Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Who are crying for Hugo Chávez?

We will see their faces over the following days: the people –by the hundreds of thousands– who are crying for Hugo Chávez. It would be petty to dismiss them just because we disagree with almost everything that the Venezuelan president stood for.  

The sad truth is that many who opposed Chávez did ignore those Venezuelans for years. When Chávez jumped from 3,673,685 votes in the 1998 presidential election to 7,309,080 in 2006, many people screamed fraud, because they couldn't understand where those votes were coming from. What they didn't see is that Chávez had spent his first years in government registering hundreds of thousands of Venezuela’s poor, who until then had never voted (Chávez was first elected by the middle class, who were tired of the corruption and inefficiency of the old political parties, not by the poor who would later support him).

When the opposition spotted people called Batman or Superman in the voting lists, they thought they’d found the smoking gun they had been looking for –but the joke was on them when the government unearthed these voters and proved they were real despite their cartoonish names.

For many who opposed Chavez, it was easier to question the Batmans and Supermans, and claim fraud, than to accept that the political class that represented them had for decades ignored and marginalized a majority of Venezuelans. So whenever Jimmy Carter and or the OAS put their seal of approval on Venezuelan elections, they were accused of conspiring with Chávez.  

None of this is to say that Chávez was not a corrupt and authoritarian charlatan that abused his office, bent the rules of democracy like a magician, disrespected the Constitution almost on a daily basis, and followed democracy only when it benefited him (best example of this: when an opposition politician was elected mayor of Caracas, the President let him be sworn in but then took away his office, responsibilities and budget and gave them to a hand-picked Chávez supporter). But despite all of this, Chávez did have a majority and they are now crying for him. Understanding who these people are and why they supported the President is necessary if there is ever going to be a real reconciliation in Venezuela.  

The innocent. Being the optimist that I am, I choose to believe that these are the majority of Chavez’s supporters. They have no idea of what a democracy should look like, or what they should expect from a proper government. They just know that for the first time a President looks like them and talks like them: he goes on national TV and sings, dances and speaks about that time he almost didn’t make it in time to the toilet… Maybe they’ve only received a red t-shirt from Chávez, or just the hope of one day being handed the keys to a new house (even if it’s an apartment in an 18-floor building with no elevators), but it is still more than most of them ever got from previous governments. That’s why one of their favorites slogans was: “Hungry and with no job, I stick to Chavez”. How do you convince them that the man was not a saint?

The opportunists. These are the people that are getting rich off the “revolution”. From the “socialist” ministers whose children go shopping in New York, to the businessmen that make the red caps, red t-shirts and anything else you can imagine being made in the color red. They are the boli-bourgeois who shuddered every time Chávez spoke of Socialism and “communes”, and who drove around in Hummers and armored cars, buying for cheap the homes and businesses of the old elite. Today, as the crocodile tears trickle down their face, they are actually wondering how they can keep doing business in a government led by Nicolás Maduro.  

The cynics. They believe in no one –and care about no one– but themselves. They’ve spent the last 14 years figuring out how to survive under Chávez, so now they are worried about changes. These are the people who will rather go off to the beach or a mall than vote. They have seen the opposition mess up so many times, that they really have no reason to choose them over Chávez. They couldn't care less about democracy, rule of law or human rights. Give them a new smartphone or a car, and they are happy. So now they aren’t really crying for the dead President as much as for concern over their own wellbeing.  

The lefties. Before Chávez first took office, they spent decades dreaming of what a left-wing government would be like. So they revelled when it was finally their turn to lead Venezuela –even if many of them suspected that Chávez wasn’t a real socialist, and they were disgusted by the corruption of the opportunists. Since most of the lefties had spent their lives reading books and daydreaming, instead of having proper jobs, they ended up being a mess when it came to planning and carrying out government policies. We have them to thank for the regular power failures, crumbling roads and nightmarish economy. Not surprisingly, many of them have joined the ranks of the opportunists.  

