Tuesday morning. The neighborhood Whatsapp group sends out a heads up: there’s powdered milk at the local supermarket. As I walk past the shop to the end of the freshly formed queue, the group gives a couple of alerts: someone posts that viral front page from EL DIARIO DE CARACAS about shortages from 1989, and another member muses “¿Hasta cuándo aguantará esta vaina? Por menos que eso…”.

HaoBfU7“That was then, this is now”, I think to myself.

I am a bad queue companion. Not only do I feel that every single queue is an embarrassment, an abject failure in a country whose shortages are caused not by war or natural disasters, but by pure social and political errors.

Somehow, I also find myself burdened by the small talk that turns rapidly from the sympathetic and worrying tales about the crisis, to petty parochial talk, reflecting social fears and old grievances.

Sadness gets the best of me. I stay silent while a woman ponders “¿por qué la gente no se alza?”, as someone adds ruefully and hopefully, that an estallido is coming.

***

The neighborhood line is both routine and happenstance, since it is formed anew several times each day, whenever the different social networks announce that a truckload of some price-controlled item has arrived. If you’re near, you drop whatever you’re doing and go there, because any staple will do.

But next to it stands another line. Separate. The out-of-neighborhood line, euphemistically called cola de visitantes: a shameful division stoked by the local need to feel a semblance of control. That one is much more disciplined; people from afar come in the wee hours of the morning to set up camp around the small supermarket. It also shows a stark social divide.

I have long refused the local rationing card system set up by the Neighborhood Association: anyone should be able to buy anywhere, new and unenforceable controls lead to more distortions, thousands do not have any functioning local store where they live, hundreds of people come to work and serve the neighborhood businesses and homes every day, and geographic apartheid is immoral.

Alas, no one would have let me in any other queue than that of the locals: I simply look the part. White and non-threatening, I am a vecino, whether they recognize me or not. This is not lost on the “visitors”, and any given day there is palpable tension between the two lines.

On Wednesday, a rumor spread that some visitantes were stealing bags or queue spots from a neighbor. It prompted a row, violent enough that State police took over the lines for the day. The policemen, who would be deemed “visitors” had they been out of uniform, ask a woman in our line if she’s from around here. She has worked in a nearby house for ten years, and she left her card there. The queue stalls, and some have called for her to be taken out of the line. Her protestations, and the intervention by some of us close by, are strong enough that she’s allowed to stay, seething and humiliated.

Por eso es que bajan los cerros”, she mumbled, and the Caracazo was thus invoked for the third time that day.

***

An ambivalent narrative was beginning to take hold: the events were at the same time a protest against the government and its reforms, and against corruption and the Welfare State.

My first memory of the Caracazo was of a conclave of 5th grade teachers murmuring at our classroom door, “something is going on downtown…” Sent home from school early, it wouldn’t be until that night that I would understand that things began in Guarenas-Guatire. Little did I know that in a two block radius from my childhood home, five supermarkets and a few shops had been looted that day, some never to recover, like the Chinese-run Quincalla at La Florida. Since the riots happened right before payday at the end of the month, supplies at home were scant. Our parents had to buy what the fearful half-opened local shops had: a whole salami, pineapple soda, a box of chocolates.

The crisis subsided, and we went back to school, but the events were the main point of conversation in the coming months. Stories about savage looting and repression were the norm, both on TV and in day to day life. An ambivalent narrative was beginning to take hold: the events were at the same time a protest against the government and its reforms, and against corruption and the Welfare State; looting was somehow both the expression of the people —savage and spontaneous, anarchic and irrepressible— but also an organized effort by brave or violent social fighters. The Armed Forces were both society’s saviors and a threatening scourge hanging over each of us. Everything was true, and its opposite also.

Ultimately, hundreds of small shopkeepers faced ruin.

Hundreds of people were dead or missing.

Nothing was ever the same, because most things were never like we thought they were.

