Other Voiceless

I don’t think I’m the only one going through this but, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found it harder and harder to write. It’s a disorienting experience – this sense that everything that might usefully have been said has already been said far too many times before.

Juan has been calling for other voices, which is just as well because, these days, my own seems to have gone AWOL.

Unable to write, all I can do is link to others who are doing it well. One I’ve started to look out for is John Manuel Silva, an uncommonly stylish and nuanced voice who cut his teeth in the Panfleto Negro circuit.

Here he is meditating on the strange passivity with which chavista intellectuals witness the dismantling of their friends’ civil rights:

La tragedia de Venezuela no es que el chavismo sea mayoría, sino que es una mayoría indolente. Una mayoría que ha contemplado impávida como se disminuyen los derechos de los demás, sin que eso sea su preocupación. Una mayoría que no cree en el derecho ajeno. Una mayoría de personas que están muy dispuestas a ser amigos de sus opositores, que en el ámbito privado los aprecian y comparten con ellos; pero que como ciudadanos no están dispuestos, en lo más mínimo, a abogar por sus derechos ante el gobierno que apoyan y sufragan.

39 thoughts on “Other Voiceless

  1. Well, that’s nothing new among leftist intellectuals. There you have Sartre and García Márquez, just to name two well-respected, internationally acclaimed socialist ass kissers…


  2. I wrote this comment in Daniel’s site, and it fits here as well. In Venezuela half of the population (the so called apatridas or “stateless people”) is blacklisted **by not being registered** in the PSUV and this **is** important because that 45% is **not** eligible to benefit from Mision Vivienda. Indeed, Venezuela is the first country where computerized blacklists have been massively applied to engineer apartheid. Venezuelans don’t know yet how important their country will be in the history of political science.

    The chavistas know this and they rejoice in their connivance within the apartheid state. In their eyes, their connivance is justified because the apatridas are “blanquitos,” (= people who strive for self-sufficiency, assumed to include whites, but actually going beyond race to include all who share this attitude irrespective of skin color). To put it another way, in the eyes of the chavistas, there is no scandal in supporting an apartheid state, because Venezuela is a country where the rogue, in all shamelessness, is considered a hero and blessed with the complimentary title of “vivo” or “pajaro bravo.”


      • yes. otherwise, the 55% will continue to believe that they have a higher probability of getting a free home than the 45%. Everybody should have signed up especially the opposition.


    • WOW!! You are so right!! And, whether the other 45% “needs” to be enrolled in Mision Vivienda, as mentioned by JC below, is irrelevant. The Apartheid State exists, as evidenced, for example, by Listas Tascon/Maisanta, and is the basic reason why people are afraid to vote against Chavez. The Rogue, or Vivo, is, and always has been, King.


  3. If it’s hard to get pen to paper, could it be that, within the confines of the parameters of the broad-brush centrist ideology that prevailed in oppo circles before the elections, there could be a generalized feeling that there’s nothing constructive left to say: chanchullos más, chanchullos menos, it is now oppressingly obvious that, for the duration, the opposition now won’t be going to the dance, at least, not on its own terms but rather on any crippling ones that the Powers that Be opt playfully to impose. With the wind so cruelly taken out of their sails and a prevailing chanchullo-driven ambiance, the opposition has to have realozed that it cannot realistically expect to “win” a single governorship or mayoralty and must be aware that were they so to do, it wouldn’t be but a sop to allay moans and groans about fair elections. There has been a major climate change, especially in the light of LEM’s comments about people voting more for a political project than a person per se. Truth be told, the pueblo voted, inter alia for the elimination of the remaining free press and TV, because that too falls within the scope of the political project being pushed own folks’ throats. Let’s have a little think about all the rest that the regime can gaily impose at whim. It is scaryfying in this new light where the regime hasn’t to make any further concessions to project an image of being fair, or representative or indeed, anything else that opposition supporters may identify with that broad-brush centrist ideology mentioned above.


  4. Quico,
    I get where you’re coming from, but you need to process your block. There are many things left unsaid still … many of them having to do with the stark economic reality that is going to hit Venezuela some time soon.


    • I think there’s enough talk about the crumbling economy out there. I think you should focus on what you’ve been doing lately: ask for a better, more democratic opposition. The primaries were nice and all, but what about asking for an open, honest debate inside the opposition? JC Nagel and A. Boyd are both making a case for that.

