Adiós, Miami: a Caracas Chronicles film review

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adios miami(This is a guest post by a longtime reader, who has fittingly chosen the pseudonym Old Parr)

Adiós, Caracas

A couple of days ago, as Juan Cristóbal Nagel was blogging about the incredible collapse of Venezuela that began in the late 1970’s, I sat down to watch it unfold thanks to the kindly pirate who uploaded Adiós, Miami to the Internets.

The 1984 movie depicts the downfall of a swinging parvenu typical of those times—masterfully played by Gustavo Rodriguez, a famous Venezuelan actor who died this year. The son of a Canario immigrant, his character Oswaldo F. Urbaneja dropped out of La Salle school, worked his way up through shady deals, married a lady from a well-off family, and devoted his life to a swirl of ill-conceived speculation and whisky-fueled carousing. Adelante a luchar milicianos.

In some ways Urbaneja is the ancestor of the modern bolibourgeois—but with a lot less power, and with a modicum of shame, since he actually fears the government’s laws. His upper-middle class bolivars go a long way, however: he can buy a horse on a whim at an auction, and at one point rents a Rolls Royce to impress dreamy bombshell Tatiana Capote. ‘Tá barato.

If you can look past the crappy filming standards, the hirsute sideburns, and some absurd “acting” (although Rodriguez’s was impeccable), this movie is definitely worth watching, if only to remind us of how well our parents’ generation lived. It was a Venezuela full of immigrants from Europe and Latin America, a cheerful place where, despite the budding crisis, there seemed to be plenty of business opportunities. Those Dodge Darts and LTDs that still clog our streets were brand new then.

There were some characters, however, that gave a foretaste of the Chavista oil boom, such as the wife who puts up with Urbaneja’s marital neglect because he brings home enough dough so she can spend her days gossiping at the salon.

The film was released in 1984, a year after the devaluation remembered as el viernes negro (Black Friday), when our dreams of becoming a developed country came crashing down.

These dreams were not so far-fetched—even the foreign press fell for them. I still have in my library an issue of National Geographic from August 1976, the month I was born, which features a story headlined ‘Venezuela’s Crisis of Wealth,’ dealing mostly with how the country would soon join the First World. It had a guest appearance by Diego Arria as Caracas governor.

In any case, Adiós, Miami purported to depict the apocalypse— the reckoning of Saudi Venezuela, victim of its own crazy schemes and moral rot. It rightly portrayed the end of an era. But what I got out of it, three decades after its making, was: these people didn’t even begin to fathom the deep, dark void that was around the corner.

Venezuela was just coming out of an epic, four-decade-long binge of economic growth. The crisis precipitated by the plunge in oil prices must have been a surprisingly strong blow, perhaps even for the Cassandras that had long been warning about it (think Perez Alfonso). It certainly was for the movie’s filmmakers, who had to cut short the Miami scenes because the bolivar suddenly plummeted.

I have a few specific memories of those years.  I recall my parents hurriedly packing bags and embarking on their last weekend shopping trip to Florida, fearing further currency surprises. In subsequent years, Milky Way chocolates and apples became sought-after rarities. Overall we did ok: my brother and I had access to imported candy and Intellivision games thanks to my dad, an executive who traveled often. My mother’s side of the family—hailing from the lower-middle class –did not fare as well, and some took a leftward political turn over the years, as their fortunes worsened.

In the end they all ended, like Oswaldo F. Urbaneja, and like Saudi Venezuela, badly. My parents are stranded in a soul-sucking exile. Those who stayed are mostly hopeless. There’s some hope in the new generation—a large majority of whom live abroad and have done well thanks to one of the good things Saudi Venezuela left in its wake: a robust university-level education.

I haven’t lived in Venezuela for two decades, but have been back occasionally over the years. At some point I entertained the possibility of a return. The last few times I went there were right after Chavez’s death, following a six-year hiatus. I spent two weeks in Los Palos Grandes, feeling like a returning citizen of Rome must have felt in the early years of the 6th century, a generation after German-controlled army officially deposed the last emperor. The Forum and the Colosseum are still there, some friends are still cavorting inside in their villas, flamingo tongues are still for sale.

But it’s not the same. Something has been broken forever, and as of the people who built those monuments, or who could repair them, well… they’re all dead or gone to Byzantium.

