What’s in your bag? -Cojones (UPDATED)

Much has been said about our newfound ability to tell which items are hidden inside a white supermarket bag. It has been etched into dozens of cartoons by almost all of our satire cartoonists. A commonplace joke that describes the loony state of mind in which we are thanks to scarcity, and all the crazy campaigns by the government to have us in this loony state of mind.

Well, this guy…

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New performance: going out to the Metro with the ‪#‎bultoinvisible‬ (#invisiblepack) hoping that people take pictures of it and upload them to their social networks. Inside the backpack there will be a small camera capturing everyone’s faces as they look at the precious products that we haven’t seen in a while. The purpose of the performance is to poke Venezuelans’ curiosity, conformity, and our quality to jump out and ask questions without greeting first: Where did you find Atamel? Where did you find Harina Pan?

This guy took the joke and brought it to a whole new level of punk. He turned it into an actual protest, and a powerful one.

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Forget about being mugged or even being apprehended for attempting to create a public disturbance. Considering how things are today, this kid could be thrown in jail for hoarding. As John Manuel said, “this is more of a transgression than anything Marina Abramovic has done in her whole career.”

Hell of a performance.

UPDATE: The performer’s name is Cristobal Ochoa. He is a plastic and conceptual artist living in Caracas. You can check out some of his work here. And if you like it, you can support his upcoming trip to France to represent Venezuela by donating here.

37 thoughts on “What’s in your bag? -Cojones (UPDATED)

  1. Excellent idea.

    Unfortunately, a bit too sophisticated for the average under-educated, naive, blind Venezuelan to comprehend the artistic message: to Wake up, from the slumber they are, on queues like sheep, who have become accustomed even to the lack of Basic necessities like chicken or toilet paper, in a rich country.

    If only Corruptzuela had more educated peope like this guy, they would have revolted a looooooong time ago. No wonder the Dictatorship struck first against the students..


    • What is interesting is that if this exact same government was identified as “right-wing” by the people in any way or fashion, one hundred caracazos would have already happened. The issue here is not that people are under-educated and naive, but rather that they will TRUST literally ANYONE wearing red. If Hitler was reborn in Venezuela and started wearing a Che Guevara shirt, people would vote for him. Until the people understand that socialism IS NOT ALWAY ABSOLUTE GOODNESS and TOTAL FAIRNESS, it will be extremely hard to not fall in the trap again and again and again until the end of times.


      • Disagree. The issue IS under-education. Then come corruption, etc.

        Our populace have no idea about Hitler or Guevara or any history, or economics, nada. They don’t even know they are entitled to have their own dollars, or the universal right to Toilet Paper.


        • Eva Golinger is educated. Mark Weisbrot is educated. Jorge Giordani is educated. Rafael Ramirez is educated. Heinz Dieterich is educated. George Ciccariello is educated. I could go and on. But you can see with these names above that to be educated doesn’t not make one instantaneously lucid about politics.

          Venezuelans are already malicious about the right, they know that nazism and fascism are not good ways of developing a country. You say that the people are totally stupid regarding politics, but where are the nazi and fascist parties of Venezuela? They don’t exist because they wouldn’t receive one single vote. Now what we have to do is to teach the average person that socialism can be harmful too. Trust me, poor people are not as stupid as you think they are, that’s a very elitist approach. We are talking about human beings here, and human beings can learn IF YOU CARE TO TEACH THEM!


          • If all the people you mentioned had given speeches to convince ordinary Venezuelans to take up ‘socialism’ few of them would have spent 1 minute listening to them or even considering if they might identify with it , What made the buss word socialism something which people perhaps heard with favour was the fact that it was advertised by that snake charmer of Chavez . With it went a message of social resentment and hatred which failed people all over the world like to profess to enthrall their self induced sense of pseudo epic heroism .


            • Who said poor people are stupid? And who said educated people cannot be retarded and/or corrupted.
              You obviously don’t get the point. An reasonably educated country with half-educated people would have never believed these 16 years of Chavista/Masburristas “social” crap and OBVIOUS lies.

              The get away with Mass Deception only because our people are so naive, ignorant, uneducated and easily corruptible. That’s EVIDENT, like 2+2=4.


