Archive for April 29th, 2003

Good campaign by Ciudadania activa

April 29, 2003

Good poster by the non-profit group Ciudadania Activa to encourage people to March on Thursday (May Day). The poster says: Support Chavez, this May 1st. stay home, the pretty revolution will thank you for it.

Francisco Toro of Caracas Chronicles signs off

April 29, 2003


Francisco Toro, author of the very well written blog “Caracas Chronicles’ has decided to sign off and stop writing his blog, he will be missed. As with everything here in Venezuela these days, his reasons are multiple and complex. But nobody can explain it better than him. We wish him the best in his new venture!:


A number of you have written in to ask whatís up with Caracas Chronicles, which hasnít been updated in a while now. The proximate reason is rather pedestrian:, the service that hosts my blog, seems to have gone to pot over the last couple of weeks; it keeps giving me an incomprehensible error message and wonít let me post.

But letís get real: the way Venezuelan politics is going, even if blogger was up and running, I probably wouldnít have been writing much. Itís simply too depressing a panorama.

I donít know quite how to describe it. The last couple of weeks have closed a kind of cycle of disenchantment for me. Starting from the heady days of expectation and excitement of 1999, the cycle took me through the slow disillusionment of 2000 and 2001, then through a kind of rekindled idealism with the growth of the opposition last year, and now to a new and very disheartening understanding of the depths of dysfunction this society, all of it, has reached.

Itís no longer interesting or fun or exciting or quirky observing public life here. These days, itís sad. Just sad. A meaningless, intensely
destructive fight thatís plunging millions of people into real destitution for no particular reason at all.

I could write so long as I kept faith, kept faith in a future that was both possible and worth getting excited about. At this point, Iíve just lost faith. Iíve seen one too many Globovision segment and El Nacional article that twists and stretches and omits for cheap political gain,
Iíve seen one lie too many coming from the opposition leaders who are supposed to save the country from the dregs of chavizmo. Iíve seen one instance too many of the appalling lack of integrity that permeates every aspect of public life here to retain any level of idealism at all. I
donít even want to think of myself as a member of the opposition anymore:
thereís too little honor in this opposition, too much willingness to tolerate the intolerable for political gain.

It took me a long time to come to this conclusion, it was an excruciating process coming to see things this way, but at this point, I just canít believe that this kind of opposition holds out the slightest hope for a better future even if they were able to get rid of the mad autocrat Ė
which they arenít.

What it comes down to is that I can no longer see a plausible path to a desirable future for Venezuela.  As the governmentís quasi-dictatorial intolerance and the oppositionís reactionary myopia grow in tandem, feeding off one another in a vicious circle, it becomes impossible for me to imagine the path that links the country I live in now with the imagined country I would one day like to live in, the fair, decent and prosperous society everyone claims to be working towards, but that so few seem to be able to envision clearly. When I wrote the tag-line for Caracas Chronicles, it seemed fascinating to have a front-row seat to a society while it falls apart at the seams. It no longer feels fascinating. Today, itís just a sad, soul-sapping spectacle, and I just
donít know that I have the stomach to chronicle it anymore.

So, this fall, Iíll gladly become a statistic here, a figure in a chart
detailing the exodus of university-educated Venezuelans during the ChŠvez era. Come September Iíll enroll in the doctoral program put together by the United Nations University and the University of Maastricht, in Holland. Four years from now, if all goes well, Iíll have a Ph.D. on the impact of innovation and technological change on economic development in the third world. Itís a mouthful, I know, I guess youíd call it Development Economics for short, but the long and the short of it is that I canít live here anymore, itís bad for my soul, and an escape into academia seems like just the solution at a time like this. Iím quite excited about the program, in fact, and definitely looking forward to life in a sleepy provincial town on the Dutch-Belgian border after the unremitting megacity craziness of Caracas.

Making friends for the Cuban revolution

April 29, 2003

Protesters from the organization Reporters without borders were beaten up by Cuban Embassy officials while they were protesting the imprisonment of twenty six journalists in that island. I guess the Cubans keep making friends all over the world, including Caracas with thei tolerance and friendly gestures. Once you are in that page you should read the report on Venezuela entitled: “Caught between an authoritarian President and intolerant media”