Was it the empty shelves? The dark streets at night? The hostile demeanor of the clerk at the panaderia? Maybe it was the sycophantic rhetoric, so alien, and the shockingly unbelievable lies spouted by state propaganda, the undercurrent of half-baked authoritarianism, the Dark Ages kicking in. It took three decades, but the venal but benign place depicted in Adiós, Miami has morphed into a thinly-veiled Hobbesian nightmare.

I wonder what Gustavo Rodriguez would have thought of today’s Venezuela.

1 COMMENT

  1. De esos polvos vienen estos lodos.
    For more prescient Venezuelan film, find “Mayami Nuestro” by Carlos Oteyza, a portrait of La Venezuela Saudita, its deliria of grandeur and a sober indictment of the outsize appetite for the good life that Venezuelans got accostumed to.

  2. Perhaps common people didn’t foresee “the deep, dark void that was around the corner” but some politicians did. Otherwise, the creation of COPRE could not be explained. They played their hands to do something about it because they knew economic crises always forces social crises —not only did the middle class begin to sink but also the lower class found their dream to leave poverty shattered.

    Needless to elaborate on the failures and fuckups that were to come.

  3. I am seriously more inclined to think now that all these melancholic rubbish sprouting out of every expat is genetically embedded in Venezuelans of all ages. Can somebody tell me what is this all about? You remain me of several friends in the ex-Yugoslavia that pilgrim to Tito’s tomb in Beograd, and speak about how good the old times were. The syndrome normally goes beyond control if some drinks are involved and it happens that someone makes a comment like politicians suck. When exactly they didn’t? Give us a break.
    Those bucolic visions about a country that never existed are the product of dérangement, or entfremdung, as Hegel called it. Every departure entails a radical change in ourselves. Countries change, but humans change to the point of being unrecognisable even to their close relatives. Is it not the distant land you once inhabited that shock you in return; it is you coming to terms with what you were, with what you could have been, but chose otherwise. Thinking in literary terms, it is fine to write fiction, but to portray an idealistic paradise and pretend others will believe you are quite different things. For Venezuela has never been a paradise. The times or epochs in which this country was prosper have nothing to do with democracy, well judgement or good management. In fact, violent and uncontested hegemony characterises most of them. This is very much consistent with our present vorágine, our ultimate fall into abyss, our own rocky bare bottom, our reflection on the cesspool. Despite what many think, these are not unfortunate and concocted passages of our recent past; for history is a dot-connected line that follows a clear and very rational trajectory. Kill and be killed, curse and be cursed.
    There is no better place to observe human misery at a glance than in exile, and it is in exile where the ugliest features of Venezuelaness, as one good diplomat friend used to call it, excel. Venezuelans are sectarians, live in clans, and very sparsely will those clans help each other. Venezuelans are extremely classists, and behave accordingly. Venezuelans are particularly jealous of anyone who is successful, so they’ll try to do whatever they can to prevent their “best friends” to succeed (Beware of “good” Venezuelan friends in exile; they won’t lose the opportunity to expose your weaknesses and ridicule you in public). Venezuelans are egotistic in extreme; they truly are the Argentinians of the Caribbean. Venezuelans don’t know how to govern themselves because their first and main features are envy and self-destruction. Let’s come to terms with the fact that Venezuela is a failed state and there is nothing that will change that.
    Can we all accept that? Or do we have to go further down the line and try to explain ourselves in a more elaborated literary manner?

    PD: No personal offence intended.

    • Jeez, reading your post actually makes me feel very sorry for you.

      Your existence must really suck.

      I was fortunate to grow up in the 60’s, 70’s and beyond in Venezuela, and while I will never state it was a utopia upon earth, I do remember houses without bars in the windows, keys left in cars overnight and being able to walk down the Boulevard of Sabana Grande at 2 AM with little to fear.

      I guess I must be lucky in my self imposed exile. I see very little of “Venezuelan clannishness” and backstabbing whether in public or private. No more than is normal in any society.

      What I do see, as far as exiles go, is a great desire to preserve customs and traditions, a healthy turnout for when Venezuelan artists present themselves and all the hallmarks of that quintessential Venezuelan trait of helping others when they need a hand.

      Perhaps because I do not live in Miami I am lucky not to see your side of it, Mayke, or perhaps you have an overly jaundiced view of expats.

      On the whole, I am proud to say I’m Venezuelan even though my cedula begins with 81 million and has an E in front of it, regardless of the current crop of SOB’s in power.

