Chávez’s Legacy: PanfletoNegro Edition

1024px-PersonaConMascaraDeHugoChavez-640x480PanfletoNegro has always been one of those oddities of Venezuelan cyberspace: minimally managed, open for anyone to write in and “anarchic” in the etymological sense, the site ought to be awash in unreadable garbage. And yes, there’s some of that, but there’s also a surprising proportion of very readable garbage, as well as some stuff that isn’t garbage at all.

Last week they had a “Semana Temática,” a theme week calling on contributors to think about Chávez’s legacy. All kinds of stuff came out, plenty of it eye-opening. I especially appreciated John Manuel Silva’s heroic attempt at a snark-free response, and Gordon Garcwin’s virtually all-snark approach to it.

I gave it a go myself – always a bit risky for me, since my written Spanish sucks – proposing that out of all the things gone FUBAR under Chávez, none went FUBARer than the left – Chávez destroyed any prospect that the parties of the working class will play a constructive role in the life of the nation for who knows how many generations to come.

I guess it’s up to you to say where precisely on the unreadable-garbage/readable-garbage/non-garbage PN spectrum it falls.

58 thoughts on “Chávez’s Legacy: PanfletoNegro Edition

  1. I’m looking at the #SwissLeaks stuff and I wonder if it is normal that Venezuela is the third country by money on the list, with some ~ 15 billion $ on HSBC on 2006-2007, 85% of it being not personal accounts, but accounts of the Tesoreria Nacional and the Banco del Tesoro.

    Which is another legacy of Chávez, I guess.


  2. And yep, the article nails an important legacy of the Comandante. In the end, nothing he did was, truly, revolucionary – it was just what AD and Copei did, only set to 11. His only innovation was hatred and the management of it as a political force, but all the supposed leftist policies where just a redux of the “we have oil, we are rich, lets throw money around” policies of the 4th republic with some Communists dressings.


    • “Hatred and the management of it as a political force” I agree. The political economy of chavismo is the dispensation of blame. It’s been done before with similar results. The dark ages was a period where people lived in fear of persecution. the Inquisition refined torture methods. And we know where it led: a long dark age.
      I have been reviewing proposals for the 4th IPPA congress in Orlando this June. One of them states:
      “This paper examines how organizational affiliation and culture affect a person’s daily experience of life, as measured by self-reported feelings of meaning, creativity, engagement, energy, challenge, skill, and mood. … Significant differences in daily experience were also observed depending on organizational culture. Participants whose organizational culture was emotionally supportive reported significantly higher meaning, creativity, engagement, energy, skill, and mood than those whose culture was less supportive. Participants whose organizational culture was high in fear reported significantly lower moods than those whose culture was low in fear.”
      Significant progress has been made on cognition and moral judgment. When the boundaries of moral judgment are relaxed and people feel at liberty to blame or praise independently of observed behaviors, the organizational effectiveness deteriorates.
      The legacy of chavismo has been to replace merit with loyalty as the main mechanism for promotions. Schools decay, hospitals stop functioning, roads erode because the only thing that matter to those responsible for public service is how stridently they sing odes to the leader. I don’t know of any study of culture in chavista ministries but the level of cynicism and fear must be pretty high.


  3. This is an excellent post. Your Spanish is excellent in the written form. I know because mine does suck. I would never attempt to write as eloquently as you did in Spanish. It would be unreadable. Excellent job, friend.

    As to the content, you are right on point and I agree with you 100%. I, too, started out as an Izquierdista. I moved to NY in the 70s to get an education and then joined the fight against the scourge of HIV as a young budding idealistic gay scientist.

    I did have plans to eventually retire back to Venezuela and hopefully give back and help other young minds coming up. El Chavismo fucked everything for all of those of us who are idealistic and intellectually minded. You got it right about the damage the sons of bitches did to the country. It will be a cold day in Hell the day I ever support anything close to anything that smells or sounds like Chavismo. I often find myself allowing my imagination to run amok with what I would like to do to Chavismo. It is unprintable, so I wont. I can only tell you that it involves real fire spitting dragons.

