I, blogger

imageThis blog has existed for well over ten years. It has taken countless hours away from other activities from both us, the writers and editors, and you, the people who comment (particularly some of you … You know who you are).

In spite of this, we keep doing it. We value this blog, and we believe it contributes something.

But what is it ultimately? What do we achieve with it?

These and other questions were part of the second main theme in the DW Global Media Forum, which concluded today. We are all participants now. Nothing is private, and we are all scrutinizing each other, We are all, to some extent, “citizen journalists.”

But where is the change that we are looking for? How can we turn greater participation into action on the ground?

No blog can do away with Maduro, or El Sisi, or Assad. For all it has accomplished, and guardando las distancias, Wikileaks has not brought down the powerful intelligence-military complex it denounces. Then what is the point of all this participation slash activism?

I thought about this question as I listened to one of the originators of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, a Nigerian woman whose name escapes me. After a convoluted debate – this is Germany after all, so why make it simple when complicated also works? – someone in the audience asked her what it was all for, given how the girls were still missing.

As she struggled with the answer, I started arriving at the conclusion that this was all hopeless, that indeed, no Twitter campaign can put a stop to Boko Haram, just like no blog can change the reality on the ground in Venezuela.

But then, she said something that has stayed with me. Participation, she said, makes us more human.

Whether it is by bringing to the forefront an issue that we did not know about, or simply raising the costs for supporting the wrong people, online participation and activism are about communicating with people. The point is to change a group of people just a tiny bit, moving them closer to the final objective.

Ultimately, we blog because we can, and we read blogs because it helps us connect with other people. We have opposable thumbs for a reason, and that is to type, comment, and click.

I guess the question has no easy answers. Yes, blogs or other forms of online activism don’t make change happen. We see it in Nigeria, we see it on the streets of Caracas, and we see it in the deflating Arab Spring. If you measure impact by the amount of actual political change we achieve, then yes, online participation is a massive failure.

But that’s probably the wrong benchmark. Whether it is by making Boko Haram synonymous with horror or making chavismo unacceptable to anyone with minimal democratic convictions, blogs are about increasing our sense of shared humanity.

In that regard, we, you, and them … are a resounding success.

PS.- This is my last post on the forum. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

48 thoughts on “I, blogger

  1. We take up a cause and react passionately and this increases our own awareness. We enable ourselves to get involved in the Out Of Box situation. And eventually a build up of moral pressure occurs.For me personally it’s a pledge I made to myself that I will speak up if I see something which goes against my grain.I call it ,”Stop Sinning by Silence”!


  2. Definitely to blog our opinions & frustrations works as a catalyst to our much needed sense of ‘fairness’. But even “fairness” is a relative word or definition, based on your own personal beliefs. We most definitely are living in a very intricate and socially complex world, were people of all type of backgrounds, with diferent social, political & religious beliefs, have to learn to coexist and respect each other or, if the fail to do so, simply prepare for the “doomsday” of humanity/civilization as we presently know it. I have learned with the years that the main problems and obstacles to create a viable coexistence for humanity, in a cordial and civilized terms, are most of the times created by extreme groups or individuals, the RADICALS. I don’t personally believe in left or right choices, but simply in either Tyranny or Liberty, and here lies the root of the problems. The pendulum’s swings between Tyranny and Liberty are permanently rejuvenated by the illusions for a “fair” living, and these illusions are simply manipulated by the affairs of politics. I guess the “morality” of our behaviors should be be dictated by our crave of living in FREEDOM and our blunt repulsion of living under OPPRESSION. To blog and to vent out our opinions, no mater what they are, is a powerful act of FREEDOM and LIBERTY, and who knows, maybe through our burst of thoughts we will find a common voice in other peers who reflect our own projection, hence, we create some CONSCIENCE towards the much needed FAIRNESS in order to preserve our much loved and civilized HUMANITY.


  3. The impact of blogs is not direct and visible but indirect and cummulative and together with other factors can have long term effects and implications as they influence the climate of public opinion and ultimately the fate of countries. The french revolutions started with the dissemination of certain items of information and ideas that slowly changed the way educated frenchman and later even less educated ones thought about their countries , Im thinking of th Encyclopedie and the writings of certain authors.. history doenst always work through grand dramatic events of great impact but throught the slow minute accumulation of small influences that at some time reach a tipping point and help change thingss big time . Doesnt happen always but often enough so that it matters.

    Im not altogether convinced that all wothwhile activities have to have a big consequence in the realm of political life, that anything that enriches public life or public understanding of complex important issues is deserving of pursuit .

