anything in common at all.

    But again, I may have missed some evidence, in form of interviews, etc..

    • Dear Jesus,

      As you might know, Venezuela is a country where people likes to change history to fit their own (mistaken) view of the present. Obviously, Uslar didn’t support the criminal and irrational attempt to overthrow the government of Perez by clearly inept and ill-formed military men. So, I don’t think anyone will give you evidence of this “fact”

    • Thanks for that find, Kep. The near-to-last words and thoughts of Uslar Pietri are a treasure.

      Based on his disrespect for Chávez’s formation, intellect (or rather lack thereof), and vision of a revolution (a tragedy), I doubt very much that UP ever justified the Chávez coup.

  10. Jesús, Uslar Pietri was one of the founders of the group called “Los Notables” that fed, on purpose or not, the political climate against CAP that later brought the coup in 1992. Here’s a letter of 1990

    I don’t know if Uslar “justified” the 1992 coup, as Caldera somehow did. But I would have expected someone of the stature of Uslar Pietri to condemn the coup, inmediately.

    At the time, by memory only, I cannot be 100% certain, the only public figure that publicly condemned the coup was Eduardo Fernández. Probably that costed him the Presidency.

    So, I wonder if there is something on file somewhere showing what was the Notables attitude towards the 1992 coup d’État.

  11. From wikipedia:

    “Fue cercano a Chávez antes de que este llegase al poder pero progresivamente comenzó a alertar sobre el rumbo que llevaba su país, haciendo oposición al gobierno de Hugo Chávez. Este último lamentaría públicamente la muerte de Uslar Pietri.”

    From 1991, El país “El escritor Uslar Pietri cree posible un golpe de Estado en Venezuela”:

    From “the history of Venezuela” by Micheal and Denova:

    “In April 1992, a televised interview took place in which Artturo Uslar Pietri made known his views of the political situation. He stated that the situation had become compounded by several crisis that had been accumulating and that the government lacked the proper will to effectively confront them. He argued that the events of February 4, 1992, had taken place amid a maelstrom of widespread public discontent, non conformity and repudiation of the political system. The government credibility was so deeply compromised, he claimed, that the only viable way out would be the resignation of President Pérez. Those of a mindset similar to Uslar Pietri argue that the president had lost its authority and it was his duty to facilitate change in order to restore legitimacy to the office of the president.

    Despite his inability to recognize any collective virtues in the Venezuelan people, Uslar Pietri was the epitome of the national conscience at that moment in Venezuelan history. Perhaps a result of being a man without democratic convictions or perhaps because he had not been able to come to terms with the events of October 18, 1945, the reality was that Uslar Pietri mounted an extreme opposition to the government. For example, amid the turbulent political scene of 1992, he publiehd a book suggestively titled ‘Golpe y Estado en Venezuela’ (Coup and State in Venezuela)”.

    • I know about the Notables, I was there. I left Venezuela just when Chávez won in 1998. And I know about the pressure to oust Perez. What I dont see is the part about “being close to Chávez” (when? what? how?) or to be part of any plot to get to a dictatorship or a ton of stuff I’m reading now that sounds… well, fishy to me.

      Of course reading the book “Golpe y Estado en Venezuela” would be a good idea maybe, but I’m trying to find at least a summary or review.

      I just cant imagine what kind of circunstances would have Uslar Pietri, an educated elitist, and Chávez, the arrogant ignorant populist, together.

      • Agree with your last paragraph, Jesús. Chávez was for me, in 1992, an exceedingly uncouth character. He didn’t impress me 6 years later, when he ran for presidency. In fact, my sentiments are identical to those of Úslar Pietri, particularly insofar as Chávez’s “disparates” are concerned.

        Disclosure: during 1998, I listened to Chávez’s pre-election discourse over internet radio; also through Telelatino; his thoughts made sense and were coherent about 10% of the time, if that. If anyone bought into his “verbo”, they were then too young, or too idealistic to listen with a critical mind.

    • your 1st paragraph, as per Wikipedia:
      “[Úslar Pietri] Fue cercano a Chávez antes de que este llegase al poder pero progresivamente comenzó a alertar sobre el rumbo que llevaba su país, haciendo oposición al gobierno de Hugo Chávez. Este último lamentaría públicamente la muerte de Uslar Pietri.”

      The interview of Uslar Pietri:
      “Recuerdo que en una época aquí hubo gente que trató de ponernos de acuerdo a Caldera y a mí, pero no se logró nada. Una señora muy amable y gentil organizó unos almuerzos en su casa, en los que nos encerraban a Caldera y a mí para que habláramos y nos pusiéramos de acuerdo alrededor de un proyecto político, pero no se alcanzó nada.”