    Unfortunately, the only solution for Venezuela at this stage will a government so repressive and so far to the Right, that it will make Pinohet look tame by comparison. That is, unfortunately, the only solution that is left for reconstruction to begin anew.

    And, why the fuck does it always have to be that way?!


    • It is because of polarization.Poltical campaigns are highly polarized( think dogmatic) in today’s world.There is little dialogue and little understanding of reality going on-just reaction en contra…..We should be able to have widely diffeent views and still maintain trust but in polarization hysteria and hatred are the norms…..just look at how many people voted for Chavez in the beginning because of abject hatred of the 4 th Republic…this was silly…the 4th had good and bad .Actually this sort of black and white emotional thinking is quite anti intellecual.


  4. There has never been a right wing party at government in Venezuela, AD and Copei were both center left parties, the toxic hatred by all things “right” related has been as old as 1959 itself, after castro started sending his agents to drill a hole in Venezuela’s uneducated population to favor communism and receive his invaders with open arms.

    If “right” means that I can start a work with efficiently made steps, and with the safety that I won’t lose everything I’ve worked for to the assholery of some imbecile with a card, the criminals are going to be treated like they deserve so no more idiots become criminals, and I have real chances to progress sometime in my life and enjoy it, then hell I’m so right wing that my wing-o-meter got out of the scale.


    • The ideology, so to say, that has ruled Venezuela during most of the last century and this is populism. Specifically, the client-network-building one. Again, Chávez and heirs only gave that a more communist rethoric.

      That doesnt mean populism cant be also right-wing, it can. In the end the question is what to do with the resources of the country, which the special case in Venezuela being that most of those resources are in hands of the State, before, during, and after Chávez. And how no one managed to use that to create a society where that is no longer the case.

      A true version of that with left ideals would get you to a prosperous society with low inequality. Doing what AD, Copei and Chávez did, you get a hole of debt and an unsustainable chain of command based on who gives the spoils to who, when there are spoils…


      • And yep, that sounds more or less like AD plan for the country when most of us where not even in the thoughs of our parents…


  5. Bueno, es verdad que su español no es bueno, pero el nivel del resto tampoco es para tirar cohetes, así que no desentona mucho.

    No sé si estoy de acuerdo con usted. Veamos ejemplos:

    En Alemania el nacionalismo es tabú, caca y nadie con dos dedos de frente recurre a la patria, so pena de oler a una mezcla de muerte y naftalina intolerable.

    En Europa del este todo lo que remotamente sugiera estatismo es intocable. De la República Checa a Lituania el color rojo es ofensivo a la decencia.

    En España ciertas actitudes, el fervor católico, agitar mucho la bandera, son consideradas casposas y carentes de sex-appeal; PERO la derecha, los herederos de Franco, son el primer partido en votantes.

    En Italia ser fascista es chévere. Usted puede tatuarse “Duce” en el brazo y queda perfectamente en cualquier ambiente social.

    En Rusia ser estalinista es demostrar una personalidad viril, amante de la patria y los valores morales correctos.

    En Argentina ser peronista es… bueno, usted se sabe ese cuento.

    Entonces, Venezuela. Es posible que si cae el régimen y le sigue otro democrático será como si alguien abriese la ventana de un cuarto por largo tiempo cerrado y lleno de gente. Que el golpetón de aire hará que todos repugnen, abjuren, se hagan apóstatas del chavismo.

    También es posible, y yo diría probable, que el chavismo (que no es más que un peronismo tropical y de peor gusto) pase a formar parte de nuestro cliché nacional, que ser chavista identifique, de caché, vista y de buena presencia como un traje Dorsay (y en realidad revele el gusto por vivir de la plata ajena, por la violencia y el resentimiento social a lo Boves).

    Conociéndonos como nos conocemos, será esta última la alternativa preferida. La cabra tira para el monte siempre y nunca escarmienta.


    • Blegh. If the dead bastard is worshipped like Perón, this country, even getting out of the regime, will never be something besides yet another mediocre third-world nation. Or, more likely, an Eastern block colony.


