Observations focused on the problems of an underdeveloped country, Venezuela, with some serendipity about the world (orchids, techs, science, investments, politics) at large. A famous Venezuelan, Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo, referred to oil as the devil's excrement. For countries, easy wealth appears indeed to be the sure path to failure. Venezuela might be a clear example of that.
As the year begins, Victor is happy to know his Government will last for six more years. After months of denial that former Fujimori collaborator Montesinos was in the country, he is detained and sent to Peru. Fidel comes back to visit and they even do a joint radio program. Victor feels so powerful that he has a close collaborator run for President of the unions, while he goes on a trip. His collaborator is trounced by a three to one margin, by a real union leader. Thus, while Victor visits, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Iran, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Italy (where he is ignored), the Vatican, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Belgium and Austria, his demise begins, but he simply does not know it. In November he approves 49 laws, under the supervision of his Vice-President, they are controversial. As the President refuses to recognize the winner in the union elections, he gets together with the private sector and stop the country for one day in protest for the 49 bills and specially the land bill. The New Year begins with more problems. On January 23d. a gigantic demonstration takes place. In February an active military official speaks out against the Government. He is not the last. Meanwhile, the economy is not doing well and the currency is allowed to float. Simultaneously Victor removes his friend as President of the oil company. He replaces him with a leftist who is critical of the company. The workers rebel against the new Board. They march against them. They threaten to strike. They march. Victor fires them. The country goes on strike. And they march asking for his resignation. They march to the palace. He sets a trap. While he addresses the nation, the peaceful demonstrators are massacred. Sixteen people die. A General asks for Victor’s resignation. The Chiefs of Staff announces Victor has resigned. A new President is named. He dissolves all Constitutional powers. He is forced to resign. The city is tense. Victor comes back contrite. It does not last. Marches begin again, the fable continues….with no end in sight. Is this banana-like or what?
The above fable is not a fable, it is reality, it is the story of my country Venezuela since Hugo Chavez, Victor in my fable, attempted a coup and later won the Presidency. Even when I review the events of the last few years, it seems simply crazy, Kafka-like. But it is the truth. Today the confrontation continues and we are not sure whether my country will implode or explode. What is clear is that the last three years have slowly eroded the Venezuelan economy as Chavez and his people attempt to revive and impose, primitive, backwards, 19th. century ideas on the country. Populism wins again. For how long? Can we be saved? Or is Venezuela, despite its immense wealth destined to become a backwards country. Is this the Africanization of Venezuela? I don’t know. What I know is that it is difficult to explain all this to a non-Venezuelan. This is what I will attempt to do in this blog, when I am not digressing to more mundane (orchids), technical (google), worries (spam) or whatever. If anyone read the whole fable, welcome to The Devil’s Excrement, the fable continues……..Stay tuned….