Bringing it Home

For the Washington Post, Moisés Naím and Quico try to bring home the real scale of the tragedy Venezuela is sinking into. It's a story you know well, retold for a public still struggling to grasp it.


This is what happens when Moisés Naím and Quico sit down together to try to bring home the sense of urgency about what’s now happening in Venezuela.

Today, Venezuela is the sick man of Latin America, buckling under chronic shortages of everything from food and toilet paper to medicine and freedom. Riots and looting have become commonplace, as hungry people vent their despair while the revolutionary elite lives in luxury, pausing now and then to order recruits to fire more tear gas into crowds desperate for food.

Not long ago, the regime that Hugo Chávez founded was an object of fascination for progressives worldwide, attracting its share of another-world-is-possible solidarity activists. Today, as the country sinks deeper into the Western Hemisphere’s most intractable political and economic crisis, the time has come to ask some hard questions about how this regime — so obviously thuggish in hindsight — could have conned so many international observers for so long.

The full scale of the social and economic meltdown in Venezuela, its moral and human dimensions, are so thorough the real challenge is how to make it vivid. What did you think?

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  1. Good article on WaPo with hundreds of interesting comments as well. From JeffZaun: “Venezuela’s democratic façade has completely crumbled. Breaking news from 1999”

  2. A worthwhile description of the “ID” not modified by the “ego” or “super ego”. The “ID” has been suppressed in Venezuela for countless time, now the very few destroy all the progress the “balanced Id” could have achieved.

  3. Very good job in very limited space. The article highlights the mechanics of the political seizure the country is in, its democratic arteries blocked.

    Criticism is difficult because it too often inserts a negative, glossing over the positive. Your article focused on the political, the subversion of democracy, and the graft, the misappropriation of public funds, and the true nature of the regime, with links to cocaine trafficking. Very effective work. Now that I’ve glossed over the positive, here comes the “criticism.” I hope your next article focuses on the economic destruction of expropriation, with specific examples, maybe one in agriculture and one in manufacturing, perhaps sugar production and steel, or the current persecution of Lorenzo Mendoza and Polar. That, to highlight the insanity of Maduro’s continuation of Chavez, the criminal insanity of the destruction.

    I have very little notion of what goes into writing an article for publication, especially a collaborative one, but I believe journalists consider other journalists’ writing as well, and try to remain within the gradually changing bounds of a current consensus – until the time comes to drastically correct that consensus. Within world-wide journalistic consensus, one of the things that amazes me is that the theory of the pair of malicious, self-centered, unspeakably criminal morons, Karl Marx and Ernst Engels have not been singled out as the most insidious mass murderers of all time, and communism labeled as nothing more than an insanely perverse set of lies and propaganda laid out to justify wholesale slaughter of millions of human beings, followed by a population completely subjugated through economic deprivation and even deprivation of freedoms such as thought and speech. As if communism would somehow be “better” than the tyranny which preceded it. As Roy, posting to your blog, pointed out in a very astute comment a few articles ago, changing definitions of things is just flat out lying, reflexively blaming opposition for exactly one’s own crimes. Renaming “communism” as “socialism” is an attempt to get the foolish to swallow it, as if renaming “cancer” as “natural death” would cure it. Yet that is exactly what Chavez did, and your article makes the link to Cuba clear. Mentioning the oil and cash flowed to Cuba might have been appropriate. The much publicized photo of Venezuelan General Padrino Lopez kneeling before Fidel Castro would have been better for the context of your article than the 55 seconds of looting video.

    Jackson Diehl is apparently a regular at the Washington Post.

    “The encouraging news from Latin America is that the leftist populists who for 15 years undermined the region’s democratic institutions and wrecked its economies are being pushed out ….”

    In your article: “And so he mastered the paradoxical art of destroying democracy one election at a time.” You “could have” (of course, “could have” is a ridiculously infinite spectrum of anything) left the teaser: Concurrently, he went about destroying its economy one expropriation at a time. A salient example in the present is this: In the face of food shortages, Maduro insists on persecution of Polar industries, with the “paradoxical” logic that in the face of food shortages the solution is to shut down the biggest food producer in the country.

  4. Good article indeed.

    “The full scale of the social and economic meltdown in Venezuela, its moral and human dimensions, are so thorough the real challenge is how to make it vivid. What did you think?”

    – The bogus OEA or the UN are relatively well-aware of the disasters in Vzla. Same as many governments, including John Kerry in the USA (per recent declaration) The Europeans? They don’t really care, either.

    You see, to be perfectly blunt, now that oil is abundant and prices are low, other country just do not care about some far-away, under-developed country called Venezuela. They have much bigger fish to fry. Heck, here in the USA, they hardly give a damn about Mexico, except for the border, draugs and ilegal immigration..

    Do you think Obama spends 5 minutes of his day thinking about Venezuela? Among dozens of more important countries? Do you think the Brits or the Germans even know where Vzla is on a world map?
    They have their own European problems and trades to deal with.. Heck even African and Asian or Middle East countries are a much bigger concern than Vzla for them.

    Even Latin American countries like Chile and even Colombia don’t really care. They have their own problems.