    • Bueno, es verdad que su español no es bueno, pero el nivel del resto tampoco es para tirar cohetes, así que no desentona mucho.

      Yo no encontré ningún error ortográfico, gramatical o de redacción en el artículo de FT. Como a mi me gusta aprender, y ya que dice que el español de FT no es bueno ¿podría usted ser tan amable de indicarme algunos de los errores que usted encontró en dicho artículo?


          • Chamo, no se le dice “bolsa” a alguien que te está defendiendo. Una prueba más de que cuándo FT dejó de estudiar en español, todavía no estaba en edad para manejar adecuadamente el manual de insultos y vulgaridades.


      • Errores no busqué, lo que me interesa es la calidad del español. Usted comprenderá que aunque el manual de su teléfono, por ejemplo, esté limpio de errores, no tiene la misma calidad que una columna de Vargas Llosa.

        Si usted se fija en la columna del Sr Silva verá que tiene una fuerza que el Sr Toro no transmite.

        La del Sr Ferri tiene una imagen, del cadáver sonriente, que es buena.

        La tesis de Sr Toro es que el difunto acabó con la izquierda venezolana. Yo de hecho pienso igual. No solo eso, yo espero que también haya acabado con el culto a Bolívar; pero el Sr Toro no explica el agotamiento, la pérdida de sentido y significado, que han acabado (¡ojalá!) con el mito izquierdista en Venezuela.

        En ese sentido, el español del Sr Toro es insuficiente, en mi opinión. A lo mejor usted lo encuentra maravilloso.


        • Me explico mejor. Chávez acabó con el mito izquierdista y con otros mitos igual de resistentes, como el de la decencia cubana y aquel, tan relamido, de la eficiencia militar.

          Pero el culto a la personalidad y el Jesseechaconismo quedarán tatuados en nuestro subconsciente colectivo para siempre. Nada excita más a un tierrúo que un caudillo ofreciendo trabajos de jefe.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Sin llegar a leerlo completo, en ” ni siquiera sabe que es derecha” y “Si yo no soy de izquierda, no sé quien coño lo es”, entre otros, faltan acentos. En “huelga de dudosa legalidad cómo medida extrema para conseguir sus reivindicaciones” y ” dónde un carajo entrenado en seis meses te medio”, sobran.


  6. Ser de izquierda en Venezuela es como proclamarse orgullosamente republicano en un pais donde el ultimo monarquista murio hace como 100 años !! Todos los devotos de la politica se ufanan de ser de izquierda como si eso todavia significara algo , y es que bajo este glamoroso mote caben los idearios y estilos mas disimiles y conradictorios . Es simplemente una forma de hecharselas de paladin de los pobres ,la justicia social , la libertad soberana del pueblo , la minorias oprimidas y todas esas hiperbolicas supercherias modernas.!!

    Por otro lado si como dice Alejandro el Chavismo es un Peronismo ramplon y tropicalizado entonces siempre habra imbeciles que se proclamen Chavistas igual que ocurrio con el Peronismo en Argentina !!
    Una nueva forma de hacer el ridiculo en Politica. Se dira que su ideario fue traicionado , que fue vilmente saboteado , que el verdadero Chavismo puro puro esta alla en el horizonte lejano de las ilusiones mas bellas .

    De su nutrido legado hay tres cosas que destacan , el odio visceral e inerradicable del pueblo llano humilde y resentido hacia los blanquitos clase media y sus corruptos politicos 4ta republica y el de estos hacia los primeros . segundo una forma de hacer politica que se basa en la coercion , el engaño, la simulacion , la desinformacion , la difamacion , el infundio y persecucion brutal del enemigo designado sin limites de ningun genero . tercero la ruina y destruccion total de la economia y tejido institucional del pais !!

    Hay mas legados pero con estos tres tenemos para rato . !!



    • “Venezuela is ranked #3 among the countries with the largest dollar amounts in the leaked Swiss files”
      The maximum amount of money associated with a client connected to Venezuela was US $11.9B.

