Red with envy

Hugo Chávez likes to boast that he is some sort of innovator when it comes to social policies and that the opposition has no answers. Never mind that his vaunted misiones, a half-baked hodgepodge of cash handouts, Cuban assistance and supply subsidies, have long ceased being effective. He has created his myth, and doggone it, he’s sticking with it.

Yet we know the opposition has finally turned a corner when, faced with reality, Chávez resorts to stealing their ideas.

As evidenced by the improvised, quasi-hysterical reaction to recent flooding, the government has run out of answers and ideas when it comes to helping Venezuela’s most vulnerable. What has Chávez thought of lately? The answer, my friend, is floating in the wind… of the La Carlota airbase.

Carlos Ocariz is the charismatic mayor of Sucre municipality in eastern Caracas. Experienced in the seldomly-practiced extreme sport of patear barrios, Ocariz has worked hard to implement social programs long the domain of larger, better-funded bureaucracies.

The schemes have proven so popular that Chávez is now stealing images from Sucre’s programs as advertisement … for his nonexistent social policy. I guess in his mind, these are his programs too – after all, isn’t that his Central Bank president’s signature on the back of those bills?

I spoke to one of the designers of the programs because, frankly, I had no idea what they were.

They have several. Many of them are boilerplate, in that they provide services unconditionally.  There is the provision of school equipment, a program named Equípate y Progresa; another, named Contrólate y Progresa, provides free checkups and nutritional assistance to more than 2,000 pregnant women; and another one, Aliméntate y Progresa, provides snacks for students in early stages of schooling.

Other programs are geared toward repairing public sports venues, providing day-care facilities, fixing neighborhood clinics, and maintaining senior-citizen centers.

These programs, while commendable, are not particularly groundbreaking. However, Sucre also has a conditional cash transfer program, similar to Bolsa Familia, that stands out.

Its name is Estudia y Progresa. It provides a cash stipend for mothers of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in municipally-held schools that can show their students are attending 85% of their classes.

My source tells me the rate of success has been good, and improving. In the first month, 75% of eligible mothers signed up for the program, with 33% of them not receiving the money due to their kids not reaching the attendance threshhold. By the fourth month, the number not reaching the threshhold was down to 12%.

Programs like these are leaving a mark, and are helping keep Ocariz at healthy levels of job approval. The experience we get from implementing these novel programs will prove valuable once this nightmare is over.

One can only hope Chávez imitates Ocariz’s ideas and policies, and not stick to just stealing his images.

47 thoughts on “Red with envy

  1. Juan,

    “One can only hope Chávez imitates Ocaríz’s ideas and policies, and not stick to just stealing his images.”

    What have you been smoking? Chavez can’t and won’t make these programs work because the only people he has to run them will steal all the money before any help filters down the final intended recipients.


    • Not “any,” Roy. They have to announce a massive program, then control their greed long enough to make sure enough money gets through to one location for some wonderful photo ops. Once they get the propaganda, then the lackeys can loot all they want.


    • On second thought, this does suggest otherwise. Why “waste” money on a good social program when you can simply steal all the credit?

      Something tells me the regime is going to start investing more in Photoshop experts, to keep embarrassing slips like this from coming through. (They just better be better at it than the ones who copied people to make it look like a bigger crowd a few years ago – I think Miguel, and maybe Daniel, had a post on that one.)


    • Thanks Kepler good find! I’m not a fan of Wiki thou… would like to have the original rule from the RAE, cannot find it right now.

      This link was the best thing I came up with, but ‘por encimita’ I don’t see the rule.

      It seems that you’re very good searching for info, or have more time in your hands than me. Please post the link if you get it :)


    • @liz: as a former Spanish teacher, those rules are branded into my head! Here is a link in English for use of written accent marks. Also, your link to the RAE does give the rules.


  2. Good post. Just one thing “Ocariz” does not need an accent if it did it would be Ocáriz; sorry to point this out, but it it was like seing the anglo-Americans writing “habañero” because it must be like jalapeño…


    • Juan, it’s easy-pissy-Japaneasy.