    In this sense CC is am important source of educated information , not only of raw information but more importantly of thought and reflexion on those items of information that it presents to its many followers , it helps refine and deepen our understanding of events and conditions in todays Venezuela , it stimulates our thnking about a number of topics , on a more egotistical plane it serves as an outlet to express ourselves and share with others thoughts or ideas we believe important and which sometimes might help others round up their own thinking . Sharing ideas in a group is a source of thrill and delight for all who belong to that group., because we humans delight in sharing and exchanging ideas and thoughts and even gossiping about the state of affairs in the place we feel emotionally rooted to.

    I for one am deeply thankful of CC and its bloggers for what they bring to those that participate in it .


    • Bill the French Revolution came to mind with me as well. Prior to the revolution, booksellers -mainly Dutch as I understand it- travelled around France selling authors of the French Enlightenment, like Montesquieu (as well as pornography). These often were works with no covers, and people who bought them would choose a more politically acceptable cover to disguise their true content. In any event, cumulatively, these little traveling nodes of European thought (and vice) had a significant impact on pre-Revolutionary thinking, and on the political, scientific and cultural development of France. Historians like Robert Darnton (of Princeton) can articulate this far better than I can.

      I think of this blog as a little, pre-Revolutionary node of Venezuelan thought (minus the porn of course). When the *revolution* that brings Venezuela into the democratic modern age comes, and it will, this blog will deserve a credit. Most importantly this blog is a window from the outside world. Given the attacks on press freedom in Venezuela, which are taking on a Louis XIV quality, and a largely uninterested international press, a blog like this is particularly important.

      Many thanks to Mr. Nagel and others for keeping it going and for the interesting and informed commentary from visitors.


  4. Juan,

    One time, I did make a difference. It was many years ago, before internet. I am not going to give the details, because it would be relatively easy to research my identity, and I don’t want that. I used to listen to a radio talk show on the commute home from work. One day, on the front page of the local newspaper, there was an article that announced with great fanfare, a political solution to a hot-button topic that was unjust and just morally wrong. Upon reading the article I was outraged, not just at the injustice of the action, but at the support it was receiving from local journalists and politicians. Feeling that I “had to do something”, I poured out my outrage into a letter, and faxed it to the host of the radio talk show. And it worked! He not only mentioned the issue, he read my letter on the radio, and made the subject the topic of his show for an hour! I heard person after person calling the show and agreeing with me, saying that they had thought the same thing but didn’t want to say anything, because it was obviously so popular. Well, the show created a firestorm of public opinion and the very next day all of the politicians and journalists who had supported it were turning around and denouncing it. The proposal died that day.

    I had made a difference! I had learned that the right words, at the right time, delivered to enough people can change the world. It was a thrill… hell, it was like the best drug ever made!

    Well, I guess, in part, I am still chasing that high. But, the other part of it boils down to, “How can I not?”

    So, keep up the good work. I don’t ever expect to “change the world” again in a day, like I did back then, but even with this blog we are making a difference, even if it is not a dramatic one.


    • Roy, this, and what BB said above. It doesn’t necessarily take many to be influenced or change their minds, but maybe only one, who, because of the course of history, had the chance to influence millions. What would have happened in Venezuela had Adan Chavez believed in democracy, and so influenced his brother Hugo, as just one example….


      • NET,

        Nobody changes anyone’s mind.We all listen to a plethora of people , think our own things out, and then choose accordingly.

        If we speak our truth with the intention of changing others it is not only dishonest but egocentric to think we matter that much.

        It is also demeaning towards others to imply that we are so special that we can actually change another human being.

        We are all responsible for our own thoughts.

        It is however helpful that we can all read a variety of opinions that can help us to sort out our own thoughts.But eventually we are the ones who change ourselves.


        • Have you never had an opinion that has changed after someone presented you with new evidence, a new point of view or a different interpretation?


            • Navarro , of course i change my mind after reviewing inputs from different sources, but it is me not the other who makes a choice….to think we have that much power over others as to change them is quite a narcissistic viewpoint.


              • I interpret “changing someone’s mind” not as imposing your point of view on someone else, but as finding the right argument to help that person change their opinion on a given subject.

                It’s like preachers. They don’t force anyone (in democratic secular western countries) to change their religion, they simply try to convince people with different examples, quotes, interpretations, counsel, etc.

                Anywho… I think we just have a different semantic interpretation of the idiom


              • JN, right on. Someone “changing his/her mind” because of evidence/opinions expressed is not coercion, it’s an exercise of free will/rationality. But, then, this fact won’t make FP “change her mind”….


  5. Actually a great truth is that we can never know what changes the world, but that should never stop us from participating fully.

    Actually participating fully without worrying about the results is what makes participation honest and powerful.

    I would never take credit for having changed anyone else, because that takes away the efforts other people do for themselves and would be highly dishonest.


  6. Blogs and social media definitely have a purpose: it not only democratizes the distribution of news, but it provides us with a platform to expand our ideas and run bad ideas into the ground. But this should never replace actual activism and other forms of ground work and organization. Otherwise, it won’t register.


