Photo: TVPeruPE retrieved

The first time I saw Villca Fernández was four years ago, before the first round of 2014’s guarimbas. We were in the middle of a Genetics class in the largest auditorium at Universidad de los Andes (ULA) Med School, and a group of kids from the local student movement asked the professor for a few minutes to speak. They introduced Villca, who looked visibly older than the rest, and was already notorious for sewing his mouth during a hunger strike the year before.

I was a third year medical student, and all I wanted was to understand how the hell restriction enzymes know where to cut DNA without messing up the whole genome. Instead, this guy was talking about how the university should go on another useless strike and halt all activities to pressure the government. We had just resumed activities after a six-month hiatus, and this was the last thing I wanted to hear about. I decided to ignore him, he finished his clichéed speech and I understood how restriction enzymes worked.

They introduced Villca, who looked visibly older than the rest, and was already notorious for sewing his mouth during a hunger strike the year before.

Villca Fernández and Movimiento 13, the student movement he presided at the time, represented all I believed wrong with the Venezuelan Public University System: he was, to me, a thirty-something who had been studying some random career at Social Sciences School for longer than I considered appropriate, taking advantage of the University’s limited budget and giving nothing in return. There he was, suggesting that I should halt my already belated career to try to topple an almighty government for the umptieth time. The strategy Movimiento 13 envisioned: Put some hoods and balaclavas on, burn a couple tires in front of a classroom, and get me and my friends out of it by throwing fireworks and glass bottles inside, while we tried to take an exam. I despised them almost as much as I despised the government they claimed to be fighting.

Four years later and a couple weeks before finishing my career, I have a different image of Villca Fernández.

He was detained on January 31, 2016, by intelligence officers after writing a tweet to Diosdado Cabello. He was accused of hate crimes and, after requesting a break on his trial, the judge in charge changed the initial sentence from house arrest to imprisonment.

He was held in the now infamous El Helicoide since then. According to Amnesty International, Fernández was tortured both physically and psychologically after engaging in protests; his jailers denied him proper medical care several times, even though a court in Caracas ordered them to move him to a hospital for examination. He only got the attention after engaging in a hunger strike this January, and remained in isolation since May, 2017.

Fernández was tortured both physically and psychologically after engaging in protests.

Yesterday, he was moved from El Helicoide to Maiquetía. Instead of flying to Mérida, his hometown, he was headed to Peru; Maduro’s government decided to “release” him, even though his audience had been delayed thirteen times. The only condition? He had to leave Venezuela immediately.

I still believe that Villca, Movimiento 13 and most student movements get universities and their true raison d’etre wrong, but when I saw Fernández boarding that plane, wearing his blue jacket with ULA’s coat of arms embroidered on it, I felt nothing but respect and pride for sharing the same alma mater with a man who sacrificed everything (even his homeland), fighting against a ruthless dictatorship.

Exile is not an actual sentence in Venezuela, so Villca Fernández’ punishment is just another reminder of the anarchy in Venezuela, and the first of probably many similar movements from a regime that, following Cuban example, understood that dissidents are much less dangerous when they are thousands of miles away. Still, Lima is infinitely better than the dungeons below the Tarpeian Rock, and I’m happy for Villca, even if it’s impossible to ignore how the country looks more and more like that Venezuela from 80 years ago.

Right before departing, Fernández thanked those who helped him leave the dungeons, saying he felt heartbroken with 30 million Venezuelans still behind the bars of Nicolás Maduro. La Rotunda may no longer exist, but its walls remain very real, stretching far beyond where they used to and leaving our borders behind.

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129 COMMENTS

  1. Making voluntary exile a condition for the release of a political prisioner was a frequent practice of our traditional military dictatorships , a relative got Pedro Estrada to free another relative from jail by promising to get him out of the country to never come back .

    In this case I suspect that Villca having a Peruvian father maybe managed to be released thru some intervention from the Peruvian govt promising to take him in upon his release ……

    Neither his imprisonment nor his release were part of an orthodox legal process, its the way dictatorships work , and at least the result was better than his continued imprisonment , thak god for small mercies !!

  2. I would think that the accepting country and other parties are asking for someone’s release, and the Nazi government holding him/her obliges by “exiling” him/her to there.

    It’s more the appearance of being in control and having the upper hand than anything else, but same result.

  3. I keep seeing the terms “unconstitutional” and “illegal” used in CC articles. When are you guys going to learn that, in dictatorships, these terms are meaningless. You continue to insist that you have “rights” that neither you nor anyone else can or will defend.

    Of all the people in Venezuela, I would think that the authors of articles in this blog should grasp and comprehend our new reality. Sadly, I suspect that the average Venezuelan refugee crossing the border illegally into Colombia understands the situation better.

    • By referring to peoples’ fundamental rights, the author is pointing out the regime’s lawlessness. The importance and existence of human rights do not depend on a regime’s willingness to recognize them. When the regime does something criminal, it is properly called criminal. The words theft and corruption remain meaningful under a regime that steals and is corrupt. It is the dictator who would have people think otherwise: I am the state, I am the law, your rights depend on my consent, et cetera.

      I don’t think the authors of this blog need a lecture on the reality of Venezuela. I think this author provided the interesting and surprisingly candid insight of a person conservative by nature who is acknowledging his empathy for and identification with an activist who has chosen rebellion over accommodation. The author is neither the hero nor the villain of his piece.

      The place for expressions of self imagined heroism, and for reducing complex feelings and motivations to stock phrases and simple, comforting bromides, is of course, the comments section.

      • “Rights” are a human construct. They do not exist in nature. This is something Jefferson got wrong… IMHO.

        In Venezuela today there is no “estado de derecho”. Referring to the Constitution and international law is just wishful thinking.

        Sorry to sound so negative, but that is where I am right now about Venezuela.

        • Roy this is one more time where your comments are so refreshingly ‘on spot’ , one of the Enlightments conceits is that so called human rights arose ready made and directly from ‘nature’…., rather than emerging as a result of certain historical developments in the way people see themselves and which if not exactly natural have become ‘naturalized’ by deeply rooted cultural notions .
          Wish I had the time and space to develop these ideas ..it would be great fun and you probably would be one of the very few persons who would understand ….

        • Roy – Rights are individual. They are those things a man has when backed into a corner, those things which everyone will fight and kill for. Those things without which an individual is not an individual. Those things which are self-made by the individual himself, and which belong only to him. They’re pretty well laid out in the Bill of Rights. Note that there are, by these definitions, no rights to food, shelter, clothing, etc.. If those who claim those as rights are willing to kill for those material possessions, those fruits of other men’s labors, then that defines those who seek to claim them as common criminals, willing to kill another for their material possessions. Socialists. That’s what they do.

          • Gringo, I have to disagree that rights are individual. I said that they are a human construct, but more specifically, they are a human SOCIAL construct that exists in a human SOCIAL matrix. Unless the society has a general consensus about these rights, then there is no social contract.

      • Of course rights are a human construct. So are truth, beauty, good and evil. In my view, people should still talk about rights where there is no “estado de derecho”, but I understand there is another current of thought that views politics and law entirely as expressions of power and interests. That line of thought is where mindless hippiedom and totalitarianism make peace with one another, IMHO, but it may be becoming the dominant view, even in what are still called liberal democracies.

        • What is the point of “talking” about it unless the intention is to DO something about it?

          As the “international community” is currently constituted, by the time they finish talking and decide to do something, it is already way too late.

          Unfortunately, for Venezuela, it is now too late. The top five to ten percent of the population that makes a difference have already left. Venezuela will be screwed for generations.

          • This is a blog. I assume it’s purpose is to inform. That is certainly not the full answer to the crisis in Venezuela. But that “shortcoming” does not prevent people doing things as well, and in fact, may provide information useful to people who are doing things.

            The better question I think is: what is the point of this comments section? It has lately become a forum for mostly older North American white men with Venezuelan spouses to rant, pose, complain about why Venezuelans aren’t being heroic like them, and make puppy love comments to the women contributors.

            How many times does one have to say “Venezuela is screwed” before THAT becomes a little pointless? I’ll take Mr. Gabaldon’s thoughts about what is going on with a dissident from his University over that, any day.

            I think you have mis-identified the source of the pointless talk.

          • Canucklehead, you’re like a broken record with your “Older North American White Men,” but now you’ve added “with Venezuelan spouses.”

            That applies to me, but it sure doesn’t apply to the majority of posters here.

            More important, you’re the same as the lowest Chavista crap out there. You have no argument to defend your position against the message, so you attack…with incredible, worthless I effectiveness…the messenger instead.

            How fucking dare you attack someone for being older and white? What kind of a shmuck uses this as a basis for his political philosophy?

            You’re seriously at the lowest of the low when it comes to intellectual discourse. But your biggest crime is…

            You’re just a waste of time for all of us.

          • “The better question I think is: what is the point of this comments section?”

            Yeah, I’m beginning to agree. Better to just shut it down than to continue to provide you with a platform to take shots at those with whom you disagree politically, because that’s the majority of what you do these days.

          • Funny that us Older White North-American Men seem to rank near the top when it comes to wealth, power, entitlement, etc.

            Yet we rant, pose, complain, and make puppy love comments. In other words, we are stupid.

            Maybe, just maybe, we might know a thing or two that others don’t? Or choose to ignore?

          • I was not questioning the point of discussion in general here. I was questioning the point of continually objecting to the regimes’ actions on the basis of their illegality.

            Once you identify that you are dealing with a dictator, you should cease to be surprised when it acts like a dictator.

            I find discussion of the options available to combat the dictatorship and their relative merits much more interesting.

          • If the illegality of the regime’s actions are framed more in terms of infringement on private property and business, rather than human rights, the appeal to rights and the rule of law may be more digestible and comprehensible to the audience here. The travails of an older, North American businessman under this regime may be far more sympathetic to the audience than that of a Venezuelan activist who has been tortured and incarcerated and now forced from his country. Both illustrate the illegality of the regime. I don’t see anything wrong with pointing that out, and I don’t see pointing it out as some kind of endorsement.

          • “I don’t see anything wrong with pointing that out, and I don’t see pointing it out as some kind of endorsement.”

            Sorry cannuck, but this is nothing but trolling:

            “It has lately become a forum for mostly older North American white men with Venezuelan spouses to rant, pose, complain about why Venezuelans aren’t being heroic like them, and make puppy love comments to the women contributors.”

          • Canuckler, you have some seriously thin skin to complement your racism and ageism. You would be much happier on WaPo or NYT comments since you can seem refuge in a lot of your own kind. You just get triggered here for no good reason

          • Here I thought I was being polite avoiding the terms white supremacists and ultra nationalist blowhards.

          • Canucklehead. “Older North American White Men”

            Lay your cards on the table here, since you continually have issues with Race, Age, Gender and Nationality of a certain type….

            Stupid me, but I always assumed you were all 4.
            Or is it that you have few drops of Native American Blood, which makes all you say, somehow exempt?

            As well, you always toss in “Angry”, which gives me a laugh, b/c you are very much so.

        • Without a doubt, Canucklehead wins the Most Useless Poster Pulitzer Prize award.

          His posts make no sense. He lives in this world of his own, where facts don’t matter, and he’ll write ANYTHING to appear intelligent.

          But none of what he writes…absolutely nothing…makes any sense at all.

          The shmuck thinks he’s Karl Marx, as does anyone who voted for Trudeau.

      • What Canucklehead said. At some point there will be an accounting. Theft and corruption, as well as human rights violations need to be recorded and called out. Something that needs hard dry lawyerly work, not cheerleading.

          • @Ira As one of the people who has skirmished heavily with Canucklehead in the past, I disagree that he has never said anything worth reading.

            In particular I agreed more with his reading of the “Why” in this debate than I did with Roy. At least until he fell back to the pointless old race baiting of “White Old Men.”

      • @Canucklehead You had me mostly siding with you- with some caveats with the idea that those concepts are human concepts- until you began hurling around your old demon of “White Businessmen with Venezuelan Spouses.”

        Seriously, stop it. It does not serve your purposes here and it’s actively self defeating, because you can only guess how many people on here are actually white. And furthermore, their ethnicity is irrelevant compared to the validity (or invalidity) of their points.

        The more you use it, the more I start to suspect that you’re one of the people with the largest racial axe to grind on here. And that you need to sort it out.

    • @Roy “I keep seeing the terms “unconstitutional” and “illegal” used in CC articles. When are you guys going to learn that, in dictatorships, these terms are meaningless. ”

      These terms are meaningless (or very near meaningless; they can occasionally be used to good extent like that one time a [email protected] Party lawyer got a death camp commandant and his mistress sentenced to death for corruption) in a dictatorship. However, the entire conceit Chavismo had is that it was a democratic socialist state. That it was overlaid on top of the pre-existing Venezuelan constitutional authorities.