      You really need to learn two main rules:

      Spanish spelling is much easier than English spelling.
      The double rule is actually very clever because with it Spanish uses the least amount of tildes one can possibly use.
      Most words in Spanish are stressed in the second before the last and most of those words end in n, s or vowel. Thus, the rule is: don’t use tilde.
      “toman”, “come” else, use tilde: lápiz, fácil

      For words ending in the last sylable: just use the previous rule the other way around
      “andén”, “ató” else Ocariz, artesanal”

      For mono: just when there is confusion
      (a mí is not like “mi libro”)
      (ti: there is only ti as in a ti, there is no “ti libro”, thus: never stress)
      (te, té)


    • Chávez, according to the rules, should not have an accent, but I always write it with an accent. Which one is it?


    • Chávez MUSt have a tilde.
      Acentuado en la penúltima:
      termina en s? No
      termina en n? No
      termina en vocal? No
      acento como “lápiz” o “fácil”
      Ocariz es como en nariz, se acentúa al final.


    • True story: My sister used to read over my shoulder as I did my homework and beat me on the back of the hand with a ruler every time I missed an accent mark! She was a tilde nazi!

      (Wait, did I just Godwin a thread about…accents?!)


    • Good for Ocariz! I know his dad pretty well. Not surprised that he’s really doing the right thing most of the time.

      Quico: No wonder you’re never on the straight and narrow!


    • As another ‘accent nazi’ let me tell you that ‘nombres propios no tienen ortografía”. Maybe Ocariz writes his lastname with an accent… just saying.

      On the topic: if I’m not mistaken, it’s not the first time the regime steals images from the oppo for their advertising campaigns.


  3. Back to the topic:

    I think PJ should give more publicity to this in Venezuela. They are announcing things on Twitter, but twitter…I don’t think you reach many people we can convince now on twitter…at most you can coordinate.
    Most people using twitter now are either already on our side or Chavistas who use twitter as part of their job or the like.
    There are several million Venezuelans who don’t know about what Ocariz is doing. They are the ones not on the Internet and not in the main cities.
    Flyers again? Perhaps…but with some kind of challenge: we did this first. Let’s hope the government does something similar and efficiently


    • Well Kepler, this is well in theory, but hard in practice. It’s not like Gustavo Cisneros is willing to give Ocariz any air time. Plus, their budget is already pretty meager, they can’t really spend a ton on publicity.

      Flyers work to a point, but they can be expensive (you need a lot of people handing them out) and can be ineffective, since people don’t read them necessarily.

      The more I talk to people in the meollo in Venezuela, the more they tell me how complicated getting their message out has become.


    • Juan, I am not saying it is not hard. It is incredibly hard. Still, one needs to do it. By the way: you don’t use flyers with fancy colours but black and white in plain paper.

      Venezuelans read very little, but it can help if the message is well written. You don’t need to pay a PR company for that, do you?

      You need people who do it for the motivation. There are people like that, but more coordination is needed and more selecting the right people in other states. With that I mean sometimes “the leaders” in other states are apparently amigos de amigos and not people who have shown interest. If you want to create more of this, you need a couple of party leaders to actually go there even if they are not going to become candidates for the presidency.
      Actually, they should make it clear.


    • And forget about TV: I know how difficult it is and how Cisneros is sold out.

      Another thing one can do is to make it clear the government is not willing to give us voice in VTV etc. I know how difficult this is for Venezuelans, they tell me: “oh, come, on we ARE NOT in EUROPE”. Sure they are: Venezuela is not Europe. And it is not Colombia and it is not Brazil. But we need to tell Venezuelans: Chavistas do not want a real and public debate, just parallel monologues. This is NOT normal anywhere else. Rise up! Arréchense, que los boliburgueses son cobardes.


    • Well, I don’t know if they are actually *not* doing this, so… I’m sure that when the campaign begins, the publicity on this sort of thing will take off in earnest.