      Wow, on black market, that would be 2’225’300’000’000Bsf


  7. “Hay partidos que tienden a ser apoyados por gente con un pelo más de plata y de privilegios (piel blanca, heteronormatividad, capital social y cultural) y que por ende tienden a reflejar sus visiones y sus aspiraciones. A esos los considero de derecha. Hay otros partidos que reciben su apoyo desproporcionadamente de quienes tienen menos plata y menos privilegios, y que por ende tienden a reflejar sus visiones y aspiraciones, a esos los considero de izquierda.”

    Bonita manera de escribir mierda, colocando a la gente en categorías ideológicas de acuerdo a cómo y dónde nacieron.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes sense: if you don’t have money, you dream of acquiring wealth. If you are wealthy, you attempt to protect your wealth (from those who lack it).


    • He just forgot to say that people identified with the right are evil and hate poor people, and los de izquierda have pure innocent hearts and want the best for mankind. Ah, leftists like to hug trees too, while those in the right like to cut trees and burn forests.

      Quico is quite the cliché-spouter. He should a book for kids with the title: “Understanding the world with Francisco Toro – Politics Edition” from the series “The world is simple”.

      First chapter: “All black people are leftists”

      Second chapter: “All white people are rightists”

      Third chapter: “All gay people are socialists”

      Etc etc.



    • Uno de los legados de la Cuarta era la idea que todos cabiamos en un mismo pais con nuestros sueños y esperanzas , que un mismo pais podia albergarnos a todos con nuestras diferencias , que alcanzar un mejor nivel de vida y educacion no era ni un crimen ni una razon para excluir a nadie despectivamente de participar de la vida publica , que gente de todas las tendencias podian sentarse en la misma mesa y ponerse de acuerdo como trazar el dibujo de un futuro que pudiesen compartir en comun . Que podian haber contrastes pero tambien el afan honesto de superarlos con algo de buena fe y civilidad . Ese sueño no ha muerto , sabemos de las lacras y lastres que en el pasado lo hacian dificil de cumplir pero tambien que mientras el sueño estuviera vivo podiamos trabajar para acercarnos a el . La primera condicion para rescatar a Venezuela de la ruina del Chavismo es resucitar ese sueño , que nadie pueda deshumanizar a otro por que es de tal o cual origen o procedencia social o tal o cual inclinacion ideologica .!! Hay muchas cosas de que inculpar al Chavismo pero la concepcion de la vida colectiva como una lucha a la muerte contra de una casta desgraciada y malefica por una llena de pasiones virulentamente engreidas y enardecidas es una de las mas abominables .!!


      • Beside being the most abominable, it’s also their raison d’être. Neutralize that and they lost all their power.


  8. Quico, don’t you agree that labeling the parties as you do (by “sociological” standards), you are doing the same thing chavismo does? That fuels their narrative, because it’s exactly the same kind of speech I’d expect from a chavista.


  9. As we approach the inevitable collapse of Chavismo, I find it odd that there is so little discussion of what political and economic path is right for Venezuela. Nearly everyone (more than 80% of the population, based on polls) agrees that what Venezuela has now is not working. But, few are proposing a vision of what they DO want for the country and fewer still seem to have any patience for debating the issue.

    In the absence of any strong Opposition Platform and a Path Forward, it seems likely that when the last of the enriched Chavista officials slinks away to preserve and enjoy their ill-gotten gains, Venezuela will find itself with a power vacuum and a population and leadership bereft of ideas about what they actually do want. At a minimum, of course, most will agree that they want peace and stability. Reestablishing order and assuring delivery of minimum rations will be the first order of business. But, at some point, Venezuela will have to decide exactly what it DOES want. It would be nice to think that we can avoid what Chile experienced with Pinochet. But, in the absence of any strong political will for moderation, I suspect that a populist rightist dictatorship (a la Vladimir Putin) is what will likely emerge.

