In generations to come, historians are going to have such a wealth of material to pick over as they try to make sense of Venezuela post 1999 they’ll barely know where to start. Well, if you’re reading this and the calendar marks 2075 (or beyond) I’m going to make a humble suggestion: start with Daniella.
No other figure of the Chávez era more perfectly encapsulates the prostration of Venezuelan civil society. No other figure more neatly encapsulates chavismo as an engine for contradiction, a wellspring of privilege created in the name of the fight against privilege. In no other person do its feigned rejection of and desperate embrace of capitalist celebrity culture come together as obviously, as directly.
Devoid of discernible talent at any pursuit other than choosing her parents – along with, arguably, a certain unencumbered chutzpah when it comes to claiming her dues as revolutionary princess – Daniella Cabello is a walking, talking, (barely) singing ode to the moral debasement of a regime that isn’t content with merely controlling everything but insists on being seen to control everything.
Daniella’s SiBCI-manufactured stardom, her sudden ubiquity, the startling production values of the propaganda schlock she features in are a constant blaring reminder of her father’s power and society’s utter defencelessness before it. It’s as though he’s just not content with controlling all the money, all the politics and all the military: Diosdado’s determined to lord over the onanistic fantasies of the nation’s teenage boys as well, and no surgeon’s fee will be allowed to stand in the way.
And so we’re treated to Daniella screetching, stretching the abilities of autotune to enmendarle la plana, writhing, plastering her sillicone curves on every state-controlled screen within a 50 mile radious , incongruously propagandizing for a revolution whose integrity her stardom radically refutes.
There’s something at work here beyond simple nepotism, beyond mere bad taste.
There’s a will to humiliate, a determination to dramatize chavismo’s absolute control over the public sphere, to make it visible, palpable, using all the tools of pop culture.
Daniella’s stardom dramatizes her dad’s power in a way mere theft never could. Her career is pure spectacle: her presence necessary to make sure you never forget who owns the stage.
Yes, dear historian of the future, you could do much worse than to start with Daniella Cabello.