  4. The guy has done a pretty good job. I like the fact that he is not a camera whore, he just goes about his business, maybe its cause he talks funny :p …


  5. This is not the first time we see chavez’s willingness to steal. Let’s not forget his willingness to go so far as the worst of capitalism by offering a credit card, and even making it sound like it was less limited than “Mi Negra”, when it was quite the contrary.

    Regarding the conditional part of cash transfers:

    “…some recent evaluations have attempted to separate the effects of the cash from the effects of the conditionality. They generally suggest that the main impact comes, not from the condition, but from the money. Brazil’s unconditional rural pension, for instance, increased school registration of children, while the unconditional pension in South Africa cut non attendance in half (Hanlon, Barrientos, and Hulme 2010, 57). A World Bank study of cash transfers in Malawi concluded that the determining factor for increases in school enrollment was the increase in income, not the conditionality, which had no discernable impact (Baird, McIntosh, Ozler 2009). Thus, the conditions attached to such programs, and the additional cost of enforcing them, may be less valuable than the cash itself.”

    [ ]


  6. Liz,

    You are correct about their stealing from the opposition in the past.I happen to personally know that the” SI” came from a former presidential campaign that was invented by an advertising agency and was thought up by someone who is now part of the opposition.

    People’s names can be written in any language in any way the named person wishes despite whatever formal rule typically applies.However if a syllable is stressed and no accent appears, then expect some to mispronounce the name.

    In general accents are easy if you have an’ ear ‘for them.Understanding where to put the emphasis in a word can be as difficult as sounding out the word itself. Fortunately, Spanish makes it easy for us. When a word is stressed on an irregular syllable, an accent mark will appear above the stressed vowel.


  7. I suppose that the Chacao, Sucre, el Hatillo, and Baruta municipalities are like patches of sane (or healing) skin in the extension of open sores that the Bolivarianos can show for all their efforts. Of special mention; the suppurating tumour, the Municipio “Bolivariano” Libertador. You can almost posit that such municipality does not exist; there, though a vice-president of the PSUV purports to be Mayor.

    And of course, the highly ironic and discordant note: Most Bolivariano hierarchs in Caracas live in luxury housing inside the aforementioned municipalities.

    As for the images… it’s on par with these pure bred thieves. Incapable of creating anything or of keeping anything, they have to steal everything.


  8. Liz and Kepler,
    The Venezuelan government is currently stealing everything they can get their hands on including intellectual property while simultaneously flushing democracy and freedom down the toilet and you guys are complaining over improper grammar! Keppler and Liz get a grip on reality who gives a SH!* if Juan missed a tilde!


  9. Oh Joalred, sorry. I have lost my pants to the regime not once but twice! No need to preach to this lady about the democracy lost. I live in venezuela, have no job and no hope for my future. So, no need to be rude.

    I just love to make Kepler search for information and post it. It’s his forte.


  10. Vinz,

    (ever heard of a “hiato”, BTW?

    I have and the advice remains the same:It is in the pronunciation.Very easy to figure out after all, it is after all not rocket science:)


  11. This piece is like something one would expect from Winston Smith and the ministry of truth in Orwell’s 1984. The Ocariz programs are imitations of the social missions with other names and Chavez launched these years ago.

    Well done Ocariz for dedicating some budget to the less well off in Municipio Sucre even though it is HE who really stole Chavez’s ideas and programs. All he has to do now is to institute these programs amongst an excellent trash collection program so that kids and mothers benefiting from them do not have to suffer piles of trash in the streets. Municipio Sucre is full of uncollected trash – even Unicentro El Marques stinks to high heaven near where the garbage cage is located. Go to José Félix Ribas, which is the highest point of Petare and see the piles of trash in the streets. Sorry, Ocariz, you are going to have to do better than this as you are creating a worse public health hazard than J. Rodríguez in Libertador.


    • Hey, “Arturito”, do you remember WHY there is a trash crisis in Caracas?

      I can tell you briefly if you wish, and it has little to do with Ocariz, and more to do with Barreto/Bernal/Rodríguez and what they did with all the dump trucks in Caracas and certain pieces of municipal legislation that caused this chaos.

