A living reminder of their failure

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We're not going anywhere.
We’re not going anywhere.

I have a theory as to why Maria Corina Machado gets under chavistas’ skin so much.

No, it doesn’t have to do with her gender. I’ve thrown that around before, but it doesn’t leave me entirely satisfied. The opposition has other female leaders, but none is quite as controversial as Maria Corina.

Neither is it about what she says. People love to throw around the canard that Maria Corina is “hard line” or “radical,” but to be honest, I’ve yet to see how anything she says is controversial enough to warrant multiple death wishes. Sure, she opposes Maduro with a passion, but … don’t we all?

It certainly has nothing to do with her power. She has been kicked out of Parliament on shaky grounds, and has been barred from leaving the country. The media shuns her. She has high negatives, and she is not the most popular leader in the opposition. Why is she such a threat?

To me, it has to do with something she shares with Leopoldo López, chavismo’s other nemesis: they both come from old money, and yet they are both still relevant.

Chavismo is a revolution, one that is probably based on deep-seated ethnic and cultural resentments, as the late Prof. Briceño Guerrero taught us. The visceral root of chavismo is “us” versus “them,” and “us” are supposed to be winning.

But who is “them” exactly?

An initial theory is that “them” means the old regime, the corrupt power-hungry adecos and copeyanos that ruled the coop until Chávez came along. But do you really see chavistas getting riled up about Ramos Allup? Carlos Andrés Pérez is a distant memory to them. Besides, adecos and copeyanos are no longer relevant. They have long either been defeated, or absorbed by the Revolution.

Deep down, the old adecos were like chavistas – one generation separated from poverty, mobile middle class folks who used the patronage of the state to advance in society. Chavistas can’t hate adecos when they are so alike.

As for Capriles … sure, chavistas detest him, but he comes from immigrants, so the hatred doesn’t seem to run as deep.

But with Machado, it’s different. Machado and López both come from old money, from the original aristocrats that ruled Venezuela. They are members of our nation’s oldest families. They descend from people who probably enslaved the ancestors of today’s chavistas. They have rarely mixed with the lower classes. They are, to coin Herrera Luque, the “amos del valle,” the masters of the valley, the “oligarchs.”

The hatred toward Maria Corina – is there any other word for it? – is born out of the fact that, in spite of this being a Revolution to avenge all who were opressed by “those people,” Maria Corina and Leopoldo refuse to be cowed. They refuse to shut up, sit down, and drown in oblivion. They have taken a stand and said “enough.”

This isn’t how a Revolution is supposed to play out. It’s as if, in 1929 Russia, a Romanov was still yapping about, calling out the Soviets for their opression.

Maria Corina is a target because people like her and Leopoldo aren’t supposed to be going to poor neighborhoods and talking to regular folks. They shouldn’t be on TV, and they shouldn’t be in Parliament. They should be in Mustique or Gstaad, Vail or Chamonix, enjoying their trust funds, and lamenting the state of their former country. They certainly shouldn’t be in Sabaneta de Barinas or Guasdalito, rousing up the rabble.

The fact that they are still standing, still out there fighting for their ideals, not compromising, refusing to be the caricatures that revolutionary folklore has them out to be … is an insult to chavistas.

Their very survival is a reminder of the failure of their revolution. That’s why they hate them.

84 COMMENTS

  1. I think this post gets at 60% of it. But the other 40% of what pisses them off about her is her simple earnestness. She’s the opposite of cynical; she’s a conviction politician willing to go to the mat for her views. You don’t have to agree with those views to admire that…or to realize why a true Conviction Politician would be so threatening to the hyper-cynical fucks who run the country.

    • Being an advocate for democracy does not make Machado responsible for how badly things are turning out. It is the elected government that is responsible, and it is the voters who should be able to vote the government out. Machado is not advocating anything controversial, but I is dangerous for a government that wants to stay in power.

    • I agree. There are very few members in the opposition who are not afraid to sugar coat the points. MCM is certainly not a brilliant strategist but she says many things that need to be said.

  2. Another symptom to this thesis can be seen in aporrea. They commonly have virulent attacks toward Maduro, but they seem more inclined to break into a splinter ‘true Chavista party’ than join the coalition of escualidos with the purpose of restoring democracy.

