Sobremesa Chronicles

Caracas_EXT1_944_1You know what I miss? I miss the truth.

I yearn for a politician that speaks his or her mind, damn the torpedoes.

Consider, for example, the past few weeks in the thorny, cantankerous, dysfunctional relationship between the US and Venezuela.

You know what’s happened: embassies are being downsized, then not. Sanctions have been imposed. Marches have taken place. Military exercises have been scheduled. Generals have shrugged. Diplomats have weighed in.

It’s a lot to digest. What has our opposition basically said?

“We don’t like foreign interventionism, because it distracts Venezuelans from what we really want to talk about.”


Our opposition leaders have decided that any question related to the United States must be followed by a milquetoast, uncomfortable attempt to change the topic – “I’m just here to talk about the lines outside supermarkets! Don’t ask me about difficult things such as ‘diplomacy’…!”

I don’t expect everyone in the opposition to be a foreign policy analyst. But the relationship between the US and Venezuela is too crucial for everyone to line up and ignore it.

How easy it would be to tell the truth, to say something like:

“The relationship between the US and Venezuela is of crucial importance. Our two nations have strong commercial and cultural ties. Venezuelans admire American culture and the American way of life. We used to have strong political ties, too, but Chávez and Maduro have decided to torpedo those in the name of a stupid ideology that does not reflect our values.

Our nations need each other. We need to get along. A relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation would benefit the Venezuelan population. The US can benefit from increased oil, and we can benefit from their technological and financial advantages. A good US-Venezuela relationship can create jobs for Venezuelans and Americans. But the Maduro administration has torpedoed every possible road to having good relations. It is hell-bent on destroying our country – and our friendships – for the sake of holding on to power at any cost.”

Yeah, whoever said that would immediately be labeled a pitiyanqui. But you know what? That’s what they call us anyway.

Might as well go down speaking the truth.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

28 thoughts on “Sobremesa Chronicles

  1. Even Cardenal Urosa decried the U. S. interference–oh, well, you can take some Criollos out of the rancho, but, you can’t take the rancho out of their mentality…dire future for the Country.


  2. Lol, you’re satisfied w/the tiny expat demo, not the whole opposition.

    With the Urdaneta crowd.

    You are mediocre.


  3. HRF: “we need another gusanera to vote for our sanctions, this time a Venezuela gusanera”.



  4. “Our nations need each other.”

    Uh, what? It never ceases to amaze how much some in the oppo drastically overestimate their importance to the US. Ironically, some rojo rojitos suffer from a similar delusion.


  5. Juan Francisco: sorry to say but those quotes are simply a collage of the conventional “politically correct” (I love that epitomysing hypocritical term) lies that every politician feels in the need to express some time (or maybe several times) during his career. Pure elegant BS, my friend. “Our two nations have strong commercial and cultural ties”. “Venezuelans admire American culture and the American way of life”. “Our nations need each other. We need to get along. A relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation would benefit the Venezuelan population”. “A good US-Venezuela relationship can create jobs for Venezuelans and Americans”. Ah, common, JuanFran. Take a break and cool your mind. A couple of birras and some nice music might do the job. I dare say the truth you miss will not come along the ways you suggest.


  6. We are now at the end game. The country’s physical and human infrastructure has been hollowed out to a cadaverous shell. The influx of capital from oil rents that allowed maintenances of the decaying corpse has dried up. The US acknowledged a point of no return by passing the threat assessment in order to allow the executive the freedom of action to help manage the consequences of collapse. Politicians that spoke their opposition truth languish in prison under onerous conditions. The opposition politicians remaining free are ducking for cover to avoid residence in the Helicon prior to the next election in the hope that democratic action will wrest sufficient power from the government to provide some corrective policy and avert an unmitigated national disaster. They hope to survive long enough to achieve some viable compromise through the power of the ballot in the next election. From this perspective, the US threat assessment is providing the government a rational for accelerating repression and crippling the potential for the opposition’s democratic success.


  7. I have been saying for time that Venezuelans have a problem with truth, i.e they can’t build sentences expressing what they think in clear terms.

    Government spokesmen have an obvious interest in repeating outrageous lies, like Cabello saying “revolutionaries do not have foreign currency accounts” when the world knows HSBC and BM Andorra have both dozens of Venezuelan clients related to the government.