      • Estimado Sr Roberto,
        First and second lines of your comment seem to inadvertently affirm what I wrote. Besides the fact of falling into lucubrations about who I am or where I live, or what is the state of my soul, your comment looked prima facie very valuable overall.
        There is a monstrous gap between your Venezuela and mine, and for the sake of clarity and shortness, that’s a fact probably for 70% of Venezuela’s population. Being that precisely the point you grandiosely missed, the new generations of Venezuelans were left in tatters and homeless by those who enjoyed the 60s and 70s borrasca. In other words, your generation enjoyed the party, while we received the Salón de Fiestas utterly out of order… How does it feel to give your grandkids a broken country as inheritance? Probably not too bad, being the case that probably many of them are not Venezuelans anymore, but sons of a diaspora.
        In any case, this is not a generational confrontation, I was taught to respect my elders and to appreciate the rich opportunities that stormy situations bring about. My views on expats are not jaundiced; I have seen the same everywhere. In any case, your little effort to clean the name and give some honour to your compatriots is highly valuable and deserves the highest respect.
        Whether your ID starts with E or V is not even questionable, but it might explain your utterly failure to behave as a pure Venezuelan would do; and might also shed some light on you positive and fatalist hope for a failed country. You make us feel some pride after all. As for your first lines, you probably lived too long in the country, and infallibly show some symptoms of Venestalgia.
        Have a very nice evening Mr Roberto.

        • There is plenty of room and justification for genuine resentment among people for not benefiting from the country’s oil wealth, but what mystifies me is why it seem to be that the chief spokespersons for that resentment, including the leaders of chavismo almost to a person, and including the man himself, have been beneficiaries of the opportunities, however narrowly distributed, opened up by that decades-long bonanza. Are they all the selfless and disinterested observers of history, and everybody else either the hopelessly downtrodden, weak and voiceless, or the extravagantly corrupt and back-stabbing flamingo-tongue eaters?

          What I see among Venezuelan ex pats, and I know a few, are mostly people who come from relatively humble origins – not the impossibly rich and well connected- many who had the benefit of a decent education, at modest places like Liceo O’Leary where the Commandante Eterno went to school, and are seeking a stable environment in which to exercise their talents and abilities, honestly, and in a small but continuing community with ties to home. They look back on the past and say things like: “I remember as a teenager my friends and I used to ride our bikes into town on that road” and how now, a simple activity like that would be inconceivable. Sure, they were kids with bikes to ride you can say, how telling, etc., but please, whether we are talking about riding bikes or reading Hegel, it is not fair to paint everybody with the same brush as the flamingo-tongue eaters (to paraphrase Old Parr), or to disparage their memory of a time when, say, kids really could safely play outside, as mere Venestalgia. There is nothing more offensive than having a foreigner opine about your own folks, I know, but as an outsider looking in, I think Roberto does have a fair point.

      • Everyone has their list of 100 things they hate about Venezuela, and that’s OK.
        I’ll share my 100th item that fully complements the previous 99:

        100. Venezuelans are eager to diss themselves.

        PS. No ________ intended.

    • “I am seriously more inclined to think now that all these melancholic rubbish sprouting out of every expat is genetically embedded in Venezuelans of all ages. Can somebody tell me what is this all about? You remain me of several friends in the ex-Yugoslavia that pilgrim to Tito’s tomb in Beograd, and speak about how good the old times were. The syndrome normally goes beyond control if some drinks are involved and it happens that someone makes a comment like politicians suck. When exactly they didn’t? Give us a break. (..) Thinking in literary terms, it is fine to write fiction, but to portray an idealistic paradise and pretend others will believe you are quite different things. For Venezuela has never been a paradise. The times or epochs in which this country was prosper have nothing to do with democracy, well judgement or good management. In fact, violent and uncontested hegemony characterises most of them.”

      Mike, I believe the author covered that very well in the text. Passages like “It took three decades, but the VENAL but benign place depicted in Adiós, Miami has morphed into a thinly-veiled Hobbesian nightmare.” express it very clearly that “Old Parr” has never seen Venezuela as any sort of idyllic paradise. Please try to read the text again.

      And only a fanatic would not admit that things worsened a lot in the last decades. In the 70-80’s Venezuela was beating its neighbours in just about any socioeconomic indicator and building 200-meters-high towers.

      • It couldn’t be any other way. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Latin America —except Venezuela— was an utter mess during the 70-80’s. But you should know by now the real problem started when CAP became president and signed us all onto his “Gran Venezuela” project which ended up in the economic crack of 1983.