***

The prophecy of the people coming down from the cerros has its own intellectual history. It has served as a warning and a threat, and over the years has been used as an apocalyptic device to close down debate.

Politicians of all democratic parties have taken it as a cautionary tale of politically unsupported reforms, stifling thousands of policy discussions with the straw-men of populism and neoliberalism. Hugo Chávez and the Venezuelan far left weaved a tale of legitimacy out of 1989’s violence, to justify the coup attempts of 1992 and the eventual Bolivarian Revolution, heeding of a possible social explosion if they were ever to be removed from power. Radical vocal minorities  would have claimed that Chavismo was the ultimate triumph of the 1989 mobs, and now invoke the cerros against the Maduro government and his “paquete”, pining for an avenging riot that would topple Chavismo, rehabilitate the erstwhile-loathed Carlos Andrés Perez, and bring forth the Armed Forces as savior and scourge.

Most simply wonder why it hasn’t happened again.

Surely, the social situation of 2016 seems, if not worse, at least comparable to that of 1989. A long recession, a crisis of the Welfare State, an unpopular government. There are even small riots reported every day from many different corners. The ingredients appear to be there for a big social purge that will reset the playing field and atone for these last three decades, bringing everything full circle, either by destroying whatever’s left of the old Venezuela or restoring its long-lost hope.

The similarities are deceiving, and the bet for a second coming of the Caracazo are either disingenuous or misguided. The economic crisis of the mid-to-late eighties was due to the abrupt end of the upwardly mobile and dynamic society that had thrived in Venezuela since the 1920s. Whether the change was not sufficiently democratic, broad or expedient, is an open argument, but the fact remains that, for a few generations, every Venezuelan had it better than his predecessors. Every social indicator improved in the intervening decades, at a pace that put Venezuela in the top of the Human Development standards of the second half of the  XXth Century.

Yes, the effort was led by the State, since not only was it oil-rent-rich, but because there was no Civil Society to speak of (and, let us not forget, because the policy consensus in the West was adamantly welfarist). And, yes, the idea of modern Democracy in Venezuela, as far back as the 1930s, has been inextricably linked with how much the lot of the people improves.

How could we be surprised that there was a day of reckoning? The social expectation of never ending betterment was cut short, and something had to give. It found violent expression in a society that had become unaccustomed to its own historical propensities, and thus was met with a violent response beyond the pale. One that has brought forward deep-seated prejudices and resentments, which go both ways.

Whether the change was not sufficiently democratic, broad or expedient, is an open argument, but the fact remains that, for a few generations, every Venezuelan had it better than his predecessors.

Today, social deterioration is much less abrupt. We are almost a decade removed from the heyday of oil-rich Chavismo, and regulation-driven scarcity has been a common fact in life since the end of the aughts.

Similarly, there’s not a single social indicator that hasn’t shown a decline during the last years of Chavez and Maduro’s cuatrienio, but such decline has been cumulative, even if it has greatly accelerated since 2014.

Moreover, the State has grown adept at curbing any surge in violence, letting society vent its frustrations in highly localized events, and preventing them from becoming widespread through force, fear and intelligence work.

The prophecy of the people coming down from the cerros has its own intellectual history. It has served as a warning and a threat, and over the years has been used as an apocalyptic device to close down debate.

It must be said as well that, unlike 1989, there is no organized political catalyst set up towards subversive action, or to transform focal protests into a regional –let alone nationwide- upsurge; the socialist far left is now in power. All this should be enough to explain why “nothing” has happened.

But the Caracazo doesn’t need to occur ever again, because it hasn’t ended yet. Venezuelans have not grasped, collectively, the meaning of the 1989 events. Not only because the legacy of violence and destruction remains unsolved —despite the tenacious work of Human Rights groups, and notwithstanding the specious rhetorical claims to the contrary by public officials— but  also because the structural factors that caused it are still there.

