Chávez day is gone, but there were three things I wanted to highlight before we move on.
Runrun.es has an in-depth interview with Nelson Bocaranda, the Venezuelan journalist who was one of the main sources of information on Chávez’s disease. In it, a visibly aged Bocaranda says a few things about the history of his scoop.
While he does not reveal the main source of his information, Bocaranda says Chávez thanked him (via an emissary) for treating his illness with respect. He also claims that everyone from chavistas to Latin American Presidents went to him directly to get information on Chávez’s health. Finally, he also goes on record saying that he does not believe Chávez died in December, but on March 5th, when it was announced. He does leave a few threads hanging, though:
“… [His death] happened in Caracas. President Chávez arrived in Venezuela in poor condition. He was alive thanks to the equipment he was plugged into, nothing more, and what I believe is that he died that day when he was disconnected from the machines. There was a final incident that day when they disconnected him and they do not know how long he would last.”
What kind of incident was that?
The same web page has a timeline with all the public statement by chavista officials denying Chávez was in his deathbed.
The timeline of lies is really outstanding, and the documentation of statements is accomapnied by corresponding videos. The list of false claims is a heavy indictment on current bigwigs in the government, although the one that takes the cake is the statement by Dubraska Mora, a nurse at the Military Hospital where Chávez died, claiming a few weeks before his death that Chávez had arrived walking and talking.
One only wishes her dignity and credibility were sold for a high price.
Finally, I chime in over at Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog, asking what Chávez would have done had he lived to see the price of oil tank and the current mess the country is in. AFter thinking about it, I had to conclude that Chávez would have been more pragmatic and pro-active in solving the scarcity issues. Heck, he probably would have even dismantled the price and exchange controls had he been convinced they were causing misery for his people.
The problem for Maduro is not that he doesn’t know what he needs to do, it’s that he can’t. He is a leader of chavismo in name only, a President with clay feet who dares not touch the very distortions that feed his coalition but are causing his poll numbers to be in places Chávez would have never allowed them to be. This is why he is also so heavy-handed with his opposition, much more so than Chávez used to be: he needs to prove he is tough to appease his base.
Because of the dubious nature of his elections and the many questions surrounding his abilities, Maduro, ends up becoming a less savvy, more radical version of Chávez. The value added:
“Chávez would have suffered from the dip in oil prices, but he would have also come up with policies to avert the pain currently being inflicted on Venezuela’s population. While Maduro has little choice but to maintain the policies that have ruined Venezuela, Chávez would have been free from the need to pander.”
Have a good Sunday, everyone.