The formaldehyde revolution – sans formaldehyde

No rest for the weary.

No rest for the weary.

When writing about Venezuela, one has to juggle with an embarassment of riches – there is so much crap going on, that sometimes it’s hard to select the right story that brings to life the collapsing Venezuelan economy.

I think this one does an excellent job.

Fusion’s Manuel Rueda went to Mérida to talk to students at the revered Universidad de los Andes. One of the things he highlighted was how cadavers in the medical school – an essential pedagogical tool for future doctors – are rotting due to a lack of formaldehyde.

The value added (make sure you’re not eating while you read):

“How can we learn from this?” medical student Mina D’Ambrosio says as she gives me a tour of her school.

She points to a dirty sink that contains a barely recognizable foot, and a brown lump of human tissue that could have been a liver. The rapidly decomposing body parts make it harder for students to identify vessels, small ligaments and other parts of the body as they would appear on a living patient. It makes learning difficult, and poses a health risk to students.

The piece provides a tour of campus. Everything from striking dental students (no bibs for patients) to frustrated administrators are given fair billing. He even has a shot of university dean José Anderes with the pile of forms he needs to sign, forms that belong to the students looking for a way, any way, to ditch Venezuela and start anew somewhere else.

Here’s another notable piece:

“Not everyone wants to leave. Mina D’Ambrosio, the medical student who took me on a tour of the anatomy lab, says she’ll stay in Venezuela as long as she can afford to. But it’s a struggle. Her rent costs nearly the equivalent of a monthly minimum wage, and at the medical school supplies like alcohol and cotton are becoming increasingly scarce. Even exam booklets are hard to come by.

“In anatomy classes, professors have switched us from written to oral tests because there’s not enough paper for everyone,” D’Ambrosio says.

Still, D’Ambrosio wants to do her part to make Venezuela a better place. And she thinks it would be an “injustice” for her to get free medical training in Venezuela and then go work for another country’s health system.”

Like everything else in Venezuela, our universities are dying, rotting. The only things that aren’t rotting are the ideas pushing this debacle.

Formaldehyde was first produced for commercial purposes by a Russian chemist some 150 years ago. Many of the biggest vendors of the thing are US firms. I’m sure none of them want to deal with Venezuela’s crazy foreign exchange system, so we’ll have to live (die) without formaldehyde. People like to say that chavismo has taken us back to the XIXth Century, but in the XIXth Century they had formaldehyde. It’s more like the middle ages.

Many of us think that chavismo’s ideas and policies are a resurrection of failed experiments we long thought dead. As it turns out, they were just being preserved in formaldehyde, ready to be plucked into life again by our useless kleptocrats.

Ironically, the lack of formaldehyde is yet another sign that the bottom has fallen out. The revolution is in power, seemingly alive and well. But it is a walking political corpse, and there is no way they can hide the stench.

34 thoughts on “The formaldehyde revolution – sans formaldehyde

  1. Chavismo is a failure in so much areas. Even morons like Correa and Morales look bright when compared to these fools. The only reason that they are still in power is due to intimidation. But that won’t be enough to save them, they are going down anyway.


      • You are sounding like one of those disenchanted Cubans in Miami: “I don’t think that Fidel will ever die.”


          • We might not know for sure if Fidel will ever die, but I believe that we all can agree that the Bolivarian Titanic is sinking before our eyes.

            The “dream” is over.

            Oil revenue? Gone. International community and neighbours turning a blind eye? Gone. Electoral majority? Gone. Comunicational hegemony? Not gone, but useless in times where the people can find food for their children.

            The only thing still allowing them to prevail are the guns they possess mixed with fraudulent elections. It will be enough? Will they kill millions of people? Will they fraud 80/90% of the votes? I’m not asking if they want to go that far, but rather if they CAN go that far given the current economic and political situation.


            • The dream is certainly over regardless of whether by hook or crook they hold on to power, we are living its failure in our own flesh , directly and thru the hardships that afflict our daily lives, if some fanatic wants to hold on to their dreams they will have to willfully hallucinate a world that doesnt exist , blind themselves with fantasies that reality denies. The regime is already hard at work at creating a Potemkin fachade of a society thats behind the cardboard and tinsel is really in tatters.