      Nobody should be afraid to speak out their mind about economic policies inside the MUD. Let the neoliberals, social democrats and the socialist inside the MUD debate and discuss their positions in front of the voters and not behind closed doors. Let the people know how consent is built, how democracy is supposed to work.

      And nobody should be afraid to call for a debate about the (in)competence of our leaders. In other countries if a party leader fails, he is replaced by other leader. The opposition has failed terribly during the last decade and nobody is held accountable for that. Is there nobody else capable of assuming that role out there?

      If we want to win the next presidential election, we must begin the democratization of the MUD ASAP…


      • There currently is a committee set up on MUD reform. It is not ideologically slanted to any of the sides within the MUD; but the idea is to ponder how to make it a viable platform for both reform, and social and political action. And of course, to check the campaign shortcomings.

        This is besides the great effort aiming at the Regionales, which is already in place.

        As for the MUD’s democratization -which I find laudable- how could it be implemented? It is set up by the parties… Should the parties prop up their leaders first? Should it be open to Civil Society? Which sectors or allies within Civil Society? Could it be that some sages and notables would come in? How could those wise men and women be any more legitimate?

        I ask this with no intention to protect anyone’s position. Political positions are changeable, and politicians know this.


        • Conciliábulos are nothing but stopgap measures. The MUD should stop thinking about ONGs and circles of notables and stop looking for ways to connnect with consejos comunales and other organizations in barrios and in the countryside. If the opposition want to become a real alternative in the next presidential election, they should go to the barrios and stay there the whole year, not only during the electoral campaign. More Carapita and less Sala E.

          El pueblo anda arrecho, and the seeds for another Caracazo are there. If nobody is there to organize the communities and lead them in the right direction, to turn them from mob into citizens, it’ll end up badly…


            • ¿El pueblo está arrecho? I don’t see it. I see regular street protests and a well-tuned oil machine to quell them. I really doubt any Caracazo is coming.

              If you mean opposition voters are angry and depressed, I guess you’re right. And that takes a lot of effort to counter, especially given the peculiarity of our political organisations.


              • Does this sound like the mob singing Kumbaya: http://tiempolibre.eluniversal.com/caracas/121018/enfrentamiento-entre-usuarios-y-policias-mantiene-parado-el-tren-al-tu ?

                Does the people rejoice in faulty public services, insecurity, constant blackouts, flooding highways and high inflation? There’s a reason why we did not see caravanas chavistas celebrating the 7-O victory. They’re not happy either. They voted for Chavez because they do not trust in Capriles or the opposition. They voted for Chavez in spite of his mediocre government and crooked ministers and allies.

                The so called “pueblo organizado” that the official propaganda machine tries to sell us is nothing but an angry mob. And the well-tuned oil machine that quells it is extremely inefficient and running on fumes.

                Somebody must be prepared to take the lead when things fall apart.


  5. That stark economic reality in all its gory detail would appear to be coming down the pike but opposition supporters can talk until they’re blue in the face but, in what manner will that impact anything anywhere any how?


  6. IMO the structural problem is the incentives of the petro state.

    Incumbents use it without control to remain en el coroto, hopefuls are just after it. quitate tu pa’ ponerme yo. This is not made explicit and there revolves a hypocritical dance between the “non-elected” oppo leaders Boyd was ranting about and all the rest is pura paja.

    How do these “oppo leaders” make their leaving? are they empresarios, scholars, employees? nobody asks, nobody cares. Where does the financing the oppo got came from? nobody asks, nobody cares. Mind you I agree in front of the illegal amoral use of state funds the government showcases the other side needs to be hermanitas de la caridad, as kiko stated, however my suspicion is that a large account of state financing does go to the opposition. It is just to easy fro the chaverment to manipulate its opposition by financing at will.

    Some people say however, the Capriles camp and the PJ campaign teak must be clean as a whistle, after all JCCaldera was all the G2 could mud them with. I think the valuable moles are more buck for the money, finance them, manipulate the opposition through them, and as in a drug ring, if they want out, use them a la caldera.

    I am not being enguayabado, or hopeless after the loss. I have seen this for years, and from inside. If the political parties are not more clearly financed, it will be hard to ascertain their true motivations ($$$) and puppet masters.

    many people dismiss the fraude because its not election day vote rigging, but does the totally opaque PP financing not really constitute a true can of worms?

    As a previous commenter also stated, Venezuela is the poster Child for new technology discrimination. Political scholars will use and revisit this case study for years. Hey we were all tagged with electronic David crosses in CD quemaditos publicly sold in the puente de FFAA av….Does not anybody remember this.?