    – Secondly, the Venezuelan corrupt Chavista politicians could not care less about the miseries of El Pueblo either. They just care about their fat bank accounts.

    – Third: A large % of the people in Vzla must be enchufados one way or another. They are not that innocent. Or how can they survive with $12/month? The corruption in Vzla is widespread all over, in every town, at every level.

    Finally, until there is a rule of Law, punishment for corruption and all crimes, and a tough, tough government in place, until they start educating “el pueblo” with real, quality education, until some moral values are instilled, the phenomenal Venezuelan mess will not get any better.

    Most likely, it’s gonna take decades, a generation or 2 to get a bit better. When you consider the time it takes to educate people, pay the Chinese debts, start producing something else but cheap oil, set in place a less corrupt government with true separation of powers, clean-up the corrupt military, police, guardia, jails, ministers..

    The country is just messed up to the core. It will take decades..

  5. Francis Fukuyama retwitted this WP article by Naim and Francisco in his twitter account , the message is spreading ………, he also personally video interviewed two AN oppo reps who were visiting Buenos Aires on the Venezuelan situation…., Venezuela is increasingly becoming a cause celebre in international circles both for the cogsnocendi and for the general public.. !!

  6. The challenge of telling this story is to condense it into a manageable and digestible size. Those of us who know the story are tempted to provide all the gory details. Between you and Moises Naim, you whittled it down to the essentials. Very well done!

  7. Everything that shows the real Chavez is good, particularly if allows the “world”, that is whomever reads the WP, to get another glance at Venezuela.

    I may say, in a way of constructive criticism, that we want to go beyond and open some eyes around the “great debacle” that was carried with a lot of the population support. (case study?)

    We want to chronicle how Chavez destroyed the country wholesale and no one dared to confront him, particularly the ones that belonged to his inner circle, that later own tried their own toothless dissidence.

    We may want to write about a perhaps history’s first cold invasion of a sovereign country by a smaller, poor, geographically distant, no longer relevant and arguably isolated island country. May be a good article to discuss how the “Liberator Army” got subjugated and became servile to Cubans, drug traffickers and smugglers; not counting shooting at the own people they swore to protect to preserve exactly that.

    Perhaps we want not only show the immediate destruction of the economy but moreover the country morals: our appeasement to white collar (green collar nowadays) thievery and our heartless disdain for human suffering.

    I think Quico and Moises have the great job and responsibility to keep using their influence to show to the world the real Chavez and his consequences.

    This is a good first salvo but we need to dig deeper and less obvious on the obvious. We have to go Nuremberg and pull the veil off Chavism the same way Nazism was unveiled.

  8. Damn Quico, you said it. You said dictatorship.

    Honestly, Ive grown to have deep issues with how that term is used. It is supposed to identify a political leader who dictates laws with full legal authority without any assemblies or councils that have a say other than maybe advice. Chavez was not a dictator. In a sense, that is giving him too much.

    In Maduro’s case, it is DEFINETLY giving him too much.

  9. Josh flew to Venezuela on June 11. On June he got married to Thamara Belen Caleño Candelo (V-23632580) of Ciudad Caribia in Vargas (Chavez planned community). Thamara and her family are REDs (supporters of Chavismo and/or the regime). After the wedding they went to Margarita for honeymoon and returned to Ciudad Caribia on June 25. On June 30, Policia Nazional arrested them on trumped up charges.

    What happpend to Josh was predicted six months ago and was being discussed as recently as last week (a high level memorandum from a senior analyst). Not going to mention names and affiliations. The window for arresting an American citizen was closing. I’m referring to the nephews. This was done for the nephews to give them hope and fortitude so they don’t talk or cut deals not approved by Aunt Ciia and Uncle Nick.

    Josh was picked out at the airport upon arrival. They are still scouting for more Americans but the pressure is now off and they can take their time nabbing someone else. It can happen after the nephews are convicted and sentenced.

    The regime was in a hurry and poor Josh was in the wrong place at wrong time. The whole thing is so poorly done that the regime is keeping a low profile and hoping for the best. Ball in Uncle Sam’s court.


  10. imagery analysis of images posted at

    images taken June 30th at 9:15pm and processed in Picasa. No other info available.

    $120 dollars, three Visa credit cards, Utah driver’s license, two cell phones and a library card.

    they don’t want us to see too much. The images provided and how they are provided is designed to limit our knowledge.

    the AK is a former Colombian guerillan/FARC rifle

    poorly done and executed FALSE FLAG OPERATION with denial, deception and disinformation

  11. the rifles where hastily placed. There’s no ammo. Two different calibers. No pistol. This is a dumbass’ version of a setup. You forgot the gun and ammo dumbass. That’s a mormon kid. I bet he’s never fired an assault rifle much less a gun. They are not going to allow the bride and family to speak and tell the truth. They have a mess on their hands

  12. For all of us gringos with family ties to Venezuela (like marriage in my case). FUCKING UP a poor Mormon kid chosen in a duck-duck-goose is personally upsetting.

    I guess any of my grown kids or I could have been ‘el pobre guevon’.

    Let the dead bury the dead. Not even a funeral to my in-laws will make us go there.


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