    It isn’t too late to prevent that, but the dialogue and debate amongst various Opposition factions needs to start now. While everyone will agree on the need to re-start domestic production and investment, it would be a mistake to let the pendulum swing too far to the opposite extreme of Chavismo. This would only set the stage for next populist demagogue. Venezuela must look for a middle course that emphasizes long-term stability.


    • There can be no formal dialogue where there are criminal intentions.Chavismo started with Narcos and it continues…then there are many in the opposition too lazy to think straight because they are making sooo much on the exchanges and contact benefits.


    • If Chavismo destroyed anything, it was the institutions necessary to a democracy, the terrain on which a debate between the left and the right can even play out in any meaningful way.

      I am sympathetic to the argument Francisco makes. Chavismo will certainly be another bludgeon for right wing talk-show hosts to beat on the left; it will be the talking point for endless sunday afternoon lectures about the evils of communism in nice houses throughout the Americas. But the cynic might say that Chavismo will survive and grow, its defeat attributed to an incompetent successor and the accident of low oil prices, and Venezuela will descend further into feudalism, with a succession of military-backed despots hiding their narrow, venal interests behind a quest for the more pure version of Chavismo, the more pure cult of Bolivar.

      I think in its death in the lines of empty Farmatodos, Dia Dias and Mercals, Chavismo is about to be martyred and held up as a national ideal, much the way Putin and his whacked out form of pan-Eurasian, hypernationalist despotism has convinced many millions of well-educated Russians that the collapse of Soviet communism was the worst tragedy of the 20th century.


      • “any millions of well-educated Russians that the collapse of Soviet communism was the worst tragedy of the 20th century”

        The most educated Russians, who lived through the fall of Soviet Union and have been outside of Russia in their liftetime, do not fall for that rhetoric. They form the core of the liberal opposition to Putin.


  10. El legado mayor del difunto es el llamado “Jesseechaconismo”, esa ideología obscura que propugna el ocupar puestos sin tener preparación alguna y ejercer con incompetencia salvaje, destruyéndolo todo sin dejar oportunidad para reconstruir nada.

    Si se tiene la posibilidad, el jesseechaconista debe presumir de su incompetencia con descaro y usando el español del pueblo, ese que suena a pobreza mal superada, para demostrar que los de abajo pueden también hacerlo mal y con impunidad(lo que en España se diría “por mis cojones”).

    El nombre de este engendro viene de Jessee Chacón, ese sargento que lo ha sido todo en la revolución, desde ministro de ciencia hasta ministro de justicia, pasando por directivo del sistema de orquestas.


    • Alejandro: Me temo que esta lacra viene de viejo , el Chavismo la potencio y la aplico sin las pudicas reticencias de antaño . El clientelismo siempre ha primado la lealtad politica sobre la habilidad y la capacidad de desempeño .


  11. Well, Left, or Right, Venezuela is likely f*cked for the far future, having wasted several oil spike opportunities, probably not to return in the future, and, if so, not for long, heavily indebted, with an oil industry in shambles, 40% or so of its production in heavy oil at about $64/bbl extraction cost, 98% dependent for $ income on oil, heavily dependent on $ imports for food/manufacturing/medicines/etc., with no independent Govt. institutions, all heavily corrupted, a Petro-State poorly/if-at-all educated Peon tiramealgo mentality, and no civic individual work ethic or individual responsibilty for one’s actions in general….


  12. This reminded of those Aporrea’s texts in which more reasonable but still die-hard leftists try to make sense of things to understand where they are now – politically speaking -, and what to do next, given that their consciences can’t hide the vast record of leftist failures (and dead bodies) under the carpet anymore.

    To pretend that this revolution isn’t really “left-wing” is obviously the easiest trick. But how can they do that when Chavistas themselves brag about being leftists, have expropriated the means of production, are in the final stages of implementing a proletarian dictatorship as well as following rigorously all the script preached by classic leftist authors in a vast array of matters going from the culture to the economy? Not very feasible, because the masses are not as ignorant as leftists want them to be. The traumatized people won’t stand being lab rats for a new leftist experiment.