      And so those terms are VERY meaningful in order to document how Chavismo has lied about that.

      I’m with Canuck on this one. Recording the atrocities of old for posterity and future reckoning is important.

      “You continue to insist that you have “rights” that neither you nor anyone else can or will defend.”

      Of all the people in Venezuela, I would think that the authors of articles in this blog should grasp and comprehend our new reality. Sadly, I suspect that the average Venezuelan refugee crossing the border illegally into Colombia understands the situation better.”

      On that much I agree. However, it’s not that they don’t have rights. It is that those rights are being violated, and the backlash to protect them has been muted. Particularly in the one language Chavismo cannot ignore: applied force.

      ““Rights” are a human construct. They do not exist in nature. This is something Jefferson got wrong… IMHO.”

      I disagree, fervently.

      How we conceptualize Rights is a very human construct, but the idea that they do not exist in nature is dubious at best. Our pre-historic hunter gatherer ancestors weren’t born into a world where they physically could not say something. They also weren’t physically unable to pray as they wished (though their concept of prayer was likely very different from ours), and so forth. This is something I think the likes of Locke, Hobbes, and Jefferson got (even if they largely based it on an INSAAANEEELY optimistic and inaccurate view of primitive humanity).

      They were usually not Free in the sense we would understand it, and even if they were their exercise of freedom was often curtailed or stopped by reality (it’s kinda hard to convince the mammoth trying to stomp you that you have a right to self-protection). But they were there, and inherent to Homo Sapiens Sapiens as an individual. It was definite human constructs- such as society and laws- that restricted and governed those freedoms. Which in turn led to a backlash over how many rights and responsibilities people could protect and maintain, if need be by force of arms.

      “In Venezuela today there is no “estado de derecho”. Referring to the Constitution and international law is just wishful thinking.”

      Agreed there.

      “Sorry to sound so negative, but that is where I am right now about Venezuela.”

      I can understand. But again, I think it’s important work to chronicle just how far Venezuela has slid from where it is supposed to be. And the true, perfidious nature of Chavismo and those trying to imitate it.

      (Petro anybody?)

      “Try imagining how all those desperate Venezuelans crossing the Colombian and Brasilian borders scaping the country, would be treated if the border being crossed was the US border …, in the US they would automatically be treated as criminals , as would be terrorists….., be thrown back to Venezuela ….its a repeat of what happened to so many jews fleeing nazi germany ……back in the 30’s and 40’s………, ”

      Oh please.

      They WOULD be criminals if they crossed into the US border, because that’s how refugee status WORKS.

      Refugee status is NOT an open passport to go wherever the freaking hell you Want in the world. THAT is the problem Europe has had when dealing with the “Syrian” “War” “Refugees” (most of whom do not correspond to any of those three criteria).

      International law is that you go to the first country that you can where you are safe, and you STAY There to apply for asylum. Full Stop.

      This does not mean that you’re obliged to sit down and die if the first foreign country you enter would persecute or kill you; this is why (if modern refugee law was signed at the time) German Jews wouldn’t have had to put themselves at the mercy of Vichy. But they WOULD have to stop and go through the proper channels upon reaching the UK, Ireland, Sweden, or Switzerland.

      This is why Venezuelan refugees crossing the border into Colombia and Brazil are not criminals- those are the closest safe harbors- while those in the US are not- it isn’t. The inverse would be true if the FLQ somehow took over Canada, instituted a Neo-Stalinist dictatorship, and forced thousands to flee for their lives; the US would be the closest safe haven, not Colombia or Brazil. It sucks, but that is how it goes.

      And it’s ALSO how you prevent actual terrorists, regime spies, and so on from infiltrating High Value Targets that aren’t immediately adjacent to them under the guise of refugees.

      And secondly: In general people aren’t stupid. So allowances can be made. You’re probably not going to have too many people turning away Venezuelans applying for refugee status in Santiago, Chile. Especially if they were vetted.

      “and yet there are also the bright pages of when they generously let in the scaping cubans or feeling central americans ………!! The US is so difficult to figure out…!!”

      It’s not THAT different.

      The US is the closest safe haven for Cubans. Full Stop. They can and often do go elsewhere (for instance, to Haiti or Jamaica), but the US is simply the most common and easiest. There’s a quantifiable difference between a Venezuelan who shows up on a Raft in the Florida Coast, and a Cuban, both claiming to be fleeing the tyrants.

      And that quantifiable difference can be examined with a map.

      That doesn’t mean that the Venezuelan is NECESSARILY a collectivist spy or that the Cuban isn’t. Far from it. But there is a farq ton more reason to suspect the former than the latter. Because genuinely fleeing refugees rarely have to run clear across the Caribbean in order to be safe from pursuit or harassment by the people trying to murder or imprison them.

      And a lot of times it was the closest for Central Americans. Not always, but frequently.

      • Turtler – Really the only rights one has are individual, by definition. It strains my brain and I lose two or three IQ points trying to fathom how anyone could speak of individual rights … and in the next breath deny that rights pertain to an individual. The Bill of Rights does a pretty darn good job of establishing laws to respect those.

        Any rights can be taken away in an instant, and we all know it. Could be gunshot, could be plane crash. Or it could be imprisonment by a dictatorship. Some people prefer the argument to the solution, and will find something wrong with anything.

        A man makes his own freedom, and a man can himself lose his own freedom by his own hand. Gradually pursuing virtues, as one is comfortable with them, one gains freedom and agility; pursuing vices and lies, comfortable as one may be, one loses freedoms and agility, sometimes quite quickly. I would know, as I have tried both.

        I prefer a concert to a rock party. I am gradually developing a taste for “jazz”:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeSsuJcovrk
        or/and
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FolEno814Gk

        But it’s still not even close to Mozart, Bach … Rembrandt, Cezanne …. At times, a mountain quiet as in Junquito when the fog rolls in seems best, to a disco – but I still love the company at a disco. Freedom is earned every day, every moment. The pay is great. Call me a snotty snob free market capitalist.

        Just out of idle curiosity, have you ever done limbo on the beach on a Caribbean island like Jamaica? Torches around, calypso playing? I was pretty decent, but couldn’t even come close to beating the natives. Gravity-defying. If it were an Olympic event ….

        • @Gringo “Really the only rights one has are individual, by definition.”

          I’m somewhat skeptical of that in at least a few cases. Some- like the right to self defense and particularly the right of free association- get much of their meaning from their interaction with others.

          But I certainly agree more with that than the idea that they are just social constructs..

          “It strains my brain and I lose two or three IQ points trying to fathom how anyone could speak of individual rights … and in the next breath deny that rights pertain to an individual. The Bill of Rights does a pretty darn good job of establishing laws to respect those.”

          Agreed there.

          “Any rights can be taken away in an instant, and we all know it. Could be gunshot, could be plane crash. Or it could be imprisonment by a dictatorship. ”

          To be fair, I think that’s because rights are largely human dignities and rights held independently, at the expense of Others (including governments). Not objectively.

          The Founders clearly didn’t believe that the Right to Life meant that nobody would ever die, given how life has a 100% mortality rate. That didn’t mean they thought government should be able to have people killed arbitrarily.

          “Some people prefer the argument to the solution, and will find something wrong with anything. ”

          Agreed.

          “A man makes his own freedom, ”

          I disagree on religious grounds, but I do think people use the freedom they have by themselves. This can even happen in the middle of a freaking Gulag (as Solzhenitsyn- for all his flaws- pointed out).

          “and a man can himself lose his own freedom by his own hand.”

          Absolutely agreed there.

          ” Gradually pursuing virtues, as one is comfortable with them, one gains freedom and agility; pursuing vices and lies, comfortable as one may be, one loses freedoms and agility, sometimes quite quickly. I would know, as I have tried both.”

          I can understand. Though honestly I think some virtues involve sacrificing freedom. After all, if you make a contract with someone, breaking it and jumping to Paraguay or into the French Foreign Legion is an act of freedom, or at least rebellion. It involves refusal to be constrained, even by one’s own vow.

          Does that make it virtuous? I cannot think so.

          This is why I think of John Adams’s quote that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Because even back then they were all too aware that autonomy of action did not always lead to virtue.

          “I prefer a concert to a rock party. I am gradually developing a taste for “jazz”:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeSsuJcovrk
          or/and
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FolEno814Gk

          But it’s still not even close to Mozart, Bach … Rembrandt, Cezanne …. At times, a mountain quiet as in Junquito when the fog rolls in seems best, to a disco – but I still love the company at a disco.”

          Same.

          ” Freedom is earned every day, every moment. The pay is great. Call me a snotty snob free market capitalist.”

          Agreed there. And moreover, freedom can also be lost every day. Chavismo didn’t implement totalitarianism in one day. Not even more drastic transitions like that of Castro, Lenin, and Der Fuehrer did so. Like or hate Reagan, I think his quote that freedom is always one generation away from extinction is Profound.

          “Just out of idle curiosity, have you ever done limbo on the beach on a Caribbean island like Jamaica? Torches around, calypso playing? I was pretty decent, but couldn’t even come close to beating the natives. Gravity-defying. If it were an Olympic event ….”

          Closest I got to it was on Florida, where I failed. miserably and had a pretty good time about it. Though I did involve “dancing” like a moron at Kingston and sight seeing a few others.

  4. Try imagining how all those desperate Venezuelans crossing the Colombian and Brasilian borders scaping the country, would be treated if the border being crossed was the US border …, in the US they would automatically be treated as criminals , as would be terrorists….., be thrown back to Venezuela ….its a repeat of what happened to so many jews fleeing nazi germany ……back in the 30’s and 40’s………, and yet there are also the bright pages of when they generously let in the scaping cubans or feeling central americans ………!! The US is so difficult to figure out…!!

    • Ahh.. I knew it was going to get posted… A Nazi reference and tieing it to either Trump or the United States.

      Like a broken record that plays on and on.

      Just to summarize, the USA is not allowed to enforce it’s laws, defend it’s borders, and have any say in the process. Dump everyone here first. Great plan!!!

      • Well, fickle and inconsistent can be considered proper adjectives for it, but there are probably better ones.

        It’s certainly not fair how one country is treated differently than another, but they have to have some kind of guidelines to limit the influx.

        I just think it’s a no-win situation for the U.S.

        Of course, and inexplicably, the U.S. takes all the criticism, while it still maintains the most liberal immigration policies in earth, by every measure.

        Now, why is that?

        • It is a fair comment that the U.S. is blamed by half the world no matter what they do. Not to mention that the other half that does agree doesn’t appreciate it.

          However, the U.S. also has a tendency to swing back and forth between extreme views. It makes it difficult for them to formulate and maintain stable and coherent policies.

          • That’s democracy, and thankfully, we’re not alone in that. Policies always change between different administrations.

            That’s not unique to the U.S., with countries the world over bouncing between the left and the right.

    • You mean the tens of thousands of Venezuelans living in South Florida near me were actually arrested and escaped, like my relatives?

      Stick to the facts, okay?

    • Then don’t come here, boy. Get it? You and people of your weakness messed up your own country in the richest geographical region of the world, blame it on a dictator, dump your responsibility, don’t even bother to address the guy who is the subject of this topic, who DID put his life on the line and continues to do so. Instead of dropping some of your oh-so-valuable praise in his direction, you manage to find a way to attack strength and bad-mouth the U.S.. Since you obviously don’t have the mental capacity to put two and two together, I remind you the U.S. was instrumental in winning WW II. And we’re consistently supporting Israel. And we’re taking action against the Venezuelan dictatorship regime. We’re also coming to recognize your weakness as the enemy.

      You don’t have your own country? Awwwwwwwww. What happened?? I can understand you’re stressed out and ashamed, but don’t stretch your hand out asking for help and in the same breath undermine the strength you ask for. The only thing good about that is that you’re not trying to hide your idiot attitude, and we can see who you are, and we can see where you need help: parate como un hombre, y no te metas con migo. Te estoy ayudando, no me escupas en la cara, vez? It’s your fight in Venezuela. Argentina rose, Chile rose. They’re both arrogant, but they aren’t knocking on my door asking for handouts. You get a free country of your own, you’ll shut up about the U.S..

      • P.S. Not necessarily aimed at you Bill, or at any of the real feelings of others who are stressed. It’s aimed at the weakness of those who would find fault with the U.S. while not seeing the strength. I have other advice for those who claim to have rights to live in the U.S..

