Hugo Chávez saved me from the left.

And by left, I mean, you know, la izquierda mal bañada. 

If Chávez hadn’t been President when I was in college, I would have spent my days playing Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés songs, smoking pot, and chatting up commie girls talking about the revolution and how I would leave it all to retire to the mountains and live how humans are supposed to live, and how we could do that together, probably naked. Yes. Chávez saved me from all that. Or did he rob me of all that? The right to be absolutely stupid in my 20s – hasta eso me quitó. I’m a little bit broken inside. I have a repressed little monster that every once in awhile tries to crawl out of my mouth, and I have to stuff back in with a shovel.

Thanks to a recent decision by the Supreme Tribunal (TSJ), I’ve been able to get in touch with that part of my psyche. And sort of come to terms with it. But we’ll get back to that.

Lately, I’ve been having the weirdest dream. I enter a house, probably in Prados del Este, Santa Mónica, or San Antonio. A woman receives me in the foyer, it’s Daniella Cabello. It’s a PG dream, sorry. She walks me in, serves me a rum and coke, and shows me to the living room. Sitting in a victorian chair, like a modern day Napoleon, is her father: Diosdado Cabello. I’m scared, but I sit down anyway. He raises a glass of rum and coke, ¡salud!  And we start drinking, and chatting, and making jokes, and talking about life, the Universe, you know, everything. And you know what? I really liked him. He was such a good host, such a great guy.

What.The.Hell.Does.That.Mean?

Am I a closet chavista? Do I secretly admire them? Do I want to be their friend? Is my inner little Gollum winning this battle? The thought has troubled me for weeks.

Some days later I dreamt that Donald Trump joined us. And he was lovely too! And Diosdado and him toasted their billions away, and Donald made a pass at Daniella, and Diosdado didn’t care, and we were such a happy bunch. And this? What the hell could this mean? Well, probably that Donald will jump to the left once he gets the official nomination to grab all those disenfranchised Bernie Bros who hate Hillary, but we’re waaay off track now.

Anyway, back to that TSJ ruling. A couple of days ago the news in Venezuela was that the TSJ had rejected a bill that would have given property rights to the recipients of Misión Vivienda, for the homes that they are occupying but do not and cannot own.

It’s an absurdly unpopular decision, but they just couldn’t let the AN get away with a populist measure. Chavistas are the only ones allowed demagoguery. The reasoning of Justice Lourdes Suarez Anderson, sister of Danilo Anderson (¡Danilo somos todos!), was just amazing, of Luersian proportions.

Here are some of the good bits from an El Estimulo piece:

“Also, (the decision) considers that it (the project) doesn’t take into account the impact for the economy ‘of these units entering the market freely through their sale, nor that they would become part of the financial speculation that takes place on the secondary mortgage market.’”

Ok, you can get an idea where this is heading:

Here, the judge argues that the ‘unregulated growth’ of this secondary housing market ‘was one of the first causes of the economic crisis of 2008 in the United States, which also had worldwide repercussions.’

This is Gold. I want to buy Lourdes Suarez Anderson a drink. I want to drink a rum and coke (not Cuba Libre, and probably just rum since there will be no more coke in Venezuela, I mean, no more Coca-Cola, damn it, the puns are killing me) with Justice Suarez-Anderson, and Diosdado, and Daniella, and, why not? Donald Trump too, he can come along. I want us to celebrate such genius. I want her to teach me. I want to ask her for a job. I want to thank her for liberating my inner chavista. I love it. I love her for this.

The level of release, of nothingness, of zen, at which you have to arrive to in order to write something like this in a TSJ decision with a straight face is something the best comedians in the world spend years striving for.

I was supposed to analyze this. Y’know, juridically. But how could I? And, more importantly, why should I? This isn’t law, this is art.

So I’m just going to enjoy this moment. The moment I finally laughed with my inner chavista.

I love you, my little monster.

41 COMMENTS

  1. The core of the decision seems to be that everyone has a right to housing, so if you give people housing as private property, they could sell their houses, and then they would have no house. Am I wrong?