  7. It is quite clear why I participate: for exposure to other opinions, for educational purposes (know thy friends and enemies!), to share my own opinions, to vent and enjoy.

    I can see raison d’etres for this blog of much greater importance. The cumulative effect on individual readers and also what the writers learn along the way – tuning their opinions and writing style – surely makes it worthwhile?

    Perhaps what this blog (or specifically you) needs is a metric regarding impact. You could always poll readers regarding their background and how they use the info from this site, for instance, but you probably know that already.

    As regards reader participation in efforts coordinated through the blog, the site would then see itself transformed into a communication tool as part of a greater organization, something like avaaz. But that’s another beast altogether compared to a blog.


    • I think the idea of understanding backgrounds. Obviously, we all have strong connections, family, friends or just a fascination with the country and are at the least bilingual


  8. Blogging may provide a 21st century forum for widely accepted political ideals, but may have very little to do with actually achieving political power. Ask the Chinese who took part in the demonstrations at Tiananmen Square more than two decades ago. Ask the young Persian living with his/her computer in a suburb of Tehran. Perhaps we’ve forgotten the lessons learned from centuries of human existence, that is the ‘threat’ of real violence from an armed opposition will be the only thing that grabs the attention of its rulers. Les Miserables of the French Revolution didn’t storm down the Rue St. Antoine armed with books by Rousseau. They came with pitchforks, swords and flambeau’s.. The opposition in Venezuela today have no weapons to use whatsoever, not even a few rusty pitchforks. It is a terrible thing to observe, but it is simply the truth. Sorry for bringing this uncomfortable fact to the blog…..


    • That “armed opposition” will not form unless the people decide they want to overthrow the regime. They won’t make that decision unless they know what the regime has done wrong and understand that there could be something better. CC does that.

      Also, it is necessary for the people (as individuals) to know that others share their discontent and hope.

      So before the torches and pitchforks come the words.

      Also, Venezuela is different from traditional old regimes. The chavernment holds power by tilting elections. They cannot be too blatant, and they must persuade rather than coerce. Which means that the battlespace, at this time, is in minds, not buildings and streets. And that is where CC and other blogs stand up.


  9. Juergen Habermas provides the best foundation for the understanding and valuation of a blog like this.

    He speaks of the “public sphere” as a place where individuals come together, as equals, to create meaning, and to constitute norms for the ongoing human project. The related idea of “discourse ethics”, which holds that reason-based, empirical conversation is the highest democratic value, underpins much recent republican political theory.

    It’s written at a high level of abstraction, but repays the effort of working through it. If they didn’t include it as an element of the programme in Germany, they missed something important.


  10. Thank you for your work. It’s not in vain. While the change we are looking for may not manifest in the timeframe we’d like, the fact that, after 10 years you’re still writing, and there are more people writing and listening, is moving in the right direction. That of participation. I appreciate the reporting you do. It certainly helps inform and enrich my world view. Thank you.


  11. It depends on where you want change.

    99.99% of Venezuelans don’t read English, even if a lot of people we know do.

    Even those few from some political organisations in Venezuela who do read here are more or less in tune. They tend to be part of the choir.

    Blogs like this definitely help change perceptions in the English speaking world.


  12. For over 10 years, this blog has consistently reported with verve and enlightened us, while allowing the Fray “discourse ethics” (save for a few perverted exercises in Horde Management — tawkin’ to you, Quico). The longevity alone is a testament to the success of Caracas Chronicles, earlier born out of simple resolve, persistence and good management (*). Has CC made a difference? That’s a question that’s harder to define or quantify, when this blog preaches to the converted. So let me add a qualitative observation: CC has made a difference in my life, reconnecting me to issues and to a country that’s part of my DNA. This blog is one of my go-to sites — on a near-daily basis.

    (*) Simple resolve and persistence guides the cyber-growth of #BringBackOurGirls , according to Jibrin Ibrahim, who runs an NGO in Abuja. Mr. Ibrahim has been stunned by the uptake of the global call to action, even though the girls have not yet been found.


    • This blog may not have had a large impact in convincing Ni-Nis and dissaffected chavistas to join our ranks.

      But, in Venezuela, it has had an impact in improving the public discourse of the elite by bringing forth proposals, in calling the bullshit on our side, in providing much needed political analysis not easily found in Venezuelan media, etc.


  13. ‘minimal democratic convictions’ = wussified whiners who need a good beating to shut them up.

    You people will be beaten down in time, just like the savages protesting in the Arab Spring were. Just like we bloodied Maria Corina’s nose, we can do it again.


    • The irony of making empty threats via the internet while calling someone else a “wussified” (Maduro and Palin would be proud) whiner is completely lost on you, apparently.
      Chin up, boy, maybe someday you’ll move out of your parents’ basement.