    • Mayke,

      Despite your long vitriolic rant being dolled up with some fancy vocabulary, what comes out is deep disappointment and bitterness. And in spite of your willingness to dismiss all things Venezuelan as shallow and vile, the fact that you are here writing this tells me you still care. You may wish to reflect on that contradiction. Or not…

      • He never said he didn’t care. I think its fair to say that most Venezuelans are disappointed and bitter, haven’t met a single one that isn’t. It’s good to be introspective, to realize that there are a lot of shallow components to our culture and that maybe that sense of nostalgia for personal prosperous lifestyles is more honest than claiming to care about the general welfare of the country.

    • It’s normal for ex-pats to get somewhat nostalgic. In the case of Venezuela, it is probably more pronounced because of how much worse the country is today it was when they left. On top of that, add a hatred of the current regime which makes longing for earlier times increase as well.

    • That is to a great extent the reason Marina Silva became the dark horse for the next presidential elections in Brazil. Brazilians have been blessed with a third strong political option, unlike Venezuela.

  4. Hmmm. Venezuela has never been a piece of paradise, but it certainly was good enough for tens of thousands of European immigrants. For decades. About five decades, IIRC.

    And painting all Venezuelan expats with the same brush is so very… words fail me.

    • The Venezuela’s of the 50s is a distant fiction for present generations. That is precisely the purpose of my argument, not to disqualify anyone.
      Besides, that Venezuela was the product of very specific circumstances, produced by unexpected wealth brought about by the oil miracle. A country barely populated, with a tyrant regime which was able to appease the revoltosos who asphyxiated the country during a whole century with army risings, revolutions, failed coups and the like. Social investment, which was tenfold in less than a decade, managed to produce a political cadre which would defy its benefactor (generación del 28 anyone?). Coincidently, the only periods in which this country has successfully grow social and economically have been those when tyrant governments have been in charge; first Gómez and second Pérez Jiménez. Then Betancourt and Leoni tried to hold the line and keep the revoltosos at bay; but we all should know very well how that story ended.
      The economic expansion of the democratic period was the product of a society that had not reached its limits, but once we tipped in several markers (population, immigration, access to education and health, etc.) the crisis was inevitable. It was the adecos who decided to split in two shifts primary and secondary education in order to accommodate a bigger population in the same infrastructure build for half of it 30 years before. By 1990s Caracas still had just two universities, one of them built in the 50s, while the bulk of new cadres were absorbed by private universities that flourished amid the public collapse.
      As for painting with the same brush expats, I talked about Venezuelanness; you cannot dilute such an abstract concept in the light of individual appreciations. I am sure that many Venezuelans won’t fit in my negative analysis, but this does not weaken my argument.

      • Fact checking, on the other hand, does: In 1983, just out of high school, I was admitted onto four (4) major universities in Caracas, namely USM, UCV, UCAB and UNIMET. And of course, the other USM also existed.

      • What an awkward criterion: private universities are the result of failure of public universities. Simon Bolivar University isn’t a failure, for instance, and there’s plenty of stats that can prove it. I’m sorry but you’re sounding like a misguided, self-righteous person.

  5. A good post which has let me discover good video in youtube, a source for information about Venezuela which I had forgotten.

    The discussion about the essence of the Venezuelan spirit can last forever, like any other discussion about any other essence. Philosophers know a thing or two about this. Hopefully, the emotional outbursts that it inevitably provokes will let people like Mayke feel better… one or two days.

    Apart from that, I am Spanish and I think we share some traits with Venezuelans. However, geography has been more gentle with us: no mineral resources (no dutch disease), we are part of a region with Germany, Denmark, Sweden… This has helped to temper a mood which is basically Southern, you can choose whatever country you prefer. If the Yanomami are the level 1 in an hypothetical scale of civilization and Sweden and Japan are at level 10 (*), I don’t know our number but I know that it is below the Northern countries. It may look like schizophrenic to have Northern laws and rules when the people is clearly Southern but so far it works.

    (*) yes, it is a pathetic anthropological scale but it is just a tool I have invented right now that let me say something, not an attempt to divide and classify humanity

    • Ramón,

      Yanomamis would not score #1 (bottom) in your badly made anthropological scale. Aboriginal people are highly specialised and tremendously organised, their cultural traits are particularly strong, and more importantly, they survived the colonisation holocaust thanks to the aforementioned reasons (and a bit of help from malaria too).
      For the sake of your argument, you can gauge your scale by deleting aboriginal peoples and inputting local criollos of Spanish decent. That’s the bottom of your scale, or what happens when you put Spaniards outside the orbit of more civilised countries like Germany or Sweden. Something like Das Narrenschiff; ever heard of it?.