    • The pendulum of US immigration policy has swung the other way, thanks to the orange lord.

      What I want to see is a strict adherence to the laws and an orderly process whereby immigrants are allowed in based on legitimate needs of both the immigrant and the US.

      Mad dashes across the border by hundreds of thousands of undocumented democrats needs to be brought to a screeching halt and sanity restored.

    • @Bill Bass “Try imagining how all those desperate Venezuelans crossing the Colombian and Brasilian borders scaping the country, would be treated if the border being crossed was the US border …, in the US they would automatically be treated as criminals , as would be terrorists….., be thrown back to Venezuela ….its a repeat of what happened to so many jews fleeing nazi germany ……back in the 30’s and 40’s………, ”

      Oh please.

      They WOULD be criminals if they crossed into the US border, because that’s how refugee status WORKS.

      Refugee status is NOT an open passport to go wherever the freaking hell you Want in the world. THAT is the problem Europe has had when dealing with the “Syrian” “War” “Refugees” (most of whom do not correspond to any of those three criteria).

      International law is that you go to the first country that you can where you are safe, and you STAY There to apply for asylum. Full Stop.

      This does not mean that you’re obliged to sit down and die if the first foreign country you enter would persecute or kill you; this is why (if modern refugee law was signed at the time) German Jews wouldn’t have had to put themselves at the mercy of Vichy. But they WOULD have to stop and go through the proper channels upon reaching the UK, Ireland, Sweden, or Switzerland.

      This is why Venezuelan refugees crossing the border into Colombia and Brazil are not criminals- those are the closest safe harbors- while those in the US are not- it isn’t. The inverse would be true if the FLQ somehow took over Canada, instituted a Neo-Stalinist dictatorship, and forced thousands to flee for their lives; the US would be the closest safe haven, not Colombia or Brazil. It sucks, but that is how it goes.

      And it’s ALSO how you prevent actual terrorists, regime spies, and so on from infiltrating High Value Targets that aren’t immediately adjacent to them under the guise of refugees.

      And secondly: In general people aren’t stupid. So allowances can be made. You’re probably not going to have too many people turning away Venezuelans applying for refugee status in Santiago, Chile. Especially if they were vetted.

      “and yet there are also the bright pages of when they generously let in the scaping cubans or feeling central americans ………!! The US is so difficult to figure out…!!”

      It’s not THAT different.

      The US is the closest safe haven for Cubans. Full Stop. They can and often do go elsewhere (for instance, to Haiti or Jamaica), but the US is simply the most common and easiest. There’s a quantifiable difference between a Venezuelan who shows up on a Raft in the Florida Coast, and a Cuban, both claiming to be fleeing the tyrants.

      And that quantifiable difference can be examined with a map.

      That doesn’t mean that the Venezuelan is NECESSARILY a collectivist spy or that the Cuban isn’t. Far from it. But there is a farq ton more reason to suspect the former than the latter. Because genuinely fleeing refugees rarely have to run clear across the Caribbean in order to be safe from pursuit or harassment by the people trying to murder or imprison them.

      And a lot of times it was the closest for Central Americans. Not always, but frequently.

  5. You continue to insist that you have “rights” that neither you nor anyone else can or will defend.
    ——-

    And any attempt from the outside to defend or even mention transgressions of those rights is labeled “meddling” by imperialists. There’s little way of enforcing responsibility when the host nation claims to the world it is acting democratically, when the glaring fact is that Venezuela badly needs adult supervision. It’s like a greedy child somehow got charge of the family, is spending all the money on candy, throwing a few dulces to pops and the kids, while any adults in the neighborhood are waiting for junior to burn out of crash, too scared or repressed or passive to try and force change, which can’t happen from a binge effort, but only through sustained campaigns. As is, it seems the society is simply too splintered and polarized to mount any kind real resistance as we are seeing in Nicaragua. But those are a fighting people, which has decimated the landscape as a result.

    Rock and a hard place…

  6. In the new testament mention is made of Christ response to some pharisees asking him what he tought of the mosaic rule that allowed men to divorce their wives by simply declaring ‘I divorce thee’ three times. Christ said that God knowing the hard (cruel) heart of jewish husbands allowed for Moses to articulate the rule as known but that what was really in Gods mind was that what god joined on earth was also joined in heaven and that men could not whimfully disjoin what god had joined…..!! Christ in other words was saying that formal laws could be cruel and unjust even if they suited the temper mood and character of the people who were called to obey them. Sometimes laws in the US and other countries can be unfair and cruel and deserve moral condemnation even if public policy makes them mandatory . For many years the laws of the US allowed slavery to flourish and after slavery was abolished allowed for the gross mistreatment of its black population in many parts of the country , that didnt make those laws sacred or even respectable !! Laws are not the supreme automatic examples of moral rectitude , they are man made and can be vitiated by flaws and irrational biases same as any human product …..!! Even then there is so much to admire about the american ethos and system of government !!

    • I wouldn’t quote scripture.

      And I sure wouldn’t think it comes as any great surprise that law doesn’t always equate to morality, especially since morality is in the eye of the beholder. (Abortion or marijuana, anyone?)

      In other words, while what you write may be true, it doesn’t matter. Laws are written…and REWRITTEN…to express the morality of the times. In every nation, and every period, of human history.

      And I also wouldn’t apply this argument to say the U.S. should accept every migrant on earth, as you’re implying.

      That’s just weak in many respects, especially since you’re only singling out the U.S. for this, when most other countries are far worse offenders.

      God bless the Magnificent Orange Bastard.*

      *Magnificent Orange Bastard Copyright 2018 MRubio.

      • The argument is made again and again in the US that laws are sacred and thus must be enforced blindly . I dont buy that regardless of whatever criteria I think is rational for a country to apply to allow inmigrants in , for one I know of specific cases where the US has broken its own laws when it suits its interests , just as do many other countries , there is a lot room of interpretation and manipulation when it comes to enforcing legal provisions , thats how lawyers make their living ……!!

        What I do believe is that laws can be judged to be fair and rational or unfair and irrational , generous or merciless , what ever their formal status as laws , think you agree with me . Chinese law for example makes it mandatory for foreign investors to share their technology with domestic companies as a condition to invest in China , you would say that they are free to have their own laws and of course you would be right but then that’s not the whole story…..!! I do think that Mr Trump has a point in pushing for a reform of inmigrations rules, they are in some respects overly broad and in others not exactly rational . the problem is he appears to care less about what those rules should be than how his position will be percieved by his followers !!

        • Is it your position that the U.S. should break its own laws and allow millions of ILLEGAL ALIEN foreigners to come and take what Americans have built and earned? Eat Americans’ lunches and attend American schools and enjoy American freedoms while degrading standards of American life? I wonder if you do not think that the regime in Venezuela has expropriated what Americans built and earned in Venezuela? Was the regime “entitled” to those enterprises and properties Isn’t that the same thing, taking from Americans? Do you support invasion of the United States?

        • If you think that illegal immigration enforcement in the U.S. is followed blindly…yet alone effectively…you live on a different planet.

          I can’t believe, impossible to fathom, that you’re trying to use certain anectodal cases as an example of 100% of what happens here with illegals.

          Fuck, we voted for Trump to get enforcement even up to like 25%! And these are illegals with serious criminal records!

          But the Dems say no.

          • You guys should learn to actually read the texts rather than reacting to some imaginary rendition of what they contain , You attribute to my text many things that make you froth in the mouth ( ah the fatuous delights of righteous indignation) but which no one ever stated ……., Of course other countries have different inmigration laws and policies and they sometimes compare favourably to the hodge podge of rules that are sometimes applied in the US…….., (Australia may be a case in point) nothing to get incensed about !!I make no defense of the unconsciounable measures the Venezuelan govt has taken in its treatment of foreign investment , I condem them absolutely …….even though some of them were formally enacted as laws by the appropiate legal bodies …!!

        • Wow, Bill. You surprise me.

          Where do you live now, and what’s your geographical background?

          I think it’s a legitimate question, since everyone here knows mine.

          Just ask Canucklehead, who has simplified me to an old, angry, North American white man. With North American being his secret code for the U.S.

          He’s too big a pussy to say it, and too big an idiot to realize everyone knows what he really means to say.

          • Bill, you never replied. Can you do so, and honestly?

            What is your personal stake in the Venezuelan situation? For me, it’s dozens of relatives there, and 10 who escaped to South Florida.

            I’m not saying you CAN’T participate in CC if you don’t have a stake, but after dealing with assholes like Canucklehead who think that stake disqualifies me, I gotta ask.

            Also, I’m not going away with this question. What is your interest in this “subject?”

          • I believe Bill has told us he lives on Margarita Island. He understands the culture and language far better than I, that’s for sure.

    • Let’s not forget that it was angry, white, fundamentalist-Christian, Northamerican men that decided to do something about slavery (John Brown, Abe Lincoln, U.S. Grant, Sherman, etc.). And a quarter million white men gave there lives to end it in the bloodiest war the USA ever fought. It ended in the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the 13 Amendment to the US Constitution (1865).

      Hell, that was 70 years before angry, white, Northamerican men forced Europe to end slavery, in the spring of 1945.

        • The British slave trade act of 1807 abolished slavery in the British empire 55 years before the US did ……it ruined their caribbean colonies (which depended on slave labour to run their sugar plantations ) and imposed a heavy loss to much of their trading interests ……..Brasil held on for a few more years than the US but the emancipation of their slaves did not involve any shedding of blood , it was easily accepted by most everyone…!!. you command of history is a bit faulty but thats to be expected considering your educational background …..!! , John Brown I seem to remember paid with his life his attempt at freeing the slaves , but then of course he had broken the law so he deserved his fate…..!!

          • It’s 2018 now, not 1807.

            Buy a fucking calendar and answer my question above.

            We all know you didn’t know what you wrote. You just Wiki’d it.

            We’re not impressed by your attempt at appearing smarter than the rest of us.

          • You don’t know anything about the Civil War, do you?

            If it wasn’t for the attack on Ft. Sumtner and the south’s declaration of secession, Lincoln wouldn’t have done a thing to free the slaves. In fact, a few northern territories were allowed to maintain slavery during the war, as long as they sided with the Union.

            Lincoln, more than once, expressed he would accept slavery in certain territories if it meant preservation of the Union. This was even in contrast and dark consternation of radical Abolishinists.

            It sounds like you’re getting your history from 3rd Grade primers that are STILL being used in U.S. classrooms today, and it’s all bullshit.
            Read a fucking book, okay?

          • Hooray for the Brits! Now, where is my command of history faulty? And what do you know about my educational background?

          • @Bill Bass

            “The British slave trade act of 1807 abolished slavery in the British empire 55 years before the US did ……”

            Wrong.

            Firstly, you’re comparing apples to oranges. The 1807 Act was not Abolition, it was the elimination of the SLAVE TRADE.

            And coincidentally, the US also eliminated the slave trade in the very same year in the same month. And Earlier.

            March 2nd v. March 25.

            http://legisworks.org/sal/2/stats/STATUTE-2-Pg426.pdf

            Actual abolition in the British Empire would not come until the Act of 1833. A “mere” 21 years before the amendment eliminating slavery.

            Why don’t you do your damned research?

            “it ruined their caribbean colonies (which depended on slave labour to run their sugar plantations ) and imposed a heavy loss to much of their-“

            Which nobody here is denying.

            “Brasil held on for a few more years than the US but the emancipation of their slaves did not involve any shedding of blood ,”

            Because apparently the apocalyptic War of the Triple Alliance- something that was immensely bloody for all sides and ended with the near complete destruction of the Paraguayan nation- does not count. The threats from the Brazilian military and particularly the thousands of slaves they enlisted do not count. Or the ugly skirmishes between the Empire and the Maroon communities.

            “it was easily accepted by most everyone…!!.”

            Bull Shiet!

            If it was easily accepted by most everyone, even Britain- the nation I unironically call the Great Emancipator, the titan of the anti slavery cause- would not have taken so long to do it, and would not have been so tempted to get around it years later with things like the apprenticeship clauses defacto pushing back the date for effective emancipation.

            France would not have resisted adding abolition of the Trade (never mind domestic slavery) at the Congress of Vienna.

            And we would not see This freaking timeline.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_abolition_of_slavery_and_serfdom

            With particular note for the Spanish and Ottoman Empires.

            “you command of history is a bit faulty but thats to be expected considering your educational background …..!! ,”

            The farqing hypocrisy of this is Staggering

            Listen Bill Bass: you’re the one who farqed up the difference between abolishing the Slave TRADE ( that is, criminalizing bringing new slaves in from Africa or elsewhere, like the US and UK both did in 1807) and Abolishing Slavery (as in, freeing the slaves, as the UK resolved to do in 1833 and the US in 1864).