Venezuela is a deeply unequal society, with a violent history, an unproductive economy and an arrested relationship with the State. It invokes the Caracazo not to face up to its shortcomings, but to evade understanding them by playing up the fear and threat of social upheaval.

***

I finally get inside the Supermarket, still flustered by the argument about the domestic worker. I remember the pineapple soda from three decades ago, then see they’ve run out of powdered milk.

31 COMMENTS

  1. my favorite line → “Venezuela is a deeply unequal society, with a violent history, an unproductive economy and an arrested relationship with the State.” Very well said sir.

    • Although the whole piece is masterful in its description of todays collective mood and the authors individual experiences and reflections these last few lines really say it all ………, with concise pugnancy and precision …….the Caracazo reflects a state of mind , a phantom fear always with us , an emblem of our historical failures…….. I share your admiration to these lines…kudos to GAC for this brilliant piece….!!

  2. when you have a whole country that has taken important philosophical as well as psychological steps toward consolidating their slavery by their own hand, becoming free feels like wrongful undoing

  3. Haha, let me tell you something, the pueblo was already bajando el cerro in the Independence wars, when Patriots and Royalists would each threaten the other with but secretly be scared of uprisings from the half beast half men slaves and ex slaves of Barlovento.

    Really, it was a thing.

    • And you? Are you not “pueblo”? Are you above it?
      This is extremely racist: the half beast half men slaves and ex slaves of Barlovento.

      It surprises me with what disdain people in feudal Spain and Venezuela use the word “pueblo”.

      By the way: most average people back then just wanted to be left on their own, til the land.

      • Just by way of clarification , according to Hannah Arendt the latin word ´populus´ originally stood for ´troop strenght´, the reason for this was that when a war was about to be waged the whole free male adult population was called to come with their weapons to the camp of Mars and organize itself as an army , populus thus had a military connotation tied to the idea that the free men of rome were under a duty to answer a´’summons’ (in latin citus citare) from which the word citizen (cives) derived . Hence a cives or citizen was a man who could be summoned to come to the defense of his country .!!

        Populus for the romans meant the whole of the male population who could be called to form part of romes army ……!!

        The people hence comprised not only the ordinary people of rome but its upper classes i.e. the equestrian and senatorial classes……!!

        Time of course has corrupted these historical meanings ….!!

    • Very racist.
      And you probably the kind of people who still wonder why so many still believe in chavismo. I’ll give you a hint: people like you.

      • So is that it?

        We’re all just going to pretend that slavery wasn’t real?

        ‘Cause denial has gotten us real far so far.

  4. You are right, of course. You just unmasked “Juan” as a troll, and he just proved it with his last response to you. Good call.

  5. This article certainly brought me back in time when I was trying to get to El Valle from La Hoyada and I had to walk for 4 or 5 hrs to get home. Not to mention a long night of looting and shooting with various levels of participation from the general population and the police on the action. I got to see the mobilization of troops (my former building had perfect line of sight to the almost entire Fuerte Tiuna base) at 3 am in the morning. That was the last time I felt some sense of normal – ever – and my capacity to amusement just started to get honed.

    I do remember my uncle coming the next morning with the car trunk full of looted whisky. My grandma, which by the way did not peak to two of her brothers because they were associated with the Perez Jimenez dictatorship, got so irritated by the crime that she almost got a heart attack in the middle of her rant against my uncle. Among many things she said was something about the people become thieves like the those that run the country and some more about the guilty enjoyment of private property.

    The looting was widespread and indiscriminate. That being said, I kinda felt there was more focus on the liquor and electronics than the food. There was some sort of collectiveness on the looting, people helping each other, human trains moving the goods up and downhill, even the police helped out on organizing the removal of the stuff. Then it came the violence..

    Once the food, alcohol, fridges and registries were removed, some people resourced to burn what it was left; some were against it, lots of them wanted it gone. The Chinese couple that ran the Yuk Supermarket never got back on their feet and left the country. Same happened to a Portuguese running a bread shop across the avenue. The police was long gone by that time.