    Juan many of the 45% may not need mision vivienda, but by being excluded from Maisanta, from MMVV, from the PSUV databases, and by being tagged another key databases as Tascon, etc, we are de facto second and third class citizens….. O fraude here, no discrimination, no big headlines move along…..

    Its all a major structural scam, but hey the maquinitas are ok, and there were many auditorias done. Hay un camino!….bullshit. I Call.

    Time to wake up and smell the coffee guys.


    • …and before someone asks me Luis F what do you propose?, I say, I do not know its a mess.
      Education is the fundament for sure, but it takes a generation or two to make any impact.
      The sooner we start the better, but the transient measures, those to be implementes as we reeducate the people we have and educate the new, those are the key ones.

      but before ,First gain power, then keep power, then execute….

      Assuming we have a team of estadistas willing to carry out the dismantling of the petro state against their own interests, and the means (force) to hold on to power, then the “easy” first step is to grab power to initiate the changes.
      Given the situation, be ready to negotiate with big oil, chinesse and other key creditors, and the cuban regime, to gain power after hell brakes loose in the upcoming economic implosion.

      …that is assuming the cuban puppet masters do want a different regente for their ultramar colony. The chinesse see it better to their interests to promote a cleaner more functioning state with rule of law, etc. and the incumbent narco generals and chavista nomenklatur agrees to give out power for the common good.

      bleak prospects eh?That is what I see. Sorry, no kool aid, no kumbaya songs here.


  7. Best, most honest post, post vote, yet. And how to account for the educated, honest people who help run this regime. A poem by Yeats came to mind.


      • The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction/While the worst are full of a passionate intensity…” etc etc.

        Then again, maybe I am losing my marbles over this election. Then again, I think it is a remarkable commentary on human nature that people will vote to disenfranchise and disempower themselves, with their eyes wide open. I’m not talking about everyone obviously, but I am talking about some.

        Always good to get back into Yeats though.Thanks for asking Neddie!


        • Aw shucks; there is not of what, old fellow. And, yes, I did look at it. Truth be told, for some reason, it promted me to look again at the ladt verse of “Dover Beach” with that
          ‘darkling plain’…


          • Neddie I was thinking about Mathew Arnold too. An expert on education reform to boot. You think about it, what the chavistas are missing is the 19th and 20th centuries worth of human experience.


            • You think about it, what the chavistas are missing is the 19th and 20th centuries worth of human experience.

              What? You mean, theories of dialectical materialism and neo-liberal agendas are insufficient?


        • “it is a remarkable commentary on human nature that people will vote to disenfranchise and disempower themselves.” But chavistas do not think of non-chavistas as part of themselves. They do not think of Venezuelans as being one people; rather, the chavistas are the people, the non-chavistas are the stateless progeny of invaders.


  8. Quico — how can you/anyone write about where to go from here without a very clear sense of where “here” is? That’s the real issue. For instance, what percentage of Chavez voters preferred Capriles and change…but were too scared to vote that preference? We know that a great many voters were concerned that the fingerprints meant that the government could always go back to see who voted which way. So, did a majority of Venezuelans vote enthusiastically for Chavez and Chavismo, or not? The answer to that question determines the path forward. It’s something we’d normally discuss using polling data…but while the pollsters try to unravel what went wrong, we’re not left with much useful information as the starting point for our analysis.
    One thing I’m sure of — even a true, non-intimidated vote for Chavez should not be interpreted as an enthusiastic endorsement of ALL Chavez policies, or a signal that voters are content about expropriations, crime, unemployment, the gifts abroad, the relationship with Cuba, etc.


  9. Quico, you have earned a well-deserved break. Take walks with your family, enjoy the changing colours of the leaves as you climb Mt. Royal. Your blog will be waiting for you on your renewed return. And don’t worry about us in the fray; we’ll keep things lively, as I’m sure you know.


  10. First of all, fascism can come from the left as well as from the right. It occurs when one political group (with political control) uses government power to limit the freedoms and opportunities of other political, socioeconomic, ethnic and religious groups. Chavism is a form of fascism. Simple as that! What I think is interesting is that the polarization seems to be urban vs. rural. The damage that Chavism is doing probably is not visible to rural voters, and urban voters who depend on government jobs and missions clearly have a conflict of interest.
    In the end, those who depend on the government are not the hard workers and risk takers that make an economy work! It is not sustainable!!!!