  2. The Middle Ages feudalism (Kepler, dixit) is a good simile. Areas of influence/power are controlled by force/money: politics by fraudulent/intimidated/bought elections; citizenry by bought military/Colectivos/judiciary; barrios/zonas de paz by malandros; and international opinion by bought lobbyists/petro-diplomacy. And the average citizen lo recibe doblado, y sin anestesia (formaldehyde)….


    • And even there they fucked it up. Because they kept the corpse in cuba for too long, the russian embalmers they hired to create the Lenin monument MKII said they couldn’t work with the corpse because it was too late for it.

      That’s why they used a wax doll three months later during march.


  3. “Mina D’Ambrosio, the medical student who took me on a tour of the anatomy lab, says she’ll leave Cubazuela as soon as she can afford to”.

    That’s what she and 99.5% of the students really mean.


    • Yeah, and I’ll clear that up even more just for you..

      “Still, D’Ambrosio wants to do her part to make Venezuela a better place. And she thinks it would be an “injustice” for her to get free medical training in Venezuela and then go work for another country’s health system.”

      Beautiful Youthful dreams. Of course any Venezuelan, like 90% of the people reading and writing on these blogs, would have liked to have stayed in Venezuela. Heck, many of us lucky enough to have parents who paid for private Colleges overseas went back to Venezuela and tried to build our lives and careers over there, enduring as many years of Chavismo as we could.

      D’Ambrosio and 90% of her student friends will leave if things don’t get better. They will leave like almost 1.5 Professionals before her have. Your Children come first, and they get killed or kidnapped every day. Your future and career come first, and i don’t care how “thankful” and patriotic you claim to be, we all work for Money and to have good lives. If we have the remote possibility of doing much, much better in any other country, we all leave mas rapido que peo en chinchorro. Get real.


  4. “The only reason that they are still in power is due to intimidation. But that won’t be enough to save them, they are going down anyway.”

    Fear, intimidation at the job place, persecution for nothing, control of the majority of the media, under-education of an ignorant populace, all of that helps.

    But the main reason they are still in power after 16 years was the fantastic Oil bonanza, over decade of $120 barrels, or more. They have been able to bribe and buy just about everyone, including the poor, while repressing or forcing the rest to leave the country, as almost 1.5 Million of Professionals have, and 90% of the medical students referred to on this post will leave the minute they can.

    Masburrismo is really struggling now, finally, after 16 years, not just because he’s an inept imbecile, along with his entourage. It’s because the Money dried up. No more bribes and tigritos left and right to keep everyone happy or at least silent, on an artificial economy. Now they barely have enough money to keep the corrupt military and themselves afloat, como los mojones que son..

    That’s why I insist the Colas for Food, and other products are not all that bad.. it’s where everyone meets these days to bitch about the Dictatorship.


  5. “… in the XIXth Century they had formaldehyde. It’s more like the middle ages…”.

    The scale of the regression varies according to what particular area of national life you’re talking about. (And you can make geographical as well as historical comparisons.) But here’s one I like to use. England hanged its last highwayman exactly 200 years ago, around the time of the Battle of Waterloo.

    Serious banditry in modern times is an affliction of severely underdeveloped states or those in the “failed” category. (I remember my father telling a story about how he had to dodge them in Eritrea in the 1970s.)

    Venezuela’s roads are now infested with highwaymen (armed with AR-15s and AKs rather than flintlock pistols). You can’t travel the Troncal 9 through Barlovento after 6pm, for instance, and God help you if you break down anywhere within about half an hour’s drive of Morón. (No police patrols, no tow-trucks and plenty of heavily armed thugs.)

    Up until fairly recently I thought nothing of driving several hundred kilometres across Venezuela. Now I can’t imagine doing it except under extreme duress or in an armoured vehicle with three motorcycle escorts (like those members of the government who repeatedly assure us that crime is diminishing).


    • If you roll up your windows and crank the AC and the AC/DC, it just becomes a “sensation of insecurity”.

      Dele que son pasteles!