              • Natural intelligence can be as abundant among the economincallymost fortunate as among the economically least fortunate , what is different is the degree to which education and upbringing ( as a factor in character formation) can allow some to develop and make a better use of their natural intelligence . if you are born with a ferrari of an intelligence but are never taught to drive that vehicle your intellectual performance might be lower than that of someone who is born with a ford of an intelligence but is taught to drive that car expertly to the maximum of its potentials . the thing of course is that people brought up by good parents and given a good education and allowed to flourish because of improved social opportunities are bound to act smarter than someone who -because of its humble origins-is denied those benefits,whatever the natural intelligence he is born with.

                Of course the social culture in which you where brough up and raised has a lot to do with your intelellectual habits and tastes and how well you make use of the intellect youre born with . It can also make you vulnerable to certain emotional blandishments wich blind you to a sensible and balanced view of things.

                What is difficult for us to accept is that most ordianry people , whatever their origin are mediochre and not too interested in bettering themselves intellectually , they have fun with sports , with sex , with drink and dalliance, with the profession of fanatized political or religious passions or very commonly with the prospect of making or receiving money with which to make their lives more enjoyable .

                Having said the above my contention is that whatever reason people had to become infatuated with Chavez ( and they point to something very wrong in the cultural and mental make up of our people) socialism was not something they had any aquientance with through reading books or hearing lectures or reflecting on the life of society , but rather a term tthey learned to admire (purely on a rethorical basis ) by way of having it propounded to them by someone they felt strongly identified with at an emotional level . and moreover that had such rethorical term been propounded to them by someone they didnt feel specially attached to , they would have remained largely indifferent to it.


              • “The get away with Mass Deception only because our people are so naive, ignorant, uneducated and easily corruptible. That’s EVIDENT, like 2+2=4.”

                They got away with it also because they had a grade A snake charmer who was armed with bundles upon bundles of cash from the biggest and longest oil boom in history.


              • They also got away with it (and continue to do so) because the “educated” opposition is waging elections like it is 1958 and Punto Fijo is still in effect.

                And they got away with it because of the (continuing) disconnect between the “ignorant” pueblo and the politicians who would like to unseat chavismo.

                I don’t buy into the whole “all chavistas/supporters are bad, corrupt and ignorant.” I’m not saying chavismo is a good alternative by any means, but after some of the excesses of the fourth republic, do you really blame people for looking for something else? Chavismo evolved, the opposition did not (although it appears to finally be learning, albeit slowly).

                You always go on about corruption, and yes, it is likely much worse under chavismo, but it is perpetually endemic to the country. From your average person’s view on the street, one thief is the same as another. They don’t care who holds the gun, they just know they are being robbed.

                Who are you more likely to have a positive opinion of? The mugger who takes the wad of 10000 bolivars from your pocket, or the one who takes 9000 bolivars and leaves you 1000? That’s the narrative that is continually missed. That’s why there’s tolerance of chavismo that most outsiders don’t understand when they hear of shortages, queues and other silliness in the country.

                Purge the country of corruption and crime and ensure people get more back than what chavismo is giving them and you’ll win by a landslide.

                A new day. A new start. No chamo/a left behind.


            • What made the buss word socialism something which people perhaps heard with favour was the fact that it was advertised by that snake charmer of Chavez .

              While Chavez definitely played his part in making socialism a favorable word to many in Venezuela, Fourth Republic already had many manifestations of socialism, such as government owned PDVSA, etc., etc. Etc. Which indicates that for many Venezuelans of the Fourth Republic era, socialism was a good thing- else why would there be so many government-owned companies?


              • Thats correct Boludo , socialism was a cliche word which stood as proxy for progresivism with people who for the most part heard it repeated as something intellectually chic in the early part of the XX century all over the world . it was in vogue in europe and even in many parts of the anglo saxon world. It was something which made you seem goody goody and avant guard and different and tickled your moral conceit no end . In case you havent noticed Venezuelan are very frivolous people who love showacting ideologically and in every other way.

                But this has nothing to do with the number of state companies , the fact of the matter is that the venezuelan business world wasnt that rich and resourceful and often if the state didnt start something it would never get done or built . Oil made that easier even before oil was nationalized.

                Regarding the creation of Pdvsa , what made that irresistible is that always Venezuelans lived under the impression that they were inferior to the foreigners who handled that key industry and thus incapable of doing what nationals of other countries managed to do . So to take over the oil industry was the equivalent of a little boy putting on his first long pants to show the world he was a man now , an adult capable of doing big manly things on its own . The state of course wasnt capable of doing that but by that time the oil industry was really handled by a large group of profesional venezuelans trained by the international oil companies who had learned to manage a world class company as good as any foreigner could . That what made the nationalization possible and allowed the govt to take credit for making the nationalization a world recognized success.