            You’re not in the best of positions to condescend to others.

            “John Brown I seem to remember paid with his life his attempt at freeing the slaves , but then of course he had broken the law so he deserved his fate…..!!”

            He deserved his fate because he was a murderous bastage with trigger happy followers, with no consideration for no combatants or the innocent. And ironically helped hurting his noble cause.

            But you seem to be ignoring the decades of history before that.

          • @Bill Bass.

            Because I’m a F***ing idjiot at tmes and I was distracted by watching a family movie, I screwed up the math. 1864/5 was 31 years after the 1833 abolition of Slavery in Britain, not 21.

            But the rest of the comment stands.

        • @Ira You might want to check some more about Lincoln.

          “You don’t know anything about the Civil War, do you?”

          Well. I know a fair few things about it.

          “If it wasn’t for the attack on Ft. Sumtner and the south’s declaration of secession, Lincoln wouldn’t have done a thing to free the slaves. ”

          Patently wrong. In fact, it was Lincoln’s sterling reputation among Free Soilers and moderate/gradual Abolitionists that convinced the Confederates that they HAD To secede by force of arms, getting out while the getting was good. Using the old Fake News of the day to justify it.

          But years before he entered the White House- or even politics- even if he had done nothing else, he had done several legal cases favoring the freeing of individual slaves and striking down slavery-related contracts.

          For instance, in Baily v. Cromwell.

          http://www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/pre-civil-war/legal-cases/

          “In fact, a few northern territories were allowed to maintain slavery during the war, as long as they sided with the Union.”

          True, but that was based on Lincoln’s adherence to the law and the idea that the US government should not illegally interfere with slavery as it existed rather than lack of zeal. And he ALSO helped shepherd the abolition of slavery through Congress during the late days of his Presidency in 1864 and 1865.

          Which notably did not exempt the Unionist Slave states.

          “Lincoln, more than once, expressed he would accept slavery in certain territories if it meant preservation of the Union. This was even in contrast and dark consternation of radical Abolishinists.”

          Which is true, but says more about his fidelity to the Union remaining intact than his indifference on the matter of slavery.

          “It sounds like you’re getting your history from 3rd Grade primers that are STILL being used in U.S. classrooms today, and it’s all bullshit.
          Read a fucking book, okay?”

          Eh, sorry, but it isn’t All BS.

          Lots of it is. But the idea that Lincoln wouldn’t have done a thing to remove slavery does not wash.

          The Confederacy certainly pushed him to act more aggressively, but he had been active fighting the “Peculiar Institution” for years.

          • Well here is some more cut-and-paste history.

            Lincoln, in his 1860 inaugural address, said: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” Two years later, President Lincoln wrote: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union (Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862).” And in 1858 Lincoln had written: “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. There is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”

            Just saying…

          • @kribaez A little bit of context for the first two quotes- in 1860 and 1862, when the Civil War was either on the verge of breaking out or when it already had, and secessionist paramilitaries claiming he was determined to Abolish slavery through martial law were pillaging Federal territory- reaffirms what I said.

            That while Lincoln was heavily opposed to slavery, he viewed that as secondary to the preservation of the Union as a whole.

            And as for the final one, that doesn’t contradict what was said before. Opposition to slavery could and did exist quite comfortably with anti-Black racism and a belief that different ethnicity or “races” could not exist together (like the other side of the coin: that a belief in racial supremacy and racial based slavery did not mean endorsing cruelty towards slaves just because of their race, as Alex Stephans the die hard racist and Confed VP who tried to get cruelty to slaves outlawed showed).

            Lincoln was no Martin Luther King Jr, and still less Frederick Douglass- particularly FD in his early, radical years when he viewed disunion as favorable to tolerating slavery in it. But Lincoln was a stalwart enemy of slavery throughout his career.

    • “Try imagining how all those desperate Venezuelans crossing the Colombian and Brasilian borders scaping the country, would be treated if the border being crossed was the US border …, in the US they would automatically be treated as criminals , as would be terrorists….., be thrown back to Venezuela”

      If Venezuela bordered the US, I don’t think we’d (Venezuela) have ever gotten to this point.

    • “In the new testament mention is made of Christ response to some pharisees asking him what he tought of the mosaic rule that allowed men to divorce their wives by simply declaring ‘I divorce thee’ three times. Christ said that God knowing the hard (cruel) heart of jewish husbands allowed for Moses to articulate the rule as known but that what was really in Gods mind was that what god joined on earth was also joined in heaven and that men could not whimfully disjoin what god had joined…..!! Christ in other words was saying that formal laws could be cruel and unjust even if they suited the temper mood and character of the people who were called to obey them. ”

      Yeah, and that isn’t surprising.

      But the point is twofold.

      A: Laws- however manifestly imerfect and subject to human frailty, malice, and cruelty- remain the wyas that human societies function. And much better than the mortal alternatives, such as rule by whim.

      B: As distasteful and repugnant as God found parts of Mosaic law, he still found it to be compatible with his Plan. which is why he- as the scripture said- ALLOWEd it to happen even in his covenant with Moses. Manifestly unlike several other cases, like Soddom (whose existence and conduct was something he would not allow).

      So the moral of the story is that mortal laws can be very cruel and dubious, and should not supersede The Right or one’s loyalty to it, because The Right is God.

      However, it ALSO is that Mortal laws remain important, and an enemy against the great evil that is chaos and lawlessness.

      Hence why some of the most damning verses in the Bible are covered in the time when Mosaic Law began to wane so badly that God had to anoint leaders called Judges to uphold it and restore the covenant. Hence, the Book of Judges. Ever hear of it?

      “Sometimes laws in the US and other countries can be unfair and cruel and deserve moral condemnation even if public policy makes them mandatory .”

      True.

      Key word: SOME-Times.

      Not all the time. Or even mostly.

      And the idea that it is unduly cruel to refugees to expect them to take shelter in the first safe harbor they can find rather than just get a passport to go wherever is absurd. If anything, it is unfair and cruel to the host country and its people- who are no less human or children of God in the eyes of The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit than those fleeing deprivation- to allow unlimited, un-vetted people streaming through multiple safe borders straight for them because It’s Got The Best Digs, Yo.

      This is the problem Europe’s facing now.

      ” For many years the laws of the US allowed slavery to flourish and after slavery was abolished allowed for the gross mistreatment of its black population in many parts of the country ,”

      True.

      But you’re comitting something. The reason those laws were Wrong was because of their merits, or lack thereof.

      What you’re pointedly refusing to touch upon are the merits of current refugee law, apparently assuming we should just instinctively conflate it with slavery in spite of them coming decades and decades apart.. And the well recognized fact that just as David and Solomon could be wise and just in most ways but stray horribly in others, good and evil laws often co-exist in the same system. Which is why an in depth, specific approach is required.

      “This allows injustice, so just throw it all out!” wouldn’t be a bad battle cry for Chavismo cicra 1997 or so.

      “that didnt make those laws sacred or even respectable !! ”

      Agreed.

      What makes laws sacred is God. And what makes them respectable are their moral worth or lack thereof.

      So why don’t we DEBATE Them?

      Oh wait. You’re not doing that

      “Laws are not the supreme automatic examples of moral rectitude , they are man made and can be vitiated by flaws and irrational biases same as any human product …..!! ”

      Agreed there.

      But so can human judgements and criticism of said laws.

      But it’s what we have.

      Now, how do we go about rectifying the flaws in both laws and criticism of them?

      Employing the faculties we have as humans- however imperfect they may be- to criticize constructively.

      So why don’t we do that?

      “Even then there is so much to admire about the american ethos and system of government !!”

      Agreed.

      “Ira Im sorry my comments make you feel dumb and that then you feel forced to respond with some blatantly defensive coments trying to show off how well ‘learned’ you are on the topic of the Civil War using some banal elementary references ……”

      Firstly: don’t say you’re sorry if you are not sincere in that matter. You wanna preach scripture at us, Bill Bass?

      Then maybe you should remember who the Father of Lies is. And how he can quote scripture to suit his purpose.

      Secondly: remind yourself of what Christ said about the self-righteous who criticize their bretheren for having a mote of wood in their eyes while they ignore the giant PLANK of wood in their own. You should consider working on your spelling and grammar (such as proper conjunction, like “I’m.”

      And thirdly: while I differ with Ira- sometimes viciously (like how I criticized them for their definition of Totalitarianism and their depreciation of Canada)- I saw FAR LESS wrong with his “banal elementary references” than the ones you did.

      And therein lies one of your problems. His references may have been banal compared to your own, but their truth value was higher than yours. Because you simultaneously seem to have forgotten that banal and elementary knowledge is the building block of more specific knowledge, and that you done screwed up some of the specialist knowledge you tried to peddle (like the difference between abolishing Slavery and merely abolishing the *TRADE* in Slaves). In addition to being flat out wrong about the idea that everybody else was fine with it.

      “the idea is not to offend anybody , just to set out a reasoning which you then can answer, using ARGUMENTS not insults , if you are incapable of doing so please dont address me again as I find that style of exchange boring ……..!!”

      I’m not convinced, but fair enough.

      “About the exact date of the British abolition of slavery I did know that it had happened long before the US was able to free their slaves but not the exact date as Im currently a bit far from my library so I did look at the Wiki data to get the date , am not embarrased about using Wikipedia , I am confident enough about the amount of stuff I have read and written about so its no big deal if sometimes I consult some detail .”

      Except again, you screwed up the date.

      Britain didn’t abolish SLAVERY in 1807, they abolished it in 1833. They merely abolished the Slave TRADE in 1807, almost at the exact moment in history the US did.

      You see, I’m also not perfect but am relatively confident in the amount of my historical knowledge to speak with confidence. But that’s also why I make sure to Double Check, and to be careful.

      As for the rest, I do not view it as being particularly important.

  7. By the way, you guys were right.

    My brother-in-law’s butter was over 2 million B’s. Mavesa brand.

    Real butter, or margarine?

  8. Ira Im sorry my comments make you feel dumb and that then you feel forced to respond with some blatantly defensive coments trying to show off how well ‘learned’ you are on the topic of the Civil War using some banal elementary references ……the idea is not to offend anybody , just to set out a reasoning which you then can answer, using ARGUMENTS not insults , if you are incapable of doing so please dont address me again as I find that style of exchange boring ……..!!
    About the exact date of the British abolition of slavery I did know that it had happened long before the US was able to free their slaves but not the exact date as Im currently a bit far from my library so I did look at the Wiki data to get the date , I am not embarrased about using Wikipedia , I am confident enough about the amount of stuff I have read and written about so its no big deal if sometimes I consult some detail .
    About personal data , I ve never made a secret of my particulars but neither do I pay it much attention ….I see people who concern themselves too much about their personal origins in writing to this blog as a sign or primitive narcissism …….suffice to say that I have a lot of stuff which I can write about from personal experience or that of very close friends …
    Maybe I know little about your educational background but there is a lot I can guess from the way you write about stuff thats only of interest to people who dont exercise their minds much….!!

    • Ouch!!! I guess that last paragraph was aimed at me! Why don’t you give it a shot, Bill, and I will tell you how accurate you are.

    • You still didn’t answer the question. Was that question too complicated?

      Why do you feel compelled to post on CC? Why are you here if you have no personal/familial interest? If none, doesn’t Yemen need your wisdom as well?

      Just like Canucklehead. Here, we have a total shmuck with no dog in the race…no reason to care…and he doesn’t. It comes across that way too, as opposed to those of us here who are living this nightmare directly, and guys like me whose family is living that nightmare.

      And you? What’s your point? You obviously don’t.

      And here’s a tip for you:

      Paragraph breaks.

      They don’t cost you a penny!

      • @Ira Hey, I had issues with Bill Bass, but try laying off.

        According to MRubio, he’s Venezuelan. Which means he has a massive dog in this race, to say the least.

        I agree he could use Paragraph Breaks, but nobody’s perfect.

  9. Don’t know if any of you have seen this story but 17 mostly young people died at a Caracas nightclub. Tragedy piled upon tragedy…..

        • Legal drinking age in Venezuela is determined by one’s ability to ask for a specific drink and be able to reach the counter with the money.

          • “@ MRubio….sadly I would guess that’s probably pretty accurate.”

            There might be a shop or two that sell alcohol in the big cities that follow the law, but out here in the sticks, it’s just as I describe. They sell anything, to anyone, anytime.