    I’ve felt so much schadenfreude when reading this following part of the text, I could even imagine FT shedding some tears while writing this at some Canadian Starbucks with his Macbook.

    “Esa para mi es la médula del legado chavista: destruyó muchísimas cosas, pero ninguna tanto como la posibilidad de tomarse en serio la labor de gobernar desde la izquierda, desde una izquierda centrada en las aspiraciones reales de los excluidos, desde una izquierda sin taras ni tabúes que convierta la arrechera justificada que generan las desigualdades que nos legó la sociedad de castas del siglo 19 y la canalice hacia una verdadera transformación social, de mano con la tecnocracia.”

    The left in South America (at least in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Venezuela) is done. And if the left can only be successful when it forgets its leftist dogmas and govern as if it were the right, you are just a cheap obsolete travesty farce we don’t need anymore, and I’m not sure if we have ever needed in the first place.

    I’m sure that FT and millions of people like him were honestly shocked when Chavismo failed, “HOW COME?”, they painfully asked themselves over and over again as their planes were taking off from Maiquetía for the last time. Those people clearly expected that Chavismo would be great, “It’s true socialism dammit, it can’t go wrong, solve inequality and the puzzle will be fixed” and offered votes as well as a overwhelming moral/financial support for the horror spectacle we are witnessing now.

    The poor and uneducated can’t be blamed alone for the destruction of Venezuela, they would have never been able to do all that by themselves. What is sad is that after all that the real culprits – now living overseas – still longs for a new try with the same ideology. Talk about tarados.


    • I hope Chavismo is the last gasp of the the tired communist/60s/Fidel confrontational rethoric with the self attributed monopoly of all things good and just.

      The important debate between left and right is how should the government be used to address the pressing issues of a society. This is usually referred to in the US political debate under the rubric of “big government”, “state rights”, etc.


      • The “Americanization” of Venezuelan politics will certainly happen at some point after Chavismo falls, as it will be the natural path to take. But when a party like the Dems are the “possible left”, then you don’t have a debate between left and right, but just two versions of center-right exchanging ideas. That’s what people like Quico and Eva Golinger fear. They think that the US is an “unfair society” because they don’t have one Mission Viviendas giving free housing to the poor.


    • It may be shocking to you and your black and white perceptions, but there are more spaces in the left side of the spectrum than Communism, and in particular, than the tropical wannabe arroz-con-mango kind of Communism-maybe that Chavistas have.

      As such, is was very much possible to be on the left and at the same time know that Chavismo was going to fail and be resolutely against it.


      • “As such, is was very much possible to be on the left and at the same time know that Chavismo was going to fail and be resolutely against it.”

        Most Venezuelan leftists thought that Chavez would do a good job back in the 90’s. Very few anticipated what is happening now. They thought that by “solving inequality”, Venezuela would become a 1st world country. That’s how simple-minded they were. Now they are all living overseas and still trying to understand “what went wrong”. Every now and then, for example, Quico says that had Chavez and Maduro pulled a Evo or Correa (being somewhat responsible conducting macroeconomic policies), Chavismo would have been successful. What he always forget to tell is that being responsible conducting the macroeconomy goes against what every leftist author has preached in the last 200 years. Something like: “if you conduct your economy avoiding leftist dogmas, then it may work, but hey, socialism is great.” hahaha

        Just out of curiosty? Did you vote for Chávez too in 1998?

        “may be shocking to you and your black and white perceptions, but there are more spaces in the left side of the spectrum than Communism”

        After the fall of the Soviet Union, when it has become clear that communism was inviable, leftists en masse changed course and decided to support a mild version of socialism, the kind that could accept democracy and private property, going against sacred leftist dogmas. If this soft version of the left can be still called “left” is up to debate, but one thing is certain: the left came closer to the right, and the right is still on the same place it has always been. In countries like the US, both relevant parties come from a classical liberal tradition, dissociated from the left since the inception.
        In Europe is a little bit different, but most relevant leftist parties are pro-business/private property too. So, the left we have nowadays in the civilised world is just a cheap copy of the right, you wanting or not.