      Then again, I doubt you will admit to anything, even if I clearly prove it, as chavistas never do. So lets just say it´s el Imperio´s and la Cuarta´s fault so he who pays your bills will be happy with you, shall we ; /


  12. So ElFeto – you are the oracle about trash collection in Caracas? In the middle class areas of Municipio Sucre the trash collection is not too bad. I know. I live in Los Dos Caminos. But in poorer areas Ocariz needs to take action. He treats the poor like second class citizens, let’s be clear abou that. Bernal had nothing to do with the Alcaldia mayor so get your facts straight and as far as the trucks are concerned – just another excuse for poor management by Ocariz.


    • Arturo,
      The trash collection in Dos Caminos was excellent before Chavismo came to power. Actually, before Chávez came to power there were not as many street vendors as now, even if now, supposedly, the informal unemployment (in Venezuelan Chavista Spanish “trabajo informal) has theoretically decreased to “just” 45%. In Carabobo – this is not a governor’s task – water treatment has gone literally down the drain and most people there get very polluted water from the tap. Since the military government came to power, no water treatment plant has been built in Carabobo in spite of Venezuela getting the largest oil boom ever. Only a crappy “treatment” plant was built in Los Guayos which is now actually having the opposite effect, sending rubbish to El Pao.
      The Libertador (Carabobo) municipio is an environmental disaster because the poor there have the largest landfil in Central Venezuela with technology of the Middle Ages.
      Mayors now do not have the money because Chávez and all the milico fans shit on the constitution and are taking power from the elected people and giving said power to themselves arguing they are giving it “to the People”


    • Arturito, I believe oracles “see” the future, not the past.

      I could do a very fun reply filled with puns, but I am lazy, much like you Chavistas who never research and look for the truth, you just repeat whatever you are told, so there, let´s be happy, we have found common ground, lazyness it is!


  13. JC,

    Interesting and important post.

    I hope the truth about this becomes widely known among Venezuelans AND abroad and that it receives proper coverage.

    So at first they started by stopping the opposition relief caravans during the flood, stealing their food and distributing it as if it were theirs.Now they reached an even higher level of efficiency , letting the opposition do all the work and then posting it as if they were doing it.

    Maybe soon they will be putting the UN efforts to help Haiti on TV, and claiming it is being done by Chavez.


  14. SNOOOOBS, I come back from Aporrea & I find the niños fighting over accents & throwing the RAE at each other, instead of putting down your Slate mag, & organizing in a big group to go into the barrio to help Ocariz/Ocáriz patear barrios. God almighty the crime rate in Venezuela is out of sight and you dudes and dudettes will not be the ones to fix anything. Where are the Mendozas, the Goicoecheas, the Basque, the Bolivars? ¡Bunch of mantuanos reblandecidos y medio blanqueados!


    • Mariaeu,
      I think you should better go back to Aporrea. That’s your place.
      What the hell is this?
      “Bunch of mantuanos reblandecidos y medio blanqueados!”
      Pot calling kettle black
      Go back to Aporrea. You have no arguments. We can stray from the topic, but we do discuss it and discuss it with arguments, not writing about “my dad won this and that prize and I am related to a former Spanish governor of Nuevo Mexico/Peru/whatever but I don’t care, I just mention it…and I am related also to a very well known bishop…and I don’t care”
      Verga, qué ladilla eres!
      Ve a Aporrea.


    • I’ll have you know the information I got was from people who do both – help Ocariz patear barrios *and* read and comment on this blog.

      As per your other epithets and racist slurs… no comment. They speak for themselves.


    • Mariaeu,

      You cry out:

      “God almighty the crime rate in Venezuela is out of sight”

      I reply:We can comment and speculate on the crime situation…BUT,
      the only one who can truly make constructive changes is dictator Chavez.

      He caused it and he purposely maintains it.The criminals in Venezuela are an important part of his base.Without their support he would have a hard time terrorizing the population into not taking to the streets.As it stands now it is perfect for him.People are as fearful as he needs them to be.


    • Mariaeu:

      “¡Bunch of mantuanos reblandecidos y medio blanqueados!”