    With the burning of the shops it came the army which showed up in El Valle in the early afternoon of the 28th. At the beginning, their presence was enough to control what it was needed to control but then it began the shooting. Not sure who started but I could definitively know that for 2 or 3 shots of a 9 mm pistol there was a barrage of 7.62mm full metal jacket of several FN 30 FAL assault rifles. Our building got shot several times, mostly because some curious person was at the window hence a potential sharpshooter. Death had few many faces including interrupted childhoods from the youngest victims. That day I got to see life being taken just for being tired of unfulfilled expectations. It took one more day to silence El Valle.

    On the night of the 28th my grandma throw away the looted whisky to the shame of my uncle’s joy of taking something that wasn’t his. It was not free, it cost the lives of many Venezuelans that died in the hands of the army, victims of their own challenge against the juggernaut. Those days the people justified the looting as a proxy to the continuous and unchecked looting to the wealth of the country by the oligarchs . It was justified because the political class got us in the mess. The promises of going back to the bonanza of 1974, the first government of CAP, crashed with the realities of 1989 including a lavish government inauguration. It was the first experience of the many things to come, and a second lesson (the first being the black Friday in 1981) of our degradation as society and the first step towards the development of our now well matured amusement-proof mentality for high levels of abuse.

    El Caracazo was and still is the demonstration of our pragmatic, individualistic, permissive and defenseless society. A society that allows abuse, death and suffering for the promise of some sort of oil rich funded dream that never materializes and we are condemned to pursue but to never attain.

    • Hi Colomine,

      I remember a few months ago your comment about your uncle and his reply in Aporrea. I, for one, was quite taken aback by his stubbornness in his support for Chavismo.

      But was he the one that looted the whiskey?

      • Nope. My parents divorced and the looter was on my mom side. My uncle Feijoo was Deputy for El Tachira Government Assembly at that time (if I recall). My other uncle (the looter) was a driver of a Sabempe’s trash truck hence the opportunity for “repatriating” the whisky.

        We as many Venezuelans come from a mix of privileged and unprivileged homes. Thus, I got to see the two sides of the coin quite often.

  6. “Caracazo” was not an spontaneous event. It was promoted by those in power today. A quick look to the public records and criminal records of all of them back in the day will demonstrate that most of them received some kind of indoctrination in Cuba. Fidel has always had an interest in Venezuela. Without the Soviet Union economic support they needed another ally to sponsor their socialist “paradise” as their previous invasions failed, they decided to put a man on the presidence, taking advantage of democracy our soft spot. So here we are. A new Caracazo is not coming, forget about it. The oposición does not want it, the goverment does not want it, the people does not want it, no one will ever promote it. That is why it has not ocurred even during the worst crisis the Country has been through.

    • Your comment reeks of “conspiracy theory”. You are claiming that the Caracazo was planned and ordered by Cuba. I would not dispute it if you tell me they were pleased by it. However, that does not prove their complicity. When the conditions are right for it, “spontaneous events” do happen, in much the way that a slight disruption will cause a supersaturated solution to crystallize.

      You claim that another Caracazo cannot happen because neither side wants it. This is absurd. When conditions become desperate enough (i.e.: real hunger), no leadership can prevent an eruption. The best they can do is try to channel in which direction the eruption expends its energies.

      • “You are claiming that the Caracazo was planned and ordered by Cuba.”

        ALL the disruption was ordered from Cuba, it’s not that they planned a slaughter exactly on “february 27”, the castristas have been infiltrating and undermining Venezuela since the 60s, because that’s how they make democracies fall, they ROT them from within like gangrene.

        “…no leadership can prevent an eruption.”

        But BULLETS can, kill some protesters, and the rest will scatter like dry leaves, it’s ALWAYS been like that, unarmed people will FLEE when the first bullet is shot.

        Oh, in fact, it was the so-called leadership which stopped which could have become the breaking point for the regime, the 2014 protests, aka “La Salida”, using the burundanga talks and the complete shutdown from the media.