        • Again, the fact that you say it doesnt make things so.

          “After the fall of the Soviet Union”… if we discount things like Eurocommunism, in the 70’s, or Social Democracy in the… well, more or less all the 20th Century.

          And the fact that most Social Democratic parties have become more or less the same as the right is a problem, not a solution.

          I would not touch anything related to communism with a 10 feet pole, but the narrative of the total victory of the right, neoliberal version, as the only possible set of policies, is the root of why most of South Europe is hurting like hell.

          As usual, virtue is in the middle, and if that means a correction to the right in Venezuela is just because the fools in charge got so far to the left. Any old Social Democratic position in the traditional left sense is to the right of those buffons.


  13. La lista es larga y deprimente. Todos los legados que han listado aquí y en PN son válidos y reales. Uno que no he leído y que me parece hay que mencionar es el retroceso (EN TODO) al que nos llevó el intergaláctico.

    Los últimos 20 años han sido desde el punto de vista de avances tecnológicos y médicos de los más ricos en la historia de la humanidad. Los expertos están de acuerdo en que los próximos 20 años serán tanto o más catalíticos para cambios en la manera en que vivimos que los últimos 20.

    Así está el mundo, a 2.000 por hora en una dirección y nuestro pobre paiscito a 4.000 en la contraria… usando la analogía de Varsovia, es como si no hubiera sido suficiente con la devastación de las bombas, hubieran traído todas las excavadoras del mundo y hubieran dejado un mega hueco de 100 km cuadrados y 100 metros de profundidad… otro legado más.


  14. Nice essay, but dark, even for you.

    I answer that the proposition that “the left is dead” is neither true nor relevant.

    First, one minor point: Warsaw recovered in ~20 years (following the collapse of communism), not 70.

    Second, it is worth remarking on the meaning of “left”. You probably suggest a very specific and relatively mild brand of leftist formula, one recommending a type of welfare system most Europeans would consider reasonable. What I wonder is, what other choice is there but to support such a system in any nation that aims to provide uniform opportunity to its citizens. What freely elected politician in our day and age can afford not to back proposals for a fairly liberal system that includes a safety net (collectivized education, medical, and pension systems)?

    Perhaps what you suggest is that Venezuela is a failed state doomed never to recover. Having imploded, like a black hole, it is trapped in a state of perpetual misery. This is a frightening scenario suggested by the sociology professor present with FRod at the Bloomberg seminar a few days ago when he explained that, for poor Venezuelans, even the current misery is tolerable, historically speaking. And for these people the key political issue might not be whether the national livelihood is being mismanaged, but rather who is managing it, one of identifying with the leadership (yet I have my doubts about this, since cracks are clearly showing when only small numbers of people identify with the Psuv). But the sociology professor made another even more important statement which echoes others made here: the problem is not that the left is doomed in Venezuela, it is that any system other than a blend of crony capitalism and populism has always been doomed in the petrostate.


    • The sociolgy professors analysis is one of the most interesting , he is in fact saying that ordinary people’s need for emotionally identifying with a particular personalized poltical stance is more important to them than the degree of welfare that such allegiance can bring them . I sense that what that implies is that peoples identification with Chavista ‘values’ makes them viscerally reticent to shifting to another alternative allegiance even if they are deeply dissapointed with the conduct and performance of those that have come to represent Chavista govt . If this is true we are now divided into four groups :

      1.- Unconditional Chavistas who will always follow the regime that carries its banners no matter how corrupt or inept .
      2.- Dissapointed Chavistas who cant muster the support they once gave the Chavista Regime but who nonetheless identity with its core message so much that they cant shift their allegiance to the opposition .
      3.- Dissapointed Chavista who are fed up with the current regime so adamantly that they may be prepared to shift their allegiance to the opposition , specially if it delivers a message of hope for the future and some preservation of gained privileges
      4.- Unconditional anti chavistas who will always follow the banner of whichever group carries the banners of the opposition .