            Back when we used to sell cigs, it was common for parents to send a child to buy for them. Every time a six year old would ask for a pack of cigs, I’d put on a really serious face and ask, “you smoking now?
            I don’t believe you’re 18”. The look on their faces was priceless.

            BTW, one thing Chavismo must get credit for is weaning millions of Venezuelans from nicotine and alcohol addiction. Of course, they’ve done the same with food addiction.

  10. It’s 18 from what I can tell but the sources I saw all said if is rarely enforced. What a terrible thing to happen..

  11. I take it back, my fellow bloggers are very learned people , its evident they know all there is to know about slavery and the difference between the abolition of its trade and the emancipation of the slaves , the emancipation of slaves in Brasil was fraught with many struggles and violent episodes , I am so ignorant ….thats very important to note (saves some bloggers from feeling stupid) and yet what has that to do with denying the fact that laws can be judged from moral perspectives that are supralegal …….which is the point I was making , that just governments formally ennacting a law does not make that law automatically just or fair or rational , that laws are also capable of being interpreted applied or manipulated in ways which are reprehensible ……why dont people address this question with arguments that are grounded in reasons rather than with insults ……!! by the way this is a blog about venezuela , not about the partisan conceits of american white men , nor about Mr Trump , nor about US politics ……, but about the crisis thats leading to a mass exodus of people seeking to survive their countrys ruin ……, (no one by the way appears to have any idea as to the way slaves were freed in Venezuela or when)

    • And you still can’t grasp the concept of paragraph breaks, huh?

      That doesn’t help your case.

      And it’s funny…hysterical actually…how you you can’t recognize how some of your posts insult others.

      So I guess you’re the poor victim here, huh?

      Boo hoo.

    • “no one by the way appears to have any idea as to the way slaves were freed in Venezuela or when”

      Bill, look! This is a blog about the crisis that is leading to a mass exodus of people seeking to survive their countrys ruin, not about some ancient history of slavery in Venezuela.

    • @Bill Bass “I take it back, my fellow bloggers are very learned people ,”

      I’m glad you see the error of your previous statements.

      ” its evident they know all there is to know about slavery and the difference between the abolition of its trade and the emancipation of the slaves ,”

      Far from it!

      I will be the very first to confess that I don’t know anything *close* to all there is to know about even one form of slavery (like that of the Antebellum South or-say- the Omani Slave Empire in East Africa). Let alone all of them.

      But I at least know that I don’t know close to all there is to be known. And so I am at least *somewhat* aware of my own limitations and unreliability as well of those as Wikipedia.

      So I don’t try and act like a condescending prat to someone while flubbing the content of the law and comparing apples to oranges.

      if I’m going to act as a condescending prat (and God knows I have far too frequently), I want to at least TRY to make sure I’m hitting the targets I’m shooting at while doing so.

      ” the emancipation of slaves in Brasil was fraught with many struggles and violent episodes , I am so ignorant …”

      Yeah, indeed. Not as much as-say- American or Haitian emancipation. But neough.

      And that’s the key. Recognizing one’s own ignorance is one of the keys to rectifying said ignorance.

      “.thats very important to note (saves some bloggers from feeling stupid)”

      Yeah, it is.

      And not because it saves some bloggers from feeling stupid (frankly, I think most bloggers could do with feeling stupid a lot more), but because it is a matter of historical fact. And thus doing justice to it involves realizing it.

      Past is Prologue. You know?

      ” and yet what has that to do with denying the fact that laws can be judged from moral perspectives that are supralegal …….”

      It didn’t.

      I was chewing you out for trying to act condescendingly without getting your ducks in a row with that comment. I made my commentary about your judgement of human laws elsewhere.

      And you have a point, mortal laws are mortal constructs. Tainted in all the ways that mortals are. But that doesn’t mean they are all equal any more than all mortals are (unless you’d want to argue that you are the equivalent of both Chavez and Mother Theresa).

      And thus they must be evaluated on their merits, or lack thereof.

      “which is the point I was making , that just governments formally ennacting a law does not make that law automatically just or fair or rational ,”

      And as I detailed above, I agree there.

      ” that laws are also capable of being interpreted applied or manipulated in ways which are reprehensible ……why dont people address this question with arguments that are grounded in reasons rather than with insults ……!! ”

      I did.

      See above.

      But since I’m a history nerd who knows a Lot (not all, not even most, but a LOT) of the history about The “Transatlantic Trade”, I jumped on the part privy to my expertise. The process by which slavery was dismantled bit by bit in the US and UK (among other nations).

      And how it invalidates your idea that everybody else seemed to be fine to abolish an institution that was at the time *almost inseparable from human civilization.*

      “By the way this is a blog about venezuela , not about the partisan conceits of american white men ,”

      No, it’s not.

      It also isn’t about the partisan conceits and self-righteousness of Bill Bass from Margarita Island.

      It also isn’t about Racial or economic Insults meant to detract from the validity of history.

      This is a logical fallacy. You’re peddling a Non-Sequitor here. STOP THAT.

      If you believe in Christ and the Bible, then you must accept that there are truths that transcend the station, merit, color, and “race” of the person saying them. This is why Christ praised widows, a Centurion, and Tax Collectors even as he chastized Pharisees, Clergy, Centurions, and adulteresses. So why not apply that?

      ” nor about Mr Trump , nor about US politics ……, ”

      Agreed.

      ” but about the crisis thats leading to a mass exodus of people seeking to survive their countrys ruin ……,”

      Indeed. Well, I wish I had a better option. But I don’t. And frankly I think Chavismo is going to have to be uprooted by force on its native soil. I wish I thought another way was likely, but I don’t.

      ” (no one by the way appears to have any idea as to the way slaves were freed in Venezuela or when)”

      The final parts of the system were put to rest sometime in 1854 or shortly after, but most of the system had collapsed during the 1810’s and 1820’s. With the anarchy of the Wars of Independence it was all too easy to escape, either secretly or by joining the Patriot or Royalist militias.

  12. Oh god. Now you guys are going after Bill Bass. He’s actually Venezuelan and he lives in Venezuela. When he’s driven away, this comments section will read like a movie by Matt Stone and Trey Parker played by puppets.

    Thanks to The Whites, slavery was abolished!

    • @Canucklehead “Oh god. Now you guys are going after Bill Bass.”

      For what it’s worth, I’m also going after Ira, you, and anyone else Where I Think it’s warranted.

      Hence why I addressed Bill Bass’s points. And responded when I thought he either was indisputably wrong Factually (like on matters of history, re: Abolition of the Trade vs. Abolition of the State) or peddling Logical Fallacies.

      Again, like with Ira Re: Lincoln and Canada.

      ” He’s actually Venezuelan and he lives in Venezuela.”

      And you know what relevance that has to if or when he gets facts wrong or engages in logical fallacy?

      Not a damn thing. The beauty of logic is that it is truly blind to ethnicity, to creed, to gender, or to all the other dividing lines humans like using to abuse each other. Full stop.

      That doesn’t mean I decree with non-existing power that BB be cast into the outer darkness from which there is no redemption.

      After all, to err is human. And we’ve all done it, Canucklehead. Bill, I, Ira, and You.

      But it does mean he is open to criticism.

      “When he’s driven away, this comments section will read like a movie by Matt Stone and Trey Parker played by puppets.”

      Says the person who writes this.

      “Thanks to The Whites, slavery was abolished!”

      Ironic, considering how this was adapted as a well-warranted jab at your own unnecessary race haggling.

      And no, “The Whites” didn’t abolish slavery. After all, “The Whites” were not a uniform group. Plenty of them fought to uphold it (as the Confederates, Louis XIV, and so on show). Though many of them opposed doing so.

      Likewise with “The Blacks” (Toussaint v. Henri I, and so on).

      And everybody else.

      What I WILL freely point out is that Slavery was an almost universal trait in human society. It existed in almsot all human societies for almost all of humanity’s existence.

      And the steps that ultimately Gutted it were taken by a relatively small group of humans. Predominantly those who were born in or accultured in Western Civilization, and specifically the Judeo-Christian legacy, whether they be White like Wilberforce or Lincoln, Black like Toussaint or Douglass, Asian like half a dozen Tong leaders, or polka dot.

      And ironically it was these Westerners- many of whom were Imperialist, and even white racist- that not only dismantled the systems of slavery in their own holdings but forced the dismantling of others at bayonet point.

      That’s historical fact, Canucklehead.

      You don’t get to ignore that.

    • Let me see if I understand:

      I stated some simple facts about the abolishment of slavery, a subject that Bill introduced into the discussion. He stated I was ill-informed on the subject and proceeded to make ignorant remarks about the quality of my education. Then he straightened me out with an embarrassingly flawed lecture on the totally OT topic of slavery in GB.

      All to be followed up by the self-anointed PC policeman, Canuckles, who reprimands me for “going after” the Great Oracle. Forgive me if I don’t spend the rest of my weekend wallowing in guilt.

  13. “He’s actually Venezuelan”

    I guess that would help explain why he understands the culture and language so much better than I. LOL

    I like Bill’s posts. They’re even more impressive if English isn’t his first language. I don’t always agree with his interpretations, but his observations about the motivations of Venezuelans, especially with the cultural considerations, have helped me understand a lot of what seemed like fog to me.

    And nobody’s trying to drive anyone away, so stop with the hyperbole. BTW, I heard Trudeau has announced that Canada will be planting a 5,525 mile long polite, privacy hedge along the border with the US.

  14. My take on the American Civil War and slavery:

    Slavery would have ended in the U.S. even without the war. The entire world was on this trajectory already. Even if the South had won the war and split the U.S. in half, slavery would only have continued there for another decade or so. The worldwide social movement to abolish it was already unstoppable.

    Slavery was only one of several economic issues split the North and the South. By the time the war came, the South’s primary trading partner was Britain. The U.S. had failed to develop overland transportation routes to connect the North and the South. It was actually cheaper for the south to sell raw materials to Britain and by fabricated goods from Britain than to do business with the North. Over several decades, their interests had diverged.

    Ironically, over the course of the war, the railroads were extended to transport war material. After the war, the new rail transport networks corrected this economic imbalance and the U.S. was able to become a single viable economic entity.

    Now, having said all that, I think that the personal attacks in the comments have gotten out of control. It was bad enough reading the spat between Ira and Canuck, but when you start attacking Bill Bass? Seriously? He has never been anything but civil and gracious here.

    • @Roy “My take on the American Civil War and slavery:”

      Fair enough.

      ‘Slavery would have ended in the U.S. even without the war. The entire world was on this trajectory already. ”

      Cautiously greed; I’m not sure I would say the entire world Yet…but I m also not confident I wouldn’t. So fair enough.

      “Even if the South had won the war and split the U.S. in half, slavery would only have continued there for another decade or so. ”

      I have two minds about this, and it’d probably depend a great deal on just how durable the Confederate state and economy were since I’m pretty convinced the CSA couldn’t get rid of slavery without some kind of civil war in its own right.

      “The worldwide social movement to abolish it was already unstoppable.”

      Probably agreed as far as the Western Hemisphere was concerned.

      “Slavery was only one of several economic issues split the North and the South.”

      Agreed, but it was by far the most important one. As the Confederate founders stated. And heck, it was at least as much a social issue as it was an economic one.

      ” By the time the war came, the South’s primary trading partner was Britain.”

      Agreed, but the same also applies to the North. And one of the great contests of the Civil War was the political and economic competition by the Union and Confederacy to take precedence in British econ and political calculations.

      “The U.S. had failed to develop overland transportation routes to connect the North and the South.”

      Honestly, I disagree. Particularly when you map out the railroads as they were in 1860.

      http://cdoovision.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/map-of-us-railroads-in-1860-map-us-railroads-1860-79-large-image-with-map-us-railroads-1860.jpg

      And this is keeping in mind that railroads were a rather new development, only a few decades old by the time of the Civil War’s outbreak. Before that it was usually a matter of trailmaking, port refurbishment, etc.

      Now, it was rarely Super Easy to get North and South in 1860, but it wasn’t the hardest treck. Hardest was probably going Northeast to Southwest. In general it was easier to go North and South than it was to go from East to West, though the US had certainly been pouring more resources into the Northeast to West route.

      “It was actually cheaper for the south to sell raw materials to Britain and by fabricated goods from Britain than to do business with the North. Over several decades, their interests had diverged.”

      Not overly. Sure, it was easier for Tidewater Virginia and the rest of the Southern Seaboard to trade with Britain and other parts of Europe than it was to ship their stuff overland for the North, but the North also traded with the UK too. And both traded with each other via maritime transport.