  14. I’m glad I found this blog, it raises interesting topics. Still the blog format is terrible, if it was a forum it would have a life of its own rather than needing one of the bloggers to start every topic, and would make for better discussion.


  15. Que lindo el nino Hector Vale!
    Tanto real robado y aun tiene que actuar con tanta violencia.
    A que le temes malandro? a perder lo que disfrutas? porque conciencia no debes tener!

    Gracias Juan y a todos los demas colaboradores y comentadores por esta ventana a la venezuela posible!
    diez ano de esfuerzo sostenido y valioso.

    En opinion, CC mantiene el tejido social de la diaspora venezolana, no es poca cosa! kudos.


  16. Hector is our last surviving troll so we better not run him out, any self respecting blog needs at least one troll to spice things up and since several months ago theyve stayed away, some speculate because the regime no longer has the purse to keep them active !! I have my own opinion (which I will keep to myself ) on the matter .!!

    Still trolls did perform a useful function in our blog , they posed arguments and an array of dialectical tricks that not only incensed us but kept us on our toes , stimulating us to finding ways to improve and practice our own dialectical skills , some of them where quite adept at it . Hector is very lame but still manages to get some people riled up . For that ( tongue in cheek ) we should be thankful.


    • Hmmm… You make a sound argument, but even if cockroaches were endangered, I wouldn’t be keen on protecting them.


    • You folks are the moral equivalent of cockroaches, and Venezuela needs to call in the exterminator.

      Too long have the subversives burrowed away at the heart of the Revolution. They need to be eliminated.


      • That is the problem… if people wouldn’t insist on being so… human… the system would work just fine.


  17. Sadly any printed media, even the Internet does very little to undermine the disguised neo-dictatorship bolibanana. Most of our people can hardly read, to begin with. Or don’t have computers, certainly barely speak Spanish only.
    Vzla’s education level is so low that you can only target our pueblo, the majority, with local propaganda with lts of pictures, big letters, sensationalist stories, updates on the latest novelas..

    The future leaders do read these blogs, the minority of educated people, most of whom left the country a long time ago. But internal change in Vzla, again, is only gonna come after more economic deterioration, more inflation, escasez, robos, asaltos, no hay trabajo, no hay luz, no hay agua ni arina pan ni papel “toile”. Until the people REALLY get pissed off and overthrow the regime in the streets.


  18. OT: heard on the radio just an hour ago , two different sources report unofficially that Ramirez to be taken out of Pdvsa this week end and ‘promoted’ to Vice president . His replacement a fellow by the name of Martinez currently head of Citgo . . Could it have something to do with Giordanis demotion ?? Is Maduro placcating the regime radicals by offering them the head of Ramirez or is someone close to him gunning to have an accolyte as head of the country’s now moribund biggest money making machine.?? What fun !! Chavez boys are now starting to cut each others throat.!!


    • Bill,

      I was given a fascinating tidbit over the weekend from a colleague who specializes in fixed income markets and was part of a group that came back from Venezuela recently. He was all but outright told that Giordani was rather vehement in his opposition of new bond issuances and that this, more than anything else, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

      Same fellow’s description of Ramirez was a “vaudevillian song and dance man”, which rather confirms my belief that the whole shuffling was about making bonds more palatable to the marketplace as they try to working capital, of which they have basically none (officially) on hand at the moment.

      Another fascinating story: Maduro apparently thought he could find refuge in a bathroom after a particularly long harangue and Giordani not only followed him, but also waited him out.


      • Well Pitiyanqui if the information is confirmed, maybe they figure Martinez is a better dancer , The thing is that nimbly dancing over a vat of molasses is no easy thing .


  19. The work of Toro, Nagel et al might eventually serve a useful purpose in both truth commissions to come and International Criminal Court prosecutions.


  20. I live in Caracas and am now better informed as I read this blog in my language. The better informed people are the more they can form opinions and in some cases act upon them. I rely on this blog to keep me up to date with what is going on in the country I live in, Very Important Blog indeed!


  21. I’m a newcomer, I’ve been around for about 3 months.
    When I started using feedly, I typed “Venezuela” in the search box, and you appeared in the top 5.

    This blog has DEFINITELY given me a UNIQUE point of view, specially Quico’s and Nagel’s posts. By reading this blog I feel more aware of what is really happening in Venezuela, I wish there was a Spanish version of CC, because the things you say, the arguments you make, the Analysis you do, I don’t find it elsewhere, not even in spanish.

    Even the commentators are great, for example “Bill bass”, he makes some AMAZING arguments.

    So I’m very grateful for all your insights


  22. A mi me encanta este Blog y el del Sr. Octavio. Tengo creo ya como cuatro años leyendolos religiosamente :), al igual que los comentarios. Quizás no puedan cambiar Vzla, pero al menos a mi si me han influenciado en algunos puntos, y aprendido muchas otras cosas. Felicitaciones :)


Comments are closed.