      • Caracazo started with a bottle in my father’s head. He was the Mayor of Guarenas (President of the Council as it was called back then). He says that people from Caracas were sent in a couple of buses when there was a protest in “Plaza de los Flojos” where he was speaking to the protestors. As soon as these visitors came down from the buses, they started the attack against authorities and shops… The first ones were my father, who was hit with said bottled and a jewelry store. It wasn’t hunger but organized violence. At least not at that point.

    • Nah..It didn’t and you are just speculating. You can’t manage the size of the conspiracy, the timing and the scope.

      Ask yourself few questions:
      – Why Castro would want to topple CAP when CAP was his primary benefactor and deal broker in Latinamerica?. Castro was indeed in CAP inauguration and his buddy.
      – Who would have been the successor of CAP (which by the way won the election in landslide)?. Petkoff?, Jose Vicente? Americo Martin? Douglas Bravo? ha ha ha ha
      – Are the Cubans so sophisticated and smart to develop such an enterprise of shooting down an entire country for weeks? More ha ha ha
      – Was the country ready, eager and expecting to bring socialism in 1989?
      – What objectives would have the Cubans accomplished with El Caracazo?

      On hind cast, El Caracazo eventually brought Chavez the opportunity to exploit the frustration and anger. But even then Chavez was adamant to link himself to Castro. His own challenges push him to the Cubans the same way the Americans pushed Ho Chi Mihn and Castro to the Soviets. All three moments were nationalistic before they became socialistic.

      And who said the Bolivarian BS revolution is socialistic?, What it is a bunch of handouts paid by high price oil stewarded by the Cubans to make sure the get their cut to keep up with their own monarchy.

      • What a spectarularly ridiculous demonstration of covering the sun with a finger.

        There’s proof everywhere, even at mere clicks away of how the whole dismemberment of any traces of the venezuelan democracy was directly orchestrated by the Castros in Cuba.

        It’s really absurd and dumb to keep believing the idiotic fallacy about “the raging slums will DESTROY everything if they get pissed”. Dude, the whole “pueblo arrrrrrecho” thing ONLY lasts until the first bullet is fired, most precisely, it lasts until the first corpse kicks the bucket.

        • Agreed that the Cubans never gave up on exporting their revolution. There were (and still are) many comunistoides from the 1960 nostalgia that never gave up on the revolution (the real one, no this Chavez bullshit). That being said, they did not see it coming nor were prepared for El Caracazo.

          It is a different thing to be opportunistic and exploit some aspects of El Caracazo compared with actually organizing the whole thing. I wasn’t expecting us to think so high about Cuban intelligence and/or our own coffee shop revolutionary boyos.

          That being said and after El Caracazo, during the times of the formation of the MBR 2000, I have no doubts the Cubans lend their hand to help. In order to attempt a coup you need money, logistics, a success plan and a exit plan (por ahora). Hence, I have no doubts of Cuba truly helping Chavez all the way in. But that is a different animal.

          • “(the real one, no this Chavez bullshit)”

            The actual revolution IS exactly what chavismo has done: Tear Venezuela into shreds, and give away the pieces to the Castros, in that regard, Chávez was the BEST castro-marxist revolutionary of all times, just another pawn to support Castro’s regime.

            All what those cantina guerrillas were thinking was on how become rich without years of work, and in communism, you get to be filthy rich only by being close with the nomenklature and kissing enough butts.

            “That being said, they did not see it coming nor were prepared for El Caracazo. ..compared with actually organizing the whole thing. I wasn’t expecting us to think so high about Cuban intelligence and/or our own coffee shop revolutionary boyos. ”

            And I wasn’t expecting to see people to cling so stubbornly to the fallacy that it was all spontaneous, product of the so-called “people’s rage” (“arrechera del pueblo”), which is a deeply condescending, oversimplifying and even racist theory, which says that “we, the educated ones” are “surrounded by a pack of murderous psychopaths who are only waiting for their chance to jump at our necks”

  7. A really good read. Just spent two hours reading part I and Part II, the other caracazo articles and naturally all the post replays and comments. This is the best forum about Venezuela and a the best community of like minded people, worried about making sense about our country (* and a resident set of trolls and infiltrators from all ideological sides).

