Panem Chronicles

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    Picture it: a dystopian society where impoverished districts suffer so that The Capitol can enjoy a lavish lifestyle.

    That may sound like The Hunger Games’ tagline, but it’s Venezuela. After all, we’ve been getting more and more science-fictiony as time passes. With electricity rationing set to hit the entire country except for Caracas, our dystopia is finally realized.

    Chavismo has had a long tradition on discriminating in favor of Caracas at the expense of what’s dismissed as “el interior” – the Caraqueño term for anything that is not Caracas. Caracas is Caracas and the rest is monte y culebra. Is it any wonder the proncies resent the hell out of the capital?

    From a governance perspective, the discrimination is deep rooted. It is also a classic Venezuelan political assumption that what doesn’t happen in Caracas, isn’t happening at all.

    True to form, our Minister for Electric Energy, Luis Motta Dominguez, is not going to play out of the textbook. Instead, he will continue with the discriminatory policies that his party is very much known for.

    Starting on Monday, all Venezuelans except for those in The Capitol Capital will have to contribute a “grain of water” to bring Guri’s reservoir to normality. The sacrifice: 4 hours a day “programmed” blackouts.

    Of course, the minister measured his words and hedged his ability to deliver, warning that “other fortuitous blackouts may occur due to a tree branch or sabotage,” as if fortune had anything to do with an overcaffeinated operator failing to keep the crippled national grid running, following a plan to turn off districts depending on demand spikes.

    This of course is just making official what has already happened. The “interior” has seen unplanned blackouts for years now. The same happens with water where communities are left out of the precious liquid in favor of Caracas.

    Of course, no chavista policy failure would be complete if it didn’t come with a threat. Eastern municipalities of Caracas could be included in the electric rationing if they don’t use electricity more efficiently. What is efficient here, or even what will be done with other parts of Caracas, remains a mystery so far.

    What else will Chavismo ask of its interior denizens in order to keep those in The Capitol content?

    28 COMMENTS

    1. The other two exceptions are Vargas and Nueva Esparta. I am wondering why these two? Vargas includes the Maiquetía Airport, but the airport does have generators, so this wouldn’t be the reason. Nueva Esparta? It could be they don’t want to disrupt tourism, but it is low season anyway.

      So, I don’t get it. Anyone else have a clue?

      • From what I heard they were so worried about all the lack of water demonstrations that they exempted Margarita so as to not cause further discord.

        As an offside did anyone not fall on the floor laughing about the “Motor of Tourism” that was initiated on Friday by Maduro?
        I mean really! What fantasy world to these people live in?
        Handing out multi million cheques in Bs. (loans?) that have no possibility to be repaid.
        Where are the tourists going to come from who can afford to pay the rates & prices that we’ll need to charge to cover inflation this year of 600%+?
        Not from Venezuela!
        And it’s now so difficult for a foreigner to get here that that market is virtually destroyed.
        And do you think that the Brasileros or Colombianos who come here are going to bring there reales or US$ to Margarita to pay for accommodations or exchange at official rates.
        Good luck with that.

        Just more fantasy from a bunch of corrupt airheads.

    2. “Picture it: a dystopian society where impoverished districts suffer so that The Capitol can enjoy a LAVISH lifestyle.”
      I wouldn’t call living in Caracas lavish, maybe less soul crushing than in other parts of the country, but lavish? Nah

      • Boliburgoise enjoy the lavish living style, the rest of CCS population can get killed by choros for all that chavismo cares.

    3. There are places or even people which because they are endowed with special symbolic importance in the eyes of most people matter more to ordinary folk than anyother place or person so that if something happens in them or to them the resonance of that event is much greater, creating waves that carry a big impact on everything else . If a bomb explodes in the heart of New York killing 5 persons , that will have an impact in peoples mind much bigger than if a bomb explodes in Karachi killing a 100 persons. If something happens to the Pope or to President Obama that will have an impact on peoples mind more than if that happened to the Prime Minister of Kazhakstan or to the Main Rabbi of Buenos Aires.

      If you say THE PEOPLE (meaning the barrios) feel angry that will mean much more than if you say the Middle Classes feel angry, for this reason Pols who understand, who in fact are hiperestesiac about the emotional importance of symbols, whether they are embodied in a City or a Group of Peope or on an individual, will want to control things so that the symbolically important places or people never give rise to waves of opinions or feelings that can spread and periliously affect their control of things nationwide.

      Caracas in that sense is a place which calmness must be preserved more than any other place in Venezuela , a disturbance in Petare matters much more than a disturbance in Guasdalito , thus the favoured treatment the regime gives to Caracas protecting as much as possible its points of comfort.

      When I first heard the Minister talk about how the rationing would work in Caracas I suspected that what they really wanted to do was to have a reason to justify rationing electricity to all Caracas residential areas but not to places like Petare or El Guarataro because of the fear that disturbances there would have an rippling effect on other barrios everywhere else…………well know soon enough wether this is the case.!!

      • I don’t think it has anything to do with symbols. It’s a lot more pragmatic than that: simply put, Caracas is the seat of all government branches and it’s also the most dangerous city in the country. Constant outages would severely cripple governance and spark widespread riots in days. As Ulamog pointed out, protests here are a serious problem in many ways, that’s why Caracas has been treated the way it’s been treated by most governments.

