This is the sound of wasteful culture

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Trash in the streets? Rampant crime? Who really gives a damn when we can have a massive paaarty!

Caracas has been hosting a music festival in the last few days, courtesy of the Mayor of western Caracas (Libertador Municipality) Jorge Rodríguez. The former CNE president/Vice-President/head of both Chavez & Maduro’s recent presidential campaigns has made this a pet project of his.

Suena Caracas isn’t your traditional festival in the style of Woodstock or Glastonbury. It takes place in multiple locations, and covers multiple music styles: from alternative rock to salsa to gaita (because December).

But the event has been filled with controversy since its announcement and one of the presentations is the talk of the town. Last weekend, the popular Venezuelan rock band Desorden Público took the stage and decided to present its new song “Everything is Normal”.

When criticizing the government, they were briefly censored by Avila TV, the Caracas-only station of the State Media System. But the song itself caused a split division inside the crowd as well, thanks to this timely lyric: “If they gonna keep on stealing, at least change the robbers”.

For the record, Desorden Público’s extensive repertoire includes politically-charged songs such as “Paralytic Politicians”, “Where’s the Future?” and “Valley of Bullets”. Nicolas Maduro surprisingly didn’t respond with insults but instead he “welcomed” the criticism, and told the band to keep up with their songs.

In the quiet words of The Simpsons’ Rainier Wolfcastle, the star of “McBain: Let’s Get Silly”: “That’s the joke”.

Going back to to the festival, the event has had its share of problems, which begn even before it started. For example, one of the main artists supposed to play in Suena Caracas were the local pop duo Chino & Nacho, who have quickly become international pop sensations. But hardcore Chavistas complained that they could not participate in the event because they showed support for the imprisoned Leopoldo Lopez on Twitter. Once Maduro himself got involved, it became just a matter of time before the duo was pulled off the list. Yet, they offered their own special concert in a smaller Caracas location to compensate.

But the biggest questions about the festival are two: first, how much did it cost? And second, who’s paying the bill?

According to this report from Agence France-Press (AFP), the money spent in Suena Caracas is around 27 million dollars, which comes from a special credit approved last month by the National Assembly. Jorge Rodriguez has denied such claims, saying that 95% of the money spent is in Bolivares (The festival isn’t free by the way, it charges for tickets). The opposition has decried the event, stating that the money could be better used for more urgent problems. Yet the central government is so pleased that they want to repeat the experience again next year… twice.

The original plans for Suena Caracas were more ambitious that the final result. This report from El Nacional hints that the organizers wanted American rock bands Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters to come. Funny that now, thanks to our economy, lack of security conditions, and the whole airline broohaha, foreign musicians are coming less and less to Venezuela. And with notable exceptions, the government is the only one capable of paying.

That’s simply a cultural hegemony – wasteful spending in order to keep its mythology alive, be it either with this festival or the alleged 50 million bucks that the famous Libertador movie with Edgar Ramirez cost (Variety said it, not me). And yes, we can also add to this the controversy with El Sistema and a new concert hall for my hometown – which we don’t really need. I don’t have any beef with El Sistema and I find its purpose noble. But that’s no excuse to avoid some needed scrutiny.

Culture and the arts are important for any society, but neither the state nor the private sector should have full control of it. Diversity is key.

We live in a time when anyone can put his/her works available for the world to see and/or hear. We can even help others to do the same thanks to things like Kickstarter and Patreon. That’s the power of choice. The state should help people embrace it, not block it or try to control it. If it does, it is no longer culture.

1 COMMENT

  1. …And those faux/ highly inconsequential opposition member – i am sure were there supporting the government’s endeavors indirectly instead of out there supporting LL.

    People have exactly the government they deserve.

  2. I wonder why or how the crowd was divided. Why were oppo people in it?, wasn’t it supposed to be a propaganda show?

    What is the point of bashing the government and then be the first in line to watch them burn through public funds?

    Some “opposition” people in this country go head to head in the stupidity department with the average chavista de base.

    • The linked article seems to speak more about how the chavistas were happily listening and singing along the songs and then some of them got pissed when Blanco dared to say the goverment was corrupt (as if they didn’t know that Desorden Público ALWAYS fires against governments for their corruption, since the effin’ 90s they’ve done that).

      Maybe the “division” was more between those chavistas that aren’t actually commies and thus have thicker skin, and the chaburros that take ANY criticism against the government as a direct attack on their mothers, who’ll defend every stupidity maburro and company do just ’cause chavismo for them is always right no matter how big the turd they make.

      I’m not saying there were 100% chavistas there and absolutely no other venezuelan, I guess there were almost no “non-chavista” people there, the event being a big circus made by joge and all that.

  3. I don’t begrudge anyone a party, but you have to really wonder when the impresario for the dreams of Caracas youth is Dr Rodriguez. If the kids could get outside and play more, particularly at night, caracas would be a beacon rather than a backwater for youth culture, but that won’t be happening anytime soon, tragically, and the dominant tunes will remain derivative, pseudo sexy or pseudo rebellious, and oddly in step with what middle aged politicians listen to. I look forward to the explosion of pent up Venezuelan creativity when this all ends.

  4. What makes this the more absurd is that hardcore chavistas actually think spending millions of dollars to pay for circus is acceptable when their very same government claims there aren’t dollars to import medicines and other first-need products.
    And they even get angry if you dare to criticize that in their faces (I remember the same thing happened with malchocado and his absurd cadivi sponsorship when he finally won a race)

    • Do interact with any hardcore Chavistas in an environment where politics will come up? If so, are there less of them willing to argue?

      • I guess I can recognize a hardcore chavista from what they think about the regime’s stupid policies and politicians, most of them will adamantly defend things like cadivi/cencoex/sicad/dollar monopoly or will soundly complain about the “oligarchs that rip off the people” with stupider arguments like every non-buhonero seller actually buys her products at 10Bs and resells them in 5000Bs.
        Also, they’ll use the “but in the 4th there was ~insert some stuff~ way worse than now!” justifying and excusing any atrocity the regime commits.

        Non-hardcore ones tend to either criticize a little what the regime does, or simply keep their mouth shut.

  5. That report of el nacional about the american bands is probably not truth, because its supposed to be a latinamerican festival, the only band that coudln’t come because of logistical problems was Calle 13

  6. Chequeate este chisme que me acaba de llegar. No lo creo!
    ¿Cambio en la Vicepresidencia Económica?

    La prensa recoge hoy el rumor de que el vicepresidente del área económica, Rodolfo Marcos Torres sería sustituido por Francisco Rodríguez, actual economista jefe para la región andina de Bank of America. Sin embargo, la información recabada por Ecoanalítica es que la opción que estaría evaluando Maduro sería trasladar nuevamente a este cargo y además como ministro de Finanzas a Rafael Ramírez. Nuestras fuentes consultadas es que este movimiento obedecería dos razones: 1. Ramírez ya ha trabajado un programa de ajuste en el pasado (aunque desechado en su oportunidad por el chavismo) 2. Mejor posicionamiento internacional para el lobby frente a la OPEP, China, países aliados en Petrocaribe, entre otros.
    Sectores cercanos al alto gobierno desde hace rato vienen trabajando en convencer a Maduro que necesita urgentemente cambiar a Rodolfo M. Torres pues éste no está en capacidad de enfrentar la crisis que se avecina por la caída en los precios petroleros. 


    Asdrúbal R. Oliveros P.

    ECOANALÍTICA

    Director

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