                There was no private company or group of companies capable of taking over the oil industry , they didnt have the know how or the resources or the expertise to take on the job so it had to be done by the same people formed by the international companies on behalf of the state that for a long time was content to remain in the background and let the professionals handle the industry . At the time all private efforts to enter the oil industry from the margins helped by the govts patriotic fervour were a joke !!

                Now that Pdvsa has been destroyed root branch and limb its very difficult to think of it remaining a wholly state owned company , but its venezuelan control is a heavy emotional thing for most Venezuelans , the reasonable thing would be to seek to rebuilt the activity through joint venture companies in which international companies with the savvy to take the job of recreating the human resources foundation that Chavez lost and destroyed to rebuilt the company that once was but that task has to be combined with the creation of institutional safeguards that prevent the history of Chavez destruction of Pdvsa repeating itself.


      • can you please stop spreading the comfortable lie that the Caracazo was something spontaneous? because it wasn’t.


        • The trigger was obviously not spontaneous, but what ensued after, when the masses, the average person, the Edanis Coromoto Sucre Bolivar of Venezuela took the bait and decided to take their frustration to the streets was definitely spontaneous. But would the masses have done the same thing against a government identified as “left-wing”? Of course not! Why? Because they distrust only what they perceive as “right’, “neo-liberal”, “capitalist”, “pro-yankee”, while at the same time lhey allow the left to do anything! Even to starve their sons and daughters!

          Quico himself said that for most of his life he labeled left as “goodness” and the right as “evil”. And we are talking about an “educated” person. The people are just to pure regarding socialism! That must change now!!!


          • “… when the masses, the average person, the Pedro Pérez of Venezuela took the bait and decided to take their frustration to the streets was definitely spontaneous…”

            Actually, NOPE.

            You see, this is the funny thing about this colossal lie, it was NEVER spontaneous, and it was NEVER made by any “pueblo”, it was a coldly calculated COUP against CAP’s government, the proof of it was in two main components:

            1) castro smuggled thousands of weapons into Venezuela using diplomatic cases when he came to salute CAP in his investment, it was part of a plan that undermined venezuelan sovereingnity since the 60s, a continuation from the kidnappings and oil line blasting made by those “guerrilleros comunistas” that begun in Machurucuto. The guards were surprised to find choros better armed than them, it’s curious that chaburros NEVER mention how many army and national guards were ambushed and killed mercilessly in those days by the supossed “pueblo”.

            2) The “pueblo” was more busy trying to run away from the malandros who were plundering and killing everything on sight those days, yes, those same choros who would happily stab someone to death just to steal his shoes (“lo chucearon por un par de zapatos”), or why do you think the ONLY proof of people plundering there are those who took ANYTHING that wasn’t first-need products? How do I know that? I know because I lived in Caracas those years, and I was this close of not surviving it, I remember that my father had to ram with his truck against some choros because they were trying to lynch us (As I said, the choros came to kill everything they could), and I remember in the subsequent days that my mother had to line with several other hundreds of persons in the Central Madeirense near our residential to acquire food, and that the choros would arrive in trucks to rain gunfire against the people waiting in the lines (Luckily, the national guards were actually doing their job that time to help protect the people there)

            So, spontaneous people came and made the caracazo my ass, dude, fuck those bastards.


      • Marc: I strongly suspect that most ordinary people worship words without knowing all that much about what they exacly entails , in fact the same terms can be interpreted to mean many different contradictory things , these are not well read people , nor have they done any serious studies of political philosophy or its concepts , if you try to establish what exactly they admire as a ‘philosophy’ youll discover in their mind a mish mash , a salad made up of many different half understood ideas including market economy ideals , consumerist ideals , some notion that the rich state should take care of all of us , that the rich can be mean to the poor etc. Chavez used the term and because he was so liked he sold the notion rethorically but without his followers going much beyond the quasi aesthetic appreciation of the word. The word to them is a system of evocations . That means that you can probably sell as Socialism a form of governance which if not strictly and rigorously market centred go a long way to sattisfying its requirements.