  3. Me chalequeaste el post, Juan.
    Tengo varios días girando en torno al tema y ayer llegué a la misma conclusión que tu. Lo de Maria Corina es lucha de clases y resentimiento viejo.

    • De acuerdo con Juan. Solo un comentario sobre la observación de Bruni. El odio contra María Corina y Leopoldo es resentimiento puro. Lo de la “lucha de clases” viene después como condimento ideológico. Es una “arrechera” (perdóname el francés) que encontró en el marxismo su racionalización. Por cierto, en muchos opositores existe también el resentimiento. Acabo de leer en FB un comentario contra María Corina de alguien que se opone al chavismo. Entre otras “perlitas” que soltó, esta persona descalifica a María Corina por “sifrina”. En Venezuela, como en otros países, la envidia y otras formas de resentimiento están profundamente ancladas en la psiquis de la gente.

  4. Very perceptive, Juan. It is difficult to digest for chavismo that a member of the upper middle class is teaching them lesson after lesson about honest politics. This is, in their view, unnatural. They are actually afraid of her

    • This is a very insightful post and interesting and insightful comments. I would add, they hate her because she represents that part of the old order that would not join chavismo. She is proof that this was no revolution but instead, taking the worst of the old guard and the old ways, and elevating it.

    • I agree with GC and CNKLHD, but would add that MCM represents a world order where a clean sweep would ensure far more plentiful work than what is available today. And chavistas, deep down, hate the idea of working for another person who has it better than they do (because of ingenuity, risk-taking, etc.). Better to work for an anonymous government, if at all.

      MCM also calls a spade a spade. And chavistas are deep down insecure, fearful folks who have to build a fantasy of themselves and their surroundings in order to function. It’s kinda like people needing a lot of religion. Magical thinking injects optimism in their lives. When someone comes along and tells it like it is (gasp! worse yet, a woman and an oligarch), that unhinges those who desperately cling to a fantasy of themselves as all-powerful in an environment they can mentally control.

      • Maria Corina definitely comes from the way upper reaches of Venezuelan Society, married yet another member of that same upper class (now divorced).

        What sets her apart from many in that class is her desire to work hard, honestly and with passion. Now I’m not saying that the rest of that class is not like her, not at all.

        Like any group there are good folks and bad folks. There are those from that part of society that threw their lot in with Chavez in order to continue reaping the benefits of their positions, and those that decided enough was enough.

        Some in the latter group simply pulled up stakes and left, but very few have stuck around and done what she has.

        I admire her greatly for her decision. She could easily have left it all behind and gone skiing to Gstaad, but she has fought and persevered when others would have folded the tent.

        Having had the great honor and pleasure to have met her twice I can attest personally that she is humble, passionate and dedicated. The last adjective that I would use to describe her is sifrina.

        Whenever she runs for president, she has my vote.

        • I can very much agree with your position, which is rather different from others here. Her “popular capitalism” was perhaps a not well-thought idea (if it ever was more than a catch word) but she is earnest and sincere, well-spoken and courageous.

          • Hearing her speech about “popular capitalism” in Catia where she later got attacked by the f****g colectivos I can assure you the only “not-well-thought idea” part of it was only the “capitalism” word in its name, ’cause all the rest of the idea was simple common sense and logic.

          • In Miguel Santos Blog there is a list of recommended blogs , one of them is a commentary of Pickettys celebrated book, in it the author asserts that the word capitalism has been so bad mouthed that to free it from its peyorative connotations its been rebaptized as the system of ‘market tested’ improvements . The word capitalism is a bit reductionistic , I myself would favour substituting it for the Free Market Model . Its great virtue is that it was never invented by doctrinaire thinkers it evolved naturally from spontaneous historical processes. Thats why it is so easy to adopt and develop. Why it should need apologist is beyond me .

          • I like that substitution: the free market model of government. But the term would also have to convey certain restraints (worker protection, etc.) in order to gain a broader appeal.

