The thin and the thick of it

Ubiquitous yet pointless
A land with no news
A land with no news

There are many things that are fat in Venezuela. The people are fat, mostly as a result of a terrible diet. And Diosdado Cabello’s wallet is fat.

But there are also a number of things that are thin, ultra thin.

Newspapers are Calista-Flockhart-thin. The picture above shows three, count’em THREE national newspapers. I guess you read about the paper crisis a lot, but when you actually buy El Universal and hold its squalid eight pages in between your fingers – that’s when you really want to cry.

This is not a problem that state-owned newspapers have. I bought El Correo del Orinoco last week, and the front page was splattered with the news that 20,000 turtles had been returned from captivity into the Orinoco river, thanks to the wonderful efforts of the Bolivarian government. I know this is true because it was told to me by a newspaper whose motto is to be “Part of the artillery of thought devised by the Supreme Commander of the Revolution, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, 1954-2013.”

Twenty thousand new voters
Twenty thousand new voters

Don’t get me wrong, I love turtles as much as the next guy. But front page news for that? In a country with so many problems? Oh, chavista propagandists, never change. You make my job so much easier.

Of course, that was just the front page. One of the main news item in the inside pages was that Nicolás Maduro was going to work really super hard…

Putting the "press" in "depressing"
Putting the “press” in “depressing”

Then there are the signs, thin signs splattered all over the country. Never mind the billboards that greet you when you take the tunnel in between terminals at Maiquetía – the endless billboards of Chávez and Maduro. Those are a given. I’m talking about the mandatory signs in businesses.

There are signs everywhere announcing that no, you can’t smoke anywhere in Venezuela.

Ubiquitous yet pointless
Ubiquitous yet pointless

Now, I applaud the anti-smoking efforts, but did you know that a pack of cigarrettes in Venezuela costs BsF 60? That’s less than a dollar at market rates. If you’re going to discourage smoking, you might as well use, y’know, the pricing mechanism. What is the point of discouraging smoking by banning it everywhere, when cigarettes are less than a dime a dozen?

Chavista heads are too thick to think  through the logic of this.

Oh, and the thin paper that you make the cigarettes with – that is not scarce at all. You can buy cigarettes pretty much anywhere. Perhaps El Nacional can just buy a bunch of cigarrettes and use them to print their newspaper on…

Know what else is thin? The signs telling us that all forms of racism are forbidden, including “endorracism” … I still don’t know what that means, and if people don’t know what it means, what is the point of forcing businesses to put up signs forbidding it? It’s like forbidding any variation of Martian rugby.


Of course, there are signs everywhere forbidding firearms. I’m sure people all over Venezuela respect those to the T – nobody carries a firearm into a store or a restaurant, right?

Kidding aside, I found it kind of charming when I saw the sign forbidding firearms plastered above the entrance of an ice cream store, done in pastel colors mirroring the motif of the store. Adorable! Who said the revolution wasn’t flexible?

The signs are a perfect allegory for what has become a billboard revolution. It is a revolution because the ads tell you it is.

Reality is quite different. The revolution is really about conspicuous consumption, about devaluation and increasing poverty. But read the billboards, and a different country emerges.

The signs reminding you that you have stepped through the looking glass are tall and wide, and barely an inch deep. Like the revolution that has spawned them, they have no depth, but they cannot be missed, and they will not be ignored.

Armas pastel
Not afraid of the pink
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    • agree. it should have been front page news, spread across and just under the masthead of El Correo del Orinoco. Then again, these chavistas know what sells.

    • Endoracismo

      Well, it seems the concept appeared around 2008.
      Apparently, in Bolivenezuela it is linked to the “endo-varguismo”.
      Initially I thought it was something like being a racist towards the “First Nations” of one’s own country but
      it seems it’s to be racist towards one’s own ethnicity.

      It’s pretty sad that about the newspapers. I really wonder how much money they are making.

      • Translation: just because you’re an afrodescendiente, don’t think you can get away with phrases like, ‘get yo’ black ass over here’.

      • Translation 2: There’ll be no bad-mouthin’ Bolivarians, not even amongst themselves. (But exoracismo against opposition values is perfectly OK.)

    • Well to chavismo you’re not a venezuelan unless you’re a revolutionary first. That means Chavez=Venezuela. Or in other words,they changed our national identitie while academics and all the big brains were just saying “oh keep on doing it,it’s ridiculous it won’t work”. But you and me have never been the target for these propagandists,they speak a language we don’t understand and that’s why we think it’s dumb.

      Doña Emelia does get it. Yender David who goes to UNEFA get it too.

      But it’s very effective. When you try and have an argument with someone, or say “FUCK CHAVEZ AND THIS CORRUPT FUCKING COUNTRY”, they take it like you’re insulting the homeland,the patria,the beaches and the mountains and the beautiful happy socialist venezuelans. Because they’ve been told that Chavez(chavismo,maduro,revolution,fidel,che,USSR,Mao and all the other reds) IS your homeland,Chavez IS the Lago de Maracaibo and Choroni,and Canaima and you and me.

      We are all CHavez,we are all PSUV and if you insult one it is the same as insulting another.
      So if you love your country,like I do, but you don’t love the revolution,like i don’t…then you’re not Venezuelan and definitely not a Patriot.

  1. Yes, I quite agree. All endocrinologists deserve to be discriminated against. Evil people. Genetically inferior people. These are the people who steal that last box of Harina Pan on the shelf and then cut in front of you in the check-out line. Endocrinologists should be banned from Venezuela!

  2. “Now, I applaud the anti-smoking efforts, but did you know that a pack of cigarrettes in Venezuela costs BsF 60? That’s less than a dollar at market rates.”

    It’s also over 40% of the daily minimum wage (VEF 4252 a month, is VEF 142 per calendar day). That means someone earning a minimum wage in Venezuela has a hard limit of less than 2.5 packs a day. My point being, that just like everything else in Venezuela, the price is already high for local wages.

    For foreign visitors who bought VEF the smart way, cigarettes at a duty free must bee dirt cheap and the same should be true for Colombians at the border. I wonder how much volume are we moving through these channels…

    • Well,for a Venezuelan cigarettes are mighty expensive actually.
      But i don’t want to get on a debate of wether cigarettes should be cheap,expensive,legal or whatever.

      I’m a smoker and they’re expensive. If a day’s work is worth 100Bs then you’d spend 60 on cigarettes. I once bought a big but not giant onion at 20 Bs. So you can buy one pack of cigarettes,an onion and a potato with a day’s work. unless you spend the 60 Bs in something more vital like milk,chicken,beef or fish, wich I haven’t found in the last month.

  3. You cant measure printed news by size of paper but by weight of information , using this criteria the correo del orinoco is feather light while the three independent papers are like a lead loaded club hitting hard at the regimes ragged threadbare credibility.!!

    The regime showily advertising its politically correct credentials by mandating these posters in every public place is a bit ironic because if any regime likes using its guns its this one and if any one supports reverse racism ( of the stereotyped dark skinned ‘poor’ against the stereotyoed white skinned middle class) its also this one .

    Dont know of any country in the world that takes the trouble of showcasing so ludicrously its anti rascism and anti gun stance by imposing the use of mandatory posters !! The anti tobacco posters are an import from some countries it claims to scorn !! The regimes ridiculous histrionism shows in almost every thing it does. !!. .

  4. Great post. ‘the billboard revolution’: a revolution because the ads say it is… I think more work on Bolivarian propaganda, the use of ideology, is important for understanding Venezuela


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