  11. While no one will begrudge Kiko some down time, I think there really are lots of issues which need analysing. For example, the community councils. Obviously, they are a propaganda tool to disguise the centralization of power in the Presidency. But how, exactly? How is a community defined, how many are there, which areas don’t get a council, where does the money come from, what decisions are made there, etc. There’s a lot of good journalism to be done on that. same goes for housing; how many houses have been distributed, what form of tenure applies, what are the criteria for obtaining one, etc. The more the detail remains submerged, the easier it is to pretend it makes sense.


  12. BTW, Quico, this article really made me cry. I have friends like that, and we often speak and ponder of our mutual fears of persecution. This is people who is not only academically relevant but actually very good at their jobs, and they feared a fascist Armageddon, no matter how many assurances I would give them on the contrary, no matter how reasonable they felt the opposition had become… Many times, they had been slandered in the media, although they had also been silent while others were repressed or silenced (through the insidious means of our authoritarian democracy). Fear runs deeper over there: what’s the worst that can happen to a dissenting voice within the opposition?

    But there are dissident voices within Chavismo, but they are rare and, so far, have not made a dent into its armour: everybody remembers Ismael García, or Henry Falcon… How about Margarita Lopez Maya? How about those who write and are banned from Aporrea? They are there, and with them, we held a brief majority, but we failed to bring them over wholly.


  13. Passivity is what this is all about. I think that 14 years of not listening and just issuing orders, but most importantly “cutting off” anyone who even raises their voice, have paid off for Hugo Chavez’s dynastic aspirations. We have become accustomed to (re)-electing the same (before it was someone different always) king, for 6 (5?) years.

    This cutting off from opportunities has become life-threatening in a country where no-one can save money, where independent (read private) opportunities for employment and business disappear, and where civil rights’ (and life’s) protection is occasional at best. Again Hugo Chavez and Elias Jaua win.

    Not that people identified as “chavistas” obey, nothing like that (those who really do are like 5% of the population). They have to pretend to do that, and not challenge orders, just that.

    In a sense it’s more difficult to deal with than actual persecution, which allows you to be heroic and principled. And it makes it much easier for PSF’s to actually say that nothing is the matter with Venezuela.


  14. The use of databases to establish apartheid in a society is apparently very effective. Perhaps the opposition can focus on recruiting experts to invade and corrupt databases, or to adopt massive participation strategies in the government’s own programs to, essentially, make the apartheid database less useful since everyone is in it. Even if the Tascon, Maisanta etc. lists exist, they become stale, they need to be updated. So the strategies to stuff the government databases with people will always pan out in the end. However, it must be done intelligently, as part of a conscious strategy.


  15. Silva has an excellent point. It is very great damage to Venezuela that a large segment of the population has become indifferent to abuses of the political rights of those they disagree with. It is particularly bad that this attitude is endemic among the intellectual class that in a healthy society are the guardians of civil rights.

    In a healthy political system, the gross violations of civil rights and political abuses committed by the Chavernment would cause all respectable actors to repudiate them – even those that agreed with Chavista policies.

    Alas, such is the moral corruption worked by Chavismo that its followers will excuse anything less than explicit tyranny.


    • “will excuse anything less than explicit tyranny.”

      Don’t sell them short. It is clear that they will excuse explicit tyranny.


  16. I’m seeing the same panorama over here. Maybe it has something to do with visiting the same circles and finding similar minded people. I feel that reading these and those blogs, with a stream of ideas that have been with different weigths in my own mind, it feels kind of reasuring sometimes, they give a feeling of belonging, of “not being alone”, but at the same time somehow it kicks back and feels hopeless. To who are these ideas directed? Whom are they supposed to get? And over all, how is this making any difference?

    After reading most articles, there’s the impulse of posting a comment, and as I move down to “Join the Fray,” I read through the ones that are already there and, honestly, most of the times my thoughts are already written down there. Very seldom, I catch a glimpse of a “socialist” comment, and deep down I wish there were more.

    I also got hold of this idea from the campaing, the one about union and a Venezuela for everybody, trying to get close to the chavista crowd, give them honest support and show them a possible better tomorrow(?). Lately, I don’t see if it is any good.

    I’m not trying to reflect hopelessness and all those post election opo feelings, as the fact is that I believe that we’ve gotten rather realistic, kind of what that other article states “we are not electable”. We are facing far too many facts together and feeling the heat of the facts that we know are coming.

    Yet, there is no surrender, a kind of fight or flight. Or maybe, we should follow suit, and get in the PSUV.

    We might even end up loving Big Brother after all.


  17. Great website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
    I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Bless you!


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