    But this problem with truth is suffered even by well-educated people from Caracas. Remember those two girls discussing with an American chavista in this blog? was it from the BBC or CNN? the girls clearly had much to say, and knew much, but just couldn’t articulate it. Words were stuck inside them, a form of verbal constipation.

    Another example, Lilian Tintori praising Chavez. She really doesn’t think Chavez was a decent person, but for some idiosyncratic reason, she feels compelled to say it. Can’t you just tell the bloody truth? Who are you trying to please by singing to Chavez’ dead body?

    This inability to tell the truth in simple terms is a severe political problem


    • “revolutionaries do not have foreign currency accounts”

      Alejandro, it was worse than that. He said that “humble revolutionaries do not have foreign currency accounts”, being critical of his fellow Chavistas, when everyone knows that he is being the biggest hypocrite in hystory.


  8. Much of the opposition (the MUD, in this case) knows the decision of Obama gives an illusion of truth to the fantasy that the opposition is in league with USA to stage a coup, which gives the government arguments for a harsher repression, and perhaps for suspension or greater falsifying of the coming election.

    That the opposition is held to be effectively connected with such outbursts hardly constitutes an advantage for it, which it certainly is for madurismo. In view of these elections, Obama’s measure is clearly a disadvantage as far as we can see now. No one knows whether it will ultimately prove wise, but it’s obviously the reason for the statements of the MUD and the Episcopal Conference. I have the impression that Nagel knows it too, but he doesn’t mention it.


  9. Im sure that absolute respect for truth has a certain value in Science , but doubt very much that there is much room for it in practical politics where you aim to please the maximum of people to gain their support but know that speaking the absolute truth can alienate the simpathies of many of those you wish to attract to your cause. Truth then has to be filtered , refined , rethoricaly seasoned to make it (as much as you can) a universally palatable product .

    As St Paul wrote , the Preacher of a Cause has to be ‘all things to all men’. and the only way of doing that is by artfully refashioning truth to at least partially fit the expectations of those you seek to convince .

    In fact the subject has been studied by a group of modern psychologists (e.g Jonathan Haidt) and the best way of attempting to convince an opponent of your ideas is NOT to confront them directly but to shift the phocus of the discussion in to the how their ideas can be implemented in a practical way , as the discussion turns on the practialities of what they propose a lot of opportunities appear to make them start to doubt their own initial assumptions. Not saying this method is practicable in todays Venezuela . but certainly a too relished stance of open confrontation just makes the task of bringing someone to your ideas all the more difficult . .

    This is one instance where St Paul practiced what he preached , where ever he went there were preachers of other religions who attacked his preaching , he never answered them directly , he simply stated in as clear and simple way possible what he believed was the right approach to a problem , not confronting others but calmly affirming what he though was right . Christianity did spread amazingly rapidly , perhaps a sign of the success of his preferred method of preaching !!

    Perhaps the value of stating ones truth too defiantly is a bit over rated , maybe we have something to learn from St Paul. !!.


    • Bill, I agree with you on this. I just read the comments entered on the “What’s in Roy’s head” piece, especially those by a neanderthal that goes by the name of hector st. clark. All those comments to confront a guy that most probably lacked enough oxygen when born. One must never waste time “discussing” with a monstrosity like this. Just ignore them. Never give them the chance of feeling important! Their brains (what little they have) will not click upon coherence and logic. They are nothing more than “discos rayados”, trained to endlessly repeat the same cliches, labels, tags, and what they swear are offenses. They’ll never be able to understand an approach like St. Paul preached. To a great extent hch, maduro, cabello, carreño (!!) et al all suffer from the same psychological malaise: a deep inferiority complex sauted in seet&sour social resentment. They truly are “monos con hojillas”. Sadly.


  10. I’m honestly unclear as to why it is a terrible idea for the opposition to hone its message so as to avoid irritating as many potential supporters as possible. Wouldn’t the statement you propose risk alienating potential voters while not really causing anyone to change their minds or go to the polls?


    • Agree. The US action is being cast as foreign aggression. The last bastion of a degrading authority is to rally against an external threat. The oppo posture takes this issue off the table of domestic politics.


  11. Anone living in a rotting communist autocracy should be familiar with Vaclav Havel’s concept of “living in truth” as a long-term method of returning one’s country to humane standards. Lying by the opposition generally weakens the public impulse to return to these humane foundations, because it suggests that both sides are corrupted.

