Archive for March 28th, 2005

Revolutionary Banking

March 28, 2005

The revolution created two new and revolutionary banks to help the
“people”: The People’s bank and the Women’s bank. However,
in a country where the private banking system has had obscene profits
for the last few years, the banks created by Chavez leave a lot to be desired as banking institutions and will have to be capitalized (again!) soon.

The people’s bank lost Bs. 3.7 billion in 2004 on revenues of 5.6
billion and expenses of 9.3 billion. During that year 40% of
loans outstanding were behind, compared with only 2% in the private
banking system.

The Women’s bank lost 1.47 billion Bs. with a morosity of 52%.

Of course, both institutions have spent lots of money in systems and
travel. Both banks are already on their second information system in
three years and the travel has been made in order to learn of similar
experiences in other countries. Either those experiences were not too
succesful, or the people sent on these trips failed to learn very much
during their travels.

Little stories of neo-authoritarianism by Tulio Hernandez

March 28, 2005

Hernandez was an early supporter of Chavez and the Constituent process, but has
slowly been turning around against the current Government and its leader. With
this article in Sunday’s El Nacional he establishes, for the first time in my
memory, a wide distance between himself and the “revolution”

stories of neo-authoritarianism by Tulio Hernandez

A planet where there are in
military academies, nor policemen nor jails, nor currencies

Valera Mora, “Relación para un amor llamado amanecer”

1.- Of Frustrations. She is 24 years old. She
graduated magna cum laude at the journalism school. With meager savings she
traveled to the US
during six months to improve her English. A good friend found her a job at a Ministry.
Enthusiastic about her new job, she rushed back to Caracas. On a Friday morning she was met by
the Head of Personnel and after the interview de rigueur, was immediately hired. She was assigned an office and
that same morning she started working. The reference from her Bolivarian friend
had worked. The joy of the first job.

In the
afternoon, about 3 PM, she was once again called to the Personnel office. “I am
sorry”, the lady told her with a face of consternation “you can not continue
here, we found out you signed, why did you do that? Why were you so imprudent?
She added. The first job had not even lasted her one day. She had made a
“professional” error: signing the request to recall the President. The smile of
the morning is still frozen in her memory.

2.-Of boastfulness. The office is located
in a building in the East of Caracas. Her boss, who had been named by the Minister,
was abroad on an official mission. In the morning, two Government official burst
in the office, Official Gazette in hand, and point out that new bosses have been
named for that location. With the bad temper which characterizes cheap cops,
the pair of neo-bosses threaten the professionals that are present, announcing
to them that from now on they are the new bosses, they place a poster of Chavez
and another one of Che Guevara on the walls and proceeded to submit-that is the
precise term- to an interrogation each of those present and, without any prior
authorization, with the aid of a technician that they brought expressly to
violently access it, they begin reviewing the files in the computer of the
outgoing boss, who you may recall, is not present. They say they are looking
for irregularities. One of them, with the same literary style that the highest
authorities have implemented in the country, exclaims: We are going to screw
him so that he stops saying such B.S.!

removed official returns to Venezuela,
tells the press and the radio that his rights have been violated and a week
later they publicly begin the process of “charging” him for crimes against the
nation. Well known professionals lend themselves to the game, but we all know
that, much like the boastful duo had warned earlier, the persecution has
nothing to do with any irregularity (if that were the case, half the Government
would be in jail)but only so that “he stops saying such B.S.”

3. – Of Dignity. She is an anthropologist.
Despite her young age, she is a specialist in linguistics of the indigenous
group which, according to the want ad she had read, the professional being
sought should work with. Following this, the young anthropologist submits her
CV and gets the job. But, oh tragedy! She had also signed the petition to
recall the President. Nevertheless, in contrast to our first story, she is
offered an alternative. :”In recognition of your extraordinary CV” says the bureaucrat
interrogating her, “we will hire you if you make public a letter retracting
from having signed the recall”.  The
young lady, alarmed, irritated and offended, no even allows herself to respond
to such a disparaging request and abandons the office. When she gets home, her
parents back her decision. They celebrate it. It is a matter of dignity and

4.-Of footnotes. He works as a consultant
for international organizations. He is regularly hired to write reports about
specific topics. Generally the Venezuelan counterpart is a ministry or
autonomous institute. At the end of last year he handed in a report. A few days
later the official in charge of evaluating it gave him an appointment and told
him his report had not been approved and he could not pay him his
stipend…unless he corrected it. The reason? There were a large number of
bibliographical references and citations, almost ten, to authors that are
publicly against the “process”!

He now
knows that the official censorship of Pedro Morales’ work when it was selected
for Venice’s Biennial and the piece by Hector Fuenmayor “Mi delirio del chimbo
raso”, vetoed by the Alejandro Otero museum, were not lies by the press but
only a “bad custom” that little by little has been extending to other areas,
until it just touched him.

5. – Of little Creole pioneers. It is a TV
program called “Learning” It is shown at 9 AM in the official channel Vive TV
and in parts of its transmission last Tuesday it devoted itself to showing a
group of kids, members of the “patrolmen that protect our cultural heritage” or
something like that, training three other kids that were visiting the
headquarters of a cultural institution.

The matter
was enough to fill you with panic. In the part that by chance we managed to
watch, a kid, we concluded that he was the head of the patrolmen, was training
the three visiting kids following the martial ritual of questions and answers
with a loud and severe voice belonging to military forts or the little Cuban
pioneers “At eeease… Stand in attention” shouted the guide while the visitors,
with sweet clumsiness, were trying to follow his orders. Then the guide ordered
“the salute of the patrol” to the group of kids and they would join their heels,
placing their arms straight next to their bodies, trying to push their chests
out and responding in unison: “Culture is the power of the people” a salute
which the visiting apprentices had to emulate repeatedly, shouting as many
times as their “guide” requested it. At the end of the program they ask the
kids questions like: What did you learn today? To which they responded, among
other things, that they learned about the voice commands of “closed military
order” and that “culture is the power of the people”.

6.- Moral. Totalitarism acts like the lash of
the paw of a lion: quick, bloody, evident, and unable to hide. Neo- authoritarianism,
on the other hand, does it like a boa constrictor: it takes its time to slowly
asphyxiate the victim, in this case, hitting it where it hurts the most,
seeding with little fears their daily life to reach the same end: social
control. Nothing evident and with the least possible blood.

Revolutionary Doublespeak

March 28, 2005

From today’s Tal Cual quoting the Chavista Governor of Carabobo state, burping General Acosta Carles:

“Those that will be part of the executive staff (of his Administration)
are people who do not belong to any political party, the indispensable
prerequisite is that they have to be Chavistas”

Oh! I see!

Column by Jackson Diehl in today’s Washington Post

March 28, 2005

Chavez’ Censorship in today’s Washington Post by Jackson Diehl