Scars, economic or human

The mother of Geraldine Moreno
The mother of Geraldine Moreno

Two in-depth articles today from the international press on the many scars left behind by chavismo.

In the New York Times, William Neuman talks to several people alleging human rights abuses in the recent wave of anti-government protests. You can tell from reading the piece that Neuman went in with a reporter’s healthy skepticism, but his chronicle leaves no doubt about the veracity of the tales. The money quote:

Mr. Gregory, who said he had been detained with 10 others, had gone to a protest here on Feb. 13 with friends Juan Carrasco, 21, and Jorge León, 25, but when they saw soldiers shooting tear gas and shotguns they ran back to Mr. León’s car. According to the men, soldiers surrounded the car, broke the windows and tossed a tear gas canister inside. Mr. Gregory said that a soldier fired a shotgun at him at close range while he sat in the passenger seat, hitting him in the arms and the back of the head.

The men said they were then pulled from the car and beaten viciously. At one point, Mr. Gregory said, a soldier smashed their hands with the butt of his shotgun, telling them it was punishment for protesters’ throwing rocks. The men said that the soldiers set fire to Mr. León’s car.

They were loaded into a truck with other detainees and driven to a National Guard post. One of the detainees, Oswaldo Torres, 25, a salesman in a brake shop, said that the soldiers pretended he was a soccer ball and kicked him over and over again. The men said they were handcuffed together, threatened with an attack dog, made to crouch for long periods, pepper sprayed and beaten.

Then, Bloomberg’s Anatoly Kurmanaev goes to the magical plains of Guárico to see where the government’s grandiose development plans for the region’s agriculture went. Quoting our own Anabella Abadí, Anatoly paints a stark picture of half-baked agricultural endeavours, generated on a whim by an autocrat with no regard for the basics of what each project required. The money quote:

“The president dies and the project dies with him,” Eumir Perez, William Lara’s former coordinator, said in an interview in Calabozo, a town in Guarico state 60 miles (97 kilometers) from the project. “The government is too busy staying in power, fighting against the capitalists’ economic war. No one dreams big anymore.”

“This is a technical problem, that our specialists are working to resolve,” Gil, 41, said in an interview in his Caracas office on April 10. “The project is advancing.”

Perez said construction began without checking water availability and now a dam would have to be dug to make the project viable.

Spokesmen for Maduro’s office and the Information Ministry declined to comment on project delays in Venezuela.

Kudos to Anatoly for actually getting a quote from a Minister. Double kudos from getting a critical quote from a chavista.

Both pieces are well worth a read.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Half-baked endeavours.

    Says it all about the past 15 years, with extremely few exceptions and a lot of palaver from fantasists with limited or no training.

  2. An inventory should be made of all public works and projects anounced by Chavez and Maduro (always with grand fanfare) , when they were supposed to be completed and in what stage of execution they are now . I suspect that a very large portion of those projects have been abandoned and gone to ruin or have never even gotten started . also wonder if you add up the money spent on those abandoned projects how much has been spent on them ??
    The Regime has a long story of announcing great projects that are never finished or that if finished are later abandoned or virtually left unused or unproductive. Revolutionary efficiency is nill except as regards purely political projects which are all that the regime cares about .

  3. The “critical quote” from the chavista is another of those “do you realize what the hell are you saying?” moments. Yea, is the fault of the “capitalist economic war”, you know. Its not that the economy is screwed because it is managed in the same way as this kind of project (which are part of the economic policy!). No, is just the enemy that doesnt let us work.

    Well, that is true, but the enemy is just above your shoulders, pal.

  4. The problem is that a regime that is steeped in the spirit of hubris , which overblown conceit leads it to feel that it is omnipotent and omnicompetent tends to take on more tasks than it can achieve , to bite more than it can swallow , to promise things it lacks the organizational capacity and competence to deliver.

    They understimate the importance of functional organizational competence in achieving complex and difficult things and believe in the magic of passionate ideological inspiration as a sort of miraculous wand that can make everything happen . This is stupid but very common in our country .

    Its what in anthropology is called magic thinking and is typical of primitive cultures , The right ideological passions are supposed to be enough to make miracles happen , organizational competence is a given , if you have the right ideas then all can be achieved . There is a blind spot in our thinking that make us feel that if someone is superbly eloquent and convincing that by itself alone will make things work !!

    In business magical thinking is restrained because either you are capable of making things work or you fail and must leave the market . In politics however , specially where the government traditionally enjoys access to purportedly unlimited funds , magical thinking thrives , is a very common superstition . and one which pays electoral dividends because it makes political leaders appear Big Minded and generous . Thats why there are some many unfinished public projects in our country . It is a tribute that certain regimes and their followers pay to their own conceited stupidity . !!!

    • “They understimate the importance of functional organizational competence in achieving complex and difficult things”

      Yep, small details like “and now we are going to irrigate this with… eh… oh dammit now I need a dam!”

      Of course, that in the case ANYBODY cared one bit to do it right, which may not even be the case, as everybody involved was only too happy to handle the comissions, bribes, whatever to do who know what where, I dont care, just give me the money and I’ll sell you overpriced crap I may deliver, or not…

    • Well, look no further than the academic curriculim of the Escuela Venezolana de Planificación

      “La EVP fue creada (04-09-2006) por un ente del gobierno bolivariano: el ahora Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Planificación y las Finanzas (MPPPF, antiguo MPD). Es una ‘Escuela del gobierno’; no una ‘Escuela de gobierno’ (de una Facultad o Universidad, pública o privada). Su misión académica fundamental es la docencia y, su objeto de acción es planificar como praxis socio-política, para el cambio estructural de la Venezuela capitalista rentista petrolera, todavía dominante, luchando por construir el socialismo solidario, incluyente y productor/productivo, donde el trabajo finalmente domine al capital. Por lo tanto, sus actividades académicas y objeto de trabajo están contextualizados por la Constitución, las LGPESN 2001-2007, 2007-2013 el Proyecto Nacional ‘Simón Bolívar’ (PN-SB), 1er Proyecto Socialista de Venezuela y ahora el II Plan de la nación 2013-2019 y sus 5 objetivos históricos.”

      I am particularly intrigued by the academic curriculum and this Wei-Qi course:

  5. Yes, Neuman has such “healthy skepticism” that he focuses exclusively on those injured among the opposition, and fails to even mention all the evidence of the violence committed by protesters, including the deaths of several members of security forces.

    I wonder how Neuman would cover a protest movement in the United States that regularly throws molotov cocktails at police officers and kills people who try to remove their barricades? I’m sure he would take the side of the protesters, right?

    But the fact that JC thinks this piece is balanced is the clearest sign of its bias. That guy doesn’t have an honest bone in his body. Hey JC, you still deny that 2002 was a coup?

    • Betty ,

      Logic tells us that everything has a context.You cannot compare things out of that context and arrive at any truth

      • Yes, “everything has a context” and therefore it is okay to just focus on one side of the conflict, without actually providing the context in which that violence occurred, in which the protesters were responsible for many deaths and much destruction. Logic tell us!

  6. Wrong.THis shows me you are having trouble finding the context in this case.THe context is why the students protests and under what conditions.THat makes all the difference.As a citizen of both the US and Venezuela, I can assure you of such differing condtions that any comparison in this case, is absurd.
    If students were to that in the US, I would call them spoiled brats…in Venezuela they are heros.

    • Yes, in other words the “context” for you is that you think the students in Venezuela have a right to seek the overthrow of a democratically elected government, and therefore we don’t need to pay any attention to all the violence they have committed. Thanks for making it clear.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here