    “Así pues, toda propiedad tiene una función social y en el caso de las unidades habitacionales que el Estado ha destinado a garantizar el derecho a la vivienda de las familias la misma se circunscribe a cumplir con dicho fin, por lo que debe excluirse la posibilidad de que los destinatarios de estos planes sociales puedan verse privados de su derecho a la vivienda por razones económicas que impliquen la transmisión de la tenencia del inmueble a través de los mecanismos especulativos del mercado.

    • That seems to be how the Chavistas tend to read it. Housing isn’t a “right” any more than a job is a “right”. As an employer (cabinet maker, home builder), I am not in the business to create jobs. I am business to create a profit. Jobs are a byproduct of running a profitable business.

      The Chavista concern is indeed with Vile Profit (Kryptonite to a Chavista). A person who lives in a property that they own could gain equity (through improvements, appreciation, etc) and could indeed sell their property and make a Vile Profit. However, they discount the fact that such a Profiteer could buy a better property in a better neighborhood, closer to where they are employed, family, etc.

      And we cannot discount the notion that this is all about controlling the vote of those who live in domiciles they do not own by the political class. Vote against the PSUV and risk losing your apartment. Its no different that how the political class controls their core constituency in the United States, with all the goodies (entitlements) that the two dominant parties heap upon their voters. What Uncle Sam offers, he offers with strings attached.

    • Traduccion ” asi pues toda propiedad tiene una funcion politica de favorecer la popularidad del gobierno a traves de la entrega de viviendas a sus proselitos y partidarios bajo la condicion de que se mantengan leales , si les fuese posible vender las propiedades que habitan el gobierno no podria asegurar su lealtad y perderia del apoyo que necesita para ejercer su derecho al poder absoluto e indefinido , por otra parte de aprobarse esta ley seria inevitable conocer con precision cuantas son las viviendas construidas por el Estado y como estas son muchos menos de las que el Estado afirma haber construido quedaria al descubierto la falsedad de la cifra estatal lo que perjudicaria su credibilidad y prestigio afectando a la postre el sagrado derecho de los gobernantes a mantenerse en el ejercicio absoluto e indefinido del poder ….”

  2. Here’s a translation of that segment of the court decision:

    “So anyway, all property has a social function and in the case of state housing units which the state has directed at guaranteeing the right to housing of families, this same right is limited to the extent necessary to accomplish this goal. For that reason, it must insure that no possibility exists that the beneficiaries of the policy could be deprived of the right to housing for economic reasons, such as would be implied by assigning the property to others through the speculative mechanisms of the market.”

    This is classic reasoning.

    • Jeffry, there’s a point that maybe didn’t come across. And here, I’m going to say it: If I were on their side, this is the way I would do things. My admiration is real.

      • I read the judgment more as One in which the judge reasons as follows: “Who cares what I put down here? Any goddamn thing is good enough.”

    • I’ve lost count of how many times a day I find my mind wandering back to that book. “Required” high school reading so many years ago. At the time, I never imagined it would become relevant. It seemed like such fiction. Now I find it’s sometimes the most effective comparison to reality that I can use to explain things to people outside the country. Doublethink. Doublespeak. There are simply no other names for it.

  3. I was so relieved by your dream. I too had a dream about someone I detest: Sean Penn. In my dream, he was my boyfriend and all-around great guy… funny, intelligent, sexy, fun. I remember thinking: what next? A dream where I’m lounging on the beach with my boyfriend Maduro, drinking pina coladas and smiling for a photo?

  4. In order to edit it, I had to read this last night right before I went to bed and…well…it was not conducive to what you’d call “restorative sleep”……

  5. Hahaha! This was hilarious.

    What does it mean? That your brain powers your heart, that’s the order, but you still need both.

    And actually no one can ever be rob you of either, figuratively.

  6. Tin Cup as allegory: Raul Stolk is Molly (succumbing to the madness), Chavistas are Roy (endless folly but somehow managing to pull something out of their ass) and Romeo et al is GGH and the rest of the enchufado enablers

  7. My thumbnail understanding of big C communism is, you have a right to housing, but not property. The state will always be the landlord. Not a very good landlord. The kind that lives in a different city and gets his wastrel brother to fix the water heater when he can get around to it.