      I actually don’t feel better for anything. I accept the facts. History is too harsh for some people.

      Until this country falls into the hands of something like Pinochet (something it won’t happen because the FFAA are full of resented Sans-Culottes), there is no way it will advance one millimetre. Well, yes, to fall further inside the abyss. I give for granted that civilised attempts to develop the country have miserably failed from Bolívar onwards.

      • I knew I was going to be misread because of that self-invented anthropological scale but I have already written a note to clarify it and I am not going to repeat myself or participate in any discussion about it.

        History is too harsh but not for the creators and readers of this blog. They actually accept and handle the facts in a much more better way than you. That kind of moral lessons from you are inappropiate here, to say the least.

        If Pinochet is the solution for the development of Venezuela, you are making comments in the wrong blog and I am writing to the wrong person. Your verbosity is at the wheel right now and it orders you to answer me even if you know that I am not going to read it, let alone answer whatever you say but, please, obey that guy (something called Der Ego, ever heard of it?) and go ahead, there is plenty of room in this column and if you still don’t feel better, you may feel so when you finish.

        (and, of course, no personal offense intended, Apart from you, who wrote this sentence first, who could have doubts about it?)

        • “History is too harsh but not for the creators and readers of this blog. They actually accept and handle the facts in a much more better way than you. That kind of moral lessons from you are inappropiate here, to say the least. ”

          Yes Ramón, they all left the country. That´s the way most of you handle the Venezuelan conundrum, giving up to facts, which is what matters.

          • What you are basically saying, Mayke, is that you are a closet Chavista.

            “The prior generations had the party and left the Salon de Fiestas a disaster” Gee, who loves to say that?

            “The only time Venezuela progressed was when it had tyrant/dictators (Gomez & Perez Jimenez)”

            “What we need is a Pinochet”

            These statements were on the lips of many in the years following the coups of 1992, and more so in the years after Chavez left Yare.

            Guess what, we have had our tyrant for 15 years, and now his descendant, and we had the largest infall of $$ ever and look where we are.

            No gracias, pana.

          • it is not the first time that “Mayke Santos” comes to these boards to vent in contrarian fashion as “un Cascarrabias resentido”. Now that you mention it, a closet Chavista seems an apt description, unless there’s mental instability.

          • I’m confused by how closed-off and defensive everyone is to differing opinions/ideas. Maybe Mayke’s first comment was harsh but replies to him were the first to be insulting (bipolar, closet-chavista, intimidated by vocabulary, etc). If you believe that Venezuelan culture provides an explanation for the state of Venezuela (like most people on here do from interpretations of general comments) than there is room to argue that the culture does/does not lend itself to democratic institutions (Pinochet). You may disagree (I do) but I don’t understand the negativity. Obviously his opinions hit a nerve and there is something there to explore.

  6. Maykes comments albeit harsh and acerbic do contain a kernel of truth , without doubt there are cultural elements in our popular ethos which represent handicaps to our economic and political development as a modern nation . Handicaps which make our path more difficult but not necessarily impossible in the long run. If we dont recognize those handicaps then it becomes ever so much more difficult to deal with them so, its best if we face them without beating our chests in sanctiminous disapproval .

    The main handicaps contribute to our difficulty (1) in emerging as a mature liberal democracy capable of rationally assesing choosing and supporting the rule of responsible public officials and (2) our development of a rationally organized modern economy .

    The fact that close to 40% of ordinary venezuelans still consider that this regime is worthy of support is a scandal , it says much about our cultural handicaps . the fact that other than through our oil resources we have never been able to develop an economy that can sustain itself and allow for the productive growth of the country is also something we cannot ignore.

    The thing is that despite of those handicaps there are segments of population that dont fully share in that ethos , who are basically responsible and mature in their political views and judgements , in their economic behaviour .They probably are a minority within a minority and of course they will carry some of the handicaps but not as dominant notes in their way of viewing and acting on things.

    These people have to get organized , adopt a practical model to take charge of things and serve as a locomotive to get the rest to slowly improve their lot and become more competent economic agents and citizens . This is a task for generations . Applying the ideals of a modern liberal democracy in their pristine manifestation may not be possible at the outset but it must be clear that those ideals represent the ultimate goal to be achieved .