The anarchists. They are the people who, seeing how Chavez broke the law every single day, felt they also had a right to do how they pleased. The list includes those directly responsible for last year's 22,000 homicides, the gang leaders in the “barrios”, the police that moonlight as kidnappers, the mobsters that rule the prisons... They will surely miss a President saying that it is all right to go out and rob if you are hungry or needy.  


  1. i hope you will got no Idea, i feel sorry !!what you've done in your live Hermano

    Study Finds Big Spike in Poorest in the U.S.
    The report analyzed Census Bureau income data from 2000 to 2009, the most recent year for which there was comprehensive data.

    The measure of concentrated poverty came into broad public use among academics in the 1960s when civil unrest, the decline of blue-collar jobs and the flight to the suburbs left parts of American cities stranded in islands of poverty.

    In “The Truly Disadvantaged,” William Julius Wilson, a sociologist now at Harvard who pioneered the concept, argued that residents of such areas were more likely to experience joblessness, poor schools, broken families and high crime.

    Living in such areas often led to poorer health and educational outcomes for children, creating higher hurdles for success as adults.

    “It’s the toughest, most malignant poverty that we have in the United States,” said Peter Edelman, the director of the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy at Georgetown University. “It’s bad outcomes reinforcing each other.”

    The data in the Brookings report captures the first part of the decade most clearly, when growth in concentrated poverty was highest in metropolitan areas in the Midwest. Of the places where poverty concentrated the most, three were Midwestern: Toledo and Youngstown in Ohio, and Detroit.

    The report estimated that in metropolitan areas, worsening economic conditions in 2010 may have bumped up the portion of those living in concentrated poverty areas to 15 percent, a notch below the 1990 level, 16.5 percent. The biggest rises were in Sun Belt areas like Cape Coral, Fla., and Fresno, Calif., where the housing bust was biggest.

    The Census Bureau’s traditional measure of poverty tends to overstate poverty for some groups, because it does not take into account noncash government assistance for the poor, like food stamps and the earned income tax credit. Those programs lift millions of people above the poverty line.

    The rise in extreme poverty was a disappointment to policy makers, who had hoped that its decline in the 1990s was the beginning of a historic turnaround. The decade was one of a great increase in prosperity across the income spectrum.

    But the past decade has proved them wrong. The number of neighborhoods of extreme poverty grew in roughly three-quarters of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

  2. Is Sad that People like You Exist in this world, How much Money did you get paid Gusano?

    1. Daily Shultan why do you call the author "gusano"? Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done unto you. If you disagree with what the author states, then prove otherwise using arguments and facts. Try to convince people rather than insult them just because they think differently than you.

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    1. I just read your article on CNN. The reasons why you won't miss el Caudillo are just the beginning of why Venezolanos should welcome his death as an opportunity for a new beginning.

      As you stated regarding the pissing away of Venezuela's oil wealth, what a missed opportunity!

      This cowboy from Barinas, who was at the very beginning a patriot and champion of his people, advanced through the ranks of the military only to became a massive casualty of the temptations that absolute power provided him. He was all too human in this regard, but he deserves no pardon. When a leader invokes laws to outlaw criticism, that is a huge red flag. I know this sounds harsh, but I am glad he is dead and believe that he truly deserved to suffer like he did.

      The type of environment that his red-shirted thugs imposed on at least one educational institution qualifies my utter contempt for the man.

      A very dear friend of mine was promoted within the university to director where he/she worked. Shortly after this, he/she was confronted by chavistas to sign off on giving credits to someone who had not studied there. He/she refused. Shortly thereafter, graffiti was plastered on his/her office that had a picture of a skull and the words “Maldito/Maldita" followed with his/her name. They also held a gun to his/her stomach. He/she still refused and lived to tell about it. He/she had balls.

      I hope all Venezolanos can have the balls to reject a continuation of the failed policies of a once noble patriot who was absolutely corrupted by absolute power.