      Insult will get you nowhere, except under a bridge, malodorous, hairy and carrying a club…


  15. Quico: She was a tilde nazi!…. (Wait, did I just Godwin a thread about…accents?!)

    No, you godwined a thread about diacritical marks, of which accents are a subset.


  16. Not to scare you niños & firepillete’s girls but just a lil booooo to yo’all:

    En Venezuela se incautaron en el 2010, según el gobierno, ¡63.000 kgs. de droga!; en España se espantan hoy por un alijo encautado de 500 kgs. de cocaína. Es una guerra a muerte la que hay en Venezuela, como en México desde que entró a gobernar el PAN católico, contra el narcotráfico. El narco colombiano entró a Caracas bajo CAP durante cuyo gobierno no hubo casi alijos incautados ni arrestos, sino al final uno y éste fue el del zar anti-droga en cuanto empezó a hacer arrestos, Thor Halvorsen. El culpaba a los protegidos de CAP (colombianos junto a sus compinches venezolanos miembros de la elite), según su hijo quien escribió “The Troublemaker” para el Pennsylvania Gazette.

    Este, Halvorsen Jr., publicó un artículo en el Wall Street Journal y de ahi pasó a ser parte de un libro de David Jordan, Drug Politics: Dirty Money & Democracies
    (Se los recomiendo pero luego no se quejen si alguno encuentra el nombre de su papi)

    La cocaína financia muchas cosas, mantiene bancos y medios de comunicación y políticos. La droga dura es la telaraña internacional en que los países son mosquitos atrapados.

    Noté que durante el feriado de Navidad se registró en el estado Carabobo (no en Caracas) el mayor número de muertos por crimen violento: el astronómico ¡40 muertos! Me pregunté porqué allí; la respuesta me la da la misma fuente, el enlace de arriba:

    “Señaló que durante el 2010; en su labor contra el narcotráfico, el organismo instaló centros de incineración de drogas en los estados Carabobo, Lara, Mérida, Nueva Esparta y Zulia en función de las constantes incautaciones de sustancias ilícitas que allí se producen.”

    Hay mucho mar de fondo en Venezuela: droga y dinero, crimen y gobierno.

    Estando tan lejos y ausente desde hace tanto tiempo no dispongo de datos. Me parece que la situación de Venezuela es dificilísima, peligrosísima y yo tengo todo el propósito de volver, así que trato de enterarme hasta donde puedo, leyendo a los chavistas de Aporrea, como a los de la oposición, la gente fina de Caracas Chronicles y Prodavinci, entre quienes no faltan ex-conspiradores, banqueros encarcelados y gente expatriada a Mayami tras participar en el coup o en el boicot petrolero o en ambas cosas.

    La CIA está fuera de control y trabaja para fuerzas supranacionales y el narco una de ellas. Con el narco colombiano y los paramilitares? no es descartable

    Yo estudié entre niñas de la High caraqueña y tuve la (aburrida) oportunidad de conocer a los chicos a quienes ellas esperaban tener de esposos, unos niños mantuanos buenos para nada, salvo el puñado de ellos que son descendientes de vascos (empresarios como Eugenio Mendoza Goiticoa, como Zuloaga de la Electricidad de Caracas) o de nord-europeos como Halvorsen, el judeoalemán Neuman etc. Estoy exagerando por supuesto, pero por ahi va la cosa. Hay y hubo mulatos, castellanos y gente admirable de todas las razas y de todas las mezclas en Venezuela, como nuestro primer presidente democráticamente elegido, el escritor mulato Rómulo Gallegos, o Guillermo Meneses, Rafael Rangel… o uds.

    Bueno, bueno, no quiero interrumpir su lectura de Slate ni sus compritas en Nueba Yol


    • Chama you really are la perfecta chavista: one tsunami of non-sequiturs after another, liberally sprinkled with generic ad hominems and gratuitous insults. By all means, come back! Preferiblemente devuelvete a Antimano. O a Catia. De noche. Con tu lactoc visible. Y un collar.


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