    One idea to get started , popular politics must not be allowed total dominance over the running of the country , it can set guidelines and general policies but the actual management planning and operation of key state functions and activities must be given to people who know about these things and who are protected from the pressures of pork and barrel politics , from the spoils system of governance . Purely populist forms of governance should be replaced by institutional meritocratic models of governance . We need not only an independent technocratic judiciary ,army, public service , central bank but generally a system where popularly elected officials cannot intervene directly in the day to day operations of government acitivities and businesses . Where performance ofpublic businesses is constantly measured and monitored against rational objective standards to ensure good results on a substantive scale.

    • “This is a task for generations ”

      I disagree…

      Just look at how Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain, all Eastern Bloc countries (including East Germany) were faring in 1970 and how they are doing now. You could also include Mexico, China, Chile, Panama and Colombia to the basket to become less European. The world is full of success cases.

      Singapore is probably the most shocking example. It was a total slum by 1960. Singapore was Petare!
      http://www.derektait.co.uk/SINGAPORE20CHINA20TOWN20STREET20SCENE.JPG

      Now, I do totally agree with this statement: “These people have to get organized , adopt a practical model to take charge of things and serve as a locomotive to get the rest to slowly improve their lot and become more competent economic agents and citizens .”

      That’s the key.

    • Reminds me of some of the satirical discussions the character Sir Humphrey Applebee had with his cabinet secretariat colleagues in the wonderful BBC Comedy of the 80’s Yes Minister where they would explain how they should control their Ministers and get them to do what was in their best interests (and one hopes also the best interests of the public and the country).

      • I remember the skits from Yes minister ( even bought a book with its most entertaining episodes) . It satirically protrayed the clash between an entrenched self serving british beaurocracy and the do gooder Westminster professional pols .

        I knew in person a gentlemen who rose through the ranks to become the number 2 man in the Social Security Administration in the US , told me a lot of stories of the antics of the political appointees named as heads of the service who knew nothing on how to do things and were always proposing crazy ideas that would have been the ruin of the System .

        What these political appointees managed to achieve was because they did not try to do the job of the professionals inside the organization and impose their pet fantasies but gave professional the general guidelines of what they wanted accomplished and then allowed the bureaucracies to implemented in a rational manner.

        Public businesses are not well served by being conducted by ideologically inspired charismatic ninconcoops, with no professional or technical expertise on the handling of the actitivities with which they are entrusted.

  7. Mark : I hope you are right , the thing is that the countries you mention also had cultural advantages that maybe we dont have , for example large groups of people with an ethos of hard work and stable families or had handicaps which werent as deeply rooted as ours . I am particularly struck by the damage that caribbean marginal culture inflicts on its victims personality, the Chavez poisonous influence in peoples mentality and the lack of an existing elite of empowered competent people ready to take the torch and assumme their countrys development as a task . Maybe the closest to us is Panama , a much smaller country were you still have a lot of poverty .

    We had a better chance of becoming a developed country before Chavez than now. Also the brand of caribbean macho vivo culture we had from the past become increasingly malignant after the 80’s as marginal population burgoined and left for life in the degraded enviroment of urban slums.

    No country is like any other but the caribbean cultural strain is one of the worst for the development of a country .!!

    • I agree with you that cultures play a large part of the issue at hand, but after visiting Mexico two times I really doubt that Venezuelan culture is any worse than what they have there. Like you said, there is a “good minority” in Venezuela that would fix Venezuela had they ruled the country. I believe drastic changes happen from top to bottom and never the opposite. Had Capriles won the last elections (fraud denied his victory), you would already have a very different Venezuela today and the culture wouldn’t have changed one iota. But then again, don’t get me wrong, I understand your point about cultural issues, and countries being set for failure since their foundations. I just don’t agree that cultural issues are that determinant. Just travel to Mexico, and interact with the locals, I think you will probably feel hopeful about Venezuela immediately.

      • So much condescension and a superiority complex! Do people really believe that those in the informal economy work less than professionals? What is it with all of this marginal Caribbean culture and paternalistic “good minority” nonsense?

        • The “good minority” are you guys. And yes, you are better than Lina Ron, Fosforito Iris Varella et caterva, don’t be ashamed to recognize that. Every country has its economic/intelectual elite, who are the ones that actually understand what is happening. The problem is that the “stupid majority” rules the country in the case of Venezuela. But the good news is that as soon as the tables turn, things will change for the better.

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