  5. You and francisco appear to have hit the nail in the head , your explanation is pretty convincing and Franciscos isnt so far off either . Not because they are cynical and she is earnest ( the capacity of the human mind for self deception is pretty near limitless) but because her ringing earnestness doesnt fit the role that they want her to play in their warped imagination . Oppos are supposed to reek in insincerity and here is someone that evidently they cant say that about.

    Being old family is to them an emblematic trait , one that stands out in their imagination as what the loathed opposition is all about , even though historically oil families in Venezuela have seldom had anything but a marginal role in the control of power ..

    She is also quintessentially old family, white , attractive , well spoken , plainly but elegantly dressed , smart, someone to remind them of all those things which they resent, which make them feel socially inferior in comparison. .

  6. There may be a nugget of truth to what you say, although I tend to think that most of the bile spewed, and most of their high profile heinous acts come from the fact that both MCM and LL seem uncompromisiong. They are bent on changing the status quo in a much more radical way than HCR for instance. I am not going to delve on whom I am rooting for or anything, I have no idea on who’s strategy is better aligned for success, sometimes I don’t even care as long as anyone is successful one way or another.

    With HCR leading a hypothetical next government chavistas know they could in theory coexist, but in a government led by either LL or MCM they would be probably be hounded out of their rat holes, even if they left the country. It seems to me as if they are trying to steer the next government to be something less harmful for their own well-being. Their “legacy” (whatever that means) would be better of with someone more compromising than with a purist (I hate the term radical when we refer to the political stance of either LL or MCM).

    In the end I truly think that they take advantage of their visceral hatred and focus it on a purely instrumental, utilitarian objective. Because let´s be clear on something, hatred is probably the one thing not lacking in this government, and they could just as well eliminate the whole of the opposition, as well as that 75% of the country that now confronts chavismo from a variety of trenches.

    • “With HCR leading a hypothetical next government chavistas know they could in theory coexist, but in a government led by either LL or MCM they would be probably be hounded out of their rat holes…”

      I guess this applies more to the chavocratas who are terrified of getting their punishment for their atrocities, so they’ve infected the chavista base with this false dread to keep their dominion over them, because, let’s be honest, no government is gonna start a witch hunt against EVERY “chavista de a pie” as soon as they arrive to power; but sadly that won’t mean there won’t exist any form of retaliation against some unfortunate chavistas who don’t deserve it, 16 years of being harrassed, murdered and generally being treated like pariahs leave a seed for resentment and desire for revenge among many people.

      After reading about the Savage Discourse, I conclude it’s one made from hatred, either artificial or justified, and that once chavistas were taught to hate a target, it’s very difficult to make them change their mind, that’s why they justify and celebrate every disgrace that befalls any non-chavista person.

  7. I think JCN/FT/BB are all correct, but, also, Chavismo will try to crush anyone who vocally/visibly/widely tries to appeal to their downscale base (e. g., LL/MCM), and can’t be bought off. JB doesn’t really threaten, with his charts and rational arguments. HC lies low, to keep from being targeted. (Ocariz, however, has been successful at downscale appeal, but in a local area). The Adecos in the past simply bought off visible/vocal downscale leaders (e. g., Americo Martin), or neutralized them in other ways.

  8. They obviously can never believe that anyone (especially someone from old money) would have principles and would believe in public service and promoting the greater good of society and using the privileges and advantages of their birth to help the country. Their idea of public service is only as a vehicle to line their pockets.

  9. I do not think it is “old money” or the amos del Valle thing…it might be in the minds of those who are indeed somehow descendants of the amos del valle. The explanation is almost like “La odian porque ella y nosotros que somos como ella somos bonitos”.

    As for what Briceno was saying: his was more of a re-hash of the old trodden myths on ethnicity.

    Both María Corina and Leopoldo López have a solid command of Spanish syntax and both can talk in more than isolated slogans. They can tell stories. And yeah, they are earnest, as someone here remarked.

    Capriles doesn’t seem to know what is the predicate of a sentence and he pretends to be “mejor que Chávez”.

    • Yet, it is that command of the language that instill in the riffraff and illusion of “old” power. Have a look at how the academic ñángaras love to attack and take apart the work of Andrés Bello’s for suggesting that our language had to be “tamed” (according to their version) to function as an efficient control mechanism.