    However, crediting this regime with faithfully applying doctrine would be giving them too much credit. At this point they’re mostly just making sh-t up.

  8. Raul, it isn’t that you’re a closet Chavista…it’s just that you want to get Chavista Daniela in the closet….

    • Con tanta prepago de silicón y con tanta mujer que sí vale la pena que hay por ahí, pfft, creo que no lo vale en realidad, heheh.

  9. This piece is actually a little weird. I suppose that trying to get into the heads of the Chavistas will do that to you. The mental gymnastics and contortions required to create a simulation of logic and rationale out of PSUV policy will drive you “through the looking glass”, to a world in which normal scientific laws and principles are simply one of a sheaf of alternate realities.

    But, in all seriousness, the foundation of this decision lies in the concept that ALL human and legal rights are ONLY granted courtesy of the PSUV and are revocable at any moment. Any good or benefit in life, can only come to us as a benefit of our loyalty to the PSUV and the Revolution. By passing this law, the Opposition was challenging the Regime’s monopoly on the granting and revocation of citizen rights. In the minds of the Chavistas, this could not stand. The very idea that people could live without being beholden to them is intolerable and dangerous.

  10. Raul is a brilliant writer but the problem I have sometimes with brilliant writers is I don’t understand what they are saying. I say that with all respect, and in particular, I respect a person who is prepared to push the envelope.

    The “This isn’t law, this is art” is a little flash of brilliance I did understand. Jurisprudence is clearly in the eye of the beholder in Madurolandia.

    Here’s my inner chavista speaking (having had the Silvio Rodriguez experience- not to rub it in, but yes in Canada even!- although instead of naked frolics, we had earnest discussions about incomprehensible french speaking academics basically asserting that everything means nothing…not a particularly helpful guide later in life to things like contract interpretation, etc., but clearly of value in a court of law in a totalitarian state, we now see):

    The AN’s housing gambit strikes me as just wrong as a matter of policy, and as a matter of political strategy. If people get title to their houses at this point in time, they will sell them tomorrow to a bolibourgues syndicate at some crap fire-sale price, they will use up the proceeds immediately on food and the rest will burn off with inflation like a pool of piss in the sun, and what will be left will be thousands of hungry and now homeless families, and so there will be a homeless crisis along with a hunger crisis to contend with.

    Is it properly an issue for the court? I don’t know. But this isn’t even a court, clearly, and interpreting what comes out of that – call it- State Organ- is as you suggest, perhaps better left to a literary critic, or maybe a social scientist.

    The post does pick up on an interesting similarity between Trump and Godgiven, which is what really is a strange incestuous overlay to their relationships with certain of their offspring (case in point: photo above). It may just be a common trait of narcissists, however, if Dr. Jorge Rodriguez would only heal himself, and do something for which he is possibly qualified, we might be spared this embarrassment, this little greek thing parked somewhere in a corner of an unfolding cataclysm (I’m speaking of course of Venezuela now, not the USA).

    The bad dream solution? I don’t know. Someone recommended to me not to eat caraotas negras after lunchtime….

    • I guess the “art” part refers to the fact that chavismo just told their base that they don’t have the right to own their very houses because somehow the benefit of humankind (Whatever you can eat that with) comes before such a puny and meaningless thing such as the dictatorship having the power to continue extorting them and threatening to kick them out of the houses whenever they have an itch in their butts.

      Saying “it’s not like we want to take your rights away, it’s that you’re helping us to protect humanity and the universe” takes a certain amount of cleverness there.

    • Thing is, they are PAYING for their right to own that house. They won’t sell it just like that since they had to invest in it. It’s not giving them property to their houses for 0 cost and that’s something people is not aware of.

  11. The idea of Presidents Trump and Cabello becoming billionaire populist authoritarian BFFs is frightening. It’s unlikely, but this is the closest we’ve been of it happening.