      The divergence of interests you mention is very real and the South’s agribusiness links to the UK made it tantalizing to go its own way, but the choice to secede and rely on foreign trade was a conscious choice made for political purposes, not a truly natural development brought about by economic or political disjunction like the formation of the first Juntas in places like Venezuela during the French occupation of Iberia.

      Ironically, over the course of the war, the railroads were extended to transport war material. After the war, the new rail transport networks corrected this economic imbalance and the U.S. was able to become a single viable economic entity.

      “Now, having said all that, I think that the personal attacks in the comments have gotten out of control. It was bad enough reading the spat between Ira and Canuck, ”

      Oh God yes, Agreed.

      “but when you start attacking Bill Bass? Seriously? He has never been anything but civil and gracious here.”

      Honestly, reading some of his comments here as someone who is a relative newcomer to the site (especially when it comes to posting in earnest), including to his posts… I can’t agree he has NEVER beeny anything but civil and gracious here.

      Let me point to the reply he made that was an all but direct reply to me.

      “I take it back, my fellow bloggers are very learned people , its evident they know all there is to know about slavery and the difference between the abolition of its trade and the emancipation of the slaves , the emancipation of slaves in Brasil was fraught with many struggles and violent episodes , I am so ignorant ….thats very important to note (saves some bloggers from feeling stupid) and yet what has that to do with denying the fact that laws can be judged from moral perspectives that are supralegal ”

      Forgive me, but this strikes me as extremely sarcastic and hostile to read. Especially with overstated claims like “its evident they know all there is to know about slavery and the difference between the abolition of its trade and the emancipation of the slaves” (a point I made to Bill to double check). And I think this reading is supposed by bits like the “saves some bloggers from feeling stupid” aside.

      But maybe I’m just defensive and reading too much into it. Maybe Bill meant it to be taken purely literally.

      Ok. Fair enough. But that logic does not work for..

      “Ira Im sorry my comments make you feel dumb and that then you feel forced to respond with some blatantly defensive coments trying to show off how well ‘learned’ you are on the topic of the Civil War using some banal elementary references ……the idea is not to offend anybody , just to set out a reasoning which you then can answer, using ARGUMENTS not insults , if you are incapable of doing so please dont address me again as I find that style of exchange boring ……..!!”

      There is no way on Earth this can be argued as either civil or gracious. It is a direct insult, dripping with condescension.

      That may not have been his primary purpose. I for one take BB’s word when he says that his main purpose with this reply was not to offend anybody, but to debate the point.

      But it’s still impossible to categorize this passage as either civil or gracious. Now maybe one can argue that said lack of civility or graciousness is warranted given the spitting fight between him and Ira.

      Ok, maybe that’s warranted; I like Ira (an BB) on the whole, but I can criticize his conduct and conclusions a fair bit. I had to chew him out over unnecessary dissing of Canada, I called out his conclusions on Lincoln, and I’ll have to do it again. But it’s still being ungracious and uncivil, Even If it were completely warranted.

      (And sometimes I do think it is, don’t get me wrong. Unideal, but sometimes warranted).

      The issue i have with this is that if we actually read through the blow-by-blow of the comments, Bill at my reading seems to have made it unambiguously personal first.

      “You guys should learn to actually read the texts rather than reacting to some imaginary rendition of what they contain , You attribute to my text many things that make you froth in the mouth ( ah the fatuous delights of righteous indignation) ”

      This is unquestionably a strike not just at Gringo and Ira’s arguments (the “imaginary rendition of what they contain”), but against their character. And while Gringo and Ira’s comments contain some things that MIGHT be personal attacks (‘…If you think that illegal immigration enforcement in the U.S. is followed blindly……you live on a different planet.”, “I wonder if you do not think that the regime in Venezuela has expropriated what Americans built and earned in Venezuela? “). But this unambiguously was.

      Again, that doesn’t mean I hate Bill Bass forever and ever and ever or think he should be banned into the outer darkness. People are imperfect. We fail all the time. And I certainly think BB has a place on CC. But I do not think he was nothing but civil or gracious in this exchange even if he usually is.

      • Turtler – A lot of people have complained that on a blog about Venezuela, it somehow seems to always get diverted to the U.S.. And often in a “mildly pejorative” or “implicitly insinuating less than perfect” manner (if not outright insanely outrageous insults). There are a lot “Yanquis” here. Trolling is easy.

        The blog is about Venezuela. This topic is the unconstitutionality of Villca Fernandez’ exile. Bill’s opening post was about that, and it was typically interesting and informative. Even had THREE PARAGRAPHS!!!

        Then somewhere the comments strayed.

        Someone way back almost two years ago requested (told) that people who were not Venezuelans, some of whom had little life experience in the country, stop telling Venezuelans what they should or shouldn’t do as if they knew more than Venezuelans. Maybe the same sort of rule should apply to Venezuelans on a Venezuelan blog telling the U.S. what do to (such as regards illegal aliens who have already broken the law showing how much they respect us).

        As to Bill’s “unfortunate” posts … even diplomats who are trained, groomed, and paid to be polite call out foul balls, so he got called out. For myself, I proudly state that I never got a parking ticket in my entire life!*

        ____________________
        *Until I parked in a no parking zone one day.

        Btw, I replied to your post “@Roy” above, about 30 some odd posts from the top.

        • “Turtler – A lot of people have complained that on a blog about Venezuela, it somehow seems to always get diverted to the U.S.. And often in a “mildly pejorative” or “implicitly insinuating less than perfect” manner (if not outright insanely outrageous insults). There are a lot “Yanquis” here. Trolling is easy.”

          Indeed, I’ve noticed there. All too painfully.

          “The blog is about Venezuela. This topic is the unconstitutionality of Villca Fernandez’ exile. Bill’s opening post was about that, and it was typically interesting and informative. Even had THREE PARAGRAPHS!!!

          Then somewhere the comments strayed.”

          Indeed.

          I thoroughly disagree with Canucklehead regarding the idea that comments have no value, but I certainly can *sympathize *to some degree with the idea that this stuff just veers off the ride too often.

          “Someone way back almost two years ago requested (told) that people who were not Venezuelans, some of whom had little life experience in the country, stop telling Venezuelans what they should or shouldn’t do as if they knew more than Venezuelans.”

          I can imagine.

          The problem is that I see this is nonsense.

          I do not know Venezuela as well as Venezuelans do, at least on average. But neither did Lafayette or Baron von Steuben know the Americas better than the likes of Horatio Gates or most Minutemen when they came over. Did that mean the Continental Congress should have told them “STFU Foreigner, u can’t know anything more?”

          No, because that’s CODSWALLOP.

          I may not know Venezuela better than Venezuelans, but I do know SOME Things better than most. That’s why I am still working on a guest post for Quico.

          “Maybe the same sort of rule should apply to Venezuelans on a Venezuelan blog telling the U.S. what do to (such as regards illegal aliens who have already broken the law showing how much they respect us).”

          I can understand that- after all, consistency is a value-, but I still reject it for the same reason I reject the former.

          Ultimately, this kind of “Appeal to Tribe” is a logical fallacy. It is a cousin of the Ad Hominem. The idea that a valid or truthful argument can somehow be invalidated by dint of who the author is.

          I am not Venezuelan. I am however a history nerd. So if someone is going to try and lecture me about the idea that Venezuela cannot learn Anything from the US, France, or elsewhere in terms of building a constitutional government and keeping it…. well they’re just Wrong. And Bolivar himself knew it.

          Likewise if I give advice on how to-say- work underground or stockpile supplies for conflict with the Collectivos.

          My advice may not be THAT Trustworthy or beyond the basic, but it isn’t because I’m Murican.

          And ultimately, the entire implicit PREMISE of having an English language blog dedicated to Venezuela’s woes is that the Anglosphere (and the non-Anglosphere world that is more likely to use English than Spanish) has something to learn from Venezuela and vice versa. So the idea that we should just STFU because some of us aren’t Venezuelan or are White Foreigners is codswallop.

          “As to Bill’s “unfortunate” posts … even diplomats who are trained, groomed, and paid to be polite call out foul balls, so he got called out. ”

          Indeed. And that’s what I did too.

          To err is human.

          “For myself, I proudly state that I never got a parking ticket in my entire life!*

          ____________________
          *Until I parked in a no parking zone one day.”

          Lawlz.

          “Btw, I replied to your post “@Roy” above, about 30 some odd posts from the top.”

          Indeed. I saw and replied too.

          • Turtler – Your attention to detail probably adds to your facility with history …. Seems like we agree on a lot (based on your previous posts on CC as well as recent ones here). On virtues, I’m into reading Aristotle’s ethics – it’s instructive.

            Your comments on foreigners being perceptive about other nations reminded me of De Tocqueville writing about the U.S.. And of course Jean Lafitte was instrumental in the revolution. I’m not really big on what passes for history because most it I was exposed to had to do with wars and kings and borders and battles and wars and kings and dates and wars …. You mentioned religion in passing. To me it seems that history is made by religion. And the history of sciences. You were talking about railroads in the South in the times of the Civil War, for example, and travel from north to southwest. Heck, today you hop on I-80 and make reservations at hotels at scheduled stops. I did not know dey know dee limbo in Florida, mahn! Lulzy.

          • P.S. What I meant by gaining freedom through virtue (and losing it through vice) is the idea of karma. Your study of history for example gives you insights. I admit I do like the history around the time of the Italian Renaissance even though I don’t know much of the detail. That was free market capitalism, and the world has made such enormous strides in 600 years.

            But back to Venezuela … where free markets are economic war.

          • @Gringo “Turtler – Your attention to detail probably adds to your facility with history …. ”

            Thank you kindly, and indeed it does.

            “Seems like we agree on a lot (based on your previous posts on CC as well as recent ones here). On virtues, I’m into reading Aristotle’s ethics – it’s instructive.”

            Agreed there.

            “Your comments on foreigners being perceptive about other nations reminded me of De Tocqueville writing about the U.S..”

            Indeed, that is another thing I was considering. Sometimes it can help to have someone from the outside look in. While knowledge of the background and context can be immensely important and hard for outsiders to grasp, sometimes being in the middle of a situation can blind you to some facets of it. Sort of Fish-in-Water.

            “And of course Jean Lafitte was instrumental in the revolution.”

            Eh, small correction. We’re not even sure if Jean Lafitte was born during the Revolution; he played a supporting role during the War of 1812 thougj.

            ” I’m not really big on what passes for history because most it I was exposed to had to do with wars and kings and borders and battles and wars and kings and dates and wars …. ”

            Fair enough.

            I will admit I’m bigger on that aspect, in part because I’m a wargamer. And it helped me get into the material, especially since I’m a child of 9/11.

            But that sort of helped provide the skeleton- or framework- from which I could build and “hang” the finer tissues of microhistory like how the economics worked, what the average joe schmoe did, etc.

            “You mentioned religion in passing. To me it seems that history is made by religion.”

            I agree, much of history has been made by religion.

            But that raises the question of how exactly we define it.

            Certainly, we have a pretty good idea of what it is now looking back. But that’s not always so. And in particular it is worth noting that the term derives from a Latin original of “Giving oneself *too excessively * in spiritual devotion.” It was seen as a perversion and corruption of “proper” spiritual life.

            “And the history of sciences.”

            Agreed there.

            ” You were talking about railroads in the South in the times of the Civil War, for example, and travel from north to southwest. Heck, today you hop on I-80 and make reservations at hotels at scheduled stops. ”

            Indeed. In general I do think science, economics, and ethics/morality (inc. philosophy and religion) are really the engines of history as we know it. Though those in turn rely on human agency.

            “I did not know dey know dee limbo in Florida, mahn! Lulzy.”

            Yah, what can I say? It’s incredibly common. Heck, some of the Namibians I worked with way back when also knew it in spite of being clear across the Atlantic and a hemisphere over.

            “P.S. What I meant by gaining freedom through virtue (and losing it through vice) is the idea of karma.”

            Indeed, or at least karma as it is often understood here.

            ” Your study of history for example gives you insights.”

            Indeed, and study a lot does.

            ” I admit I do like the history around the time of the Italian Renaissance even though I don’t know much of the detail. ”

            Well, I think I can help you out a lot there. I don’t claim to be an expert or specialist in the field, but I probably count as one compared to the average Joe Schmoe. And I could point you to a number of sources, articles, books, and the like you can find for free on the interwebs.

            Though I might want to find a way to contact you off of CC’s comments, because well…don’t ant to derail things further.