  6. Actually, whatever is left Cubazuela’s entire Education system is a decomposing cadaver itself:

    Not only the young kids are thoroughly brain-washed since the earliest age to believe Chavez and God are one and the same, while anything related to developed, progressive democracies is evil.

    Then, during Chavista highschool years, there’s absolutely no incentive to study and get good grades to earn admission into the best Universities, having then the best possibilities for success as Professionals.

    In fact, your best bet is not to study much at all, but instead pretend to be poor and Revolusionario. Only then you might be admitted to a decrepit Universidad in shambles, with rotting corpses to study and unprepared, under-paid “professors”.

    By then you only have 2 choices considering the high chances of getting robbed, kidnapped or killed, or all of the above, plus the miserable Purchasing Power we can expect.

    1/ Enchufarse bien enchufado, steal with the Dictators and stay in Kleptozuela.

    2/ What 95% of college students do as soon as they can: get the hell out of there.

    This, of course, is exactly what Totalitarian Regimes always want: Purge their countries of any potentially rebellious, well-educated people who can think for themselves, while substituting them with mediocre, brain-washed robots and complicit thieves.


    • Well said!
      Reminds me of an interview with some Russian factory workers during the last days of the USSR. When asked what they did at the factory they looked at each other and finally one replied with a shrug:
      “They pretend to pay us; We pretend to work.”


      • Not at all Jeffry , for quite a few people assuming the glamorous pose of a revolutionary or progressive is extremely gratifying , it inflames once ego no end . It makes you into a hero , a secular saint , the equivalent of doffing what I call the little red superman suit , the dream of every childish or primitive heart.


  7. Still on the topic of the diplomatic incident involving the Brazilian senators, it’s worthy of note that the Chavista freaks acted the way they did because they thought that those senators were just some random oppositionist politicians acting alone, a small group of fragile deers separated from the rest of the herd that decided to go there by themselves. But what Chavismo failed to grasp in their stupidity is that they were representing all of the herd “officialy”. Two of those senators are even from Dilma’s own coalition, which happens to be the same coalition which has the majority in the two houses of the Congress (Senate and Chamber of Deputies). Chavista idiots weren’t able to see that that group was an official mission endorsed by all parties, even Dilma’s own party! What explains they flying to Venezuela in a Brazilian Air Force plane.

    It was a mission unanimously approved by all senators to check facts on the ground, given Mercosur’s Ushuaia treaty, which Venezuela is now a signatory and must respect.

    Chavista morons could have allowed them to go near Ramo Verde, and then to deny their visit. Then the politicians would just return home empty-handed. No big issue. Business as usual next week.
    Chavistas had done that with Pastrana, Gonzales etc before. But no…

    Now the Congress will work hard to expel Venezuela from Mercosur and tear apart any kind of agreement with Venezuela. And they are not joking. Both the presidents of the lower and upper houses are condemning what happened in their twitter accounts. And they have the majority to achieve anything they want, what Dilma thinks or not about that is completely irrelevant!

    In return for what the Chavistas would want to bring something like that upon themselves?
    They don’t know either, they are just incredibly dumb. And they screwed big time!

    Some of what’s coming (in Portuguese):


  8. People when living in a politically polarized environment take up a Sectarian Identity ( including a host of badges and emblems and slogannish cliches of partisan identity) which personally and emotionally they identify with so strongly that they cannot engage in any reasoned exchange with any one who holds to a different view of things .They will discredit any argument or fact , no matter how evident which challenges the canonical value of their Sectarian Identity because to admit such fact or argument would undermine their Sectarian Identity and humiliate them . The sectarian moreover feeds his identity with passionate loathing of an emblematic enemy sect whose every word or act is subject to utter condemnation . Hatred of this emblematic enemy is one of the badges of ones partisan identity , Even if such emblematic enemy were to advance arguments or point to fact which the Sectarian knows to be true or valid the partisan attachment to his own sectarian identity would preclude him from accepting them. Im not making this up the subject has been studied by a group of reputed psychologists (Jonathan Haidt from the University of Virginia comes to mind as one of the most prominent) .

