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August 26, 2008


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I was in Caracas for a couple of months two years ago. It was quite an educational (and surreal) experience. The degree of intervention of the government was quite impressive. Chavez was omnipresent ranging from his weekly show "Aló Presidente" to the red T-shirts worn by supporters.

Let me share one particular episode: International Women's Day. Scores of red T-shirts flooded public spaces. I found quite interesting that a group of women was displaying a large banner with Mr Danger's picture photoshoped to include horns and bloody fangs. The banner read "Venezuelan Women against Iraq's occupation". Moreover, they were singing a very rhythmic chant. Roughly translated: "And we don't feel like being an American colony. And we DO feel like being a Latin American superpower."

I find Chavez's regime too familiar. So many elements remind me of Perón's times. The Bolivarian president's rhetoric for example includes the concept of "organized community". This idea was pivotal in Perón's social strategy. In practice, Chavez's support base is the popular class, his social program derives from favorable terms of trade, and he rewards his followers with extra funding (see the case of the Bolivarian schools). Perón's followers were initially the popular class, the industrialists, and the Catholic Church. Argentina enjoyed favorable terms of trade until 1949. The educational reform was so extensive that my mother learned how to read using the approved Peronist textbook. My mom's first lines were "Evita loves me. I love Evita."

I don't know whether Venezuela will turn repressive or more like Mexico. However, if we look at history we can see that Perón's regime turned quite repressive (to the verge of totalitarian) soon after the terms of trade turned south (well, Evita's death did not help either).

YOU SAID: "The idea is to make key aspects of everyday life dependent on support for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). It's not Communism; rather, it's Daleyism, put in charge of a country. Do it right, and there will be no need for secret police or election stealing."

This is an absolutely retarded phrase. There is not a shred of evidence that this is happening in Venezuela. I've lived here for over three years, and know all kinds of families that do not belong to the PSUV, that absolutely hate Chavez, and have voted against him repeatedly, and they still have full access to ALL the benefits of the government, including state health care, education, subsidized food, pensions, etc. etc.

You can join the long list of idiotic reporters who have spread total lies about the reality in Venezuela. You should feel proud.


Um, OK, whatever.


As I wrote at my blog, that kind of clientelism is pretty familiar to me from PEI, although it's not so much food as jobs. (And, come to think of it, employment insurance payments given to seasonal workers.)

Hi, Anonymous! I'm just writing to say that I haven't forgotten your comments, and I'd be happy to hear more about your experiences in Venezuela before I post a bit about the Maisanta list and Chavez's political strategy sometime tomorrow or (at the latest, I hope) Monday.

Seriously, I'd like to hear more.

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