            But here are some pointers https://art19.com/shows/tides-of-history

            And in that podcast he particularly talks about the issues with the whole “Kings and Battles n Shiet” school of historiography, as well as those of its inverse.)

            https://www.exurbe.com/

            https://erenow.com/postclassical/a-short-history-of-the-italian-renaissance/

            (And for a more interactive, Choose Your Own Adventure game up in Tudor England…

            https://dashingdon.com/play/jryoung/in-the-court-of-the-red-bearded-king/mygame/index.php?cb=82071 )

            I have more, but I figure that’ll give you a taste.

            “That was free market capitalism, ”

            Eh, not overly. We certainly saw a lot of the Seeds of free market capitalism, but Renaissance Italy was still dominated by oligarchic guilds and family businesses. Like the Medici Bank, the grand corporations of Venice, and so on. There was certainly room for independent businesses and free agents, but they were fighting a very uneven climb up.

            “and the world has made such enormous strides in 600 years”

            Agreed there..

            “But back to Venezuela … where free markets are economic war.”

            Well, when you can’t compete in the open market it might as well be. That’s the problem Venezuela ha had, and I get the feeling it had some issues well before the Chavistas took control.

            Anyway, regards!

    • Slavery would have ended in the U.S. even without the war. The entire world was on this trajectory already. Even if the South had won the war and split the U.S. in half, slavery would only have continued there for another decade or so. The worldwide social movement to abolish it was already unstoppable.

      Slavery would have ended, but when? I have heard some claim that slavery would have become uneconomic due to technology progress etc. The problem with that argument is that cotton harvesting didn’t become predominantly mechanized in the South until after World War II. The technology argument points to slavery being abolished well into the 20th century.

      A further argument against abolition occurring relatively soon after Confederate victory in the Civil War is that slavery was the big reason for secession. Read the South Carolina Declaration of Secession. South Carolina was the first to secede. Also consider the efforts of the South in the 1850s to expand slavery into Western territories- not to mention attempts to annex slave-owning Cuba in the 1850s.

  15. After looking at some of the efforts at replying to my sometimes sarcastic remarks Im glad I needled some of my fellow bloggers into going beyond the insults to a more detailed nd reasoned argumentation of their positions……. I too am a history buff , have been for years , have given a lot of thought to much of the stuff that history says about human nature but am always stymied by the lack of space or time to develop my thoughts quite as extensively as I would like , sometimes I take shorcuts , dont go into details because it would take too much text to write, ultimately I dont owe my fellow bloggers any explanation about myself or about my knowledge , specially if they come after me with personal insults about what I didnt say but they heard me say because they are too besotted with their pejudices and righteous indignations . Im glad still that my comments brought some of you to think…….I initially tried depersonalizing the comments so people would concentrate on the subjects and not on the person writing them but then got caught up in the agonistic spirit of the exchange and sadly I am human and sometimes love getting into a good tussle ….., I guess you do too……..!!
    Humans love of what enhances their self conceit if often linked to their love of frivolous contentiousness, they love confrontation and will engage in it extravagantly or needlessly just to get roused up and feel their warrior juices flowing , the above exchange is evidence of that , we love confrontations so much our capacity to think suffers , and we turn visceral even if we use fancy words or pseudo arguments to embellish our visceral passions…., Nonetheless am glad some of you got the basic idea I was trying to make : : That there are good and bad laws, and that the spirit with which they are applied can also be laudable or reprehensible , so that its never a good argument just to state that XYZ behaviour is justified or vindicated because a Law is said to supports it ……we are humans and that means that we are morally capable of judging Laws same as we are capable of judging the merits or flaws of any human artefact which is what laws are ….

    • “After looking at some of the efforts at replying to my sometimes sarcastic remarks Im glad I needled some of my fellow bloggers into going beyond the insults to a more detailed nd reasoned argumentation of their positions……. ”

      Well, I can’t speak for anybody but myself but your replies didn’t really needle me into anything. This is the kind of stuff I usually do.

      And you can see it on plenty of other threads on this site where you were not even involved. In fact Canucklehead complained a bit that it was too long and overwrought.

      “I too am a history buff , have been for years , have given a lot of thought to much of the stuff that history says about human nature but am always stymied by the lack of space or time to develop my thoughts quite as extensively as I would like , sometimes I take shorcuts , dont go into details because it would take too much text to write, ”

      Fair enough, I can sympathize with that. But when in doubt lay it out.

      “ultimately I dont owe my fellow bloggers any explanation about myself or about my knowledge , ”

      You may not OWE your fellow bloggers any explanation, but you will Owe yourself and your own positions some if you want to make claims. Especially drastic ones, like the idea that everybody was fine getting rid of slavery (haha no), that the UK abolished slavery half a century before the US did (nope), or that refugee laws are unjust (Ok, you’re gonna have to make an effort there).

      “specially if they come after me with personal insults about what I didnt say but they heard me say because they are too besotted with their pejudices and righteous indignations .”

      Fair enough.

      That’s why I format my posts the way I do. So that I am not subject to such claims.

      I use what you- and others- say, directly from the horse’s mouth. So that not only do I stay on target and keep my responses structured, but so that I can avoid any claims that I misrepresented what someone said or am building a strawman.

      “Im glad still that my comments brought some of you to think…….”

      Again, I cannot speak for anybody but myself but I was already thinking.

      “I initially tried depersonalizing the comments so people would concentrate on the subjects and not on the person writing them but then got caught up in the agonistic spirit of the exchange and sadly I am human and sometimes love getting into a good tussle ….., I guess you do too……..!!”

      Fair enough.

      “Humans love of what enhances their self conceit if often linked to their love of frivolous contentiousness, they love confrontation and will engage in it extravagantly or needlessly just to get roused up and feel their warrior juices flowing , the above exchange is evidence of that , we love confrontations so much our capacity to think suffers , and we turn visceral even if we use fancy words or pseudo arguments to embellish our visceral passions….,”

      Indeed.

      ” Nonetheless am glad some of you got the basic idea I was trying to make : : ”

      I got the overall point you were trying to make from the start.

      I just heartily object to painting it with refugee law. The fact is, refugees have an urgent need. But those needs can usually be met in the first safe harbor they run across. For Venezuelans fleeing Chavismo that is almost always Colombia (at least unless Petro wins) or Brazil. From there they can apply for asylum in the US through the legal channels, but that doesn’t mean they get a carte blanche to run up to the US.

      “That there are good and bad laws, and that the spirit with which they are applied can also be laudable or reprehensible , so that its never a good argument just to state that XYZ behaviour is justified or vindicated because a Law is said to supports it ……we are humans and that means that we are morally capable of judging Laws same as we are capable of judging the merits or flaws of any human artefact which is what laws are ….”

      Agreed indeed.

    • BB,

      I love the thrust and parry and the occasional bloody nick. I like reading your posts, Turtler’s, Gringo X’s, Ira’s, Canucklehead’s, Lorenzo’s and of course, ellos del Mrubio. (I am missing posters that I enjoy)

      In all the clash and clang of Joves and Jupiters here, I have never thought that serious posters were anything but anguished about Venezuela. We all agree that this is an evil situation, murderous. But, we will rarely agree on why.

      I have my own earnest beliefs about VZ and sometimes I want to ‘spacco i capi “ of posters who don’t agree. (And sometimes I post stuff that a 20 minute break would have killed.)

      I pledge: no more ad hominems from me. I am suggesting we all should consider it. We have the same concerns about Venezuela.

      Bill, this not aimed at you; it was just convenient to reply to your post.

      *backwoods Italian for “break the heads,” I think.

  16. Caution: I will talk about the post’s topic. Apologies to all trolls.

    Juan Carlos, thanks for your moving post. Still, I have an issue with something you and others have hinted: that we are back to the Gómez times.
    I was born during Venezuela’s better off times and it was my grandparents and great grandparents who experienced the Gomez dictatorship, not me. They saw hard days. And yet by all means those feudal times saw less destruction than these ones.
    Unfortunately i do not know a Spanish book touching this topic in detail but if you read German, you could read “Venezuela: ein Führer durch das land und seine Wirtschaft”, a book written in 1922 with lots of details about our economy and some interesting data on salaries for many professions, from unskilled pawn to engineer to school teacher. Believe it or not, an illiterate pawn could buy more food or buy better clothes or rent a house than someone in 2018 Venezuela for the same amount of time worked.
    It is high time we educate Venezuelans about our forgotten past…with facts and figures.
    If we had this kind of data we could better infiltrate the armed forces that currently serve Boligarchs, Cubans and Russians.
    Maybe then people won’t keep going into exile.

    • @Kepler “Caution: I will talk about the post’s topic. Apologies to all trolls.”

      No worries, I appreciate it for once.

      “Juan Carlos, thanks for your moving post. Still, I have an issue with something you and others have hinted: that we are back to the Gómez times.
      “I was born during Venezuela’s better off times and it was my grandparents and great grandparents who experienced the Gomez dictatorship, not me. They saw hard days. And yet by all means those feudal times saw less destruction than these ones.”

      I can believe it.

      Granted, you know more of Venezuela than I do since you have family that had skin in the game. But that was the impression I got.

      The assorted dictatorships that ruled Venezuela could be bad- indeed, very bad- but the impression I’ve gotten was that they did not try and upturn society and the economy to the degree they did. I haven’t seen too many indications of famine or equipment shortage there.

      At the risk of oversimplification ,it reminds me of the difference between the Batista dictatorhsip, and that of the Castro Brothers.

      Batista was a tyrant and an usurper who fully deserved to get the heave-ho. As did Gomez etc. al. But my understanding is that they were relatively unambitious autocrats, perhaps even ones that tried to cultivate a paternal, “genteel” facade. They wanted to be the friendly neighborhood caudillo taking over the social structure and the economy that were established.

      In contrast, the Communists- which I think the Castros and Chavez account as- wanted more. They weren’t driven by mere thirst for power, but also by ideological fervor or perhaps overweening ambition. Which meant they wanted to exert control over all aspects of society, even at the expense of destroying it.

      Hence the difference between authoritarians like Gomez, Contreras, and Cipriano Castro, with totalitarians like Chavez, Maduro, and Fidel & Raul Castro.

      “Unfortunately i do not know a Spanish book touching this topic in detail but if you read German, you could read “Venezuela: ein Führer durch das land und seine Wirtschaft”, a book written in 1922 with lots of details about our economy and some interesting data on salaries for many professions, from unskilled pawn to engineer to school teacher. Believe it or not, an illiterate pawn could buy more food or buy better clothes or rent a house than someone in 2018 Venezuela for the same amount of time worked.”

      Thanks for the recc. I’ll definitely check it.

      But I can completely believe it. I’ve seen similar data in my studies of Cuba re: Before Castro and After Castro.

      “It is high time we educate Venezuelans about our forgotten past…with facts and figures.”

      Quite right!

      “If we had this kind of data we could better infiltrate the armed forces that currently serve Boligarchs, Cubans and Russians.”

      Honestly, infiltration is one thing. But I think it’s time to start building a parallel structure. Not just a government in exile or underground, but a paramilitary.

      It’s easy for me to say this in theory because I don’t have skin in the game- at least yet- but I do think it is important. I don’t see Chavismo’s adherents giving up power happily, and I don’t see them giving up power at all without something to increase the risk to them.

      “Maybe then people won’t keep going into exile.”

      Indeed.

      On the whole, a very good point. Messaniac totalitarians rely on the ability to distort and contort the past into a convenient to sell message.

      • Perhaps Google might help.
        The book is fascinating for several reasons. Herr Burger must have started writing around WWI although he clearly edited it.
        He presents a wealth of details, from the murder rate in every state to a description of Venezuelans’ cuisine at the time to temperatures for every region to a rather detailed description of exports.

        The old Espasa, which you might find in a good gringo library, also has a wealth of information about Venezuela
        of those times…and it is written in the language of God,
        a language you do speak.

        • Thanks for the reply.
          I had previously tried Google.
          1) found “salary” ~”gehalt.” When I searched for “gehalt” I was initially confused by all the words w a “gehalt” root: abgehaltenen, gehelten, Saftgehalt, etc.

          2) Then I remembered that is the way of German: polysyllabic, shall we say. I then decided that the way to go was to translate a random paragraph with a “gehalt” root. The following paragraph yields some salary info.

          Im jüngsten Budget, 1920, waren ausgesetzt für die Landes-
          Universität in Caracas 206 760 B. Von den 37 tätigen Professoren
          waren am besten die der Medizin mit je 3600 B. Jahresgehalt
          bezahlt, am geringsten jene der Rechtswissenschaften mit je 2400 B.

          Die freilich unvollständige Universität de los Andes (Merida)
          fristete mit 37420 B. ihr Dasein. Die Professoren empfingen je
          1296 B. jährliche Entschädigung.