    My very personal take on the events of 89 and the so discussed extreme left responsibilities on them, is this I was a USB student at the time (nerdy technical university in Baruta, eastern Caracas) and I was a resident of, yes, El Cafetal. The events in El Valle, Catia, Guatire, and other places distant and removed. We were worried about loosing classes and exams, and the distrust ions to our way of live, you know, playita y cervecitas.

    In hindsight this stiles me not as a guilt or a flaw among my own, we were 19 y.o, students and not involved in political at the time, bit it really shines a light on how divided Venezuela was (is) and how the social classes of the more educated and professionals, lived in a total burbuja removed from the working classes (proletariat) and political/ militar spheres.

    A real community we were and still are not, spite all the chap talk about our solidarity and social inclusion. It’s a very convoluted and complex situation we have, I do see a layer of integration in many societal issues, mostly related to family and party, but in the more formal issues of taxation, generational Responsability, Enviromental stewardship, and social contract we are worlds apart.

    El laberinto de Los tres minotauros (briceno) is the best explanation I can find.

    A modern Venezuela still struggles to find its hold among a magical and barbaric one … Thanks to all contributors and commenters for your love of our nation. We will need plenty of it to rebuild what the Cuban invasion leaves behind, when it leaves.

    • I was at USB too. But the violence was not too far away.

      Gonzalo Jaurena murdered by security forces later in March of 1989. I was his preparador de Programacion in 1986. And Ernesto Leal, el Cavernicola because of his wild hair, beard and boots. He was ‘operador’ of el Laboratorio Docente de Computarcion at USB aka PDP and was shot in the early 90s.

    • “…the more educated and professionals, lived in a total burbuja removed from the working classes (proletariat) and political/ militar spheres…”

      Now comes the middle class shaming.

      Heheheh, the populistic zeal surely infected many people in Venezuela…

  8. Very interesting read indeed.

    Although this one particular line bugged me:

    “The economic crisis of the mid-to-late eighties was due to the abrupt end of the upwardly mobile and dynamic society that had thrived in Venezuela since the 1920s. ”

    I’d say that the end of Venezuela’s upward social mobility ended as a result of the economic crisis, which made itself evident in the 80’s and had it’s roots in the grotesque growth of the Venezuelan state in the 70’s. The end of upward social mobility is what caused the political system experience the crisis that made us end up in the hands of Chavez & Company.

    After reading this it occurs to me that another way to frame El Caracazo is as an outburst against what you describe as the society’s “arrested relationship with the State” which from my perspective comes down to two things: the economic dictatorship that Venezuela was under since the fall of Pérez Jiménez, as well as the reluctance to extend democratic participation. While both aspects improved some bit under CAP II, particularly the latter with the direct election of regional and local authorities, the centralist model had already made it’s negative impressions on the population. Furthermore, decentralization was never fully carried out and the government’s that succeeded the one that launched it reeled it back rather than advancing it. Meanwhile, the economic dictatorship, which is my best description for the model of state-capitalism that devastated Venezuela’s economic outlook not only remains in place but has grown far beyond what anyone could have ever imagined.

    Considering that while the main causes of el Caracazo are still very much present in Venezuela, the immensely greater degree with which they present themselves today makes it difficult for me to accept the theory that they are the same. Because while it’s true that they’ve been with us since then, I believe people forgot about them and thought them gone during the recent oil-boom. So with Venezuelans having the expectation that these aspects were a matter of the past as a result of vast oil income numbing their negative effects, but having these effects come back stronger than ever should only frustrate people even more then experiencing them in 1989 first did.