  12. I agree, I always had the dark feeling of never being able to live those momentos, I will never have a night’s sleep as perfect as the one that guy that came up with the explanation of last drough about the US having a “cloud sucking machine” had, I will never experience the joy of that HAARP conspiracy dude when he “put the pieces together”, I will never have a Salas awakening or a matica de acetaminofen eureka worthy day, it gets me sad, but goddamnit I’ll try:

    “Since maduro is the actual son of Chavez, and both embody the spirit of the revolution, it is only fair that when the referendum comes, for the opposition to win, they’ll have to get more votes than those el comandante eterno got in his better election, this os obviously due to the fact that those where the only votes that truly came from a patriot awakening of the people and not fascist propaganda.”

    If I’m not promoted to vp or tsj justice then i know my time has passed and will never drink that rum+coke with DC.

  13. A ver si entendí, ¿Te ríes debido a la forma hilarante en la que el chavismo logró “escurrir el bulto” con el peo de quitarle las casas a la gente y no parecer culpable por ello?

    Digo, porque carajo, hay que ver que estos manes entran de vez en cuando en el terreno del “Bastardo magnífico” (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagnificentBastard) porque pocas veces pueden, como dije, zafarse de la repercusión de sus metidas de pata como en esta ocasión, hace falta una cantidad de hipocresía e inteligencia bastante grandes para sacarse algo así de la manga.

    Aunque bueno, teniendo de maestro al barbudo de la isla, no sorprende tanto.

  14. Hahahaha, that was dark, son.

    I love them too. In fact, all Venezuelans (real ones) do. Chavistas just don’t have enough at stake, at least directly, to bury it into their subconscious. You said it: it’s how I would do it.

    I honestly think that they can only be beaten by someone who loves them. You gotta love your enemies. Appreciate them. Otherwise, they are just scary monsters you don’t understand and can’t fight.

  15. Let me put it this way for you:

    My mom assisted the Cuban government during the 80s on their Civil Family Code.
    My step-father was actually trained by Fidel Castro himself and its founder of the MIR political party and the Bachiller guerilla force.
    I travelled to Cuba as a child part of an international pionero exchange camp.
    I was baby-sit by actual cuban embassy personnel.
    I was raised in the MAS party national HQs along with Teodoro, Pompeyo and DePaola.
    My mom is a retired UCV professor, I studied in the APUCV school; we used to sing “Políticos Paralíticos” on the school bus and scream at PMs “Hay que estudiar”.

    Right now I’m living in Madrid, forced out of Venezuela for the lack of medicines for the chronic disease I suffer.
    Every time I go past the hunger strike at Lavapies, a PODEMOS rally or some demonstration at Sol, I don’t know whether to yell them how stupid they are, or hug them for the same reason.

    • I don’t think the admiration Raul is talking about is ideological.

      That’s the problem with socialism: no acknowledgement of actual humanity.

  16. Having a misspent much of my 20s, I can honestly say that if you have to choose between the commie girls of the extreme left and the ultraderecho girls of the extreme right, go left. Muuuuuuch more fun. Especially if you can frame yourself as someone oppressed by a system or a victim of social injustice. (There’s an idea for a calendar there, “Girls Gone Left”, but that would probably be too bourgeoisie, too capitalist.)

    The other side? Too much repression (internally) and religiosity.

    As far as Daniela goes, the princess of a revolution based on real and imagined entitlements…I cannot begin to imagine the nightmare she would be to deal with. Whatever her nature, the nuture-side of things probably smothered that decades ago.

    From my personal experience living in an extreme-right state and verified by the behavior of the Venezuelan government (and the TSJ in particular), is that the farther from the center one goes, and the more one is surrounded by the same echo chamber of extreme folks, the more likely you are to rationalize behaviors, regardless of how irrational they may be when actually exposed to such unnecessary things as so-called “logic” and wholly subjective “facts”.

    • Or, to paraphrase Jay-Z

      If your government is causing problems I feel bad for you son
      You got 99 problems but Daniela ain’t one

  17. Your dream is your psyche’s way of coming to terms with the fact that removing Cabello from the circles of power will be nearly impossible even after Maduro’s exit. So a little self-induced Stockholm Syndrome is your brain’s way to dealing with the fact that he’s likely never to pay for his crimes. Do you live in the US? Because that would account for Trump’s presence.

  18. I thought Daniela was living in S.P. Brasil while pretending to go to college in some small city to the south. She’s recording her next album last I heard

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