          Das Lehrerseminar hatte mit einem Budget von 80 544 B.
          zu rechnen. Hier verschlang die Unterhaltung von 43 Internen
          41 280 B. Von den 12 Professoren bezog jeder 960 B. (Der
          Pförtner 1080 B.). Das Institut funktionierte, wie andere, z. B.
          die Pharmazeuten-Schule, in einem Mietshause. Das Lyzeum von
          Caracas verfügte über 48 840 B. Die 25 Lehrer erhielten zwischen
          1200 und 2400 B. Der Direktor 6000 B.

          (Lehrer = teacher. Tom Lehrer was a math whiz- graduated from Harvard at 18- whose claim to fame is writing and performing some rather witty songs- songs I grew up on. )
          3) One year I attended a concert of Handel songs. The program had lyrics in both German and English translation. I was able to initially follow the singer in German – while glancing at the translation (obviously not able to translate myself)- but after 5 minutes or so I could no longer keep my attention.

          4) One Christmas my grandmother gave me an album of the Obernkirchen Children’s choir, so at one time I knew some songs in German. I also saw them in concert.

          Certainly Google Translate isn’t perfect, as anyone with knowledge of two languages can see, but it does a serviceable job.

  17. Well, I do apologize for getting nasty. I can’t help myself at times.

    It always starts with Canucklehead, and then others get hit in the crossfire.

  18. This is in response to Turtlers latest commentary which I found civilized orderly , reasonable and polite . I am pleased that the exchanges with others incited him to intervene bringing a bit of much needed balance into the discussion ….., he is not as fearful as I am of overextending ones text , so he could be more complete in his comments than I allowed myself to be …….
    He was more restrained than others in his responses and for the most part appeared to be in agreement with what I wrote …, he had some quibbles about some details which I will now address :
    1. Whatever the exact dates of Britains abolition of slavery and that of the US , it took the US 31 years more and a savage war to settle the issue .
    2. While the abolition of slavery was favoured in brazil by certain historical and anthropological circumstances , it didnt take a brutal civil war to accomplish, as was the case in the US .
    3. I am respectful of how each country handles its inmigration policies and am not proposing that the US adopt a policy for Venezuelans as generous as that which it applied to cuban refugees from Castro or central americans fleeing from their internal troubles , my own impression however is that the rules are now being applied with greater harshner than usual to please a politically encouraged xenophobic mood . My own impression is that nowadays even if the US bordered Venezuela their policy towards Venezuelan refugees would not be that of Colombia or Brazil but a much more restrictive one . Perhaps I am mistaken . I am reminded of how a great many jewish refugees from nazi persecution were denied enthrance into the US because of a latent or overt anti semitic sentiment on the part of some of its public authorities . Have a friend who is definitely a political refugee (would be in jail if still in Venezuela) and was denied a resident visa in the US while his wife ( who wasnt being persecuted herself ) got a residents visa without trouble.
    4. I dont hold it with fellow bloggers attempting to stand as a kind of censorious admissions commitee to pass judgment on my credentials for writing ocassionally in this blog , A group of trolls attempted the same game with me years ago ( before these new blogers ever appeared on scene) and I didnt let them bully me into allowing them to act the part , Ill not repeat what I said then but this is an open blog where any interested party is free to participate if he so wishes ……if the blog masters dont exclude my postings then Im in , if someone disagrees with the truth of anything I write then they can try to refute me , but thats as far as it goes…!!
    thank you for your patience in reading this extended response…

    • I am afraid that you are correct about the politically induced xenophobic mood of the U.S. Even my own family is not immune, and it has become a subject that we don’t talk about. The existing prejudice is so strong that no amount of actual facts can penetrate the raw emotion reactions.

      With regards to U.S. attitudes towards Venezuela, I am sorry to have to tell you that, for the majority of Americans , all Latinos are Mexicans. It is like how most Venezuelans are with Asians. They are all “Chinos”.

      U.S. Immigration policy does not make any particular distinction either. As for who gets approved who gets rejected, it is largely a crap shoot, depending on who does the interview and what they had for breakfast.

      • If we are a nation of xenophobes and dumb-asses, who don’t know the difference between a Venezuelan and a Mexican, then why, oh why, would you want to move in with us in the first place?

        I have a better idea. Why don’t you invite us into Venezuela? With capital from Wall Street and a little Yanqui Ingenuity, plus your wealth of natural resources and easy access to our markets (CITGO?), we could have your little country humming in no time!

        I know, you’ve spent the last 20 years calling us every name in the book and telling us to go to hell, but we are willing to forget and forgive.

        • Lorenzo,

          I AM an American and I know my own country and countrymen pretty well… the good and the bad. Neither Bill, nor I, said Americans ARE xenophobes. We said that America is in a xenophobic mood. It is the difference between saying that someone is drunk and saying that person is A drunk.

          (I actually kinda liked the image of Americans going in and getting everything running again… :))

          • Roy – Not OK with me. The millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. are a drag on the society and the culture. It is not any “xenophobic mood” at all, but a realization spreading worldwide that “immigration” is being used as an excuse to invade first world countries and loot them. The respect for laws of the invaders? Don’t make me laugh. That is as absent as socialists’ respect for prosperity. And it is all behind the cover of outright lies.

        • Lorenzo – What I’ve said here for a while. The calls for a U.S. invasion overlook the fact that we HAD “invaded” – and that’s apparently how it was viewed. We brought industry, work ethic, and honesty. We were not the only ones – Europeans were there there too. The country was rapidly developing a true middle class – high-rise apartments and urban developments built by and for family-making Venezuelans. A quasi-second generation group of Americans were assimilating into society and were as much or more Caraquenos than they were Americans.

          I don’t know the inside stories any more than what I can see from the outside, but the aristocracy (one of the traditional three pillars of LatAm social structure, land-owners, church, and military) may have felt threatened by the spreading lack of corruption, free markets, and by the growth of a middle class with education and voting power. We all are told in no uncertain nor timorous tones at all, by Ulamog, that the communists very, very definitely did not approve of the spreading prosperity.

          Thing is, we lost literally billions. And all our work was trashed, reversed, ruined, and spat upon. The fact remains, as far as I can see, that “the Venezuelans” apparently do not like Americans, especially not in their country. I suspect it is the aristocracy, the upper crust of Venezuelans, mostly. I know I felt it, and I saw it, among my would-be peer group. I know sometimes it was just an isolated guy who hated Americans for being American. I know sometimes it was my mistake for not following a social code I was unaware of or should have been aware of. But I did notice upper class Venezuelans who rather openly had a predetermined disdain for me because I was American.

          I also know I never had a problem with the so-called working class. None at all. In fact, I felt very openly welcomed. Maybe that’s an indication that the working class saw Americans as opportunity-makers. Maybe they appreciated the opening up of a historically structured society, the advent of democracy. And the middle class folks I met were equal in sincerity. With the notable exceptions of some of the upper class, almost all other Venezuelans embarrassed me with their welcome to me as an individual – even though I was (and am) American.

          • Gringo,
            You should be wary about generalising your own experiences in Venezuela. There are some Venezuelans who don’t like the USA, sure, but probably not as many as you would find in France. The only Americans I knew who had any sort of social problem in Venezuela during the 90’s were those who exported their own cultural insensitivity and entrenched ignorance. I’ll spare you the anecdotes. I knew many who had no problem at all. By 2008, the picture had changed, firstly because there were far fewer US citizens around, and secondly because the ones I knew quite wilfully made little attempt to socialise because of personal fear.

            During the late 90’s, there were a number of respectable opinion polls offering people a choice of political regime ranging from Cuban to USA. The popular vote was overwhelmingly for the USA. This is perhaps one reason why Chavez never praised Cuba during his 1998 campaign, or mentioned socialismo (in fact he denied being socialist in one TV interview). His references to “Socialismo del Siglo xxi” and desire to take down the privileged elite began some years later when he was well established in power.

            In 1998, here are some of his public quotes: –

            “Cuba is a dictatorship.”
            “No, I would not describe myself as socialist.”
            Nationalization plans? “No, absolutely nothing.”
            Hand over power in five years? “Of course, I am willing to give up power even earlier.”

            By the time Venezuelans realised what they had let out of Pandora’s box, he had secured control of the TSJ and the Poder Civil, including the CNE, and was immovable by any democratic means. The attempt to remove him democratically in 2004 failed because of a completely rigged electoral process. ALL elections after that time, [excepting the 2005 AN which was boycotted by the opposition but including the 2007 referendum on constitutional change which Chavez lost] show evidence of irregular voting patterns [aka rigging], and alongside that there is unequivocal evidence of intimidation, vote buying and irregular growth of the electoral register. Given this, how do you interpret the will of the Venezuelan people?

            Would you interpret Stalin’s actions to be a reflection of the will of the Russian people since he was elected unanimously? It is almost as silly then to assume that Chavez’s policies reflected the desires and drives of the majority of the Venezuelan people. They never have done. He never kept any of the promises he made in 1998, when he was fairly elected.

            However, the funniest thing that you wrote was the following:-
            “I don’t know the inside stories any more than what I can see from the outside, but the aristocracy (one of the traditional three pillars of LatAm social structure, land-owners, church, and military) may have felt threatened by the spreading lack of corruption, free markets, and by the growth of a middle class with education and voting power. ” Tell me in what period exactly there existed a “spreading lack of corruption”? Following the collapse of Banco Latino in 1994, Venezuela appeared as no 2 on TI list of most corrupt countries. The joke in Caracas was that they were really no 1, but money changed hands.

          • Kribaez – You make interesting reading, principally because I wasn’t in Venezuela during any of time periods you refer to. I believe you are of German extraction, or have some European relation? Your use of the word “funniest” sounds like a German usage, more at “odd” than “humorous”. (The joke in Caracas about being no 2 is humorous!) By “spreading lack of corruption” I meant that the volume of business conducted by foreigners in Venezuela grew steadily after the discovery of oil, way back in the early 1900’s. There were some exceptions, I’m sure. More money means more money for corruption. But generally foreign business was based on production merit, not family relations and favors, and the attempt to stop bribery worldwide went so far as laws passed in the U.S. a number of years ago now, governing U.S. companies, making some “gifts” to foreign politicians and people of influence, illegal. Of course major free market competition, and the growing middle class, were equally weighted, approximately, if not more so. I don’t think you “get there” on a macro-societal level by looking at corruption only.

            I don’t know when foreign business began declining, but I would guess shortly after the nationalization of oil, the replacement of managements, and the exit of foreigners from the country, making it easier for the communists and the suitcase businesses to do what you briefly describe. The periods you refer to provide a conceptual idea of the sequence of what happened. You might write an article for CC expanding a bit on what you sketched out to me. A lot of foreigners who were no longer in the country might find it fascinating, some sort of morbid interest like watching the L’Oiseau’s demolitions of factories, office buildings, bridges, and so on.

  19. These are the two fragments of the article that should be paid more attention:

    “… this was the last thing I wanted to hear about. I decided to ignore him,…

    …I despised them almost as much as I despised the government they claimed to be fighting.”

    This.

    THIS. MENTALITY.

    The whole “IT IS NOT MY PROBLEM” mindset, is the MOST POWERFUL buiding stone of chavismo’s power in Venezuela, the regime managed to keep people like that for enough time to consolidate their power to the level they have today.

    • Ulamog,
      If I understand the timeline correctly, Juan Carlos’s comment dates back to the 2014 protests. The factions in opposition to Maduro were themselves split in terms of the appropriate response, following the rigged presidential election of 2013. Perhaps for many people, they did adopt a philosphy of “It’s not my problem.” But for the majority it was more a case of “That’s not the right solution but I don’t know what is.” You will recall that these protests were not triggered by political leadership, but by the oppressive police response (including detention and physical abuse) to student protests in San Cristobal over the attempted rape of a student. This broadened spontaneously into a wider series of student protests. Only two political heavyweights saw this as an opportunity to trigger la salida. They were not supported by the majority of political leaders in the MUD. I know from your previous comments what you think about that political leadership, but that’s not the point of this comment. My only point is that it is harsh to blame Juan Carlos for not wanting to join in those protests when the vast majority of Venezuelans (a) did not join in, and (b) did not see it at that time as a viable solution for ridding Venezuela of an oppressive regime. Given that the 2015 AN elections were some time later, a conservative line was perhaps still credible. It ceased to be credible quite definitively only after the appointment of the Express Judges and the neutering of the AN in early 2016. At that stage, it was obvious that no democratic option was going to work and the regime was only going to exit feet first.

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