    In the Eastern bloc, “living in truth” recognized that, despite appearance, the hold of the official hegemony of information and values was only skin deep. Many people denounced capitalism to get along, while secretly harbouring other beliefs.

    Breaking this carapace required unflinching refusal to mouth slogans.


    • Jeffry: There is much to morally admire in Havels posture. i think none of us think that the oppo should resort to lies to win support from would be political supporters , Just that it frame its language in a way that will not needlessly be used by the regime to make it appear as if it spouses causes which are offensive to a mayority of Venezuelans . ( even if such offense is unwarranted) . I believe there were no elections in Havels country at the time he was among the leaders of the dissident movement . There are still some elections held in Venezuela . That may make it more important for the Oppo to craft its messages with more caution than sheer candour. !!.

      If I were to write what I thought of president Obamas directive I would unpolitically write the following :

      1. There is no Rule of Law in Venezuela . The Regime has been shown to totally control the decisions of the Justice System to help implement a policy of methodical and unlawful persecution silencing and imprisonment of its political opponents and the violation of the human rights of peaceful dissenters and protesters. To this effect it has provided with a mantle of inmmunity the officials which have been blamed by the perpetrators of these crimes

      2. These persecutions and human right violations have been verified and denounced by both reputable NGO’s and international Institutions including the responsible agencies of the UN and the OAS.and condemned by political institutions of responsible countries including the parliaments of Canada , the Us , Brasil and the European Union..

      3,Calls for the release of unlawfully detained political prisioners made by some of these institutions and by the Presidents of the US , Colombia and the Prime Minister of Spain have been ignored by the Venezuelan Regime which instead has stepped up the unlawful repression of its politial opponents in clear violation to their rights to a fair trial .

      4, The crimes of which the Venezuelan regme is denounced are catgorized as warranting the intervention of the international community in various international treaties signed by the member contries of UNASUR , the OAS and Venezuela itself .

      5. Past attempts by UNASUR to address the conflict causing these persecutions and human right violations have probed futile , The Venezuelan Regime is uninterested in any solution that would have it stop these persecutions and violations or the restortion of the Rule of Law and due procedure in Venezuela .

      6. In these circumstanes , the US acting according to its own internal sovereign laws and the demands of the international rules which govern the punishment of human rights violations and the scourge of narco traffic have issued economic sanctions agains a number of officials which independent inquiries have shown to have been guilty of the perpetration of these human right offenses . These sanctions are applicable in territories and to organs which are under the jurisdiction of US laws and governmental authority. They do not purport to have any authority in Venezuelan territory .

      7./ the regime of Venezuela is misrepresenting the scope of this measures as an attack on Venezuelan sovereignty , which it clearly is not .

      As a result of all of the above we are of the opinion that the measures of president Obama and the lawfully constituted institutions of US goverment acting within the scope of its laws and jurisdiction are deserving of no condemnation as proposed by the Venezuelan regime and moreover that they deserve the praise of any honest defenders of human freedom .!!


  12. Juan,

    As much as I would like to hear politicians and governments state the raw truth without all the spin, I doubt that I will ever see it happen. Though, in the rare cases when the truth does serve, it is refreshing to hear it.

    The problem is that the very word “truth” is subjective when it comes to politics. In science, there is an objective truth that can be observed, described, tested, and verified. But, in politics everything is filtered through the lens of the human observer’s experience, opinions, and prejudices. As someone once said, “One man’s ‘terrorist’ is another man’s ‘freedom fighter’.” Had the American colonists not succeeded in defeating the British, the history books would have reviled the revolutionaries as traitorous murderers.

    To change someone’s mind about a political matter, you must first change his heart. The manipulation of emotions is not done with hard facts and statistics, but by creating an emotional narrative that the public can relate to. I am not saying that is how it should be, just how it is.

    In a modern democracy the protector of “truth” is the press. And, of course, they are just and biased as the politicians and the public. But, they do serve to prevent the politicians from completely inventing their own “facts”. This is what is truly missing, or at least badly damaged, in Venezuela.


      • I was saying 7 years ago, that this would end when there when the food ran out and Venezuela experienced starvation. Back then, I was told that I was crazy and that that could never happen in Venezuela. I have a huge “I told you so.” saved up. I may go through the archives to find my old comments.


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