Another scandalous non-scandal

The ongoing scandal involving Elías Jaua’s nanny poses a challenge to us bloggers. After so many scandalous non-scandals, is there anything left to say?

It turns out there is plenty.

For those of you not up to speed on the developments: Elías Jaua (former VP, Foreign Minister, former candidate for Governor of Miranda, current Minister for Communes, and as high-ranking a chavista as you will find) has a nanny for his kids named Yaneth Anza. Do yourselves a favor and check out her public Facebook page – oh, the places she’s seen! (her Facebook page was closed a few hours after this post went live)

Ms. Anza landed in Sao Paulo on a PDVSA plane accompanied by Jaua’s mother-in-law. Apparently, Jaua and his wife are in Sao Paulo because Mrs. Jaua is staying at the prestigious Hospital Sirio-Libanés, being treated for an unknown disease. When the plane with the nanny and the mother-in-law landed in Sao Paulo, authorities were shocked to find she had an unregistered weapon in one of her bags. She is in trouble with the law.

We’ve found out many of these details thanks to star journalist Nelson Bocaranda. For example, now we know that the bag contained several strategic documents, among them one that talks about how the government is planning on using the 2015 legislative elections to “annihilate the opposition.” We don’t know the actual contents of the documents yet, but will post about them if they become public.

Obviously, the questions this incident raises are numerous.

The first, obvious one is why nanny and grandma were traveling on a government plane for what is obviously a private matter. One should also ask, as the great Naky does, how come Jaua’s gun permit was issued in 2012 after the government announced the suspension of all government permits. And, obviously, one has to wonder why the Minister for Communes – part of the government’s “social” programs – is in charge of the PSUV’s electoral strategy. Could it be … that communes are simply a covert get-out-the-vote operation financed with public money? Nah … that would never happen.

One place Naky and other don’t go is questioning why Mrs. Jaua is getting treated in one of Latin America’s top hospitals. According to La Razón, a minister in Venezuela makes about US$4,200 per month. Mr. Jaua has been a public employee for the last fifteen years. Where does that entitle Mrs. Jaua to receive top-notch treatment overseas? Do other wives of public servants get the same treatment? What sort of benefits package does he have that covers things such as this? She used to be president of an expropriated cement company, but she resigned last year. Did she keep her insurance?

I know it’s tacky to question the health care decisions of public figures. But you know what? It’s also necessary. This whole case reeks of corruption, and the fact that nothing will come of it says volumes about the putrid state of our public sphere.

I started this post by saying that I had been trying to resist writing about this. As Katy put it to me over breakfast, “who are you trying to convince with this story? Obviously chavistas think this is OK.”

She’s right. The people who support the government actually think this is cool. They’ve won elections, and to the victors the spoils … all of them. Venezuela has devolved into a narco-kleptocracy, and people who support the government obviously have some ethical issues they need to deal with, to say the least. As a commenter on Yaneth Anza’s Facebook page put it, “disfruta mientra puede para eso es la vida.” (sic) (“enjoy while you can that’s what life is for”)

Well, no, life is not about “enjoying yourself.” There are limits and principles. Do chavistas know this?

Ultimately, this post is for the people who still think we need to “convince” chavistas that our side is better. Can we? What kind of convincing can get through the head of someone who sees nothing wrong with the Jaua nanny shenanigans?

As another scandalous non-scandal makes its way into the history books of this tragedy, we need to ask ourselves: are the people still on the other side worth convincing? Do they share elemental values with us? At what point can chavismo be accepted as a legitimate political actor when they can’t even be woken up from their slumber to ask basic questions about obvious graft?

Furthermore, how can they look the other way when one of the main issues in Hugo Chávez’s first years as President was the use of government planes for private purposes…? Do they not remember the video from above?

I believe in dialogue. I believe in engaging the other side. But I also believe the other side has to prove they are worthy of our respect by showing they respect themselves.

Chavistas and appeasers: ask some basic questions about the dirty deals in the revolution. Demand an investigation. Then we can talk.

Something tells me our tropical Mary Poppins didn’t get here using her umbrella.