      BTW, perhaps Francisco should have noted that Maria Corina is also a Toro (from the very same family of Bolívar’s wife)…

  10. Add to that her single degree of separation from George W. Bush. I mean, is there anything chavistas could hate more than that?

  11. I like your theory. The point I agree the most is “They should be … enjoying their trust funds, and lamenting the state of their former country.” How else can any chavista explain their presence in the country if not by accepting, at least partially, that there’s real hope for that country and therefore that there must be some truth in what they say. The truth is that they don’t have to stay. They could be making a comfortable living anywhere else. The fact that they stay and that they fight has to raise questions. Those in power know this and fear that more and more people will realize this in due time. I certainly hope so although my optimism is in short supply these days.

  12. OT…….Meanwhile, back in the reality of the revolution, with $ 1 USD I can now buy 33 tanks of gas for my Toyota Corolla and drive almost 18,000 kms. Now that is the definition of insanity. If I drove that much I would be guaranteed to be expressed kidnapped or at least robbed at least once in the next year.

  13. Five dollars is a little low. It is closer to 10 dollars.

    The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 kilometers). Assume that your vehicle gets 25 mpg then its about 1,000 gallons around the planet. At today’s free market exchange rate of 172.52 Bolivars to Dollars (Dolartoday.com) and a 2 bolivar/gallon price, it would cost you $11.60 to circumnavigate the planet at the equator.

    Assume you can drive on water- it is a lot closer to truth than some of the economic assumption of the gov’t.

    • “and a 2 bolivar/gallon price”

      Your price assumption is way off. In Venezuela, a liter of 91 octane gas is sold at VEF 0.070 and a liter of 95 octane gas is sold at VEF 0.097. Now, if 1 gallon is 3.78541 liters, the gallon of gas in Venezuela are sold at VEF 0.26 and VEF 0.37. If the 1,000 gallons figure is correct, fuel costs would amount to VEF 260 or VEF 370. Using the same exchange rate you mentioned, it’s actually closer to USD 1.50 or USD 2.15.

      Would you cry if I told you that when the government finally adjusts gas prices, their hope is to set it at about VEF 2 per liter?

      • Reading the comments on that article you linked makes me giggle at the naivety of some people, while one claimed that “Because we live in Venezuela we MUST have everything cheaper!”, another one actually believed that the “surplus” gathered from said increase would be actually invested in something else than making more gasoline xDD

        The atrocious inflation makes any price adjustment a severe pain for everybody who’s not an enchufado, ’cause the first thing going up at the minute the gasoline gets raised will be the public transport prices, that are paid mostly by people who can’t afford a vehicle.

        The guy that said everything had to be cheaper because we live in Venezuela also said he disagreed with raising the gasoline price because he wasn’t going to work just to fill the tank again, well, that’s the point, nobody wants to work just to get paid some amount that only pays the bus wage.

  14. I think that Chavistas need enemies, and: Bush was replaced by Obama, Uribe by Santos, Piñera by Bachelet… You get the idea! They are running out of options!

    MCM is their perfect enemy, they love to hate her and she loves to stick it to them, so there you have it.

    • chavista hatred is like a Juggernaut, just aim it at the desired target, then let it go, it’ll charge headfirst regardless of how stupid they are.

  15. A Brazilian economist (“@ricamconsult” on twitter) said on a local TV show called “Manhattan Connection” that he knew Machado from the time that she was working for the private sector, before she got into politics, and that it was clear to him that she hadn’t got any political aspirations at all back then; that she was just a common executive. And that probably neither herself was expecting to become such a relevant figure in Venezuelan politics some day, as she doesn’t come from a family of famous politicians or anything.

    He implied that without this failed Revolution destroying Venezuela, we very possibly wouldn’t have ever heard about Maria Corina in our lives.

  16. It’s becoming sort of a “chip in the shoulder” for some of these nutjobs:

    http://runrun.es/nacional/173754/isea-propone-la-presionar-rajoy-y-neutralizar-la-campana-favor-de-leopoldo-lopez.html

    I mean, is that “El Inspector Ardilla”, father of the infamous screeching Rafael Isea who’s now singing all what he knows in the evil Empire to save his ass from the robolutionary wrath?