      The second group will gravitate towards absentiism , the third group towards some kind of support for the opposition .


      • If I remember correctly only 20% or so are stll declaring an affiliation with the psuv, which amounts t group 1. I wonder whether putting a number on the truly dogmatic will be relevant when an election comes around. Will the other groups be easily goaded into voting for chavismo once again or will opposition calls for change resonate with their growing antipathy? Is chavismo still the safe choice or is politics as usual over in the barrios?


  15. I’m a bit dissapointed that Francisco, such a polished writer and intellectually acute mind, should succumb to the use of facile largely useless tags such as left wing and right wing . but even more so that he should think that some magic sentimental charm attaches to the assumption of a left wing political identity .

    His spanish I couldnt criticize because it did express his thoughts clearly and with a bit of dash , of course not as elegantly and wittily as he expresses himself in english .

    Charitably I suspect that perhaps Francisco is up to one of his journalistic tricks , giving us a piece which is deliberately provocative and polemical so that we may engage more intensely with the ideas he mentions. Sometimes he pricks our interest by offering us ideas he knows take us out of our comfort zone and cause us to respond excitedly to what he is writing. An accomplished journalist does like being intellectually entertaining. !!

    The question of Chavez legacy is a more complex one and there are many ways of describing it . I feel that much of what could be said about it has been brilliantly expounded above by our fellow bloggers and that maybe Franciscos piece has sidetracked some of us from examining it more fully .!! There is so much to be written about it.!!


  16. Venezuela is in much worse shape than Chile was. Chavismo thoroughly corrupted the institutions of state, including police and armed forces, and unleashed a gigantic wave of crime. It also diverted enormous sums into the pockets of its cronies.

    Any post-chavista regime must either purge the state of chavista stooges, and claw back the plunder. Of not, they must try to rule through a hostile governmental apparatus in the teeth of lavishly-financed opposition.

    Also, what can be done about the chavernment’s invisible expropriations – in partincular the media enterprises forced into sale to chavista cronies. If the chavistas do lose control of the state, all this media will be against the new regime, with no particular regard for truth. The new regime will have nominal control of the state-owned media – unless the lame-duck chavernment spins it all to its cronies. But even if that doesn’t happen, the staffs of these agencies have been packed with chavistas.

    The terrible problem is that with a debasesd and crippled judiciary and regulators, it could be impossible to carry out the necessary clean-up measures. Dictatorship may be necessary.


  17. And as always, is very dismaying to find out how many people long, or at least calculate with, the possibility of YET ANOTHER GORILLA to clean the country mess, even if in this case it would be a right-wing one.


  18. I enjoyed that article Quico. And the others you linked to, good curator skills!

    I was however a little tickled at your claim to leftism: while you may support some liberal causes I read your faith in the market as a very conservative vein in your writing. Nothing wrong or contradictory about holding a pro market view alongside a pro minority rights and unions worldview as far as I am concerned but I think the market one is the biggie out of those three…

    Care to more accurately place yourself in the spectrum of political thinking?


    • P. Challenger,

      If we part from the assumption that every statement with enough visibility is political, you could say that Toro is a self-proclaimed leftist the say way Voluntad Popular is part of the self-proclaimed Socialist International[0].

      Which, by the way, had no trouble instantaneously conceding them full-membership even though the vast majority of members go through ranks over years.


      VP joined december 2014. Coincidentially, CC and Thor dropped their pronounced focus on meritocratic/anti-populist discourse in January of this year.


  19. Another legado! is the Venezuelan diaspora and its effects in time.

    Children taken out by emigree/exilees would have grown up/ are growing up in nostalgia rich homes, with parents adapting to realities of their new host communities.

    i trust many of you have seen that shocking pic of a kid with a street sign with the statement: “quiero conocer la venezuela de la que me hablan mis padres!”…

    This generation in exile, could play an important role in the reconstruction of the nation if it is well managed as it was done by other countries that suffered important emigration cycles, a la Spain, a la Chile, etc…

    It is probable some of these families will return if offered the right incentives.


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