        • In a sense you are right in that if a riot happens in caracas , being such a big city it can easily spark other riots elsewhere in the city so that at some point they can reach a critical mass and become unstoppable .!! Thats less likely to happen in smaller cities.!!

          The impact on govt offices dont mean that much because most of those offices are simply bureaucratic places which can stop functioning without any consequences for our daily lives . The really strategically important places , housing for example military or police institutions very likely have their own independen sources of energy and wouldnt be affected by a residential outage.

          I still think that if something happens in Caracas its more likely to resonate in the rest of the country simply because being the capital its in the eye of everyone much more than any provincial town , thats where its symbolic importance might come in. Weve seen this again and again. in coup after coup , unless the coup takes over Caracas it doenst count as a success.

      • There is nothing symbolic about Caracas in this matter.

        It is the place where the president and the big honchos live and if there are riots around them, it’s the end of them, period.

        In Valencia and Maracaibo there can be riots, but people know they won’t gain anything there but vent their frustration.

    4. The maddening thing as someone who has worked on real energy efficiency policies and communications strategies is that there are simple things that would save a lot of energy in Venezuela. First of all, people need to know where energy is being used. I bet most people think that turning off lights saves energy, not realizing that today, lighting is a small part of residential electricity load compared to air conditioners, flat-screen TVs or electric hot water tanks.

    5. As Javier/others said, the reason for exempting Caracas is the well-founded fear of Caracazo II=the end of the Regime, as the Military would have to take control and fire on hapless Chavista looters to keep the City from being looted/burned. The same for Vargas, which, like Caracas, is surrounded by hillside barrios even more so and poorer than those of Caracas. Caracas, already perhaps the world’s most dangerous city, would become more dangerous yet; the City even in daytime would grind to a halt, as the Metro/traffic signals/et. al. would not work, as well as essential services like hospitals/banking/etc. The Government offices, already on a 4-day workweek, would probably virtually cese functioning. Keeping Margarita lit, for now, is simply part of the grandiose strategy to “substitute oil income for tourism income”, which Island Canuck so effectively states, is just a dream for now, and he didn’t even mention the personal insecurity waiting for tourists from the time they set foot on the Island.

    6. I understand where Bil, Javier and others are coming from on the rationale of keeping Caracas lit up. The rationale is not debated here. What is debated is the discriminatory policies. It is a very utilitarian argument that you guys present, but it isn’t a just one, as there is no justification (morally) for preference over one or the other, and if you can actually control it, you should give preference to those in worst condition (Rawls).

      Romans held games were Christians were eaten by lions. They did so because it distracted its citizen and kept the “governance”. So do the leaders of Panem with the Hunger Games. Very practical no doubt, but very unjust.

      • So, the Bolivarian Revolution has been/should be “just”? Maybe so, since everyone has been impoverished in a similar manner, including the elimination of what once was an incubating middle class. Even a “just” functioning democracy would try to keep the cerros of Caracas/Vargas from coming down to loot/burn the capital to the ground, as they almost did in the Caracazo due to CAP’s initial indecision to call out the troops.

      • The vey poor may be better off than the middle class as regards the purveyance of food products , one they get thru their bachaquero swarming of stores located in middle class neighborhood most of the essential products the neighbors cant get to , at the same time the govt (inspired more by Machiaveli rather than by Rawls) distributes family packages of essential foods in the barrios , usually (although not always) demanding the recipients signature to a paper protesting the AN’s amnesty law…!!

    7. I’m very surprised that the caracaschronicles readers fail to see the real reason behind this: The military.

      Yes, Generals and Colonel are swiming in pools of dirty money so they just don’t f****g care about anyone or anything else, they can buy plants and tanks and so on and keep on living their lavish lifestyles… plus, their whole families are already living like royalty in the “the land of the free” or any other civilized countries that don’t care how many you have killed as long as you have money.

      But what about the middle rank officers… the kind of guy that receives a couple of Cherys every year, or maybe an apartment, and who is allowed to “matraquear” every unlucky non-PSUV civilian who comes across him. The guy who maybe has enough money for a couple trips abroad with the family and/or the misstress but certainly doesn’t have the money necessary to send his family to live a comfortable lifestyle abroad, yet. This guy is still here because he knows he is next on the line for the big money, but he is not willing to make sacrifices or let his “loved” suffer even more, when they already have to deal with the lack of security, of services, etc.

      This guys are in direct control of troops.

    8. Wait, aren’t these people in the interior Chavistas? Is the thought that they’re more easy to deprive because: 1. They will believe whatever propaganda re: sabotage, etc.. 2. They can’t gather in large masses to protest. 3.(Your answer here)

    9. I should have read the comments first. You guys all answered my question. “a disturbance in Petare matters much more than a disturbance in Guasdalito , thus the favoured treatment the regime gives to Caracas”

      • It’s more a question of large numbers of destitute poor crowded in limited physical space (Skinner), especially in which space you find key Govt./Chavista ofiices/hospitals/residences.

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