    It’s hilarious the hypocrisy of those guys, poking their noses in other countries issues like the most rotten “injerencismo” and in the same sentence, crying and whining about the very same thing done to Venezuela according to them.

  17. I’m going to throw one in here that perhaps is a little shallow, but It goes hand in ahnd with the social resentment that Bruni mentioned. Both Maria Corina and Leopoldo are very elegant, they have “porte” and it doesn’t matter what they are wearing (jeans and a simple white tshirt as they both do so often), they look good. Heck, even their names are elegant!
    Capriles is not a very elegant guy.
    Just imagine how much money the infantas spend in hair salons, loubutins and expensive clothing, and they will never have that je-ne-sais-quoi that make them stand out from the crowd, something you’re just born with.

      • It is not. Call me crazy but I think Chavez sort of had it too… Porte. You don’t have to be “beautiful” to have it.
        La niña Cabello es bien bonita, pero no lo tiene.

      • It’s nonsense, Kepler, nevertheless, the racism card has been used as an all-catch solution to justify all the regime does, claiming that one of the reasons the nonchavistas “despise the people” is just because “they’re white and we’re indians and black”, so they try to pin on us their own irrational, unfounded hatred.
        It’s part of the fascist-communist dehumanizing speech.

    • here’s how I see the ‘je ne sais quoi’, a better term than ‘sifrinismo’ which was coined after I (and before my nuclear family) left Vzla.

      MariCori and Leopoldo’s ‘je ne sais quoi’ relates to a code of behaviour that’s been handed down, over the centuries. There’s a certain noblesse oblige, an elegance, a knowledge of who one is in a certain society that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the myriad “comme il faut”s and ‘urbanidades’ that one learns from the cradle and from generation to generation. Certain schools tighten the screws to produce the finished product, but the main education takes place on the home front: exquisite table manners, a love or at least a knowledge of classics (for men; women are given more leeway, intellectually speaking), certain behaviours, etc. That’s why Danielita Cabello, for all her Daddy’s money, will not have “IT”.

      “It” is a double-edge sword. Within the society that upholds the code of behaviour, its members are judged within an inch of their lives. Try a locura or a delusion and it’ll mark you and your family, unless the locura results in, say great art (I’m thinking Armando Reveron), where locura is better understood. In sum, don’t bother to re-invent yourself. Won’t work. Memories are long in this society.

      • P.S. Chavez had charisma and johnny-come-lately elegance. No question. But he would never, I repeat, never be invited to a dinner party at one of the amos del valle who would not easily forget his coup attempt in 1992, the disasters he subsequently unleashed, his uncouth public call to Marisabel that she would get hers…. etc.

        • When Chavez was a candidate, back in ’97 ’98, he showed up at the home of one of PDVSA’s directors (name reserved) on the spur of the moment.

          The director happened to be in a meeting with another director, and when he was told Chavez was at the door and wanted to speak to him he was surprised, but accepted his presence thinking he would be gone in a half hour or so.

          Chavez stayed for 7 hours, basically asked him to “educate” him on all aspects of Oil and ignored every single hint, subtle and obvious, to leave.

          So yes, Syd, he’d never get invited to dinner, but he sure knew how to crash a meeting and stay!!

      • Geez, this can only come from the old upper middle class groups in countries such as Venezuela, Argentina and Russia: “you need generations for this”. Yeah, right.
        Por eso es que estamos como estamos.

        • No, Kepler, it happens in all countries, whether you like it or not. And clearly you don’t like it. In Britain, Spain, England, even Belgium — my dear — you have a VERY rigid caste system. Do I like it? Frankly, I don’t care. Nor should you.

          Actually, that’s not true. The odd time I see an Hola! with photos, etc. of this noble family in Europe, or that royal family en yo no se que lugar, I’m curious. I don’t belong to these levels of society but I accept that they exist. No matter what, I don’t do somersaults in disgust, nor do I shake my head at the futility of it all. (Por eso es que estamos como estamos.) And let me be clear: the criollismos of the Amos del Valle and their successors have NOTHING on the Euro castes.

