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)

19 Responses to “What plays well in Altagracia de Orituco?”

  1. PEGALLAN Says:

    Excellent. I confirm every word of this. See why: I had to go to a public institution to get a certificate. They have a room for the people waiting. The room has the following components: (1) one desk with 3 (or 4 or 5, depending on how “slow” is work inside) clerks taking the same information that you have to give some floors down (it is: name, ID, company name, RIF, etc.), (2) chairs (very uncomfortable by the way) and (3) an LCD TV with the VTV signal on ALL THE TIME (no chance for changing the channel). You cannot use your music piece (MP3, iphone, whatever) because you will be called orally so you have to be very aware. Anyhow, you are during 1, 2 hours (if you are lucky) not doing anything else that watching VTV. And getting and absorbing the interpretation and perspective of VTV for the news (national and international). This is exactly what could happen in this little towns where there are not options, to select, to choose and to contrast information. The only “news” is the VTV news. Nobody can contrast or debate that. So, at the end, what Chavez says….must be true. One question: is our opposition aware of this?. Are they working for overcome this reality?.

  2. Mike H. Says:

    What is missing from this discussion is that Chavismo in the country is not a regular political movement. It’s more a weird mix of gang mentality and personality cult.
    There is a very, very strong sentiment that you don’t want to be seen as an ass kisser, which means they don’t want to be seen as opposition.
    How do you break through this?

  3. maria gonzalez Says:

    I read in someplace that the resistance against this “socialism of XXI century” is a marathon and not a 5K run…

    I may be naive, but maybe the way to win small places as Altagracia will require low tech solutions but that need a lot of time and commitment by politicians/ students/ONG. Somebody pick the Chavista “good news of the week/month and write a 10 reason list of why the good new are bad news and how that can affect some small town dynamics…but in “criollo” no fancy word. Send few people to a given town and distribute the info or talk to few people, create a network in each town. This will take time but with create a grass root program. Who will be willing to do this? This is not going to be a “Titular” in a newspaper but I think is the only way to ope the eyes of people.

  4. wlad Says:

    the other side of the coin is that the opposition insists that venezuela=caracas (and maybe maracaibo), as kepler says. it is no surprise then to see chavez getting roughly half the electorate supporting him. to wail that there’s no money now to have a decent presence in the interior is disingenous. the effort was never made, not even when there was the (notional) wherewithal to do so.

  5. revbob22 Says:

    The town that Lazaro Candal made famous! (La mando pa’ Altagracia del Orituco!)
    Shame you can’t type a gallego accent.

    Look, my idea of broadcasting a la VOA may not mark me as the sharpest tool in the shed but it would be better than nothing.

    GeronL: I think you have the wrong impression about Obama the president vs. Obama the candidate. He is a lot more centrist than many expected.

  6. Kepler Says:

    Can you please tell us when a broadcasting from the US has served its purpose in Latin America? Thanks.
    You do Not Radio Marti to still commie Cuba, do you?

  7. GeronL Says:


    Obama emulates Chavez. He is not going to broadcast anti-Chavez radio to VeneZimbabwe

  8. Kepler Says:

    A Voice of America is counter productive. Forget it, the perception in the Americas is way different from Poland or the Baltic states or the former Czechoslovakia.
    It is Venezuelans from the cities who need to go to the interior. It will be hard because 1) their resources are dwindling (at least of those who do care for the country) and 2) most of big-city Venezuelans actually had not bothered for decades to think about how to improve the lives of people in the countryside.

  9. Altagracia de Orituco

    66,05% SI

  10. Altagracia de Orituco

    66,05% SI on February 15 referendum

  11. dillisw Says:

    Well it gets worse with the invasion of the house of the President of Globovision this evening (during a Cadena of course), to ‘check his cars and household furniture’. Fortunately Globovision had the whole thing on camera. Funnily enough VTV arrived with CICPC and thugs. Fancy that…..

    Certainly there is an all out war on media and successful private companies in full swing now. In the last 2 weeks we have seen Farmatodo, Makro, Farmahorro and Sigo closed for 5 days here in Margarita. Who will be next?

    Things are getting very ugly now.

  12. Alex Dalmady Says:

    LOL Altagracia de Orituco strikes again!
    Have you ever been there? I haven’t!

    How about Macondo or perhaps “San Juan de Cochino Triste”?

  13. liz Says:

    Roberto, I believe is ‘gracitanos’.

  14. revbob22 Says:

    Yes, Zamuro, of course it would be instantly labeled an Imperialist tool, but it would still have an effect. It would have to be a part of other strategies.

    The main idea is to get the word out, and repeat it mercilessly just like you know who.

    Realizing that Altagracia/Peoria does not have the Internet readily available takes away a valuable tool, albeit a vulnerable one.

    Therefore other strategies must ensue, ones that do not depend on technology so much.

    Personally reaching out to the inhabitants is a must. No opposition leaders will be able to win hearts if folks don’t see at least hope of change for the better by listening to them.

  15. Charly Says:

    Excellent analysis, yes, but… Like a newspaper headline said after the regional elections, in this country there is Caracas then monte, culebras y chavistas. Altagracia and pretty much the rest of the country beside Caracas is good at election time but totally irrelevant otherwise. Every time a president was sent to golden exile, the whole uprising started and ended in Caracas. This is why it is so important to get rid of Globovision that broadcast freely on the airwaves in the capital. But like the kid in Holland, you can try to plug the leak with one finger for so long.

  16. zamuro Says:

    the logic consequence of this analysis: rampant inflation and the long term effects of the revolution’s incoherent economic policies seem to be the best candidates to threaten the regime’s stability.

    only when altagracianos begin to feel the truth they haven’t been able to see, the deterioration of their everyday life will do better work than any political opposition has been able to do for years.

    broadcasting non-/anti-chavista news and views from outside the country would not have great impact. chavez would have no difficulty convincing altagracianos that such a broadcast is an imperialistic US attempt responding to the fascist oligarquía’s interests.

  17. deananash Says:

    What an excellent analysis. I’ve been trying to express a similar idea for a long time. Simply put: The poor never had anything to lose by voting for Chavez. Their lives are no worse (from their own perspective) for having Chavez in power this past decade. Indeed, their lives are probably better (from their perspective) because social science has proven that happiness is relative to those around you.

    Bringing the ‘oligarchs’ down a few notches makes the poor feel elevated, because now they are within sight, if not within reach.

    Roberto is right, new strategies are needed. I say (as I’ve said), give Chavez everything he wants and stroke his ego. Provoke him to go even further. Why not national all the private schools? The private medical care? The private restaurants? And even the private clothing stores. After all, food, shelter and clothing are all necessities.

    The sooner the whole thing collapses, the sooner Venezuela can be free. This slow, “death by a thousand cuts”, is going to take a long time. Oil will rise and fall a few more times before Chavez’s nightmare is fully revealed.

    Mock him for not doing enough…push him. He’s so foolish he won’t realize the trap, even when he’s caught in it.

  18. Gringo Says:

    “Will it play in Peoria?” was the US equivalent.

  19. Roberto Says:

    Which is why the opposition has to come up with a way to counter this.

    It occurs to me that one way is to convince the US to fund a radio station a la Voice of America. Broadcast and expose the boondoggles to the “Altagracianos” (Orituquenses?, Altragraciaticos?)

    THis may not be the best idea out there, but it’s bound to have some effect.

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