      Me pregunto: cercanía forzada para que Úslar Pietri y Chávez se pusieran de acuerdo, o cercanía exagerada por parte del historiador y profesor americano, Hollis Micheal Denova Tarver? Porque los sentimientos abajo expresados por Úslar Pietri mismo no indican ninguna cercanía, ni remotamente.

      ¿Chávez? Un delirante, ignorantísimo, dice disparates, qué desgracia, el país no logra encaminarse … Este hombre habla con una arrogancia y una suficiencia increíble, a él se le han pegado algunas frases que ha oído, como esa del liberalismo salvaje, eso lo llena de felicidad. No puede haber liberalismo salvaje, el liberalismo es la flor de la civilización, el tolerar la divergencia. El liberalismo está fundado sobre la tolerancia, el respeto al individuo, el respeto al otro. Creo que era Voltaire el que decía: “Yo odio lo que usted dice, pero odiaría más que usted no lo pudiera decir.”

  12. The disaster we have in Venezuela right now could have been avoided if people would have been taught what were doing the commies against Venezuela since castro took the power on the island.
    Hint: Several armed invasion attemps that left many innocent venezuelans dead as a result, for almost more than a whole decade.

  13. Two comments on Uslar and Chavez. Uslar was glad of what the failed coup revealed about a system that was going broke because of its corruption ( never mind oil prices or the clientelar model ) not necessarily of what the coup would have brought had it been succesful , no one knew much about that . Chavez and his fellows were posters boys for a dissatisfaction which Uslar very much sympathized with, he wasnt focused on the government program behind the coup . The Chavez of the early years was much more discreet and maincourse that he would later become . He touched all the right registers . people could sympathize then with Chavez who would never have sympathized with those tendencies he later displayed . Even then Uslar noticed traits in Chavez that made him dislike him .!!

    Few people know how in his last years Uslar could be at times brilliant and at times become ga ga from old age ( he was a national cultural treasure and nobody wanted to reveal his ocassiona moments of mental deterioration ) . My family was friends with people very close to him and we got to learn of some amazing things !!

  14. Mark: this is an attempt at a response to your queries about japanese inmmigrants to brazil and the comparison of Argentina to Colombia . I understand there is a term in economics which is externalities , where external conditions can inhibit or encourage certain native spontaneous traits from people .

    Japan was in 1905 a backward country just starting its rise to development, people had the potential but were held back by external conditions which later improved and allowed them to rise to their full human potential , that took some generations and a lot of traumatic experiences . Interesting question is how are the descendants of those japanese inmigrants doing in Brazil today , are they poverty ridden or have they risen to a higher standard of living , do they lead the life of the average brazilian or are they doing better than most . I bet the latter !! If so , Why do you think thats the case.

    Im not sure the average argentine leads a worse life than the average colombian , their standard of living is probably higher than the average colombian . their cultural life probably richer than colombias on average Maybe this can be explained through their penchant for choosing bad govts , terrible govts , they are political failures and their politics have dragged what otherwise would probably be a model society economy into the morass that now predominates among them . There is something of the southern italian in their make up , mafiosi , very effusive and disorganized , and yet also hard working !!.

    Italians in europe are not seen as models , rather the otherway arround , a bit higher than the greeks but even the italians think the spanish are better in many respects , very curious for such culturally very accomplished country . Ortega saw the argentines as composed of two races , the men which he though were frivolous and Conceited and incapable of any great feat and the women whom he saw as admirable !! If they had the institutional life of the Colombians do you think they would be doing better than present day colombians or about the same ?? Not sure how to explain Argentine , maybe need a bit more reflexion .

    Colombia is not like Venezuela , Venezuela is more like Coastal Colombia but the Cachacos represent a big chunk of the population , Cachacos resemble our gochos , they are different , more settled , more hierarchical , more disciplined , better organized families , dour , staid , hard headed , perhaps harder working . gochos ruled this country for 65 of the 100 years of the last century and they only comprise less than 4% of the total population , now how did that come about ?? We know now the Gochos are different ,look at their protests , If the whole of Venezuela had engaged in that kind of protest what would the situation be now .!! Father Moreno discovered in his study of Venezuelan families that at a certain level they all resembled each other , except for the Gocho family who were just plain different , more stable , more authoritarian or paternalistic .

    • Ok, I think you are right. And yes, the Japanese-Brazilian (as the German-Brazilian, Jewish-Brazilian or Lebanese-Brazilian) are indeed much better off than the average Brazilian citizen. The Japanese came very poor, but you won’t find a single one living in a poor neighbourhood nowadays. And thanks for your answer.

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