  18. A huge difference between MCM & LL on one hand and HCR on the other, is that HcR has chosen to blend in while the other two are quite proud of their differences with the majority of the population. Does anybody remember when HCR was fighting the justice system he carved the word Justicia in his haircut, a lo malandro? He has tried very hard to build an image that is more popular. MCM and LL have not tried this approach and have retained their elegance with simplicity.

    There is definitely a class envy at play here.

  19. I don’t think you can dismissed their genuine belief in their righteousness. In their eyes, La Salida is open rebellion, an attempted coup. Those overtly supporting replacement of the government by civil insurrection are treasonous and subject to the full penalty of the law. Prosecution of LL & MCM is a just and necessary defense of the state and constitution. It is patriotic. It is defense of the fatherland. HCR teetered on the edge but, apparently, has not yet crossed the line.

  20. Yo no creo que sea clase social la motivacion, es la conviccion que tiene MCM y Leopoldo Lopez con sus ideales lo que los viuelve locos, la conviccion de que esto tiene que cambiar como sea, les asusta su compromiso absoluto con sus ideas y que esten dispuestos los dos aluchar por ellas, incluso si hace falta llevarlas hasta la carcel, miedo que el pueblo tarde o temprano diga basta!…..MCM a su estilo propio tiene la misma conviccion q tuvu Chavez y sus tenientes para cambiar el pais, por eso no es una guerra por clase social sino por las ideas,

    • “MCM a su estilo propio tiene la misma conviccion q tuvu Chavez y sus tenientes para cambiar el pais…”

      Los miserables traidores del 4fiasco lo que siempre quisieron fué agarrarse el poder para robárselo todo, que es exactamente lo que hacen hoy en día y lo han demostrado desde hace 15 años, apenas pusieron un pie en chimpanflores, se lanzaron a los fondos públicos como náufrago sobre un banquete.

      De MCM hasta donde yo he visto, lo que quiere es que el país sea vivible, y no tener que estar sobreviviendo con la mierda de las colas para comprar cualquier cosa que ya no existe porque todo lo trafican ya, los choros matando como desquiciados, o con un gobierno que está conformado de pendejos a los que cada vez que les da un pinchazo en el costado deciden joder de alguna forma a alguien porque parece que realmente disfrutaran con el sufrimiento ajeno.

      Te puedo dar la razón de que ambos tienen convicción, pero dicha convicción para cambiar el país es por razones diametralmente opuestas y para obtener un resultado que es tan opuesto uno del otro que parece que fueran de universos paralelos.

  21. I agree with much of what has been said here though, just visualizing MCM lined up with the 9 other most prominent female leaders of the government in a “who do you want to pick for your team?” and knowing that you can’t have her, must explain why so many of them see rojo-rojito with respect to MCM… this especially so since they know that much can be bought, but not the “real-class” which they know many of their followers can’t avoid to see shining through… you see there are ordinary-sifrinas and then there are classy-sifrinas and they are pas la meme chose.

    And of course they hate the fact she does not allow them to use her photo with GW more effectively in their anti-imperialism preaching.

  22. OT…I just heard a report that Jews cannot get out of Venezuela unless they’re politically connected. Is this in any way accurate?

      • Thank you Amieris.

        So, today, how difficult is it for a Venezuelan Jew to emigrate? Are they allowed to take all their possessions, or does the state only let them leave ‘with the shirt on their backs?’

        • There are no restrictions on emigration. The only difficulty may be in finding dollars at a reasonable rate but the black market is always there. There are no discriminations on Jews or any other religion or ethnicity (apart from normal bigotry).

  23. I always thought the thing about her that would antagonize chavistas the most is that, were they in a reversed situation, she would scrupulously attempt to be fair to them. Knowing that you are being a dick to someone that wouldn’t do the same to you tends to, in emotionally mature people, engender shame. In others, a mix of self-loathing and projection upon the source of that feeling. I’ll let you decide which camp the chavistas lean towards.

    In other women in politics news, CaracasChronicles favorite Mary Landrieu lost her re-election bid tonight in Chavez-sized proportions. I know, I know, we’ll all shed a tear for her. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/bill-cassidy-mary-landrieu-2014-louisiana-senate-elections-results-113367.html

    She’s no longer the “keystone” to PDVSA lobbying.

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