        • I totally agree with you! But check this small anecdote, which I find to be extremely relevant:

          The doorman of my condo started feeling panic about the country we live (Brazil) becoming like Venezuela and Cuba by the end of last year. It wasn’t me, but someone around obviously started teaching him something. And I have him at my whatsapp contacts, and his image now there is a hammer and sickle with a fordidden sign encircling it.

          I don’t know about you, but when I see something like that, I see the start of the healing. The cure.


          • Marc , thats certainly encouraging , Venezuela is now become an example of an spectacularly failed system which advertised itself as Socialistic. Thats bound to make people reticent about taking in the false blandishments of movements that brand themselves as socialistic . In Venezuela Chavez left a legacy however of people who perhaps feel identified with socialism not because of any understanding of the term itself but simply because it was something he spoke for . By assocaiting the term with himself he made it into a brand that retains an emotional appeal among his nostalgic followers , if we want to attract some of these its probably best not to attack the brand but to appropiate it and transform it into something which represents a more effective and just form of governance. Even the nazis adopted socialist workers party as part of their official name . We all know that in practice they represented rather different ideals .


            • Agreed, but you guy forget that our uneducated populace also bought into Chavista lies and “socialism” because they were, perhaps for the first time, showered with Freebies, Bribes, Fake Jobs, free “terrenitos” regalitos left and right.

              Not just because they were intellectually “indoctrinated”, of course. Seduced by a free lunch, that’s what you can also do with naive, under-educated masses.


  2. What? The guy is walking around the Caracas Metro in a plastic rucksack with highly desirable products being exposed to the general public? He’d be much, much safer were he to simply wad-up some Bolivar notes and stuff them in same rucksack. Who the hell would touch him then?


    • H”e’d be much, much safer were he to simply wad-up some Bolivar notes and stuff them in same rucksack. Who the hell would touch him then?”

      Well, bolivars come in handy when toilet paper is hard to come by.


  3. “The doorman of my condo started feeling panic about the country we live (Brazil) becoming like Venezuela and Cuba by the end of last year.”

    Good for Brazil and good for Spain, and others if Corruptzuelas’ miserable failures serve as an Alarm.

    However, the were many people afraid of Chavismo too in Vzla before, now they’re just used to it. If your doorman were showered with free gifts, un apartamentico o terrenito, otro trabajita pal gobierno con sus tigritos, trust me, his “fears” would all go away in a hurry.


    • “If your doorman were showered with free gifts, un apartamentico o terrenito, otro trabajita pal gobierno con sus tigritos, trust me, his “fears” would all go away in a hurry.”

      Depends on said doorman’s education and ethics, not everyone’s easily bought, that’s why regimes have their plan B: GUNS.


  4. When I do my queues to buy food with hundreds of other people , most of rather humble origin , no one says it was worse before Chavez , specially the elderly clearly remember how it was before . The General view is that its worse now than it was before . They talk to me of their harships to get the food they need , how they are desperate to find stuff that when its their turn to find things cant be found , specially those with children are having an awful time .

    It is becoming increasingly evident however that if you go to a bicentenario or other govt store real early (5 am- 6am) on the date in which the last number of your ID card allows you, then you stand a better chance after a long long queue of finding small amounts of stapples which are very difficult to find elsewhere , this points to the idea that the govt is rerouting foods to where the poorest are likeliest to go to keep them if not happy at least not furious at what life has become for them .

    I guess in time middle class people will start doing the same and life will become equally awful for everybody because the shortages will continue until the fundamental economic problems are adequately addressed . Talked to an important guy from a govt related bank , and right of without qualms they recognize that the reason why getting any travel dollars is become so difficult is because quite simply the regime hasnt got the money to continue with the policy . Do remember that for most venezuelans friendship counts for more than ideological identity.

    Ive searched for beef not minding the price which will have to be paid and yet its very difficult to find it , if you re lucky you can find a whole chicken. More common is to find pork meat products and turkey , but even the latter can sometimes dissapear from sight.


  5. I was wondering with all these food shortages, how are the restaurants faring? I mean, can you still get a great typical Venezuelan meat lunch at one of Caracas’ famous steak houses if you’re willing to pay? Arepitas con nata, and all…


    • Super,
      You might try bringing your own steak or chicken and most restaurants will cook it to order. Shrinkage is a possibility.

      Does Vzla still have great fish restaurants along the coast? It would be hard for the Government to control fish going directly from a boat to the table.


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