    With this in mind I must then conclude that while the underlying causes for El Caracazo were tied to negative economic and political circumstances, what really provided the fuel for it was the social context. First-off, the Venezuelan’s of 1989 had the conviction that they lived in a democracy that respected human rights, this is very different from the general belief today where people are very much aware that any attempt of a modern Caracazo would be met with utter brutality and repression. There is also the matter that an important component of El Caracazo was poor vs. rich violence. In the 1989 lower class collective-thought, their economic woes weren’t because of poor economic management, the were due to poor distribution of the nation’s oil wealth which had been monopolized by the rich. The looting was just the poor’s way of taking a piece of that wealth they believed they had been unfairly deprived of. The fact that a greater part of the looting was focused on electronics, appliances, liquor and clothing evidences there wasn’t as much of a survival aspect to it, but rather one of getting even. This is a stark contrast with the episodes of looting we’ve seen recently which have almost exclusively focused on food or basic products. In 1989 the media motivated by it’s own agenda also played a significant role in fueling that environment of resentment by emphasizing the ostentatious lifestyles of the country club set. From the extensive coverage that was given to Pérez’s swearing in and it being baptized the “coronation,” to El Diario de Caracas going out of it’s way to show that the crisis had it’s exceptions by featuring the Fernandez Tinoco – Cisneros Fontanals wedding front page and titling it “La Boda del Siglo” on February 19, three days after el paquetazo was launched. This social environment isn’t the same today despite Venezuela being more unequal then ever, because most of the population doesn’t see it as the business elite having stolen everything, there’s an understanding that that role belongs to those in government. In essence while the spirit of crisis that was with us in 1989 is still present in 2016, the context has enough differences for one to conclude that this is a beast of a different nature.

  9. I once had a long talk with a left leaning but very objective US professor who taught at Oriente University , we talked about what had caused the advent of Chavez (with whose movement he had cautiously sympathysed with in the early years) , his take wasnt that the there was a traditionally rich and politically powerful class monopolizing the oil income , he understood that Venezuela had gone thru a period of broad and rapid social mobility and that social lines couldnt be drawn as sharply as in other latin american countries , what he understood is that oil money for a long time had been sufficiently abundant to feed a largely corrupt clientelar system with freebies and subsidies and other benefits being showered on the less fortunate , keeping them content with their take of the oil pie.

    Population however grew and grew while oil price conditions started to fall so that at some point in time the clientelar system could no longer be maintained thru lack of enough oil income ……the govt could either ignore the problem and try to kick the can to the next govt making people believe that things need not change or they could face the problem head on , start cutting the freebies and subsidies for everyone and start placing the economy on a more sound rational basis ……..!!

    It fell to CAP II to take the decision to face the problem rationally which of course involved measures affecting every one but which in the end would allow Venezuelas economy to grow to developed maturity ..all of this with the opposition of his own party, all other traditional parties , most of the middle class and of course the fomer beneficiaries of the clientelar system who didnt understand why it wasnt raining benefits a before……, this was the time when he brought as ministers Moises Naim, Ricardo Haussman, Miguel Rodriguez etc ,all non political economic experts to carry out the changes the country needed , people from his party accostummed to the pinata way of distributing ministerial jobs to the party faithful were very angry at this …….

    Then the Caracazo ocurred whatever its inmmediate causes and made things politically very difficult for him, finally he fell from power thru the intrigues and manouvers of people from the traditional political class .

    Venezuela is a really equalitarian place because we had a very harsh historical process that killed off any traditional moneyed oligarchy (literally) and made the remnants of the old families become the toadies of the usually humble origin military caudillos that ruled the country for long periods …..

    The notion that the Caracazo was the result of a wealthy powerful social class hogging all the oil income for themselves is as absurd as it is puerile , the result of seeing too many cowboy and indian movies , or reading too many melodramatic novels which pit the rich meanies agaisnt the heroic noble and exploited poor..!!………

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