    Even if a great many Chavistas now know that the regime they have supported for years is an utter failure and riddled with corruption which is causing a crisis which affects their daily life even as they feel dissapointed with those which today head it they cannot easily rid themselves of their partisan identity to take up that of their emblematic enemies , not because they are inherently stupid but because very humanly they no longer function as reasoning minds but as partisans in a glamorous cause they are wont to abandon. its not that they are stupid per se but that they are stuck in a form of thinking which IS STUPID. becase their mind compells them to defend the integrity of their assummed virulent partisan identity which they stil somehow sentimentally identify with . We must distinguish between people who are natively stupid from people whose THINKING is stupid because of emotional factors that model their human condition including their irrational and emotional attachment to a specific form of Partisan or Sectarian Identity.

    Lincoln , a very wise man by any account, had it right when he once commented that but for the fact of their birth in the northern US most anti slavery abolutionist would be rabid defenders of slavery if they had been born and raised south of the dixon line .


  9. I am often struck by the anti-American vitriol that I see here, and I confess that I don’t completely understand it. I am a white American guy, Irish-Spanish, mostly Irish, and I have always been interested in Venezuela, thanks to my beautiful Venezolana girlfriend from years ago.

    I speak a bit of Spanish, with dictionary help, and I am about exactly in the middle of the US political range, taking some of the left and mixing it with some of the right. But, I don’t get the “yanqui go home” attitude of many posts on this blog.

    This is probably due to a gap in my education…I know that the US has had a history of clumsy, stupid attitudes and actions against the entire region, in an arc from Mexico around the Gulf and the Caribbean, but I would like to learn more. Would anyone care to help me understand? Are there books, maybe? Or, can you post something illuminating?

    I am VERY concerned about Venezuela…it seems that everything I hear or read is bad. I do know about Chavez and his legacy…I am not starting from zero.

    I read CC every day, usually multiple times per day.


    • I don’t know to what degree you get this reaction from CC’s merely reporting on what Chavistas say, who will of course be very much anti-Yanqui, or from the commenters here who are nearly all anti-Chavista, but many of whom are somewhat leftist and for that reason tend to see anyone from the Republican/wingnut side of the US political aisle as being evil incarnate- or at least woefully ignorant. [As my time in Latin America was the primary reason for my changing from a prog to a wingnut, I find that to be rather amusing.] Over the years, I have seen much less of the “wingnuts are evil incarnate” type comment here at CC.

      When I was working in Venezuela, I bought at a local eatery a copy of Del Buen Salvaje al Buen Revolucionario written by the Venezuelan journalist Carlos Rangel. In English translation the book is called The Latin Americans: Their Love-Hate Relationship with the United States. It’s not only movies that get their titles changed in translation. The book is an attempt to get Latin Americans to take responsibility for their failings instead of scapegoating the US. I still have my yellowed paper, dog-eared copy. I highly recommend it.

      As I see it, the US is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. If it does nothing, it is tolerating and thus supporting the existence of an evil regime. If it does something, it is “interfering.”

      Another article in the “stop scapegoating the US” genre comes from José Piñera, the Chilean economist and brother of the former President, in Chile: How democracy was destroyed. Piñera points out that for all the lefty narrative about the US being responsible for Pinochet’s coup, the Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution three weeks before the coup that was, in effect, an invitation to a coup. [The resolution is sometimes known as “Declaration on the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy.”] As the resolution passed by an 81-47 vote, a strong 63% majority in the democratically elected Chamber of Deputies, the coup had strong domestic support in Chile. Which the lefties have tried to ignore for decades.

      In addition to CC, you should check out Venezuela News and Views and Devil’s Excrement.


  10. My father had a very simple explanation for why so many Latin Americans were always ready to condem what it did and what it had to offer the world ” throughout history all great people are hated , The Americans are a great people , hence they have to pay the price of their greatness.!!”

    If the US were a failed country maybe it would be liked more. I dont sucribe to the notion that despite so many areas of achievement everything produced or created from America deserves our admiration or even our approval , but behind that is undeniably the figure of an exceptional country and an exceptional people!! historically its not free from mistakes and delusions but they are by and large less malignant or foolish than those we have known from other lands.


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