Archive for May 21st, 2009

What plays well in Altagracia de Orituco?

May 21, 2009

The accusations by Minister of Interior and Justice(?) El Assami yesterday and today, outrage opposition readers with the cynical ability of the Minister to shift the blame for the violence on the opposition. The video speaks for itself on who caused the violence. The problem is that what does not play well for the opposition, plays well in places like Altagracia de Orituco, our equivalent of Peoria in US terms.

Because for the average Altagracian or Barines, the budget problems of the universities are as removed from their daily reality as those of the Hubble telescope, to take advantage of Daniel’s story today. Thus when fascist El Assami comes on TV, those in Altagracia likely believe him.

Because the country is sharply divided in two and the Government takes advantage of that divide at every step. When Chavez talks about golf courses in El Marquez, we laugh because there are none, but the man in Altagracia, who has never been to Caracas may actually believe him and imagine rich oligarchs playing golf in that area of Caracas.

Anybody that has been to the interior of Venezuela recently or has looked at electoral results realizes this dichotomy. Chavez and his Government not only ignore the opposition, but are not even trying to attract those against it to their side. The whole media and economic deployment of resources is oriented towards the pro-Chavez or past sympathizer. Much like the way the Government overwhelmed the media last February, it overwhelms it with its daily message through its own media outlets.

Go to the interior and you can go miles without listening to any radio station that is even mildly anti-Chavez. The propaganda in his favor which hails the unknown achievements of the revolution is simply impossible to counteract by the opposition. Thus the shutdown of RCTV.

This is a lot like the satellite problem, if the Government says the Simon Bolivar satellite is functional, it is for the Chavista mass and pro-Chavez people will try to overwhelm opposition chat rooms to counteract the truth. But I bet if any pollster asked the average Altagracian whether the satellite was functional, an overwhelming majority would say yes!, after all, Chavez told them that he was speaking to them a few Sunday’s ago through his satellite boondoggle. Either he lied through his teeth or someone was lying to him, but the truth is no longer relevant in Venezuela.

It is in the end a very clever strategy. Hardcore and soft-core pro-Chavez people are bombarded daily with the good news and the announcements of the gizillion projects that the Chavez administration starts every week. But none of these ever go much beyond the announcement and most of them have little impact so far in their daily lives from them. If PDVSA takes over 65 oil servce companies, even if the Government shut them down tomorrow, the average Altagracian would not feel it for quite a while.

It is much like the lie surrounding the country’s oil production. Pro-Chavez people want to believe Chavez and if he said Venezuela was producing 5 million barrels of oil a day, they would believe it.

That is why Chavez will be solidly in place until inflation soars to unmanageable levels or shortages hit the everyday Altagracian. And that is also why there is no devaluation, so that the Government can limit inflation as much as possible.

It is in the end a Machiavellian strategy of maintaining the support of the core pro-Chavez sentiment at the expense of everything and everyone else in the country.

We may cringe when Ministers or Chavez lies. We are outraged when education, culture and knowledge are trampled or ignored. But in the end that is the strategy: They are playing for Altagracia de Orituco, not for us. And so far, it has played to well for our comfort.

(It may be that Chavez lost in Altagracia de Orituco in the last election, I just picked it at random as an example of Chavista territory)